Times 26719 – Cunning methods, indeed!

Solving time: 29 minutes

Music: Holst, The Planets, Previn/LSO

I started out reading the first clues, parsing them, and writing in the answers in rapid succession. As I solved, I was thinking ‘My, these clues are quite tricky, it’s amazing I am able to solve them so quickly!” This thought, of course, soon caused me to lose momentum and begin to struggle a little. Opening up new fronts in the other quadrants of the puzzle didn’t help much, and I ended up throwing away my splendid start.

I do suspect this puzzle was a step above the usual ‘easy Monday’ fare, with both the vocabulary and the clueing at a somewhat higher level than we sometimes see. You will probably need the cryptics for many of the clues, with not as much biffing as usual.

1 COBALT, CO(LAB backwards)T. As US solvers will know, the blue dogs became extinct in the 2010 election.
4 ADJUSTER, AD + JUSTER, with a very literal literal, as opposed, say, to an insurance adjuster.
9 TUGBOAT, T(U + G.B.)O A ‘T’. A clever and elaborate cryptic.
11 SURNAME, SUR[i]NAME, another very original idea – AFAIK, that is.
12 ARECA, A(REC)A, an easy biff for solvers of US-style puzzles.
14 THIRD CLASS, THIRD + C + LASS, made easy by a clue in last Saturday’s puzzle.
16 BRIO, BR(I)O, not yet a chestnut, but not new either.
19 CAIN, CA(I)N, again, not new.
20 SCHOOLMATE, anagram of SHOT CAMEL + O[utraging].
22 CAMPANULA, CAMP + sounds like ANNULAR, a plant I never heard of an had to construct from the cryptic.
23 HURST, HU(R + S[aw])T, a word from a puzzle I blogged a long time ago.
25 NOTELET, NOT (E) LET, where both the cryptic and the literal are rather awkward.
27 ARCHWAYS, ARCH + WAYS in entirely different senses.
28 NEPHEW, PEN backwards + HEW
2 BOGIE, BOG + I.E., a bit of specialized railroad terminology.
3 LEONARDO, L(anagram of ONE)ARD + O.
6 UNRULY, U + N.(R.U. + L)Y., a nice concatenation of abbreviations.
7 TRATTORIA, TART upside-down + [vic]TORIA.
8 REEVE, [b]RE(E)VE. Yes, a ‘breve’ is a long note.
10 THE OLD COUNTRY, T(HE)OLD + COUNT + RY. IMO, the cryptic doesn’t really work; ‘has’ is not much of a containment indicator, and ‘about’ seems extraneous.
15 IDIOMATIC, I.D. + I.O.M + sounds like ATTIC, another clever one.
17 OVERTHROW, OVERT + H[utton] + ROW. The literal refers to one way of scoring in cricket, which I will take on faith. In baseball, things are different; the runners are awarded one additional base, and may or may not score a run.
21 CALLOW, CALL O[n] W, not Mae this time.
22 CANNA, hidden in [mexi]CAN NA[nny].

42 comments on “Times 26719 – Cunning methods, indeed!”

  1. I think it works, and ‘about’ has a function: HE has T OLDCOUNT about it, + RY. (I worked it out just now, after reading your blog and realizing that I’d rushed through my (incorrect) parsing at the time.)

    Edited at 2017-05-08 03:23 am (UTC)

  2. Not your everyday Monday cryptic, indeed. I struggled in particular to get HURST and EDUCTOR, and then SURNAME and LOI UNRULY. I suspect my instinct would have had me pronounce the unknown flower as ‘campaNOOla’, but fortunately I’m old enough to control my instincts. COD to SURNAME.
  3. 34 minutes, ending with the cunning tugboat. I wanted Al’s place to be alphouse until I sobered up. Never heard of canna or areca (despite any evidence that may be dug up), while the other plant sounds more like a Liszt composition.
  4. Too hard today for me, but thanks for the blog which explains the gaps.

    In 5d, womans = dis, island = iona, note = te, but why does pass = defile?

    1. A defile is ‘a narrow pass or gorge, esp one between two mountains’ (Collins). Worth remembrering this, because it pops up fairly regularly.
  5. After returning to form with a successful 6 minute run through today’s Quickie by Izetti I came within a couple of whiskers of achieving my 30 minute 15×15 target, which would have been a real success after my efforts of the past three weeks, but unfortunately I fell in the final furlong. CAMPANULA and EDUCTOR beat me. I didn’t know ARECA or PAU as a city although I have probably met both before at some point but this didn’t prevent me solving the clues. I agree with those defending 10dn. The phrase was used as the title of a 1977 play by Alan Bennett.

    Edited at 2017-05-08 05:29 am (UTC)

  6. 14:20 … you’re right, vinyl — not as biffable as usual for a Monday. Not that that stopped me.

    Mostly, I’m delighted to have remembered that educater only has one E.

    1. In my part of Sarf London it’s Edjicater. But even we wouldn’t have been so naff as to spell specialised with a Zed! As our esteemed blogger (Sorry Vinyl) has today (2D) in an English Crossword Forum rather than one that uses Merriam Webster as it’s primary reference. 🙂

      Edited at 2017-05-08 02:14 pm (UTC)

      1. I thought The Times used -ize in line with the OED—one of the few things the Americans get right 😉
        1. Oh, apparently they dropped it in 1992. Shows how long I’ve been doing the crossword electronically and not reading the paper. 🙂

          Wikipedia “Oxford Spelling”

  7. 14:16. I found this mostly pretty straightforward, with quite a lot of biffing and generous wordplay for the plants. However I got very badly stuck on my last in, 26ac. First it took me ages to see the answer, and then I agonised over whether it should be EDUCTOR or EDUCTER. In the end I plumped for the right one, but I spent over five minutes on that clue alone.
  8. For some reason I found this a breeze: it’s not often I manage a sub-2xJasons, even if only by 2 seconds, a combination of stuff I know (even the greenstuff) and friendly wordplay.
    Pity really. There’s things to do today and now I have no excuses.
  9. No great problems with this one – a fair test on a slightly dozy Monday morning
  10. Better than expected today – I’m finding that the longer it takes me to get started, the better I’m going to do overall, somewhat perversely. CAMPANULA helped by my classical guitar lessons (p.i.m.a = pulgar, index, middle, annular). A lot of elaborately contrived wordplays, but always fair and witty. COD: TUGBOAT, LOI: EDUCTOR.
    Many thanks vinyl and setter.
  11. Too tough for me. To my shame, “hut” for small shelter never sprang to mind, otherwise I might not have stared at the ALEHOUSE/HURST crossers for the last twenty minutes of my seventy. I’d even thought of the “eh” for “what”, and knew 18d began with AL, but still couldn’t get there. HURST not being known to me didn’t help.

    Shame, as I’d got the rest right in 50 minutes, which I thought was pretty good considering the number of unknown words and question marks I had against the wordplay.

    It’s my firm belief that any puzzle where I get the “plant” clue on sight should be considered a win regardless of my overall score!

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Matt,

      When you think you’re onto the wordplay it can help to scribble it down somewhere. While your brain is probably telling you that putting AL with EH isn’t going to get you to a word if you write down ALEH**** you might see possible words appear.

      1. Thank you. I shall try to do more scribbling when I’m stuck. It didn’t help that I was a bit hung up on an extra “S” being there from “Jolson’s“; I’ll see if I can remember to try every combination of the possible wordplays I’ve spotted!
  12. …as they used to say in Westerns at the Saturday morning pictures. ARECA and CANNA went in on trust, but did know CAMPANULA. Fortunately there is a HURST in the nearby park which I have walked through many times. Had relatives who kept an ALEHOUSE. Agree re NOTELET, can’t really parse it, would work with ‘forbid’. <18 ‘ thanks vinyl and setter.
  13. Or rather, you can. Over 50 mins for this (with porridge). Stuck on plants. Cath will be thrilled she is today’s “woman”. Thanks to setter and blogger.
  14. No problems here either, 16 minutes, ARECA FOI, the excellent SURNAME my LOI.
  15. 23.52 of steady progress without ever really feeling comfortable. Plants and geography are my thing (unlike science and the classics to name but two) so I had a head start. It felt at the time as if there was a lot of word shortening and letter deletion going on but that was probably down to my order of solving.
  16. Flora no problem, didn’t parse 9 thanks Vinyl1. Like K took about 5 at 26 my LOI messing about with tutor, instructor. 30 in all, definitely a step up from par for a Monday.
  17. 35 mins of which about 20 were spent finishing off the last few. Valuable time spent searching for a US city at 6d and assumed that 18d began ALS….. and was looking for a river. Mental note to myself – be more flexible about which is the literal part of a clue. Nice Monday puzzle.
  18. I’m taking a couple of days off around going to see Bob Dylan this evening so I was able to do this one at a reasonable time of day. It took me 14 mins and I was quite happy with that because, like a few others, I thought it was a little trickier than a lot of other Monday puzzles. SURNAME was my LOI after UNRULY.
  19. Thanks for sorting out the cricket Vinyl – the answer was obvious but didn’t make sense to a baseball fan. No prob with the plants but memo to self: there’s only one Y in UNRULY, which spoiled an otherwise respectable 14 minutes. CAMPANULA may pop up in the garden as Canterbury bells or harebells. For some reason Americans are referring to France’s president-elect as MacronE (which makes him sound a bit like a Scotsman). He and the other Francophone president, Trudeau, must be making you-know-who crazy – they are much younger and better looking.
    1. I imagine Macron is casting envious eyes at the distaff side of the White House…
  20. A game of two halves with the lower half causing me probs. But got there knowing campanula. Some words guessed really. Love the down clues of Unruly Alehouse Retch. Reminds me of my wonderful back street corner pub The Beehive
  21. Plants being my blind spot at the best of times, this was never going to be my favourite sort of puzzle, but I got to a correct solution from the wordplay, so I can hardly complain it was unfair. (As I get older, it becomes increasingly clear that the world is never going to be organised entirely to suit me, which is obviously a great disappointment).
  22. 16:33 with the same lack of plant knowledge as others.

    Er, that’s it.

  23. Loads of DNKs (too numerous to mention). But some great Biffing on my part,meant I just scraped in with a sub 25min. Mondays used to be easyish.
  24. Sheer persistence enabled me to finish this one. I gave up after about 30 minutes with half the puzzle done. Then I added a couple over lunch. Finally, I had another go just now and finished it. I saw tugboat very early on, but couldn’t think of a word spelled ‘toat’. Ho hum. Maybe an hour all-in.


  25. About 25 minutes or so, ending with the 2 plants. Not much else to say. I couldn’t have told you how an OEVRTHROW equates to a run, but it had to be. Regards.
  26. Didn’t notice this as being particularly un-Mondayish. All done in 43 mins. FOI 1ac. LOI 22ac. COD 9ac.
  27. 11:57. Despite being some way off the setter’s wavelength, I found this an interesting and enjoyable puzzle to start the week.
  28. I got waylaid by putting in CARVE for 23a too quickly, which caused huge issues in the SE corner…
  29. 14:48. It’s not often I get that close to Sotira and Keriothe. No problems apart from 18d, my LOI, which, like enimaegtrauq, I thought might be &lit at first, before recognising that ‘tavern’ was the definition. I must remember Eh? for What? in future.

Comments are closed.