Times 26,723: Slow Down, Whale Crossing

A suitable Friday-level challenge where, to judge by the club leaderboard after 8 hours, coming in under the 10 minute mark is going to be tricky for all but the real power solvers (I certainly didn’t manage it). A lot of care was required to negotiate some of the devious cluing on display here, and I see from my notes that I hadn’t fully parsed 2dn (“why is GRE a mark on a plate? Oh well, it’ll do”), 23dn or 24dn (which fortunately can’t really be anything else when you have G_ N_P). So anyone actually conscientious may have needed to take their time over these and quite a few others.

FOI was 10ac as I’d been doing some light coding just before I turned to the puzzle; LOI 16ac which I’ve never been sure how to spell at the best of times, and which is pretty close to being my Clue of the Day just for managing to place the words “glam coat” in such a context. But I did really like the cryptic definition at 9dn, which wasn’t at all hard once the obvious connection was made but still seemed funny and clever. Thanks setter!

A couple of items of business: first of all I notice that in 3 weeks’ time, June 2, I’m scheduled for the gruelling Times/TLS blogging double header, but I’ll be on holiday in Barcelona that week. Not beyond the realms of possibility that I could find a way to post from abroad but probably I shouldn’t risk it – so if anyone is interested in a swap, do get in touch.

Second and much more fun, I hope you’re all aware that there’s a Sloggers & Betters in the usual venue of The George Tavern near London Bridge next Tuesday May 16th from 2pm. Should be a good array of Times setters making an appearance after their annual setters’ lunch if past years are to go by, plus the usual unsavoury bloggers and other such hangers-on, and I hope I’ll be seeing you there too!


1 Retiring to devour a collection of books in shed (6)
SHANTY – SHY [retiring] “to devour” A NT [a | collection of books]
4 Toughest weight: that is, for boxing? (8)
CHEWIEST – W I.E. [weight | that is], “for boxing”, as in, put in a CHEST
10 Loath to get involved with grim process (9)
ALGORITHM – (LOATH + GRIM*) [“involved” with each other].
11 Leave after trouble, so as not to be seen (5)
DOGGO – GO [leave], after DOG [trouble]. As in “lying doggo”
12 Girl’s uniform just too short (3)
EVE – EVE{n}
13 Foolish girl showered with bachelor (4-7)
BIRD-BRAINED – BIRD [girl] + RAINED [showered] with B [bachelor]
14 Big cheese intact after rolling around bags (3,3)
FAT CAT – hidden [bagged] in the reverse [rolling around] of {in}TACT AF{ter}
16 Cold, looking back periodically, jealous of glam coat (7)
CAGOULE – C [cold] + reversed alternate letters of {j}E{a}L{o}U{s} O{f} G{l}A{m}.
19 Root for instance, often initially is so long (7)
CHEERIO – CHEER [root for] + I{nstance} O{ften}
20 Failed spectacularly to find mushroom (6)
BLEWIT – double def with BLEW IT [failed spectacularly]
22 Amusing kid with second language, missing nothing (3-8)
RIB-TICKLING – RIB [kid] with TICK [second] + LING{o} [language “missing nothing”]
25 Letter from abroad and when it might reach us? (3)
ETA – double def with E.T.A. [estimated time of arrival]
26 Everything considered unhealthy not available for consumption (2,3)
IN ALL – ILL [unhealthy], N/A [not available] “for consumption”
27 Runner who’s old unexpectedly regains lead in race (9)
ORGANISER – O [old] + (REGAINS*) [“unexpectedly”] + R{ace}. Runner as in one who runs an event
28 Ruin besetting chap always turned out well? (8)
DANDYISH – DISH [ruin] “besetting” ANDY [chap]
29 Missing software downloads briefly bearing fruit (6)
APPLES – if you were missing your software downloads you would be APP-LESS. Add brevity to find APP-LES{s}.


1 Flourished as rock musician finally (6)
SHAKEN – SHAKE [rock] + {musicia}N
2 Stone mark on plate within a grand portal (9)
AGGREGATE – REG [mark on (registration) plate] within A G GATE [a | grand | portal].
3 Confuse after final conversion to British pound (5)
THROB – THROW, with it final letter converting to B [British]
5 Bad mood champion, before game, means to get over (8,6)
HUMPBACK BRIDGE – HUMP [bad mood] + BACK [champion], before BRIDGE [game]
6 We aligned with movement taking broader views (4-5)
WIDE-ANGLE (WE ALIGNED*) [“with movement”]
7 Large article from Bild perhaps covers Scottish town (5)
ELGIN LG [large], covered by EIN [German article]
8 Ambiguous when speaking, moreover, and gently moved (3-5)
TWO-EDGED – homophone of TOO [“when speaking”, moreover] + EDGED [gently moved]
9 Yet probably not allowing grannies to keep up? (2,1,4,2,5)
AT A RATE OF KNOTS. Cryptic def. Grannies are a type of knots, but if you move at a rate of knots you will soon outpace old ladies with their zimmer frames.
15 Kindly guy, possibly, I partner (9)
CORDIALLY = CORD I ALLY [guy, possibly | I | partner]
17 Veal ruins fancy blanket (9)
18 Seconds prepared with spices went fast! (8)
SCURRIED – S CURRIED [seconds | prepared with spices]
21 Rent our people picked up for house (6)
TAURUS – homophone of TORE US [rent | our people, “picked up”]. House of the zodiac
23 Strength of one designed to lift opponents with hands (5)
BRAWN – BRA [one designed to lift] + W N [(bridge) opponents with hands (of cards)]
24 Work, then rest: take five? (2,3)
GO NAP – GO [work, as in “the car won’t go”] + NAP [rest]. “Go nap” means to take five tricks in the card game Nap(oleon), or by extension win five times generally.

61 comments on “Times 26,723: Slow Down, Whale Crossing”

  1. Not knowing one ithm from another bunged in logarithm. Quel dommage. 30 all told

    Edited at 2017-05-12 07:55 am (UTC)

  2. Extra challenging to find this puzzle waiting for me on my regular “hangover of the month” morning, following a regular pub meeting last night. I only had it about half done in my hour, and stopped bothering with timing as I gradually filled in the rest.

    Still, I got there, despite a few question marks, notably never having heard “dish” for “ruin” before, and having missed “reg” for the mark on plate, and having no idea what GO NAP was all about.

    By the sounds of it, my degree being in computer science rather than the classics came in handy for once, as ALGORITHM went in with no problems. Count me as another who tried to crowbar in “hare-brained” and “lame-brained” before finally cottoning the sexism.

    FOI 22a (I know it’s going to be a bad day when I get that far before writing one in!), LOI 20a, the unknown BLEWIT (which my dictionary has only as “blewits”, and claims is singular as well as plural.) COD 18d, WOD DOGGO.

    Edited at 2017-05-12 08:33 am (UTC)

  3. 14:18 .. a competitive time, it seems, though this wasn’t really my cup of tea (a bit, um, crosswordy in places). Some nice things, though, especially the surfaces for EVE and SCURRIED.

    Those of you who went with ‘logarithm’, what did you have for 1 down?

    1. ..and SILKEN for me.
      With B_E_I_ for 20a, I so wanted it to be BREXIT (“failed spectacularly”?) but apparently not.
    2. Heh. Why are ‘wrong’ answers always so much more fun (and ingenious)? I’m going to stay out of possible BREXIT/BLEWIT connotations.
  4. Yep, me too for logarithm. I even double checked it (along with SHANTY and EVE) to be sure I had my checkers right for 1dn… And EVE had long since been changed from Sam(e), so I knew that one had to be right…

    Challenging puzzle, took me over the hour, but lots of fiendish wp made this one (for the most part), a satisfying solve.

  5. I started slowly but must have picked up speed as I was surprised when I finished in a little over 20 minutes. I was also surprised when my LOI DOGGO was correct as despite the parsing seeming clear the word seemed implausible to me.
  6. 35 minutes with SHAKEN LOI.
    Great surfaces such as ORGANISER, CAGOULE, RIB-TICKLING etc. Is 1a aimed at David Cameron?
  7. Well I do know one ITHM from another, and as I wrote in my answer to 10ac the concept in my mind was definitely ALGORITHM, but then I somehow managed to write in LOGARITHM. By the time I got to 1dn it never occurred to me to go back and check the definition, which by then I had forgotten: I mean a word like LOGARITHM clued by an anagram can’t possibly be anything else, right?
    15 minutes until that point, and I was really enjoying the challenge.
    My alternate avatar has never been more apt.

    Edited at 2017-05-12 08:05 am (UTC)

    1. I could moan again here I think about one anagram being considered more ungettable than another. CLYTEMNESTRA was unfair because it is an ‘unknown’ or even ‘foreign’ word (unless you’ve read the occasional book, it seems to me), whilst SEBACEOUS is unspellable and ALGO and LOGA are recombinations of the same letters.

      I think we need a sort-out.

      1. But only ALGO fits the definition, and the checkers, so no problem there.

        SEBACEOUS can also be defended I think because it was by far the most likely arrangement of the unchecked letters.

        CLYTEMNESTRA is totally indefensible on the basis that I got it wrong.

      2. I’m never slow to call out an unfairly-clued obscurity, much to the general irritation of the populace, but even I am prepared reluctantly to accept that some knowledge is expected of us, and knowing the difference between a LOGARITHM and and ALGORITHM seems fair game to me. I think I speak with some authority on the matter, since I knew the difference and managed to get it wrong anyway.
        1. Me too! I spotted it should be ALGORITHM when I finally solved SHAKEN, and somehow changed it from LOGARITHM to ALGORITMM, thus finishing with one wrong. Dummy!

          Edited at 2017-05-12 07:07 pm (UTC)

  8. Very pleased to get within a whisker of finishing this without resorting to aids, but having LOGARITHM at 10ac did for me as it made 1dn impossible to solve without looking up synonyms for “flourished” and realising that the L-checker had to be a mistake. BIRD-BRAINED was also a problem as I couldn’t think past HARE-BRAINED and kept wondering why “female”? I’d like to be able to claim that “bird” for “female” would never have occurred to me but coming from the generation I did, watching TV comedy shows of the 1960s, that could never stand up to scrutiny. Worked out the unknown BLEWIT and GO NAP and quite a lot else from very tricky wordplay.

    Edited at 2017-05-12 08:07 am (UTC)

  9. My times for this week, finishing with 23.51 today, perfectly illustrate the increasing difficulty this challenge poses, though to be fair, SHAKEN and BLEWIT took up a disproportionate share of today’s time. BLEWIT only succumbed to an alphabet trawl before delivering a kick to the shin, and SHAKEN sifted through my petrological knowledge (shale, slate, erm… stane?) and wondered whether Noddy Holder was involved.
    Thanks for APPLES, V. I could’t see how that worked and put it in on a there or thereabouts basis.
  10. 41.25 of teeth pulling, the setter’s mind and mine intersecting only fitfully it seemed. Glad I was not alone with some of my silly errors.
  11. Had to stop after 45mins (with toast) with the Scurried/Dandyish crossers unsolved. Returned just now and got ’em. I blame today’s random chap, Andy – but more likely I was too slow to think of curried.
    I liked the Blewit, Appless and Grannies. Thanks to setter and V.
  12. V – I am prepared to do 2nd June if you do Wed 7th for me, so I’d have 2 one week and you 2 the next? Pip
    1. A week of unprecedented jollity in these parts followed by one of abject horror eh? Yes, we could do that. Actually, thinking about the TLS, I could just blog it well in advance and then let someone else post it up perhaps…?
          1. What black technological sorcery is this?! Well, alright then, I guess this will be a great test run of my ability to function as a full member of the 21st century.

            Edited at 2017-05-12 12:28 pm (UTC)

            1. It’s very easy: it must be, because I can do it! You just change the date and time of your post at the top of the page.
          2. If I could get it to work in reverse I’d have more chance of posting my Jumbo blogs on time.
  13. Tough one. Took me two goes before and after errands, total about an hour. Was stuck in SW corner and with 1d, although had ALGORITHM in without even thinking of LOGA. Nearly blewit! A good Friday workout.
  14. 22:42 and it was that pesky logarithm that took me over 20 minutes. I had put a QM against the clue as I was unhappy with the definition but it took an age to realise where the problem was, and even then SHAKEN took a while to get.

    Didn’t know dish/ruin (so wondered how NDYI in DASH might work), like V puzzled over GRE being a mark on a plate (Georgian dinnerware on The Antiques Roadshow seemed plausible), didn’t parse APPLES and wasn’t totally sure what GO NAP meant.

    I did like “one designed to lift” as an alternative to the hackneyed “support”.

  15. Another logarithm here. DNF as I also got stuck in the SE forgetting about the astrological house. Thanks for the explanations for CHEWIEST and APPLES, which I biffed, along with GO NAP, which I had never heard of.
  16. Undone by a typo, not for the first time this week. Amazing that words as unknown and as unlikely as CAGOULE and BLEWIT can be entered with some confidence due to excellent clueing.

    Thanks setter and V.

  17. With FAT CAT I really thought I was getting an ‘in-deed’ clue with ‘intact’, but was able to breathe more easily after a bit of calming down attended by realisation.

    I’m afraid I didn’t parse GO NAP, not sufficiently cultured I suppose.

    Thanks to both.

  18. So you were nobbled by ‘process’? Okay. But a fine distinction for the ‘unwary’, or ‘normal’ folks among us (same as the ones who don’t know… that Queen whatever her name was. Is.
    1. I was nobbled by stupidity, without even the excuse of ignorance. I realised exactly what was intended from the definition, but somehow put LOGARITHM in anyway.
      In any case, as galspray says the checking letter is there to help even if you don’t know the word.
      I’m sympathetic on the queen, I must say.

      Edited at 2017-05-12 04:06 pm (UTC)

  19. If anyone’s ever thought “I wish I could do the Listener Puzzle, but it’s a bit above my pay grade”, you might want to give today’s a try… I think it may actually have been easier than today’s Cryptic! Which makes a change, I can tell you.
    1. Blimey! The one and only time I looked at it I couldn’t understand the rubric.
      1. There have been some that are works of mad genius but almost impossible for mere mortals to decipher – I was tipped about about #4162 by Richard Rogan recently, and even if actually tackling that one is beyond you as it quickly seemed to be beyond me… the solution is well worth reading!
        1. I tried following your link and just got a lot of Russian stuff.

          No. 4162 was good fun if you like that sort of thing, but some solvers apparently found it rather too obtuse.

          If you want a fun Listener puzzle that’s rather easier but still has a very satisfactory solution, you might try RR’s own “Clean-up Operation” (No. 4436) from earlier this year.

      2. The only one I’ve attempted and got further than a handful of clues was the mathemnatical one recently, where I had to write some code to support solving…and still didn’t get it quite right.
        But thanks for the tip. I had a go at #4450 in the paper today and completed it in about 90 minutes! Yey!
  20. About 25 minutes. DNK GO NAP, assumed it was a direction to go to sleep. I didn’t even think of logarithm, lucky I guess. As Galspray says re my other unknowns, BLEWIT and CAJOULE. Regards.
  21. 27 mins. I worked about an hour and a half longer than I’d planned and then was stuck in the Queensway tunnel for 20 mins on my way home because of a broken down car. I was consequently a little tired when I got home but I don’t think I drifted during the solve so I may not have been any quicker had I started it two hours earlier. At 12ac I had been considering SAM(E) and EVE didn’t occur to me until I got AGGREGATE. SHAKEN was my LOI and it took a while for the penny to drop that the “as” in the clue wasn’t part of the wordplay. BLEWIT went in with fingers crossed even though I’ve almost certainly seen it before, and I didn’t parse APPLES. A tough challenge IMHO.
  22. 19 mins this morning on the way to work, 44 mins at lunchtime and another 21 mins after work to sort this all out. A tough one but not tough enough, so like others I decided to up the difficulty rating by bunging in a Loga rather than an Algo -rithim to leave me staring at s-l-e for 1dn. Took an alphabet trawl to convince myself that I had an error. Once 10ac was corrected, shaken went in soon after. Just too ignorant of maths/science to know the difference between them. Also some difficulty in the SW with dandyish where I thought dash more ruinous than dish but Andy a more likely chap than Ndyi. Took a while to see scurried and brawn too. Thanks to the blogger for the parsing of “go nap” I had no idea about the game. Blewit only half-remembered. There was enough here that I really liked to stop it being too much of a slog: 1ac, 4ac, 13ac, 22ac, 27ac, 3dn, 5dn, 17dn and 23dn. FOI (in inverted commas) 10ac. LOI 1dn. COD 22ac.
  23. 1:23:17 of solving time on the clock, although I did have a couple of interruptions which upped it to 1:28:15. A stupid typo when correcting LOGARITHM to ALGORITMM undid all my effort. Boo hiss! A really tough challenge, which I was pleased to solve the spirit of, if not the letter of. DNK BLEWIT or the card game meaning of GO NAP, or manage to correctly parse APPLES, but got there by hook or by crook. Thanks setter, and V for the explanations.
  24. Not so sure about GO NAP as getting 5 wins. The way I play the game is that going nap is announcing that you can win 5 tricks, rightly or wrongly. 23mins or so…
  25. 17:36 for me, still feeling tired at the end of an exceptionally busy week. Despite not being on the ball, I actually enjoyed this puzzle very much.

    No problem with ALGORITHM, as might be expected given my career designing and writing software; but SHAKEN was still my LOI.

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