Times 26761 – No reel problem

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
It’s good to be back after my three-week sojourn in England and Germany, a trip that went pretty well all things considered, even if I did book the family into a pension in Leipzig for a tennis tournament that was taking place 300km away. Well, imagine the confusion if there were two places in England called Liverpool!

This puzzle was very much in the median range of Monday efforts, I thought, finishing with 13a – a dance I both know and have actually trod. Most memorably at the Oxford Country Dancing Society many moons ago, when it was a distinct pleasure to indulge in the Terpsichorean arts with the lasses from the secretarial colleges and the John Ratcliffe Hospital. But enough of all that and on with the job at hand…

31 minutes.

Post-blog note: there are several recommendations for best TV commercial in the discussion below, including a belter from the land of the long white cloud. Here’s one for the animal lovers from Iberia: https://youtu.be/qEQhLDEmJXM

And I couldn’t take time to edit without mentioning K’s incredible sub 5-minute solve, out-Magooing the great man himself. Would anyone believe me if I had a premonition that he would find this one to his liking?


10. CATECHISM – IS + M after E in CATCH.
11. CHILD – L in CHID.
12. REIMS – E in RIMS.
13. EIGHTSOME – sounds like ATE + SUM.
19. PHILOSOPHERS – OP + H in P + HI + LOSERS. Realism is a particularly mind-boggling approach to the art/science of describing/determining the essence of things.
22. IDENTICAL – a nice hidden. I was trying to work IKE in.
25. STONE – a brilliant is a type of diamond, I believe. If you move from south to north-east, you could code it as S-TO-NE.
26. HARRY – I liked this a lot: Harry of course brings up the rear in the idiom ‘every Tom, Dick and Harry’.
28. POTTER – besides making cups and bowls and stuff, a very good snooker player will reach 147 by potting 36 balls, ending with the black. I think my best break remains 22.
29. WARTHOGS – I liked this too, but mainly because it reminded me of my Dad, who would refer to male swimwear as ‘togs’, when he wasn’t calling it a ‘bathing suit’. Oh, and ‘trunks’ also got mentioned in dispatches, or is my memory running away with me? Anyway, it’s WAR followed by H in TOGS.


1. PICAROON – sounds like PICK A RUNE.
2. OFTTIMES – I like this word a lot. It’s certainly more euphonious and rhythmical than ‘frequently’. O + FT + TIMES.
3. LOCKSMITH – I also like this clue, so the holiday has definitely done its job of making me less curmudgeonly. It plays of course on the double meaning of ‘pick’.
4. NOISE – I in NOSE.
6. UNCUT – a reference to the erstwhile practice of producing books with pages with untrimmed edges binding them together.
8. DODDER – [han]D + ODDER.
9. SMUGGLES – ‘run’ for ‘smuggle’ is a crossword fallback. SMUG + LEGS*.
15. DELICATE – CA (about) in D + ELITE (flower, AKA cream or elite).
16. EN PASSANT – AN APTNESS*, with ‘as an anagram’ featuring as the anagram indicator.
17. GERONIMO – IM in OREGON*. I never knew this chap was from Mexico, and I always imagined he was a chief, when in fact he wasn’t.
20. BISHOP – B + O in SHIP* for the chess piece (‘man on board).
21. SECRET – RE in SECT.
23. THYME – time is the great healer.
24. LEMMA – L + EMMA for the handy little word used in linguistics as well as maths.

72 comments on “Times 26761 – No reel problem”

  1. Welcome back, U, and thanks for explaining POTTER (my LOI simply because I didn’t understand the stuff besides ‘craftsman’) and DELICATE (where I was stuck thinking the flower was DEE). News to me, too, about GERONIMO. I’m not sure what version of realism you’re thinking of, but where I come from, it stands in opposition to empiricism and relativism, and is anything but mind-boggling. I don’t know if there’s some sort of nina here, but we have PHILOSOPHERS STONE, HARRY POTTER, and HOGWARTS reversed.
    1. Not to mention (s)MUGGLES.
      And (p)ROWLING?

      Edited at 2017-06-26 03:55 am (UTC)

  2. 37 minutes. I’ve heard of PICAROON and worked it out from wordplay but had no idea what it was. LEMMA was completely unknown but again the wordplay got me there.

    There’s a great Flanders and Swann song about WARTHOGS, one of the lesser known of their Bestiary.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 12:18 am (UTC)

    1. I guessed it came from the same root as “picaresque”, which pops up occasionally, and lo and behold, it does!
  3. … one coffee puzzle, with a bit of a sting in the 5/6/8/11 crossing answers. Last in was 8dn which, after the fact, is … um … odd.

    Confused, like our blogger, about the Mexico ref in 17dn. (Though the cryptic is quite obvious.) ODO tells me that GERONIMO was an “Apache chief; Apache name Goyathlay. He led his people in raids on settlers and US troops before surrendering in 1886”. So was he in fact a chief? The Wik says not, and confirms the Mexican heritage, since New Mexico was then part of the Old one. Now even more confused!

    Finally, I was bothered by ASBESTOS being described as a “building material”. Sure hope it isn’t still being used anywhere at all these days.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 01:43 am (UTC)

    1. The US took over New Mexico and Arizona after the Mexican-American war, so Geronimo would have been active in a US territory, not a Mexican.
      1. As little kids in the Australian bush, we weren’t well versed in 19th century Mexican-American geopolitics. But we never jumped off a shed or into a river without shouting his name.

        Wonder if kids still do?

  4. Almost completed in eleven minutes, then faced with EIGHT_O_E, which was easily resolved after submitting. Unfortunately I was unable to make anything of it before submitting, and plumped for a desperate EIGHTROLE.

    Think I was trying to protect my “Galspray Golf” score by sneaking in under the twelve minutes. Well I won’t make that mistake again. Not until tomorrow, anyway.

    Trunks, togs, cossies, bathers, budgies….all used in different parts of Australia, but we just called them swimmers.

    Thanks setter and U. Good to see you back. Presume you’re claiming the NZ branch of your heritage this week?

    1. A man cannot serve two masters, Gallers. NZ has been head and shoulders above the rest for six or seven years now, so another good game and a few crumbs will satisfy me. Just as beating your time is all the sweeter these days because of its rarity.
      1. Head and shoulders indeed. Plus torso when it comes to the poor old Wallabies these days. We now look forward to our annual disemboweling with a macabre fascination.

        I thought the Lions were pretty impressive to be honest.

  5. My knowledge of this period is very poor. Geronimo was born in 1829. So what was the state of things at that time?
    1. In 1829, it was still Mexican territory, so ‘leader from Mexico’ passes muster. I imagine, though, that he didn’t start leading until later.
      1. Thanks for the local info.
        On your other track (above, re Potter etc.) I’m now pretty sure we have a theme going on.
  6. This was a Monday with a sting in the tail as per McText but for me the irritant was 24dn LEMMA – a dilemma as I have never heard of it. I have not read EMMA, nor intend to.

    I initially preferred the Hancockovian ‘POLTROON’ at 1dn and for some reason and failed to parse 15dn DELICATE thinking like Kev that the flower was the DEE!

    ‘Budgies!’ not hereabouts! Fetch Matron!


    WOD 2dn OFTTIMES (Last noted in the great VW Beetle ‘Funeral’ Commercial Grace/Noble DDB 1971)


    Probably the greatest commerial ever made.

      1. That was filmed (the background, that is) down the road I live in on the Brentham Estate in Ealing. (The architecture is very distinctive.)

        Edited at 2017-06-26 10:18 pm (UTC)

    1. Try googling Isaac Newton lemma and you’ll get the flavour of its use
  7. A groggy 15:25, with a long hold-up at the last trying to remember what a brilliant was (stamp? flower?). I’ll blame any dimness on a few glasses sunk over a marathon weekend of Glastonbury watching. Very envious of Verlaine this time. Mind you, I was mostly tuned into the Pyramid Stage and I don’t suppose he ever left the John Peel tent.

    A few things I didn’t really get, like the HARRY reference, so thank you, Ulaca. I hope you had a nice time in the wrong Leipzig.

      1. Well I’ve learned something too! I’ve always assumed that Halle (Saale) was home to the Gerry Weber tournament and wasn’t aware of another Halle in Westfalen. I know the Saale one as the birthplace of Handel, one of my favourite composers.
      2. My sympathies. After having visited the big Halle many years ago, I assumed for a long time that the tennis tourney was there. You can’t have been the first person to make this mistake and won’t be the last.

        Today’s puzzle was a dnf for me: STONE never clicked.

  8. 42 minutes for me, the last five or so spotting the directional bit of STONE. S_O_E leaves so many possibilities that I got distracted away from my instinctive correct biff. Perhaps I was being cautious having stuck LACEMAKER into 3d—perhaps because you might *un*pick his work if it wasn’t good. D’oh.

    FOI 1a, COD 17d for the educational value alone, WOD WARTHOGS. Never clocked a connection with Hogwarts, but I only read the first book, back when it came out, and hadn’t noticed any of the theme until I came here.

    We can add Harry Potter and the CURSED CHILD to our thematic list, too; I have enough friends with kids that this West End incarnation has penetrated my consciousness. Thanks to setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 07:11 am (UTC)

  9. Fat Rascal for breakfast – as 25 mins turned into 35 due to Stone, Warthogs and finally Eightsome. My new rule (to go with U and Q), if there is a G, try an H.
    Liked the Harry Potter theme. Thanks Setter and Ulaca.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 07:34 am (UTC)

  10. Good start to the week for me. The word LEMMA was remembered from my maths degree, so I was glad to finally find a use for it. I managed to resist a tempting biff at 5A where I initially thought of cussed but thankfully it occurred to me it might also be CURSED before I’d bunged it in.
  11. Also back from holiday and glad of a reasonably gentle test. Failed to spot the Harry Potter stuff but LEMMA was a write-in. Story of my life.
  12. Yesterday’s 11 across from Dean Mayer in ST has me in a state of unfulfillable expectation. I’ll definitely be posting on that one next week. Today I finished in 35 minutes, about to biff SHONE for STONE when the previous PHILOSOPHERS plus the HARRY POTTER produced an Expelliarmus Spell on the false notion. I had to biff EIGHTSOME too, never having been to an orgy. COD POTTER by a short head from WARTHOGS. Great puzzle. Thank you U and setter.
      1. Yep, Guinness should win best advert by a mile. We won the Cup in 1958 with a team that cost £110, each player receiving only the £10 signing-on fee when turning professional. Peter Kay’s John Smith adverts should finish second.
  13. Stellar time, K. I managed nearly 6 times your score, thanks to a plethora of misspellings (and I’ve been to REIMS) garbled entries and general carelessness. And missing the Harry Potter theme even though it was in plain view, which would have helped with quite a view like the ingenious/impenetrable STONE. I’ll try not to feel too bad.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 09:25 am (UTC)

  14. A Monday stroll in 15 minutes, but with DELICATE and POTTER not really parsed, so thanks ulaca; I have been known to play snooker badly too, so should have re-spotted that black. Clever setter today, eh? Especially the WARTHOGS.
  15. chamber of SECRETs……IDENTICAL twins…EN PASSANT (famous chess game in book and film)…
    Didn’t spot it first time at all, very nice puzzle. <16, thanks ulaca and setter.
  16. 4:59. Seeing the clock tick towards five minutes I submitted without checking my answers, so was relieved and a bit surprised to find there weren’t any typos. This is my second time ever under five minutes, and at the time of submission I was at the top of the leaderboard, just above Jason. So I hope you will forgive me for feeling just a little bit pleased with myself this morning. Makes up a little bit for a miserable weekend of work.

    Edited at 2017-06-26 09:10 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks. I’ve just seen that Magoo clocked in at 5:11 so it’s very much a cup over-runnething scenario here in EC4 this morning.
        1. Wow congratulations. I am not sure if your Goblet is overflowing or on fire. After Friday’s NIMBE, you have clearly struck a rich seam. As well as NIMBY you may like to note NOTE – Not Over There Either.
    1. Emma Watson is a non-person in my household. This my daughter’s name but due to the more famous one, she cannot set up Facebook, Twitter etc accounts in her own name
      1. Does your daughter also get jokes about her middle name being Mentrymydear?
  17. I finished in 25:08, but crashed and burned with CHILT and DOTHER at 11a and 8d. I’ll blame it on a fuzzy Monday morning brain. Didn’t manage to work out the parsing for CATECHISM either, despite having it beaten into me at primary school. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and U. Oh, I didn’t spot the HP references either, apart from the crossing Harry and Potter. Clever stuff!
  18. As mentioned above, had a hard time with all the possibilities of S-O-E and got misdirected by the change of direction. With a RIMES as well this was DNF which doesn’t bode well for a Monday easy. A lot of Hufflepuffing over nothing…
  19. Is the nom de plume of one of the Guardian setters. His by-line is on this Saturday’s prize puzzle (which I haven’t had time to start yet). I always want an H in REIMS but that was my only hold-up. 14.17
    1. My info is it was in earlier times called Rheims in English – as in the poem The Jackdaw of… which probably colours your memory of the spelling. But in French only Reims is allowed. Like Lyons and Lyon. And I am told if you can pronounce Reims properly you can speak French like a Frenchman. It’s something like, hold your nose and say ‘rance’. Anyway it’s a nice place to visit.
  20. All but 1d in about 30 mins. Guessed Pickrook as I’ve not heard the word before. But I spoted the Harry Potter refernces despite not knowing the books/films/stuffed toys etc. So why no puzzle to reflect the other anniversary – OK Computer? We could easily have Karma, Police, Hawking, Paranoid etc. Perhaps it’s a bit highbrow for The Times. Thanks blogger and setter
      1. I thought they were pretty good, but admittedly my view was only from my sofa – might have been different had I been there in person.
  21. About 20 minutes (forgot to stop the timer) so, given some of the other times, it looks like I struggled for no good reason.

    Harry P and the P’s S was first published 20 years ago today, hence the Nina/tribute.

  22. The Lion of Vienna was always a fair player. Dennis Stevens shot, Harry Gregg palmed it up in the air and Nat rushed in hoping for the header. Harry just got there first and ended up in one corner of the net with the ball in the other. Nat was built like the proverbial brick outbuilding. It was a foul OK even then, but not a heinous one. They became good friends, telling the tale on the after dinner circuit. Kenneth Wolstenholme thought it a fair goal at the time, but he was a Wanderers supporter too.
  23. Didn’t Harry Potter also ‘put away’ Sirius Black? Never read them myself but I have an image of Gary Oldman looking very cross in jail
  24. In New York the kids shout Marco Polo! But I have heard them yell Geronimo too. The little I know about him comes from my older male cousins’ comics decades ago. Vamos amigos.
  25. Couldn’t unravel STONE. I guessed SCORE, in that it can be a ‘direction’ but it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the clue. One up for the setter. I was just stumped. Had I seen to ‘S to NE’ correctly, I would have figured that a stone could be brilliant like a gemstone, but straightforwardly, I was outsmarted. Better luck tomorrow, I guess. And I saw some but not all of the Harry Potter stuff, (like ‘HARRY POTTER’), never having read any of the books, but now pointed out, they do sound familiar. Regards to all.
  26. I found most of this quite easy (or I should never have been able to solve it in 34 minutes, being a bit slow generally), but there are some nice clues in it. I rather liked STONE once I understood it. My two guesses (fortunately correct) were PICAROON, which I believe I have never heard of, and POTTER, which I thought must have something to do with Harry P., although I have never read the books. The snooker reference would not have been familiar to me. Of course I didn’t realise that if not this clue, then the whole puzzle has something to do with Harry Potter — brilliant! (Oh, that’s in the puzzle, too, isn’t it.)

    Edited at 2017-06-26 07:58 pm (UTC)

  27. A DNF for me. Bah! A left to right solve, finishing in the NE corner but two along the way that I wasn’t sure about. STONE bunged in on the basis of S to NE without knowing brilliant as a gem the other was LEMMA where I thought that LAMDA might be a Greek symbol used in maths and that the novel connection was something I just couldn’t see. I knew it was dodgy but did not go back to it – I knew the novel and I’m sure I knew LEMMA. Should’ve had more patience. I’ve read the Harry Potter books but the NINA passed me by, as usual. I liked this use of flower in 15dn, nice clue for timpanist at 27ac but COD to 26ac.
  28. 8:11 for this pleasant, straightforward start to the week.

    I spotted the Harry Potter theme as soon as I started my final check-through (thinking what a coincidence that ROWLING appeared in the answer to 1ac) but sadly not before, so didn’t benefit from it while solving.

    Cracking time from keriothe. That Magoo had better watch out!

    Best commercial? My vote goes to another for Heineken.

  29. Nice theme – missed IDENTICAL and HOGWARTS, but saw the rest. Very slow time though, couldn’t get into the NE corner, a la McText. I note there’s only a single light connection between NE corner and the rest, so it’s not actually a “Times” grid, as per the list which Peter Biddlecombe published or linked to many years ago. The Times continues to morph into the Guardian? Themes, and random un-Times-like grids?

Comments are closed.