Times 26763 – does your derg bite?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Sometimes I don’t look forward to writing this weekly blurb because I didn’t much like or enjoy the puzzle. I have been known to be grumpy. This week was not like that; I found this tricky in parts, witty at times, fair play, and generally great fun. I’d finished the RHS quite fast but the SW corner took longer to twig; overall half an hour, with quite a few of those clues which go “ah, it’s probably xxxx, let’s see why it should be”. Such as 11a, 22a, and of course 3d, which were eminently biffable but subtle to unravel. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and thanks to the setter.

Definitions underlined.

1 Plant the fellow’s, having potted brown — it’s missed! (8)
HIBISCUS – As soon as I saw this clue I wondered if our setter today was also last Monday’s, as the snooker / Harry Potter idea seemed to be carrying on. Anyway let’s get today’s botanical test over with. HIS = the fellow’s, insert BISCU(IT) being ‘brown’ with IT removed.
5 Something on one’s computer screen, one swearing out loud? (6)
CURSOR – which sounds like curser. My FOI.
10 Discharge gas into drink (5)
RHEUM – The drink is RUM, insert HE or He being the gas helium. I can’t see or say the word ‘rheum’ without thinking of this and the like:
11 Waste processors unlikely to be put in again (9)
REINSTALL – TALL = unlikely to be, as in ‘a tall story’. But REINS, you say? The French word, also used in English (but not in Collins?) for kidneys, i.e. waste processors.
12 Patient on stimulant, capital (5-4)
UPPER-CASE – No Geography required. CASE = patient, on UPPER = stimulant. Capitals as in upper case letters.
13 Where a hand may be straight, one pointing the finger? (5)
POKER – Cryptic double definition. A straight in poker is any run such as 5,6,7,8,9. It loses to a flush.
14 Snooker player unknown in China (7)
POTTERY – Thankfully, no need for extensive sporting knowledge of the current flood of good Chinese players such as Ding Junhui or Xiao Guodong. POTTER = snooker player, Y = unknown.
16 A little bit sweet (6)
TRIFLE – Another sweet double definition. I like trifle, but it always seems to need more sherry in the recipe …
18 Something caught in one’s beard? Gosh! (6)
CRUMBS – Another double definition, one an exclamation, one a possibility. I did think of CRIPES ! before getting the beard thing, as I’ve never been unshaven for long enough to get anything caught.
20 Right out of shape having scoffed at task (7)
FATIGUE – FIGURE = shape, loses R, then swallows AT. Task, as in army fatigues.
22 Leading authority losing capital after backing an island nation (5)
NAURU – I got this having only the central U as a checker, because it sprang to mind. Twenty-odd years ago my teenage son and I roamed the Pacific on holiday for a few weeks (allegedly ‘bonding’), visiting islands and scuba diving, and I remembered looking up NAURU in my Micronesia Handbook and finding out it had very little to recommend a visit unless you were a phosphate miner or were going to jail. The bonding didn’t work very well, I just embarrassed him by talking to strangers. Anyway, the wordplay is: AN reversed, then (G)URU = leading authority losing capital G.
23 Effective Somme soldier? (9)
TRENCHANT – A trench ant could be a ‘Somme soldier’.
25 Flashiest rogue, not to be trusted (9)
26 Bones that are rarely seen in heads (5)
TARSI – Initial letters (heads) of That Are Rarely Seen In. bones in your foot.
27 Between covers of daily, some sheets of paper absent (6)
DREAMY – DY = covers of daily, insert REAM = some sheets of paper.
28 Sorry old man, turning modern (6,2)
PARDON ME – PA (old man), (MODERN)*.

1 Expression of dissatisfaction as resources initially cut in hospitals (8)
HARRUMPH – H H for hospitals, insert A R (as resources initially) and RUMP (cut, of meat).
2 High-pitched sound, line breaking audible signal (5)
BLEEP – Insert L into BEEP. There is some pedantic discussion online as to whether beep and bleep are synonymous. I think they’re just onomatopoeic.
3 Author I hate that occupies West Country royal address (8,7)
SOMERSET MAUGHAM – SOMERSET is part of the West Country in England; MA’AM is the royal address; insert UGH = I hate. I’d read some W. Somerset Maugham years ago, Cakes and Ale I think, but until this clue prompted me to go to Wiki I hadn’t realised what a rather sad bloke he was, at least until he became a rich, full time writer and lived openly with his copain.
4 Slow to act, having not studied theory, ultimately (7)
UNREADY – UNREAD = not having studied, Y = theory ultimately. As in Ethelred, perhaps.
6 Green sauce in pot, dish stirred around beginning to thicken (15)
UNSOPHISTICATED – (SAUCE IN POT DISH T)*, T = beginning to thicken.
7 Sit quietly feeding bullet, firing device (5,4)
SPARK PLUG – SLUG = bullet; insert PARK = sit, P = quietly.
8 Queen in disgrace upset kings, perhaps? (6)
RULERS – SLUR = disgrace, reverse and insert ER = Queen.
9 Lift provided, home being most decent (6)
FINEST – FI = IF (provided) lifted; NEST = home.
15 A shade sour and quite foul (9)
17 Mount the favourite? (8)
BESTRIDE – Your favourite horse would be your BEST RIDE. Mount as a verb.
19 Dolly, artist’s model? (6)
SITTER – Double definition, an easy catch, and an artist’s model.
20 On the house is a different plant (7)
FREESIA – Crumbs! Another plant, fortunately not too obscure. FREE = on the house, (IS A)*.
21 Having been set up, informer and journalist attacked (6)
KNIFED – a FINK is an informer, set up = KNIF; ED = journalist.
24 Stage part, and reduced supporting parts (5)
APRON – I think this is AN = AND reduced, PRO = supporting, insert PRO into AN (‘supporting parts AN’).

45 comments on “Times 26763 – does your derg bite?”

  1. 1ac HIBISCUS – 11ac REINSTALL – 1dn HARRUMPH!

    So I was there on the hour – unthrilled!

    FOI was 3dn SOMERSET MAUGHAM shortly followed by 6dn UNSOPHISTICATED so should have been much quicker.

    The NW Corner was my last outpost with 11ac REINSTALL LOI.


    I think we’ve had 17dn BESTRIDE recently in a similar form.

  2. Agree that this was an enjoyable workout. Some of the pennies dropped a bit more quickly than usual, with the excellent BESTRIDE being my LOI.

    Thanks setter and Pip.

  3. Sadly I found myself in our setter’s feared mood this morning, grumpy and not enjoying it. With a couple left in the NE and most of the SW left to do, I gave up after about 45 minutes.

    Not sure what caused this unusual early abandonment, but looking at what I had left I’m not sure I’d have got there anyway, so perhaps I saved myself a quarter of an hour of fruitless frustration, especially with the sporting reference (I knew neither word for the easy catch) and not knowing the kidneys and having got hung up on “reinstate”…

    Edited at 2017-06-28 07:09 am (UTC)

  4. 45mins with Overnight Oats (delicious). Sort of enjoyable in a masochistic way. My quizzical eyebrow got a workout on some of the synonyms today – so much so that I quit on trying to parse Reinstall as I just knew there would be something un-gettable about it. Favourite was Crumbs. Thanks setter and Pip.

    PS Since when did Brown=Biscuit? Very Farrow & Ball. Next we’ll have Grey=Elephant Breath.

    Edited at 2017-06-28 08:03 am (UTC)

    1. The colour “biscuit” is a pale shade of brown. Or so my dictionary says.
      1. I bet it says “Salmon” is pink and “Lemon” is yellow too. Has it gone so far as “Raspberry”?
  5. 45 minutes with only 17dn outstanding for the last 10 of those, at which point I gave up on it and cheated. Very annoyed because I had considered BEST for ‘favourite’ but had not continued with that line of thought.

    Didn’t know NAURU nor the required meaning of REIN but never doubted my answers were correct.

    Edited at 2017-06-28 06:49 am (UTC)

  6. Undone by shoot for 10a, O in shot, for the discharge of a rifle. Oops, thanks blogger and setter.
  7. I’m by no means an expert Pip but doesn’t a run beat a flush?
    Jerry, not signed in. ..
    1. No, Jerry, a flush beats a run, I had 15 years of Friday poker nights. But I remember from Schooldays, a run beats a flush in 3 card brag.

      Edited at 2017-06-28 08:06 am (UTC)

  8. This puzzle had me HARRUMPHing, a noise I didn’t think was in me. I was as UNREADY as Ethelred. I didn’t get APRON, TARSI or BESTRIDE, all of which were soluble but I was one hour in. It’s time for cakes and ale, or maybe a piece of toast. The clue for the biffed REINSTALL was impossible. without knowing something I didn’t. Annoyed at myself for not seeing BESTRIDE though, a good clue. Liked 3dSOMERSET MAUGHAM which I’ll make COD. Thank you Pip and also setter for the challenge. PARDON ME that I failed.
  9. I’m with keriothe – after several answers today I wondered why I hadn’t seen them earlier. SOMERSET MAUGHAM went in with only the first half parsed so I was relieved to find I spelled it correctly. I feel that HARRUMPH is a word too seldom used so I shall set about rectifying that.
  10. 18:16. Quite the opposite of galspray for me today, feeling thoroughly off the pace and with pennies dropping with a clunk after far more time than seemed reasonable. More doh! than Eureka! for me today. No fault of the setter’s, I hasten to add. I got an unusually good night’s sleep last night, that must be the problem.
  11. Excellent puzzle I thought. Loved “waste processors” and “firing device”. Good mix of clues. Thank you setter and well done Pip – yes I enjoyed it as much as you did.
  12. I enjoyed this with HARRUMPH and POKER (which I parsed as a triple def) being my favourites. BESTRIDE and NAURU went in pretty easily but despite this I was held up in the SW by KNIFED. I did know ‘Somme soldier’ from another time and place in crosswordland, but I was thrown by ‘Effective’ which was new to me as a meaning for TRENCHANT. Finished in a bit over an hour, still mystified by REINS and BISCU(IT) for ‘brown’, though now explained. Two more for the vocab.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  13. I always thought the author’s name ended with an “N” so that didn’t go in until I was sure it couldn’t be anything else; and I’ve learned something again. My FOI was APRON, but I took it out again as I couldn’t parse it, and then reinserted it when I got the crossers. I created the island nation from wordplay which then gave me my LOI, KNIFED. Never heard of REINS for kidneys, so that went in with a shrug. BESTRIDES took a while to surface. 45:45. Thanks setter and Pip.
  14. Pretty good clue for a horrendous word like HARRUMPH I thought! PSHAW next, and BRRR possibly.
  15. Another day of left hand quick, right hand not. Perhaps I’m working with a brain that decides it’s had enough at the half ways point and goes into dummy mode. My Mrs used to have a Bridge program in which Omar Sharif continually asked “shall dummy play?” The answer appears to be yes.
    On the other hand, liked BESTRIDE, even if it didn’t look much like the answer (I think I was looking for a mountain and could only come up with Rushmore, which is not helpful).
  16. Oh dear, the curse of the plant. I was feeling pretty good about 1a, because I’d actually heard of a HEBISCUS and it fit the cryptic nicely. Alas.
    Even with that error, a bit of a slow solve today at 12m 23s. I didn’t manage to parse APRON, and I wasn’t a fan of the indication in 26a – just ‘heads’ felt a little undercooked.
  17. Cricket eh – no wonder I didn’t get it. We had REINS a while back and it caused some comment then. NAURU crops up in the NY Times puzzles now and then. Quite a sprinkling of Us in this one. The Maugham short stories are pretty good – the best known being Rain and The Letter which were turned into enjoyable movies. 18.01
  18. …attempt this! In fairness I got most answers, which would have been beyond me a year ago. But crikey I need a lie down now. I’ve seen Apron somewhere which helped the SE (though I still don’t get the parsing). The long anagram helped. Hadn’t a clue about Reinstall but biffed correctly. Glad to get 1a and 1d quickly. But failed in the SW where I inexplicably put in Craned (Narc = informer?) so couldn’t getting the island. A puzzle Too far. Thanks setter and Grumpy (I even thought about Grumpy for the beard clue!).

    1. It’s essentially “supporting” parts “and” reduced, but structured Yoda-style. We had something similar on Sunday.
  19. 15:24. I took a while to get going then eventually I tuned in to the somewhat quirky (but enjoyable for all that) wavelength and proceeded in a sprightly manner until I got to BESTRIDE, which probably took 3 or 4 minutes at the end.

    Nice one.

        1. Me, too. Except I’m having a particularly dopey week and I thought “Aha! Penfold!” and confidently wrote in CRIPES.
  20. About 40 mins allowing for customers. I sell HIBISCUS tea so that was easy. HARRUMPH was FOI for me – seemed obvious, but NAURU and APRON went in unparsed. LOI was BESTRIDE – I needed all the help for that very tricky clue – a little Mayeresque I would say.
  21. Never read ‘Rain’, Olivia, but I have been to Pago Pago and found it a very unprepossessing place.
  22. Still feeling thoroughly off my game (and indeed the planet) after my Glastonbury Odyssey, but I suppose my time of 9m for this one wasn’t bad all things considered. No idea at all what was going on with the cricket clue, of course, and several other things went in deeply unparsed, so thanks for the blog Pip!

    Do you still want to blog that qualifier puzzle? As I say, still feeling a bit washed out, not sure I’d do it particular justice.

    1. I’ve solved the puzzle, but can’t write it up tonight (just about to go out) or tomorrow (on a wine tasting expedition all day) could do it Friday a.m. if that serves as soon enough. If I don’t see it up by tomorrow night I’ll do it. Pip
      1. Alrighty! I might yet be able to do it… if I can find where I put my completed grid…
  23. Reins, eh! That’s a new one on me. My podium finishers were 17d, 23ac and 3d. Over on the Club site, as one commenter noted, the enumeration of this puzzle is shown as 27763. Odd. We have a hibiscus in a pot outside our front door.
  24. 12:08 but showing as one error, so I was thinking there must have been a possibility other than REINSTALL, but it turns out I had a silly typo in HARRUMPH! Didn’t see the wordplay for REINSTALL or APRON, fun puzzle!
  25. Hi all. Had to biff REINSTALL and HIBISCUS. The reins and the biscuit aren’t familiar to me. LOI the dolly. Dolly? Luckily, I decided to ignore it and the rest of the clue pointed to the obvious. Regards.
  26. 51 minutes. Loved bestride, no clue about the kidneys, but biffed the answer easily enough.
  27. Completely bamboozled, struggling to nearly half an hour with a couple of silly mistakes. I seem to be right off my game this week, but this puzzle played to every weakness I have.

    Last in KNIFED and NAURU

  28. I enjoyed this one. A nice steady solve all done in 36mins 23 secs. I also wondered how “reins” meant waste processors, whether “biscuit” was a synonym for brown, how “fatigue” meant task and how “apron” parsed but they had to be the answers so in they went. Thanks for the explanations, blogger. I really enjoyed seeing “harrumph” and “crumbs” (which really deserves its own exclamation mark) in this puzzle, so thank you setter.
  29. [Error: Irreparable invalid markup (‘<not […] .>’) in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

    <Not had a chance to do the Xwd . Hmmph> A facebook missive before being forced out of house this morning. I’m counting that as an uncanny coincidence . . . . ok just me
      1. I’m no techie but I think the angle brackets made LJ think you were trying to write something in HTML.
  30. 12:10 for this interesting puzzle which I enjoyed very much despite not being on the ball. My compliments to the setter.

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