Times 26827 – The Art of the Crossword

Time: 20 minutes

Music: Szymanowski, Violin Concerto #1, Kulka/Maksymiuk/NSOPRK

This was, basically, a very easy Monday crossword, as I biffed quite a few early answers, including a rather incorrect ‘plain speaking’.   Only the presence of a couple of words that are a bit on the obscure side force you to engage the cryptics, as I did for ‘ratafia’, ‘grisaille’, and ‘nucleon’.   I was detained a bit in the SE corner by ‘aggro’, ‘oddball’, and ‘loose end’, but eventually the cryptics came to my aid.

I do have a couple of blog announcements.   Helen Ougham has had to resign from blogging the Jumbos ending in 4 and 9, and Verlaine has generously volunteered to take over.   He apparently doesn’t have enough to do, now that the TLS blogging has come to an end.   Our well-respected  commenter and contrbuter, Galspray, has also had to resign.   His blogging position will be taken over by long-time commenter Johninterred, who has undertaken to blog the Friday Quickie every other week, and the Jumbos ending in 2 and 7.

I do admit that we have not had much luck in attracting interest in the Jumbo blogs, and I hope the new Jumbo bloggers can shake things up a bit.   Since the changes to the Crossword Club, the Jumbos now print (at least for me) with a large grid on one piece of paper, and the clues on the other, which make them much more convenient to solve.   I would hope that more people will now take them up, and remember to keep their copy for the two weeks until the blog comes out.   I can tell you that Jumbo 1282 is really quite challenging, and I urge the more skilled solvers to give it a go.


1 Round, round robin (8)
CIRCULAR – Double definition, where a ’round robin’ is more accurately a petition where the signatures are in a circle.
6 Mourn with girl after Mike’s fallen off stern (6)
GRIEVE – GRI[m] EVE.  It is rather unusual to see ‘Mike’ used to indicate ‘M’ outside of Mephisto.
9 Very alarmed picnicker upset with ants (5-8)
PANIC-STRICKEN – Anagram of PICNICKER + ANTS, a fine surface that I saw through right away.
10 Insect collections kept in ether regularly (6)
TSETSE – [e]T(SETS)[h]E[r].
11 Mark post for attention, which can keep up standards (8)
FLAGPOLE – FLAG POLE, where the whole phrase taken together is the wordplay.
13 Place visited on tour is confused factor in voting (4,2,4)
15 Diamonds missed by detection system, one giving false response (4)
LIAR – LI[d]AR, a rather obscure detection system, but it does exist!
16 Rather too pretty cut flower (4)
TWEE – TWEE[d], a chestnut.
18 Youth has a benefit posted, reportedly (10)
ADOLESCENT – A DOLE + sounds like SENT.
21 Worn out pointer, perhaps it’s back with warning light (3-5)
DOG-TIRED – DOG + IT backwards + RED.
22 A fine fabric found around small area of France (6)
23 No mountain speech is an easy to understand tongue (5,8)
PLAIN LANGUAGE – PLAIN + LANGUAGE, barely concealed.
25 Echo encountered in ravine in Washington? (6)
26 Eccentric daughter about to view something unexplained (5,3)
LOOSE END – LOO(END)N + D.  I was held back briefly because  a ‘loon’ is usually crazier than a mere eccentirc, but eventually I stopped quibbling.

2 I am beyond getting Oscar for picture-making skill (7)
IMPASTO – I’M + PAST + O, where Oscar is from the NATO alphabet.
3 Notice stunt arranged for one MP seeks to attract? (11)
4 Philosopher seen stripping (5)
LOCKE – [c]LOCKE[d]….I think.   Very far-fetched if I am correct, other suggestions welcome.
5 Informant has an order cut back for almond liqueur (7)
6 A girl lies wantonly in a style of painting (9)
GRISAILLE – anagram A GIRL LIES.   If you haven’t heard the word, you’ll have to guess; it vaguely rang a bell for me.
7 Tattoo colour loses power (3)
INK – [p]INK
8 Usual article found in Roman house (7)
12 Guards art gallery where the Constables have great power? (6,5)
14 Scent of badger in nearby country (9)
17 Band involved in little wild revelry (7)
19 Peculiar red, green, blue or black? (7)
ODDBALL – Double definition, reference to the point value of snooker balls.  The colors are given in point order, 1, 3, 5, 7.
20 Egyptian queen embraced by sister? That’s a very little matter (7)
22 Difficulties mostly increase after a gun’s introduction (5)
AGGRO – A + G[un] + GRO[w].
24 Just missing the frequency for broadcast (3)
AIR – [f]AIR.

67 comments on “Times 26827 – The Art of the Crossword”

  1. Your guess is the only thing I could come up with myself for LOCKE. But it seems like it should be “stripped,” not “stripping.”
    Fun puzzle, though.
    BTW, I find it *in*convenient not to have clues and grid on the same page for the Jumbo, and haven’t worked one since the club site changed.

    Edited at 2017-09-11 01:50 am (UTC)

          1. “Stripped” would be better, at least. If you put an indicator like “stripping” before a word, it would much more readily indicate that you must do something to it. “Stripping” after a word indicates that the word itself is “stripping,” as if that were possible.
              1. Well, I didn’t know that word, so thanks for that, but it’s still very difficult for me to see (I simply can’t) “clocked stripping” as parallel to “pasta cooking.” Surely “stripped” would work better for our purposes here, in any case.
    1. Guy, I think you should have access to the Times e-paper, and if so, you can print the Jumbo on one sheet from there.

      The gateway is at the foot of any screen of the on-line newspaper, in the black shaded area labelled ‘More from The Times and Sunday Times’. You need to go to the puzzle page and highlight the section you want to print using the built-in print facility.

      1. Apparently it’s too late for me to get Jumbo 1282, recommended by Vinyl, that way.The Crossword Club has this one listed for Monday, August 28, which is the earliest edition of the epaper now available, but of course the Jumbo came out on the previous Saturday.
    2. There is a recent thread on printing jumbos on the general forum. Using the epaper is probably easier but my subscription doesn’t include it
  2. Judging by British TV shows, I think “clocked” for “saw” is much more common in London than elsewhere in the Anglosphere.
    1. The use of ‘clocked’ to mean ‘saw’ is for me a relatively, ie last thirty years, phenomenon. It does coincide with my most recent period of living near London but I don’t recall it from two earlier periods. So I don’t know if it’s Lndon-based or a recent national development, which I guess doesn’t make this comment too helpful. ‘Clocked him one’ was used in my northern youth, meaning an act of violence either from irritation or in retaliation. Not quite the same thing, fortunately.
  3. The three words that were obscure to vinyl were unknown to me, pushing my time to 36 minutes. I also spent a fair bit of time thinking of an American word for ‘ravine’, getting as far as ‘pass’ – as in ‘we’ll head them off at the pass’, heard in so many westerns on a wet Saturday afternoon – but puzzled how it might fit in with ‘met’. Not to mention, a three-letter word for ‘echo’. Not to mention, that ‘pass’ has only four letters.

    Edited at 2017-09-11 06:02 am (UTC)

  4. 17 minutes, so 17dn!!! This is close to a PB I think. If I ever hit 15 minutes it would have been such a landmark I’m sure I’d have remembered it for ever, but it’s possible I’ve done 16 minutes on a rare occasion previously.

    I didn’t know ‘lidar’ but LIAR was a write-in and the wordplay made me think of ‘radar’ which is a detection system, so ‘lidar’ had to be an associated word.

    I also had PLAIN SPEAKING for a moment and needed wordplay to get to NUCLEON and GRISAILLE which have come up before but remain somewhat unfamiliar.

    1. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a current self-driving car, that spinning thing on the roof is the Lidar. They cost more than the rest of the car, so commercialized versions will be solid state, including laser, detector and electronics on three separate die thinned and bonded together. Cost, more like $20.

      I messed up by putting WHOOPIE without checking wordplay. So technical DNF. Took me about 30 minutes when I eventually actually started, so seem slow by everyone else’s standards. Nowhere close to a PB.

  5. Despite or probably because of being tiddly, I tore into this one at speed, not slowing down for the fact that I couldn’t quite see the parsing of RATAFIA, didn’t know GRISAILLE apart from it looking plausible as a word, and had no idea what was going on in LIAR… allowing me to sneak in under the 5 minute line. It could just as easily have been a DNF with 3 typos, so thanks crossword gods.

    I would agree that 4dn is not the easiest clue to “clock” and it’s just fortunate that the roster of A-list philosophers is quite small and easy to remember. I liked this one overall though, it didn’t feel too effortlessly Mondayish, there were things to think about and be amused by. Thanks setter and V!

  6. 30 mins with fruit, yoghurt and granola. I know.
    Maybe it is the worthiness of the breakfast or the turn of the year, or just me – but I feel a little let down by this one.
    Some great words to get your teeth into: Tsetse, Police State, Flagpole, etc – but we get collections in ether, Guards art gallery, and Mark post. It all felt too cautious: surely there was a chance for fun with Whoopee or Liar! But no. The band’s revelry is little and the liar needs an obscure gizmo.
    What sort of clue is 23ac?
    As I say – it might just be the yoghurt.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
    1. I wasn’t dissatisfied with this crossword until I read your comment Myrtilus, which is so obviously correct, that now I am..
  7. 14.36 marred by an ability to spell GRISAILLE with an L instead of an R, presumably the left handed version. Sounded just as plausible, even if the fodder was unsympathetic.
    Couldn’t parse GRIEVE, stupidly thinking it just meant the M for Mike fell off the back of something else. I know no girls called Grievem, but someone else might.
    I also initially had PLAIN SPEAKING, partly because my brain skipped the spelling of “tongue” and read “language” and refused to enter the same word.
    NUCLEON on trust from wordplay, though I’m sure I’ve seen it before. In my opinion, a nuclear physicist who can’t tell whether it’s a neutron or a proton (Chambers) should be allowed to make up a word to account for either, but should not be trusted with the Large Hadron Collider
    1. Hmmm … actually, it’s quite hard to tell the protons from the neutrons in a nucleus, as described in Wikipedia (under the picture for the nucleon entry): “But in an actual nucleus, as understood by modern nuclear physics, the nucleons are not distinct, rather they dissociate into their component quarks, which organize themselves according to the laws of quantum chromodynamics.”

      And setters should note that “chromodynamics” is only 14 letters, so is a candidate for a future crossword 😉

    2. That’s weird. I had exactly the same issue with not entering LANGUAGE straight away as I equated it with TONGUE!!
  8. … but with the last 6 on LOOSE ENDS and ODDBALL. Should’ve thought of the snooker reference. Never heard of lidar, but what else could it be? And GRISAILLE too was a never known/long forgotten word.

  9. 11:54. I didn’t find this particularly easy. Much of it was easily biffable but there were enough somewhat unfamiliar words requiring attention to wordplay to slow me down a fair bit. I got completely stuck for a few minutes at the end on LOCKE and TSETSE. The latter should have been obvious really: an insect with S as its second letter.
  10. Interesting to see three mentions (at least) of the Nato alphabet: Oscar, Mike and Echo.

    Found this reasonably easy, and enjoyed it.. at least til I came here 🙂

  11. LOI GEORGE, my youngest son’s name. I must tell him once he’s deigned to get up. My excuse is that I’m DOG-TIRED after yesterday, sadly not from making COD WHOOPEE but from a twice-driven CIRCULAR trip incorporating Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Limehouse for grandparents to see eldest son’s new flat. I’ve always found VANILLA a delicate and subtle flavour, no more usual than a Jalapeno, with its alternative usage undeserved. GRISAILLE was not the first anagram solution I found but the first that fitted. I’ve been away from the Physics too long, solving NUCLEON from the cryptic before seeing the literal. Quite an easy puzzle with one or two tricky moments, taking 25 minutes. Thank you Vinyl and setter.
    1. Blame mass-produced ice cream for the bad reputation of vanilla, since the delicacy and subtlety you mention, which I agree exists in the pod, is entirely missing from it…
  12. A Monday job, 12 minutes, equal PB, with LIAR and LOCKE not properly parsed, although I think ClockeD is the intended route.

    I do usually print off the jumbo, then don’t find time to do it; I’ll give 1282 a go.

  13. as dnk RATAFIA…isn’t the word ‘back’ redundant? Dnk GRISAILLE either, but wordplay fine. Would have been a 19′ Monday otherwise. Thanks vinyl and setter.
    1. The clue would work with ‘cut’ (although the surface would be a bit odd) but as ‘cut back’ has its own distinct meaning I wouldn’t call it redundant.

      Edited at 2017-09-11 09:13 am (UTC)

    2. I see I’m in good company. RATAFIA was my downfall also, and I was looking for a shortened word backwards.

      Edited at 2017-09-11 11:50 am (UTC)

  14. 13:51 albeit with three obvious answers not fully parsed. I have been away from London too long for CLOCKED to still be everyday usage and LIDAR is today’s new word. Otherwise very Mondayish.
  15. Much the same experience as others; GRISAILLE already seemed vaguely familiar, and it wasn’t one of those anagrams with many plausible outcomes; never heard of lidar, but its existence – leading to LIAR – seemed quite a lot more likely than radar leading to the word RAAR; and I had more vague memories of RATAFIA, not to be confused with raffia, as in the Mrs Joyful Prize.
  16. 29 minutes here, so pretty plain sailing. Luckily I looked up a few GRISAILLEs the last time the word came up (March last year?) and that seemed to help the word sink in. Also knew LIDAR and NUCLEON, though it took me a while to work out why NUCLEUS and NEUTRON were wrong as I only had the first N at the time.

    FOI 2d IMPASTO, the only significant hold-up my LOI 5d the unknown RATAFIA. Lucky to get there as fast as I did, I think, as “cut back” was nicely ambiguous, and “order” covers such a multitude of sins.

    I didn’t have a problem with {c}LOCKE{d}; maybe too much The Sweeney and Minder when I was young. “‘E’s been clocked around ‘er gaff a few times now, guv. Maybe they’re ‘aving a bit of the ol’ WHOOPEE…”

  17. RATAFIA unknown and last in. I commission LiDAR surveys often. They are very useful for creating detailed ground surface models under dense jungle.
  18. I think there is a typo in 26a, should be LOO(SEE)N D

    Couldn’t get flagpole, ratafia, or grisaille.

    For 16a why does tweed = flower?

  19. I’d have been a bit faster if I hadn’t put “whoopla” at 17d. Georgette Heyer to the rescue again with RATAFIA (supposedly a suitable drink for nice young ladies) and GRISAILLE (as in snuff boxes). 11.31. P.S. Vinyl, you have an extra S in “grisaille” in your intro.
  20. I was properly in London last week and looking forward to reading posts in real time, but somehow didn’t get to any puzzles until 8 or 9 at night. This was a nice Sunday evening to come home to. I had the same problems with the same words as others; I kept making the mistake of looking for the trickier rather than the easier connection when I got stuck. Thanks vinyl.
  21. 26mins and 3secs for me with mild hangover. I won’t say this was 8dn but it was pretty Mondayish. FOI 9ac, a nice clue but “very alarmed” and the collection of letters in “picnicker” point the way very helpfully. Never got stuck anywhere. LOI 16ac only because it wound up being the last one I came too. DNK the detection system but assumed LIDAR must be something like RADAR. Agree that 23ac is a bit weak. COD 3dn. Pleased to see the setters are paying attention to Dr Thud’s recent plea for more mesons, gluons and other subatomic particles, unless 20dn’s just a coincidence. Bunged in oddball clocking the snooker reference but not twigging that the clue was giving you all the “odd” balls. Brought back memories of Chas and Dave’s Snooker Loopy featuring Tony Meo, Steve Davis, the great Willie Thorne et al, which I still have to sing to myself to remember the order of the colours:

    “Pot the reds and screw back,
    for the yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black…”

  22. I thought I might be on for a record time after a good start, but hit a bit of a wall. 8m 49 all told, with RATAFIA the LOI – teetotalism hurting me again. Never heard of lidar, so I needed both checkers to plump for LIAR, and opted for GRISAILLE as being more likely than GRISALLIE or any other combination.
  23. LOI GEORGE couldn’t get past thinking of towns other than Seattle or Portland. Otherwise almost a record time if I hadn’t been involved with customers. BTW still getting a small rotating wheel on the new site…
  24. About 10 minutes, did it not long after it came out, and didn’t see the wordplay for LOCKE. I was lucky to have the I in the correct spot in GRISAILLE, though I think it has come up before
  25. 11:02 with the same sticking points as others.

    Oh, welcome Johninterred and Verlaine to the tumbleweed-infested world of Jumbo bloggage.

    1. Seconded ..
      I don’t expect the jumbo bloggers do it just for the adulation, but I am very appreciative of your efforts; even though I usually struggle rather to have anything meaningful to say, after so many days .. can’t even remember yesterday, half the time.
    2. FWIW I do always read the jumbo blogs and appreciate the effort. Like others though I often can’t remember much about the solving experience.
      1. Thirded or fourthed. As a one-time Jumbo blogger, I always tried to remember that I usually read and enjoyed those written by other people without comment, so (I hoped) the same applied to me…
  26. 17 minutes, but I had to cheat to get RATAFIA. I was fooled by “cut back”, which I took to mean “shortened and inverted”, so I was looking for an order of the form “_F__” rather than “F___”. And of course not knowing the drink (which sounds delicious – brandy with a hint of cyanide) didn’t help.

    GRISAILLE was, of course, also unknown, but was the most plausible arrangement of the available letters. On the other hand, NUCLEON and LIDAR were old friends. Also worth remembering for crosswords are the three types of atoms: anions, with a negative charge; cations, with a positive charge; and onions, with no charge.

  27. About 20 minutes, ending with GEORGE, and with the same construction of pretty much unknown words as others. GRISAILLE, RATAFIA, and the totally unheard of ‘lidar’. Dr. Thud, I will probably remember the onions forever. Thanks for that. Regards.
  28. Oh dear, a “technical” DNF today, with the same mistake as paulmcl. Only I did check wordplay, but my fingers seem to have typed WHOOPIE. Otherwise a quick solve, with LIDAR the only new word today.
  29. Encouraged by the description ‘very easy Monday crossword’ in the blog, I had a go – I usually stick to the quick cryptic. 37 minutes – my fastest time by far! I will persevere…
  30. Catching up on crosswords after a long weekend in the reception light Lake District. This one took me 32:27, so reasonably easy. Started with PANIC STRICKEN and finished with NUCLEON. Held up at the end by GEORGE, ALSACE, LOOSE END and AGGRO. Spotted (c)LOCKE(d) probably due to watching John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, and being clocked at 37mph in a 30 limit some years ago. Had the same blind spot as Z with tongue and language. Strange things, brains! Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  31. 15across:D for diamonds?Is this common usage?I m wearing my Ds tonight?E for echo?Well,maybe,but not to me.

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