Times 26839 – Bird-watching statistics?

Time: 46 minutes
Music: Prokofiev, Symphony #2/Lt Kije, Leinsdorf/BSO

This was a rather odd puzzle, where both the literals and the clues required a lot of stretching.   I limped home in the end, but I will have to do a lot of research as I write the blog to figure out everything that is going on here.   At least I was sure my answers were correct, once I went through the trouble of working out the parsing.   I some cases, I was forced to play the Mephisto game, and put the words in from the word-play alone, and then try to figure out what was going on.

Whether you find this puzzle difficult or not probably will depend on your knowledge.   If you know a knot is a kind of a sandpiper, and a chela is a kind of claw, and shot is a kind of silk, you may do very well.

1 Nicking stuff, including key dairy product (8,5)
WHIPPING CREAM – WHIPPING + CR(E)AM.  It is not very clear how ‘whipping’ and ‘nicking’ are synonymous, despite various slang meanings that are in the vicinity.   Comment invited.
8 Hard time to be an Olympian queen! (4)
HERA -H + ERA, my FOI, and probably yours too.
9 Shot first of oxen with faint smell (10)
OPALESCENT – O[xen] + PALE SCENT.   If you don’t remember that ‘shot’ can mean ‘woven to give a changing colour effect’, you might get the answer but wonder how it could be correct.
10 Turning tail, eager to secure pink fuel (8)
KEROSENE – KE(ROSE)NE, where ‘keen’ is the word that ‘turns tail’.
11 A poet receiving oxygen on a train, perhaps (6)
13 Sound horse-breaker’s delaying tactics? (10)
FILIBUSTER – Sounds like FILLY BUSTER.   Originally a pirate in the Caribbean, this word came to be applied to using rough methods in the course of enacting legislation.
16 Way universities go about presenting a language (4)
URDU – U(RD)U, where ‘presenting a’ is pure fluff to make the literal work.
17 Eg Melbourne school briefly associated with West (4)
WHIG – W + HIG[h].   Lord Melbourne, of course, was a Whig PM.
18 Additional intelligence European leader held to be redundant (10)
20 Officers in the Spanish and the German churches, ultimately? (6)
ELDERS – EL + DER + [churche]S.
22 Cheek turned so far without advantage (8)
TEMERITY – TE(MERIT)Y,  i.e. YET backwards.
24 Fancying a kiss, I’m unable to drink? (10)
INTOXICANT – INTO X, I CAN’T.   I saw that ‘intoxicant’ could fit about ten minutes before I saw why it must be the correct answer.
26 A couple of bishops introducing English cleric (4)
ABBE – A + BB + E.
27 Depart after first attempt at filming the French in bar (4,4,5)

1 Required funds we used to clothe her as well (11)
2 State of house at foot of Cretan mountain (5)
3 Engage in writing of twee character (9)
PROSECUTE – PROSE, CUTE.   A really clever clue that is either very easy or very hard, depending on whether you see it or not.
4 Most dexterous action initially in Newcastle match? (7)
5 Claw caught husband, getting drink knocked over (5)
CHELA – C + H + ALE backwards.  If you don’t know the word, the cryptic hands it to you.    I boldly wrote it in without any checkers, as it seemed familiar somehow.
6 Pen leaflet to be sent with letter? (9)
ENCLOSURE – Double definition.
7 Legion sending off its last soldier (3)
MAN – MAN[y].
12 Fearsome, but again open to distrust? (11)
REDOUBTABLE – Double definition, one jocular.
14 Visiting valley? Fine to gather round chimney corner (9)
INGLENOOK – IN GLEN (O) OK.   We often get ‘ingle’, but this is the first time I’ve seen this word in a puzzle.
15 Crooked Republican made a lot, getting this under way (4,5)
ROAD METAL – anagram of R MADE A LOT, with a well-concealed literal.
19 It set up time and fee to measure a solution (7)
TITRATE – IT upside-down + T + RATE.
21 Sneaky-sounding attempt to find a place in Ireland (5)
SLIGO – sounds like SLY GO.
23 Cattle-catching device in store at Abilene (5)
REATA – hidden in [sto]RE AT A[bilene].   This word is often found in US puzzles, but is usually spelt ‘riata’ there.
25 Something other than a sandpiper, by the sound of it? (3)
NOT – Sounds like KNOT, which is a sandpiper.

43 comments on “Times 26839 – Bird-watching statistics?”

  1. I found this fairly Mondayish with 8ac HERA FOI as per Vinyl.

    My LOI was 5den CHELA but it was familiar.

    COD 11ac ABOARD and WOD FILIBUSTER which thne star-spangled TRUMPUS POTUS favours. A Caribbean pirate of Spanish origins, I’ll be bound!

    Re- 1ac WHIPPING CREAM – where I come from (Lincolnshire) if one has had something ‘whipped’ it has been ‘nicked’ – which I associate more wiv’ Lunnon talk. So no problem in my neck of the woods!

    1. You-know-who has now decided he doesn’t like the FILIBUSTER after all, even though it hasn’t actually made any difference so far on major legislation which failed or is failing because not enough Rs were in favour.
  2. I must have been way on the wavelength of the setter as I breezed through this in 8:44. Funny you mentioned Mephisto, as I did start a lot of answers off with wordplay rather than thinking of a definition and getting the wordplay to fit. Also helped that I knew CHELA and TITRATE from chemistry
  3. A relative breeze for me, too, 24ac and 27ac taking some time. I had the same reaction as vinyl to George’s comment; I wonder if he meant he knew CHELA, and knew TITRATE from chemistry? (autocorrect evidently knows neither). I knew CHELA from these cryptics, where it’s shown up a couple of times.
  4. 29 minutes for this, remembering the avian knot from a recent puzzle, with chela ringing a vague bell and reata confirmed as a reverse hidden when I had the second A.

    Re 3d, a charade (one word after another, for the uninitiated) is arguably the hardest type of clue, since it is so straightforward in an endeavour filled with conceits and deceit.

    In case it’s still not clear, whip and nick are both British slang terms for steal.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 03:46 am (UTC)

  5. I’m having a bad run at the moment with most puzzles taking me nearer to an hour than my target 30 minutes, and this was no exception.

    CHELA I dragged up from somewhere but REATA was unknown so I trusted to wordplay once the checkers had been confirmed. Didn’t understand ‘shot’ at 9a.

    I found INGLENOOK in two previous 15x15s, most recently in January this year clued as ‘Evidently valley life all bad — but this corner’s cosy’ in a puzzle blogged by me (all bad = 0 OK was particularly devious). In July 2013 it was clued as ‘Chimney corner in valley right outside Oban’s entrance’ in a puzzle blogged by Jonathan.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 05:40 am (UTC)

  6. If I hadn’t been in a daydreamy, whimsical mood this morning I might’ve got a p.b. here. As it was I came home in 35 minutes, which included 5 diverting minutes of looking up the WHIGs on Wikipedia having written in 17a (and unusually for me and history, even knowing it was Lord Melbourne being referenced before I did.)

    I was lucky enough to know all the obscurities bar REATA, though for someone who’s been to Crete a dozen times it took me ages to get the Ida of IDAHO. FOI 7d MAN (nice surface!), LOI 6d ENCLOSURE. Lots of excellent words today, but WOD FILIBUSTER.

  7. 13:10 …only REATA unknown but I needed time to convince myself of a number of things, especially INTOXICANT (nice clue)

    Last in KEROSENE

    1. Bet Olivia got this one easily; another frequent guest in the NYT puzzle, although usually, I believe, as ‘riata’.
      1. Quite right Kevin, I knew it for exactly that reason. The NYT does in fact sometimes have it spelled that way instead of “riata” and without a checking letter, reminiscent of the bad old days of the TLS. Also had CHELA from the same source. 14.03
  8. 29’18, with CHELA and REATA unknown, and I don’t think I’ve come across ROAD METAL before. Also, I took a long time searching for a cryptic at ENCLOSURE before seeing the double meaning. Doh!

  9. 7:37. Definitely on the wavelength this morning then, and yes I think it’s all to do with knowledge. I happened to know almost all the little obscurities needed for this puzzle (REATA being the one exception), having picked them up over the years of solving these things. I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across CHELA irl.
    1. Leaving aside Jumbos and Mephistos it appears the last appearance of CHELA meaning ‘claw’ was in May 2007, before I started contributing here. But it has turned up twice since then and before today, meaning a novice Hindu (May 2011 and June 2016), so that’s probably why I remembered it as a word.
      1. Hmm, interesting. Apart from the Times puzzles my only other regular solving habit is Azed, but I could easily have come across this meaning for CHELA there. Or I might just have misremembered it from the other meaning!
  10. 30 mins with porridge and banana. I liked this but it did feel odd somehow – some great words (filibuster, temerity), a DNK (Reata) and some crossword favourites (Chela, Road Metal, (K)not).
    Mostly I liked: Filibuster and Intoxicant (COD).
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  11. I found this straightforward despite my typical lack of knowledge as the relative obscurities were all fairly clued – REATA, CHELA, knot for sandpiper, shot for OPALESCENT. I had no idea where the definition was in the latter but the parsing was unambiguous. COD to FILIBUSTER just because it’s such a good word, up there with gerrymander.
  12. Indeed a strange one: felt hard and turned out a whizz, with a completion time in under 14 minutes, which included quite a bit of time spotting and correcting misentered answers.
    If you play word games, then a couple of these (the much-mentioned CHELA and RIATA) were the kind of words whose shape you know because they’re useful, but as to what they are…
    I very much liked INTOXICANT, and “again open to distrust” which prompted a word which could exist with that meaning but probably doesn’t – fine Uxbridge fare.
    Thanks Vinyl for staying behind after school to make sure everything worked.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 08:14 am (UTC)

  13. Interesting crossword.. evidently I’m not alone in finding it straightforward, despite some challenging vocab. Knew all except reata but the clue was unambiguous.
  14. Didn’t find this too Mondayish and took 32 minutes. DNK CHELA, REATA, not the definition of OPALESCENT, but the clueing was fair. COD NOT. Kerosene was called Paraffin when we had a Tilley heater. If you want to ring Ardwick 4343 then you’re my age and from Granada land. Thank you Vinyl and setter.
    1. #They asked me how I knew, it was Esso Blue? I of course replied, with other fuels I’ve tried, Smoke gets in your Eyes#
  15. Remembered (K)NOT but not SHOT and added REATA to my list of words useful for nothing but crosswords. Otherwise all tickety-boo.
  16. Done in a time of 41:53 which isn’t too bad for me, but I still found it quite tough and never really got into gear.

    DNK CHELA, REATA or WITHAL (the second part of 1d) so at least I emerge a tiny bit more knowledgeable.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 10:08 am (UTC)

  17. 20.30. As with so many others my world is enriched by a reata; also now I know (momentarily) titrate is a verb. Vaguely surprised a chela induces more angst than Mount Ida but that’s the effect of the chequered land I guess. Liked the 24 surface. – joekobi
  18. 17 minutes, on uncomfortable chair waiting for a CT scan. All straightforward except REATA was from wordplay only. As other chemistry types above, knew CHELA from chelate ligands and also from Greek origins. Have been to Mount Ida, one of the many birthplaces of Zeus, of course.

    Edited at 2017-09-25 10:22 am (UTC)

  19. 8m 25s. 1d was my last one in, not helped by the fact that I’d never come across ‘withal’, and I was not confident enough to put in ‘whipping’ at 1a for some time.
  20. Only knew chela from Kipling, but it had to be. COD Intoxicant; I like a clue that does exactly as it says, provided I can see it…
  21. 32m but 15 of them spent on NOT and INTOXICANT. This latter has already been much praised but I’m still struggling to see how the word fits the definition in any but the vaguest ‘and lit’ sort of way. I know I’m being dense and await enlightenment. Otherwise pleased to get some unknowns – REATA -and some only vaguely remembered – CHELA. Thanks for the blog.
  22. Nothing to frighten the horses here (apart from a REATA) but I did get stuck in the SW for a while until TAKE ONES LEAVE went in, and everything else fell into place. As above, I only knew CHELA as a Hindu disciple.
  23. CHELA, TITRATE (pronounced, in this instance, titrahtay) and REATA sound like a craggy Argentina back three.

    REATA confused me. I saw the parsing easily enough but when I cross-checked against ODO, it told me RIATA so that’s what I put.
    28m 17s with the aforementioned one error.

  24. We’ve had Mount Ida before, so I had no trouble with that. On the other hand CHELA and REATA went in from wordplay. I knew KNOT as a bird, if not specifically as a sandpiper, so that went in confidently once I had the crossers. Had forgotten the Shot Silk definition, which we last had as IRRIDESCENT, I believe, but it went in easily from wordplay. An enjoyable puzzle which took me 21:13. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  25. A pleasant 23 min stroll. DNK REATA but it had to be but was on the case with CHELA. Thanks S and V
  26. Twenty-three minutes, but it felt like longer, with only a couple going in on a first pass. Then my second neuron woke up, and things got faster. (“Faster” is a relative term – perhaps “less slow” would be more apt.)

    REATA was completely unknown, and CHELA had to be constructed from wordplay and back-forming from “chelicera”, of which I have one on a knick-knack shelf at this very moment (it belonged to a tarantula, has a 1/3rd of an inch of fang on it, and was not quite as painful as you might expect).

    The Mount Ida of 2d was vaguely remembered from a previous occurrence here (“I’m off to Mount Ida”). LOI was ROAD METAL, which I spent a long time mis-parsing. COD 24ac, INTOXICANT.

  27. Spent 21 mins on this one this morning, followed by another 10 mins to finish it off at lunchtime. FOI, as prophesied by the blogger, 8ac. At 9ac the word play led me to opalescent but had forgotten shot silk, so as also prophesied by the blogger, got the answer but wondered how it could be correct. Reata and Chela vaguely recollected from crosswords of yore. LOI 10ac for the sole reason that that was the way the cookie crumbled. Road metal was either unfamiliar or has failed to register from past outings. Pretty straightforward all in all.
  28. Thanks to the extremely valuable assistance of this blog I’m now completing or nearly completing a fair number of these puzzles on the day – still a long way to go before I get to the amazing speeds that many of you manage! Solved everything today except ‘prosecute’. A clever clue. Thanks to today’s blogger.

    I don’t think the small error in the puzzle number at the top of the blog has been mentioned here – should be 26839. MJS in London.

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