Times 26863: Trouble in Futhark City?

I have no time for this one, as it was done while watching golf on TV.   Justin Thomas, despite a couple of mistakes, is an absolutely fearless player, and the US now has the top three golfers in the world rankings.   We’ll see if that lasts until the Ryder Cup.

Oh, the puzzle, you say?   Well, it is a rather difficult thing to suggest that a puzzle contains an error, but it sure looks to me like the clue for 22 down comes from an earlier revision of the puzzle, as it is difficult to see how ‘cy’ can be a game, or how a ‘cynic’ can be ‘like old characters’.   On the other hand, ‘runic’ fits both the wordplay and the literal perfectly, but makes ‘sitcom’ impossible.   I therefore suspect that something got lost along the way; I invite the editor or the compiler to correct me if I’m wrong.

If there was indeed an error, that is too bad, for this was a fine, high-quality puzzle with a lot to like.

Much later: the clue of 22 down has now been corrected, as ‘Participating in democracy, nice diplomatic type (5)’, a simple hidden word. 


1 Devices for measuring radioactive element in green fruit (6)
GAUGES – GA(U)GES, not hard as we just had ‘greengages’ a few days ago.
5 Shabby old magistrate, a leftie (3-5)
DOG-EARED – DOGE, A RED, a likely-enough accusation.
9 Present image, but not one to get acclaim (10)
CONTRIBUTE – [i]CON + TRIBUTE.   I nearly put ‘distribute’, but hestitated because it didn’t fit the cryptic.
10 Maybe Irishman in a storm, half confused (4)
GAEL – GALE with the last two  letters reversed, a kind of man who is also found in Scotland.
11 Miserly at first, you and I will have good intentions (4,4)
12 Difficult having little King in manger (6)
13 Old horse half visible in architectural feature (4)
OGEE – O + GEE[-gee], a stock word in US puzzles.
15 Trouble-maker having nothing, half-educated, loutish (8)
IMPOLITE – IMP + O + LITE[rary].
18 Wicked greed somehow makes one troubled (8)
BADGERED – BAD + anagram of GREED
19 Player returned from injury? (4)
BACK – double definition, so simple I had my doubts, but that’s what it is.
21 Funny show with model beginning to caress old male (6)
SITCOM – SIT + C[aress] + O + M.
23 Parsimonious person before rendering penitential psalm (8)
MISERERE – MISER + ERE, another very simple one.
25 Do well in life without good school (4)
ETON – [g]ET ON.
26 Irish stick, possibly illegal, used by husband? Keep quiet about that (10)
SHILLELAGH – S(H + anagram of ILLEGAL)H, be careful where you put the ‘a’ and the ‘e’.
27 Kitchen stuff about to be brought to part of garden (8)
28 Short-lived insect won’t necessarily take off (6)
MAYFLY – MAYFLY, double definition, one somewhat jocular.
2 Pay the price, expressing no disagreement (5)
ATONE – AT ONE, a chestnut.
3 Printer has begun Roget in new format, missing nothing out (9)
GUTENBERG – anagram of BEGUN R[o]GET, which most solvers will biff.
4 Chartist looks happy (6)
SMILES – double definition.   I had to think a minute before calling Samuel Smiles to mind – you could look him up.
5 Sadly undone by limited provision of insurance policy (6,9)
6 Primate sounding cheerless on recording (5,3)
GREAT APE – sounds like GREY TAPE.
7 Van Gogh regularly starts to retreat, obviously disturbing behaviour (5)
AGGRO – [v]A[n] G[o]G[h] + R[etreat], O[bviously], a rather complicated cryptic.
8 Greece isn’t working — protesters ultimately coming out animated (9)
ENERGETIC – anagram of GREECE I[s]N’T, subtracting the last letter of PROTESTORS.
14 Boy guarded by soldier on list, upcoming fighter (9)
GLADIATOR – G(LAD)I + ROTA upside-down.
16 ‘Flexible friend’ gets millions spent — in such a manner? (9)
17 After concert I understand someone I must oblige? (8)
20 Shelter unknown character found in a poor part of town (6)
22 Like old characters in game, less than completely pleasant (5)
CYNIC – As discussed in the introductory text, this doesn’t seen to be parsable.   CY + NIC[e] does not match the clue we’ve got.
24 Designation for Victoria, set to be a star (5)
RIGEL – R.I. + GEL.   Apparently, an abbreviation of Regina Imperatrix, referring to Victoria’s role as Empress of India.

44 comments on “Times 26863: Trouble in Futhark City?”

  1. I had the same problem with RUNIC being obviously right until I got to SITCOM which was even more obviously right. I went for CUNIC on the basis that there is Cuneiform so maybe there is some old writing thing with that CUN…start. Not that I know any game called CU but “see you” seemed at least plausible. But an error seemed even more plausible.

    Had to guess Samuel Smiles was a chartist. I know him from “Lives of the Engineers.”

    So a sort of technical DNF (NPTF not possible to finish).

  2. Yep, shurely shome mishtake. I didn’t submit as I could see no sensible way to finish the puzzle, but around 15 minutes before deciding this was a rare error.

    Longish clues but some fine surfaces.

    I put together one puzzle a year and struggle to keep mistakes out of it. It says something about the care with which Times staff prepare the countless puzzles for publication that a mistake comes as a real surprise. Actually, it’s quite nice to know they’re human. Namaste.

  3. like Paul says, only I finally put in ‘conic’ instead of ‘cunic’; the Y didn’t occur to me. Sotira is right, of course, but damn!
  4. More rage from me this morning after what had seemed was going to be a 20 minute stroll in the proverbial turned into 40 minutes of frustration as I struggled with my last three in, discovered an error in the puzzle and three more of my own making.

    For all v1’s saying that 2dn is a chestnut (and normally I’d be at one with him on this), without the middle checker in place I failed to spot it and became fixated on the answer perhaps being ‘agree’, and I might have written this in but for it being part of ‘disagreement’ in the clue and there being no indication of a hidden answer. Also ‘agreeing’ a price is not quite the same thing as ‘paying’ it.

    Anyway, I sorted out that corner eventually and took my attentions to the missing 21ac where I was so sure of the checkers I never considered a mistake in the clues, and having failed to come up with anything to fit _I_R_M, I resorted to aids which delivered three unknown words I looked up hopefully, only to find their definitions didn’t fit. Then in total frustration, I used ‘reveal’ only to find the given answer was SITCOM and 22dn was CYNIC instead of ‘runic’ which had so obviously been correct in accordance with the clue.

    Then to add insult to injury I found I had misplaced the A and the E in the Irish stick and had written ‘regal’ at 24dn. I knew of the star but not how to spell it and ‘regal’ seemed highly probable, and also fitted as a possible designation for any monarch with Victoria simply being an example, albeit an unsignalled one.


    Edited at 2017-10-23 05:24 am (UTC)

    1. Just in case anyone misunderstands me, I hope readers realise my ‘rage’ is more about my own errors than the misprint in the puzzle, although that was indeed mildly annoying.
  5. 6minutes on the timer before ragequitting over the impossibility of resolving the RUNIC/SITCOM cross. This is literally the worst thing that has ever happened!
  6. I had “CYNIC” ready to go in as the most likely answer in 22d—I suppose the Cynics are old characters—but I had also spotted RUNIC, which I could actually explain, and thought it was likely there was some kind of problem with the puzzle. I therefore came here with 22d’s second letter blank, prepared be proven an idiot. Glad I wasn’t.

    So, a not-my-fault DNF in 56m, as far as I can see; FOI 3d GUTENBERG, LOI-that-I-actually-wrote-in 2d ATONE, as it took me a very long time to get 1a GAUGES. (If Allegri hadn’t come up in the last month I would never have listened to his MISERERE, which would have made 23a a lot harder, too…)

    Thanks to both blogger and setter, who is forgiven by dint of cluing a Chartist that even I could get from the wordplay 😀

  7. 45 mins with yoghurt, banana and home-made granola – what a treat. And I enjoyed the crossword – except DNK OGEE (but wordplay helped), DNK Victoria designation, but did know the star.
    Put in Sitcom first – but still knew it had to be Runic: game is so often RU.
    Mostly I liked Atone (COD).
    Thanks setter and Vinyl
  8. 35 minutes with the R and C overlaid on the SITCOM/ RUNIC non-crosser. The RC church in confusion? I think that Martin Luther was the setter, having first nailed this crossword, printed by 3d, to the Wittenberg church door 500 years ago, to tell us it’s not enough to 11a which won’t 2d for your sins. Sing a 23a, celebrate or not give a bugger according to taste. As a true Anglican, I’m doing a bit of all three. COD MAYFLY. Thank you V and setter.

    Edited at 2017-10-23 08:29 am (UTC)

  9. Hmm, I’ve been doing these daily cryptics since the mid 1960s, and this is the first error of this type that I can recall .. so Sotira is right (as usual), no need to get too aereated.

    Actually I quite liked this relatively easy crossword, right up until ..

    I see that a number of folk have 100% “correct” solutions. Does anyone know what that is? I’m guessing cynic is the answer to 22dn, and its clue is wrong. Our esteemed setter put cynic, so perhaps he knows for sure

  10. I whizzed through until the misfit between RUNIC and SITCOM, so bunged in the likely momble SITROM hoping it was short for ‘situation romantic comedy’ or the setter or editor had made a booboo. 15 minutes except for that and a lucky toss up between SMILES and SMILER. Never heard of said George, only Mr SMILEY.
  11. I was asked to change DIGRAM/RUNIC (DIGRAM being an alternative form of DIGRAPH, a word which many primary school pupils now know about, being adjudged too obscure)to SITCOM/CYNIC and so provided two new clues. Regretfully only one of these made it through to the paper.
    1. Dunce’s cap time for me I am afraid.
      Apologies to setter and solvers.
      DIGRAM had to go as it is not in any of my dictionaries (to my surprise)


  12. I realised fairly early on that the SITCOM/RUNIC pair were unreconcilable and it didn’t seem worth trying to complete the rest. Shame.
  13. Really enjoyed this one. Didn’t know the VI designation but the star was in my orbit. 19m; thanks setter, editor and blogger. When I printed this off from the website the 21ac/22dn problem had clearly been sorted so it gave no consternation.

    Edited at 2017-10-23 10:13 am (UTC)

  14. The thing had been fixed by the time I got to it (5.40a.m. NY time). I don’t think I’d have been able to do more than flip a coin between “cynic” and “conic” with the earlier clueing. Pity because it was a nice puzzle. I liked the architectural horse. 15.27
  15. Club site not working for me, so completed on main site. CYNIC clue simply a part of ‘diplomacy, nice’ so was unaware of the hullabaloo. LOI ATONE which was at the end of my alphabet trawl.
  16. I’m getting the ‘spinning wheel’ again when I try to get the puzzle on Windows 7, so had to use android on my tablet, which slows me because of need to fix fat finger errors.
    No problem at 23dn as correct clue was up by the time I had the puzzle, but had to submit under an alternative username (phmfan2) as club doesn’t recognise me on a different machine
  17. Flummoxed like everyone else by the 21A/22D cross-over. I followed pipkirby in inventing a word – SITROM (for “situation romantic comedy”) – which of course did not explain how the first letter of “caress” could be R. Having decided that SITCOM had to be the right solution, I then decided that CYNIC must be a reference to a follower of Diogenes and hence an”old character”! That in turn, however, did not explain how CY could be “game”. To add to my woes, i unthinkingly entered REGAL instead of RIGEL at 24 down. Ah well! All that aside, in other respects an enjoyable puzzle.

    Thanks to setter and editor for their explanation of what went wrong.

  18. For the errant crossword editor! ‘Cock-up’ as Tom Hanks would say.
    About 45 mins on the road.
    horryd shanghai
  19. I was lucky enough to have been made aware of the error, by Mohn2, when I did the QC, and checked the blog for that. However, having not awoken until 10:30 today, by the time I came to the 15 x 15, the error had been fixed, and I completed in 28:27. Unfortunately I didn’t know the Chartist, and unlike Pip, plumped for SMILER. Boo Hiss! Otherwise an enjoyable puzzle. Only vaguely knew the architectural feature, but the wordplay helped. MISERERE was a write in. FOI, MEAN WELL, LOI, ATONE. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  20. Dnk the Chartist but “looks happy” just persuaded me to go for “smiles” over “smiler”. Knew the star if not the imperatrix designation at 24dn. Took a while to conjure “contribute”. Disappointed at the rare, irreconcilable 21ac 22dn error where I had sitcom and cunic on the basis of some variant of cuneiform though realising it had to be an error because the clue was clearly indicating runic. A DNF but not of my own making.
  21. Still a good puzzle. Commiserations to setter and ed, but not too much the worse for it!

    (Remember to change it before it goes up to the yearly book!)

  22. Oh dear. I guessed Smiley (is it fair to have ambiguous checkers for such clues?), biffed Regal without thinking (although I knew the star) and, sadly, My printed version of the grid doesn’t lend itself to corrections and I ended up with Conic. So DNF in about 30 mins and a new word in the old head (Ogee also guessed).
  23. I googled “smiler” to learn that Miley Cyrus fans are known as smilers. And Miley Cyrus is in the charts!
  24. I created enough problems for myself without needing outside assistance although I sussed that there was an error. My printout also had “looks unhappy” at 4d. At least that’s how my brain interpreted the signals sent from my eyes so that took ages to get. I also goofed with REGEL (Royal Empress?)

    Incidentally Vinyl1, your bloggage on the error contains an error itself (the old across/down confusion).

    Edited at 2017-10-23 03:29 pm (UTC)

  25. Exactly like paulmc, had RUNIC, but then after head scratching realized that the across answer needed to be SITCOM, so threw CUNIC into the remaining space. Not much else to say, other than I entered SMILES without any idea of who this Chartist might be. Regards.
  26. I’m glad I got up late this morning and missed all the kerfuffle. I didn’t know Samuel Smiles was a Chartist but knew he existed because of his famous “Self-Help” book. Took a lucky punt on it. 27 minutes. Ann
  27. I’ve just googled Mr Smiles out of curiosity and discovered that he is the great-great-grandfather of Bear Grylls! Another bit of useless knowledge…
  28. Sometimes it pays to be a late starter so the clue for 22d had been sorted out by the time I got round to this. My difficulty was with R.I. in 24d so thank you, vinyl1.
    I enjoyed MAYFLY as that was what the printed daily schedule of flights handled by an airline I once worked for at Gatwick was called. They may fly, they may not.
  29. Doing this on iPad with The Times app has the advantage that you know your time or alternatively your mistakes. RUNIC was hard to displace but SITCOM was so obvious I had to regroup. The only thing that I cannot trace is the revised clue. No problem RR and setter, these things happen. Thanks setter and v.

    Edited at 2017-10-23 09:44 pm (UTC)

  30. Got SITCOM, got RUNIC, both easy and obviously correct, realised there must be some nonsense. But setter’s rueful explanation of it adds, purely incidentally, a further oddity. His original DIGRAM for 21 ac, he tells us unhappily, was judged “too obscure”. Really? Even aged over 80, no school pupil, I’ve met it. Yet 24dn, RI-, Regina Imperatrix, “designation for Victoria”, was thought OK? I could have spent a week working that out. Crossword editor’s knowledge is no doubt and should be wider than mine, but distinctly quirky (the clue for whose QU-, a day or a two ago, I found also pretty odd, though not difficult to guess).
    1. But at least RI can be back-checked in Chambers and Collins. DIGRAM – as the editor said – is absent.
      ~ Nila Palin
  31. As it was Monday and I was on a train I devoted a fair bit of time to this. Like others corrected Runic to allow Sitcom, rejected Cynic and went for Cunic.
    And I put Regal at 24d as Rigel was unknown ( although I know someone called that). David
  32. So when was Smiles a Chartist? I couldn’t seen what else it could be, but thought he was a fairly right-wing type. I did look him up, but found no mention of Chartist activities.

    Is this another compiler’s error?

  33. So how does the real clue work? I can see the letters are in the sentence, but where’s the definition of a cynic?

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