Times 27,095: A-Solving We Will Go

Any nagging suspicions that the Times 15×15 have been leaning towards the gentle side of late are unlikely to have been defused by this puzzle – the top left corner having all gone pretty much straight in for me, I was able to finish it on paper in 5 and a half minutes, only the white giving me a moment’s pause at the end, wine not being my personal tipple and anagrams of foreign words being a touchy subject in some parts.

The cluing is impressively concise and there are some nice misleading touches in the wordplay, but with more than a few borderline chestnuts this did feel like an expanded QC at points. Nothing wrong with that of course, they’re all quality Times Crosswords, Monday or Friday, big or small. COD to the excellent anagram and smooth surface at 5dn, and many thanks to the setter!

1 Flying stunt cut — nothing in it (4)
LOOP – LOP, O in it

4 British soldiers began without resolution, going west (6,4)
DESERT RATS – STARTED without RES, read from right to left

9 Withdrawal of touching drawing (10)
RETRACTION – RE TRACTION [touching | drawing]

10 Almost broke cover (4)

11 One refusing to acknowledge some yarn (6)
DENIER – double def
Denier is “a unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured, equal to the weight in grams of 9,000 metres of the yarn and often used to describe the thickness of hosiery”

12 Present Queen holds a view that’s disguised (8)
GIVEAWAY – GAY [queen] holds (A VIEW*) [“that’s disguised”].
A rare sighting of a “queen” in a crossword that doesn’t clue ER, R or QU.

14 Rough projection of Conservative newspaper (4)
CRAG – C RAG [Conservative | newspaper]

15 Merchant to supply white wine (10)
MONTRACHET – (MERCHANT TO*) [“supply”]. This is supply as in “in a supple way”, a sometimes-seen anagram indicator that is probably one of the cleverest. Much classier than “pants”, too.

17 Rogues copy Hitchcock character (10)
REPROBATES – REPRO BATES [copy | Hitchcock character]. The unimpeachably filial Norman Bates from Psycho.

20 Busy with leader of party out for change (2,2)
UP TO – (P{arty} OUT*) [“for charge”]

21 Some trust a gnat eventually to stop moving (8)
STAGNATE – hidden in {tru}ST A GNAT E{ventually}

23 Detain working student (6)
INTERN – double def

24 Nag man to adopt a change of direction (4)
MARE – MA{l->R}E. Left becomes right; nag as in a horse, not to pester.

25 Depressed on holiday, son collapses (10)

26 Helper overcoming fear finds machine taking money (4,6)

27 They may have it after motion, one’s recollected (4)
NOES – (ONE’S*) [“recollected”]

2 Excessively serious English composer’s appearing in public (11)
OVEREARNEST – E ARNE’S appearing in OVERT. Thomas Arne, 1710-1778, best known for a little number called Rule Britannia.

3 One calling to support unfinished harbour vessel (9)
PORRINGER – RINGER to support POR{t}

4 Good form last month nothing unusual (7)
DECORUM – DEC O RUM [last month | nothing | unusual]

5 Avoiding work whilst engaged in plays (8,3,4)

6 Exceed time limit for survey (3,4)
RUN OVER – double def

7 Not straight like part of SW London (5)
ASKEW – AS KEW, home of the famous gardens

8 Cheerful address to a lad overheard (5)
SUNNY – homophone of SONNY

13 Stripper bringing wrong tone into a country house (5,6)
AGENT ORANGE – bringing (TONE*) [“wrong”] into A GRANGE

16 Noble not up for launch preparation (9)
COUNTDOWN – COUNT DOWN [noble | not up]

18 Walk by brother to gather berries (7)

19 Second fiddle is one making a hum (7)
STINKER – S TINKER. Hum as in pong.

21 Small tree French writer’s climbed (5)
SUMAC – CAMUS from bottom to top.

22 Drying equipment is lighter after top’s removed (5)

42 comments on “Times 27,095: A-Solving We Will Go”

  1. Is Queen really okay for GAY? Times bible Collins has it as ‘a male homosexual who dresses and speaks rather like a woman’ (informal). We had Freddie of course, who didn’t seem to mind, but in general I’m wondering if this now borders on the ‘derog’.
    1. The particular defining the general at the very least, as according to the definition not all gays are queens.
    2. It did cause an eyebrow raise for me… not sure the Times is the most politically correct of papers or crosswords, to be honest!
  2. Yes, ‘nother easy one.
    Never knew that about denier. OED says “The unit is based on a length of 450 metres of yarn weighing 0·05 gramme” .. some pretty fine measuring equipment needed
  3. My LOI was MONTRACHET, which I can’t recall ever having heard of. Oh, well. I much prefer red, anyway. PORRINGER was another heretofore unknown. And SWINGING THE LEAD…? I looked up the origin, interesting story.
    I wondered about GAY and “Queen” too. Maybe it’s a bit derogatory—because presumptuous, so seemingly intended to be offensive—only if you don’t consider it merely a definition by example (all “queens” in that sense may be gay, but all gays are not queens).

    Edited at 2018-07-20 07:21 am (UTC)

  4. I never finish in 12.35 these days, but I did, nonetheless, today.
    I had a slight frisson over gay/queen, not because I have any objection, but because in today’s minefield of personal orientations someone will inevitably find it offensive, rather analogous to non Jews telling Jewish jokes. In Crosswordland, we are used to words being interchangeable just because they are, ignoring potential baggage.
    At least, for once, Queen didn’t clue ER – or is their something we should know?
    I solved SWINGING THE LEAD without initially noticing the anagram, analogous to taking a starring role. Don’t see why not. Unless, of course someone objects, in which case I meant to say “do see why not”. I hope that’s clear.
  5. I seem to have biffed a couple of these, like SWINGING THE LEAD–which I somehow remembered from an earlier cryptic–and AGENT ORANGE. Didn’t do me much good to remember SWINGING etc. since I mistyped THE as THL. ‘Queen’ is definitely not a synonym for ‘gay’, as it designates a specific type of gay man; a sort of DBE, I suppose.
  6. 35 mins with a porringer of yoghurt and a glass of chilled Montrachet.
    This must have the record for the two shortest anagrams: P,out and one’s.
    Mostly I liked: ‘touching drawing’, Stripper and COD to Repro-Bates.
    Thanks setter and V.
  7. Maybe if I think of someone eating lobscouse from a 3d PORRINGER accompanied by a nice glass of 15a MONTRACHET I’ll stand a chance of remembering some of the recent unknown vocab…

    Started well with 1a LOOP but then slowed down, dotting around hither and thither to finish in 45 minutes, with fingers crossed for the unknown wine as LOI, which could have been MANTROCHET, for all I knew.

    As with “rack” for “chest”, which has come up elsewhere recently, I think “queen” for a particular type of gay man is something I would hesitate to use unless I knew the company I was in would understand that it was meant with affection rather than malice. Seems a bit unusual for a weekday puzzle.

  8. Sprinted to the line in 11:47. I’m never this high up the leaderboard – I feel a nosebleed coming on.
    For once the couple of clues I set aside for later resolved themselves immediately on second reading and there were no unknowns. I have heard of MONTRACHET even if I can’t afford it.
    Mr Mayer’s in the DT Toughie slot today. I suspect he will be less forgiving…
  9. I struggled a bit in places but finished in 37 minutes which is not too far over my target. DK MONTRACHET and originally had MONTRECHAT (showcat?) which gave me some problems solving 13dn until I had corrected it. I think the gay/queen thing will cause some dissent in the ranks.

    Edited at 2018-07-20 07:12 am (UTC)

  10. Tet a week or two ago, agent orange today. Trump acting as Putin’s poodle a day or two ago, then a Russian spy arrested in US described as meeting the ex-ambassador Kislyak who also met all the Trump team, children, and appointees. It’s clear to me* Trump is a Russian mole, code-name Agent Orange.
    *It’s not.
    The crossword? Not as easy as most, held up by unknowns montrachet, porringer (looking for a proper name or a harbour eg Perth), the gather meaning of bramble, and the known but unexpected agent orange.
  11. … until you fall over. Long day at Nottingham yesterday so I’m knackered this morning. Neither the liver nor the budget could cope with the MONTRACHET at Marco Pierre White’s place there last night after the volume of lunchtime Pimms drunk. I took 31 minutes on this, thinking afterwards that I should have been a bit quicker. COD to REPROBATES, although it had to be either Norman or Marnie or I was out. AGENT ORANGE was a neat clue but even I can’t make chemical warfare clue of the day. Thank you V and setter.
  12. It’s becoming a bit of a cliché to mention this, but….had to guess MONTRACHET/MANTROCHET/MANORTCHET…

    COD to 5d, nice anagram, not noticed till half written in. Agree with others re ‘queen’. Hmmm, maybe clue ‘straight’ as ‘lothario’ or ‘roué’……

    21′ 30” thanks verlaine and setter.

  13. I make that two weeks of relatively straightforward puzzles and the SNITCH agrees with me showing a mere 12 point variation over two weeks (the week before there was an 83 point variation).

    COD to SWINGING THE LEAD which I biffed early on and thought that THE LEAD probably came from ‘engaged in plays’, i.e. the lead role. Now I see it was an anagram I’m much impressed by it.

  14. The NE corner put up the most resistance today as I tried valiantly to make an anagram of B(ritish) soldiers W(ithout). SUNNY was eventually the key to the corner, leading me to GIVAWAY, with the V then giving me RUN OVER, which led to DESERT RATS and ASKEW, with SKIN then closing the deal. I vaguely knew the wine but waited for crossers to get the vowels in the right place. PORRINGER also known. As 5d appeared, I also spotted the anagrist. Nice clue. LOOP was my FOI. 36:37. Thanks setter and V.
    1. If I met a man called Puligny Montrachet, I would assume him directly to be a cad and a bounder. In fact, I may change my name to it by deed poll forthwith…
    2. Not to have heard of the most famous dry white wine in the world would surely have been inconceivable for Times setters and solvers even 30 years ago. Times change indeed.

      Should the occasion present itself, avoid the mispronunciation (‘mon’ then ‘Trachet’) encountered from Brits abroad. It is ‘mont’ (‘hill’ silent ‘t’) + ‘rachet’ (‘bald’ in old lingo): mon rash eh.

      Now about £600 a bottle retail, four times this in most restaurants, for the vineyard-specific Le Montrachet. Other wines from the general area (puligny-montrachet or chassagne-montrachet) offer some of the fun at reduced prices (starting at £40 retail).

  15. At twenty minutes, this one was indeed on the gentle side. A few were put in only semi-parsed (for example, I was trying to relate AIRER to “airier”, but gave up). PORRINGER (though not its meaning) was familiar, as was MONTRACHET, and even this weeks obscure plant (SUMAC) left me unfazed.

    Thanks to setter and blogger alike, and a good weekend to all and one.

  16. So, despite it being Friday, the long run of solid but not too difficult puzzles continues. I felt there was something uncomfortable about queen=gay without being able to say exactly why, as has already been discussed above. And I was familiar with the MONTRACHET, even if my budget generally keeps me from going that far down the wine list.
  17. ….since I shot through it in exactly 10 minutes.


    Biffed SWINGING THE LEAD, but spotted the anagrind after finishing. Also biffed LOI MARE, where I spotted that “nag = horse” but couldn’t break a fairly straightforward surface (thanks V).

    Did anybody else try to make an anagram from “detain” ? Whilst I dismissed it quickly, it was a nice deception by the compiler.

    Unpleasant it may be, but COD AGENT ORANGE. Sensitivity was never one of my many failings !

    1. Yep, I spent far too long trying to crowbar a non-existent anagram of detain in there, it ended up as my LOI.
  18. 20’03. Perhaps the parsing for 9 is: on=re, touching=next to. I like the (possibly inadvertent) third way into 5 noticed by z, engaged in plays by making sure you get the lead role.
  19. I seem to be off the wavelength today – 15m 06s for me, so I found it fairly tough. There were some write-ins – STAGNATE, AIRER, RUN OVER – but many took a long time to fall. I wasn’t helped by the fact that I rejected an anagram at 5d having miscounted the letters involved.

    Looking back, several of these should have come quicker than they did – DECORUM, COUNTDOWN, NOES etc. – so I can see why others found it fairly easy.

    I’ll join the usual complaints about anagrams for foreign words – particularly, as a teetotaller, foreign wines! – but fortunately I guessed right on MONTRACHET.

  20. was the phrase at one time, so that no equivalence could be construed.

    Foreign wines! Unoxymoronic – whatever that may be. Wine has been a foreign concept to the Brits – which is why I am a staunch Remainer. Since I was in short pants I have only once been TT, for half a day – there were tears by bedtime!

    As for this Friday offering I must agree with Mr. Mauefw and found it fairly tough – I was rudely interrupted after 26 mins. and I struggled over the line just over 15 minutes later.

    FOI 1ac LOOP

    LOI 11ac DENIER

    COD 13dn AGENT ORANGE (hard work)

    WOD 15ac MONTRACHET – darlink, where’s the bottle opener?

    Foreign words as anagrams do appear to upset folks –

    Edited at 2018-07-20 12:13 pm (UTC)

  21. 11:56 … with some relief when PORRINGER (unknown) and MONTRACHET (vaguely heard of it but spelling unknown as my reading of the wine list usually stops at ‘house’) proved correct.

    Clever things and nice surfaces, of which the one for REPROBATES was my favourite.

    I’ll defend risqué clues (I did so on Sunday) where there’s some wit on show and it’s no more than a bit dodgy, but gay (as a noun) / queen (described without qualification as offensive in some dictionaries) is just incredibly gauche. Strange, unsettling choice in an otherwise enjoyable puzzle.

    Easy again, of course — though for the benefit of anon who had a pop at me yesterday, I’ll add “relative to other Times puzzles!”

  22. 26 minutes in two slugs with Dana the chatty taxi driver today. I think MONTRACHET is okay as an anagram answer, it might be ‘foreign’ but as it’s the most famous and expensive dry white wine in the world, I think it’s fair as GK even though most of us will never afford it. Or indeed justify the prices.
    I like AGENT ORANGE once I’d twigged what kind of stripper we were looking at, I was in nightclub mode at first.
    PORRINGER was a guess from wordplay once I’d written in RINGER. The rest was clear enough.
  23. No idea of time today as I fell asleep trying to do the crossword and follow the golf at the same time. Finished with MARE where I was trying to switch NSE or W without much success. As usual leaving the puzzle on hold for an hour allowed me to complete it with relative rapidity.
  24. No real difficulties, despite not knowing about why DENIER had anything to do with yarn, or what a PORRINGER might be. The gay=queen thing was odd, as I felt that the vernacular would hardly be a thing that would appear in these puzzles, and that there must be some obscure UK-centric Queen Gay person or character somewhere that the UK based folks would know all about. Apparently not. There’s a raft of other ways to clue ‘gay’, and I’m surprised the setter didn’t choose one and stay away from a perhaps touchy usage. Anyway, regards.
  25. A better choice would be the make of loo systems, Dauntless Rubberline.

    Edited at 2018-07-20 04:59 pm (UTC)

  26. 16:24 which is a PB for me, shaving at least a minute, I think, off of my previous quickest recorded time. I was very pleased with myself, even if it is a relatively easy puzzle. 1ac FOI. 23ac LOI because I spent ages thinking it was an anagram of detain. Porringer was half known. Queen cluing gay was a definite eyebrow raiser.
  27. I’ll try anything once (in the wine department), but I’ve never had the opportunity.
  28. The Kings Breakfast – “Here’s milk for his porringer, and butter for his bread”. And for some reason Montrachet is pronounced Mon Rachet, rather than Mont Rachet, don’t ask me why.
  29. Despite Verlaine’s comments i found this the hardest of the week and didn’t get very far. It all seems fairly easy once you know the answers! Both INTERN and NOES have been seen recently
  30. 15m. I was travelling yesterday so didn’t get a chance to comment. This is really just to record my time.
    Obviously I don’t regard MONTRACHET as remotely obscure. I’m a regular drinker of the Puligny- and Chassagne- varieties and I own a few bottles of the real deal, but given what’s been happening to prices in the last few years I will probably end up selling them.

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