Times 27127 – Syracuse, not Thebes

Time: 30 minutes, more or less, interrupted by a phone call from my brother
Music: Stan Getz, Reflections

I just happened to notice that this was a Bank Holiday puzzle, and was fearing the worst.  Fortunately, it was quite easy except for a couple of entries.   Even if you are familiar with ‘lemma’ in logic or mathematics, you may not know its secondary meaning of  a subject heading.    And if you are an ‘overseas solver’, you may be hard pressed to come up with ‘Roedean’.   How did I do it?   Fortunately, I am enough of an Anglophile to have heard of the gorgeous young ladies with posh accents who might be found emerging from a Chelsea tractor in Mayfair.

Most of the puzzle was quite easy, and the defintions are obvious enough to allow a lot of biffing.  That’s pretty much what I did with some of the longer clues.

Now for a bit of policy, odious as that is.   We are here to discuss the crosswords in the Times of London.   Any sort of discussion arising from the actual clues and answers is pretty much fair game.   However, off-topic comments on politics and other such controversial subjects are not required, and egregious offenders will be told in no uncertain terms to stop.  I believe many of the commenters are under the illusion that this is a private little club of fifteen or twenty people, but TfT is in fact read by thousands.   Before you post, please consider whether what you have to say is on-topic and of interest to the general solving public.

1 Nasty odours — that’s disgusting bread! (9)
6 Course of a good person holding firm (5)
9 Slippery customer in group that’s dancing (7)
10 See maiden being put off by head of faculty in school (7)
ROEDEAN – RO[m]E + DEAN.   I’m not sure if solvers who have never heard of the school could get it from the wordplay – comments?
11 Victor appears to be most important in call (5)
VISIT – V IS IT, where ‘victor’ refers to the NATO alphabet.
13 Greek tyrant insidiously bad, one beginning to lash out (9)
DIONYSIUS – Anagram of INSIDIOUSLY – I – L[ash].   Many solvers will biff, especially if they know Greek history.
14 National figure in America needing staff (9)
16 The old man needs two assistants (4)
PAPA – PA + PA, i.e. Personal Assistant, a UK-ism that nearly everyone knows by now.
18 Fusses about drink (4)
SODA – ADOS backwards.
19 Overworking, Carol catches what can be caught (9)
STRAINING – S(TRAIN)ING.  Surprisingly, I got the envelope easily, but couldn’t think of TRAIN for longest time.
22 Study of chin is agreeable (9)
CONGENIAL – CON + GENIAL.  A play on two different roots.   The ‘genial’ ithat means ‘amenable’ comes from the Latin ‘genialis’, ‘festive’, while the ‘genial’ that means ‘pertaining to the chin’ comes from the Greek ‘geneion’, ‘chin’. 
24 Lexicographer’s beginning with novel headword (5)
LEMMA – L + EMMA, crosswordland’s second most favored novel.
25 Trance is back, one knocking son out (7)
REVERIE – REVER[-s,+I]E, a simple letter-substitution clue.
26 Follower of artistic style, pop, as it changed (7)
DADAIST – DADA = anagram of AS IT.
28 Yen after study to make dosh (5)
READY – READ + Y, a bit of a chestnut.
29 Boy clear and always poetic, becoming an imitator of Shakespeare? (9)
1 Hears confession of hers: is Rev ultimately devious? (7)
SHRIVES – anagram of HERS IS [re}V – I hope everyone knows the word.
2 Cat not wanting piano as musical instrument (3)
UKE – [p]UKE, oh, that meaning of ‘cat’.
3 Bitty food melts away, isn’t to be eaten (8)
4 Encouraged to be purified with head obscured (5)
URGED – [p]URGED – two letter removal clues that are almost adjacent, and it’s even the same letter!
5 A funny brother, exceptional person who has “a whale of a time”? (9)
HARPOONER – HARPO + ONER.   I tried to make an anagram of ‘brother’, and I’ll bet you did too!
6 Primate I listened to repeatedly (3-3)
AYE-AYE – sounds like I, I, a popular primate in crosswordland.
7 Male circle is broken with female finally out in priestly system (11)
CLERICALISM – Anagram of MALE CIRCLE IS – [femal]E, a clue well-suited for biffing.
8 Fish — is one netted in that country? (7)
TUNISIA – TUN(IS I)A,  a nicely deceptive clue where many solvers will look for a fish as the answer.
12 Scrutinise noise over a Roman way somewhere in Europe (11)
15 Avoid accepting points — there’s obscurity here (9)
MISTINESS – MIS(TINE, S)S – where one point is on a fork and the other one is on the compass, winning COD from me for clever wordplay.
17 Man maybe cut short in trick move (8)
DISLODGE – D(ISL[e])ODGE.   Curiously they have never used Henry Cabot Lodge in these sorts of clues.
18 Dog kept by wise person is better protected (7)
20 Hard worker needing good support in the house? (7)
GRAFTER – G + RAFTER, a word that has entirely different meanings in the UK and the US.  The Times is a UK newspaper, so we get the UK meaning.
21 Shop to take risk with minimal light? (6)
BETRAY – BET + RAY, one ray being presumably not much in the way of illumination.   No point in wagering a fish, I suppose.
23 Optical device functioning gets one fooled (3,2)
LED ON – LED + ON, in different senses.
27 Rocks in circle, odd ones invisible (3)
ICE – [c]I[r]C[l]E, one escaped from the Quickie.

75 comments on “Times 27127 – Syracuse, not Thebes”

  1. I’d heard of ROEDEAN, although I couldn’t have told you a thing about it, so with DEAN it was an easy biff; I didn’t deal with ROE until after submitting. Ditto with the other GENIAL. Biffed REVERIE from the V, then erased it because I couldn’t parse it, then parsed it. I read MISTINESS as MIS (TINES) S, no south involved.
  2. Straightforward until I got held up at the end with just HARPOONER and ROEDEAN left. I was sure “maiden put off by head of faculty” was another letter substitution clue since this setter seems to like them, but that was the reddest of red herrings.

    Don’t remember coming across SHRIVES before, although I’m sure it’s not the first time it’s made an appearance so I probably have. Didn’t know the other meaning of GENIAL either, but I assumed it must mean chinny.

  3. With two Sicilian DIONYSII to choose from, CONGENIAL and LEMMA, this was right up my street, taking just 27 minutes. Like my Monday confrere, 19a was my last in, for the reason given.

    ROEDEAN no doubt a relief to those who balked at REPTON.

  4. LOI was ROEDEAN, strictly from wordplay. Didn’t know the relevant senses of “cat” or GENIAL, but guessed what they had to be. “Whale of a time” made me groan.

    Edited at 2018-08-27 04:11 am (UTC)

    1. Can anyone point me to a dictionary reference that gives the sense of “cat” required at 2dn?
        1. Thanks, Jerry. In fact, I did consult my edition of Collins, the cruciverbalist’s bible, and failed to spot this verbal use (new to me) in the two columns of dense print devoted to “cat”. Going through the entry again, I’ve now found it. Thanks for putting me right.
  5. Enjoyable and mostly straightforward although like others I didn’t know the required meanings of LEMMA or GENIAL, and SHRIVES was completly unknown to me and this appears to be its first outing in the regular Times cryptic since TftT was founded. I’ve no exact solving time but it was well over my target half-hour.
    1. I had thought that SHRIVE meant to absolve, not just hear, the person confessing. And indeed ODE gives “(archaic) (of a priest) to hear the confession of, assign penance to, and absolve”. As Bruce notes, it’s related to ‘shrift’; and also to ‘shrove’. I think the only time I’ve come across it is in “The Pirates of Penzance”: “Is he to die, unshriven, unannealed?” On edit: Typically, I remember G&S, forget Shakespeare: Hamlet forges an order from Claudius to the King of England that Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern should be immediately put to death:
      That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
      Without debatement further, more or less,
      He should the bearers put to sudden death,
      Not shriving-time allowed.
      Again, ‘shriving’ meaning absolution.

      Edited at 2018-08-27 07:28 am (UTC)

      1. Here is meaning one from Collins: to hear the confession of (a penitent)

        .. though being irreligious this is not my strong area

      2. Here is Portia weighing up some suitors: “If he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me.”
        1. yup, me too
          amazing how many times studying the MoV for O-level Eng Lit has come in handy for solving (but not for anything else)
  6. It was fairly easy, as others say. As usual, I had a blind spot about the Isle of Man.

    More important than just knowing SHRIVE, is to register that that is why the expression is “short shrift”, not “short shift”!

    Edited at 2018-08-27 10:32 pm (UTC)

  7. I had LAMBA at 24ac my LOI. DNK LEMMA. Forty something minutes.

    5ac I was surprised by the lack of comments on 5dn HAPOONER – ‘a whale of a time”! Most unpleasant.


    COD 17dn DISLODGE with respect to 15dn MISTINESS

    WOD 13ac DIONYSIUS a cruel and heartless tyrant

    Has it been pointed out that 10ac ROEDEAN is a gals only school?

    1. I had meant to say that I thought the word was ‘harpooneer’, but ODE only has the one-E version.
  8. Interesting to note nearly everyone so far having the same issues. UKE and CONGENIAL went in with crossed fingers, dnk cat or the anatomy term. Spent some time trying to fit ‘bard’ into 29ac. Would ‘imitator of Petrarch’ have been a better or worse clue?

    SHRIVE probably faded after the Reformation, the confession before God being more important than the priestly absolution.

    19’07”, with, as noted, a while on the shrugs. Thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. 35 mins with yoghurt, granola, etc.
    DNK there was a word for ‘of chin’.
    And DNK ‘that meaning of Cat’ – what meaning of cat? What am I missing?
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
    PS I hope the breakfast information is not too off-subject. It helps set the solving scene.
    PPS I’ve eventually found Cat as definition number 24 in Collins. Well I never.

    Edited at 2018-08-27 08:23 am (UTC)

    1. It’s that meaning of cat which is doing that other thing that cats do after slaughtering the neighbourhood fauna, which is throwing up over the best Axminster.
    2. And if you ever stop posting breakfast information, you’ll scare us into sending round emergency food hampers from Lewis and Cooper of Northallerton.
    3. As long as you don’t mention porridge with a half-inch skin, rubberised eggs and luke warm stewed tea, I won’t be starting any flame wars soon.
  10. 20.43, an easy one larded with stuff I didn’t know, and apparently neither did anyone else. CLERICALISM held me up partly because there seemed to be too much wordplay and partly on that “little learning” thing – I am vaguely aware of any number of priestly systems, most of which, including this prosaic one, refused to come into focus.
    Like others, tried to solve ROEDEAN from the wrong end and with upside-down wordplay. ??EFTON, anyone?
    “Something to be caught” for TRAIN was awfully vague (take that either way).

    Oh, and roger, V, wilco. Good point, well made.

  11. 15:26 – about 67 on my personal NITCH, so quite easy despite several unknowns.. SHRIVES, that meaning of cat, the spelling of DIONYSIUS, CLERICALISM, GENIAL for chin and LEMMA, all aided by wordplay and checkers. STRAINING my LOI with the same trouble as our blogger. Thanks Vinyl for the blog and setter for enhancing my inadequate vocabulary.

    Edited at 2018-08-27 07:28 am (UTC)

  12. Well, not THAT easy for me. 44m 59s and 5 words I didn’t know: SHRIVES, LEMMA, SONNETEER, HARPOONER and CLERICALISM.
    I entered UKE more in hope but would like to know where ‘that meaning of cat’ can be found. I can’t see any relation to ‘puke’ in Collins Online, Chambers Online or ODO.
    Liked BETRAY but COD to MISTINESS.
    1. Cat (vb) to vomit is in Chambers 12th edition and my printed version of Collins.

      Also in Collins on-line, meaning 24.

      Edited at 2018-08-27 09:16 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks, Jack. I did scroll down through Collins Online but missed Number 24! No printed dictionary to hand, I’m afraid.
        1. It’s sometimes worth using the browser’s Search facility if an entry is a particularly long one. ‘Puke’ and ‘sick’ produced nothing but ‘vomit’ brought it up!
  13. Quite an easy Bank Holiday offering, which was as well as there was no delivery today and I’ve had to drive to Tesco for the papers. 24 minutes with CONGENIAL LOI, the CHIN meaning not known. I did know the cat meaning, although I only remembered it on a trail for three-letter instruments. I learnt all about the young ladies of ROEDEAN on the odd occasion when the college football team shared the coach with the rugby team. We’d be at the front of the coach discussing the relative merits of Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch while those coarse chaps at the back sang the virtues of Roedean girls, later to be compared with the 24 maidens from Northern Scotland. COD has to go to SONNETEER after that. Thank you V and setter.
    1. I found one such song and it is, I must say, very educational. I have to confess, though, that, as I inferenced ahead at the end of each line, I got the wrong rhyme for ‘swim’.
      1. The version I know has the word I expected. Some say it may be derived from the Welsh CWM, a place name originally meaning ‘hollow’, but my one sixteenth Welsh ancestry finds that an even dodgier homophone than those employed in Times crosswords!

        Edited at 2018-08-27 09:40 am (UTC)

        1. Assuming we are thinking of the same word, and I suspect we are, the OED says “A derivation from Welsh cwm valley (see cwm n.) has sometimes been suggested, but is unlikely on both semantic and phonological grounds.”
    2. I used to be sometimes roped in to play piano when the college rugby boys were around. They used to hide me in a corner so I couldn’t see their antics. But I became very familiar with the young ladies from Roedean and the lasses from Inverness. Ann

  14. See must be one of the crossword words with the most possible outomes – from Ely to Chester to Rome. I am afraid that I have only heard of Roedean school from a rather naughty song about Roedean girls that I must have learned as a teenager from Hereford (another See) Rugby Club.
  15. 20 minutes with the same new words/meanings discovered post solve as just about everyone else.
    As a very poor mathematician, who abandoned the subject at the earliest opportunity, I had managed to avoid LEMMA for nearly 65 years, only to encounter it two days running- it appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. Thankfully I managed to retain the information for the required 24 hours.
  16. 27’34. Re policy, I’m a tad surprised at the reminder. Sure, it’s not a political forum as such, but the odd comment and exchange seems OK provided it doesn’t spill over into a slanging-match. (Maybe I missed one such.) Otherwise we’re going to be so awfully careful that we can’t make comments on Chelsea tractors and the like. Also an eyebrow up at the chin study – I wonder how many knew that meaning. As an ex-classicist I didn’t.
  17. 14:16, a bit of a quick, slow, quick, quick, slow solve.

    Had to rely on wordplay for SHRIVES and LEMMA and didn’t know the chin meaning of genial.

    We must have had Dionysius before or I’d never have heard of him.

  18. That one, leading to the answer “Emma”, was a clue I first saw over 50 years ago.


    I also shared all or most of the previously discussed unknowns, but none of them held me up and my 11:39 was biff-free.

    Wasted time trying to anagrind “in group” at 9A.

    Trains can be caught here in Northern Rail territory only when they’re not cancelled, or when they’re on yet another strike.

    Nice to see “oner” appear again so soon, and despite its non-PC sentiments HARPOONER is my COD.

    Thanks for the usual excellent blog. Off now to Google “Henry Cabot Lodge”.

  19. I wonder how many other people struggled with the anagram for POPASIT without success. I think I lost several minutes chasing that dead end. Thought it was harder than most people made out – must be all that classical stuff which passes me by. Also took me too long to lift and separate ‘trick move’. LOI CONGENIAL which went in with the traditional shrug
  20. 24 minutes, with 1dn LOI by a long way – after failing to make anything of STRIVES I went back to the acrosses to see if one of the checkers was wrong, but eventually remembered Shrove Tuesday. I did remember the chin referred to at 18ac, so no problem there.
  21. Yup, there’s Shrove Tuesday and we had “Pancake Day” just the other day I think. I also had mis-remembered The House That Jack Built all these years where I’d thought the priest was “all shriven and shorn” but I see now it should be “shaven”. The juxtaposition of ROEDEAN and ASCOT eased things along – St. Mary’s Ascot is a very posh RC school for young ladies.

    HARPOONER is a sort of interesting random juxtaposition with LODGE too. Henry Cabot used to have a Greek Revival house on upper Main St. in Nantucket (before it became hedge fund haven) and could often be seen in the summer sitting on his porch reading the paper. His house was opposite the 3 Bricks which were built by Joseph Starbuck, whaling merchant, for his three sons. 12.07 P.S. I hope my hedge fund comment doesn’t transgress. I have been known to make the odd unflattering remark en passant about the current occupant of the White House but will cease and desist.

      1. That was a trip down Memory Lane Ulaca! I’d forgotten about Heathfield or where it was but a couple of my cousins went to St Mary’s Wantage. I think they had about 5 Olevels between them. I can’t boast however although I did get some Alevels etc. My alma mater was Cranborne Chase – pretty good back when but went down the tubes fast in its later days as the school of last resort for daughters of them in the fast lane. My parents saw the error of their ways and sent my younger sisters elsewhere. Mr. Sneath was new to me – great stuff.
  22. 11:32 – it was CLERICALISM and ROEDEAN that held me up too, I think the latter has appeared before that eventually twigged it.
  23. 23 mins. LOI dislodge. Didn’t know about genial = chin; every day’s a school day in crosswordland. 1dn is related to the expression ‘short shrift’, I think. A few of the surface readings are a bit clunky (e.g. 28, 19, 1, 5) but still a fun puzzle. Good blog, thanks 🙂
  24. Yes those two for me too, especially the ‘see maiden’ bit, but due to BHs being what they are I wasn’t rushing around. Gentle enough really, for a Bank Holiday puzzle, with some nice clues, though I was a little clunked out by HARPOONER.
  25. A 33 min DNF. Bah! I am a fairly recent subscriber to the Times online version and have started doing a few puzzles online. This was one such online solve. I submitted only to find that I had one pink square. I had a letter-substitutionless reverse at 25ac. I like to think that there is no way I would have made this typo in a treeware solve. Soda seems to be the current drink of choice for setters. I dnk the “of chin” meaning of genial but couldn’t see wp and def leading to anything else. Held up for ages at the end on dislodge and straining (particularly finding the right man for the job in dislodge and the thing that can be caught in straining). More challenging for a Monday as to be expected for a bank holiday but nothing too fiendish.
  26. A relatively straightforward solve for me at 19:40 with a minute spent typo hunting after I failed to check CKECK in the Concise. SOURDOUGH was first in with BETRAY bringing up the rear. Same unknowns as many, with DIONYSIUS heard of but occupation unknown, ditto LEMMA and SHRIVES. Didn’t know the chin meaning of GENIAL or the vomit meaning of CAT. Wordplay led me in the right direction though. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  27. …has spoken. I shall refrain from any comment, political or otherwise, unless it can be related, hopefully amusingly or informatively, to a clue or its answer. Let’s hope there’s a daily cricket-related clue then, as that topic is always good for a gloat or a groan.

    I struggled with this after a late start, feeling dim having been up before dawn to go and do something very bureaucratic. I can’t say more without being political.
    It took me over half an hour although had I been constantly awake it might have been faster. Or not. FOI Tunisia, LOI Straining, took an age to see the ‘catch a train’ idea although it’s very fair really. Excellent puzzle, especially for a Monday.

    I liked REVERIE and I know an ex-girl who actually went to Roedean.

    Thousands of TfTT readers, eh? Scary. They probably stay away on Wednesdays.

    1. Yes. I had a bit of a MER at that too given that I blog every fifth Jumbo and, like my fellow Jumbo bloggers, am lucky to get more than 5 comments. But we don’t do this blogging stuff for the fame and fortune, do we, Pip?
      1. Should have seen the flood of responses to the TLS when we did it here (said Eeyore).
  28. Didn’t know the other meaning of “genial” so was convinced that the answer must be “connubial”, with “nub” for chin. Therefore could not get “betray” – isn’t the use of “minimal” unnecessary? Otherwise OK today.
  29. Ive been doing the times crossword for very many years and finish it most days but not, I suspect, in the top half of time taken by most and certainly nowhere near the amazing times achieved by you regular contributors. I still use a pen and paper but often consult the blog when I can’t parse a particular answer when I’m finished. I’m not a natural biffer. I can’t bring myself not to stop and work it out even though I absolutely know I have the right answer. I’m finding a general trend, to get back on the subject finally, for the parsing of the part of the clue which is presumably meant as an aid to solving, is increasingly more difficult in required vocabulary than the definition itself. Eg as in 2dn today. It’s not just non UK people disadvantaged if they don’t know the meaning of the answer. Tony D
  30. Not too taxing, no. I didn’t know ROEDEAN, of course, but I followed wordplay. Such following was actually more difficult with my LOI, MISTINESS, as the tines bit didn’t pop into my head very quickly. Regards.
  31. Thanks Vinyl for the blog. Yes I did get ROEDEAN from the wordplay but it also vaguely rang a bell. However I did not get 13a DIONYSIUS not helped by biffing incorrectly APE MAN for 6d. Otherwise my other biffs of SHRIVES and UKE were correct. So one wrong and one reveal today…I’ve had worst days.
  32. I found it easy, too, at least most of it, but I still took 48 minutes, about a third of that on my last two entries, UKE until memories of our cat reminded me why CAT might mean PUKE, and STRAINING, where I tried to make Carol into a SONG and couldn’t figure out what could be caught. Trains in Germany are always late, so you have to wait for them, not catch them. ROEDEAN was doable once I saw the head of faculty, as ROME was the only four-letter see I could think of offhand and the full name vaguely sounded familiar.

    Edited at 2018-08-27 06:31 pm (UTC)

  33. Does anyone happen to have a plausible excuse for not getting DISLODGE that I could borrow for a few minutes?

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