Times 27139 – Weakness? What weakness?

Time: 45 minutes
Music: Stan Getz, Sweet Rain

My time may not seem that great, but my last 30 minutes were spent on a single clue.   If I had happened to see it right away, then my time would have been very good indeed.   Is there an element of luck in solving?   Maybe there is.   What if in the Championship finals, the formidable Magoo was confronted with something he simply didn’t know, and there was no easy way to figure out from the cryptic?   Someone else might know it, and then then there would be a tremendous roar from the crowd as the new champion was crowned.

Just don’t count on it.   As the cynic once said, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill….but that’s the way to bet on it!”

1 Bill promises to pay after new dog first becomes aggressive (10)
PUGNACIOUS – PUG + N + A/C + IOUS, a collection of the usual elements.
6 Missile Soviets introduced — something to chew over? (4)
SCUD – S[oviet] + CUD.
9 Bridge players tremble receiving intelligence agency’s note (10)
SEMIQUAVER – S,E (M1) QUAVER, an answer that many solvers will biff as soon as they see ‘tremble’ and ‘note’.
10 Precipitation beginning to settle at present (4)
SNOW – S[ettle] + NOW, one from the Quickie
12 Noble widow’s party bet, mostly payable before game (7,7)
14 Novelist bringing Worthing’s alter ego way to the front? (6)
STERNE – ERNEST, with ST brought to the front.
15 Eg Brunel’s technique ultimately, never without spirit (8)
ENGINEER – [techniqu]E + N(GIN)EER, another biffable clue.
17 Impartial peacekeepers stationed around India (8)
19 A better article in French about S American mammal (6)
ALPACA – A CAP LA backward, another one I biffed.
22 Keeping register back, risks joint state office (14)
24 TV award this writer rejected? Goodness! (4)
EMMY – ME backwards + MY.
25 Tufted material originally clicked with Shetland, town right away (10)
CANDLEWICK – C[licked] AND LE[r]WICK, a very tricky one, probably, for many solvers.
26 Not any composition left unfinished! (4)
NONE – NONE[t].   I nearly biffed ‘nary’ until I read the rest of the clue.
27 Touch down on river following try-out of plane (4,6)
1 Classy naval NCO’s husband (4)
POSH – PO’S, H, i.e. Pilot Officer.
2 Yellow ducks, for example, seen around marsh (7)
GAMBOGE – GAM(BOG)E, where ‘ducks’ are not OO or OS for once.
3 Contact — a whimsical-sounding one touring north (12)
4 Woman identifies with first murder victim (6)
5 High-class writer with tailless dog, standing erect (8)
7 Acknowledge record formerly held by English (7)
CONCEDE – C(ONCE)D + E.   How many times do I have to tell them that a CD is the opposite of a record?
8 With the current duke, have new master (10)
DOWNSTREAM – D + OWN + anagram of MASTER
11 Weakness in a country novel the Spanish girl finally digested (8,4)
ACHILLES HEEL – A CHIL([gir]L)E + SHE + EL, a very complicated cryptic for an answer nearly everyone will biff.
13 Shield university kept in battered chest once (10)
ESCUTCHEON – U in an anagram of CHEST ONCE, another easily biffable answer.
16 Revealing falsehood suppressed by one of the Archers? (8)
TELLTALE – TELL + TALE, where, as usual, the ‘Archers’ are not a TV series, but actual archers.
18 Officer’s servant engaging old person in row, perhaps? (7)
BOATMAN – B(O)ATMAN, a setter over at the other place.
20 Enduring a heartless injunction (7)
21 Help tidy up school appeal? (6)
COEDIT – COED + IT, in the usual cryptic senses.  This was my LOI.  I was trying everything I could think of until I put in COYDIT, and suddenly I saw what it must be.  I admit, I was looking for some sort of school slang, and got the completely wrong end of the clue.
23 Meet round rear of Garrick for burlesque (4)
SKIT – S([garric]K)IT.  ‘Sit’ in the sense that Parliament sits.

46 comments on “Times 27139 – Weakness? What weakness?”

  1. COEDIT was the penultimate to fall, just before TELLTALE. I was pretty tired as I solved, having got up to watch Djokovic beat Del Potro in the company of the former’s Number One Fan. Nice to see some tennis break out after Saturday’s bizarre events. Maybe they should scrap the disciplinary code and just introduce yellow and red cards…

    Edited at 2018-09-10 02:28 am (UTC)

  2. CANDLEWICK was my pick for the hard clue of this puzzle: never heard of it, obviously, and the punctuation of the clue is extremely unhelpful. If you don’t intimately know your Shetland towns I don’t see how you enter that with any confidence at all. Still, hard for a Monday but not too hard overall!
  3. All but two completed within half-an-hour but then I ran out of steam overnight and decided to return to them this morning. Both have been mentioned already as troublesome, TELLTALE, which fell immediately on resumption, and COEDIT which I abandoned after a 15-minute alphabet trawl and resorted to aids.

    On discovering the answer I felt frustrated as I had seen the probability of IT for ‘appeal’ but was unable to make the leap from there to the answer. I take heart though from the fact that Chambers doesn’t list the word, nor do any of the Oxfords (ODE, ODO, COED and SOED) although SOED has ‘co-editor’ with a hyphen. It’s only in Collins.

    One tiny point re the blog is that at 9ac ‘intelligence agency’ is clueing MI (Military Intelligence as in MI5, MI6 etc) rather than M1. For all I know M1 may be something in the USA so it’s perfectly valid but as this is The Times I think it’s safe to assume the UK agency is what the setter had in mind. M1 here is a motorway.

    One other thing just noticed, The Archers is a radio programme, not on TV. It started in 1950 and has been running continuously since January 1951.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 07:19 am (UTC)

  4. 40 mins pre breakfast to DNF on Gamboge (DNK).
    To make up for this, I plan to have yoghurt and then a croissant with G&L marmalade. So there.
    Mostly I liked: Chancellorship.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  5. Well, ok: ditto everyone so far except I managed to make it even harder. On for something very close to 10 minute finish as I dashed into the bottom right. Four to go, and I brilliantly shoved in CAMBERWICK for the tufty stuff, not noticing that a) it messed up my ACHILLES HEEL (there’s irony) and b) it’s Windy Miller and co and their village isn’t named after the fabric. Simon And Garfunkel share a bit of the blame: “tell her make me a camberwick shirt” is what I always thought it was.
    When I finally as a result decided that COMBAT would have to do for 21d (def help, sort of, COMB: tidy up and AT something to do with school appeal, Attractive Teachers??), I spotted my error on check-for-typos, settled on CANDLEWICK, and spent another eternity trying to work out what fit ?O?D?T. Should have remembered that famous Welsh school Betws-y-Coed, probably an Academy by now.
    24 minutes for a Monday. I ask you.
    1. Footnote. Apparently, Camberwick Green was going to be Candlewick Green, but got mombled when they wrote up the contract for the series. So I’m semi-not wrong.
  6. Hi all, what is the purpose of the comma between Shetland and town ( and of suppressed in 16 down)? Fair?

    Thanks blogger and setter.

    1. ‘Suppressed’ works to improve the surface, I think you might agree. As for the comma, my guess (if it isn’t a typo) is that it’s meant to add a layer of deception via asyndeton. As I (and probably a hundred others) missed it, it’s a moot point whether it was worth the effort.
  7. ‘Suppressed’ is a positional indicator here. TELL is ‘suppressing’ TALE by sitting on top of it.

    The comma in 25ac looks like a misprint to me as it interrupts and spoils the surface reading, but as I have trained myself to ignore punctuation in clues I hadn’t noticed it.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 06:47 am (UTC)

  8. Well, that was a tough workout for a Monday morning. As with others, I found the SE corner hard, though at last I got CANDLEWICK from somewhere (perhaps binge-watching Shetland last year was helpful) and that helped me see that 21d wasn’t actually going to be “HOWZAT”…

    LOI, though, was 2d GAMBOGE. We may have had it before, but it only rang the vaguest of bells and I didn’t see “bog” until I’d done an alphabet run.

    58 minutes, all told. Here’s hoping things don’t get too much harder through the week!

  9. I also struggled with COEDIT, which was my penultimate one in, but BOATMAN gave me more trouble. It didn’t help that I thought the officer’s servant was a batsman rather than a batman and couldn’t see how I was going to work that in to the answer.
  10. A minute or so on COEDIT probably cost me a PB. Vinyl’s musings on luck struck a chord because I knew all the words in this instance, solved the clues in an order that facilitated biffing from the checkers and avoided any typos. GAMBOGE probably only known from the small tins of watercolour paints that appeared at Christmas and birthdays of long ago, and CANDLEWICK only encountered in conjunction with ‘bedspread’
  11. 18:29. A bit of a strange experience this: lots of clues I really struggled with, which then seemed completely obvious when I finally solved them. So it felt like I was making very heavy weather of a not-particularly-difficult puzzle. The SNITCH supports that impression at the moment.
    25ac wasn’t a problem for me: I remember when I was a kid the novel and play series Lark Rise to Candleford being satirised by someone or other as C*** Rise to CANDLEWICK. I struggle to remember where I put my keys, or the names of my children, but rude puns from forty years ago? No problem.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 07:37 am (UTC)

  12. All but GAMBOGE done in under 20 minutes. Never heard of the colour which took 10 minutes to construct. I got a bit confused with Bunbury before STERNE solved. Otherwise straightforward. Feeding my eldest when he was little, we’d introduce spoon to mouth with “SCUD missile coming in.” COD to CANDLEWICK. Thank you V and setter.
      1. I think If I tried the “scud missile coming in!” gambit with my grandsons, it would have been met with a well aimed patriot missile of a hand sending the spoon flying.
  13. Easy .. all except for the SE bit that everybody else has already mentioned, which was hard. 21dn is a difficult word to find from its checkers, and also would have a hyphen in it if I were writing it. Quite familiar however with candlewick bedspreads, you young duvet-users wouldn’t know of them perhaps..
  14. COEDIT held me up for about 10 minutes at the end, having guessed TELLTALE just before. GAMBOGE also rang a very vague bell after initially having me stymied.

    Good to see Mark Philippoussis, a US Open runner up in 1998 (a cliché, but doesn’t seem like it), being remembered across the top of the puzzle.

    A bit harder than usual for a Monday and finished in 41 minutes.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Took me a moment to decipher that reference, even as a tennis fan, but then I remembererd he was SCUD or “the Scud” like Laver was “Rocket”.
      1. Celebrity girlfriends, starred in “reality television dating show the ‘Age of Love'”, did a bit of modelling, a few Ferraris in the garage, earned millions on the tennis court but then went broke…

        Yes, just your everyday bloke.

  15. Hey! Mine was a 24 minutes! I was rather disappointed with that, until I came here. I didn’t look at 21d until the checkers were already in, I assumed IT for ‘appeal’ straightaway and COED for ‘school’ came to me quite quickly. I have opined to TfTers before that it’s my hunch, often borne out by evidence such as COEDIT, that Collins is always the preferred reference dictionary for Times setters, because HarperCollins and Times Newspapers are sister companies in the Murdoch media bundle.
    With 25a, I read the clue, thought “Tufted material? Oh, like that soft cottony stuff used for bedspreads… what was it called?… um…” and in it went. I biffed a load more, but parsed them all on my mental back-burner as I was trundling through from NW to SE.
    Nice Monday puzzle. Thanks for the blog, vinyl1.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 09:28 am (UTC)

  16. I got through this one in 17 minutes, which is fast for me. I was therefore expecting to come here and find everyone declaring this to be an easy one; so I’m quite pleased (in a rather selfish way) to see otherwise! I think my speed was largely due to several G&Ts, which allowed my subconscious to biff freely. Even COEDIT seemed to spring to mind unbidden.

  17. If there is a log for personal best times with all but one clue done, this would have been my PB-1, as I had it sorted except for 21d inside 11 minutes. But even though I fancied it ending in -DIT, I gave up after another ten minutes and came here. Not very happy with COEDIT not being hyphenated, although apparently it is so in one dictionary.
    CANDLEWICK gets my CoD, knew about Lerwick being the Shetland capital.
  18. Made heavy going of this at 24 mins. All the fault of COEDIT, of course – it hoovered up 12 minutes. I got it on the wordplay before I twigged it but kept saying ‘code it’ and ‘kerd it’ – just couldn’t see the three syllables and say ‘co-edit’. I would say a hyphen is the natural thing here, tbh. Nice blog, V, thanks.
  19. ….I was forced to concede.



    After just 8 minutes I was left with 16D, where I was thrown by being unable to build anything around “lie”, and totally failed to spot TELLTALE despite seeing the damned Austrian hero at an early stage. COD if only because it fooled me.

    Bad day at the office (though I spotted COEDIT easily enough).

  20. 37 minutes, but gave up on 21dn after spending ten min on it and resorted to aids – even wondered whether there was some way of varying 25ac to allow HOWZAT to go in and parse somehow.
  21. More than an hour between snoozes on the train to Glasgow. Though I guessed Ernest quickly, took a while to see the trick with the clue. GAMBOGE was a bit of a guess – one to file away. Biffed ALPACA.

    However, CANDLEWICK and COEDIT went in very easily – LERWICK being the only Shetland town I know of, and COEDIT as my son’s sixth form is about to go co-ed.

  22. This one was rolling along quite nicely until… yes, surprise of surprises, COEDIT, which took up about a quarter of the total 10m 26s for me. I had written in CANDLEWICK – must have heard it somewhere before, no idea where – but since I wasn’t entirely sure about it I wasn’t leaning too heavily on the D from COEDIT.

    I agree that the CANDLEWICK comma looks like a misprint – it messes up the surface and ruins the cryptic construction.

  23. Blown it on “Coedit” – could not get it. Did not know “Sterne” either but biffed it. Good crossword, though.
  24. Another CANDLEWICK bedspread rememberer here, who also knew Lerwick. I found the puzzle quite straightforward apart from TELLTALE, ALPACA and my LOI, COEDIT, which I would also prefer to be hyphenated. PUGNACIOUS was my FOI, as promises to pay set the bells ringing in my head. I didn’t actually biff ACHILLES HEEL, but with a couple of checkers in, postulated Chile as the country, and it then leapt out at me. I didn’t know Ernest, but STERNE rang a bell. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and V. 26:36 with 5 of those on COEDIT.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 12:17 pm (UTC)

  25. Pa pa pom pa pa pom pa pa pom pom pom pom is ringing in my head after the TELLTALE clue. Ditto all on COEDIT. And I’m a member of the CANDLEWICK bedspread club – the one I remember being a sort of GAMBOGE colour.

    We’ve been reading a lot about bridge engineers lately what with Genoa and now the new Tappan Zee bridge over the Hudson a few miles North of NYC, one span of which (I forget if it was the West or Eastbound one) was opened to great fanfare earlier this year. The other span opening however seems to be indefinitely delayed because in taking down the old bridge the removals team seems to have left it wobbling perilously close to the new one. Brunel’s Clifton suspension bridge seems magnificently solid by comparison. 14.01

    Edited at 2018-09-10 11:25 am (UTC)

  26. Rather fun that we should have Ernest and a Jack Worthing reference today after discussion here over the weekend about Oscar’s “A HANDBAG!!!” line as immortalised by Dame Edith Evans.
  27. Thanks for the blog. I found this quite tough and resorted to a solver app in the end for GAMBOGE, although I got CANDLEWICK straightaway.

    I think the naval NCO will be a Petty Officer rather than a Pilot Officer.

    Edited at 2018-09-10 02:16 pm (UTC)

    1. For the avoidance of doubt, a Pilot Officer is a commissioned officer in the RAF and a gentleman, a Petty Officer is a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Navy, and is a member of the other ranks ( O R )…….
  28. 17:57 with one typo. Dowaaer. All done in 12 mins except for Co-edit.

    From Wikipedia. In 1757 Admiral Byng was executed by firing squad aboard HMS Monarch in the Solent, having “failed to do his utmost” to relieve the garrison at Minorca. Byng’s execution was satirised by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad and is told that “in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others” (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).[

  29. Indeed. I think our basic technique was to put HMS Sheffield in the way. Didn’t work very well!
  30. Not easy, about 40 minutes due to some obscure stuff such as GAMBOGE. But failed in the end anyway, since I know little of either tufted fabrics or Shetland places, so looked up CANDLEWICK. Could have been absolutely anything, that one, given I knew nothing of either the definition or the wordplay. So stumped today. Regards.
  31. Like others, Candlewick and Gamboge were unknown, and Coedit resisted even an alphabet trawl. I thought the comma was in 25a to try to make the cryptic bits not look like just plain old “A town in Shetland, drop the r”. I liked Sterne
  32. All but two answers went in within about 30 mins. Those last two (telltale and coedit of course) went in later, much much much much later.
    1. When bred domestically, maybe not so as they’d be classified as poultry, but wild duck shot for sport or food are definitely game. That’s the definition of game.

      Edited at 2018-09-10 10:48 pm (UTC)

  33. 33 months after first attempt (on paper), completed online in less than half the time

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