Times 27151 – A dragonfly flew by, perhaps….

Time: 63 minutes
Music: Magic Lady, Mandy Morton and the Spriguns

Yes, a bit of a shock for a Monday puzzle.   This should not really have been as difficult as I made it, but the general level of the puzzle had me reaching for complexities that were not there.   If the puzzle had been even more difficult, I might have done better.  But you certainly will have to throw away your biffing pen, and pay careful attention to what is going on in each clue, if you want to finish.

What always amazes me about these more difficult puzzles is that the answers are perfectly ordinary words and phrases, and there is nothing that should be unfamiliar to a moderately well-educated solver.   When answers like ‘never’ and ‘Athens’ give you a lot of trouble, and the clues are completely easy and natural, you know the puzzle must be of very high quality.

If anyone is curious about tonight’s music, the whole album is available on YouTube.  It’s not for everyone…..

1 I don’t know where ship may be heading, or what passenger may need? (8)
PASSPORT – PASS + PORT.  My STLOI, believe it or not; although I had ‘port’, I could not imagine what the first element must be.
5 Correspondence course’s leader wearing a tie (6)
ACCORD – A (C[orrespondence]) CORD
10 No way in, game finally remarkably short (5)
NEVER – [i]N [gam]E + VER[y], as indicated, quite tough.
11 Out of shape, seeking familiar place — working out (9)
FATHOMING – FAT + HOMING, which I think I’ve seen before.
12 Painting clasped, an original (9)
13 Chiefs formerly cross, by the sound of it? (5)
EXECS – sounds like EX X.
14 Orange-yellow salve initially applied to slight cut (7)
SAFFRON – S[alve] + AFFRON[t].
16 Old fogey, eighty-one perhaps? (6)
SQUARE – double definition, the second being 9 x 9.
18 Huge hole right behind box (6)
20 Ultimately, glamour all there is about it: flash Italian resort (3,4)
SAN REMO – SAN([glamou]R)E + MO
22 Completely covered in straw, a shed (5)
AWASH – hidden in [str]AW A SH[ed]
23 Asian giant oak’s last big acorn cracked (4,5)
KING COBRA –  [oa]K + anagram of  BIG ACORN.
25 Aged don is awfully determined (9)
26 Decency in good people (5)
27 Negligent fail again? (6)
REMISS – double definition, one jocular.
28 Bottom Irish number, reportedly? (8)
DERRIERE – sounds like DERRY AIR, the only chestnut in the puzzle, and one I had a hard time remembering with the unpromising crossers.
1 Optimist’s carpet acquiring shine (8)
PANGLOSS – PAN + GLOSS, my LOI.   I spent some time on ‘panelist’ and ‘penalise’ before seeing the obvious.  Curiously, I had though of and dismissed Candide at the beginning of my solve.
2 All dwarfs, small and equal (5)
SEVEN – S + EVEN, another one that required far too much though.
3 Swine bagged first in physics, gold mark in college (4,11)
PORK SCRATCHINGS – P[hysics] + OR +K(SCRATCH)INGS.   I thought for a long time that ‘college’ was the literal, and I’ll bet you did too!
4 Stop the music (7)
REFRAIN – Double definition.
6 Conservative icon gets Labour rattled, almost (5,3,2,5)
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR – C + anagram of ICON GETS LABOUR, with a brilliantly hidden literal.
7 Large plant as it happens in books, always coming up (5,4)
OLIVE TREE – O(LIVE)T + EER backwards.
8 Process like the litmus test ends (6)
DIGEST – DIG + [th]E [litmu]S [tes]T
9 Capital letters reading across from left of keyboard? (6)
ATHENS – A, THEN S.   I’ll bet this one kept many solvers guessing, even if they biffed it.
15 Strong stocking material with a safety device (4,5)
17 Observe something other than a buzzer outside initially needed (4,4)
NOTA BENE – NOT A BE(N)E, our first Latin phrase.
19 Libertine in cap of khaki, one covered in spots (6)
RAKISH – RA(K[haki], I)SH.
20 Work I need is yet to be rescheduled (4,3)
SINE DIE – anagram of I NEED IS, the second Latin phrase.
21 Run, don’t walk beneath it! (6)
LADDER – Double definition.
24 A pair to hold up (5)
BRACE – Double defintion.

50 comments on “Times 27151 – A dragonfly flew by, perhaps….”

  1. This went in steadily, but it took me forever to get DERRIERE, despite having seen it before (probably several times). I spent too long working on REAR… something. As you say, the checkers were “unpromising”. I suspect nothing else actually fits them. (Actually I just looked and there are several words including RETRIEVE and REFREEZE)

    I liked ATHENS and, yes, I was someone trying to find a college with a pig (or sow, or hog…) in it.

    Edited at 2018-09-24 02:57 am (UTC)

  2. I think if this had been harder, I’d have floundered even more.

    My last in was DERRIERE (appropriately enough) after doing myself no favours by entering ‘sine dei’, when everyone knows that has to be ‘sine deo’. Schoolboy error…

    I knew it had to be SAN REMO but couldn’t quite see why, while ATHENS was a more confident biff. I have read Candide, so PANGLOSS went in after panelist and penalise had been done to death.

    Great puzzle!

    Well done to both sides in an epic Laver Cup. My daughter was smart enough to book tickets six months ago. So good to see singles players playing doubles as in the days of, well, Rod Laver.

  3. As Vallaw used to say, my brain hurts. Like Paulmcl, I spent lots of time with REAR… before DERRIERE finally arrived. I also took ‘left of keyboard’ to be K, and wasted time trying to think of a capital that begins with one. And more time trying to make ‘shine’=polish. 6d at least went in quickly, biffed from NO C; but I only parsed it post hoc. NEVER my LOI, and I had no idea how the clue worked until Vinyl explained it. Fiendish. I did at least get SAN REMO, which is my COD, although as Ulaca says it had to be; ‘all there is about it’ is beautiful.
  4. As Vinyl says, not easy. I found 9dn a bit odd! Why should we look at the middle row of the keyboard?
  5. Great puzzle! “Swine bagged” is a rather loose definition for PORK SCRATCHINGS (it evokes entire pigs in pokes rather than packaged meat), but overall this was a good collection of finely crafted clues that kept surprising me.
  6. Around 50 minutes for this one. Although it was quite tricky throughout I made steady progress until becoming thoroughly bogged down in the SE corner with the two Latin expressions and the Italian resort.

    NB was the first of these to fall and the O checker led me to suspect SAN REMO at 20ac, which I’d heard of but couldn’t say with any certainty whether or not it is in Italy. Anyway I bunged it in and hoped for the best leaving SINE DIE as my last one in. This has turned up 3 times in 15x15s during my time at TftT and on each occasion it passed without comment from me, but its latest appearance was last year in a QC when I remarked that it was perhaps pushing the boundaries a little for that puzzle. I’ve no complaints about its appearance today, but I only hope it sticks in my bonce this time round.

    1. Yes, I was lucky with SINE DIE. I think it must’ve come up in the Guardian 15×15 recently, as I’ve definitely seen it somewhere in the last fortnight.
  7. One of those puzzles when nothing would come followed by one answer immediately leading to several others. I was itching to put in the obvious ‘qwerty’ for 9d, but resisted the temptation and was able to parse ATHENS once it was in.

    PORK SCRATCHINGS was excellent, both for the answer and misdirection of the definition. I couldn’t parse SAN REMO and bunged in the unknown PANGLOSS from crossers and wordplay.

    I like those simple looking answers with such tricky parsing and NEVER was my favourite.

    Finished in 53 minutes.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  8. Good fun, and hard. Thanks for letting me see how ATHENS works at last. I had the right idea, but couldn’t get away from something-to-something while I was trying to work it out, and stumbled across the right biff by accident, really.

    FOI 1d PANGLOSS (luckily, Candide is one of the very limited number of classics I’ve read) LOI, after ten minutes of trying to work out why there seemed to be too many words in the clue, the unknown 20a SAN REMO. I’d definitely do better with puzzles if I’d travelled… Liked too many to pick a favourite, I think.

    (Edit: Oh, yes, and it took me just over the hour.)

    Edited at 2018-09-24 07:03 am (UTC)

  9. It just now occurred to me to wonder, Why ‘RE-scheduled’? A meeting that is adjourned sine die does not at that moment have a scheduled next meeting.
    1. Because an adjournment is being indicated, so a meeting must have been previously scheduled. Collins:
      “without (a) day (being set for meeting again); for an indefinite period; to adjourn an assembly sine die”
      1. I’m afraid I don’t see the sequitur: Collins: ‘without a day being set for meeting again’; Gregg: ‘[without] a scheduled next meeting.’ Nothing about a meeting having been previously scheduled.
  10. I had barren spells where nothing went in, then spurts of activity as crossing letters gave me a new impetus before grinding to a halt again. The 5 letter words in the NW and SE were all I had to go on at first. Gradually I whittled it down to SAN REMO which I couldn’t parse, but it had to be. PORK SCRATCHINGS made me laugh, but I usually leave them alone as they often result in an expensive visit to the dentist. ATHENS was my penultimate, but I did eventually see how it worked. Good puzzle. 38:28. Thanks setter and V.

    Edited at 2018-09-24 07:35 am (UTC)

  11. 40 mins with yoghurt, granola, banana, blueberries.
    Yes – holiday over.
    There was lots to enjoy in this one, with some very chewy bits but also some easy ways in, e.g. the SW which provided checkers for the brilliant 3dn.
    Mostly I liked: Pass port (fantastic surface), slight cut (superb), all there (clever), AthenS (neat), Candide (erudite) and COD to “Swine bagged” (top cluing).
    Thanks brilliant setter and Vinyl.
  12. I thought this was a fairly standard ‘Monday’ puzzle so nice to come here and find others had thought otherwise. Guess I was “on the wavelength”.

    COD to PORK SCRATCHINGS for the standout definition of “Swine bagged”. I shall henceforth refer to these snacks in this way.

  13. Well, I’m glad this was “tough”, as I took nearly 32 minutes. I thought I was struggling only because I took time to complete the Mephisto which I started and aborted yesterday, and was therefore in obscure clue mode, but it turns out it wasn’t just me.
    Loved the SCRATCHINGS clue, shoving you miles away from the answer before light suddenly blazed.
    For years I’ve toyed with A THEN S as the foundation for a Listener composition (though in truth it’s never got much further), and I’ve tee-heed often enough about the London Derriere for it to have been a write in, except it wasn’t and held me up for ages at the end.
    Incidentally, did anyone else read from L(eft) of their keyboard and wonder how to turn ;’# into an answer?
    I hesitated over SAN REMO for a long time too, like others a) not seeing the sane/all there (is?) bit and b) thinking it might be in America.
    “All dwarfs” brilliant, especially crossed with the tricky NEVER
    Quality puzzle, properly blogged.
  14. Finished in just over 40 minutes, but took another 10 mins post-solve to work out the parsing for ATHENS and SAN REMO. I liked both once the penny dropped.

    Thanks, Vinyl, for the early and informative blog. And thanks to the setter for, as Vinyl put it, a high quality puzzle.

  15. All done bar 28 across in 19 minutes, but then couldn’t see the answer, eventually resorting to RETRIEVE as the only word I could think of that fit the checkers. That makes me 6d, I guess. I must remember number can mean a song and that there are french words in the English language! Lovely puzzle with some highly entertaining wordplay. Hard to pick a COD – there are so many candidates – I liked SEVEN, NOTA BENE and SAN REMO, but will go for NEVER. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

    Edited at 2018-09-24 07:35 am (UTC)

  16. … like all the unanswered questions in The Bodyguard. The footballers who’d been taking bungs in the early sixties were suspended SINE DIE. It sounded painful. This was a rude awakening to a bright Monday morning, taking 52 minutes with LOI RAKISH. I’d been trying to fit RAKE in for the previous 50 minutes. My wife being a Londoner who likes her half in the middle of the bed, DERRIÈRE was a write-in. CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR is a phrase I’ve only known this last few years. Has it always been around? COD to PORK SCRATCHINGS, brought to you by courtesy of your local dentist. Excellent puzzle. Thank you V and setter.
  17. Fine crossword this, best for a while I thought. Loved 3dn and also 6dn, lovely surfaces, those..
  18. This wasn’t the Monday stroll I was expecting: 42 mins of concentrated and enjoyable puzzling. I endorse pretty much all of the comments made above. My COD to the pork scratchings. I haven’t eaten these since student days when we used to hang out in M&B pubs in Brum.
    My compliments go to the setter and the blogger.

  19. I looked at Snitch before doing this, so was well prepared for a battle. It turned out not to be quite so bad, but I agree, every clue had to be read carefully. LOI DERRIERE and COD DERRIERE. DNK PANGLOSS but had to be…
  20. Excellent puzzle, about 38′ with builders’ interruptions and drilling. Two Latin phrases, thought ‘observe’ a bit weak for NOTA BENE, which means note well or pay close attention. Used to like PORK SCRATCHINGS, but am now a vegetarian. DERRIERE LOI, strange word, not sure when it’s used in reality: ‘les fesses’ being the part of the body, and ‘arrière du peloton’ being the back markers in a cycling race. COD to 6d. Thanks vinyl and setter.

    Edited at 2018-09-24 09:53 am (UTC)

  21. I was held up at 17d (my LOI) because I parsed it as OR A BEE rather than NOT A BEE. So I was left with *ORA BENE. It took ages for light to dawn. I loved this puzzle – although I had to come here to understand ATHENS. 33 minutes. Ann
  22. Very nice stuff for a Monday morning. I was amongst what seems to have been a crowd of people left looking at the unpromising checkers of _E_R_E_E at the end, until the London derrière sprang to my mind as well; a very pleasing penny-drop.
  23. This felt much harder than it really was, as done in 34 minutes, and no DNKs. I never did parse 10ac and 20ac, while was held up for a while on 3dn, trying to fit AU/OR M from the ‘gold mark’ in somewhere – also first thought at 28ac was REAR something. (BTW rob, I suspect it entered English as a euphemism – I recall my old maiden aunts using it.)
  24. I take my hat off to the setter. What a brilliant puzzle. Amusing, doh moments, fun fun fun! Thank you.
  25. ….Albert says e = mc squared (LANDSCAPE, from their album “From the Tearooms of Mars to the Hellholes of Uranus).

    FOI ACCORD (not sure why PASSPORT didn’t jump out at me), and after 13 minutes, having biffed SAN REMO, PORK SCRATCHINGS, and ATHENS, I was left with 1D and 28A.

    A further 3 minutes or so let the light shine on the very vaguely remembered PANGLOSS (never read “Candide”).

    Quite why it took twice as long again to reach a 22 minute finish, Heaven only knows. Perhaps I need a sharp kick in the DERRIERE.

    I’d never considered LIBERTINE as an adjective.

    COD CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR, which might have been the case last week before my resolution to persevere !

    Great blog, great puzzle, thanks to all concerned.

  26. Yes, a GRACEful puzzle. I had a very slow start but managed to find the wavelength after a blank 4/5 minutes. Very glad we don’t have them COBRAs around here – the black snakes are quite big enough for me and thank goodness not venomous although they do bite. Danny Boy (set to the Derry Air), along with Amazing Grace are staples of big public funerals in the US. 16.28
  27. There are several San Remos in the world but the nearest thing in Italy is Sanremo, all one word.
    1. The Italians call the city/resort San Remo, two words, always. It hosts the song festival Sanremo. Is the city officially transliterated into English as Sanremo in the Times style guide? Not sure your moan is warranted.
  28. I completed this in 58 mins and I also biffed the following correctly SAN REMO, PANGLOSS, ATHENS and SINE DIE. My LOI was 28a DERRIERE with a smile.
  29. DNF. Bah! I had all but 28ac done in about half an hour but just couldn’t get that last one. I was thinking homophone but of number in an Irish accent and ended up with defreeze. I knew it was wrong when I entered it (as if The Times would allow anything so atrocious) but couldn’t think my way out of the cul-de-sac I had entered. Perhaps I went into this Monday challenge a little too lightly, there were so many neat bits of wordplay and definitions suddenly appearing from nowhere, it really required a bit more concentration and application.
    1. One of the more amusing sporting nicknames (a low bar, I know) is the England rugby player Billy Twelvetrees, who was christened “36” by his captain at Leicester, Geordan Murphy, because, as the latter would explain in his Dublin accent, twelve trees are tirty-six.
  30. I failed on both SAN REMO (nho) and NOTA BENE. For 28ac, the closest I got was the charming if oddly-named beach resort of Sun Sera, noted for its sun and sea. I’m blaming my failure on the fact that I’m still jat-legged from a recent US jaunt.
  31. ….90 mins. I lost count as lunch was over and had to keep glancing at the unfinished puzzle propped up on the desk. Of course, the pesky work continually stunts the trains of thought. Could not pass SAN REMO but the checkers seemed clear enough, PANGLOSS I had vaguely heard of, PORK SCRATCHINGS was a neat clue, and SQUARE a surprising kickself. LOI – DERRIERE – sadly had to resort to checkers. Cleverer than most Mondays….
  32. A few weeks since I tried the main cryptic but I had a go today and really enjoyed it. A couple of hours spent in happy contemplation with a few laughs along the way. Very witty, clever, thought-provoking – everything a Times Cryptic should be. Many thanks to setter and to vinyl for an excellent blog. John M
  33. I did really badly today, less than half the clues solved – felt terrible as I am usually capable of completing a Monday puzzle. I’m sorry, I still haven’t worked out how you get to ATHENS and SAN REMO (which I’ve heard of and visited). Could somebody explain please? Oh, and I can’t believe that CLOSE AND NO CIGAR can possibly be a real expression – how and why?
    Best wishes to all and keep up the good work
    Richard J
    1. If you look at the keys on the middle row of a QWERTY keyboard next to the caps lock, you have an A then an S. AthenS. Ultimately glamour is R, the last letter of the word glamour. “All there” is SANE, ie not daft. All there is round (about) R, thus San Re, then a flash is a moment, or short time ie MO. Assemble as Zabadak would say. A cigar is often a reward for an achievement so almost succeeding is getting close to a result, but you don’t get the prize.
  34. 34 months later, did this online in less than a third of the first time around.

    As before, DERRIERE was the last one in!!

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