Times 27,197: Monotreme Sports

Another straightforward puzzle by Friday standards, with nothing much to scare the horses, though I hadn’t heard of a finger stall. First one in 1ac, LOI 22ac after 17dn gave the crossing I. Clue of the day to 20dn for both having interesting wordplay and also being original in its identification of the “first woman”. Thanks setter!

1 Harsh Balkan, reportedly one taken into account (7)
ACERBIC – homophone of SERB [Balkan, “reportedly”] + I [one] “taken into” AC [account]

5 Farm workers adding a touch of traditional colour (7)
PIGMENT – PIGMEN [farm workers] adding T{raditional}

9 Cushion for flat (3)
PAD – double def

10 Digital protector‘s ratings fell disastrously (11)
FINGERSTALL – (RATINGS FELL*) [“disastrously”]

11 Reflective cleric going on unfortunately bores viewer (8)
OBSERVER – REV reversed [“reflective” cleric] going on (BORES*) [“unfortunately”]

12 Edible gastropod to gather right away (6)
WINKLE – W{r}INKLE [to gather, minus R for right]

15 Authentic German 19th century bags returned (4)
ECHT – hidden reversed in {19}TH CE{ntury}

16 Plodding round hospital back to entrance to get sticker for collection (5,5)
STAMP HINGE – STAMPING [plodding] round H [hospital] + {entranc}E

18 American men and nations in turmoil (10)
MINNESOTAN – (MEN + NATIONS*) [“in turmoil”]

19 Western fruit crop (4)
WHIP – W HIP [western | fruit]

22 Purify copper, however briefly (6)
DISTIL – D.I. [copper] + STIL{l} [however “briefly”]

23 Short poem, as exercise (8)
QUATRAIN – QUA TRAIN [as | exercise]

25 With child, purchasing “golden” cough remedy (11)
EXPECTORANT – EXPECTANT [with child], “purchasing” OR [golden]

27 Prime pillock gives it away for nothing (3)
TWO – TW{it->O} [pillock, replacing its “IT” with “O”]

28 Genuine error — Queen held in church (7)
SINCERE – SIN [error] + ER [Queen] held in CE [church]

29 Insectivore from East died, eaten by mate (7)
ECHIDNA – E [East] + D [died] “eaten by” CHINA [mate]

1 Favour old verb in revised paper (7)
APPROVE – O V [old | verb] in (PAPER*) [“revised”]

2 Workers with most seniority, those needing to play first (6,5)
ELDEST HANDS – double def, with one overliteral reading of the phrase

3 Prior to support closure of house (6)
BEFORE – BE FOR [to support] + {hous}E

4 Satisfied no one’s taken up dispute (10)
CONTENTION – CONTENT [satisfied] + reversed NO I [no | one]

5 Food for raptors sparsely, evenly presented (4)
PREY – even letters of {s}P{a}R{s}E{L}Y

6 Flame from lamp, silver, turned up a little (8)
GASLIGHT – reversed AG [silver] + SLIGHT [a little]

7 When one’s expected letter from abroad (3)
ETA – double def with E.T.A. [when one’s expected]

8 Flammable liquid‘s colour’s first lost in air (7)
TOLUENE – {b}LUE [colour, with first lost] in TONE [air]

13 Thoughtful class passionate about reading? (4-7)
KIND-HEARTED – KIND [class] + HEATED [passionate] about R [reading, as in one of the three R’s]

14 The writer’s mother departed in copper’s wake, blameless(10)
IMMACULATE – I’M MA [the writer’s | mother] + LATE [departed] in the wake of CU [copper]

17 Average doctor has nothing to carry about (8)
MEDIOCRE – MEDIC [doctor] has O [nothing] to carry, + RE [about]

18 Holed by count, stag goes wild (7)
MADDENS – MEN’S [stag], “holed by” ADD [count]

20 First woman in shipping firm starts to resent advice (7)
PANDORA – P AND O [= P&O, shipping firm] + R{esent} A{dvice}. Greek myth’s first woman, not Eve for a change!

21 Small dwarf, a potential pain in the long run? (6)
STITCH – S TITCH [small | dwarf]

24 Church leader requires work, in padre’s case (4)
POPE – OP [work] in P{adr}E

26 Secure access code (3)
PIN – double def with P.I.N. [access code]

45 comments on “Times 27,197: Monotreme Sports”

  1. Well I – a representative of the pit pony brigade rather than the thoroughbreds – was frightened by many of these clues (FINGERSTALL, STAMP HINGE, ELDEST HANDS), finally throwing in the towel after 40 minutes when confronted by the dreadful sciency word TOLU-wotnot.

    [Whinnies horribly, rears and throws my rider off his sitting trot]

  2. Surprisingly straightforward and a very rare finish within 30 minutes for me on a Friday, however I managed to make an error at 6dn. Having written TOLUENE in the margin when constructing the answer from wordplay I wrote TULUENE in the grid, momentarily confusing ‘tune’ with ‘tone’ for ‘air’. It’s a word that’s not in my daily vocabulary but I had vaguely heard of TOLUENE as some sort of checmical substance.

    No problem with FINGERSTALL as that’s what the dressing is called and I don’t know of any other name for it.

    As an avid card-player at one time I am very familiar with the term ELDEST HAND although as there is only one such during a hand at cards I was a little surprised to see it in the plural. It only applies for a fleeting moment to mean the non-dealer whose turn it is to lay the first card.

    Edited at 2018-11-16 06:15 am (UTC)

  3. 22:30. Raced through most of this but then got stuck on the RHS. FINGERSTALL and STAMP HINGE both unknown but got from wordplay. PANDORA and TWO my last ones in…. and favourite clues of the day. Minor frown at MADDENS. I thought it just meant to make someone annoyed, but I see on checking it can mean to go mad too. Nice middle-of-the-road puzzle, I thought. Thanks V and setter.
    1. My eyebrow also twitched at the definition of “maddens” required at 18D. Collins, however, gives the setter cover, offering “to make or become mad”. I must say I have never seen “madden” used as an intransitive verb.
  4. As off the wavelength today as I was on it yesterday! Geography references always frighten this horse, so I didn’t even get 1a until near the end, let alone the unknown FINGERSTALL, ELDEST HAND, or the only-vaguely-remembered ECHIDNA.

    I can’t claim to have been clever when it comes to the more mathsy and sciencey stuff today, as TOLUENE took ages to come, and mostly derived from thinking about TNT and how explosives are generally constructed, and the way -ene endings are often aromatic hydrocarbons. And let’s not even talk about me temporarily forgetting that two is a prime number!

    This pushed me a couple of minutes over my hour. Something of an old-school feel here, with an ACERBIC WINKLE-picking MINNESOTAN popping on his FINGERSTALL to crouch over his STAMP-HINGEs in the GASLIGHT…

  5. Not hard, but I learned something, as I’d never heard of FINGERSTALL. I suspected it was TOLUENE a while before I put it in, as I was having trouble with the parsing (just tired, I guess; I didn’t start this till after dinner and some time messing around with computer programming). Felt lucky to remember WINKLE. And I’d never heard of a STAMP HINGE either. I wonder if any of our regulars here are, or ever were, stamp collectors. I was surprised to learn, some years ago, that in his childhood, before discovering philosophy, it was the chief passion of my main man Gilles Deleuze.

    Edited at 2018-11-16 07:32 am (UTC)

    1. Sadly, I collected stamps for just long enough to vaguely recall STAMP HINGE, but nowhere near long enough for it to help with my geographical knowledge. I’ve been impressed in the past by our stamp-collecting regulars’ ken of the countries of the world.
    2. I collected stamps as a child. STAMP HINGES were sold by dealers in packets of 50 or 100 as I recall.

      The only Penny Blacks to have interested me in recent times have been Wetherspoon’s pubs in Northwich and Kidderminster – both were originally Post Offices.

  6. Bolted at the sight of my bete noire, the ambiguously clued unknown. TULUENE. Or is it the less likely-sounding but still plausible TOLUENE?
    1. TNT is tri-nitro toluene in its full form. One of the few scientific facts to have been retained from Piggy Wilson’s vain attempts to interest me in chemistry.
  7. 35 mins all in with yoghurt, blueberries, etc. But on the iPad. Must fix the printer.
    DNK Fingerstall.
    Mostly I liked the simplicity of: Quatrain and COD to Whip.
    Thanks setter and V.

    First woman boxer? On the contrary (7)
    (One of mine)

    Edited at 2018-11-16 07:48 am (UTC)

  8. 11:34. Not exactly frightened but the horses got a little nervous confronted with unfamiliar terms like FINGERSTALL, STAMP HINGE and ELDEST HANDS. Fortunately the wordplay was all clear, apart from TOLUENE, but fortunately I knew that one, mostly, like GM, from TNT I think.
  9. 11.02 so not very Fridayish as it turned out. I suspected it was eldest something from the E in my FOI ACERBIC but it took a while to remember whist drives with my grandmother 60 years ago. Stamp collecting from the same era has stood me in good stead when it comes to geography, currencies and colours like gamboge that have been known to crop up hereabouts,
  10. I haven’t looked at today’s puzzle yet but wanted to drop by with a quick update on the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

    Before yesterday I’d never heard of Bedlington as a breed of dog. This morning on the 6 Music breakfast show Sean Keaveney read out a text from a listener in Bedlington and said “isn’t that where the terriers come from?” Spooky.

  11. Did this in about 35 minutes while watching cricket. I started like a house on fire, got bogged down and then finished quickly. LOI was the POPE. STAMP HINGE reminds me of my entry for Theresa May’s ‘naughtiest thing you’ve ever done’ competition. I got my wolf cub stamp collecting badge using my sister’s stamp album. Beat that! COD to QUATRAIN. FINGERSTALL was clear, but I had forgotten the word, never having worn one myself. My Dad always seemed to have a cricket injury that necessitated wearing one, or maybe, having bought it, he was getting value for money. Thank you V and setter.
  12. Rather like Vinyl, my speedy start suddenly stalled and dragged my time out to 25 minutes. ELDER HANDS looked unlikely, except as the kind of private language beloved of Bridge aficionados.
    STAMP HINGES, on the other hand, in the category of those things I haven’t thought of since childhood, but instantly emerging from memory as it were just yesterday, complete with sensations of touch and taste.
    Thrown by tune/air in the mix at 8, and didn’t actually parse it – thanks V. No other (actual) words would fit.
  13. I’ve advised the Quick Cryptic solvers in today’s blog to have a go at this. Now I feel I may have been unintentionally sadistic, as it becomes obvious that I was much in a minority in finding this a piece of cake.

    COD WHIP (beautifully concise !)
    TIME 8:31

    1. No it was v helpful. I got really stuck on QC today but, first time ever, managed quite a few of the grown up’s one (even more pleased now that not everyone thought it was s doddle). Thank you
  14. Straightforward, not sure if it is quite QC territory though.
    I completed it online at breakfast and I am now on a london-bound train. Having acquired a print edition i completed it again in about 3 minutes.. but the chap sitting opposite was completely unfazed, sadly. Had been hoping for a job offer..
  15. 18:25 so far from straightforward for me although I’m always slower on a train (also towards London) and I’m certainly not expecting any job offers. Top half was quick but I had problems with bits of the bottom half.

    Fingerstall and Eldest Hand were unknown but like others I recalled stamp hinges from my childhood and knew toluene from TNT.

    I was close to mombling PANNORA at 20 on the basis that it could easily have been one of the myriad (see what I did there?) stupid Latin and Greek words I don’t know and meaning “first”, constructed by putting ANN in P (and) O then RA. Not knowing that Pandora was a first of anything was a bit of a hindrance.

  16. Well, this is the second consecutive puzzle where I’ve scraped in under 20 minutes. Put three of these in the Competition and I’m in with a chance… or not. My only NHO on this one was “ELDEST HANDS”, otherwise all fairly straightforward, which unfortunately means I have nothing left to do today.
  17. 20:37. I wasn’t sure about Maddens so I was relieved to see it was correct.

    COD: Gaslight

  18. This certainly seems to have fallen into my lap as far as the knowledge went. Add me to the list of junior stamp collectors several decades ago (as suggested above, also useful for quizzes where you might have to answer questions like “What is the modern name of Dahomey?”, or “Which country officially calls itself the Helvetican Confederation?”). When I was delving in the archive a couple of weeks ago as prep for Finals Day, the previously unknown THUMBSTALL came up, so its near-neighbour went straight in today. Nice puzzle.
  19. Finished in 40 mins with 2 pencilled in, and had to come here to confirm my guesses (TOLUENE, PANDORA) . I thought this was harder than others have made out, although I did have all but about 8 clues done in 20 mins – leaving me with 3 separate holes to fill in. Also forgot about the ‘U must be a Q’for too long.
  20. I struggled mightily with this one, having never heard of ELDEST HANDS or STAMP HINGE, and generally being unable to see the wood for the trees. Having already seen Philip’s comment on the QC blog, I wondered if I had lost half of my marbles overnight. I eventually crawled over the line in 62:01. Time to lie down in a darkened room. Thanks setter and V.
  21. As a 30 minute QC solver I always look through the big one and usually I’m happy to get one or two answers. Today I got almost 50%, by far a PB, so Philip was not entirely wrong with his recommendation!


    Edited at 2018-11-16 01:02 pm (UTC)

    1. Well done Brian. Looking at the SNITCH scores, I think this was definitely a “wavelength” puzzle.
  22. 25 minutes and of middle of the road difficulty. Surprisingly knew all of the vocabulary. Still discovering stamp hinges stuck to parts of my body 50 years later.
  23. 28 minutes, but with MADNESS biffed as LOI. STAMP HINGES are a real no-no for philatelists, as the pristine gum of mint stamps should remain unblemished. FINGERSTALLS recalled from Mikado, and the punishment of billiard-sharps.
    1. Yes. Those “fitless finger-stalls” are the ones I remember as well – together with the elliptical billiard balls. We tied on the 28 minute solve. Ann
  24. Completed the grid but unfortunately with two incorrect answers, so a technical DNF. DNK 15a ECHT and so inserted ECHO on the basis that *returned* might well be the definition. Correctly saw *crop* as the definition at 19a but wrongly interpreted it to mean CHOP rather than WHIP. Nevertheless I was very pleased to have got those other more obscure answers all correct.
  25. I have the PG tips card collection ‘African Animals’ from about 1958 to thank for the ECHIDNA, and of course my stamp collecting for the hinges, which got everywhere but where you wanted. Still have no idea about ECHT.

    17′ thanks verlaine and setter.

  26. Very straightforward, about 48 minutes once I assured myself that it must be TOLUENE despite the temptation to have the air be a TUNE instead of a TONE. No other doubts or problems, although it took a while to see where ECHT was hidden (ECHT means “really”, and is very commonly used in German, especially in a tone of astonishment: ECHT?)
  27. No issues today, around 20 minutes, ending with TOLUENE (because my mind wanted it to be Tolulene). I didn’t know of the FINGERSTALL or the STAMP HINGE, but then again, it’s pretty much every day that there are 1 or 2 words I don’t know. Regards.
  28. A DNF in around 36 mins a few un- or barely knowns like fingerstall, stamp hinges and eldest hands but it was the chemistry test in the top right where I blundered. I had the right colour but the wrong air (went for tune instead of tone). Ho hum.
  29. Pretty straightfoward except for TOLULENE and ECHT neither of which I’d ever heard of and for which required aids.

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