Times 27,215: No W, Jose

This crossword, unless I’ve seriously dropped the ball, is a NONGRAM, but that didn’t stop it from being brilliant, with it being quite hard to discern the location of the definition part in a vast majority of the clues, necessitating much teasing-out of the possibilities from the complex and interesting wordplay. On a number of occasions (chiefly the unknown phrase at 14ac, but also 1dn, 8dn, 20dn, 22dn, 24ac, 25ac…) I basically had to construct the answer piecemeal from bits of the clue before the penny dropped, and I always think a crossword is great when it makes you really work for your supper. Some super vocab in here too – PIAFFE crossing with STAFFAGE, corks! – and just the right amount of quiz-type historical, geographical and Biblical knowledge to be satisfying. Very great respect to the setter indeed.

Quite a few candidates for Clue of the Day as a result; I was very impressed by 10ac (there was an unusual number of high quality homophone clues throughout, in fact) and 22dn, but I think the top award from me really has to go to 4dn where “ragged” contributes to the surface reading if you pronounce it one way, or acts as an anagrind if the other – what a superb &lit clue!

1 Censures concerning academics repeating nothing (8)
REPROOFS – RE PROFS [concerning academics], but with the O repeated

5 One getting in the groove playing lusty lead in story (6)
STYLUS – (LUSTY*) [“playing”] + S{tory}

9 Employees having time for painting accessories (8)
STAFFAGE – STAFF [employees] having AGE [time]. The simplest possible wordplay for quite an obscure word!

10 What can go with a bit of the match broadcast (6)
BRIDLE – homophone of BRIDAL [of the match]

12 William, killed hunting game, tailed grouse (5)
RUFUS – RU [game] + FUS{s} [“tailed” grouse]. That’s William Rufus as in William II.

13 Waste no time visiting daughter in decline (3,2,4)
RUN TO SEED – RUN TO SEE [waste no time visiting] + D [daughter]

14 Just past tree, men with the trailer (2,1,5,4)
BY A SHORT HEAD – BY ASH OR [past | tree | men] with THE AD [the | trailer]

18 Swell new offer blocked by pro? That mustn’t happen! (6,6)
HEAVEN FORBID – HEAVE N BID [swell | new | offer] “blocked by” FOR [pro]

21 Best, once again, note, to study inquiry briefly (9)
RECONQUER – RE CON QUER{y} [note | to study | inquiry “briefly”]

23 Take the part of a basin which fills with water (5)
PLAYA – PLAY A [take the part of | a]

24 Horn put out note, holding firm? Hardly! (6)
KLAXON – K.O. N [put out | note], “holding” LAX [firm? hardly!]

25 Canadian native coming across a person with whistle and light (8)
CAREFREE – CREE [Canadian native] “coming across” A REF [a | person with whistle]

26 Job to follow this wild-west hero’s part (6)
ESTHER – hidden in {wild-w}EST HER{o’s}. Being the book of the Bible that precedes Job.

27 Sickly after vacation, blames bad diet (8)
ASSEMBLY – (S{ickl}Y + BLAMES*) [“bad”]

1 Succeeded in shouting a string of requests etc (6)
ROSARY – S [succeeded] in ROARY [shouting]

2 Irrational blunder deposing leader: one’s executed on the spot (6)
PIAFFE – PI {g}AFFE [irrational | blunder, “deposing leader”]

3 Historic defence beginning when king covered in woad? (5,4)
OFFA’S DYKE – OFF AS [beginning | when] + K [king] “covered in” DYE [woad?]

4 Four endlessly suffering when ragged? (7,2,3)
FIGURES OF FUN – (FOU{r} + SUFFERING*) [“ragged”], &lit

6 Part of engine died: track going uphill (5)
TURBO – OB RUT [died | track], all reversed

7 Ran, directed outside summer shows (8)
LADDERED – LED [directed] “outside” ADDER [summer]

8 Relatives rung by prosecutor and detective (8)
STEPDADS – STEP [rung] by DA [prosecutor] and DS [detective]

11 There’s no chance of that Roy getting off with nursemaid! (2,4,6)
IN YOUR DREAMS – (ROY + NURSEMAID*) [“getting off”]

15 End of yarn still to be picked up (9)
TAILPIECE – homophone of TALE PEACE [yarn | still]

16 Brave of Nancy’s dear old chief to speak out (8)
CHEROKEE – CHER [Nancy’s, i.e. French word for, dear] + O [old] + homophone of KEY [chief]

17 Noble bringing in woman who’ll do diagram (3,5)
BAR CHART – BART. [noble] “bringing in” CHAR [woman who’ll do]

19 Capital letters at either end on short flyer (6)
ZAGREB – Z A [letters at either end (of the alphabet)] on GREB{e} [“short” flyer]

20 Through stuffing bird, cracks appear (6)
JAPERY – PER [through] “stuffing” JAY [bird]

22 Oscar using something hooked sometimes for a coat hanger (5)
NOOSE – O [Oscar] using NOSE [something hooked sometimes] “for a coat”

50 comments on “Times 27,215: No W, Jose”

  1. Went offline at maybe 34′ with maybe 5 clues to go, then came back after a bit and things more or less fell into place. Finally thought of PIAFFE, I don’t know why, and never parsed it. TAILPIECE, JAPERY, ZAGREB, ASSEMBLY, PLAYA suddenly came to me almost at once, and finally LADDERED. I was not best pleased by the intersection of PIAFFE and STAFFAGE, both DNK. Nor did I care much for ROARY. I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one not familiar with the phrase at 14ac. Nice to see the Cree indicated by ‘Canadian’ for once. Definitely a workout; I felt it was quite an achievement to get it all right, even if I wasn’t always sure why it was right.
  2. That was quite a workout. The NE corner with PIAFFE and STAFFAGE took a long time since I’d never heard of either. I even wondered if there was a word ROSARA since ROARY seemed less likely than plain ROAR followed by A. I put BY A SHORT HEAD in early since I guessed that the literal was just the first word, and with the enumeration, it came to mind. No idea of my time but somewhere north of an hour, for sure, in two sittings.
  3. Quirky but fun, with the SE last to fall (CAREFREE did fit rather better than ‘Manitoban’). Not convinced by ROARY = shouting, but then the former is so weird perhaps it can mean anything. The next time I hear neighbours screaming at each other, I’ll turn to the wife and say, ‘I hope to God this roary match doesn’t last into the early hours like the last one.’

    Edited at 2018-12-07 06:06 am (UTC)

  4. The following horse racing terminology may be helpful:

    SHORT HEAD: An approximate measure to describe the distance between horses, typically used at the end of a race. For example “he only won by a short head”. Roughly 10% of one length.

    NOSE: For example “he just won it by a nose”. Roughly 5% of one length.

    LENGTH: Equal to the average length of a horse.

  5. A technical DNF as once again after a long struggle I finally ran out of steam with just three answers to go. After I had looked up ZAGREB (known to me but not not as a capital as my geography of that region is still limited to the Tito era) I managed to work out CAREFREE but that still left the completely unknown PIAFFE requiring a second resort to aids.

    Having said all that, I was very pleased to get as far as I did, including working out the unknown STAFFAGE and PLAYA from wordplay. JAPERY and ROSARY were also particularly satisfying.

  6. 31:41. Phew! That was a proper Friday cracker. I think you’ve described the merits of this perfectly, V. I had to trust to the wordplay for the crossing unknowns STAFFAGE and PIAFFE and never managed to parse KLAXON. Lots of lovely PDMs, such as ESTHER, STEPDADS and IN YOUR DREAMS. COD to FIGURES OF FUN. Thanks V and setter. P.S. I’m still pondering the potential significance of the missing W. WARCRAFT at 17d, for example, would have completed the pangram.

    Edited at 2018-12-07 08:01 am (UTC)

  7. Agreed that this was a great offering. On first pass I got about 2 answers and thought I was in for a long slog, so was quite surprised to finish within half an hour.

    LOI because I hesitated over it was BAR CHART, and I still don’t know why bart=noble. Could someone enlighten me please?

        1. It took me a little while to rack my brains as to why BART should be a noble, but then I too remembered the Baronet abbreviation.
          1. I remember querying BART at the time, thinking baronets were not nobles, but evidently it’s peers what they’re not.
  8. 60 mins with croissant and home-made marmalade. Hoorah.
    I liked it a lot – but found it tough, especially, as others have said, the Roary, Piaffe, Staffage stuff.
    Mostly I liked the convoluted Noose.
    What is this thing about a Nongram? Am I supposed to colour bits in?
    Thanks setter and V.
    1. The nongram helped me to find JAPERY when I thought it was a pangram, but the lack of a “W” was a further hindrance in the NW corner…
  9. An hour and ten, but I fell at the exact last hurdle by assuming “shouting” was “roars” rather than “roary” in 1d. I don’t know anything about the ROSARY, and I’d already seen so much unknown vocab by that point I was willing to put in anything that looked vaguely like a word, and ROSARS counted.

    Shame, especially after coming up with the NHO PIAFFE, STAFFAGE and PLAYA, getting RUFUS because he’s in my flashcards of crosswordy stuff, recognising Job and ESTHER, and so on.

    And managing it all when faced with a setter whose dictionary, I believe, has the first three definitions of every word censored! Good fun, mind.

  10. Beaten by this but great surfaces and deception. Loved Roy & the nursemaid and the assembly.
  11. I wish I’d had this to commentate on yesterday, as technically brilliant as yesterday’s was duff. Took a while to get started – that NW corner is tricky. I’m OK with ROARY (it’s marked as Scottish in Chambers) and the definition for the resultant ROSARY was so exact it obscured itself. A rosary is a string of Ave Marias which are not requests interspersed with Paternosters which have some.
    STAFFAGE was my only unknown: I assumed it was to do with that stick painters use to steady the hand, which turns out to be a mahl stick. Right answer, wrong reason.
    Too many fine clues to pick a favourite, though today’s hidden defined as Job to follow this certainly raised a smile. Well played setter and properly appreciated V. 28 minutes and small change.
  12. Pioneers, they never say die. 55 minutes with LOI CAREFREE, so beat the hour BY A SHORT HEAD, one of the few clues I saw quickly. DNK PIAFFE or STAFFAGE but both were constructible with crossers. COD to STEPDADS by another short head from ESTHER. A good puzzle, one I never felt confident about. Well, you wouldn’t with only one wheel on your wagon. Thank you V and setter.
    1. That is exactly the song that was going through my head a couple of minutes before I sat down with this puzzle!
    1. “A mile up the road there’s a hidden cave, and we can watch those Cherokees….go galloping by.”

      How many wheels on your wagon?

      1. Well I got “Cherokee, oh-oh, marching on a trail of tears”. It was one of Europe’s follow-ups to The Final Countdown which I see reached 72 in the US chart and managed not to chart anywhere else.
  13. If I may supplement V’s excellent blog a little. For those still puzzled, a PIAFFE is a dressage movement in which the horse moves it feet but doesn’t leave the spot it’s standing on whilst STAFFAGE is people added to a painting to indicate scale

    Fantastic puzzle and great blog

    1. I probably should elucidate mysterious words for the benefit of the audience, but then again, if I did that for the Club Monthly puzzles I’d be there all day…
  14. .. but can’t be precise because I was interrupted by a phone call and forgot to stop my timer. A pleasure and a challenge from start to finish. I’d like to offer a shout out for cassandra who, when I checked, had achieved a personal NITCH of 88, the only green in a sea of red and orange.
  15. 35:47 of very hard but engrossing work. A masterclass in how to hide definitions in plain sight.
    Given the eye-watering costs involved, I have rarely had cause to be grateful for Mrs R’s passion for dressage so PIAFFE was a small but welcome bonus.
    Take a bow setter.
  16. Blimey! That was a toughie for me. Gave up timing after an hour passed, with the fiendish four of ROSARY, PIAFFE, JAPERY and BRIDLE still unsolved, and eventually cracked it after another half hour probably. BRIDLE (my LOI) held me up for ages because of the very well disguised definition. The surface apparatus of ‘appear’ at the end of the JAPERY clue fazed me. Unlike z8b8d8k, I thought the definition for ROSARY was rather wonky: I think of it as a sequence of devotions rather than ‘requests’. I suppose ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is a sort of request. DNK the dressage move, and my mathematical ignorance was an impediment here.
    Anyway, a very clever puzzle with loads of brilliant clues. I’d nominate LADDERED or TAILPIECE for COD.
    Thanks to clever setter, and thanks to V for a fine blog.
  17. Got down to 1D in 13:43 and simply couldn’t be bothered to rack my brains any further. I already had three DNK’s (STAFFAGE, PLAYA, PIAFFE), and had biffed KLAXON and NOOSE. Not today thank you.

    Phil Jordan

  18. Echo above, great puzzle great blog, took me 40 minutes then had to check what a piaffe was. I remember (some of) the all night party in Zagreb in 1990 after working on technical stuff for the Eurovision song contest. Then there was a war and lots of the local TV people just disappeared from my radar. Very sad time.
  19. Yikes. I did know the horsey bits (BY A SHORT HEAD and PIAFFE) and got BRIDLE quite quickly too from the days of my enthusiasm for that sort of thing. We forced our parents to take us to Badminton Horse Trials and then had to disown them for not looking sufficiently “county” (father in a pac-a-mac). The rest very hard indeed and not an iffy clue in the bunch. I spent quite some time looking for “blue” in the historic defence – visions of the Ancient Brits and the ruddy king slain by William Tell thus enabling Newton to invent gravity in S&Y’s 1066 etc. 34.36

    P.S. Could some nice person explain why this is a nongram and how that works.

    1. It’s my jocular coinage for something that looks like it’s going to be a pangram but then just misses. In Magic the Gathering parlance I think a card combo that isn’t might have been a nonbo. Or possibly a bombo? Not even sure any more.
      1. Ah. thank you V. I never manage to see ninas so I wondered what I was missing this time.
      2. They play Magic in my local since someone took the dartboard down. They play it in Welsh… Ann
  20. Yikes again! Relieved to have escaped without a pink square today. I started off by biffing STYLUS then took it out again as I couldn’t see the parsing. Then STEPDADS went in and I revisited 5a and spotted it. CHEROKEE was another early entry, then IN YOUR DREAMS and CAREFREE popped up. PIE CHART was discounted and BART fitted the noble bit fairly quickly, but then it was a slow grind until I was left with 10a. An alphabet trawl over the final 5 or 6 minutes produced the bit accompaniment. I didn’t know PIAFFE, PLAYA or STAFFAGE, but extracted them from the wordplay. Some clever stuff. Over the hour at 65:27. Thanks setter and V.
  21. 37 mins. Great puzzle; the only issue was 1dn, where the ‘a’ in the clue made me wonder if there was such a thing as a rosara. I usually trust the wordplay in cases like this, but with the wp here interpretable in two ways (just – difficult to be 100% confident about roary) I went for the obviously correct answer. Excellent challenge overall, so thank you, setter. Great blog, V, cheers.
  22. When I got KLAXON as last solved (NOOSE was LOI, not being sure till I had checker) I didn’t trouble to verify the pangram, as I could see the J Q & Z and assumed the rest were there.
    This was tough, with only CHART in at 17dn (as it clearly wasn’t PIE) on first reading of all the clues – eventual time was about 45 minutes.
  23. I first thought of pie chart, so googled PIET and got “An important person with a high position” which seemed to fit the bill, however the H-I— didn’t look very promising so had to look again. Finally got stuck with 4 to solve and PIAFFE was the only option, but never heard of it. the NE was last to go and was comparatively easy as it turned out but I think my brain was burnt out by then
  24. This took forever. Guesses from wordplay to complete with PIAFFE and STAFFAGE. And I have no idea how I remembered OFFA’S DYKE, probably from an earlier appearance here. A lot of post solve checking that these things actually exist, but somehow correct, but it took an hour plus. Regards.
  25. Great puzzle, tough but very rewarding to complete. I spent about 45 mins on it at lunchtime but still had blanks at 10ac, 12ac, 23ac, 1dn, 2dn and 19dn. I tidied them all up in around 10mins on the way home. Staffage and piaffe unknown and constructed from wp. FOI 1ac. LOI 10ac. COD to 10ac I think, by a short head from 26ac.
  26. ‘Work for your supper,’ or three in my case as it took that many days to complete.
    Ok, I’m not that good obviously, but never gave up, and never looked anything up, except to confirm a word in the dictionary.
    Ordinary bloke
  27. A thoroughly wonderful crossword – thank you! Tough but get-at-able, with much grinding of the synapses. Learned piaffe and staffage. Loved the king in woad.

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