Times 27220 – advantage setter

Time: 20:34, but with two whopping errors, one was a guess that came to me just as I hit submit, so I knew it wasn’t going to be correct, the other was a word I had heard of but not seen spelled, and it of course was clued as an anagram so I went for the wrong one. I don’t know why, but I was so far from the setter’s wavelength that even the easier ones took far longer than usual today.

I suspect I won’t be the only person getting the wrong spelling on 14 down, it just doesn’t look right. The puzzle is also a Z away from being a pangram.

So much as I can explain these, the first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go…

1 Old US soldier sees little point apprehending old woman (9)
MINUTEMAN – MINUTE(little), N(point on a compass), surrounding MA(old woman, appropriate for an American clue). Soldier from the US war of Independence
6 Fluff caught in back of the hoover, first of all (5)
BOTCH – C(caught) in the first letters of Back Of The Hoover
9 Theologian seeing beyond a child of five (7)
AQUINAS – AS(seeing) after A, QUIN(one of five children)
10 Not quite sufficient grounds for consuming dull, starchy food (7)
BASMATI – BASI(s) (sufficient grounds for) containing MAT(dull)
11 For Kaiser Wilhelm I, men bringing fabulous flower (5)
ICHOR – ICH(I in German), OR(men) and the flower is the blood of the Gods
12 Fair point! (9)
OBJECTIVE – double definition
14 What’s the most common feature of selfless relative? (3)
SIS – What’s the most common letter in SELFLESS? S IS! I agonized over this one forever
15 See red and green lasso flying around ring (4,4,3)
LOSE ONES RAG – anagram of GREEN,LASSO surrounding O(ring)
17 Producing pants soldiers must wear having just finished washing? (3,2,6)
OUT OF BREATH – RE(soldiers) inside OUT OF BATH(just finished washing). Producing pants as in panting
19 Result of being not prepared to back away? (3)
WAR – RAW(not being prepared) reversed
20 Warning to post-holder sporting odd bonnet (2,3,4)
22 Irish county taking odd returnees from Sligo jail (5)
LAOIS – alternating letters reversed from SlIgO jAiL – don’t think I’ve seen this county in a crossword before, usually it is Cork, Kerry or Sligo
24 Cricketer’s support to decline (3,4)
LEG SLIP – LEG(support) next to SLIP(decline). Not really a cricketer, but a rarely-used fielding position in cricket.
26 Light blue trousers to wear away (7)
SKETCHY – SKY blue surrounding ETCH(wear away). Light as in slight, flimsy
27 Copy of Times — I hesitate to say old Times (5)
XEROX – X(times, multiplied by), ER(I hesitate to say), O(old), X(another times)
28 One pondering wet-rot a tidemark shows having returned (9)
MEDITATOR – hidden reversed in wet-ROT A TIDEMark

1 Seriously wound up one in US resort (5)
MIAMI – MAIM(seriously wound), I(one) all reversed
2 Ducks gunshot fired (7)
NOUGHTS – anagram of GUNSHOT – a duck is a score of zero in cricket (I think it is my List B average)
3 Sign for the staff meaning rent has been reduced (5,4)
TENOR CLEF – TENOR(meaning) and CLEFT(rent) shortened
4 Wrongly interpret notes: study’s genuine (11)
MISCONSTRUE – MIS(musical notes), CON’S(study’s), TRUE(genuine)
5 Pick up new rating (3)
NAB – N(new), AB(rating, sailor)
6 Vanilla ice, shrinking by degrees (5)
BASIC – IC(e) after BAS (Bachelor of Arts degrees)
7 Watering more seeds planted in a row (7)
TEARIER – EAR(seeds of corn) in a TIER, it is eyes that are watering more
8 Freudian concept, as espoused by fellow German philosopher (9)
HEIDEGGER – the Freudian concept is the ID, then EG(as), all inside HE(fellow), GER(German)
13 After broadcast, see radio DJ quietly threatened (11)
JEOPARDISED – anagram of SEE,RADIO,DJ,P(quietly)
14 Six pound fifty in change? (9)
SPONDULIX – this was the one I couldn’t spell. Anagram of SIX,POUND,L(50). American slang for money, and I now know it isn’t spelled SPONDILUX
16 Ancient character tipped three times to become king (9)
ETHELBERT – ETH(ancient character) then TREBLE(three times) reversed. Names of kings of Kent and Wessex.
18 Beat time in the end for American singer (7)
TANAGER – TAN(beat), AGE(time) and then the last letter of foR
19 Print taken from court by policeman on duty — case dismissed (7)
WOODCUT – WOO(court), DC(Detective Constable, policeman) then the inside of dUTy
21 Message to divulge verbally sometime (5)
TELEX – sounds like TELL(divulge), EX-(former, sometime)
23 Pitcher: you must stop second home run (5)
SHYER – YE(you) inside S(second), HR(home run) – pitcher being thrower here
25 Female head vacating unpopular post? (3)
PAM – remove the top from a SPAM posting

59 comments on “Times 27220 – advantage setter”

  1. Well, I ask you – SPONy whatnot. Absolutely ridiculous. What’s the world coming to? Putting it in the Times crossword is like asking the French to come to terms with a no-deal Brexit. I’m off to watch Altman’s Secret Honor to remind myself of the days when the politicians were real men.
  2. For some reasons, I found all the three-lettered words the most intriguing, having to come here to confirm. Quite a tough workout after a fortnight of abstenance (not a word yet) from crosswords while in Holyland for a pilgrimage.
    Thank you, setter for the challenge and George for the lucid explanation.
    1. I know the word, but as I have (or had) no idea how to spell it, clearly I’ve never written it down. Possibly a risky inclusion I suppose. Judging by comments it was, at least.
  3. A real struggle, but an excellent puzzle and well worth it. Eventually all present and correct, including 14d, in just on an hour and a half. LAOIS didn’t seem right for an Irish county, even though it couldn’t be anything else.

    The only ones I ended up not being to parse were H(R) for ‘home (run)’ and HEIDEGGER who I must admit I’d only ever heard of in the Monty Python Philosopher’s Song.

    The S IS was good, as were the rest of the ‘easy’ 3 letter clues and I liked ‘Watering more’.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Similarly in debt to the Pythons for Heidegger, which I could’t parse at all. BIFD it from crossers thinking it was ID in another of the Pythons’ famous German philosophers, though the one I was searching for was Hegel, not Hegger. Close but no cigar.
      Otherwise tricky, but on the wavelength at 21 min.
  4. I really struggled with this but completed in one minute under the hour with several unparsed and two errors as things turned out – both names of people. I thought the theologian was ‘Aquinus’ and misremembered the philosopher as ‘Heidenger’. Both sets of wordplay were somewhat obscure so I didn’t feel too bad about that. No problems with SPONDULIX here and I was pleased to remember ICHOR. Lost time at 7dn thinking ‘weepier’ before the first two checkers arrived to put me right – still at least I had spotted what the definition was getting at.

    Edited at 2018-12-13 05:43 am (UTC)

  5. About halfway through online in 20′ or so, took it with me to lunch and finished it there. A terrific puzzle. Couldn’t parse a couple, including BOTCH (I actually had C and H for Hoover, then thought BOT might be a version of botty (back), missing what should have been obvious) and WOODCUT. I knew 16d was ETH something, could only think of the Unready guy, finally twigged. DNK 15ac, NHO the county. LOI TEARIER. HEIDEGGER was an incomprehensible philosopher and fan of Hitler; here’s a double dactyl about him (the rules for double dactyls include 1) the 1st line is a nonsense word 2) the 2d is a name, 3)the 6th is one word):
    Higgledy Piggledy
    Herr Rektor Heidegger
    Cautioned his students “To
    Being be true,
    Lest you should fall into
    This I believe–and
    The Führer does too.”
  6. I’m another SPONDILUX but otherwise all correct after wrestling this beast to the ground. I put ETHELPIRT in provisionally, but then forgot about it until I couldn’t get anything to fit where SKETCHY goes before I remembered to go back and check, and immediately saw ETHELBERT. I do think it is a bit unfair to clue a word as obscure as SPONDULIX with an anagram, when even with all the crossers there are multiple possibilities. Or maybe that’s just sour grapes. Anyway, it was great fun anyway.
  7. George says it’s an American term, and that’s what I thought, too–American and pretty much dead (I had sort of thought it was spondulacs, plural of spondulac; fortunately I had no opportunity to misspell it). But ODE lists it as British, dating from mid-19th century, and the New Oxford Am. Dict. doesn’t list it.
  8. was no problem a write-in hereabouts – as it was used by George Cole in the film The Great St. Trinians Train Robbery. The spiv is asked by the judge Alastair Sim (his step-father in real life) why he committed a certain crime, ‘For the lolly m’lud…. you knows the cabbage… the greens… the ackers… the wads…the mazuma!?’ The judge has no clue to what he is referring. ‘Ah, I believe you are looking, for the legal terminology m’lud!? The spondulicks!’. Sim smiles and nods,’Yes indeed young man, the spondulicks!!’



    LOI 23dn SHYER

    Time about 85mins.

    Thank-you Wise Owl Pip, The Old Boltonian and Guy de Sable for your welcoming words.

    Edited at 2018-12-13 08:51 am (UTC)

  9. 34:41. Phew!
    A decidedly old-fashioned feel to some of these clues: TELEX and XEROX surely merit an archaism indicator! ‘Watering’ for tearing seems a bit dusty too, and perhaps SPONDULIX although that was perfectly familiar to me. Bung in a few obscurities (TANAGER, LAOIS, ETHELBERT) and some fiendish wordplay (most common feature of selfless indeed!) and you’ve got a right stinker on your hands.
    Absolutely no complaints though, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and I’ve no objection to old-fashioned or difficult words indicated by fair wordplay.
    Thanks fiendish setter and George for sorting it all out.
      1. I actually had a tangential professional connection with Xerox in my previous job so it’s not surprise to me that the company still exists and is selling products! However I don’t think I have ever in my life heard anyone use the word to mean ‘copy’.

        Edited at 2018-12-13 09:35 am (UTC)

        1. I can certainly imagine hearing it in an (American) office in the 1960s, but no, not over here and not recently.

          In a similar vein, the NHS has just announced it’s trying to phase out the use of fax machines, which suggests there are always people reluctant to move on from one technology to the next (though if you read the BBC article about it, there are arguments for keeping a form of communication which isn’t, for example, vulnerable to cyber-attacks…)

          1. I have a bank account at Clydesdale Bank and for certain transactions (international transfers for instance) they only accept remote instructions by fax. I haven’t seen a fax machine for years and the nearest branch to me is miles away so when I need to make a payment like this I revert to even older technology: the post!
        2. I can remember (the 70s?) Xerox taking out 1-page advertisements in newspapers asking us not to use ‘xerox’ as a common verb meaning ‘photocopy’. At the time, as the dominant copier manufacturer, it was in danger, as they saw it, of becoming like Kleenex (=tissue), and they evidently didn’t like the idea of their name being applied to Ricoh or Epson or whoever. Living in Japan, of course, I haven’t seen a Xerox machine in decades.
        3. When I started work in NYC in the 70s XEROX was always used for “copy” Keriothe. Before that, my chambers in Loncoln’s Inn were still using carbons, not a telex or fax in sight although there was a telephone in the clerk’s room.
        4. Xerox as a verb meaning copy was widespread in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Not old enough to tell you if it dates back to the 60s.
  10. 49 minutes here, enjoyable all the way through. Top half went in a lot faster than the bottom half, with the exception of 12a OBJECTIVE, which I needed the J of 13d finally to see.

    FOI 1a—if you grew up among Cold War dramas, MINUTEMAN is at least familiar as a word, even if you don’t know the origin—LOI the unknown 18d TANAGER, where I took a long time to convince myself I had the right wordplay.

    No problem with SPONDULIX here; as Horryd mentions, a misspent youth watching George Cole probably helps (it would not surprise me one jot if it turned up in Minder, too!) though I think I’ve also heard it from Bertie Wooster’s lips.

    Edited at 2018-12-13 09:08 am (UTC)

  11. I spent at least 5 minutes at the end failing to see BOTCH and TEARIER despite these being two of the easier clues. I had assumed that H was ‘home’ as used in league tables and was a bit surprised to find that my Chambers app doesn’t have it, nor can I find A(way), W(on), L(ost) etc (other than the Korean currency). Very enjoyable meaty puzzle.
  12. A mildly embarrassing crossword, with two philosophers I’m familiar enough with but struggle to spell – AQUINAS fatally with a U, and HEIDEGGER wanting to have an I in the middle rather than an E to sound more like the Philosophers’ Song.
    As I’ve said before, LAOIS (I even copied the sequence wrong to begin with) is an Irish county that didn’t exist until the setter needed it, though I’m sure it’s lovely and green.
    Did anyone else find the 3s the hardest clues of the lot? WAR was my last, SIS just annoyingly brilliant, PAM started life as FEM, and NAB (the easiest of the set) took its time.
    Hard pounding, not unenjoyable. Commiserations George,and well recovered. Where was your other slip?
  13. Loved this crossword but beaten by it (my genuine excuse is that I was secretly trying to do it while auditors are in my room asking me annoying questions about my company)
    1. When an ex-colleague of mine was a junior auditor he was sent to the FD’s office to ask him some questions. He knocked on the door and peered round it to see said FD with his feet on his desk reading a dubious magazine of the kind found on the top shelves of newsagents. My ex-colleague’s appearance elicited an angry stare and the words ‘f*** off, can’t you see I’m busy’.
      Times have changed.

      Edited at 2018-12-13 11:24 am (UTC)

  14. I found this tough, finishing in 55 minutes, with LOI TEARIER. I knew SPONDULIX from somewhere, and I guessed HR for Home Run in the same way an American might deduce LB for leg bye. Having taken all the philosophy options in my Divinity degree, it was a matter of pride to find the two philosophers early, and Thomas did present himself quickly but Martin kept himself under wraps for quite a while, not surprising given his politics. I think we’ve had TANAGER before but solved it from cryptic and crossers. No laugh-out-loud clues, so I’ll give COD to AQUINAS, although I’m more a Plato than an Aristotle man. Thank you George and setter.
  15. Phew! 37 minutes including answering the door to a delivery man. I think WOODCUT was my only write-in, the rest were dragged kicking and screaming from some tough wordplay. I confess that by the end I couldn’t raise the energy to parse ETHELBERT or HEIDEGGER. I will be humming the Philosophers song all day now.
  16. … but managed to get SPONDULIX letters in the right places. What a great puzzle! Finished a steady solve correctly in about 40 minutes, with some lovely light bulb moments; the ‘pants’ thing, the S IS idea, and the BOTCH – I had it in but thought it was something to do with BOT for bottom as did a few others I see. LAOIS was a write-in as I know my Irish counties and remember passing the massive prison in Portlaoise many times. The philosopher was LOI needed all the checkers.
    Well blogged George. Fridays are back!
  17. Is it Friday already? Got there in the end, but like everyone else, had to work hard for this one. I knew the dosh, but if you’d asked me to write it down before seeing today’s clue, I’d have gone for SPONDULICKS (which appears to be a valid alt. sp., or indeed the main one, depending which dictionary you consult).
      1. Indeed, I’m teasing. I really don’t think it’s obscure though. It’s pretty common in the UK, and it seems to me that the only people who have struggled with it are some of our American friends. And ulaca.
  18. Splendid puzzle – thank you setter

    LAOIS may be better known to some by its old name Queen’s County. It has exported people all over the world as a result of the Great Famine in the 1800s. Today it’s a prosperous place to live whilst working in Dublin

    ETHELBERT’s claim to fame was that he was the first English King to adopt Christianity

  19. Super puzzle, well pleased. 33′ 14”, which oddly reduces my point average, given the comments. I thought the money word had been anglicised as ‘spondoolies’? Much unparsed, so thanks George. HEIDEGGER and NAB LOsI. I rarely see a TENOR CLEF nowadays, ditto TELEX and XEROX – I note that the puzzle also contains ‘hoover’, bringing up the curse of brand names that become generic.

    Thanks gl and setter.

  20. ….it is hard to remember that your initial OBJECTIVE was to drain the swamp.

    This was certainly Championship standard, but, since I actually finished it correctly, I must suggest that the three Final puzzles were harder, not having finished any of them.

    A distinct American feel to this, with MINUTEMAN, MIAMI, TANAGER, and SPONDULIX (Chambers has it as a third entry behind “spondulicks” and “spondoolicks”, and apparently it comes from Greek).

    Thanks to George for parsing my two biffs (OUT OF BREATH and HEIDEGGER).

    TIME 21:21

  21. 7 mins over the hour to crack this tough nut. But no gripes at all — very satisfying and most enjoyable. Definite COD to SPONDULIX (with which I was quite familiar — indeed, I use the word myself quite frequently, though I too would spell it -licks): I’m a sucker for the &lits. The Irish county (pronounced ‘laugh’, I guess) was unknown to me, despite my having toured the Republic in our campervan for 5 weeks in May & June this year. There was certainly some devilish wordplay: meaning=tenor + rent=clef[t] were particularly tortuous, but difficulties included as=seeing in AQUINAS, the esses in selfless, and seeds=ear in 7d.
    Thanks for your helpful blog, George.
  22. Cooer. The only LAOIS I could think of has Vientiane as it’s capital, which obviously didn’t work and so I had to go all round Robin’s Hood’s barn before concluding that it had to be just that and must be in Ireland somewhere. What with MINUTEMAN and MIAMI going in right off the bat, not to mention a trio of Xs in the SW and couple of basic/bases in the NE I was kicking myself for being so dense with the rest of it. It was a relief to find everyone else struggled too. As George says, advantage setter. 29.57
  23. Very hard and two wrong: the fly in the ointment for me was putting ‘won’ for 19ac; take the back off won’t (not prepared to) leaving ‘won’ (result of not being prepared to back away?) so I couldn’t fathom 8d but got the ‘id’ bit and ended up with ‘Heidengen’. Oh well. Lots of great clues though – ichor, noughts, sis, pam etc. Thanks setter and George for putting me straight.

    Edited at 2018-12-13 11:59 am (UTC)

  24. Solved this in fits and starts. It was during one of the fits that I discovered some relatively easy clues in the SW that I hadn’t read yet, which got me going again. A few rather vague literals here eg starchy food, and fabulous flower – a new use of flower to me. Having got Heidegger, I couldn’t parse it, not being able to separate German and philosopher. DNK Irish county, TENOR CLEF.
  25. Whew! That was hard work. I concur with those who found the 3 letter words among the trickiest clues. I was dabbling with ESS for 14a having spotted that there were a lot of esses in selfless, but it took the arrival of SPONDULIX to get the correct answer. CLEF came early, but bass, treble and alto wouldn’t fit, so it took the arrival of the missile to give me the T for TENOR. ETHELBERT was my LOI having finally resorted to pen and paper. ETH had been my guess at the first 3 letters, and a sudden inspiration made me scribble ELBERT below it. Job done, but in 58:22. Bravo setter! and thanks George.
  26. Came in at 42′ but I have to admit I had a post-prandial nap and switched off to doze — during which time of course my brain was subconsciously whirring. Came very close to putting in Biryani, but thankfully could find no plausible reason to. Mind you it wasn’t for trying. Could the ‘ry’ be shortened form of ‘dry’? LOI Tearier. I assumed Spondulix was a plural, so -icks, but I am happy to be proved wrong.
  27. Wow, that was tough and this puzzle took forever, LOI finally being SHYER, which had occurred to me far earlier, but the form of the word looks just too unusual to be convincing until the end. And I also thought SPONDULIX ended in -icks, a word my father often used, but no one else as far as I recall. Time off the charts. Regards.
  28. I needed about an hour for this. Tough but enjoyable.1ac was unfamiliar and not helped by having minor clef in at 3dn for a while. Plenty of originality and invention. I liked the S is device at 14ac, the producing pants at 17ac, 27ac but COD to the spondulix at 14dn, super clue.
  29. A bit like pulling teeth, and unnecessarily hard, but at least it was more up to standard. Apart from a completely unnecessary and misleading ‘a’ in 7d. And still don’t get the parsing for 18d- what are we supposed to do with the ‘in the end’ bit? The ‘r’ isn’t ‘in’ anything, and nor is it precisely indicated as an ‘end’ in the clue.
    1. Beat = TAN
      Time = AGE
      In the end for = R (last letter of for)

      Not straightforward, but then neither was the rest of the puzzle.

  30. I don’t know how I managed to finish this, since my correct guesses were all for the wrong reasons (well, no, LAOIS was for the right reason). It took an hour and a half. I preferred SPONDULIX over spondilux because I thought Latin would be likely to. I didn’t really parse TENOR CLEF and HR for home runs is nothing compared to LEG SLIP for us Yanks. But many other clues were fair and very clever.
  31. Finishing this has been my only triumph in a day that, otherwise, makes the Brexit negotiations look like a raging success. LEG SLIP, TANAGER and ETHELBERT came from the old coffee jar of spare words that I keep in case they come in handy. For HEIDEGGER, I am once again indebted to Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Song, which seems to contain everything one needs to know about philosophy. SPONDULIX was no real problem since no other arrangement of letters makes the right sound. Several went in unparsed (“home run” – seriously?), or only vaguely parsed.

    Phew. I feel as if I have indeed filled the unforgiving hour with sixty seconds worth of distance run.

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