Times 27237 – TCC Final, puzzle 2. Whoever set this should take a bow.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I had picked up the vibe from comments after the Competition that two of the three Final offerings were ‘a bit hard’. Well, this is one of them, because it sure was harder than last week’s. So I approached it once more with trepidation, knowing solving at all would be a challenge, let alone inside twenty minutes, or indeed an hour. After fifteen minutes or so, I was feeling a lot more chirpy; I had over half the grid done, checkers all over the place, and I paused for a cup of tea. But the last few had me struggling to finish at all. There are two words which were new to me, (3d, 28a) if plausible guesses without much certainty, and an expression I’d never heard at 17a. I don’t have a final time, but think it’s just about correct and parsed. My favourite clue was 7d, as old Sergei’s harmonies are magic.
Congratulations to all 11 who finished it on the day.

1 After payment, back versatile public transport (7)
POSTBUS – POST = after, SUB = payment, reversed = back, I think this is implying a postbus is versatile because you can catch a ride as well as have your letters delivered? Anyway I’d never seen it as one word.
5 Feeble desire to accommodate mischievous child (7)
WIMPISH – My FOI. WISH = desire has IMP inserted.
9 To increase demands at college, you must devour a lot of books (2,3,4)
UP THE ANTE – UP = at college, THEE = you, insert A, NT.
10 Games host recently in Germany agreed to supply wine (5)
RIOJA – RIO = games host recently, JA = yes in German.
11 What are the odds of criminal receiving fifty lashes? (5)
CILIA – C r I m I n A l odd letters = CI IA. Isert L = fifty.
12 Nice way to do the part of King Edward? (6,3)
FRENCH FRY – Potato cooked as in a French place (in Nice), where they are frites not French fries.
13 I duck three times eg prior to blow in the kisser (7,6)
GEORGIE PORGIE – It took me ages to see that ‘the kisser’ was a bloke who kissed, not slang for mouth. Then the checkers gave me an answer, parsed afterwards. It’s an anagram of I, O, EG, EG, EG, PRIOR.
17 Old refuse heap to burn in range in centre of study (7,6)
KITCHEN MIDDEN – Well, I think here, KEN = range (of knowledge perhaps), insert ITCH = burn. Then MID = in centre of, DEN = study. A kitchen midden is an archaeological term for an ancient food waste dump. I wasn’t helped by the usual poor typography where burn looked like bum when printed out.
21 Woman putting on black while husband’s putting on green? (4,5)
GOLF WIDOW – Cryptic definition. Mrs K has been one for many years but not recently. High hopes for my new hip being fixed by May, consigning her once again to the golf-widow status (and will probably glad to see me elsewhere).
24 How Persian might go without train to the west (5)
MIAOW – to the west = reverse all of: W/O = without, AIM = train. Aren’t Persians one of those cats that don’t make the usual noise?
25 One visiting writer at ode? (5)
ERATO – The muse is hidden in WRIT(ER AT O)DE.
26 Victor and I felt that Peter should provide grant (9)
VOUCHSAFE – V for Victor, OUCH = I felt that, SAFE = Peter (allegedly criminal slang).
27 Eccentric whose line is far from fine (7)
SHOWERY – Too long was spent thinking of words for eccentrics. But it’s (WHOSE)*, RY = line.
28 Play with funny bits of dull packaging poorly made (7)
DRAMEDY – I put this in having got D-A-E-Y and thinking it might be a made-up portmanteau word from DRAMA and COMEDY (which ideed it is). It does parse, too: DRY has (MADE)* inserted.

1 Gut feeling about West Ham after a year (6)
PAUNCH – PA = a year, per annum; I don’t think this is H being the ‘west’ i.e. left hand letter of HAM, I think it is a Londoner from said area dropping his H from the word HUNCH = feeling to give UNCH.
2 Surpass what singers do in TV land (3,6)
SET ALIGHT – Well, I can see SET = TV and ALIGHT = land (on). And singers, people who singe things, could perhaps be setting them alight. And does setting something alight mean to surpass something, so it’s a double def? EDIT as someone anon. person way below suggests, if you surpass what a singer does, i.e. singe things, then you could be setting something alight. A bit convoluted but plausible.
3 Work meeting getting Swede upset and cross (7)
BEEFALO – Another hybrid word I didn’t know but thought plausible. I see it as BEE = work meeting, as in a sewing bee perhaps; and OLAF the Swede reversed. Presumably half cow half buffalo, if the two can be persuaded to have hanky panky.
4 Rogue whose dad’s loaded? (3,2,1,3)
SON OF A GUN – Dad has a gun so he’s loaded. Wiki doesn’t seem to support the ‘rogue’ idea very well, but the phrase’s origins are interesting if uncertain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_a_gun
5 In place of whiskey, accept this (5)
WHERE – W = whiskey, HERE ! = accept this. Why Irish whiskey not whisky?
6 Coming in low, over cape, enormous bird. Hide! (7)
MOROCCO – Morocco a form of leather = hide. MOO = low, as in a cow. Insert variously, the ROC an enormous fabulous bird and C(ape).
7 Shot of Russian composer dismissing notorious landlord (2-3)
IN-OFF – A shot in snooker or billiards, or indeed I’ve seen it in golf. The aristo Russian scorer is RACHMANINOFF, so dismiss Peter RACHMAN the notorious Polish-born London 1960s landlord. If he’d kept the original RACHMANINOV the clue wouldn’t have worked so well.
8 They save buckles for strapping (5-3)
14 Doctor in tuxedo heading for wedding ball’s leaving mark (4,5)
EXIT WOUND – (IN TUXEDO W)*. Once I had the W-U__ I thought of wound and then saw the anagram.
15 Dope about to cut tree close to house? That’s rich! (5,4)
GENOA CAKE – Of all the things that are rich, Genoa Cake was hardly an early spring-to-mind candidate, so biffing wasn’t likely. Rely on the word play. GEN = dope, OAK is the tree, insert CA = about, add E as ‘close’ of house.
16 Let’s chuck the bag on the bus: it’s always the last resort (8)
SKEGNESS – After pondering old Billy Butlin slogans for a while, the penny dropped; the last letters of the first 8 words of the clue spell the answer. No need to visit Lincolnshire again. Doh!
18 Explain why old ladies perhaps should stop in (3,4)
HOW COME – HOME = in; Insert O, WC which could be the Ladies (or Gents). Explain why? as a question.
19 Irish girl packing make-up with variable speed (7)
DYMPHNA –  Well, thankfully, when we first moved to Co. Tipperary in 1974, my new boss’s nymph-like wife was called Dymphna, so the name came easily to mind. DNA is your “make-up”, insert Y = variable, MPH = speed.
20 Frail, after time dressing for the outdoor life? (6)
TWEEDY – T, WEEDY = frail.
22 Plain to see on reflection where general obligation falls? (5)
LLANO – Reversed, ON ALL = where general obligation falls. LLANO Spanish word for a plain, often visited in these pages.
23 Whack idiot (5)
DIVVY – Double definition. A good one, too.

62 comments on “Times 27237 – TCC Final, puzzle 2. Whoever set this should take a bow.”

  1. Not that I needed any discouragement from attending the contest, but this would have been useful if I had. A number of DNKs for starters–DIVVY, DYMPHNA, GENOA CAKE, DRAMEDY, POSTBUS. Biffed IN-OFF, then later remembered that RACHMAN had appeared here once. SKEGNESS because I had the K and G, totally at a loss to figure out why SKEGNESs, and now totally embarrassed to see the explanation. Ditto GEORGIE P, where I too finally twigged to ‘kisser’, and biffed accordingly. I put in SET ALIGHT because of checkers; ODE does have ‘set the world alight’ (“achieve something which causes great excitement and makes one famous”) (DNK), which I suppose counts as surpassing. LOI SHOWERY, where like Pip I spent time looking for an eccentric.
    1. I am often impressed by the abilities of our non-English-resident cousins to cope with Englishisms. This must have been a hard one!
      Skegness is famous as a seaside resort, mainly because Billy Butlin put his first holiday camp there.
  2. I was pleased to get through most of this without resorting to aids (even managing to work out the unknown DRAMEDY and BEEFALO from wordplay, and coming up with DIVVY and VOUCHSAFE) but in the end it all became too much and I sought help with KITCHEN MIDDEN, HOW COME, SHOWERY and the impossible-if-you-didn’t-happen-to-know-it, DYMPHNA. I was annoyed afterwards for missing SHOWERY but I had convinced myself the answer was going to be a technical term, something used in engineering that I wouldn’t recognise, so I missed the now obvious partial anagram.

    Edited at 2019-01-02 07:05 am (UTC)

    1. Forgot to say that despite what Wikipedia and Collins have, every single recording I possess of the Russian composer’s work (and I have many) is labelled ‘Rachmaninov’ and it would never have occurred to me to spell it differently.
        1. Indeed, and I’m not suggesting -off is wrong only that I manage to have lived 70+ years without even considering it before today. Interestingly though, “Rachmaninoff” is how I pronounce it.

          Edited at 2019-01-02 09:11 am (UTC)

          1. And it’s how he would have pronounced it; Russian words don’t end in voiced obstruents, so while Pavlova was Pavlova, Pavlov was Pavloff.
            1. Not disagreeing, because I have little knowledge of linguistics, but how does that work with Prokofiev who I pronounce exactly as it appears?
              1. All these words were originally written using a different alphabet. That means the word you see is just convention. Like Pekin, Peking, Beijing .. all the same word really. And I still use Pekin 😉
              2. Same thing, so far as I know (I don’t know Russian): Prokofieff, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, Molotoff. Of course, these are English pronunciations–Pavlov, for instance, sounds something like [pavləf]–but anyway, the final sound is [f] not [v]. The same rule applies in Polish (I wouldn’t be surprised if it applies in other Slavic languages), German, and Dutch (Ernie Els is ElS not Elz).
    2. Few clues are impossible, even if you don’t know the word, and it irritates that people think they are. I solved that one but didn’t know the word ..
  3. Happy to finish, even in 41 minutes. Well over an hour already, with the third final puzzle still to come.
    Lots of unknowns: all of Kevin’s plus kitchen midden, Genoa cake and Rachmann. The clueing was extraordinarily helpful, managed to get them all from the cryptics. Lots of crossword-only words, too: erato, llano, cilia, rioja.
    In the end only set alight not parsed, so thank-you Pip.
    1. Oops, not logged in.
      And thanks to the setter for a fine crossword – really enjoyed 11, 12, 21, 27 ac and 6, 14 dn. COD to 21 across.
      1. I’ll drink to that! Actually, I knew CILIA from O-level biology, ERATO from the Classics and LLANO from prep school geography, as I recall. (I think in her defence, Isla may hail from far away from Europe.)
      2. In Australia there is so much decent local wine that Italian/Spanish/Chilean/Californian/South African are small, expensive, niche markets.
  4. My avatar, John Hassell’s Jolly Fisherman of SKEGNESS, to the fore! I was unable to parse it however!

    So my COD 16dn SKEGNESS the clue could have read ‘The last resort’, and it would have been my FOI. I spent my formative summers there (Chapel St. Leonards) until I was eleven! And many more with my kids.

    14dn EXIT WOUND was also a belter. Heavily disguised.

    And my LOI was incorrect instead of 15dn GENOA CAKE I had GANJA CAKE – I believe I was deliberately misled. I have never heard of or eaten the former. Over to the merciless Mr. Mytillus.


    WOD KITCHEN MIDDEN not heard that for a while! When I were a lad an’ Bill Slater were playin’ for Blackpool….

    My time is unimportant. The setter was serving aces.

    The Times Crossword is so Bracing!

    Wikipedia states it is Rachmaninoff (the lazy one)!

    Edited at 2019-01-02 08:53 am (UTC)

  5. 28 answers in 70 minutes, so about as far off the pace as Mourinho’s United. Thought HOW COME was top drawer. Failed on *YMPH** and the KITCHEN thingie.

    SKEGNESS – you couldn’t make a more unappealing name for a resort if you tried.

  6. Struggled through this – very heavy going

    Got the flavour at 1A where I derived POSTBUS and then verified it in the dictionary before writing it in. Repeat for KITCHEN MIDDEN and DRAMEDY. Never heard of DYMPHNA either.

    Congrats to those who solved it on the day, Pip for a job well done and the setter for a masterpiece

  7. Well I did it inside an hour – just. What? You mean I have to do two more as well? I’ll get my coat…
    The two made up words at 3 and 28 took forever and went in with more hope than certainty. I really must remember to look for strange hybrids whenever I see cross in a clue.
    A five star game of hunt the definition spoilt only for me by the Irish girl. I guess nothing else would fit.
  8. After 50 mins of fun while enjoying yoghurt etc. I gave up with a few left to do. And I am glad I did: I was never going to get Postbus/Beefalo or Dymphna/Dramedy.
    I keep forgetting Wednesday is Championship stuff. It is not obvious on the iPad.
    However I loved Golf Widow – top cluing.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2019-01-02 09:48 am (UTC)

  9. WIMPISH reminded me of the convention of giving a batsman an easy single to get off the mark in his benefit match. Otherwise I made steady progress, remembering DYMPHNA when SIOBHAN failed to parse despite having the H in the right place. Trusted the wordplay for DRAMEDY and POSTBUS was vaguely familiar. Lovely clues all over the place.

    Edited at 2019-01-02 10:11 am (UTC)

  10. … we’re Morocco bound.” This was far too good for me. DNF after an hour, not knowing nor able to biff BEEFALO, DYMPHNA and DRAMEDY. Didn’t know CILIA either, but the cryptic was kinder. COD between GOLF WIDOW, GEORGIE PORGIE and FRENCH FRY. I’ll give it the last of those for reminding me of the joke ending in: “You’re not telling me they’re Lord Nelson’s” “No, they’re King Edwards.” No paper delivered so no post made yesterday. A happy New Year to all. Thank you Pip and setter.
  11. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-16628083

    However this is the place (The lovely Vine Hotel up at Sea Croft) where Tennyson wrote ‘Come into the Garden, Maud’ in 1855. It was inspired by Charlotte Rosa Baring. The garden in question was at Harrington Hall, Spilsby, where she lived. The derivation of Skegness is Danish I believe – Skag Ness.
    How are you with Ingoldmells, which is just north?

  12. While I feel the definition is a bit dodgy, I think it works thus: TV + land is set + alight; if you set something alight -i.e. so that it actually catches fire – then you outdo what people who simply singe things do.
      1. I had it as a (admittedly very dodgy) triple definition – surpass, what singers do, and the final cryptic one.
        1. This is surely the intention.

          I solved this puzzle on the day and I *still* spent several minutes puzzling over how this one worked last night, incidentally… I don’t think I had so much trouble with it at the actual champs; must’ve been the pre-contest caffeine and bananas!

  13. Stopped after 35′ with many missing. Never heard of POSTBUS as one word or two. Or GENOA CAKE. Or DRAMEDY. Liked IN OFF, and DYMPHNA.

    Humbled. Thanks pip and setter.

  14. Not even close! the clock says 36 minutes, but pink squares number two (just a double typo) but I was up against time pressure and cheated (a lot) to get done in time.
    I could argue with “what singers do” even after realising how singers is pronounced: surely by definition they don’t set alight, they merely scorch. Francis Drake was not claiming he set fire to the King of Spain’s beard, methinks.
    Be that as it may, my identification of definitions was all over the shop, so congratulations to the setter through gritted teeth. But I did like the grass widow: that was clever in a cheerful, giggly sort of way.
  15. I’m glad to say that here in Scotland we still have both middens and postbuses (and golf widows, no doubt). I confess to never having heard of a dramedy though. That was undoubtedly one of the hardest puzzles I’ve done, so pleased to finish within the obligatory half hour.
  16. As per last week, no official time, as I solved (OK, attempted to solve) on the day, from the back of the room rather than the front. Once more, I can’t recall exactly what I failed to get inside the hour, but I suspect KITCHEN MIDDEN and GENOA CAKE, and quite possibly the previously unfamiliar POSTBUS. Happily, I know enough of Irish girls not to be defeated by DYMPHNA, or even Saoirse or Caoimhe. As is usual with Finals puzzles, brilliantly tricksy but all fair in the end.
  17. 33 minutes less some small change, with a lot of unknowns (BEEFALO, KITCHEN MIDDEN, POSTBUS for starters) having to be painfully picked out from wordplay.

    On this evidence if I ever (and that’s a pretty sizeable IF) get through the preliminary I am SO coming last in the grand final.

  18. Oh give me a home where the BEEFALO roam…. Over 40 minutes so unconditional surrender from me. Speaking of surrender (cheese-eating monkeys kind of) there was a time in the early 2000s when Congressional Republicans were mad at les Francais and re-named the french-fries in the congressional dining-room “freedom fries”. I had a vague memory that the actress Patricia Hodge was a native of Skegness but I see from Google it was Cleethorpes, but same sort of idea. I was on my third cuppa when DYMPHNA finally yielded. She was an aunt in one of the Noel Streatfield books that was turned into a tv drama that I just about remember my sisters watching. And I think we’ve had DRAMEDY in the TLS but not lately.
  19. Well, I had literally all day for this one, so I ignored my hour bell when it went off and finally dragged my humbled self over the line in 1h 42. Proud to have finished all-correct and even mostly parsed, though, no matter how long it took.

    FOI 4d SUN OF A GUN, LOI (just after 13a GEORGIE PORGIE) the unknown 3d BEEFALO, and I’m glad we had to explain “bee” as a work party fairly recently. I was also lucky to know KITCHEN MIDDEN from history lessons at school with reinforcement from watching Time Team, and to have thought of DNA at 19d for the unknown DYMPHNA. I assume it’s pronounced “Maureen”, or something…

    My misspent youth was also handy for 7d, as Rachman gets a namecheck in Carter USM’s Sheriff Fatman, a diatribe against slum landlords.

    Enjoyed much along the way, including 24a MIAOW and 25a ERATO (great surface!)

    Edited at 2019-01-02 12:50 pm (UTC)

  20. I think you have too many Os in your solution, Pip. The ROC is put “over cape” to give ROCC, which is inserted into MOO.
    David B
  21. On the day I managed to get everything except SHOWERY, which is a lovely clue but I couldn’t get out of my head that I was looking for an eccentric (the made-up STAVELY went in, in desperation). I was held up for a long time with BEEFALO and DRAMEDY; I’d never come across Rachman but IN-OFF was happily fairly clear.

    I’m not sure my exact time on this one – especially as I moved between all of them for quite a while at the end – but I gave up and submitted with only a minute or two left in the final, getting four wrong overall.

    Today I solved it in 6m 34s, which isn’t great given that I’d seen the answers before.

    1. It took me about twice that today! Luckily memory skills weren’t at a premium on the actual day.
      1. In your defence, you spent a lot less time than I did looking at the clues on the day!
  22. ….HEAVY SET, and DNF with 5 answers unsolved (SKEGNESS, KITCHEN MIDDEN, HOW COME, DYMPHNA, MIAOW).

    And there was worse to come….

    1. What, you mean this wasn’t the hardest of the GF puzzles?

      If I wasn’t (as I clearly am) such a masochist, I would probably just not bother entering this year.


      Bring on the qualifiers…..

  23. A real cracker of a puzzle and a great blog Pip – thanks to you and the setter for getting the New Year off to a great start.

    In answer to your question at 5d – why Irish Whiskey and not Scotch Whisky? – the NATO Alphabet spelling for W is Whiskey.
    Also it is what 19d’s DYMPHNA drinks.
    Apologies if someone has already said this – I did look through the comments quickly but did not see it

  24. Took ages. There’d be absolutely no point in my entering the championships, since this took several times as long as the 20 minutes allowed. And even then I never got Dymphnia (never heard the name) and forgot to finish off Skegness, which I couldn’t understand and I’d probably have entered it without understanding why. An excellent clue: such clues are often rather a giveaway, with words like ‘initially’ and ‘primarily’.

    But no complaints. The sort of crossword that makes you realise The Times is the very best.

    Edited at 2019-01-02 01:18 pm (UTC)

    1. One could be the world’s greatest parser ever, but unless you knew the five or six pieces of obscure general knowledge, there was little point in starting it-unless you were prepared to biff in the dark. Fair enough in the championships I suppose, but as only 11 people finished it correctly on the day, surely it doesn’t serve any purpose making it The Times Crossword for the day? By all means offer it as a bonus-perhaps in the Club section, but as the main crossword where probably only a tiny, tiny percentage of solvers can complete it correctly? Sorry-no. I don’t think The Times should be allowed to get away with that. (Mr Grumpy)
      1. I’m far from a TCC-standard solver but managed this, in several sessions, despite not having all the required GK

        And I enjoyed every minute of it

  25. Hard going. Eventually home in about two and a half hours, with a couple unparsed and four new words or unfamiliar terms, eg GENOA CAKE. Not helped by originally having ‘omnibus’ for 1a, which I was convinced was correct.

    I’ll own up to missing the (now obvious of course) parsing of SKEGNESS. I had some sophisticated Mediterranean playground for the beautiful, rich and famous in mind. Well, at least I was right about one thing, but I don’t think Lincolnshire is on the shores of the Med.

    Worth the effort.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  26. Like Tim, I had a go at this at the back on the day.. and then continued the half-completed puzzle on the train home. Doing it again today, it still took me over 24 minutes. Lots of lovely clues. COD to SHOWERY.
  27. Not all that taxing second time around. It appears I left 4 gaps on the day but again I can’t recall which ones they were. Possibly the Irish lass and the rubbish thing were in there. Like Colin above (mauefw) I was flitting between the three puzzles for a lot of the time so can’t say how long was spent on this.
  28. That was a bit of a killer. Made it in 48’40” – with a 15 minute pause for a snooze. Delighted to see that my deductions were correct: notably Beefalo and Dramedy. 2 Down was my COD, because of that beautifully hidden second meaning for singers. Less satisfying is the inescapable fact that one is still well behind the peloton.
  29. Gawd strewth, that was hard work! In my weakened state I ploughed on for 104:13 before this beast yielded. I didn’t manage to parse SKEGNESSS or GEORGIE PORGIE, but did see the rest. A number of (already mentioned) unknowns were constructed from word play. I’ll go and lie down in a darkened room now. Thanks setter and Pip.
  30. Oops, forgot to submit without leaderboard again. This took me 21:21, so I’m behind the pace even having solved most of it before. I fell short by 8 on the day.
  31. 42 minutes. Man, that was dentistry. Glad to have finished it. 2 dn is an epic clue. Great blog, cheers.
  32. 59:59. Superb puzzle which I was delighted to a) finish and b) finish inside an hour (if only just). Benefited from knowing a Dymphna. Surprised beefalo isn’t better known I thought it was one of the more high profile cross-breeds in the crossword menagerie along with ligers and tigons. Dnk Rachman but saw how 7dn must work. Postbus and kitchen midden were unknowns. Didn’t see how bracing Skegness worked, entered it on the basis of resort. So many good clues, favourite possibly to Georgie Porgie. A very satisfying completion.
  33. Very late solve partly due to a lot of looking up! TRAMEDY is also a valid word apparently which held me up for a while. I think by and large I got the hard ones and fluffed the easy ones. LOI SET ALIGHT no I still didn’t get it till coming here. Whew
  34. Sometimes you just have to know when to quit. But I banged my head against the wall for a long time before throwing in the towel. I’ve never even heard of a POSTBUS, let alone KITCHEN MIDDEN, GENOA CAKE (though I did suspect a gateau there), or SKEGNESS. I figured the Irish lass had Miles Per Hour in her name, but I was thinking that was itself “variable speed,” and didn’t get any further… Fine puzzle, though.
  35. NW corner did for us as a result of brain fatigue, we had HAUNCH and HELIBUS, biffed in desperation which meant 2dn also eluded us. Pleased that we managed the rest in about an hour. Still way off entering the competition! HNY all.
  36. …Is how the man himself spelt and signed his own name when he moved to the States. It’s out of style nowadays in terms of English transliterations of Russian, but it’s how he did it then.

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