Times 27243 – The final Final TCC puzzle from 2018. Nil desperandum.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
After last week’s toughie with the SNITCH at a high of 178, I was expecting even more pain with this. Maybe I was just lucky to be on a wavelength, because only 7 of 24 had it correct on the day, perhaps time was a factor and it was able to receive less attention coming third in the booklet at the end. I found it easier than 27237. Had it been in exam conditions, there was only one clue (11a) I’d have been unsure I’d entered correctly, and it took me around half an hour. There are three straightforward anagrams, a couple of messed-around ones, and the two long down clues are eminently biffable. You have to know a literary family. The rest is standard fare, as I see it.

1 Close to nothing in charity that’s opening (6)
ALMOST – ALMS has O inserted, then T = that’s opening. Took a while to reverse my thinking from looking for a word meaning opening.
4 Jazzy music involving musical sense is promising (8)
SWEARING – SWING is that music, insert EAR = musical sense.
10 Trivial problem to fall between aristocrat and monarch (2-7)
NO-BRAINER – RAIN = fall, goes between NOB and ER. My FOI.
11 Crack from unknown imbecile (5)
GOOFY – Not sure I quite get this. GOOF to me means to make a mistake, or a person who makes one. Y for the unknown. I presume there is a sense in which CRACK can be a synonym for goof, as in crack under pressure, or goof can mean a joke perhaps. I was tempted by GOON-Y, goon being an imbecile, but couldn’t make that crack either. EDIT see ulaca’s proposal below.
12 Desirable quality in grand name of literary siblings (7)
SITWELL – IT is the desirable quality; enter IT into SWELL for grand. The Sitwells, I recalled, were a family of three siblings from up’t Yorkshire who were all rather arty; Edith, Osbert and the one beginning with S who’s hard to spell. Edith being the one who wrote Facade for Mr Walton to score.
13 Oppressive old tyrant leading America (7)
ONEROUS – O for old, NERO your tyrant, US.
14 Marshal calm when changing side repeatedly (5)
ARRAY – To calm would be to ALLAY; swap the LL for RR.
15 A diet not designed as a remedy (8)
18 Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)
SHOELACE – Cryptic definition, easy once you’re tuned in.
20 Cold dish using incomplete vessels (below and above water) (5)
SUSHI – SU(B) and SHI(P) being the incomplete vessels referred to.
23 Something ideal for jamming broadcast, in short (7)
CURRANT – Well, I know of blackcurrant jam, and possibly redcurrant jelly, but I can’t imagine currant jam being very edible. Currants are chewy dried small grapes. Currant here presumably is used as a sort of generic for jam made from any type of that fruit or a mix. CURT = short, has RAN = broadcast inserted.
25 Men concerned with later life backing part of Mediterranean diet? (7)
OREGANO – OR = men, ON AGE = concerned with later life, reverse that. Oregano, which i pronounce oree-GAR-no, per Italian, is one of my favourite herbs, but I squirm when a transatlantic person says o-REGG-ano. Perhaps I shouldn’t, as in the original Greek word the accent is on the I, ρίγανη.
26 Trader’s tip diluted small change (5)
TWEAK – T = trader’s tip, WEAK = diluted. A nice change for small change not being currency.
27 Watched and heard the writer with no hair (9)
EYEBALLED – EYE sounds like I, BALLED sounds like BALD.
28 Theatrical set, scary in play (8)
ACTRESSY –  (SET SCARY)*. Not a pretty word, but it’ll do.
29 Short cannon’s middle-of-the-road rating (6)
MORTAR – MOR = middle of the road, TAR = rating, sailor.

1 Unaware of past uprising as some of America is, en masse (8)
AMNESIAC – nicely hidden reversed in AMERI(CA IS EN MA)SSE.
2 Principal substituting old boy for a family man (7)
MOBSTER – MASTER = principal; swap the A for OB. Family man as in Mafioso.
3 Rolling fat? (5,4)
SPARE TYRE – Crptic definition. Mine needs deflating after the festivities.
5 Gentle champion’s stopping stock conflicts (4,2,3,5)
WARS OF THE ROSES – I biffed this then sorted it out. WARES is or are the stock, insert SOFT HERO’S for gentle champion’s.
6 Reason males are excluded from rummage around (5)
ARGUE – Remove males from rummage gives RU AGE, then (RUAGE)*.
7 Man in promise to pay on time shows resolve (4,3)
IRON OUT – IOU = promise to pay, insert RON the man and add T for time.
8 Most like The Merry Widow being terribly stagey (6)
9 Peace group requests soldiers possibly to protect brief retreat in quarrel (14)
UNPLEASANTNESS – UN = peace group, PLEAS = requests, ANTS = soldiers possibly, insert NES(T) = brief retreat. Or biff it.
16 Outlaw’s unfeeling ring captures northbound travellers (9)
DESPERADO – DEAD = unfeeling, O = ring, insert REPS reversed = northbound travellers.
17 Complaint caused by command from detective? (8)
DISORDER – Well, a DI’s ORDER would be a command from the detective.
19 Crop top with short dart in front (7)
HARVEST – VEST = top (not crop top this time) preceded by HAR(E) = short dart.
21 Vegetable: wrap up portion (7)
SHALLOT – SH ! = wrap up, be quiet; ALLOT = portion as a verb.
22 I caught summer in Paris on a refresher (3,3)
ICE TEA – I, C = caught, ÉTÉ = French for summer, A.
24 Heel’s neighbour caused anger after undressing (5)
ANKLE – RANKLED = caused anger, loses its ‘dressing’ i.e. front and back.

53 comments on “Times 27243 – The final Final TCC puzzle from 2018. Nil desperandum.”

  1. For this one I needed most of the hour allotted to solve three puzzles but I was very pleased to get through it without resorting to aids, which I so nearly towards the end when left with only 11ac, 18ac and 23ac outstanding. I had a sudden ‘doh’ moment re SHOELACE but coming up with CURRANT was less satisfying as I had the same misgivings about the jam element as our blogger. At 11ac I plumped for GOOFY over GOONY but still don’t fully understand it.

    Edited at 2019-01-09 05:43 am (UTC)

  2. 19 mins for this – I suspect that Pip’s theory about 3rd-in-book is correct, as there wasn’t any serious horse scaring going on.

    Having said that, it took an age for SHOELACE to manifest itself even with all checkers, and it may well have ended up blank had I been talented enough to have made it to the GF.

    But here’s the main news – having had a couple of slips already, I invoked my New Years resolution to proof read before submitting and Actually found and corrected a typo. So not all bad.

  3. I agree with Pip – a bit of an anti-climax. A steady solve of a MOR puzzle

    GOOFY took a bit of understanding and got CURRANT from the cryptic – weak definition in my view. I suspect time pressure on the day was a big factor in stopping so many from solving it

  4. DESPERADO fell in easily on the day, otherwise it was more a case of desperation !

    At the 45 minute stage, I had an ALMOST empty NW corner, and not much else on the left of the puzzle. I spent the last 15 minutes practically becalmed. There was already one unsolved clue in Puzzle 1, and five in Puzzle 2. The effect of having then hit Puzzle 3 was akin to be being mugged.

    Apart from that half of the puzzle, I didn’t solve MORTAR, and had an incorrect “goony”. That one was still unparsed until I arrived here (it’s a horrible clue, but it’s fair once you see it), and also I hadn’t parsed CURRANT fully (not struck with the “jamming” element there I’m afraid). Obviously it wasn’t spotted on the day, and left poor old me in a jam – or more accurately in the soup.

    As the not very proud owner of a SPARE TYRE, I really should have got that one, but it was my failure to solve ALMOST that probably contributed more than anything to my chronic case of “left-bank stasis”.


    FOI NO-BRAINER (very ironic !)
    LOI N/A
    COD SHOELACE (with hindsight)
    TIME felt like an eternity – even given an hour or more, I would still be left feeling GOOFY.

    So….was it just me, or was this as horrendous as I thought at the time ?

    1. For me words like SHOELACE are often hard to get, particularly when you have all the checkers. My mind seems to have very strong ideas on what letters can go where – vowels, consonants, specific letters. Even trying to be as open-minded as possible it was hard to get the O between H and E. And yes, I ended up searching for a word that fit rather than solve the cryptic, and luckily lit on the one that was correct (the only possibility, as per my Chambers/Oxford).
  5. My time of 53 mins didn’t seem so bad when I realised, after solving, that this was one of the grand final puzzles. LOI was SHOELACE which I thought was a pretty terrible clue, even for a cryptic def. But I liked MOBSTER clued as family man.
  6. 55 mins with yoghurt etc.
    Pah – lots of time was taken on justifying Goony, which still seems better than Goofy to me. Collins has Goony as a foolish person. And ‘go on’ could be ‘crack from’.
    And time spent justifying Currant which is not something ever used in Jam.
    Not great clues for a final IMHO.
    Thanks setter and Pip.
  7. Spent an hour and a half on this, and gave up with a GOONY and quite a few on the left-hand side unfinished. Although I started well with 5d WARS OF THE ROSES, I didn’t get the other long answer, nor the unknown SITWELLs, nor about five more.

    Ah well, it was fun until I stalled. Thanks for the explanations!

    Edited at 2019-01-09 08:51 am (UTC)

  8. I was well into this puzzle by the time I got ARRAY and thought to myself that sounded similar to the clue that Magoo got wrong at the championships. Shortly thereafter I remembered this was a championship puzzle and was surprised how quickly I was getting through it. I wonder if not initially realising it was a championship puzzle helped?

    I only struggled on my last three, CURRANT, HARVEST and my LOI SHOELACE. I’m not good at spotting a cryptic definition and this was no exception.

  9. I was at 20 minutes with two to go, then total collapse. Purely psychological, because they weren’t the hardest clues! Spare Tyre and Shoelace. For some reason, rolling led to dice which led to snake eyes – which fitted damn it! And I couldn’t get it out of my head. Sacherevell was the other Sitwell, wasn’t he? I can’t remember what he did, though I do have somewhere a book about their odd family.
  10. 65 minutes with LOI SHOELACE, which I still don’t quite get. Since infant school, I’ve done my best to tie mine with bows rather than knots, admittedly not always successfully, and I guess the mathematician in me sees a string or a rope having too much thickness to be considered a line. CURRANT also seemed a weak clue and was an unconvinced biff from crossers. I didn’t parse GOOFY, nor to my shame SUSHI. Wilth a Lancastrian upbringing and Yorkie ancestors, I’ll give COD to WARS OF THE ROSES, the Cousins’ War. Thank you Pip for the explanations, and setter(s) for the tough puzzle.
  11. DNF after 30 minutes with SHOELACE and MORTAR. I felt some of the clues were a bit slack. Cannot say I enjoyed this.
  12. The upper half went in fairly smoothly but I stalled in the lower regions, even with the two long down clues in place. I certainly didn’t parse GOOFY – just had a vague idea of goofball=drug=crack – or something. Well, no, after all not. The much-photographed SITWELLs seem to have mostly been famous for being famous. Which was the clue that caused Magoo to stumble? Or it may have been in one of the other 2 puzzles. 26.26 so definitely not as hard as last week’s.
    1. I seem to remember that he entered “Arroy” under the impression that he had heard of a Napoleonic Marshal of that name. I suspect that it will be another 10 years before our equivalent of Homer nods again.
  13. ….by Puzzle 2 ?

    Maybe it was a wavelength problem. I’ve reviewed all three puzzles again this morning, and I must concur with Olivia that Puzzle 2 was actually trickier than this one.

    Ah well, at least I don’t have to pay for next year’s ritual humiliation.

  14. There seemed to me a wide range in the level of challenge among these clues: the anagram ones were no trouble, one long down was easily biffed, the other long down was a simple Ikea clue, as was ICE TEA — but commenters here have highlighted the thornier clues. I couldn’t parse GOOFY, and tried GOONY for a while. Now I see the parsed solution I give this my COD nomination. Of course, blackcurrants are often made into jam; I tried this once about 40 years ago and discovered that the natural pectin content of the berries is so high that my resulting confection — all 36 jars of it — had the texture of tarmacadam and had to be binned. 56 mins.
    Thanks for explaining it all, Pip.
  15. 35 min, but DNF, as had to resort to aid for SHOELACE, as unable to think of anything to fit checkers. On the other hand MORTAR LOI as checkers left very many options! Agree CURRANT is an unlikely jam ingredient, but then thought that jelly, as in US might do.

    Edited at 2019-01-09 11:49 am (UTC)

  16. Stopped after 29′, with four undone: GOOFY (possibly thrown by the continuing prevalence of pejorative words to do with mental capacity or illness); SHOELACE (enough said elsewhere); CURRANT (considered and rejected; set me thinking of the time I tried to make runner bean chutney, like pserve I had to bin the lot); and HARVEST, having run through the most obscure grains etc. that I could remember.

    Thansk pip and setter.

  17. Same disclaimer as before, I attempted (unsuccessfully) to solve at the back of the room, and polished off on the train home – as usually happens, taking a break without thinking about them meant that some clues miraculously dropped straight in when I took a second look. Sadly, that isn’t an option on Finals Day. So I didn’t submit a time, but to be honest, I could barely remember any of the answers (to the extent that I was trying to justify crazy stuff like SNAKE EYES and LORD OF THE FLIES for some time), so it wouldn’t really have counted as cheating.

    At the risk of being wildly unoriginal, I put in GOOFY without understanding it, but do now; and CURRANT, which I’m still not totally convinced about. If my wife put “currants” on the shopping list, I think she’d be surprised if I came back with an assortment of summer fruits…but obviously the rules are different in Crosswordland. Otherwise, like the other Finals offerings, hard but fair.

    Edited at 2019-01-09 12:14 pm (UTC)

  18. 44 mins with one typo so not as horrendous as anticipated. Think I tried to read too much into some of the clues eg TWEAK where I was trying to think of a coin and WARS OF THE ROSES where I thought the literal was gentle and the short word was AS. GOOFY I got pretty quickly, although still not sure about OF being equivalent to FROM. In fact the more I think of it the less I think from it.
    I guess that CURRANT was referring to Blackcurrants etc.
    1. You should write a letter of complaint, and sign it “Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells”
  19. Limped home in about two and a half hours with everything in correctly but with the usual few unparsed, eg GOOFY and SUSHI, which I tried to make into a reverse hidden. Anyway, not quite as tough as last week’s.

    I liked MOBSTER and the SPARE TYRE and SHOELACE cryptic defs, although I was definitely tuned out today and the latter was my last in. I agree with our blogger about ACTRESSY – not a word I hope to meet again.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  20. On the day it appears I had 3 gaps in this one. SHOELACE was certainly one so the others could have been HARVEST and UNPLEASANTNESS. Having said that they could just as easily have been MOBSTER and SITWELL which I have absolutely no recollection of.

    Today it took me under 11 minutes despite not finding much of it familar second time around. Knowing that SHOELACE was in there certainly helped my time. I agree with BW that the use of the questionable line and knots in a CD were a bit much.

  21. On the day I had GOONY instead of GOOFY; as with the other two, I’m not sure exactly how long this one took. Oddly, when I did it today I only really remembered a few of the clues, so it took me 9m 03s despite being a second attempt.

    ARRAY at 14a is probably the first and last time I’ll get an answer right that Mark Goodliffe didn’t (albeit he took about a third of my time and got many more right that I got wrong).

    Usually I’m not too bothered by homophones in the crossword, but I certainly don’t pronounce BALLED and BALD the same.

    1. How do you pronounce them differently then? Seem same to me. And Mrs K who is proper.
      1. Incorrectly, possibly! I’ve always pronounced BALD the same as BOLD. I could claim it’s a Worcestershire thing.
        1. My wife, who is from Leicester, pronounces BALD BOLD as well. Causes confusion from time to time.
          1. Don’t know about Worcs or Leics accents, but easiest way to explain it is – difference between BALD and BOLD is like the difference between BALL and BOWL, (with / without the D of course). Are ball and bowl homophones in your neck of the woods?
  22. I was running late this am and had to leave this puzzle after 33 minutes with MORTAR still unsolved. I think I would have got it given a few more minutes. This was a peculiar puzzle which I failed to tackle methodically, as I usually do, and had odd answers scattered over the grid. I ended up with everything done in 25 minutes except the across clues in the SE corner. No unknown vocab and the long biffable down clues were a big help. Ann
  23. Like others I didn’t find this the hardest of the three although it would have taken me longer because of a blindspot when it came to SHOELACE. 25 minutes had elapsed when I had to go out with that one still missing. No problem with the definitions used in that clue; my shoelaces are tied with a bowknot and I wondered about the plural ‘knots’ until I remembered that the bows can be knotted again for extra security.
  24. A spectacular fail for me today in 89:25. I had to use aids to get CURRANT, UNPLEASANTNESS, SITWELL and MORTAR as my brain had shut down. I would never have got MOR for middle-of-the-road anyway. I then found on submitting (off leaderboard) that I’d picked the wrong option between GOONY and GOOFY. To be honest, I didn’t consider GOOFY as I saw crack as GO, Y as the unknown and thought ON was close enough for from. GOONY certainly fits the definition. Ah well, that put me firmly in my place. Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2019-01-09 03:36 pm (UTC)

  25. Like others, I found this a doddle compared to the past eight weeks. In that it was like that 5-iron that you unexpectedly hit perfectly, pin high on the 18th green – it’s the one that brings you back. What I’ll remember next year is “that wasn’t as hard as I thought”, and not “hell’s bell’s – that series was a disaster”. That won’t falsely encourage me to enter the championships, but it will make the prospect of Wednesdays in November and December much less daunting.
  26. The SNITCH says this is the easiest of the 3 Finals puzzles, at 124, c.f. last week’s terrifying 178; but still harder than all six of the heats puzzles. There again the SNITCH could have been influenced by some people having seen them before at the TTC.
    Roll on next Wednesday and a new start.
  27. 20:19. Could have shaved two minutes off that if I’d bunged in MORTAR without understanding it.

    It’s been a long time…

  28. Certainly wouldn’t say that this was a middle-of-the-road puzzle. SE corner held me up the longest. Just could not get past salad as the cold dish. Once I saw SUSHI, the rest fell into place, though not helped by biffing UNPLEASANTRIES. Not familiar with Marshal = ARRAY. Liked MOBSTER as family man.
  29. After an hour I had all but five clues solved. I nipped out for a sandwich and got two of them (almost and spare tyre) almost immediately when I got back. I went back to the puzzle after work, the next two (tweak and harvest) fell pretty quickly. As with all CDs the final one (shoelace) needed about five more minutes of staring at to crack. Strange mix. The RHS all seemed to go in pretty quickly. I even thought a couple of clues might well suit a Quick Cryptic (17dn and 24dn – but perhaps I just saw them very quickly). None of the vocab was arcane or obscure but some in the LHS simply would not yield – perhaps the cause was a plethora of potential cryptic indicators (for “almost” I thought close to nothinG was G and that’s was i.e. for example) and words with a multitude of potential synonyms (top and dart in 19dn for example). Pleased to finish a GF puzzle all correct no matter how long it took me!
  30. Yes I can see why GO OF Y might have caused a bit of bother under exam conditions. This I class as cruel but fair, as was Dinsdale Piranha.
  31. Complete contrast for me compared to yesterday. DNF and couldn’t really tune in to this one. Just as well I never qualified for last year’s championship….
  32. Late to this one today, and took 36 minutes while City were trouncing the mighty Burton Albion in the background. For me, the main issue was that many of the clues had seriously anodyne checkers: ?o?t?r, ???e?a?e, ??r?e?t in the closing few clues.
    CURRANT is ridiculous, even if the setter means black- or red-. Currants are not good for jamming anything except possibly the plughole. And SHOELACE is a brilliant/horrible CD: delete according to preference.
    On the other hand, AMNESIAC was as good a reverse hidden as you’d find. An odd sort of puzzle with some bright bits, easy bits and downright annoying bits. Well played, Pip, and welcome back to normality in advance of next week!
  33. Was mine the only eyebrow raised over ‘iced tea’ being spelled without the D?
  34. Very late to this, as I didn’t get time yesterday. I fell eight short on both this one and the second puzzle on the day, but on my second attempt at solving it I found it by far the hardest of the three. It took me half an hour even though I’ve done most of it before! Proof if I needed it that getting into the final was a bit of a fluke.
  35. Thanks setter and pipkirby
    Interesting puzzle that I generally found difficulty in different spots to others. Not with 18a though, needing help to get SHOELACE (and then kicking myself for not seeing it first – a clever cd).
    Although had written in the answers for MORTAR and SHALLOT – couldn’t fully parse them – not thinking of ‘rating’ as a sailor and having not heard of the phrase ‘wrap up’ to mean “Be quiet!” They were my second and third last in. GOOFY was last and was pleased when the penny dropped with the parsing.

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