Times 27,281: More Than Parts Of Which Are Excellent

The kind of puzzle that makes setting look effortlessly easy when of course know it’s very hard indeed; pretty much every clue here combines perfect marriages of wordplay and surface with a magician’s talent for misdirection, and it’s even a pangram too. The best Friday crossword in ages for my money, bravo to the setter! FOI 11ac, LOI the cunning 4dn, as I finally realised I wasn’t
needing to justify RISES = “picks up”; I scraped in just under the 10 minutes bar, but it was a close run thing.

Clue of the day, and runner up COD, to 7dn and 15dn; both only fully parsed after submission, but both amazing. But 7dn pips the brilliantly maintained surface of the park keeper thanks to its beautiful “Duke of Wellington”. Beginner cluers might assume that you can have a random “of” floating about “to improve the surface” but of course you really can’t, and the moment of noticing that it provides the S after “BOOT” was pure cruciverbal joy. And then “fair” fits perfectly with the queen and “porter” so well with the Duke of W. Just a perfect clue really, in a really stonking puzzle. Up with this kind of this thing!

1 Time to put up and shut up, almost (7,2)
QUARTER TO – QUARTER [to put up] + TO [shut up, almost]. “To” as in “he pulled the door to”.

6 Brief to raise over a drink (5)
COCOA – COC{k} [“brief” to raise] + O A [over | a]

9 Refurbished front of tourist base in resort (7)
ANTIBES – (T{ourist} BASE IN*) [“refurbished”]

10 Very little right to be said about sisters (7)
SORORAL – SO [very] + R [“little” right] + ORAL [to be said]

11 Retriever after day’s lost more ground? (5)
FINER – FIN{d}ER [retriever, after D for day is “lost”]

13 Sophisticated weapon to burn and fail disastrously (5,4)
SMART BOMB – SMART [to burn] + BOMB [fail disastrously]

14 Daughter has one final letter — the long version — made shorter (9)
DOWNSIZED – D OWNS I ZED [daughter | has | one | final letter – the long version]. As opposed to just Z, the short version.

16 Underground river no longer flows from the mouth (4)
STYX – homophone (“from the mouth”_ of STICKS [no longer flows]

18 Not exactly cut out for work with canines (4)
CHEW – C HEW [not exactly | cut out]. Canines as in teeth, not dogs.

19 Unusual map is only for those seeking gold? (9)
OLYMPIANS – (MAP IS ONLY*) [“unusual”]. Gold as in medals, here.

22 Surrounding some bridge, modest collection of plants (9)
SHRUBBERY – surrounding RUBBER [some bridge], SHY [modest]. Bridge the card game.

24 Jump, but don’t bounce? (5)
CLEAR – double def. Clear as in “get over”; don’t bounce like a cheque doesn’t.

25 Exercise before small drink (5-2)
PRESS-UP – PRE S SUP [before | small | drink]

26 Get down a word in French, the first word penned (7)
UNMOUNT – UN MOT [a word, in French], “penning” UN [the first word (of the previous)]

28 SE Asian hotel talked of providing commercial extra (3-2)
TIE-IN – homophone (“talked of”) of THAI INN [SE Asian | hotel]

29 Chestnut kid keeps in grand Indian dish (5,4)
ROGAN JOSH – ROAN JOSH [chestnut | kid] “keeps in” G [grand]

1 Yard arresting very loud English drunk (7)
QUAFFED – QUAD [yard] “arresting” FF E [very loud | English]

2 Top class training makes us fit (3)
APT – A P.T. [top class | training]

3 TV set, advanced, with knobs (8)
TUBEROSE – TUBE ROSE [TV set | advanced]

4 Picks up brown coat leader of hospital body’s dropped (5)
RUSTS – {t}RUSTS [hospital body’s, with its leading letter “dropped”]

5 Regularly taking position, boy’s outside ready (2,5-2)
ON STAND-BY – ON [regularly taking] + STAND [position] + B{o}Y. “On” as in “on medication”.

6 Rotten egg scoffed? His wasn’t all bad (6)
CURATE – CUR ATE [rotten egg | scoffed], semi-&lit. Referring to the proverbial curate’s egg.

7 Fair queen possibly shunning Duke of Wellington and porter (3,4,4)
CAR BOOT SALE – CAR{d} [queen possibly, “shunning” D for Duke] + BOOT’S [of Wellington] + ALE [porter]

8 One on train fell after receiving large punch (4,3)
AXLE BOX – AXE [fell] after “receiving” L [large], + BOX [punch]

12 Spoils were even, say, this time (3,5,3)
NEW YEAR’S EVE – (WERE EVEN SAY*) [“spoils…”]

15 Raising tip of your sword, strike down Australian park attendant? (9)
ZOOKEEPER – reverse all of: {you}R + EPEE [sword] + K.O. [strike down] + OZ [Australian]

17 Astronaut on reflection best among the stars (8)
SPACEMAN – reverse all of: CAP [best] among NAMES [the stars]

18 What’s replaced septic tanks, finally? (7)
CESSPIT – (SEPTIC {tank}S*) [“replaced”], &lit

20 Tax period (7)
STRETCH – double def

21 Fight organisers with issue the cause of weak interaction? (1,5)
W BOSON – WBO [fight organisers] + SON [issue]. Fortunately basketball player Zach Randolph, aka Z-BO, seems to be both a peaceable sort and singular rather than plural, or else this clue might have proven to have two possible answers!

23 Guy on ornate litter? (5)
YOUNG – (GUY ON*) [“ornate”]

27 Something mysterious appearing periodically in outflow (3)
UFO – {o}U{t}F{l}O{w}

56 comments on “Times 27,281: More Than Parts Of Which Are Excellent”

  1. One of the great advantages of solving online is that you can throw in dodgy guesses and leave till later figuring out how they work–a wrong answer is easily deleted once it is discovered. No problems, unless a dodgy guess turns out to be a wrong answer that matches all the crossers, like RISES @ 4dn. Oh well

    For once I did spot the pangram before I finished–but after I had all the letters accounted for, so no help.

    23 minutes

    1. I notice that there were a *lot* of 1-offs on the leaderboard inside the first hour or so… did lots of people make this mistake I wonder? I was tempted to chuck in RISES myself, but I’ve learned not to the hard way.
  2. I did see there were a few errors. My guess is W BOSON is responsible for most of them, specifically the leading letter
    1. I’d go with that – I’m not in the club/on the leaderboard, but I made that mistake. Only ever heard of the Higgs boson, and figured HBO had a lot to do with organising the fights they broadcast. Not a fighting aficionado; the only organisation I’ve heard of is WWF, and only because World Wildlife Fund made them change their name.

      But agreed, a briliant crossword, tricky but not too hard. COD to 7d definitely.

      Edited at 2019-02-22 06:52 am (UTC)

  3. An excellent puzzle as others have said. I was all done in about 45 minutes apart from two unchecked letters at 21dn where I fell foul of two particular areas of ignorance, a combination of science not taught in my schooldays, and a sport that’s particularly repellant to me. The only boxing organiser that I was vaguely aware of is abbreviated to BBBC, and I was going nowehere with that today.

    With everything else on offer so splendid, perhaps it’s a little churlish to point out that canine teeth are used in the biting process, not for chewing, unless they’re all you’ve got left to work with, I suppose.

    Edited at 2019-02-22 05:49 am (UTC)

  4. Went offline at 32′, with 6ac, 10ac, 7d, & 8d left (I think I’d rejected ‘rises’ and gone for RUSTS by then). Then off to lunch and some very desultory solving punctuated by sandwich-eating and nodding off, as well as actually parsing my various biffs. Glad I took the time, as this was definitely a puzzle to be savored, time be damned.
  5. 55 minutes, and all good fun along the way. Thanks for the parsings, V; I didn’t fully appreciate my part-biffs of CAR BOOT SALE—last one in—and ZOOKEEPER at the time.

    I did notice the pangram, but only after finally getting 1d and 1a, where if I’d been looking for a Q in the first place I might’ve been quicker on the uptake. As it was I started off at 25a PRESS-UP and exercised my brain from there.

    All sorts of great words here. I particularly like the sonorous SORORAL.

  6. Great crossword, particularly for someone who read Physics and likes Indian food, so W BOSON and ROGAN JOSH fell easily. 49 minutes with LOI the tricky CAR BOOT SALE. I hadn’t parsed the ON of ON STAND-BY so thanks for the medical explanation, V. I liked the clever CLEAR and STYX, but COD from me has to go to the Boson, in memory of Arthur Cooke, my Physics tutor and later Warden of New College. Lasting only of order ten to the minus twenty-five seconds, W particles hadn’t been found and were still only postulates back then. Really enjoyed this . Thankyou V and setter
  7. In case someone’s keeping score my one error was RISES which I couldn’t really justify but bunged in in desperation (bided?) after 20 minutes. I considered RISKS and RUSKS on account of not spotting where there was already a K.

    Great puzzle though, just right for a Friday. For my money ZOOKEEPER and CAR BOOT SALE are the best two clues we’ve had this year.

    Thanks setter and MM

  8. There is a BBO (British Boxing Organisation) and and IBO (International), so if one doesn’t happen to know W BOSON there is no other way to get the correct answer.

    I didn’t know it but guessed correctly.

    Challenging and fun puzzle.

    1. There’s a tiny hint from “weak” in the clue, which is what the W stands for, but yes, this is probably one of those clues that would’ve annoyed me if I’d got it wrong. I know nothing about boxing, so it’s a good job the boson was vaguely familiar.
      1. I know nothing about boxing, and used the word ‘weak’ to get the right answer. It seems enough of a hint to me.
        I failed dismally elsewhere in the puzzle, but I’m not blaming the setter for that and I think this clue was fair.
    2. This was indeed a lovely puzzle, with the kind of clues you can appreciate much more when reading back at leisure. Unfortunately I was an “I BOSON” person, as I’m neither a boxing nor a boson aficionado, and had to take a stab.

      COD for me was the &lit for CESSPIT.

  9. 27.22, though I thought after early left side speed I was on for a much quicker time. Fortunately spotted RUSTS before thinking of anything else: like several of these clues, that definition was a perfect but deceitful belter. I wish I could say I appreciated the brilliance of both of V’s CODs, but I fear I gave up trying to parse them while solving, and not being responsible for elucidating leaned heavily on the wisdom of our illustrious blogger.
    I think the BOSON clue is a touch iffy if you’re not that into particle physics and/or boxing. What with CERN blowing up atoms on a daily basis, there’s no reason to assume they haven’t used up all the main alphabets already and started on Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the proliferation of boxing (and other fight) bodies doesn’t inspire confidence in that initial initial. How am I supposed to know there’s not a Kick Boxing Organisation or a Federation de Bats Olympique? I grasped at the straw of “weak” in the definition and hoped for the best.
    LOI AXLE BOX: when you’ve got the one X already you don’t expect two to arrive at once. Liked the relatively easy but neat CESSPIT (not often you can say that)

    Edited at 2019-02-22 09:30 am (UTC)

    1. Apart from the Higgs boson, postulated in the sixties, they’ve not yet come up with any new particles in the Large Hadron Collider, Z, so my over fifty year old knowledge is still reasonably up to date. They were hoping to find evidence of the super-symmetric particles but none have introduced themselves so far. That’s why plans are being discussed for an even bigger and better Future Circular Collider at CERN, to see if more energy can ovecome their shyness. This doesn’t come cheap.
      1. Well, I’m happy to be educated, of course, since it’s a proper response to my question “how am I supposed to know?” To be fair, my 15 year old Chambers knows only two, the W and the Z (also “mediating weak interaction), and while I could postulate fight bodies represented as ZBO, the WBO does have the advantage of existing.
        I wish the CERN people well in their efforts to unlock the secrets of the universe: not to do so would perhaps precipitate the much-feared accidental creation of a black hole. Though the prospect of a bigger, better Future Circular Collider does invite a vision of the one after that, which Deep Thought says will be called…..The Earth.
        1. It gets a bit murky if you look deeper: In particle physics, the X and Y bosons (sometimes collectively called “X bosons”[1]) are hypothetical elementary particles analogous to the W and Z bosons, but corresponding to a new type of force predicted by the Georgi–Glashow model, a grand unified theory.
    2. You say ‘grasped at the straw’, I say ‘followed the clear and helpful indication’, let’s call the whole thing off.
  10. Just over an hour which was an adventure rather than a crossword. However, I failed on 4dn RISES – should have seen RUSTS! My LOI

    FOI 25 ac PRESS-UP

    COD 23dn YOUNG


    All splendid in Meldrewvia!

    Edited at 2019-02-22 10:26 am (UTC)

    1. Irrelevant to your comment, but we know someone called Victor. Actually it’s 2 people, a couple, a Mel and a Drew. No word of a lie.
  11. Great stuff, and definitely a Friday puzzle. I concur that 21dn would probably be a fairer clue if it was possible to confirm the first letter from another answer – my boxing knowledge is better than my theoretical physics, so I was reasonably sure I had the right sort of boson from that, though the IBO is also a thing (the euphemistic phrase is “a lightly regarded championship belt”, I think). Certainly, if you’re a quizzer, boxing was much easier when there were eight weights with one champion each…
  12. Super-classy Friday puzzle. I agree with v-blog except for w-boson, which I too felt could have been less reliant on pugilism, say. But a belter, a real knock-out, punchy clues oh please let it stop…
  13. Coo, that was hard. I suppose I must have somehow absorbed the WBO from reading about Don King, notorious boxing impresario, down the years. Took RUSTS from definition (didn’t get the hospital part at all) but certainly not bunged in, more like “sopped” (Saw Only after Prolonged Process of Elimination). 27.27
  14. Completely agree. An excellent puzzle. So much to like. Amongst many admirable clues I thought New Years Eve was a very nicely disguised anagram.

    But COD as Verlaine has rightly judged should go to CAR BOOT SALE.

  15. Unlike my Dad, I’ve never been much of a boxing fan, and was only aware of the Higgs Boson. I postulated an Amateur Boxing Organization, but looked up ABO only to find that it had no relevance to the world of pugilism. I therefore looked up the types of Boson and then vaguely recognised the WBO. Apart from that one cheat, I solved the rest of the puzzle in 42:41, although I only parsed the BOOT and ALE bit of our “Fair,” and biffed SPACEMAN, justifying it from ACE rather than CAP. Still, it got me there. APT was my FOI, and CURATE my last. I puzzled for ages over my penultimate RUSTS, but saw it eventually. Great puzzle. Thanks setter and V.
  16. Slow to finish the NE corner until CAR BOOT SALE finally fell. Still not sure why Brief = to raise. Think there is a WBA boxing entity as well – it was only the ..SON which made me plump for W BO – have no clue what a W BOSON is, but guess something physics-y
  17. Badly DNF which is increasingly the case for me these days, but I can grudgingly accept that this was a good(ish) crossword for super-solvers. Far too hard for us mortals though, and not even remotely entertaining. At the moment, we seem to be in a run of offerings that have escaped from Mephisto world, or monthly special. It’s demoralising for me as I’m sure it is for many others. The evidence is there on the ToL leaderboard, and it might open their eyes a bit if they cared to analyse it. There are rarely more than 150 entries, and people have basically given up commenting, which is why I occasionally vent my spleen on here. . . Roan isn’t exclusively chestnut. A roan horse is basically an underlying white interspersed with ANY other colour, giving the illusion of a mottled grey. Why does rose = advanced? 4d surface is a bit tortuous isn’t it? And the surface for 23d is just nonsensical. And an unnecessary question mark in 24a. Mr Grumpy
    1. One thing that may have cut down on ToL leaderboard numbers is their increased commitment to policing people’s subscriptions – I had to renew mine again last night :-/

      Roan and chestnut are probably not quite the same thing by daylight but you can see how it’d be a forgivable mistake at dusk.

      “Rose through the ranks” = “Advanced through the ranks”

      23d would be nonsensical if litter = trash, but if litter = palanquin I think it’s quite good!

    2. Finally got round to this one !!!!!

      Agree that this is definitely in the Mephisto realm. Not only is roan NOT a synonym for chestnut but Oz is the country of Australian not its citizens and canines bite not chew as someone else pointed out. And i believe that septic tanks replaced cesspits not vice versa.

  18. I went for the international boson, so had one pink square. But otherwise a wonderful puzzle. But it was a little obscure to clue that letter unchecked, meaning that you had to basically know the correct boson. Or at least know that there isn’t an I-boson. There are several boxing organizations that would fit the rest of the clue, meaning you needed a sort of Venn-diagram of boxing organizations and bosons.
  19. Didn’t finish – rarely do! But enjoyed the ride, as usual. I wonder – was Mr Rogan joshing with us? PB
  20. Which wasn’t too bad. Surprisingly I didn’t fall into the traps mentioned above. Had only heard of WBO and thought RUSTS had to be it, but my LOI’S were SORORAL and AXLE BOX neither of which I knew. I had the SOROR bit but was looking for a sounds-like and missed the ORAL. Yes very enjoyable. Thanks to one and all
  21. Very fine puzzle, I decided, after I lit upon how the wordplay for CAR BOOT SALE worked. ‘Fair’ as the definition wouldn’t have occurred to me, though. Alas, my boson knowledge is next to nil, so I tried the H BOSON. Too bad, but I don’t feel it was altogether clear. Regards.
  22. Another vote for puzzle of the year – particularly as I got Car Boot Sale, Rusts, and W-Boson quickly. It’s rare that my GK, which includes bosons and muons but not French Departments or 19th century poets (we won’t go into plants), is a benefit, but today it was.
    Thanks to the setter, the editor, and the blogger

    Edited at 2019-02-22 06:39 pm (UTC)

  23. Oof, that was tough! But 96 mins doesn’t look quite so bad given some of the other comments. Fell for the HBOSON answer, thus one pink. Relied on Mrs soj for inspiration on ROGAN JOSH and LOI CAR BOOT SALE (“second word must be BOOT”, doh!). Tks helpful comments.
  24. Excellent puzzle – took my time with it and didn’t race.
    Good blog, v, cheers. Nice to see you on Eggheads 🙂

    Edited at 2019-02-22 08:02 pm (UTC)

  25. 22:02, but with two errors. One was RISES, the other a rushed nonsense that I will keep to myself. I was very distracted by kids and rushing to get this done before dinner so I’m not entirely surprised by the careless mistakes. An excellent puzzle, though, so I’m mostly a bit miffed not to have saved it for later when I might have given it the attention it deserved.
    21 seems fair to me, as someone who knows nothing about either boxing or physics. World Boxing Organisation seemed perfectly feasible, and the otherwise redundant word ‘weak’ in the definition confirmed it.

    Edited at 2019-02-22 08:56 pm (UTC)

  26. 30:17 a late online solve but two pink squares. The first a typo: axll box. The second, I picked the wrong boson. I’m a boxing fan but having heard of the Higgs, straightaway took it to be H-boson and justified it on the basis that HBO put on fights. Didn’t stop to think of the different boxing organisations. Even if I had, I’m not sure I would’ve been more convinced by WBO than either IBO or my original HBO. A high quality puzzle though.
  27. Well, once again I am late to the party. This one kept me busy for fifty minutes on the nose, which is about twice my average. Looking back over it, there’s nothing there that should have been difficult – but of course that is thanks to the art of the setter. Also glad to see a little science edging in with the W boson. To those who grumble about not being able to get it unless you know it, well, the W boson is a larger part of real life than, say, Euripides is of playwriting, so I think it’s fair to rely on general knowledge. And even if you didn’t know the boson or the boxing organisation, it’s called the W boson because it mediates the Weak interaction. (The Z boson, however, doesn’t mediate anything beginning with Z – that would make it too easy.)

    Excellent puzzle, great blog, thanks to both of those responsible.

    1. Late or not, welcome to the party. My education just about covered the subdivision of protons etc into quarks, but bosons never entered into my ken until Mr. Higgs began to be discussed. Nevertheless, an entertaining puzzle, and I now know that W+ W- and Z bosons exist, and X and Y bosons are hypothetically postulated. On top of that I used my bus pass to deposit me into town, where I partook of some beverages before taking another bus to my local where I sampled more beverages before getting a taxi home. I have no idea why I am expounding at this length except that I may have slightly overindulged in the aforementioned beverages.
  28. But with a fatal error. Bunged in Rises instead of Rusts. Excellent crossword. Some gems.
  29. I did this on holiday in the Caribbean. Took me three days on and off. I think some clues were really tough. I don’t understand why TUBEROSE is “with knobs”? That seems like a very vague definition.

    I also think the “body dropped” part of 4d is very badly worded, it should be “head dropped”. To my mind the head of a word is the first or first few letters and the body is the remaining letters, especially for a down clue. Just like headlines and article bodies. Or email headers and message body.

    Other than those gripes an absorbing puzzle. Thanks!

    1. The third definition of TUBEROSE in my Collins app is “knobbed”, which seems incontrovertible…

      TRUST is a “hospital body”, the thing that has dropped is its “leader”.

      Glad you enjoyed the puzzle… and very jealous that you did it in the Caribbean!

      1. Oh, I see, thanks, Verlaine!

        I now see Tuber has 3rd def. as “a knob” in Chambers. At the time I was fixated on Tuberose wo considering other tubers. No mention of knobs under Tuberose.

        32°C here in Trinidad, Cuba. Bit too hot for me but taking thousands of lovely photos. Looking forward to getting back to cold grey London… not!


  30. Thanks setter and verlaine
    Agree that this was a fabulous puzzle – easily the best since I’ve started doing them again in our local Australian newspaper (about a month behind the published English puzzle).
    Wasn’t ever expecting a pangram from a Times crossword but here you go – and obviously of no help to me in the solve. It took just under 50 mins in a couple of sessions and quite a bit of help from references in the end.
    I thought that I’d parsed them all, however there were a few in which I had not done so correctly – missed the ZED being ‘the final letter’ – only considering the Z and really wondering how the ED was to be addressed. Missed ON tor ‘taking’ at 5d. Missed the CURATE’s egg reference at 6d and failed to see COCK for ‘raise’ at 6a. Finally didn’t properly TO as ‘shut up, almost’ at 1a.
    So in retrospect, was able to complete the grid but the setter wins hands down with the subtlety and economy in which he has been able to construct every clue.
    Finished in the NE corner with AXLE BOX (which was new for me) and COCOA (where the drink was straightforward enough but the parsing beyond me).
    Great puzzle and excellent blog to complement it !
  31. the answer to 18d once we had the checkers C_ _ _ P _ _ seemed an easily biffable “CRAPPER”. Luckily the tie-in at 28a led us into the cesspit!

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