Times 27,287: Mightier Than The Sorb

A devious puzzle, riddled with cunning definitions, that I counted myself lucky to finish in ~10 minutes, post boozy pub quiz (we won! yay). Some obscure vocab should have slowed most solvers down – if you knew BRISLING or LUSATIAN off the bat, you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.

Clue of the day to 11ac for a lovely surface that took me a good while to parse, with runner-up prize to 28ac for having a 7-word definition part compared to 2 words of wordplay – I think that’s actually really quite a rare occurrence. Thanks to the setter for a quality Friday puzzle!

1 Happy for one to turn off raw data, but not entirely (5)
DWARF – hidden reversed in {of}F RAW D{ata}

4 Roughly weld an unusual, unknown material for guttering? (6-3)
CANDLE-WAX – CA [roughly] + (WELD AN*) [“unusual”] + X [unknown]

9 Displayed great relish with animated short shown in full (9)
SALIVATED – ALIV{e} [animated “short”] shown in SATED [full]

10 Shy artisan spending every second in the country (5)
SYRIA – S{h}Y {a}R{t}I{s}A{n}

11 Simple time perhaps for children and youth of the fifties (13)
UNADULTERATED – UN-ADULT ERA [time perhaps for children] + TED [youth of the fifties]

14 Obscene gents had to be heard (4)
LEWD – homophone of LOO’D [gents had]

15 Popular download having a charge that’s hidden? (10)
INAPPARENT – IN APP [popular | download] having A RENT [a | charge]

18 Unexpected weaknesses that held boxer up? (4,2,4)
FEET OF CLAY – the boxer being Cassius Clay aka Mohammed Ali

19 Singular epithet for men (4)
STAG – S TAG [singular | epithet]

21 Dread holding broadcast back with light experimentation (5,3,5)
TRIAL AND ERROR – TERROR [dread] holding reversed AIR [broadcast] + LAND [light]

24 Fence, perhaps, close to historic castle (5)
CROOK – {histori}C + ROOK [castle]

25 Sprat eating fat at last, visibly indignant? (9)
BRISTLING – BRISLING [sprat] “eating” {fa}T

27 Dutch people better off than us? (5,4)
OTHER HALF – as in one’s wife, or “how the other half lives”

28 Traveller books place somewhere new to put down roots (5)
REPOT – REP OT [traveller | books]

1 Ultimately cooled one’s temper in bar (10)
DISQUALIFY – {coole}D I’S + QUALIFY [temper]

2 One piercing cry when heading off (3)
AWL – {b}AWL [cry, its “heading off”]

3 Number keeping a slightly larger number back (6)
FAVOUR – FOUR [number] “keeping” A V [a | slightly larger (than 4) number]

4 Rigid, like traffic bollard that’s holding up so long (9)
CATATONIC – CONIC [like traffic bollard] that’s “holding” reversed TATA [so long]

5 Low section of arena — dirt-cheap (5)
NADIR – hidden in {are}NA DIR{t-cheap}

6 Central European’s great desire to adopt a Scottish name (8)
LUSATIAN – LUST [great desire] to “adopt” A, plus IAN [Scottish name]

7 One raising game after broadcast quickly turned champion (5-6)
WORLD-BEATER – BEATER [one raising game] after homophone Of WHIRLED [quickly turned]

8 This Yankee succeeds by right, indeed (4)
XRAY – X R AY [by | right | indeed]. Yankee succeeds Xray in the phonetic alphabet.

12 Unsavoury fancy junk those two eat (1,5,5)

13 Where player can appear fine having abandoned his fear? (5,5)
STAGE RIGHT – STAGE {f}RIGHT [(player’s) fear, losing F for fine]

16 A record returned in exchange for one bringing case (9)
PLAINTIFF – reverse A LP [a | record] + IN TIFF [in | exchange]

17 One as it were who’d steal doctor’s name (8)
MONICKER – M.O. NICKER [one as it were who’d steal doctor]

20 Comic way to scoff sandwiches (6)
JESTER – ST [way], sandwiched by JEER [to scoff]

22 Sign we’ve lost track of reference collection (5)
LIBRA – LIBRA{ry} [reference collection, “losing” RY = railway = track]

23 Mounting appeal to Anglicans to reflect (4)
ECHO – reverse all of OH CE! [appeal to Anglicans]

26 The writer’s potential, at first, for mischief (3)
IMP = I’M [the writer’s] + P{otential}

42 comments on “Times 27,287: Mightier Than The Sorb”

  1. 38 minutes. Never heard of LUSATIA(N) and lost time before checkers arrived trying to make AUSTRIAN work. Inventive and entertaining.
  2. Another one where I went offline at 30′–with the lower half done, but lots of gaps in the upper–and went to lunch. Where I think it took 15-20′. DNK, of course, LUSATIAN or BRISLING, or INAPPARENT. 9ac and 11ac somehow came to me, finally, and then it took me some time to work them out. 3d was long in coming in large part because those OUR spellings don’t spring to mind. 8d was my LOI; I spent a lot of time first making sure of that X, then trying to think of a 4-letter word beginning with X that wasn’t X-RAY, then finally realizing how the clue worked. Terrific puzzle.
  3. …and I loved it!
    The definition of “imp” here is strictly British, but the wordplay brooked no resistance.
  4. 32:53. Chewy but lots of fun when the pennies dropped, albeit sometimes rather slowly. Held up most by the NE corner, being slow to remember what that other definition of guttering was and trying to justify GORSE BEATER for 7D… until 11A put paid to that, and NHO LUSATIAN so had AUSTRIAN pencilled in for a while. Lots of lovely clues with devious definitions or wordplay. BRISTLING my LOI. I liked DWARF, CROOK, FAVOUR and STAGE RIGHT, but COD to CANDLE WAX. Great puzzle. Thanks V and setter.
  5. 15:37 … of crosswordy delight.

    I especially liked Happy the DWARF and STAGE (f)RIGHT, but almost everything in this was witty and neat.

    Thanks, setter and v. That’s AWL, folks

  6. I thought this a great puzzle with some cunning definitions – “Happy for one” and “Unsavoury fancy” in particular standing out. As with others I didn’t know LUSATIAN and spent some time convinced that I was looking for a derivative of LUSITANIA.

    Hard to pick a COD but if I had to I think I’d plump for STAGE RIGHT.

  7. 10:26. Great puzzle, lots of fun to solve. Too many great clues to pick a favourite but I’ll add ‘that held boxer up’ to the list of things that made me smile.
  8. Struggled to complete this clever puzzle in less than 50 mins. Like Kevingregg, I found the bottom half quite straightforward, and took ages to justify xray.
  9. A couple of mean spinsters for me this week, (near misses), so it’s nice to end with an all correctly solved puzzle.


  10. Another cracker! This absorbed me for 46 long mins

    The North West Passage was rough but eventually found port.

    FOI the lowly 27ac OTHER HALF


    COD 4ac CANDLE-WAX which didn’t half help with 8dn!

    WOD 20dn Hark! The tinkling bells of the JESTER’s cap.

    I did know 25dn BRISLING but not 6dn LUSATIAN which makes me a Verl?

    4dn FAVOUR induced an IKEAN groan. I was almost snookered by 28ac.

    Edited at 2019-03-01 02:05 pm (UTC)

  11. A proper Friday treat, as said above. About 40 minutes with breakfast and Mrs K chat. Good blog V, I needed to see how 7d parsed and be sure the unknown LUSATIAN existed. 18a and 13d joint winners from many good candidates.
  12. After a rough start (i thought 1a a bit clunky), great puzzle of subtleties. All bar awl got to fairly quickly, that was LOI.

    Thanks Blogger and Setter.

  13. A tricky offering which entertained me for 29:47, with DWARF getting me off the mark and Cassius dragging his feet right until the end. AUSTRIAN was biffed unparsed at 7d until the very clever CANDLE WAX snuffed out that idea, and LUST became the go to emotion, at which point the NHO LUSATIAN became inevitable. I did know the fish so 25a was no problem once I had a few crossers. Liked A SWEET TOOTH and STAGE RIGHT. The NW held out longest and the clever UNADULTERATED was key to my getting DISQUALIFY and LOI, Clay’s supporters. Most enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and V.
  14. … Cassius Clay, here I come. I was more FEET OF LEAD than of CLAY today, taking 48 minutes on this, with LOI XRAY after CANDLE-WAX was constructed. I didn’t know that meaning of GUTTERING. I parsed UNADULTERATED after biffing, being nowhere near constructing it before. My two favourites were OTHER HALF and STAGE RIGHT, where I will now exit. Or are you only meant to enter that way? Thank your V and setter.
  15. Never heard of LUSATIA, but it didn’t matter. My brain kept trying to fit LUSITANIAN in somehow, despite it not being central, and having too many letters. Lots of cunning stuff wherever you looked.
  16. Same as Pootle and Tim trying to squeeze Lusitania in there. Kevin brought me the JESTER. I got CANDLE WAX by mis-remembering that meaning for “guttering” from Eliot’s Rhapsody On A Windy Night (it’s the cat that’s in the gutter and the street lamp that does the stuttering). STAGE RIGHT was very good as was the nicely hidden NADIR. 19.32

    Edited at 2019-03-01 10:45 am (UTC)

  17. 47 minutes here, never feeling like I was on the wavelength, but, on the other hand, it seems my trials and tribulations were similar to others, in particular LOI the unknown LUSATIAN. I struggled with some easier ones, too: can’t quite believe I was trying to fit “ALI” into 18a without twigging CLAY for ages. Float like an anvil…

    As with V I enjoyed 11a and 28a. Also liked the device in 22d LIBRA and the whirled beater at 7d.

    Somewhat discombobulated by the lack of a hyphen in 8d, but it seems to be another of those where the spelling in the NATO alphabet differs from the usual usage, along with Juliett.

    Edited at 2019-03-01 11:47 am (UTC)

  18. It looks like I was on the wavelength today – 6m 06s, although in competition I might be wary of doing quite so much biffing: TRIAL AND ERROR, BRISTLING, A SWEET TOOTH, MONICKER, LIBRA, PLAINTIFF & WORLD-BEATER. Might be a record!

    A lovely puzzle, and just a Z short of a pangram.

    Edited at 2019-03-01 11:43 am (UTC)

  19. I was quite pleased with a time of 29 mins for what was a challenging puzzle.
    I thought my geographical knowledge was quite good but I’d never heard of LUSATIA. According to Wikipedia “the region is the home of the ethnic group of Sorbs, a small West Slavic people.” Does this mean that the Sorbs are vertically challenged or just that there aren’t very many of them?
  20. ….UNADULTERATED. I regularly eat Norwegian BRISLING and the only DNK was LUSATIAN (I was another who tussled with Lusitania – it would have endless possibilities if clued as a homophone !)

    So many cracking clues, it seems mean to single out a COD. Possibly my most enjoyable puzzle of the year so far.

    TIME 17:22

  21. I spent too long trying to figure out which of the two signs in ‘libraries’ was meant before I twigged we weren’t dealing with the plural.

    Never heard of the ‘Central European’ or the ‘Sprat’ which were gettable though from the wordplay or def.

    I liked the ‘material for guttering’ and FEET OF CLAY.

    Finished in about 40 minutes.

    Thank you to setter and blogger

  22. A lovely puzzle. Witty definitions and no ungettable vocabulary. LUSATIA my only unknown but it had to be. 28 minutes. (Now off to celebrate Saint David’s day with some appropriate singing.) Ann
  23. 77 mins but two pinks. One a stupid misspelled MONIKKER, the other a hopeful AIL for AWL. Had heard of brisling, not LUSATIAN. Loads of great clues and light bulb moments. My COD DWARF, FEET OF CLAY.
  24. I neglected to ask earlier, but what’s the significance of the “Tags: uick”, V? It’s almost quick, and has a link to the post.
  25. Got there eventually – LOI was “World Beater” which I figured must be the answer, but took ages to understand why. “One raising game” was very neat.
  26. Came to this late so may not get a reply. But am surprised at the homophone. Generally OK with near misses but lewd really is some way from loo’d. Otherwise a touch or real wit and class about this one. Untimed but running well but for a few (or foo?) – probably a touch under the half-hour.
    1. personally, I can’t see how they could be pronounced differently
      unless you say “lyood” for lewd, which is not the pronunciation I see in my Collins
      1. but, that said, I don’t mind a near miss; the dodgier the better in fact
        regional speech variations enrich our language and should be embraced, not standardised (OK, there are plenty that make me wince, but that’s a price we pay for having a living language that’s constanly evolving)
  27. 34:54. Terrific stuff. I liked 1ac, 4ac, 3dn, 20dn, and 22dn. DNK Lusatian, tried more than once to crowbar an Alsatian in there. I remembered a similar ‘feet of clay’ clue from a previous puzzle. A quick search shows it was in ST 4755 by Dean Mayer in July 2017: Hidden weakness of boxer’s supporters.
  28. Having cheated and seen the answers, one can’t really seriously complain. For casual solvers, it was just difficult in a non-entertaining way, without really threatening to give up its secrets if one persisted. But there are still a couple of dodgy surfaces. 14a homophone is a bit weak. No problem with it not sounding like, but I don’t think it works as a whole and I can’t quite fathom out why? And sorry to be even more pedantic, but 9a should be ‘for’ instead of ‘with’ to make it grammatically correct, and it wouldn’t affect the surface. If the setter must use ‘with’, there should be a comma after ‘relish’ to separate the clauses. Similarly at 22d ‘in’ should replace ‘of’. Why does ‘oh’ = ‘appeal’? At least that one was biffable with the crossers in place. Never seen moniker spelt with an additional c, but no doubt it exists obscurely somewhere in some dictionary. I don’t understand ‘candle wax’. Is it a literary reference? ToL in its wisdom offers this crossword on the same day as the equally impenetrable monthly special. This one would have been better published yesterday, and yesterday’s today. No wonder they’re shedding subscribers. (Mr Grumpy)
    1. A small point on 9ac: no, FOR wouldn’t be good : cryptically it would say that the definition leads to the wordplay and we don’t allow that in The Times. The surface doesn’t attempt to say “relish for” : it’s just “relish” on its own.
      There doesn’t need to be a comma. There could be one but it’s not necessary
      As for the homophone, both Collins and Oxford dictionaries give “loo’d” only as the pronunciation for LEWD. Chambers gives both that and “lyood”

      Re CANDLE WAX, look up “gutter”

  29. Absolutely brilliant! Obscure and quirky clues, but all fairly worked out once one had got that blessed “Aha!” moment. 8 dn took me ages to parse, but it was well worth the struggle.
  30. Finally got round to this a day late, and what a lovely crossword! A real cracker, neat and stylish.
    NHO Lusatia so I looked it up and found one of the most entertaining and (ab)sorbing Wikipedia entries I’ve seen in a while. What fun they must have up there, between the Bobr and the Pulsnitz ..
      1. Whopps. Must have been half asleep. I still think the English pronunciation is lyood (sorry, don’t have phonetic symbols)
  31. Thanks setter and verlaine
    Tough puzzle that was drawn out by watching some inane television show at the same time for about an hour – took a couple of shorter sessions to mop it up.
    Couldn’t parse CATATONIC – and it was quite tricky after seeing it here ! It was my third to last in, followed by SALIVATED and the quite brilliant FAVOUR as last.
    Many high class clues which often provided many layers of word play to find the craftily hidden definition.
  32. Held us up for an enjoyable 37 mins. NHO Lusatia or brisling ( a deep disappointment for Tony S no doubt) , but got with wordplay. The Dutch and I are getting quicker at these puzzles. Is there a mixed doubles category in the competition?

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