Times 27,881: War of Words

Super puzzle that kept me busy for almost 10 minutes, partly due to me making a rod for my own back by bunging in an optimistic SPACE BAR at 9ac; 14ac also took a while to swim into full focus at the end, as good cryptic definitions are wont to do. The creativity on display in every clue is exceptional, with not a single one that’s entirely predictable or exactly as you’d expect on first glance, prove me wrong if you can. Big kudos to the setter, and let’s hope this is the kind of crossword we can expect on a daily basis now that the Biden era is here, I say!

1 Most lucky mother’s self-introduction, returning to be hugged by kid (8)
JAMMIEST – reversed I’M MA, “hugged” by JEST [kid]

5 Island house — unfinished hut on poles (6)
HONSHU – HO, + HU{t} on N+S

9 Dress code’s solution perhaps for one often depressed (5,3)
SHIFT KEY – SHIFT [dress] + KEY [code’s solution, perhaps]

10 What has London banks acting badly during trial, mostly (6)
THAMES – HAM during TES{t}

12 Record not the first for Middle America? (5)
ENTER – {c}ENTER [middle, in America]

13 Secretaries tease one persistently snappy crowd (9)
PAPARAZZI – PA PA [secretary x 2] + RAZZ I

14 Rabbit escaping from hawks? (8,4)
FIGHTING TALK – cryptic def: hawks are those in favour of war or fighting, and the rabbit is the words they emit

18 Low mental age not normally needed for sport (4,4,4)

21 Lens closed twice, capturing elephant zapping insect (9)
TELEPHOTO – TO TO [closed x 2], “capturing” ELEPH{ant}

23 Came to A&E impaled on cooking utensil (5)
AWOKE – A and E “impaled on” WOK

24 Returns home with invitation to attend? (6)
INCOME – IN [home] with COME!

25 Those new to management of eg estate occupying old riverside (1-7)
L-DRIVERS – hidden in {o}LD RIVERS{ide}. Estate as in a type of car

26 Border community needing assistance commonly when old (2,4)
EL PASO – ‘ELP AS O. On the Mexican border, near Ciudad Juarez

27 Water, or where to buy something to hold it? (5,3)
ADAM’S ALE – or you could buy something to hold water at A DAM SALE

1 What’s central to Beijing, according to China (6)
JASPER – {bei}J{ing} AS PER. A “fine hard porcelain” as well as a gemstone

2 Man turned up with sentry, polishing off the odd half (6)
MOIETY – reversed IOM, plus {s}E{n}T{r}Y

3 One books royal contest, with audience (9)
INTERVIEW – I NT E.R. VIE W [one | books | royal | contest | with]

4 About to get off, having experienced vacation in quiet part of Washington (6,6)
SLEEPY HOLLOW – SLEEPY [about to get off] + HOLLOW [having experienced vacation]. That’s Washington as in the writer Washington Irving

6 Not the one to upset Rosemary, perhaps, in short (5)
OTHER – reversed TO + HER{b}

7 Admits a last letter translated for dissident press (8)

8 Make off before the judge stands (2,6)
UP STICKS – UP [before the judge] + STICKS [stands, as in tolerates]

11 Well fixed, like some hinges (6-6)
SPRING-LOADED – SPRING [well] + LOADED [fixed, as in supplied with money]

15 Am using my 22 here? (9)
GYMNASIUM – (AM USING MY*) [“pumps”], semi-&lit

16 Take hardly any time to find girl (8)

17 Large crowd up for exciting tournament (5,3)
WORLD CUP – (L CROWD UP*) [“for exciting”]

19 Absence of archdeacon on a religious devotion (6)

20 Is seen when swimming (or drunk?) (6)
NESSIE – (IS SEEN) [“when swimming” or “drunk”], &lit

22 Questions that deal with inflation (5)
PUMPS – double def, as in interrogates / things that inflate

77 comments on “Times 27,881: War of Words”

  1. After a terrible week’s solving I was nervous on submitting today with several half known words – MOIETY and SAMIZDAT in particular. However I felt that there was little in the way of ambiguity in today’s tight set of clues, so I managed my second clean finish of the week. As per Verlaine I thought this a fine offering. Hats off to the setter.

    Until reading the blog I presumed SLEEPY HOLLOW was a US town, it sounding to my mind like the sort of thing they call their towns across the pond. Finding it is in fact a book, it can go on my reading list. I often struggle to think of what to read so recently I’ve taken to reading whatever comes up in the crossword. I’m starting with the old chestnut She. I never knew it was where the phrase “She who must be obeyed” comes from.

    1. Sleep Hollow is also a town on the Hudson river near enough to New York – Washington Irving’s home is in it and is open to visitors. I’d have to check, but I’m pretty sure it is where Rip Van Winkle lived, and also The Headless Horseman

      Edited at 2021-01-22 01:01 pm (UTC)

  2. Managed several spellings of SAMIZDAT before stumbling on the correct one. Thought FIGHTING TALK was a smashing clue. Hats off to the setter, and thanks to the sub-10 man!
  3. Put in SENSEI (thinking of tea that can be drunk) instead of NESSIE. So that messed up ADAMS ALE. Glad I knew SAMIZDAT so that I didn’t have to play ‘the foreign word clued as an anagram’ game.
  4. A tough one, but I emerged bloody but unbowed. Or just a little bowed. It didn’t help matters that I’d never heard of JAMMY and didn’t know that JASPER was a kind of porcelain. SAMIZDAT was the one gimme, with ‘last letter’ and ‘dissident press’. LOI FIGHTING TALK; I only knew WORDS. Some wonderful surfaces, like 23ac. I was amused to see Washington, given George’s comment yesterday on Kingsley. COD to JASPER.

    Edited at 2021-01-22 07:35 am (UTC)

    1. It’s always interesting to hear of common British terms that are not known in the US. For your future reference jammy means the same as spawny.
  5. 42 minutes bar one clue (7dn) for the usual reasons. Why do setters persist with this sort of thing and why do the editors allow them to do so? I missed a couple of bits of parsing but they didn’t take me by surprise and if I’d been on blogging duty I’d have looked at them a bit harder.
  6. SAMIZDAT familiar from politics of youth.

    Also considered sensei, but only knew that as a martial arts teacher, and am reminded that the River Ness is on Winterwatch at the moment.

    ETON WALL GAME took a while as never even considered an anagram, nice clue referencing many of our politicians.

    Does anyone use ‘jammy’ nowadays?

    < 22′, thanks verlaine and setter.

  7. …Beatrice! Still, as I gaze on thee,…

    After 30 mins including guessing the OWAA! (Obscure word as anagram) and eventually spotting the excellent L-Drivers, I was left with the DNK Moiety unfilled.
    Very clever crossword.
    Thanks setter and V.

  8. I biffed BLACK TIE at 9a and was surprised that none of the connecting down answers agreed with it. I considered FIGHTING BACK long and hard for 14a. I was finally just left with the annoying need to guess SAMIZDAT. If it had turned out to be SAMIZTAD I wouldn’t have cared.
      1. I was tempted by Black Tie too, but White Tie came in the same thought, which got me off the biffing and onto trying to parse
  9. 16:34. Luckily I guessed the spelling right for SAMIZDAT. Great puzzle, not least the hidden L-DRIVERS. LOI BEATRICE was good too, but COD to ADAMS ALE.
  10. A double socially distanced fist bump to the setter from me too. This was chewy like the finest toffee, with almost every mastication yielding more surprise and delight. COD for me the superb CD for FIGHTING TALK. Lots of education (MOIETY, HONSHU, SAMIZDAT (lucky guess), SLEEPY HOLLOW, JASPER, EL PASO) but all fair except the OWAA (thanks Myrtilus). Cheers V for explaining all.

  11. 22:02. I thought this was slightly spoiled by 7dn. It was a write-in for me because I happened to know the word but I would say it’s firmly in the ‘maybe don’t use an anagram here’ category.
    Otherwise a fabulous puzzle. JASPER was the only thing I didn’t know, so all the difficulty (of which there was plenty) came from extraordinarily cunning clueing, and as v says there isn’t a dud here (at least if you know what SAMIZDAT is).
    COD to 14ac, which stands on its own as proof that cryptic definitions have their place.
    1. SAMIZDAT was my first one in!
      After staring blankly at the rest for a couple minutes, actually.
        1. My recently deceased Nation colleague Stephen F. Cohen used to smuggle samizdat to the United States from Moscow regularly. Carrying the briefcase gave him a hernia (with which I can particularly empathize at this moment).

          Edited at 2021-01-23 07:44 pm (UTC)

  12. I just about managed this test
    Hard to say which clue i liked best
    I guess ADAM’S ALE
    Is the one to prevail
    But I’m doffing my cap to the rest
  13. Indeed, high quality stuff. Clearly we’re divided between the Solzhenitsyn era cognoscenti and the rest for SAMIZDAT: it’s how we got One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, though Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago was an earlier example.

    I know JASPER as fine china because I have a couple of such Wedgwood pieces, and ninja turtled SLEEPY HOLLOW from the Tim Burton movie, assuming it was set in WA.

    Last in was BEATRICE, though it’s been clued in such fashion many times, I suspect. Didn’t see it until I wrote out the crossings flat, and started looking for a girl’s name.

    A DAM SALE was the one that made me chuckle most. Oh, and 25.16 elapsed time.

    Edited at 2021-01-22 09:53 am (UTC)

  14. 8ac SHIFT KEY – I preferred SWEET TEA and sympathy which made 2dn MOIETY ungettable when it was quite gettable.

    7dn SHAMIZDAT fake Russian News from 1967! An escapee from the much loved Club Monthly Special – if one enjoys that sort of глупости .

    14 ac FIGHTING TALK – I settled on FIGHTING BACK would have preferred FIGHTING BUCK. Funny Bunny!

    Rest of it was really jolly good.

    FOI JAMMIEST – yes JAMMY is still used. An update in the world of footie is ‘Sponsored by Hartleys’.

    Heart of Midlothian (Hearts)are called the ‘Jam Tarts’ by Hibs fans, after the colour of their shirts. But the ‘Jambos’ are not particularly ‘jammy’ – as Cel’ic and Rangers have predominated over the Edinburgh teams in recent years. ‘Dis yamaather sew’?

    (LOI) 25ac L DRIVERS -a few to be found as QAnons on the QC

    COD 18ac ETON WALL GAME – ‘Bad King Boris’ was Keeper of the College Wall – as Eton is a college as opposed to Harrow which is a school. Hawald was at Hawwow!

    WOD JASPERware is rather common – from Wedgewood – that rather horrid blue and white tat, that is seen weekly on ‘Bargain Hunt’

    Today’s question- ‘How much does a Grecian Urn’?

    Answer from Wednesday – Loomis was one of Ezra Pounds middle names. The other was Weston.

    1. The current reincarnation of Rangers haven’t dominated anything apart from some obscurity called the Petrofac Cup during the past eight years.
  15. 38 minutes, and I loved everyone of them. COD has to go to BEATRICE, as that was my Grannie’s name, but there were so many good clues. I only knew MOIETY as in 1680 my direct male ancestor bought one such in a pew in Heptonstall Parish Church. We used to call ADAM’S ALE corporation pop as kids.There was FIGHTING TALK in El Paso as recorded by Marty Robbins too. Thank you V and setter for the fun and the memories.
  16. 38.15 which wasn’t exactly rapid but I was very glad to get it completed correctly. LOI was moiety which vaguely resonated when I saw it but was pretty much a guess. Held up especially by shift key as I had first put in smart in reference to dress code. Anyone else?

    A challenging puzzle well worth the effort. A few American flavoured clues but only fair given how we Brits get the advantage most of the time.

    Got sleepy hollow early but didn’t quite see the hollow definition. I know The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was a story of Washington Irving but does that constitute a part? Just asking…

    Beatrice my COD but liked nessie and telephoto as well.

    Thanks setter and blogger for the feel good factor going into the weekend. Alcohol here I come!

    1. I agree. I don’t get the ‘quiet’ or the ‘part’, at least if used together. Or the use of an author’s Christian name either.
      1. You’ve surely heard of quiet places described as sleepy? I think there’s a song called ‘Sleepy Old Town’. And it’s common enough in crosswords to refer to people by their first name.
  17. Lovely puzzle, with A DAM SALE and the hidden L-DRIVERS being two of my favourites. The two that were by far the trickiest for me were SHIFT KEY and the crossing MOIETY – the first because it took me an age to think of it, and the second because apparently I didn’t have a clue what MOIETY meant. 10m 16s.
  18. Certainly a trip to the mental GYMNASIUM. I was another who had FIGHTING “back” and had to go and make a second cup of tea before I saw it. Luckily I’d hesitated thinking – in a puzzle like this it can’t be that feeble, and it wasn’t. You get a good view of Washington Irving’s house (Sunnyside) from the Hudson Line trains a few miles north of Yonkers. No trouble with SAMIZDAT – awful lot of Russian emigres in NYC. 28.57
  19. 22 mins
    Seemed the easiest of the week to me, but not so according to the snitch. Thanks v.
  20. Struggled mightily through this one, eventually finishing in 59:39, but it was all to no avail as I’d missed the crucial point at 20d, confusing SENSIE with some vaguely suspected Scottish word for inebriated. Drat! JAMMIEST went straight in and it was all downhill from there, but with lots of PDMs. Thanks setter and V.
  21. 10 minutes for our V-blogger? I spent an hour, my time limit before coming to see what I was missing. I was watching Sri Lanka cricket too, but don’t think that slowed me down, this was a tough but fair challenge, best for ages. I was left in the end with all done except MOIETY (like Myrtilus so I am in good company); slow to see FIGHTING TALK as NTLOI in spite of staring at the -A-K for a while. Had to check SAMIZDAT once I’d unscrambled the anagrist to something that looked like a word. Some excellent clues, hard to pick a CoD; Beatrice, El Paso, L Drivers, that corner was super.

    Edited at 2021-01-22 11:53 am (UTC)

  22. Why do lawyers use the word ‘moiety’ when ‘half’ would seem to me to do perfectly well? No doubt they’ll say there is a precise legal meaning of ‘moiety’; in that case why can’t they create a precise legal meaning of ‘half’?
    1. Probably because if a client asks what it means, the clock goes on and there’s a bigger fee!
  23. A cracking puzzle, full of fun, No trouble with Moiety or Samizdat but took far too long over EL Paso. A bit rich really because,when drink has been taken, I’ve been known to do damage to the Marty Robbins song of the same name: (“nighttime would find me in Rosa’s cantina, music would play and Farina would whirl”…)

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

      1. “Something is terribly wrong, for I feel a deep burning pain in my side….”

        It’s probably withdrawal symptoms ?

      1. I’m afraid I’ve a somewhat egocentric repertoire – El Paso. Nellie the elephant and The Alphabet Song (“A you’re adorable… etc” – though I can never get past K)
        1. I seem to remember Morecambe and Wise having trouble too with the words of The Alphabet Song when Angela Rippon showed her legs and danced.
  24. Gawd ‘elp me Guv. Anovver DNF. Sammy’s dad? Never ‘eard of ‘im. Stood no chance of ever getting MOIETY, despite seeing the possibility of the ETY bit. Could not see ENTER either. Oh well. Thanks for the enlightenment V. A Bridge Too Far for me today.
  25. With a dodgy FIGHTING BACK chucked in because I couldn’t think of anything else.
    Main difficulty was the NW and needed help to complete. Toyed with BLACK TIE and BLACK DOG before getting MOIETY and then LOI SHIFT KEY. Needed to come here for the reason for ENTER Duh moment.
  26. 40m plus but I guessed the dissident press incorrectly so a DNF. Lots to enjoy in both puzzle and blog so thank you to the creators thereof. I guessed SLEEPY HOLLOW from the checkers but why ‘quiet part’ still not clear to me?
    1. I think this is a reference to the solitude of his fictional creation. As he puts it, ‘From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by name of Sleepy Hollow … A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.’
      1. Ah that makes it clearer. I have never read the book (nor any other by him). Thank you.
  27. Nice puzzle, with Adam’s Ale my favourite among many contenders. Samzidat was vaguely familiar, but Moiety beat me – after cheating and stopping the clock I realized I had heard it before. 4d reminded me that I need to finish off Knickerbocker’s History, which I began back at the beginning of lockdown.
  28. Sleepy hollow … I parsed it as vacation = hol, and quiet = low. Rather than hollow = experienced vacation, which I don’t understand.

    All others fine. Eton wall game was first one in … clue screams anagram.

    1. If something has undergone (experienced) vacation, then it is hollow. ‘Hol’ isn’t actually a word (only hols) and your parsing would also not account for the ‘in’ in ‘in quiet’, I feel.
      1. That’s clearly the wrong parsing so your excellent time doesn’t really count. What a pity. 😉
  29. Phew! A great workout. Happy to finish all green under the hour at 48’53”. LOI the hidden L-Drivers, despite thinking ” we haven’t had a hidden yet” several times during the ordeal, and reminding myself that there doesn’t have to be one. I had considered L-PLATERS. Not a PDM to finally see the answer, more a sinking feeling.
    Many candidates for COD, but special mention goes to NESSIE and EL-PASO.
  30. Went for the wrong spelling on 7d (NHO) to spoil what would have been a respectable 23-odd minutes. Ingenious and highly rewarding throughout.
  31. Tough but enjoyable.

    SAMIZDAT recalled from studying A-level Russian nearly 40 years ago. Not heard of it since.

    JASPER vaguely remembered as meaning something. MOIETY a complete guess from wordplay with all checkers in.

  32. Super puzzle but 7d really took the shine off. I allowed myself the luxury of checking before submitting on that one.
  33. I am currently reading Trollope and remembered this word from The Warden. The puzzle was much too difficult for me, but I’m enjoying the blog. David

    “Abel Handy, who was the leader of the aspirants after wealth, had, alas, a stronger following. No less than five of the twelve soon believed that his views were just, making with their leader a moiety of the hospital. The other three, volatile unstable minds, vacillated between the two chieftains, now led away by the hope of gold, now anxious to propitiate the powers that still existed.”

  34. Skirt hem – well they can go up or down, can’t they? That was a real stinker, and all the better for it.
  35. JAMMY is used frequently at Altrincham FC by those of us of a certain age who don’t appreciate the undeserved and lucky goal an opposing player has just scored. The nouns which follow it are uniformly unsuitable for this forum.
  36. ….ADAM’S ALE is much inferior to Adnam’s Ales.

    An excellent puzzle, despite SAMIZDAT, where I wrote out the anagrist, and a very faint tinkling sound became audible. Couldn’t have defined it though. My slowest for some time, but delighted to break 15 minutes.

    LOI GYMNASIUM (on this occasion I’ll forgive the link)
    TIME 14:51

  37. This took me two visits and well over an hour in total. I was very slow with the Shift Key/Moiety crossing and the El Paso/Pumps crossing. (I was trying to make sense of Ex Pats).
    I agree that this was a cracking puzzle which gave me a warm feeling on eventual completion.
  38. What a wonderful puzzle. I fell asleep starting it late last night (Verlaine time) and finished it this morning. LOI was FIGHTING TALK, which took far too long for me to think of putting GHT in the middle. I had no problem with SAMIZDAT so I’m surprised it caused so much grief. Never heard of MOIETY but the wordplay was clear.
  39. DNF in 39 minutes. A real toughie. I had to turn every clue upside down and inside out twice over before anything fell out. Ultimately let myself down on LOI fighting back instead of talk. A case of being so deep in the forest that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
  40. Well, I finished, but it took an hour and a half. But it was truly a superb puzzle, with no bad or boring clues in it. I thought everyone knew SAMIZDAT (and the wordplay gives you that spelling), but maybe just everyone my age knows SAMIZDAT. What I did not know, but got from wordplay, were JAMMIEST, JASPER, ETON WALL GAME, ADAM’S ALE and actually UP STICKS (first I tried to put in UP STAKES). LOI was L-DRIVER, very good, but BEATRICE and FIGHTING TALK were wonderful, too. Congratulations and thanks to the setter.
  41. Needed aids here and there (Samizdat?) to keep things moving, but undone at the end with what I thought was a very plausible Smart Key at 9ac. No real loss, because the unknown Moiety would have been beyond me as well. Invariant
  42. Hard work today, for a really enjoyable puzzle. But I retreated defeated with two still to do in the North West quarter after an hour and fifteen minutes. The crossing 1dn JASPER and 12ac ENTER. Getting either would have given me the other. And both seem perfectly doable now that I’ve seen the solutions, if you see what I mean. I liked NESSIE and TELEPHOTO and all the others.

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