Times 27943 – The devil, you say?

Time: 21 minutes
Music: Elgar, Enigma Variations, Boult/LSO.

Not so easy a Monday, for a change.   I made a decent time only because I biffed like mad, and only used the cryptics when needed.   This setter used a lot of wordy and indirect literals, as you often find in Mephisto and puzzles like that.   I did have a little trouble finishing, though, but then I saw how my LOI worked and finished.   I suspect many beginners would be rather baffled by some of the indirection here, and there are very few chestnuts or obvious anagrams.

1 Clinging drunk associated with southern family (9)
SKINTIGHT – S KIN + TIGHT, where the trick is to get the elements in the right order.
6 In leading clubs one creates talking point (5)
TOPIC – TOP(I)C, not exactly, but close.
9 Fugitive taking cover inside English diocese (7)
10 We are not starting marathon soon (7)
11 Monkey we might catch in this American city (5)
TAMPA – Sounds like TAMPER – I nearly biffed Tempe.
12 Nuclear scientist appearing as NHS boiler explodes (5,4)
13 Having ducks in horses area causes commotion (3-2)
HOO-HA – H(O,O)H + A, a simple single-letter charade.
14 Two possible newspapers coming round see church feature (5,4)
ORGAN LOFT –  ORGAN (LO) FT, newspapers you often see in cryptic clues.
17 Great soldier cross when entering a famous rowing club (9)
ALEXANDER – A LE(X)ANDER,.   The real Leander was a swimmer, not a rower, but the name of the club is easy to guess if you don’t know it.
18 Husband involved in manoeuvre for some time (5)
19 Hulk perhaps has delightful woman round (9)
22 Irish breaking step in skating competition (5)
24 Bridewell one that would do for Dickens? (3,4)
OLD NICK –  Double definition, the first merely descriptive.
25 Letter attached to old poem about Dubai for example (7)
EMIRATE – ETA + RIME backwards.
26 Rugby man and Lisle the worse for wear (5)
ELLIS – ELLIS, the obvious answer, but who?   Research reveals the answer: William Webb Ellis.
27 Grouse put on pan makes for traditional fare (5,4)
ROAST BEEF – ROAST + BEEF, in various senses.
1 Piano, delivered outside, provides beat (5)
2 Hassle as government department cuts pay (9)
3 Boss to lead with article, followed by stories (3,6)
TOP BANANA – TO + PB + AN + ANA.  Instinctively, you’ll think to lead = top, but that’s not it – back to chemistry class.
4 One knocking forest spirits? (5,10)
GREEN WOODPECKER – GREENWOOD + PECKER.   The UK had to hurriedly revise their slang when the GIs showed up.
5 Gay musical in which George Best playing with a harp (3,7,5)
THE BEGGARS OPERA –  Anagram of GEORGE BEST + A HARP, a musical entertainment by John Gay.
6 Something of a shock — tension initially relieved (5)
TRESS –  [s]TRESS, cleverly clued as not the whole shock.
7 Nothing to add to concert advertisement (5)
8 Deceptively great in name, one serving drag performer? (9)
CIGARETTE – CI(anagram of GREAT)TE, with an elaborate bit of misdirection for the literal.
13 Makes tracks for Tyneside region, passing information on here? (9)
HEADSTONE – HEADS TO NE, another clever literal.
15 Times for one on this recent run (9)
NEWSPRINT – NEW SPRINT, where unwary biffers will put newspaper.
16 Start to speak pompously having necked one drink (9)
20 Reported deal in work with press from Oxford? (5)
PEDAL –  Sounds like PEDDLE, with another tricky literal.   Not the OUP, but the shoe.
21 Hawk-headed god exists to save lake birds (5)
RAILS – RA + I(L)S.    I can’t keep my Egyptian gods straight, and nearly biffed Horus.
23 Book-keeper making flesh creep (5)
SHELF – Anagram of FLESH, with more good indirection.

51 comments on “Times 27943 – The devil, you say?”

  1. Yes, I biffed quite a few, too, then had to wait for vinyl’s blog to get the lowdown.
    Thanks for TAMPA, TOP BANANA and EMIRATE, vinyl!
    In 3d I wondered about equating ‘lead’ with Personal Best, then the pfennig dropped!
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen George Best used in a crossword before inside or outside an anagram!

    Edited at 2021-04-05 03:53 am (UTC)

  2. 27 minutes. No problems apart from not knowing the rugby player. I’ve heard the story about the invention of the game but if I’ve come across the name of the schoolboy involved, it didn’t register.
  3. Some good defs, as pointed out. I was ready to put in ‘Tulsa’ for the American city, until rescued by the crossers and had difficulty with the seemingly innocuous ‘soon’ def for 10a. All parsed except for the NHO writer of THE BEGGARS OPERA.

    Plenty to enjoy in a 33 minute solve.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  4. Needed to biff the unknowns (obscurities for us poor old non-UKers): Bridewell, Green Wood, Pecker, Leander, Gay (I was trying to remember the French or English for the play/movie/musical: Cage aux Folies). Then reverse-engineer the clue to guess the obscurity.
    Bridewell probably seen before? sTress certainly seen before to the point of chestnut, though I’d say a shock was very short and sharp, while stress is prolonged. Otherwise interesting and tricky, with some nice off-centre definitions. What more could you ask for.

    Edited at 2021-04-05 05:03 am (UTC)

  5. Another of my patented biff-and-forget numbers: flung in ORGAN POST (well, the Washington Post is a newspaper, albeit not one likely to be in a Times puzzle) intending to come back and work it out, and of course didn’t. DNK the rowing club, but assumed its existence (Leander didn’t quite make it as a swimmer, either; he should have tried rowing). I started to write down the anagrist for 5d, but then ‘Gay opera’ finally registered and I biffed it; no need to come back to this one.
  6. …Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked Originmarmaladeate.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  7. 17 minutes with LOI PAIRS, and with EMIRATE unparsed. COD to HEADSTONE, much as I would have liked to give it to NIELS BOHR. William Webb Ellis was well known to me as the guy who was crap at football. A really fun puzzle, with perhaps one or two clues over-contrived, PEDAL particularly. Thank you V and setter.

    Edited at 2021-04-05 07:26 am (UTC)

    1. It is obligatory amongst my football friends to shout “Handball!” whenever William Webb Ellis’s name crops up.
  8. Really liked OLD NICK, my LOI. 24 hours from Tulsa didn’t fit. Under the Greenwood Tree is a Hardy novel. COD to TOP BANANA.

    Wishing everyone a blessed Easter.

    22′, thanks vinyl and setter.

  9. A HOOHA WHILE birds come in PAIRS
    ERELONG this poor poet despairs
    SHELF my clue of the day
    And NIELS BOHR’s in a play
    Called “Copenhagen” if anyone cares
  10. 11:27 Stuck at the end by TAMPA and SPENT for a while, otherwise fairly plain sailing. I liked the “passing information on here” definition and the neat SHELF best.
  11. I got stuck on 16D, having biffed “epistle” at 25A. I hope I’m not alone.
  12. I enjoyed this offering, though it taxed me more than the majority, it seems: 22.36. I couldn’t get a grip on the top left corner, SKINTIGHT being one of at least two in the grid where the word order was (not improperly, of course) reversed.
    I rather desperately put in ROBIN GOODFELLOW for 4d based on forest spirit(s) and not much else: it didn’t help in that it prompted several crossing clues.
    Book-keeper and passing information both made me smile. and the intensely surreal image of that gay dog George Best playing the harp was blissful.
    Top marks to setter, and well done everyone else for finding it easier than I.
  13. A top class crossword this, very fine.. many thanks, setter!
    the gay musical at 5dn gets my COD vote for the brilliant anagram. Lots of other good stuff too .. passing information, Niels Bohr for example.
    Never understood how Webb Ellis so got away with cheating. At my school I would have got a sending-off and a clip round the ear for doing something like that..
  14. I struggled with this one, coming in just under the hour. For a long time I had most of the upper half blank (my FOI being Ellis). I knew The rugbyman from the Webb Ellis Cup. Eventually a number of clues were bunged in and I came here to be enlightened by one of our esteemed bloggers. COD TOP BANANA. The clue for 8d was very clever. Happy Easter.

    Thank you Vinyl and setter.

  15. Am I overthinking or is there a third element to 20 down? 1. Sounds like peddle. 2 Anagram of deal and p 3 Press from Oxford ( shoe?)
    1. I think the short answer is yes! It makes one of the words (deal) do double duty, and the P comes out of nowhere as far as I can see. But (over) thinking is good!
  16. A stodgy 15.50 with a few stutters along the way. FOI tress, LOI headstone- having latched on to headlines for too long.

    Probably organ loft my COD but also liked Ellis. A real kick self moment when that finally dawned.

  17. 9:52, but with a couple of the dreaded pink squares. I somehow thought the clue at 14ac read ‘coming round to see’, so I put the newspaper (FT) around ON (to) to create an ORGAN FONT, which could easily have been a church feature as far as I was concerned. Must engage brain.
    I have heard of William Webb Ellis, mostly because of the cup I think, but I didn’t make the connection while solving.
    1. William Webb Ellis supposedly invented Rugby whilst a pupil at the school of that name. His grave can be found in a Menton cemetery with a fine view overlooking the Mediterranean. He has probably turned in it several times recently.
  18. In the teeth of our Easter blizzard here in Orkney (which looks more like the Antarctic today) I join others in doffing my cap to this witty and tricksy setter. I was slower than normal but enjoyed every minute with some laugh out loud moments from the brilliant literals (passing information on here, Gay musical, something of a shock and more). Thank you classy setter and V for the excellent blog as always.
    1. Ana: Chambers has “A collection of someone’s table talk or of gossip, literary anecdotes or possessions”. I don’t recall anyone using it for real, but it comes up often in crosswords.

      Pecker: Chambers has definition 5: Spirit, resolve, humour (as if orig beak, nose, as in keep your pecker up; informal). Definition 6 is the US slang term that V refers to in the blog

  19. I came on here in the hope that someone would have explained why spent = beat in 1dn. Nobody has apparently, so clearly it wasn’t worth a mention and I’m being dim. Please could someone explain.
  20. On wavelength, and made good quick progress throughout. Admired succinct wordplay of INCOMMODE, and good to see LEAD = Pb for a change … Many thanks and Happy Easter to setter, blogger & solvers
  21. Hooray, Easter Monday! I’d temporarily forgotten that the UK has a couple of nice bank holidays that we don’t get (Boxing Day being the other one). So some extra puzzles to do. As others have said this was a highly entertaining one – the gay musical and the drag performer were very amusing. The setter was generous with the crossing letters for NIELS BOHR because I never remember what goes where otherwise. The only ELLISes I know are the island and Emily Bronte’s pen name but it wasn’t a hard guess. 15.18
  22. An enjoyable and tricky puzzle which I solved in 36:17. Sadly my proof read didn’t spot the typo. TOP BANABA. Drat! SPENT was FOI and PEDAL LOI. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  23. I was convinced that the scientist was Nils Boehr. I was equally convinced that the Gay musical was The Beggars Opera but had to prove it by writing out the anagrist. Then noticed that the clue gave (5,4) rather than (4,5). Doh! That then opened up the NE corner with which I had been struggling.
    Enjoyed this puzzle. Only one not parsed was 3dn because I fell into the trap of thinking to lead led to top. Thanks for the explanation.
    Especially liked the definition of 13dn.
    Thanks to Vinyl1 and setter.
  24. Good stuff. I liked Pedal and Headstone in particular. I’d never have heard of Niels Bohr if I hadn’t seen Michael Frayne’s play Copenhagen.

    Apparently Mr.Webb Ellis died in France, completely unaware that he had been credited with the invention of rugby.

  25. Well that was a surprise – finishing a puzzle at all is rare enough for me, let alone in not much more than average time, without googling and with no errors. Must have been on the wavelength. A grid that’s generous with starter letters always helps me. Had to take a punt on a couple, so thanks for the blog, though still not sure how Dickens squares with Old Nick. Norvic.
    1. dickens (uncountable)
      1) (euphemistic) The devil.
      She can go to the dickens for what she said.
      You scared the dickens out of me.
      2) In the phrase the dickens (Used as an intensifier).
      Why the dickens did he do that?
      3) We had the dickens of a row.
      1. Thanks. Actually it turned out it was the Old Nick meaning of devil of which I was totally ignorant, although I’m also more inclined to think of “What the Dickens?” as “What the Hell?”, rather than “What the Devil?”. The old prison and the rugby bloke were no problem though. Funny what one does and doesn’t know. Norvic.
  26. 19.44. A nice puzzle to work through this BH. I enjoyed the ‘passing information on here’ definition of headstone. Thanks for the parsing of emirate which passed (parsed?) me by. Strange coincidence but last night I listened to a radio production of Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen (mentioned by a couple of other commenters above already) which I had recorded some time ago. As a non-scientist it meant I got Niels Bohr much more quickly than I otherwise might have done.
  27. Had to look up ORGAN LOFT so technical DNF. Should have got it from cryptic too.
    Otherwise Mondayesque
  28. Amazingly I could get into the SNITCH even this late in the day!

    I raced through this one at first, but by the end I was really being put through my paces! The lower-left corner involved a lot of half-guessing on my part, and in the end I could only convince myself of PEDAL as “reported deal in work” (homophone of PETAL in a wooden design?) or “press from Oxford?” as Vinyl explained.

    In any case, a fine time for me, rescued by most of the puzzle being on the nose. Much thanks to Vinyl for all the explanations!

    PS. So Bridewell is an old prison?

  29. FOI was NIELS BOHR. I didn’t find this very hard, overall.

    The needlessly chopped up sentence fragment, “Gay musical in which George Best playing with a harp” irritated me greatly. It’s worse than the most elliptical New York Post headline, and would have been so easy to fix. You couldn’t do “George Best playing with a harp in gay musical,” of course, because you can’t uncap “Gay”; but “plays” works just as well as “playing,” no?

    The WOODPECKER was my POI (ORGAN LOFT last), and I realize now that I didn’t really parse it.

    Edited at 2021-04-05 03:05 pm (UTC)

    1. I agree ‘plays’ would have been better.

      Although it’s a point lost on most and probably the setter, as a nostalgia buff I enjoyed the clue as a reminder of another Gay who wrote musicals, namely Noel Gay (1888-1954) whose most famous work ‘Me and My Girl’ is often revived to this day. It’s otherwise remembered as the show that gave us ‘The Lambeth Walk’.

  30. Top half went in smoothly. Bottom half less so. Surprised SNITCH only 82 when I checked — this seemed harder while in progress, but looking back, I don’t know why it took longer than it perhaps should have.

    Didn’t know GREEN WOODPECKER as a specific bird and didn’t parse EMIRATE.

  31. is also a slightly premature batch of cider.

    FOI 12ac NIELS BOHR – my grandfather played football with him and brother Harald at Cambridge. How’s about that for name-dropping Jack!?

    LOI and COD 23dn SHELF!

    WOD ORGAN LOFT – as per Nicholson & Lord.

    Quantum of time: between 33 and 35 minutes.

    Edited at 2021-04-05 04:44 pm (UTC)

    1. If only it they’d played rugby, your anecdote would have been perfect for the occasion!
    2. He must have been a difficult man to mark, having to collapse the wave function to find out if he was there.
      My favourite Bohr:
      “No, no, you’re not thinking; you’re just being logical.”
      Would anybody but a physicist say that?
  32. 46:51 with several going in with fingers crossed, so thank you Vinyl for the blog. I know the pub in Twickenham called the William Webb Ellis; is that ninja turtling? Lots to like. COD to CIGARETTE, one of the tricky definitions
  33. As one of the beginners Vinyl1 kindly acknowledged, I can confirm that I found this one almost impossible, with only two answers – disappointing when Mondays are usually my do-able safe bet! Oh well…. Learning lots from your explanations, though, so onward and upward. Thank you.

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