Times 28,373: I Sukkot Solving

ETA: There is a Nina in here which I hadn’t noticed at all until pointed out to me! Check out columns 1, 3, 6 and 12.

A good ‘un, this, that kept me thinking pretty hard throughout, as can be seen in this (woefully misnamed) video solve. Very obviously a pangram by the end, and containing some really great vocabulary as you’d expect from such.

I loved the classicist-pandering clues 11ac, 16ac, 2dn et al (infinitives are of course a Latinist’s very meat and drink) but COD to my LOI 12ac: I love these clues where you have to make alterations even at the subatomic (subliteral?) level, but I don’t think you often see them outside of the no-holds-barred sandbox of the Monthly Club Special.

A tip of the hat and my thanks to the setter.

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 One for suppressing reports on driving? (8)
SILENCER – cryptic definition, where reports are noises and “on driving” means “after starting to drive a car”.
9 Plant continually in a rich soil, mostly (4,4)
10 Skinned seabird, unknown one, shown in international gallery (6)
UFFIZI – {p}UFFI{n} + Z + I
11 Pass over question one in no-good sullen seminar (10)
COLLOQUIUM – COL + O(ver) QU(estion) I in {g}LUM
12 Republic once putting an extra bar on fuel? (4)
EIRE – take FIRE [fuel] and add an extra “bar” or pen-stroke to the first letter
13 Exam nerves not right — almost pulled out (6-4)
16 Fury in district, stone being taken back (7)
MEGAERA – AREA GEM, reversed. Dreadful sister of Alecto and Tisiphone
17 Nearly opening wee dram, perhaps later today (7)
TONIGHT – NIGH “opening” TOT
20 Spencer changing amateur film script (10)
22 Green card withdrawn — complaint is included (4)
ACNE – hidden reversed in {gre}EN CA{rd}
23 Albert and 22 rebuilt tent (10)
25 Come forward, turning over tools heartlessly? (4,2)
STEP UP – reversed PUP{p}ETS
26 Finally fix digital attachment that’s not working (4,4)
NAIL DOWN – NAIL [attachment to a digit] + DOWN [not working, e.g. the internet]
27 Learned study in wordplay, say, rejected (6,2)
GENNED UP – DEN in PUN E.G., the whole reversed
2 Absolute verbal form with one verse released (8)
3 Secrete via worming gut (10)
4 Where you’d find many layers of yellow on drive (7,3)
CHICKEN RUN – CHICKEN [= cowardly = yellow] on RUN [drive]. Layers = those who lay = hens
5 At last, Manchester United revived (7)
RALLIED – {mancheste}R + ALLIED
6 Jack entering low spell (4)
MOJO – J entering MOO
7 Servant marks refusal to doff cap (6)
8 Police seizing weapons used for bagging old animal (8)
MARMOSET – MET “seizing” ARMS “bagging” O
14 Pioneers waving around axes stick together with this? (5,5)
15 Busy magazine (7,3)
PRIVATE EYE – double def. I always thought a busy/bizzie was a copper, but Chambers has busy as “a detective” and bizzie as “a policeman”, so maybe there’s a difference?
16 Expect regular fare in these? (4-4)
MESS-TINS – cryptic def, hinging on the fact that “regular” can mean “soldier”
18 Respect, for the most part, still short inside capital (8)
HONOLULU – HONOU{r} with LUL{l} inside
19 Cutting surreptitious chant on the radio (7)
SLICING – homophone of SLY SING [surreptitious | chant]
21 Rod served up a little waffle or bun (6)
RABBIT – reversed BAR [rod] + BIT [a little]. To gab on, and also, a bun(ny)
24 Extremely noble knight supporting Round Table member? (4)
NEON – N{oble} + N [knight] supporting O [round]

83 comments on “Times 28,373: I Sukkot Solving”

  1. All finished in 30 minutes except the Fury. I even parsed the Ikean EIRE without recourse to an allen key.

    1. A tough solve for me today, as my wing-man is sunning himself in France. Admitted defeat with a smattering of omissions, and one I didn’t get was 12ac. Somewhat (very in fact) aggrieved at the fact that Eire is still very much a Republic, and is a dual-official name of both the island of Ireland, and the 26 county state that makes up the majority of it. That, and the fact that I only had the ‘I’ checker meant that I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to fit ‘oil’ into the answer.

  2. 48 minutes but very pleased to finish without resorting to aids. MEGAERA was the only unknown but I spotted the wordplay without too much difficulty. I knew immediately what sort of Fury was being referred to, I just never memorised their names. I was also pleased to spot the wordplay in EIRE as that sort of trick had caught me out before and I learned here quite recently that EIRE is an obsolete name for the Republic of Ireland, hence ‘former’ in the definition’.

    1. Wikipedia doesn’t seem to suggest it’s obsolete, even saying “From January 2007, the Irish Government nameplates at meetings of the European Union have borne both Éire and Ireland, following the adoption of Irish as a working language of the European Union.”

      1. Obsolete as official name perhaps? Collins says it was official 1937-1949. I’m not a great one for signalling historical names, abbreviations etc anyway as the fact they once existed should be sufficient for most cryptic crossword purposes.

        1. Issued by the Irish Government, all of their postage stamps still carry the single word EIRE. So, Jack, I would argue that it’s hardly obsolete! And that’s official. Meldrew

        2. Rather late to the discussion but surely the EIRE clue isn’t suggesting the name is obsolete. Isn’t it just that you get the name of the republic once you put an extra bar on FIRE.

    2. Éire is not obsolete, it’s hibernating. True, people tend not to use it, but it’s the name in the Irish Constitution. One of the reasons why it fell out of use is that Éire being the Gaelic name for the entire island of Ireland, to use it thus would be a misnomer in the absence of the Six Counties, and a slur on the romantic vision. When reunification takes place, the term Éire will become ‘un-obsolete’.

  3. Yes, very chewy. And juicy.
    ELEVEN-PLUS was a guess.
    I knew SILENCER only as related to firearms (being an American, of course…)
    EIRE is amazing.

  4. A frustrating experience, overall, and a DNF. Struggled to get much in the first ten minutes, rallied for the bottom half and had everything but 12a done by the 45 minute mark. Another ten minutes staring at the apparent hundreds of possibilities available at 12a and I threw in the towel. It didn’t help that I was trying to think of an old republic, not one that I thought was still current.

  5. A really most pleasing pangram
    With Scottish allusion (“wee dram”)
    “Skinned” seabird! O setter!!
    “Wingless” might’ve been better
    But a contented RABBIT I am

  6. Why did I laugh Tonight? No voice will tell …

    After 25 mins pre-brekker I was left with 1ac. Then I changed Definite to Infinite and all became clear.
    Thanks setter and V.

  7. It had to happen. From happy (smug?) satisfaction of sub 15 mins yesterday to feeling like a novice with only half a dozen answers and struggling even with the blog to parse some of these, many of which I would NEVER get in a million years, I’m back to the back of class, staring out of the window and throwing bits of chewed up paper on to the ceiling.

    Thanks (of a sort) setter and thanks Verlaine.

    Never seen the “extra bar” mechanic but very clever, will look out for it again.

    Love the parsing of PIONEERS but would not have spotted the graph over chopper misdirection of “axes” -chapeau to setter.

    Admire but never would have got SLICING.

    MAGAERA and COLLOQUIUM new to me

    TABERNACLE too old for me

    Double reduction for HONOLULU too (two?) reductive for me.

    Heading to the proverbial bike sheds for a proverbial fag.

  8. Tough, but no holdups so a reasonable time. Wrote in NHO MEGAERA confidently with just the M in place, and had no need to revisit it. Enjoyable puzzle, tough clues and vocabulary but clear once you work them out. And surprisingly only two NHOs, the other GENNED UP. Too many good clues to pick a COD , but I liked ALOE VERA, TONIGHT, COLLOQUIUM, CHICKEN RUN amongst others.

  9. We have the technology …we can rebuild her! Back from a second successful cataract op, I checked the mirror and, using my bionically-enhanced eyesight, noticed a distinct resemblance to my personal heroine – Lindsay Wagner. Consequently, I approached this puzzle expecting a bionic level of supercharged solving performance…

    …only to find that my standard-issue organic brain is still a model of mediocrity – oh well. Even so, I have to say this went very well for me. After a snail’s-pace start (FOI STEP UP) I was filled with gloom at the apparent certainty of a miserable not-even-halfway-there DNF. But after about 20 minutes, I suddenly found myself in the zone and enjoying this tremendously. Rather a lot of guessing answers from checkers and enumeration – but hey, if I get the big green ticks, I’m not complaining.

    Final 6 or 7 minutes were spent in the NW, where I needed to correct DEFINITE before getting SILENCER, after which I was toying with the idea of guessing EIRE when I actually solved it properly! 38:21 for a properly Friday-ish grid is probably one of my best-ever performances – thanks V and setter.

    1. Congratulations on your second successful cataract op and on your celebratory(?) solving performance.

  10. After yesterdays breeze I’m back to struggling at 49 mins
    Didn’t get 16a and couldn’t parse 12a and 19d

  11. 29:00
    Slow but unsteady, but somehow made it. Some DNKs helped keep the slowness going: DNK the ‘driving’ part of SILENCER, DNK RABBIT, DNK LOI GENNED UP. Thought of TABERNACLE from Albert, but hadn’t yet got ACNE, so had to hold off; ACNE being a hidden, that was a long time holding off. Biffed ALOE VERA, never parsed it–forgot ‘loam’– COLLOQUIUM, 11-PLUS, STEP UP, parsed them post-submission. I thought of EIRE once I had the I–it couldn’t have been FIJI–I was impressed by the clue, but I’m not sure I want to see another like that. But all in all a puzzle fit for Friday.

  12. Liked this one, properly chewy for a Friday, I thought.
    Had forgotten that a tabernacle was a tent not just where Mormons hang out. Had forgotten that Eire is a thing of the past.
    COD aloe vera, which made me think of its sister plant aloe saila.

  13. 49m 22s
    A good test. COD to MEGAERA. A lightbulb moment told me what sort of fury we were dealing with. Somewhere I have a somewhat non-academic book on Greek mythology. In it the Furies are described, when they are “on a case”, as being dressed in short black skirts and thigh-length boots! I can picture that!
    Fortunately I remembered seeing the “extra bar” ploy once before so EIRE fell into place quickly.
    Thanks, verlaine, for ACNE (which I didn’t spot), COLLOQUIUM and NEON.
    My one meh is PRIVATE EYE for ‘busy’. I still think it’s a stretch to apply it to a private detective. Lexico has both ‘busy’ and ‘bizzy’ as ‘British informal’ for a police officer.

  14. 35 minutes including 15 minutes in the south-west before taking the plunge with MEGAERA. MESS TINS and LOI NAIL DOWN quickly followed. I too had DEFINITE before INFINITE. COD to the UFFIZZI. Thank you V and setter.

  15. 20:23. I was surprised when I submitted that this had taken me as long as it had done. I think this is because like Verlaine and isla3 mentioned it required a lot of thought, and yet at no point did I spend time feeling completely stumped. I particularly liked the surface of “At last, Manchester United revived”, both for its smoothness and its topicality. (Even though they haven’t revived yet. Will they ever?).
    Verlaine – you have a full stop in place of a comma in the puzzle number which is preventing the SNITCH linking to the blog.

    1. Obliged, now corrected! And I’ve also edited the blog to alert people of the Nina.

      1. Can you be more explicit please? I’m looking at the columns and not seeing a thing 🤔

  16. 17:35

    This was one of those puzzles that seemed as if it was going to be impossible at first, but a few checking letters here and there and an appreciation of the setter’s mindset gradually reduced the opacity.

    I was pleased that trying to get some sort of handle on the names of the various furies, graces, muses and fates finally paid off. Like Myrtilus I initially had DEFINITE at 2d but solving SILENCER fixed it.

    The unknown but eminently feasible COLLOQUIUM was carefully pieced together from wordplay and I had to take on trust that TABERNACLE was a tent (I did wonder if the answer was going to be a wine).

    Thanks all round

    I was delighted to see that the wombling neutrino posted a time of 2:16 with an error. Take that.

  17. 34 minutes. I had also seen the ‘extra bar’ trick at 12a before so didn’t have as much trouble as I otherwise would have. I’m another who bunged in DEFINITE for 2d before reading the clue more carefully. Favourite was the ‘Table member’ for NEON.

    As a non-classicist, I didn’t know MEGAERA; I’ll now try to remember the other two Furies for future reference and not mix them up with the goddesses of Fate. Some hope.

    1. Ah, well, the Fates are CLOTHO, ATROPOS and LACHESIS you see. (I can’t tell you all the three Graces, but I think one of them might be AGLAEA.)

      1. Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia . In Dostoevsky’s The Idiot there are three sisters Aglaea, Alexandra, and Adelaida who I always thought might have been named as a nod to the Greek graces . The Russian ladies are presented as very beautiful ,graceful/gracious ,as well as accomplished.

        1. Is Thalia the Muse the same Thalia as Thalia the Grace? The most hardworking demigoddess in Greek mythology if so.

          1. Well it seems there is also Thalia the Nereid and Thalia the Nymph. The Grace and Muse Thalias are both Zeus’ daughters( with different mothers) while Nereid Thalia is the daughter of Nereus and Doris . Nymph Thalia is Hephaestus’ daughter. Thalia the name seems to come from a verb meaning ” green and flourishing” so would be an apt name for life-enhancing deities. As a student I used to know those lists of Greek Muses, Graces, Furies etc but I never noticed Thalia popped up on two of them!

  18. We call them ‘mufflers’ on cars, and thought everyone did the world over. Nho SILENCER in this context….but it went in anyway.
    I also found LOI EIRE a bit mystifying, and hesitated for some time before entering it with a shrug, fully expecting the pink kiss of death. I thought the name was still current, like others above, and is FIRE equivalent to FUEL, whether as a noun or a verb?

    1. I had the same misgivings over fire, but I’ve just checked Chambers and it has fuel among the list of definitions for both the noun and the verb.

    2. Possibly as in”His answer fueled my anger” or ” His answer fired my anger”.

  19. 38 mins, with only one blank – the wretched EIRE, which I certainly would never have got, the ‘extra bar’ device being a new one for me. All of this very enjoyable and just the right amount of challenge. Liked COLLOQUIUM, MEGAERA and EPOXY RESIN.

  20. EIRE whacked in just on the hour. Phew. The « extra bar » going completely over my head, which is odd, because it’s usually my head going over the bar!

    V glad to finish as at one point I nearly gave up with several left to do. Eventually dug up MEGAERA (I won’t forget her again) then MESS TINS and TABERNACLE fell in. Last two in RALLIED and COLLOQUIUM. Not a word I’m familiar with but I finally worked it out. I liked UFFIZI and CHICKEN RUN.

    Thanks V and setter.

  21. 35:15

    Slowish start, after which the answers came in pleasing chunks. I’ll admit that I did check the spelling of COLLOQUIUM before submitting – I’d heard of the word, but wouldn’t have thought how to spell it before.

    MEGAERA a reasonable guess too, given the checkers – note to self: learn furies, graces and muses.

    It’s been a good week… might have to think about revising those target times based on the Snitch.

  22. Never understood EIRE, but entered it because it could be little else. MEGAERA was a hopeful guess, since I resorted to looking up the Furies and was given Megara. Had never heard of COLLOQUIUM but also guessed that. 45 minutes.

  23. FOI was MOJO and LOsI EIRE and MEGAERA. I struggled mightily with EIRE and MEGAERA as I’d managed to mistype EVICERATEE and had the wrong crossers. I’d actually typed in MEG_T_R_ and was trying to fit a backwards area into it, but finally decided to look up the names of the Furies at which point my typo became clear. That led to EIRE, which I also thought was a current name. I realised what the extra bar was getting at but didn’t actually see where it went. Liked UFFIZI, my second entry if I remember correctly. 38:28. Thanks setter and V.

  24. So I was far from the only one starting off with “definite” at 2d. And I join Kevin and Guy in thinking of a SILENCER only in relation to firearms so I was mystified by the “driving” reference. Completely failed to see how EIRE worked. UFFIZI was very nice as was EPOXY RESIN. Not a whiff of a wavelength but got there finally at 24.33.

    1. I too associated silencers only with firearms. You live in America for a few years, and this is what happens, clearly.

  25. Far too pleased with myself with sub 20 minutes for a Friday, only to come a cropper with MESS TENT for 16 down. Didn’t spot that it needed to be a plural… Doh.

  26. 34.27 not spectacular but as with other commenters, very pleased to have finished. LOI was Eire without being parsed, so highly delighted to see I was correct. DNK Megaera but the cluing was – eventually- clear.

    A good puzzle all round so thanks setter and blogger of course.

  27. V slow. Thought 1a SILENCER v weak, and of course an extra hurdle for the US cousins. 16d MESS TINS was a bit weak too, toyed with MESS KITS.
    Totally failed to parse 9a Aloe Vera, but just shrugged. Now I see it, COD.
    Liked 27a GENNED UP when I eventually parsed it.
    Missed the “bun” part of 21d RABBIT. Doh!
    5d RALLIED took forever to see (LOI.)

  28. DNF. Pretty much gave up after 50 mins hard slog and looked up 1ac, had no idea what silencer had to do with driving. I had one wrong in any event, fire instead of Eire, was looking at the wrong end for the definition and hoping that an extra bar might somehow mean moving up the musical scale from E to F, more in hope that expectation.

  29. ÉIRE still appears on our stamps and coinage so the name is still current (it simply means ‘Ireland’ in Irish, the language the Brits call Gaelic) In the past the UK government refused to use the name Ireland because of its claim to the six counties in the North. With lessening of tensions between the two administrations it is now preferred to call it Ireland or the Republic of Ireland when speaking English. But we are still a republic, and still use the name Éire. But the official British term for the country has changed from Éire to Ireland and as this is a British crossword I suppose that’s OK.

  30. 41 mins. Book me in as another DEFINITE. I was so convinced that I went to my Scrabble check list for 1a, typed the relevant letters, and found nothing.
    I thought the whole point about PRIVATE EYES was that they weren’t policemen. MER….

  31. 30:21 and tickled pink to have completed this at all. Managed to grind out MEGAERA and EPOXY RESIN from the wordplay , UFFIZI, COLLOQUIUM, and HONOLULU were”enter first, parse later” TABERANCLE gave me ACNE which I had assumed would be VISA. EIRE the last one in with a sigh of relief (though I agree with Justinwestcork above).

    Cracking entertainment all round. Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

  32. 12:29, a puzzle which definitely required some thought, not least for my last one in, inevitably EIRE (I, too, have seen that device before but took a while to put everything together)

  33. DNF on the half hour

    Lots of nice clues but if Eire isn’t an old Republic that is a pretty bad mistake imho. But I can blame those two letters being the cause of my DNF. 👍 🙂 Considered FIRE and the momble OILE (I know but it might have been some Classical Republic and e might have been an abbreviation for extra) but neither seemed vaguely possible to fit the clue. Didnt even think of considering “current” Republics. Would have been COD with “once” removed but I guess if it technically is old Republic there would have been moans the other way

    Thanks V and setter

    1. Ignorance can be your friend. I remembered a similar discussion recently – past few years – about the name of Eire/Irish Republic changing, something being no longer valid. Perhaps. So no idea what Ireland is called, but it didn’t matter, Eire was just about a write in. But LOI after INFINITE (I’m an engineer/mathematician so infinite has a specific meaning, and absolute aint it), whole NW was last, and ?I?E is the second-worst four letter combination after ?A?E.

      1. As nounal def 2 for INFINITE my Chambers app has “The Absolute, the infinite Being or God”

    2. See David’s comment above: the clue is only republic; once is part of the wordplay – once you put on the extra bar…

  34. 12’10”

    This is bizarre: yesterday I plodded home in 16’10” for a puzzle everyone else found easy; today I whizzed home in twelve minutes for a WITCH of 59! If ever was there an instance of being on the setter’s wavelength, this was it. It just seemed that every solution was the first possible word I considered.

    Favourite clues: EIRE (very cunning) and MEGAERA (had to be careful to use the Latinized ae rather than original ai). Always nice to see a Greek word, which incidentally derives from a verb meaning ‘resent, begrudge’.

  35. Hard but fair, done in 40 minutes while watching the English cricket team crumble to a heavy loss. I’ve ranted before in this space about EIRE, but I’ll excuse the setter as he (probably rightly) added the “once” qualification. The Irish for Republic of Ireland is Poblacht na hÉireann, not Eire, but there’s not room for all that on the stamps.
    Thanks for explaining ELEVEN PLUS and HONOLULU, Verlaine, I biffed them.

  36. I didn’t find this hard at all until my LOI MEGAERA. I knew it was the name of one of the Furies and I knew I didn’t know it…but the wordplay was generous so I was fairly confident. Like everyone else, I was surprised EIRE is no longer current, although it seems that is perhaps wrong. Once I saw how the extra bar worked, I knew it was correct (although I don’t think I could fit anything else anyway).

  37. 1, 3, 6 and 12?


    What am I missing?

    1. Took me ages, and not relevant unless you are a Private Eye reader, but, as V points out in response to someone else, hidden in those down clues are the letters that make up SUE, GRABBIT and RUNNE, the non-existent law firm invented by the satirical magazine PRIVATE EYE when commenting on legal representations for dodgy or perniciously litigious clients.

      1. Thanks! I transcribed the columns very imperfectly above (corrected), but wouldn’t have gotten the Private Eye reference anyway. I did see SUE ME! Ha.

        1. If you didn’t enjoy the Nina, I think you have been given explicit permission to sue the setter, yes. (I even know who they are for once!)

  38. Can someone please explain what on earth a Nina is? As I saw the reference I scanned the columns hopefully without success, and was hoping for an insight later in the blog but answer came there none!

    1. A NINA is a phrase or pattern of words hidden in a crossword grid, named after cartoonist Al Hirshfeld’s habit of hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in his drawings.

      I can’t help you with what V. is seeing here. Maybe he posted that to the wrong puzzle (he does blog a lot).

  39. Been out for the day so late to it- pleased to have finished with mess-tins with fingers crossed
    So a complete week bar a 1 letter slip on Wednesday- that’s as good as it gets!
    Thanks for pointing out the Nina too- sue grabbit and runne – very good- never read the eye so was never going to see it
    Thanks blogger and setter

  40. Got to Saturday morning, and liked it a lot. I think David ch is right that the Eire. Lue is only the one word republic, and the once is instruction in 5he wordplay. I liked Step Up

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