Times 28083 – ‘ard as nails, guv’nor.

I’ll be interested to see if the SNITCH goes high today, as I found this really hard, to the point of being obtuse and obscure in places; solving was one problem, but explaining the gory details of some clues took me even longer and with three clues unfinished I needed checking aids to complete it. The physicist as FOI got me started. The O in 27a gave me a good clue to 18d, as ‘bounder’, but the surface needs you to realise that ‘tears’ means divides. I didn’t know the words at 10a, 11a 17a, or 8d (although guessable) and was surprised 7d was not hyphenated. Mazeltov is probably a write-in though if you’re into Jewish culture, but I’ve never had any exposure to it.
Still, after a few easy Wednesdays, it was good to have a Friday style toughie to work at, so thanks Mr Setter for the test.

1 Cream drunk with coffee’s filling (3-5)
OFF-WHITE – (WITH OFFE)* where OFFE is COFFEE’s filling. I’m not awfully keen on off-white to mean cream, but Mrs K says it’s fine with her.
9 Hope one’s somehow done with book — the novel I detest (8)
NEOPHOBE – (HOPE ONE B)*. Someone who hates new things / ideas.
10 From puzzle Learner to Victor: congratulations! (8)
MAZELTOV – MAZE (puzzle) L (learner) TO V (victor). I had no idea what was going on here, until I had the ending V, even then I am not into Jewish expressions and didn’t know it; it seems it is more often spelt as two words and literally means good luck, or congratulations.
11 Courts controversy, ultimately displaying guts all round (8)
INNYARDS – Y at the end of controversy goes into INNARDS = guts. An INNYARD is, not surprisingly, the yard of an inn; typically being referred to as places where plays took place in early times before playhouses came along. Hence “courts” as a definition.
12 Engaged in campaigning, as bail is set (2,3,5)
ON THE STUMP – in cricket, two bails are set balancing on the stumps, waiting for the likes of Jasprit Bumrah to knock them off all too often. The political meaning stems from days when impromptu speeches were made using a tree stump as a platform outdoors.
14 Oil rings going around on the water? (4)
OTTO – “on the water” here means abstaining from booze, hence TT: surround it with O O. We’ve seen the rose oil answer before, but not recently, I feel.
15 Ad hoc term for recent coalition government? Name to censure (7)
CONDEMN – Well I suppose a portmanteau term for Conservatives plus Lib Dems in coalition could be CON-DEM; add N for name.
17 Target to raise before retiring (7)
COCKSHY – another word I didn’t know. It’s a target in a throwing game, apparently. COCK can mean raise, as in cock one’s hat, and SHY meaning retiring.
21 African having quit ought to return at intervals (4)
HUTU – alternate letter in the words backwards, as above.
22 Foreign ref upset one pointing to the spot? (10)
FOREFINGER – (FOREIGN REF)*. I spent an age trying to think of what a foreign referee would be called.
23 Knock the beer back: easily one’s undoing? (8)
SLIPKNOT – all reversed; TONK (knock) PILS (beer). Tonk is not exactly the first word you think of for a synonym for knock, but the pils idea sets you on the way to the answer.
25 Couple quizzically raised one’s casually viewing broadcast (8)
EYEBROWS – sounds perhaps like “I BROWSE”, for one’s casually viewing.
26 Physicist’s brief fussily interrupting archdeacon (3,5)
VAN ALLEN – I biffed this once I had the first word as V-N. I think ANALL(Y) = brief fussily is inside VEN for archdeacon. I’d heard of the Van Allen belts in the atmosphere, which James Van Allen and others discovered, in 1958, but I knew nothing more about him until reading his Wiki pages today. He died in 2006 aged 91.
27 Disgrace to follow: put up with that (8)
DOGHOUSE – DOG = follow, HOUSE = put up, accommodate. I’m not convinced about this one either, you can’t be “in doghouse” like “in disgrace”, you need a THE before it.

2 Dance floor — let it be firm! (8)
FLAMENCO – Another biffed then deciphered. FL abbr. for floor, AMEN = let it be, CO = firm.
3 Base, centre for ironworks, was heaving (8)
WRETCHED – W the central letter of ironworks, RETCHED = was heaving.
4 Keen on local couple getting a hearing (4)
INTO – sounds like INN TWO, hence local (pub), couple.
5 Six slices no use, having turned green? (7)
ENVIOUS – (NO USE)* with VI inserted.
6 What a jury looks for out of hearing? (10)
SOUNDPROOF – well, a jury wants SOUND PROOF of guilt or innocence. Fair enough.
7 Authors with another set of neat procedures? (8)
COWRITES – I’d expect this to be hyphenated, but Collins doesn’t. COW RITES could be a set of procedures for cows or neats. Groan.
8 Catches heartless politician’s alternative take on past (8)
HERSTORY – HE(A)RS = catches heartless, TORY politician. Herstory is, of course, history told from a feminist or woman’s viewpoint. It’s a wrongly derived word IMO because HISTORY does not mean from HIS male viewpoint particulary, it comes from the Greek “istoria” and has nothing to do with his or hers.
13 Matches used when building is in flames? (10)
SEMIFINALS – (IS IN FLAMES)*. Easy when you see it, but took me another age.
15 Holding it together after upset is what fellow’s about (8)
COHESIVE – COVE is our fellow here, insert reversed IS EH (eh = what?). Yet another to decipher once answered.
16 Seed — not a bean from France — that’s primary source of sustenance (8)
NUTRIENT – NUT (seed) RIEN (French for nothing, when negative), T (primary letter of that’s).
18 Cockney’s shed tears to stun old bounder (8)
KANGAROO – I’m not totally Bobby Moore about this one; I think we have KO (stun) with ‘ANGAR inserted (Cockney for hangar = shed), then O for old on the end, for our bounder = kangaroo.
19 Parties of Americans do extensive gardening job in SE England? (8)
HOEDOWNS – the NORTH and SOUTH DOWNS feature in SE England, so hoeing them would be an extensive gardening job.  A hoedown in America is “a lively folk dancing party with hillbilly tunes on the fiddle”.
20 Where you’ll find LA: North Dakota? Not true! (7)
PRETEND – I’m not totally Bobby Moore about this one, either; the best I can come up with is LA being the note before TE in the Doh Re Mi scale, so “PRE-TE”, then ND for North Dakota.
24 Some work by British composer (4)
BERG – B (British) ERG (some work). I’ve tried to like Berg’s music, but it’s hard work, except maybe the violin concerto, his last work, when he was finally melding his diatonic method with dodecaphony.

55 comments on “Times 28083 – ‘ard as nails, guv’nor.”

  1. I agree this was hard, and I needed 39 minutes to complete it. I failed to parse the first part of PRETEND so thanks for that. I’m sure your explanation is correct. Can a bail be set on a stump? I think two are required.
    1. … and normally two bails are balanced on three stumps, so I think I let the setter off here.
    2. At close of play (or lunch/tea) you’ll see the umpire put all the bails on one stump each, so the clue is at least feasible.
  2. I went one better than Pip, requiring aids on 4 after more than an hour – the sciency bloke, being, of course, one of them.

    I thought this was a very good challenge, lots of fun to do and am secretly pleased not to complete, as my NITCH would have gone even further south…

    Congratulations to Jack on his Radacanuesque effort! Thanks too to Pip for the parsing of KANGAROO.

    The SNITCH is currently standing at 185, it will undoubtedly come down (as it invariably does – somewhat nefariously, in my estimation). 185 is a fair reflection of the difficulty, not to mention the unlikelihood of completion for mere mortals.

    Edited at 2021-09-15 02:21 am (UTC)

  3. Brilliant. Excellent clues all round. Very hard, lucky to finish. Must have been close to the hour, or 300 on my nitch! Way off the wavelength today.
    Didn’t know cockshy, best guess from an alphabet trawl. Didn’t know innyards, but London has INNS where all the lawyers and courts are so it seemed reasonable. Had heard of Van Allen belts but still took a while, not expecting anally and finding it difficult get him to dislodge Van Halen from my mind.
    Missed the pre-TE, liked kangaroo best of all – so simple yet so difficult.
    1. I got stuck on Van Halen and it turned out the rock band I was looking for was just above in Slipknot!
  4. I’ve got the reddest SNITCH numbers currently, but by God I finished. FOI FLAMENCO, i.e. a down clue. Bad feeling about that, and an accurate one; I clocked out at something like 40′ with most of the RH empty. Went to the gym, came back and got EYEBROWS, DOGHOUSE, KANGAROO, COCKSHY (NHO), INNYARDS, HERSTORY, COWRITES (POI?), & NEOPHOBE (LOI) in about 10. DNK ON THE STUMP, but the P suggested STUMP and I had a vague idea that cricket has them. I write MAZEL TOV as two words, but the V was enough to bring it to mind; parsed it after the fact. I parsed PRETEND (another post hoc solve) as did Pip.
    Juries, one hopes, do not want SOUND PROOF of innocence.
  5. Well, I dragged myself into this place to apologise for my tardiness, but now things aren’t looking so bad.

    Was very happy to finish, this was a toughie. Got lucky with MAZELTOV, having just finished discussing Yom Kippur with a Jewish mate. Jack beat me to it with the fairly obvious observation that you don’t put a bail on a stump. And as per Isla3, resisting the overwhelming urge to enter VAN HALEN was one of my prouder cruciverbal moments.

    Final analysis? Brilliant crossword. Thanks setter and Pip.

  6. This was hard and I got stuck. I got KANGAROO but never managed to see the wordplay so wasn’t sure it was correct. I biffed WORKSHY wrongly with the idea that SHY was the target (as in coconut shy, although I know shy really comes from throw). I had AHISTORY based on ahistorical at 8D (which isn’t actually a word) and I couldn’t see a word AH-IS that meant anything. Eventually I gave up on 9A (NEOPHOBE) and used aids, but aids said nothing fitted (I still had AHISTORY). So I tried again and got the answer, and then saw HERSTORY, a horrible word but one I’ve seen. So pink squares for my WORKSHY but technical DNF for cheating in the NE corner.
  7. Tough but enjoyable. I might’ve found it less enjoyable had I gone with WORKSHY instead of COCKSHY for the last in. Cockshy didn’t look like a real word, yet parsed well, and workshy was a word but didn’t parse. Rule 1 came into play: “if it doesn’t parse it’s wrong” so I went with the nho cockshy. The corollary to the rule is ” just because you can’t parse it doesn’t mean it can’t be parsed “, which I went with for OTTO, so thanks Pip for that one. And thanks to the setter for a work of art.
  8. This to me was perverse rather than brilliant! We were challenged by some 3dn clueing IMHO.
    18n KANGAROO! 7dn CO-WRITERS! 14ac OTTO, 27ac DOGHOUSE and 12ac ON THE STUMP, my FOI. 20dn PRETEND was in there too!

    COD 13dn SEMI-FINALS — but another missing hyphen!

    WOD MAZEL-TOV — Kevin!

    LOI I only failed as at 26ac I popped in VAN HALEN! I was quite past caring! Time 45 minutes.

    Edited at 2021-09-15 06:33 am (UTC)

  9. But being too happy in thine happiness…

    After 35 mins of enjoyable chewiness, I had managed to construct Herstory, Innyards, Cockshy, etc and had especially liked Neophobe, Kangaroo and Hoedowns. But I was left with the Otto/Cowrites crosses and they did for me. I thought Otto would be Lido (reversal of Oil ringing D=departs=going) meaning ‘water’.
    Nice work setter and Pip.

  10. I was convinced at times that I would never finish this, my main two problems being VAN ALLEN and SLIPKNOT. For the latter I thought that I was looking for a type of nut with the beer being “tun” reversed. I therefore wasted a lot of time trying to think of a word for knock which fitted S_I__. Having teased those two out I nearly ruined it by bunging in a completely unparsed SOCRATES instead of COWRITES, figuring the definition might just be “authors” and that the philosopher and the footballer may both have put pen to paper. MAZELTOV was familiar from the fairly recent sitcom about a Jewish family, Friday Night Dinner.
  11. 47 minutes and all correct, which is a miracle. LOI was HERSTORY, having found NETSTORY wanting. PRETEND, OTTO and KANGAROO were all biffs. COD to INNYARDS, only because I saw it. I had trouble as a physicist with the physicist, and nearly put in VAN HALEN on a false memory, but I was sufficiently anal to look further and did vaguely know of VAN ALLEN. This was a tough puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.
    1. Am I the only one to have thought of Von Braun (author of “I Aim for the Stars”(subtitle from Mort Sahl: “But Sometimes I Hit London”)?
      1. Never heard of Von Braun but I did spend some time considering Von. The only one I came up with was Von Trapp.
      2. I expect the answer to that is ‘Yes’. But thanks for the reminder of Mort Sahl. I’d forgotten about him since the sixties. Wiki tells me he’s still living.
      3. I see I was wrong. Plenty thought of von Braun, more than seem to recognise Niels Bohr when he makes one of his regular appearances here. And von Braun isn’t even a physicist. I’m depressed.
  12. Gave up with seven answers missing after 25 minutes (the last 8 of them totally becalmed) and came here. Thanks Pip. I was halfway to three of those seven, but the other four would never have come to me.
  13. Only learned this word recently when daughter’s friend posted it several times in capitals during her Zoom wedding. And, a couple of weeks ago I was investigating how to deter rats in the garden, and learned that they are NEOPHOBEs, previously nho.

    A brilliant puzzle, COD to COWRITES.

    26′ 16″, thanks Pip and setter.

  14. Started this and immediately realised it was a tough challenge …normally I’d quickly give up on such a puzzle due to my spineless and defeatist nature. In this case, however, I resolved to do the right thing and work through bit methodically to the best of my ability – and the result was a decent effort.

    At 44m I broke off for a scheduled morning walk with my friend Linda* who asked me if I’d done the 15×15 today. I explained that I didn’t expect to complete this very difficult puzzle, citing as an example a word fitting the grid _A___TOV and probably meaning “congratulations”. Linda, who happens to have a side-hustle playing violin at Jewish weddings, immediately piped up “mazeltov!”. (I didn’t ask for the spelling).

    Anyway, I allocated 90 minutes instead of the customary 60 before declaring DNF – but to my considerable surprise continued to make progress right up to completion (admittedly there was more than the usual quota of biffing). Incorrect answers were
    WORKSHY – I was confident that was a good answer, seemed like a reasonable synonym for “retiring”
    VAN HALEN – biffed with fingers crossed early in the solve, I had no idea how to decode “archdeacon”

    Anyway, this was far and away my best effort at a puzzle rated “very hard” by SNITCH, and I feel like I’m making excellent progress towards my long-term solving goals. I no longer need to fear those red-category grids – bring ‘em on!

    Thanks Pip and setter

    *Linda Oflastresort, a South African former central banker

    1. Well done:
      I think From puzzle Learner to Victor: congratulations! (8) is just for you 🙂

      The setter

  15. ….used aids for COCKSHY and DOGHOUSE. NHO COCKSHY.
    A trial rather than a pleasure.
    Another one who found it difficult to move beyond Van Halen and Von Braun.
    Well done, Pip for blogging that one!
  16. Lovely puzzle, difficult to choose a COD with so much clever stuff going on. PRETEND raised a smile; INNYARDS was a good spot; NEOPHOBE was a great construction.

    Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t figure out 17a and in the end I just went for WORKSHY because it fit. NHO COCKSHY and it was probably further down my list than NOCKSHY and BOOKSHY as possible entries.

  17. Very clever but too clever for me. There should be some light relief otherwise, for me, it all becomes a chore. Liked SEMIFINALS and FLAMENCO.
  18. DNF. Struggled through most of this to fail on COCKSHY. I know I considered it, because I considered every possible letter combination at least twice, but clearly it didn’t look enough like a word. Annoying.
    Surprised by the lack of familiarity with MAZELTOV (which I would also write as two words).
  19. Made the mistake of clocking the high Snitch score before attempting, so launched with some trepidation. No real problems, just some very good clues to slightly unusual words. Is cockshy the opposite of cocksure? Mazeltov to fellow finishers.
  20. I battled with this for 45 minutes before becoming becalmed, with a few clues on the RHS left. I knew I needed an antonym for NEOPHILE at 9a but it wouldn’t come so I googled “neophile antonym” and kicked myself as the parsing became clear. Anyway that made COWRITES obvious, OTTO followed, KANGAROO suddenly jumped to mind and COCKSHY finished off the puzzle. 50:24 with a teeny bit of assistance. Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2021-09-15 10:25 am (UTC)

  21. I was less enthusiastic than some on this, although much of it was very good. It’s been mentioned that a bail sits on two stumps, not a stump, and I was unhappy with ‘tear’ as an inclusion indicator. Surely if A tears B then A does some damage to B rather than just sitting quietly inside it?

    Collins and Chambers have semifinal; Lexico semi-final. As Suzie Dent tells us, hyphens tend eventually to vanish.

  22. Very happy to have finally finished this, even if it did take over an hour and a half. COCKSHY, my LOI was the only new word, but there was plenty of other tough stuff, eg as others have commented, KANGAROO for ‘bounder’ – simple ‘innit? Definitely not. I agree about a ‘bail’ needing two stumps and that DOGHOUSE needs a “the” to work for (in) ‘Disgrace’. Missed the parsing of PRETEND and OTTO.

    If I can help it, HERSTORY is a not word I’m planning to use anytime this century.

    Thanks to the dodecaphonic Pip and to setter

  23. Very much enjoyed this, having one of those happy days where all the tricky bits required just enough thought to be satisying when they dropped into place, without ever becoming a grim wrestle or alphabet trawl. Particularly enjoyed the COW RITES.
  24. Hats off to the incomparable setter. Mazeltov, indeed!

    This was a work of the finest artistry and skulduggery!

    I came up short by two – “herstory” and “cockshy”. That took me over the hour, too.

    Still, when you are faced with such finesse, I simply bow to one superior than I.

    A big thank you to our esteemed blogger, pipkirby, for demystifying everything.

  25. then gave up. Realised I’d need hours of thought to finish, and just don’t have the time today. Some of the clues a bit dodgy IMO.
  26. You know you’ve been spending too much time on these things when (fill in the blanks). In this case automatically thinking “semi” when you see house or building so of course I couldn’t parse SEMIFINALS (thanks Pip). I’d temporarily forgotten that OTTO is another way of saying “attar”. I always have to think about whether it’s an A or an E in the middle of KANGAROO. When you live in NYC words like MAZELTOV, with or without hyphen, are in the drinking water. Good puzzle and I thought of Myrtilus and his EYEBROWS. 26.53
  27. …slightly gutted after working through this tricksy offering that I had WORKSHY rather than COCKSHY.

    Failed to parse KANGAROO and OFF-WHITE.

    MAZELTOV came easily to mind from a poem what I wrote for my former boss Richard Jack when he left the office:

    Goodbye then Dear Richard from all of your friends
    Good fortune, break a leg, mazel tov
    The IUP, Cloud and Uplift alumni
    Have all come to see Richard…. Jack off

    Stop sniggering at the back….

  28. For a long time, I thought this was far too clever for its own good. Then I finished and realised that it was a masterpiece of wit and erudition. Then I saw that I had entered KANGEROO and reverted to my original opinion. Bah,humbug!

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  29. The setter made every attempt to make this more difficult than it really was. I failed on 17ac biffing WORKSHY – but I wish I’d thought of COCKSURE, which might just have led to COCKSHY! I struggled for 25 minutes. COD Mazeltov!
  30. Returning to -O-KSHY after a few hours of subconscious marination, I finally stumbled on COCKSHY, which I am ashamed to admit — to the extent that I ever thought about it at all — I had hitherto thought meant something very different. No time, at least not one I am prepared to own up to.
  31. A stinker. Didn’t get close to finishing in much more time than I should have allowed myself. Didn’t much enjoy the 60% or so that I managed either. Oh, well … there’s another day tomorrow.
  32. Nobody else went for HOOKSHY, then? That was my desperate attempt at finishing, bang on the hour…
  33. I thought this was just great, and I would welcome a puzzle of this calibre and stinkerishness any Friday it cares to drop by.

    My first one in was MAZELTOV but I always thought it was two words!

  34. I was over the hour for this but as much of it was spent asleep I didn’t realise how tough it was till I came here. Admittedly I had to check MAZELTOV which was a word I vaguely recognised. LOI DOGHOUSE, got the DOG bit but still can’t quite match HOUSE with put up with. TX for the reason for OFF WHITE, never got it while solving.
  35. Van Allen did Explorer 1
    Which detected trapped stuff from the Sun
    Small particles — true
    They have energy too
    And cook satellites still they’re “well-done”
  36. Brilliant in places, but very iffy in places too.

    Not sure ‘downs’ are exclusive to the South-east. You have the South Downs between Brighton and Eastbourne and that’s it. They reappear around Chichester but that is Southern England not the south-east. Then you have the North Downs around Marlborough and Lambourn, which are definitely not SE.

    Tear = divide? Sorry no. Herstory is just plain idiotic. Agree with the blogger about doghouse. It’s not a verb and must take the definite article. (Mr Grumpy)

  37. Well, a DNF (obviously), but I had it worried at one point. Eleven on the first pass (12 if you include an unparsed Van Allen — a 3,5 physicist involving Ven didn’t leave much choice) normally bodes well for me, and I was steadily adding to that number for the first hour. At which point I ran out of steam with the NE blank, bar Otto and CoD Soundproof. Try as I might, I just couldn’t see what was going on with 7, 8, 9 and 11. Lots to enjoy in the bits I could do, so I’m not disappointed. Invariant
  38. A very late solve, so late it’s Thursday. Time out in the middle to unpack 2 dozen bottles of St Yorre (don’t ask) and pass time with a double glazing salesman, so my time was even more epic but voided by spelling KANGEROO, even while thinking even cockneys spell ‘angar with an A.

    My other piece of genius was a confident TOP-OFFER at 1ac, which I parsed as TOPER (drunk) around the innards of cOFFEe: brilliant, but wrong in so many ways.

    Don’t think I’d have got COCKSHY without seeing it on the blog of today’s (Thursday’s) crossword.

  39. All correct but i did have to use an aid for van allen. Of course i was put off by thinking of Van Halen. That was one tasty challenge. Many thanks!
  40. ADHESION for COHESIVE (A DON around HESI) making VAN ALLEN unseeable for days and making 15a look temptingly like ACADEMY but unparsable.

    SOBSTORY at 8d (SORBS being to catch, less R) making 9a impossible, it remained undone

    I too fell for: WORKSHY, E in KANGAROO.

    pleased to get all but 4 right eventually …

    Great puzzle, glad its over. Now for last Friday’s challenge.

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