Times 28096 – Great 11

Time taken: 10:12. Not sure if this is as difficult as I made it, but I’m not at my best having just been in the car for four hours.

Some tricky wordplay here, and I suspect there may be some biffing as a lot of the answers came to me quickly but I didn’t put them in straight away to ponder over the wordplay.

Postscript: it seemed this was a puzzle some found difficult, some found easier. The SNITCH makes for interesting readoing today, while the average is just a little over 100, the standard distribution on times is whopping. I’ll admit I had to look up the AM part of AMORALLY in order to write the blog, but the definition was clear as well as ORAL figuring in there somehow.

Away we go…

1 Test clothing case right for several players (10)
ORCHESTRAL – ORAL(test) containing CHEST(case) and R(right)
6 Taps with hard metal back one found in kitchen (4)
CHEF – the taps are C and H, then FE(iron, hard metal) reversed
9 Imaginary number probed by new technology (7)
FICTIVE – the number FIVE containing ICT(Information and communication technology)
10 Out of doors, old songwriter may do so (4-3)
OPEN-AIR – O(old) and then the songwriter may PEN AIR
12 Hit with vigour, at first, producing a shiner (6,4)
SPIRIT LAMP – LAM(hit) next to SPIRIT(vigour) and the first leter of Producing
13 Female ravers might well! (3)
DOE – ravers might DO E
15 Sick note doctor put in resting place (6)
ENTOMB – anagram of NOTE, then MB(doctor)
16 Jazz circle met up, wanting Miles in Kind of Blue (8)
ELECTRIC – anagram of CIRCLE,MET missing M(miles)
18 Cups boy gold plates somewhere in Canada (8)
LABRADOR – BRA(cups) inside LAD(boy) and OR(gold)
20 What barker calls smoke (4,2)
ROLL UP – double definition
23 Beers emptied along with a six-pack? (3)
ABS – the outside letters of BeerS with A
24 Lukewarm self-assessment? If so, there’s no getting over it (10)
IMPASSABLE – the self-assessment is I’M PASSABLE
26 Drugs in small on-line trysts? (7)
SEDATES – S(small), then on-line trysts would be E-DATES
27 Wreck or use loo, pushing the one in front back a bit (7)
RUINATE – URINATE(use loo) with the U moved to the right
28 Manoeuvre soldiers around America (4)
RUSE – RE(soldiers) surrounding US(America)
29 Current wage packages issued again before 1st of December (7-3)
PRESENT-DAY – PAY(wage) containing RE-SENT(issued again), and the first letter of December
1 17 men and two females (4)
ORFF – OR(men) and two F’s (females). Rare smartypants moment, I saw the wordplay and put this in before solving 17
2 Prepare to fire stone in battleground (7)
COCKPIT – COCK(prepare to fire), PIT(stone)
3 Saw producer of Marmite tip gas freely (13)
4 Go without lunch, say, in agreement (6)
TREATY – TRY(go) surrounding EAT(lunch as a verb)
5 Welsh politician in speech ignoring right and wrong (8)
AMORALLY – AM(Assembly Member, Welsh politician), ORALLY(in speech)
7 More challenging to catch ball for keeper (7)
HOARDER – HARDER(more difficut) containing O(ball)
8 Let go of key safety measure (4,6)
FIRE ESCAPE – FIRE(let go of), then the ESCAPE key
11 Hawking lecture’s audience will do so upon arrival (13)
EXPECTORATION – a lecture’s audience will EXPECT ORATION
14 Who may get drunk with real relish, misbehaving (10)
17 One producing pieces from organic bin missing tons (8)
COMPOSER – the organic bin is a COMPOSTER, remove T(tons)
19 Less well-known tracks around east too (7)
BESIDES – the less well-known tracks are B-SIDES, insert E(east)
21 I’m amused by fat religious reformer (7)
LOLLARD – LOL(I’m amused by), LARD(fat) for a follower of Wycliffe
22 Venerated Egyptian flag, really raised on high (6)
OSIRIS – IRIS(flag) underneath SO(really) reversed
25 Victor seized by Turkish ruler quails (4)
BEVY – V(victor) inside BEY(Turkish ruler)

84 comments on “Times 28096 – Great 11”

  1. I had a harrowing Club experience here — 5 minutes in, I’d finished 75% or so, when suddenly the interface went kaput and I should no longer type in more than one square. I spent a minute or two refreshing and trying again but to no avail and in the end I had to finish the crossword mentally, keeping the game state in my head. Very unsatisfying and I really hope a one off. I think I would have been in the 6-7 minute range under normal conditions but it’s hard to know for sure!
    1. That’s happened to me twice in the last week or so. It had happened once before, and I think I was advised to clear cache, so I did and it worked; the second time it corrected itself almost immediately.
    2. This happens every 6 months or so on my phone — clearing the cache/cookies for the times website does indeed fix the problem.

      I’m 90% sure the problem is triggered by solving too many crosswords — the times website seems to record a copy of every crossword you’ve done on your device, and once it hits a certain limit it stops working

      On the bright side, after I’ve cleared the cache and logged back into the website, and I return to the crossword I was in the middle of solving, I find that the clock has been wound back a couple of minutes — so you could have been in the 4-5 minute range

  2. I did indeed biff a few: ELECTRIC, LABRADOR, parsing post-submission, but also CHEF, where I didn’t think of the right taps, had H for hard, and couldn’t account for the C; and AMORALLY, where I couldn’t account for the AM. Spent too much time on 29ac thinking ‘current’=I. Like George, I got ORFF before doing, or even looking at 17d. I took ‘hit’=LAMP, with ‘providing’ just connecting to the definition. This was a tough one, and I was ready to give up with 3 or 4 unsolved. COD to EXPECTORATION.
  3. Back down to earth with a DNF on AMORALLY, where I just couldn’t see it or parse it – and didn’t know AM. Was expecting Anneurin without the R on first read.
    Otherwise liked the expectoration, but COD to electric for the Miles Davis Jazz record Kind of Blue-inspired surface.
  4. I also put in ORFF from the wordplay for my FOI. I almost then just put COMPOSER at 17D without bothering to read the clue, but I only needed to check the first 3 words to confirm my suspicion. RUINATE was my LOI needing the checkers to see what was going on. I didn’t see the B-SIDES thing so I was a bit bemused by the wordplay there.
  5. I enjoyed this one, reflected in a good time for me at this level of difficulty. I had a few options for 24ac (“impossible” perhaps) until the crossers allowed nothing else. DNK AM for the Welsh politician, or what a LOLLARD was, but the cryptics made it pretty clear.

    With Kevin I liked EXPECTORATION. My parents-in-law used to complain that “Expectoration Prohibited” on station walls in Sydney would probably not be understood by any likely to be tempted in that direction.

    Thanks, George, and setter.

  6. Tough going in places, possibly because one doesn’t often use FICTIVE, RUINATE, EXPECTORATION or EPIGRAMMATIST in everyday speech. Nor OSIRIS or LOLLARD for that matter.

    ORFF maybe, but usually as the second half of a direct instruction.

    Thanks George and setter.

  7. At 48 minutes this was my longest solve for a while as I had gaps in all four quarters that needed revisiting several times before the clues revealed their secrets.

    I’d have thought a writer of epigrams would be an epigrammist, too small for the space available in the grid so I had to pick over the anagrist very carefully to use it all up. SOED advises that my word does indeed exist but its use is ‘now rare’.

    NHO of BEVY as the collective noun for quails but assumed it was valid though I understand that ‘covey’ and plain ‘flock’ are also used. The only BEVY I ever heard of was ‘bevy of beauties’ which I imagine has gone off limits by now.

    I didn’t know AM as a Welsh politician which gave me a problem at 5dn until I spotted that AMORALLY fitted the grid and checkers and the definition. BESIDES went in without understanding why but I worked out the parsing revisiting it this morning before coming here. Rather clever if one can remember the days of 45 rpm records, but otherwise surely a concept that became obsolete decades ago.

    Did ANYONE need to solve 17dn before putting ORFF at 1dn?

    Have Times setters got shares in Marmite?

    Edited at 2021-09-30 05:30 am (UTC)

    1. I didn’t need to but I did solve 17dn COMPOSER first: I basically solved bottom-up, as 11dn EXPECTORATION* was my FOI and brought me south.Carl Orff’s only brother went by the name Theodore, however everyone knew him as Felix.

      *Remember the young man from Darjeeling, who got on a bus bound for Ealing?

      Edited at 2021-09-30 06:34 am (UTC)

  8. Of that colossal Wreck…

    Just finished in 30 mins pre-brekker without fully understanding AMorally or Bevy.
    Like Sawbill above, I was very impressed by Electric. Clue of the week.
    Thanks setter and G.

  9. Took me ‘a country hour’, but coruscated with gems all along the way.

    FOI 11dn & up EXPECTORATED!


    COD1 25dn BEVY – “Knowest thou thy nouns of a collective nature.” (Book of St. Albans 1485)

    COD2 16ac ELECTRIC wow!


    I hardly ever congratulate anyone, but great stuff Messrs Setter & Izetti!

    Edited at 2021-09-30 06:50 am (UTC)

  10. …I had to use aids to solve AMORALLY. Couldn’t make sense of it. Been having to use aids too much recently.
    NHO the term ICT to mean “new technology”. IT yes, ICT, no.
    I was going to query “up” in 16ac but I see that has been put to bed.
  11. 44 minutes.. while others seem to have found this easy, I struggled and am proud to have finished at all. A real tester for me… but fairly clued and great fun!
  12. ELECTRIC is an absolutely brilliant clue on several levels. Firstly,to reference Miles Davies 1959 Kind of Blue album. Secondly for the very clever device ‘Jazz circle met up’ and finally for the overall surface including ‘wanting Miles’. Thanks setter.
  13. Really surprised when I gave up – a long way from completion – and read the comments here + SNITCH rating. This seemed like a real stinker to me, evidently I’m just not in the zone today.

    Got SW corner fairly easily, NE after a long struggle, neither of the two 13-letter clues, and 3 or 4 others. After yesterday’s PB euphoria, back down to earth with a bump! Thanks G and setter

    Edited at 2021-09-30 07:20 am (UTC)

    1. I agree totally. This was a stinker. Only got a few answers. Feels like going back to the start of my solving days. Oh well! There’ll be another one tomorrow.
      Thanks to the setter and to our blogger for explaining it all and to the other commenters for your interesting, entertaining inputs.
  14. My Times pattern nowadays is to do the crossword in the last fuzzy fag-end of the day before falling asleep starting at about 00.01 after the site has updated. I don’t usually remember much about it in terms of order and favourite clues and so on — or even clues at all really. I just wake up the next morning and pick up my iPad (other tablets are available) from wherever it has fallen and see where I got to. This morning I found I had not completed the RUINATE/BEVY crossing but with my reawakened consciousness they went in quickly.

    When I smoked briefly earlier in life my experimentation with DIY started off with using what were formally called ROLL-UPS. But with familiarity these quickly evolved into ROLLIES.

    Yes, the ORFF/COMPOSER link if anything seemed to offer assistance the opposite way to how it was probably intended, but neither really needed assistance anyway.

    I never mind that several words are not in everyday usage. To me that is half the fun and part of the whole point of the thing (if there is one). In fact I actively appreciate the gentle occasional expansion of my vocabulary. Also it has become a conscious part of my technique after all the ‘normal’ words have gone in to switch gears mentally and say ‘right, whatever else is left is probably going to be on the outer edges of familiarity or possibly unheard of, so start thinking different!’.

    Like horryd I am at heart a tree-ware and a ‘Paper Mate Ink-Joy’ man although I have embraced the modern equivalent of aluminium silicon polycarbonate lithium-ion polymer-ware and Apple Magic pen which I really enjoy using. I have a note-taking app into which I can download more or less any crossword and scribble (and easily erase) on it until it is done.

    Sorry, I don’t get round to posting here much except on my blogging days but for some reason I felt moved to contribute today and I do truly value and enjoy the conversation. Thank you George and thank you setter for what I can dimly remember as an enjoyable experience!

  15. To give today’s setter their dues
    They produced some ELECTRIC clues
    Had most meanings sub rosa,
    With DOE an especially fine RUSE
    1. PS Many thanks to all for the kind comments relating to yesterday’s doggerel. I spent most of yesterday attending my uncle’s funeral, and they cheered me up a great deal. I have belatedly replied to Robin, (in verse of course).
      1. You are a real ornament to, and added attraction of, TfTT.
        Though I now dislike birds, thanks to you 🙂
  16. Posted early today. Very decent puzzle. I particularly liked Expectoration, Epigrammatist, Ruinate, Hell Raiser and Bevy. But COD to 21dn Lollard(s) – John Wycliffe’s movement.

    Edited at 2021-09-30 08:20 am (UTC)

  17. 25.39 for this beauty, though I did check Assembly Member AM, wondering why it wasn’t Aelodau’r Cynulliad AC, or more accurately these days Aelodau o’r Senedd AS/Member of Senedd MS, though none of those were much use in the clue. Couldn’t think of another fill than AMORALLY.
    Others have already highlighted ELECTRIC as an absolute blinder of a clue, but, I mean, mmmm, nnnnice!
    I had I’M POSSIBLE for a while without much conviction but it held up the splendid EXPECTORATION until it didn’t.
    For a short clue DOE was also excellent.
    Like Kevin I took LAMP for hit in 12, the “at first” indicating the order of the two words which something has to.
    RUINATE my last in, possibly because I wasn’t expecting such a polite word for “use loo” since the phrase itself was rather non-U. But then this is not the Sunday naughty.
  18. 15:35 Neat puzzle, although EPGRAMMATIST was a surprise. DNK AM for Welsh politician. COD to EXPECTORATION. Thank-you George and setter.
  19. ….so thanks George. Unfortunately I fat-fingered again.

    TIME 14:22 but with a typo.

  20. Liked this – yes, especially 16ac – and didn’t find it a lot harder than yesterday, for some reason. Quite a lot of write-ins. Struggled a bit with not needing Aneurin..
  21. That kept me busy for longer than usual! I got half a dozen clues in the first 15 minutes and ground to a halt. CHEF was my FOI and I managed eventually to fill most of the RHS before COMPOSER gave my 1d and then ORCHESTRAL opened up the NW. LABRADOR and ENTOMB allowed me to see BESIDES, SEDATES and HELLRAISER, leaving me with 5d where I wrote out the crossers and saw the definition, the AM for Welsh politician being totally unknown. 41:06. Thanks setter and George.
  22. I found this hard, taking 28′ 05″. Did not parse ELECTRIC, great clue. Two ‘oral’ and an ‘oration’ had me going round in circles.

    Gaston in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is particularly good at EXPECTORATION.

    Thanks george and setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-30 09:36 am (UTC)

  23. A beauty indeed. Full of fun.

    There used to be a pub in Norwich called The LOLLARD’s Pit, which could I suppose be a corruption of Lollard spit. So EXPECTORATION, despite being something of a mouthful, is my COD.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

    1. The Lollard’s Pit is still there (by which I mean it was there shortly before Current Events when I last visited Norwich, so who knows now?) and serving good beer
    2. My mother’s favourite pub name in Leeds was the ‘Horse and Trumpet’ which she always referred to as the Whore and Strumpet.
  24. 9m 50s with the unlikely EPIGRAMATISER causing me problems with the crossing answers – fortunately SEDATES set me straight.

    Great definition for EXPECTORATION. And I had no idea that BEVY could refer to quails, and I couldn’t quite remember which ?EY was a Turkish ruler, but fortunately guessed correctly this time.

  25. 28:34. ICT and ORFF familiar from the Times crossword (the former quite recently). Didn’t know the quailly meaning of BEVY. Some nice clues here — ELECTRIC, as mentioned, with RUINATE particularly appealing to my habitual low-brow tastes.
  26. A game of two halves: on first pass, I found this almost completely intractable, and wondering what on earth was going on with half the clues; then I must have tilted my head the right way as I suddenly found myself on the setter’s wavelength and began to rather enjoy some quirky and original clueing.
  27. Yes, a mixture of simple and devilish. Am I the only one never to have heard of FICTIVE? My FICTION left me stranded at the end until TREATY sorted me out. I left AMORALLY to the end as I couldn’t see where AM came from. However, despite living in Wales, I’d never heard of them being called that. Mind you, us North Walians don’t think much of those southerners.
  28. Yes. this was a good one. I got totally becalmed in the NE corner for a while and, like others, having eliminated Bevin and Lloyd George I had no ideas at all for the Welsh politico. I also failed to parse LABRADOR, bras having been mercifully absent from these puzzles for a while. My Oxford reference dictionary is in storage at the moment but I think I remember that it had the collective noun for quails as “covey” rather than BEVY, not that it matters. In some of the Trollope novels it’s a point of pride for a bride to be able to assemble a large BEVY of bridesmaids to accompany her down the aisle. 20.42
    1. “Covey” is the collective noun for baby quails, bevy or flock is advised for the grown-ups. In some more recent novellas, it is a point of pride for a bride to be able to assemble a large bevy of Trollopes to accompany her at her Bachelorette Party. That would be ‘hen-do’ back in Blighty.
  29. You don’t need the first letter of ‘producing’ for 12ac: to ‘lamp’ somebody is to hit him/her.

    Middling solve, 30-odd mins for me, far too long taken over AMORALLY.


  30. Had my fingers crossed when I came here that BEVY was right, not having heard of a bey. RUINATE took a second go to see, but otherwise I didn’t find this too tricky, albeit I (like others it seems) didn’t know AM for Welsh politician and I also hadn’t heard of LOLLARD.

    I agree with anonymous just above me that you don’t need the P from “producing” for SPIRIT LAMP – I took “at first” to mean put “spirit” in front of “lamp”. Though I guess both work.

    FOI Abs
    LOI Bevy
    COD Entomb, for the misdirection

  31. Unlike our blogger, I didn’t find this easy at all. There are a couple of words here which are surely rarely used and either are or should be obsolete as there are equivalents from the same roots which are commonly used. I allude, of course, to FICTIVE, which, when working with non-English speakers for 30 years or so, I assured them was fictitious, and to RUINATE, which I have never seen in print until now and have never once heard in my 60 years. Two clear candidates for the editor’s blue pencil when the next shortening of the OED is due, but they were not the two which held me up. The obvious anagram for the unlikely EPIGRAMMATIST and the known but, by me at least, never revered and long forgotten OSIRIS gave me a DNF.
  32. 24.20. Tricky in places. FOI chef. Orff helped me get composer rather than the other way round. Fixated on the wrong kind of shiner (polish) at 12ac before the lamp dawned on me. The unknown assembly member gave me pause for thought at LOI amorally. That kind of Hawking was a nice pdm for expectoration. The jazz up anagrind surrounding the anagrist followed by the deletion indicator folded neatly into the surface for electric was very good.
  33. 19:30 this afternoon. I realise if I keep commenting any later in future, I am liable to overlap with our friends abroad who will be referencing a different puzzle.
    Often don’t seem to have the time even to squeeze in the QC in the morning let alone the 15 x 15. Ah well that’s retirement for you, I guess.
    Like our esteemed blogger and others, I too bagged Orff before his occupation. However in my excitement, I entered it in 6 ac which wasn’t exactly an auspicious start.
    Otherwise a stop-start performance with a good few biffs along the way ( e.g. fictive, am —orally)
    Then, despite telling myself 11 d “expectoration” would have nothing to do with astrophysics, it took me ages to analyse the clue correctly. One of several garden paths I was led down!
    COD 16 ac “electric”. As a jazz fan, I just loved the clever surface. “Kind of Blue” is a timeless masterpiece imo.
    Thanks to GLH for a most concise blog with all clarifications in place and to setter for a challenging puzzle.
  34. Yes, I thought of that limerick as well. Btw, when my late husband was a student in Munich he was introduced to Carl Orff. It was only when I was singing Carmina Burana that he realised that Professor Orff was quite well-known. My FOI.
  35. I loved this witty puzzle – so many delightful eureka moments. I live in Wales and had no problem with AM as “assembly member”. But I don’t think the setter has realised that currently there are no AMs because they have been replaced by SMs or MSs. The Welsh Assembly is no more and has been replaced by something called the Senedd (Senate?). Delusions of grandeur… 33 minutes. Ann
  36. Still under the weather so unsurprisingly, I didn’t fill in anything at all on the first pass. Twenty minutes in, I had about 30% done, so left it for a while.

    A mild splurge brought me up to 59% after thirty minutes and then another long break due to work.

    Finally after work finished, very little came at first, then after around ten more mins, I wrote in LARD and immediately saw LOLLARD which opened up quite a lot, after which it was a fairly steady solve.


    ….I cheated on BEVY — I don’t think even an alpha trawl would have helped as I’ve never heard of the Turkish leader, nor the collective noun for quails. So a technical DNF.

    I only wrote in ORFF once I had conquered 17d.

  37. Late entry done on line for a change. 17.34. Ruinate was a new one on me but nicely whimsical, so too expectoration and fictive. The latter only sorted because I remembered an earlier clue using ICT for technology.

    Amorally put in without getting the am reference . COD spirit lamp.

  38. Imaginary number probed by new technology (7)

    An unusual clue in so far as “number” does not mean an anaesthetic.

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