Times 28120 – when is a crane like a French girl?

Time taken: 11:01. I thought this was difficult, though some of the other early solvers breezed through it. I spent a fair bit of time cribbing together the long answers while most of the short answers came quickly, except for the pet that was my last entry in.

A few biffable answers with fun wordplay, so I hope solvers took the time to enjoy them.

Postscript: seems like Pandora’s can of worms was opened with the clueing of O,O as “pair” in 2 down. I admit I put in the answer from definition and didn’t think hard about the other O,O part until coming to write the blog. Enjoy the cricket bickering (crickering?) below.

Away we go…

1 Shrink one who intimidates? (5)
COWER – double definition, though the second one is a bit cryptic for one who cows
4 Giant-killer drunkard keeping Heather quiet? (9)
SLINGSHOT – SOT(drunkard) containing LING(heather), SH(quiet).  The giant being Goliath here.
9 Reducing margins, become about to cut simple deals with PC? (1-8)
E-COMMERCE –  remove the outer letters in bECOMe, then C(about) inside MERE(simple)
10 Heart perhaps that’s stopped in church (5)
ORGAN – double definition, since a church organ would have stops
11 Climber using narrow defile in crossing old river? (13)
PASSIONFLOWER – PASS(narrow defile), and IN surrounding O(old), then FLOWER(river)
14 Nonsensical question right to be excised from holy work (4)
KOAN – remove R(right) from KORAN(holy work)
15 Exercises calm to save time? It’s morally harmful (10)
PESTILENCE – PE(exercises) and SILENCE(calm) containing T(time)
18 Sensitivity in arresting spooks succeeded for strategists (10)
TACTICIANS – TACT(sensitivity) and IN containing CIA(spies, spooks), then S(succeeded)
19 Pet of Roman priest removed from Beethoven opera (4)
FIDO – remove ELI(priest) from FIDELIO(Beethoven opera)
21 Source of beef from dodgy bangers and legume used regularly? (8,5)
ABERDEEN ANGUS – anagram of BANGERS, AND and the alternating letters of lEgUmE
24 Confines or rather restricts spy boss (5)
AMBIT – A BIT(rather) containing M(spy boss in James bond movies)
25 Leader in media having no case to retreat back (9)
EDITORIAL – the middle letters of mEDIa, then TO, and LAIR(retreat) reversed
27 Bullet casing with raised line found on barrow? (9)
CARTRIDGE –  RIDGE(raised line) with CART(barrow)
28 Cracked bone enthrals one proud parent (5)
NIOBE – anagram of BONE containing I(one)
1 One near Conservative girl raking in large amount (10)
CHEAPSKATE – C(conservative), KATE(girl) containing HEAPS(large amount)
2 Wretched opener on a pair in attempt to win? (3)
WOO – first letter of Wretched, and then OO(in cricket, a pair is when you score zero, or a duck, in both innings of a test match)
3 Stay behind on island one invades (6)
REMAIN – RE(on), and the isle of MAN containing I(one)
4 Green site revitalised in African National Park (9)
5 Current understanding serving as example (5)
IDEAL – I(current), DEAL(understanding)
6 Virtuous man showing seasonal kindness? (8)
GOODWILL – GOOD(virtuous), WILL(man)
7 Noble got with two fouls in game at the start (4-7)
HIGH-RANKING –  HIGH and RANK can both mean foul smelling, then IN, and the first letter of Game
8 Swimmer in buff coming up with shark’s heart (4)
TUNA – NUT(buff) reversed and the middle letter of shArk
12 Meat brought in with crab: rest distributed in court (4,7)
STAR CHAMBER – HAM(meat) inside an anagram of CRAB,REST
13 Crane in March one to observe circling lakes (10)
DEMOISELLE – DEMO(march) then I(one), and SEE(observe) surrounding L,L(lakes)
16 Doctor inserted syringe’s tip to have softening effect (9)
TENDERISE – anagram of INSERTED and the last letter of syringE
17 Mounting rubbish delivered that swamps City boss (8)
DIRECTOR – reversal of ROT(rubbish) and RID(delivered) containing EC(city)
20 Stupid person an arts graduate given advantage (6)
BABOON – the arts graduate is a BA, then BOON(advantage)
22 Romeo coming in late causes terror (5)
DREAD – R(Romeo) inside DEAD(late)
23 Almost thirty-one days needed to make this brandy (4)
MARC – remove the last letter from the 31 days of MARCh
26 Artificial language Ibsen developed orally at first (3)
IDO – first letters of Ibsen Developed Orally

85 comments on “Times 28120 – when is a crane like a French girl?”

  1. I started so,so slowly, but after stopping the clock to make a fresh coffee (Arabica) it all suddenly rushed in with LOI 14ac KOAN whatever!

    FOI 4dn SERENGETI – no introduced topi on view

    COD 11ac PASSION FLOWER – my alternative (6-5) split. I had passion fruit honey for breakfast this morning.


    On refection I wasted some 20 minutes on the dither.

    Mood Meldrewvian

  2. I’ll try to make it clearer in the blog – pair means scoring zero in both innings in a Test match.
    1. by a single batsman – if he’s 0 not out then it doesn’t count – it’s complicated at times!

      Edited at 2021-10-28 01:50 am (UTC)

    2. Thanks, George. Despite my general ignorance of sporting matters apart from tennis I thought my knowledge of cricketing terms was pretty good, but I never heard of this one before. Goodness, what a lot of postings about it, and it’s only 07:30 am!
  3. Tricky, but as noted it all fell into place. 2LOI the unknown crane, though DEMOISELLE a known word which fitted the cryptic. Then FIDO, remembering Fidelio was musical, not knowing it was Beethoven or an opera. I parsed Roman as indicating a Latin pet’s name, rather than describing Eli.
    COD passionflower for its construction.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 02:00 am (UTC)

    1. Didn’t know the origin of Eli, I thought maybe he was in the book of Romans, but you are right, Fido is Roman in orgin.
  4. I also got delayed on PASSIONFLOWER by the tempting N-L- that was “obviously” NILE. No idea about DEMOISELLE being a crane although I knew it was a word. Looking it up later, I see it is not just a crane, and an old word for young woman, but also a dragonfly, a shark, and some sort of fish. One piece of music trivia helped on FIDO since I knew Beethoven only wrote one opera and it was FIDELIO. I had forgotten, or never knew, who NIOBE was and why she was proud (especially since all her children were killed). But all the wordplays left no other options so all green for me.
  5. Interested in the Snitch today. All the way through the puzzle I thought I was making a good fist of a difficult challenge, then I’d get an answer and think “oh, that should have been obvious”.

    Always fun to construct unknowns like DEMOISELLE and PASSIONFLOWER from the wordplay, whereas NIOBE was more of a shrug and hope.

    Thanks as always to George and the setter.

    1. Only two Australian Test players have scored ‘King Pairs’ — Adam Gilchrist, surprisingly, managed it against India (Eden Gardens) and H. R. Harris, who I can’t place.
      There have been just 22 instances in all Tests (World Series!)
      England boasting 4 of them with Anderson and Curran the last two.

      Edited at 2021-10-28 03:34 am (UTC)

      1. I recall Gilly’s pair, without remembering that it was indeed a King Pair. And that was after the most stunning of centuries in the previous Test. Funny game cricket.

        Interesting to see Jimmy on the list. At one stage he had a remarkable record, given his acknowledged rabbit status, for not getting ducks. Nice to see that he’s put that annoying habit behind him!

        1. Jimmy has one batting record that will take some beating – he has been not out 99 times in test cricket. Courtney Walsh is second in the list with 61.
  6. 36 minutes. This all fell quite nicely into place despite a few unknowns and wordplay that needed careful picking through. The main unknowns were KOAN and the crane.

    I’m not entirely convinced that the wordplay at 2dn works. A pair can be a pair of anything, so why ducks unless you know the answer and you have OO to account for? I got the answer without checkers from the definition and the first letters of ‘Wretched Opener On’ but of course realised that wordplay would have needed something to indicate first letters, and I was also left with ‘a pair’ unaccounted for.

    1. A pair of ‘ducks’ in cricket is known as a ‘Golden Pair’ –
      no score by a batsman in either of the two completed innings. This is a shameful event, particularly higher up the batting order, ie the openers.

      Sorry I crossed with Lord Snitch but at least we have 1 run, unless one of us was run out, and that looks like me!

      Edited at 2021-10-28 01:48 am (UTC)

      1. A Golden Pair is surely dismissal on first ball faced each innings? Otherwise an ordinary pair, as made famous by Chappelli’s brother, Chappello.
        1. There’s no Chappello isla, but if you’re referring to Gregory Stephen, I have no recollection of him ever getting a pair. Had a run of failures in One-Dayers at one stage, but you can’t get a pair in a one-dayer.

          And while I’m being picky (sorry!) a first-ball dismissal is a Golden Duck, but the rare tragedy of that occurring in both innings is a King Pair.

          1. A King Pair, of course, I’d forgotten. There was one summer where Greg Chappell was captain and he had a miserable run of form, scored about 6 or 7 ducks in 5 or 6 tests. Some of the cheekier newspapers dubbed him “Chappello” on their back pages.
            Edit: Must have been 1981/82, from cricinfo. In 10 innings in 6 successive tests he had 3 ducks, 2 other scores below 10, and only a single half-century: 61.
            (Bookended by scores of 201 and 176 😉

            Edited at 2021-10-28 02:39 am (UTC)

            1. Ha, that’s a good headline, but of course it never reached nickname status. Just as Mark Waugh was never really known as Audi after putting four 0’s together on the trot in Sri Lanka!

              I’ve just fact-checked myself, as one should, and confirmed that GS Chappell never got a pair. But that miserable run in ’81-’82 included four ducks in a row, beginning with the second innings of a Test, then two One-Dayers, then the first innings of the next Test.

              1. You have reminded me of Steve Waugh’s once nickname of Afghan. The forgotten war!
                It soon became very incorrect when applied to him and is now sadly quite inappropriate in both respects.
            2. Reminds me of the old one regarding Coventry City changing their name to Coventry City Nil.
      2. Or maybe I was run out. Your answer displays actual knowledge but mine only shows an ability to look up the dictionary 🙂

        Thanks for the more expansive comment.

    2. I wondered about this too, but I note that Chambers has definition 18 of “pair” as “A score of no runs in both innings of a two-innings match (cricket)”
  7. 28 minutes. Never heard of KOAN, but I answered the question posed by the clue anyway. Happy to have remembered the ‘Crane’ and NIOBE.

    Favourite was the ‘One near’ def for CHEAPSKATE. Where do you ever see ‘near’ used to mean “miserly” outside of crossword land? Now there’s (almost) a KOAN for you.

    Thanks to George and setter

    1. Yes, forgot to mention KOAN. One of those that went in with “that can’t possibly be right, but it also can’t be anything else”.
      1. I was once (long ago, for a short time) interested in Zen Buddhism, long enough to learn this word. You may have come across “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”. Or you may not.
  8. A little thing, but for 16 down we need the last letter (tip) of ‘syringe’ , not the first.
  9. I did this in a coffee shop, so no time, but it took time; I was surprised to see the low SNITCH numbers, as mine would certainly have been in red. I would have thought PASSIONFLOWER was two words, and that’s how ODE has it. I see I forgot to (try to) parse HIGH-RANKING. DNK the crane, but we had a different DEMOISELLE recently; which didn’t keep it from being my LOI. I liked ABERDEEN ANGUS and E-COMMERCE among others.
  10. I knew all of the vocabulary from cricket to cranes (apart from KOAN which was generously clued). No problems and unusually quick for me.
  11. Lots of unknowns, and quite a few missed cues for me here, leading me to raise the white flag at 53m.
    – Completely unknown to me were KOAN, IDO, MARC (though I got all of ‘em from the wordplay)
    – AMBIT and NIOBE both words I think I encountered here a few months ago, didn’t know the meaning of either
    – I loved “Les DEMOISELLEs de Rochefort“ but that didn’t help me with 13d
    – But I hate Beethoven, and wish he would disappear from my life forever
    But my overall biggest blocker to progress was not knowing the archaic definition of “near” at 1d

    Feeling a bit sorry for myself after 3 consecutive DNFs – and Friday’s unlikely to be my salvation. Oh well, lots to learn here…

    1. I must admit to not being amongst Beethoven’ greatest fans and wouldn’t care if I never heard any of his symphonies again, most notably the first two movements of the 6th (Pastoral) which I have to switch off if they come on the radio. The solo piano works (apart from one particularly hackneyed piece) are more to my taste and the piano concertos. I may have listened to some of the opera back in my student days, but I don’t recall it at all.
      1. All I can recall from ‘Fidelio’ is (are?) the overtures. But he’s good, really good. What about the string quartets, for instance, if you don’t care for the symphonies? Mind you, I couldn’t tell a C-clef from a T-square, but I will not in this case yield to (vastly) more expert opinion.
        1. Thanks, Kevin. I haven’t listened to the string quartets recently so I may seek some out. My comments about the symphonies aren’t based on any particular expertise, only personal likes and dislikes. I never questioned B’s greatness in my student and teaching days, but in my dotage I find myself actively disliking some of his output so I tend to avoid him. By contrast hardly a day goes by that I don’t listen to Mozart and enjoy every single note of it.
            1. The thing that gets me about the opening is that in so many performances the orchestra attacks the first note so that the three quavers before the downbeat sound like triplets. It’s very fine point but once you notice it you can’t ignore it.
  12. …and batteries not included. 26 minutes with LOI HIGH-RANKING. WOO was a write-in and validated COWER to give a quick start. DEMOISELLE was constructed but that a French girl was either a bird or a piece of lifting equipment, the former the more likely, had to be taken on trust. COD to ORGAN, with SLINGSHOT running it close. I just checked out why NIOBE was a proud parent and that has spoilt my day. Thank you George and setter.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 08:20 am (UTC)

  13. And frantic gape of lonely Niobe, …

    NHO Koan. Otherwise staple fare.
    25 mins pre-porridge.
    Thanks setter and G.

    Coach: “They are small white mints.”
    Player: “No we need to know about tactics. Not Tic Tacs.”

  14. Towel thrown at 40 mins. Plenty were well beyond me, miser=near being one. Other unknowns ling=heather, tun=buff and deal=understanding.

    I’m fine with NHOs as the answer itself, such as KOAN and IDO which I was able to decrypt. But when they are in the definition, sheesh, that’s tough.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 07:17 am (UTC)

      1. It isn’t tun=buff – buff is giving nut, as in a big fan of something, which you then have to reverse.
  15. “When is a crane like a French girl?”
    A crane, French ‘une grue’ is also a slang term for a slut. Hardly a mademoiselle.
  16. Will GOODWILL for our setter REMAIN?
    As today I’m lamenting a crane
    A bird — bloody hell!
    The PESTILENCE strikes once again
  17. A few unknowns for me. IDO and NIOBE must have come up before but I couldn’t remember them, KOAN was my LOI on trust that it is a kind of question, and I couldn’t have told you what a DEMOISELLE is so constructed it from wordplay. I looked at the wrong end of ‘syringe’ in 16d for a while, which held up TENDERISE, and I took a long time to see CHEAPSKATE as I only have the vaguest awareness that ‘near’ can mean stingy. E-COMMERCE also went in without being fully parsed.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Fido
    LOI Koan
    COD Director

  18. 12:40 LOI BABOON. I only knew of DEMOISELLE as a type of dragonfly, and didn’t know PESTILENCE could be morally harmful, so I’ve learnt more than one thing from the crossword today. I liked E-COMMERCE, but COD to SLINGSHOT for the amusing surface.
  19. WOO then COWER were my first 2 in, although the cricket meaning went over my head. I made steady progress, constructing the unknown crane en route. I knew Beethoven’s only opera and removed the priest as instructed. I was also able to construct the familiar sounding NIOBE, although her story remains an unknown, which I decided not to research after seeing BW’s comment. CHEAPSKATE and PASSIONFLOWER have both appeared recently, so were reasonably fresh in my mind. I came to a shuddering halt at LOI, KOAN, where I put it in and took it out several times, not quite able to believe it was an actual word. However, I finally shrugged and went with the wordplay, and was mightily relieved when no pink squares appeared. 21:29, with several minutes spent on that LOI. Thanks setter and George.
  20. 42:19 for another enjoyably tricky puzzle. LOI NHO KOAN. Kept going back to 19ac to try to make DIDO work, until FIDO jumped up at me. Liked ABERDEEN ANGUS, CHEAPSKATE and SLINGSHOT
  21. 14 minutes today, so on the easy side. I know NIOBE more for her tears than her pride, but now I’ve checked the story both are well covered.
    I have a PASSIONFLOWER in my garden which is quite incredibly resilient, producing flowers virtually all year round and even fruit (the orange variety) most of the time. Haven’t managed to kill it yet, despite almost tireless neglect.
    It seems no-one has trouble with STAR CHAMBER, which feels like a bit of arcana from English history, but clearly this parish is more educated than that.
    I only parsed WOO in check time, so avoiding a pink H.
  22. Rann out of time and beaten by DEMOISELLE after a fair amount of biffing some others. Took solace in knowing KOAN add NIOBE. C’est la vie.

    Thanks to g and the setter,

  23. 24:18. A bit slower by having to do it on a phone — but not much. No real quibbles or unknowns, but some of the clever cryptics passed me by so thanks for the enlightenment.
  24. Quicker than yesterday in time, but somehow felt much slower, which is the way of cryptic crosswords. All knowledge checked and confirmed to be general, though there was an interesting mix of old and new themes.
  25. 52 minutes, with a small amount of help. The cheapskate utterly beat me, good clue. Never knew that Niobe was a proud parent or what koan meant.

    I agree with kevingregg about Beethoven. If anyone has never heard the last movement of the 7th Symphony then they have missed out on something in life (but I think we’ve heard the symphonies so much that they’ve become a bit hackneyed). And there are lots of other wonderful things. Rage over a Lost Penny. The piano sonatas, particularly the last three. The late quartets. That trio from Fidelio. Etc.

  26. …..which appeared recently for CHEAPSKATE. Once again, I felt I made unnecessarily heavy weather of the puzzle.

    TIME 11:12

  27. .. 1d and 14a in 15 minutes, with much pleasure, then couldn’t convince myself that KOAN was a thing and had forgotten the archaic meaning of near as cheap, mean. So came here to find KOAN was a thing. Thought WOO was nice, a pair in cricket as noted above. I thought DEAL for understanding was a stretch.
  28. Didn’t find this straightforward at all — it was a struggle to piece one clue and the next together and get some momentum going.

    Plenty of biffing, non-parsing and a few NHOs:

    Non-parsed: E-COMMERCE (from definition); TACTICIANS (from definition); EDITORIAL (from definition);

    Biffs: AMBIT (well I’ve heard of it but didn’t know what it meant); NIOBE (again, heard of but wasn’t sure who she was); CHEAPSKATE (no idea how this relates to the definition of ‘one near’); KOAN (NHO — the answer was either going to be QUAN or KOAN depending on which spelling was chosen, so waited until CHEAPSKATE was pencilled in)

    I thought understanding = DEAL was a bit loose.

  29. Neat, well-constructed puzzle where biffing paid off perhaps a tad too much. NIOBE gets too much cruciverbal space in my view, along with NAOMI (and the hackneyed I MOAN reversal clue that comes with her). No idea about French lassie’s alter ego(s), and only vague recollection of KOAN being a word. Wordplay generous enough to iron out any wrinkles. Many thanks to setter and blogger.
  30. 27.51. This was a struggle. I found myself stretching for quite a few of the clues where I couldn’t identify the definition and couldn’t see how to piece the wordplay together.
  31. Slower than I should have been but I was distracted by French fishing wars. Niobean I associate with weeping. “Like Niobe, all tears” – Hamlet. I forgot it was pride in her children that led to her downfall. Koan I had to guess – though I think now that we did have it a few months back. Didn’t know it then either! Are tacticians the same as strategists? I thought they had complementary but different skills. Much fun – thanks.
  32. Better than yesterday’s offering for me, which had me all tied up in knots. DNF again today but only koan and cheapskate missing. FOI organ. Only four on first pass.
    Solved my others in a manner rather like pulling teeth, and took ages. I had quan, as mentioned above. I looked it up in the OED and it wasn’t there. The alternative spelling eluded me. Despite all, I enjoyed the puzzle. 26 to me, 2 to setter. Not a bad result on a personal level. Thanks, George, for the blog, which clarified much for me. Good puzzle, setter – you win again.
  33. I’ve been wearing out my television screen with T20 cricket during the day and World Series baseball in the evening. Mostly what I’ve learnt is the games are equally distracting, and both make concentrating on tricky wordplay — especially for longer longer entries — difficult to impossible. Today I knew Koan (what is the sound of two wickets falling?), and was pleased when the Roman pet didn’t turn out to be a real animal owned by someone whom all the classicists know but I don’t. Thanks, George
  34. My favourite KOAN was this:

    A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

  35. 45 mins. FOI dread, last baboon. Is a tactician a strategist? I thought strategy is the big picture whilst tatics are the smaller adjustments made when the strategy is not working to plan. Probably hair splitting, I know. Thoughts, anyone? Thanks to setter and solver
    1. Strategy is the longer term goal, the direction you want to take. Tactics are the short term means employed to get you there.
      So I agree with you: two different things, though they are often confused .. and Collins agrees with us: so, an error by the setter
  36. Very enjoyable puzzle with excellent clueing but my general knowledge let me down on KOAN, the crane, the opera,the brandy, the parent and the flower so took me 38 minutes to work through.

    What I liked though is that all of the unknown words are generously clued so that you can get to them by wordplay.

    Ironically given the debate above WOO went in as FOI for me as a cricket fan.

    Thanks G and setter

  37. Gave up after 45 mins as had to go to golf. DEMOISELLE (though I had the ISELLE,) PESTILENCE and FIDO all unyielding. Oh well

    Thank g.

  38. 15:36 this afternoon, a third day of steady rain here in Edinburgh, although so far not experiencing the problems that those in the Lake District are facing right now.
    Very slow start but gradually picked up speed, in what I felt was a tricky but satisfying solve.
    Got stuck for a while with 24 ac “ambit”, where I thought there must be an “s” at the end of the answer. Eventually, with the necessary crossers in place, the solution jumped out at me.
    I can add another MER at the use of “understanding” as a synonym for “deal” in 5 d “ideal”.
    By the way does anyone know if there’s an (unwritten) crossword “law” regarding the use of “tip” as an indicator. I’ve always assumed that it could refer to either end of the related word, although the tip on a snooker cue is undoubtedly at the front. I mean have you ever tried playing with the cue the other way round? Whatever, 16 d “tenderise” fell apart quite readily.
    Like many others NHO 14 ac “koan” but crossers and cryptics left no option really.
    Among plenty of candidates, my COD was 1 d “cheapskate” with its slightly archaic feel and political comment perchance?
    Thanks to glh for the blog and to setter.
  39. 16 mins. FOI woo but other clues delayed matters. Bottom half yielded quickest and telling crossers started to see inroads. LOI high ranking which I liked but COD cheapskate. Good fun. Thx setter and blogger.

    Nho koan. Has anyone?

  40. DNK KOAN and I always think it’s QU’RAN. Didn’t get the AMBIT/DIRECTOR cross. Had to check NIOBE as well. Not great today
  41. I apologise if this has been mentioned before but I think MAROON is a better answer: the graduate is an MA and a ROON is a Scottish cloth border or edge hence advantage. What a maroon I was not to get it more quickly! Jeffrey
    1. I thought about MAROON but BABOON seemed more direct. ROON is in Collins as “a shred or strip of cloth” but I don’t think that can qualify as edge.

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