Times 28123 – Russell Oberlin, perhaps?

Time: 31 minutes
Music: Tchaikovsky, Symphony 2, Markevitch/LSO

This one was unusually chewy for a Monday, at least for me.   While some were write-ins, some were not, and a number of them had to biffed and figured out later.   Well, later is now, so here we go. 

OK, all done.   SNITCH says pretty average, but some solvers found it a little harder. 

1 Page penned by retiring Tories — protection for that? (9)
6 Around and around, circle tree (5)
CACAO – CA + CA + O, my FOI.
9 Important time to plug bottle (5)
10 Where builder might have faith, back of ladder being held — step up (9)
11 Sweet to see so much dancing, pop joining in (9,6)
13 Footballer hugging old man in love (8)
BESOTTED – BES(O)T + TED.  with a tricky cryptic and a tricky literal, as in is often a connecting word, but not this time.
14 Buried in South Africa, bird bones (6)
16 Club that spurs one on (6)
DRIVER – Double definition.
18 Type relocating to hamlet (3,5)
HOT METAL – Anagram of TO HAMLET, and probably not the type you were expecting.
21 One books male singer: to acquire female as stripper, finally? (2,3,10)
23 Reference contents of chest in sign (9)
25 Warm salutation (5)
TOAST – Double definition, as a verb first, then a noun.
26 Old PM in Wilson or Thatcher (5)
NORTH – Hidden in [wilso]N OR TH]atcher].  Yorktown was his downfall.
27 Too much to ask, request for large coffee? (4,5)
TALL ORDER – Double definition, one jocular.
1 City that may similarly be built up? (5)
CIVIC – Palindromic answer, where the literal is an adjective.
2 Tackling forbidden in the end, a sport unfortunately isn’t for defender (6,5)
PATRON SAINT – Anagram of A SPORT around [forbidde}N + AIN’T.
3 Dismiss Sale’s back, punching rugger thug (4,3)
4 Network admits staff looked in pain (8)
GRIMACED – GRI(MACE)D.  If you were trying to use rod, you were not alone.
5 By the sound of it, consideration nailed down (6)
TACKED – Sounds like TACT in most dialects.
6 Baldie snatching that lady’s cigar (7)
7 Articulate main character (3)
CEE –  Sounds like SEA.  At first, I thought this was CHI, that sounds like KEY, and then CUE which sounds like Q.   Neither was correct.
8 Alive and kicking? (2,3,4)
ON THE BALL – Semi-double-definition, one alluding to football.
12 Maybe make marks with key on daughter’s lucky purchase? (11)
SCRATCHCARD – SCRATCH CAR + D.   A UK-ism that I got from the cryptic.
13 Ill fortune covering sport (9)
BADMINTON –  BAD + MINT + ON, as in it’s worth a mint!
15 Great catcher rising after pass (8)
COLOSSAL – COL + LASSO upside down in this down clue.
17 English wood with tree rot (7)
19 Brilliant player in team runs so amazingly (7)
MAESTRO – Anagram of TEAM R SO.
20 Blood spilt ultimately in support of county (6)
CLARET – CLARE + [spli]T
22 Right over hill, finding revolver (5)
ROTOR – R + O + TOR.
24 Organ recital, almost exquisite, starts up (3)
EAR – R[ecital] A[lmost] E[xquisite] upside-down.   It took me a long time to see how this worked.

70 comments on “Times 28123 – Russell Oberlin, perhaps?”

  1. Never really got going on this one, got becalmed in the middle phases and couldn’t finish off. Pretty hapless effort, all round. 41′.
  2. becalmed early, with 16a DRIVER first in, but then the breeze got up to power us home in a slightly under par 26:55.
    Lots of sporty clues today: Rugby, Badminton, on the ball, driver, and one of my favourites- Chocolate Mousse.
    Is there cricket on somewhere?
    1. No, just some grotesque interpretation of same, designed for the consumption of the adolescent instant-gratification brigade. Cricket porn, if you will.

      Not the sort of thing our distinguished fellow solvers here would pay any heed to. They’re all focussed on the magnificent love (hate) saga that will continue to unfold over the coming Summer.

      1. Hm. What was it England skittled Australia for? I haven’t decided whether your comment is snobbery or sour grapes.
        Mind you, whatever Spurs were playing on Saturday wasn’t football, so maybe you’ve got a point.
        1. I see Nuno has now departed. He was only about 117th choice for the poisoned chalice that is the Spurs management post in the first place ! Good luck to whoever is brave/foolhardy enough to replace him !
          1. I’m not a Spurs fan, but would be interested to see whether Conte could turn them into title challengers….
            1. Stadium wise, Spurs are top four without a doubt. Player wise, they’re mid-table. Not much anyone can do about that unless Mr Levi changes.
              1. I was sitting at a cafe in San Francisco yesterday with an American and we saw a gent in an Arsenal top which I obviously remarked upon (“terrifying Halloween costume, mate” etc etc). My companion said, Arsenal are the best team in the UK right? There’s Manchester United too maybe? I scoffed and said that Arsenal probably weren’t even the best team in London, and then spent some time trying to work out if they actually are, because I just don’t know. Can sportier heads than mine rank the London teams in approximate order of footballing excellence please?
                1. Presently Chelsea are best placed team the Premiership, let alone London team. West Ham are playing well too are right behind Liverpool and Man City. Arsenal had a terrible start to the season and are climbing rapidly.

                  Q. How do you know if Man U are playing at home?

                  A. Because all the 4x4s are backed-up on the King’s Road heading north.

                  My regards to SF Meldrew

                  Edited at 2021-11-01 06:02 pm (UTC)

                  1. Of course, you have forgotten the mighty Crystal Palace, Brentford, and to a lesser extent Watford (though in Hertfordshire, 3 miles inside the M25).

                    I’d say that Chelski have had the strongest start and are excellent defensively; West Ham have been remarkably consistent so far but may not have strength in depth when the games are coming thick and fast; Arsenal had an appalling start but have been much better lately; Spurs will benefit from new manager Antonio Conte’s excellence if they will spend some money on a better midfield; Palace are a different animal under Patrick Vieira having bought some forward-looking midfielders; Brentford had a decent start including a win against Arsenal and a draw against Liverpool, but appear to have struggled more recently; and finally Watford have looked shambolic at times, but now have former title winner at Leicester, Ranieri as manager, so may yet turn things around.

                    Those seven teams are probably in the correct order at the moment, though by the end of the season, I’d reckon on Watford going ahead of Brentford, and either Spurs or Arsenal passing West Ham. Chelsea will win the title, Palace firmly mid-table, Brentford relegated.

  3. I never did parse IN THE ALTOGETHER, stopping at I NT HE and biffing. Also biffed PATRON SAINT and BESOTTED and EAR. I just couldn’t see how CHOCOLATE MOUSSE worked, in part because I never thought of ‘pop’ in the required sense (it’s not in my idiolect, although of course I know it), and having accumulated a hefty number of errors last month, I didn’t want to add to them. Not really a Monday puzzle, but a Monday performance on my part.
  4. I was well set for a rare fifteen minute slam dunk until I was blown off course by Miss Charlotte Russe at 11ac. Yes, I know!
    Then the North West Passage finally came into view. Not too impressed with 1dn CIVIC nor 7dn CEE! I was home in 22 belaboured minutes.

    FOI 6dn CHEROOT — as smoked by some gentlemen

    LOI 2dn PATRON SAINT — jumblie old clue and not my taste. Saint & Greavsie every time!

    COD 13ac BESOTTED George BEST is the footballer as is Ted LASSO in 15dn

    WOD 8dn ON THE BALL with Brian Moore, Saint & Greavsie, Gabby Logan and Barry Venison.

    There is a footie ‘Mina’ (a small Nina) hereabouts if 2dn is PETROS SKiZT — the current Lincoln City reserve goalie from Slovakia.

    We used to have Football ‘scatchcards’, did we not?

    ‘They think it’s all over!’

    ‘It is now!’

    Edited at 2021-11-01 02:16 am (UTC)

    1. I got confused in 11ac and thought it had to be CHARLOTTE MOUSSE! Took ages to sort out.
      1. I think you’ve hit on the new children’s cartoon sensation, taking the throne from Peppa Pig.
  5. Seemed to be a mixture of Mondayesque sitters (EAR, CHEROOT, MAESTRO, TOAST, NORTH), a few biffables, a few from checkers (COPYRIGHT, CHOCOLATE MOUSSE) and a few meatier challenges.

    SCRATCHCARD created a bit of a hold-up at the end (we call them scratchies). Was looking for a three-letter word for key until I re-assessed the definition. So it turned out to be my LOI and COD.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  6. …I put CUE. Never did see CEE.
    FOI: VITAL LOI: CUE COD: No real contenders but BESOTTED will suffice.
    1. Similar time, same fail as $martinp1

      After alpha-trawling LOI C-E, and not noticing CEE was a character, CUE seemed the only possibility that wasn’t totally unrealistic.

  7. Really enjoyed this, but I was in the bath and too relaxed. I biffed BESOTTED (with the sports guy, though I’ve heard of him—here—before) as well as PATRON SAINT (half-parsing it incorrectly—we won’t go into that) and the tasty CHOCOLATE MOUSSE. A shame about the latter two, as I would have enjoyed the anagrams. LOI TOAST, of all things, after SCRATCHCARD, with its nasty evocation of vandalism.

    With 20, we even have Dracula’s favorite libation tonight. Happy Halloween!

  8. Tough for me, but enjoyable. The answers were easier than the clues – one of those where many answers were clear from crossers, but the cryptics were particularly tricky and took ages to work out. Also not impressed by civic and cee, but there were some great clues: increment, copyright, rule out, eyewash.
  9. 40 minutes.

    Another puzzle of two halves for me, with the RH much easier than the LH.

    Two answers presented problems with parsing (PATRON SAINT and CHOCOLATE MOUSSE) because I was was trying to find full anagrist when both were only partial.

    I think NORTH as PM turned up recently, and BESOTTED even more so.

  10. I was slow to get going, but once I had momentum I found no great hold-ups. It probably helped that there was no unusual vocabulary today, which itself is unusual. HOT METAL was an unknown to me, but looked a likely anagram and was confirmed by the checkers. Like others I considered other answers before I lighted on CEE, particularly CHI.

    We have palindromes in the top left and the bottom right. Does this count as a Nina?

    Edited at 2021-11-01 06:46 am (UTC)

    1. It seemed a TALL ORDER at first
      I was not ON THE BALL, and I cursed
      Hit the VITAL wavelength
      Then went from strength to strength
      With a COLOSSAL finishing burst

      (Ooh-er missus!)😀

    2. Mr. Pootletoop sadly NON!
      We have two aerodromes — Hong Qiao and Pudong adjacent — neither being palindromic.
      Some parts of Micronesia and Melanesia have such phenomena, such a Nina-Anin in the Cook Islands and Aroratarora, Western Samoa, but after that I’m struggling!
  11. 42:49 with a very slow start. FOI TACKED, LOI CEE. Nice to have another coffee at 27ac TALL ORDER (after learning about them all at the weekend) but MER at large. In Starbucks a tall coffee is the small option. COD EYEWASH
  12. 43 mins but the start felt like pulling teeth. Last two in CACAO and CEE. BESOTTED again held me up as it did last time. Bah. This was a crossword I started in the right middle and travelled in a clockwise direction until completion. Very odd.


    Thank you v and setter.

    Edited at 2021-11-01 08:10 am (UTC)

  13. 31 minutes with LOI BESOTTED. Georgie is no longer the first footballer to come to mind. COD to CHOCOLATE MOUSSE for its bravery in using Pop for Cola, something which I thought only somebody my age could do. It will never be as good as Dandelion and Burdock anyway. I liked TALL ORDER too, but if I’d made that COD it may have constrained my ability to put the ludicrous number of modern coffee alternatives into pseuds’ corner. Quite tough in places but fair. Thank you V and setter.
  14. And what about ‘Vimto’!? Made at Old Trafford and Wythenshaw (from 1971) – do you remember ‘Purple Ronnie’?

    Edited at 2021-11-01 08:30 am (UTC)

    1. 20 years ago, I often used to pass the Vimto works in Wythenshawe. I remember the place smelled strongly of sweet artificial blackberry-ness – quite bizarre (but strangely reassuring) for the passer-by.

      Not sure if it’s still there, I no longer have a reason to go that route

      1. Alas no. Production ceased about 20 years ago, and Vimto is now made in Leicestershire and somewhere in Yorkshire, and also in Saudi Arabia. When I was young you could get Vimto frozen in a tetrapak, and it was much preferable to the ubiquitous “Lubbly Jubbly”.
        1. Apparently Vimto is still made under licence by the Coca Cola Corporation in Ghana! America Thirst!
      2. I can’t decide if “I often used to pass the Vimto works in Wythenshawe” is lyrics from the best song that Morrissey never released, or an ever better first line for Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. “Last night I dreamt I went to the Vimto works in Wythenshawe again.”
  15. Thanks to the setter for this énigme. Nice puzzle.

    I never got into a rhythm and had to work at it. I didn’t help myself by employing a Patron Agent.

    COD: On the ball.

    1. PATROL AGENT was my first thought until I twigged. I enjoyed the crossword but CEE may be clever but not to my taste.
  16. 9a was a VITAL contribution to my solve, but CIVIC didn’t turn up until I’d biffed CHOCOLATE ORANGE, with the help of CHEROOT and ON THE something or other. I had to wait ages for a SCRATCHCARD before the MOUSSE arrived. HOT METAL and STERNA allowed me to complete 8d. BADMINTON provoked a biffed IN THE ALTOGETHER, which I did manage to parse fairly quickly. Having complete all bar the NW, I finally had a breakthrough when I substituted GRID for LAN and came up with GRIMACED. RULE OUT and COPYRIGHT followed and left me to puzzle over LOI, PATRON SAINT, for a couple of minutes. A quick proof read and a fumbled submit took me 3 seconds over 30 minutes. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  17. Rare early(ish) solve today. 31m but a bit of struggle with some of the offering, same as those mentioned already. I did though have Petrol Saint for a while, as well as cue and charlotte mousse, so quite a lot of self-imposed problems. Thank you, setter and V for the explanations.
  18. Flying today, happy Monday. Helped by BESOTTED having come up recently, as jackkt has noted, memorable because I didn’t get it before.

    Biffed PATRON SAINT and CHOCOLATE MOUSSE after a few letters. Liked SCRATCHCARD.

    The best response when someone criticises the cricket, or the playing of it, is to say ‘look at the scoreboard’.🙂

    11′, thanks vinyl and setter.

  19. Definitely not Mondayish here, a ground-out 26.40, with the 1s, GRIMACED and the love-lorn footballer holding out.
    CIVIC because I don’t think it’s much of a clue, COPYRIGHT because I was struggling with the “retiring” reversal indicator, BESOTTED because I thought “in love” indicated an INO ending and I couldn’t think of a sufficiently well known dead Brazilian footballer, and GRIMACED because the only networks that would come to mind were LAN, WAN and such. I even tried RETE.
    On the other hand, CEE was as simple a write in as I could find in this – um – grid.
  20. 39 minutes. I put a few in with a shrug and came back to them later. Couldn’t see how car = key, because I was thinking that make marks = scratch. The ‘in the altogether’ clue was misleading to me because it finished with an r and initially I thought that this came from ‘stripper, finally’. Chambers has both cee and see for C.
  21. Definitely a step-up for a Monday, Fortunately it’s a bank holiday (Toussaint) overI;ve onyl jst discovered that here, so time passes slowly.

    Enjoyed this very much, and have just discovered that BESOTTED can also mean “stupefied with drink”(obvious when you think about). I will recommend this to my wife as being a little more elegant than the terms she sometimes uses in conversations with myself.

    I had a COLOSSAL CHOCOLATE MOUSSE on Saturday evening but COD for me was PATRON SAINT.

    Thanks to v and the setter.

  22. I too was going along very breezily before I ground to a halt in the NW, like many a train traveller on their way to Scotland. None of them – BESOTTED, PATRON SAINT, COPYRIGHT, GRIMACED – seem especially difficult in retrospect, which I always regard as the sign of a good clue.
  23. ….in the NE corner as a result of thinking of the BBC Scotland comedy series “Still in the Game”. CACAO popped up, and suddenly I was looking at a prospective “Private Eye” clue ! Once sanity was restored, I nailed “Hot Metal” (another great comedy from way back, starring Robert Hardy. I think it was partly written by David Fenwick of “Meldrew” fame).

    My LOI held me up by a full minute.

    TIME 11:03

  24. seems a reasonable time today. I saw that CHOCOLATE fitted for the sweet, but was a long time before I saw the COLA bit. Slow start, and as above, the NW was my downfall. I nearly went for help for BESOTTED because I just couldn’t see how PA fitted in until suddenly saw that lifting and separating were required.
  25. Like jacket, I too was puzzled by patron saint. There seemed to be two possible anagrinds these being tackling and unfortunately.

    Jacket mentions that these are partial anagrinds, but that’s a new idea to me.

    Can anyone clarify for me so that I can understand this in future?

    Didn’t like besotted at all.

    I dislike names being used casually in a clue, so this was a let down on two counts for me. Otherwise a pretty quick journey.

    1. I had the same concern about the clue but, on reflection, I think “tackling” here means to “wrap around” — i.e. the letter N wrapped by an anagram of A SPORT — so the only anagrind is “unfortunately”, fortunately.
    2. Anon, I mentioned ‘partial’ and ‘anagrist’ in my earlier posting, not ‘anagrind’, and I’ve no idea what a ‘partial anagrind’ might be. What I was referring to was that both answers were parsed partially as anagrams but also incorporated complete words clued by other means – i.e. COLA (pop) and AIN’T (isn’t).

      As for ‘jacket’, I’ll get my coat:)

      Edited at 2021-11-01 06:09 pm (UTC)

  26. Struggled finding NW passage. Why is patron saint a defender? Got irritated after a slow hour. Eventually 1:24. Thanks. My brain hurts
    1. patron saint
      in British English

      a saint regarded as the particular guardian of a country, church, trade, person, etc

  27. 38:20. Took a long time to get a fingerhold with a quick first pass yielding meagre results. Thereafter the answers came thin and slow with CEE and CACAO proving particularly troublesome. It seemed a bit of a joyless slog, though undoubtedly the fault is mine rather than the setter’s.
  28. 13:40. I found this quite tricky, with only a smattering of answers in the grid after my first pass through the clues, which left me with relatively little by way of checking letters to work with. Satisfying solve though.
    I also put CHI initially, which made 10ac tricky, and BOWL OUT, which messed up the NW corner for a while.
  29. So far off the wavelength that I’m concentrating on the Club Monthly which so far is more accessible
  30. A 32 minute DNF with ‘cue’ for CEE. A pity, but I was determined to put this in, no matter what. I liked the two palindromes for ‘City’ + ‘revolver’ and CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.
  31. Surprised by the SNITCH (99 when I checked) as I found this all quite comfortable — all parsed correctly too — didn’t even go back to check CEE might be something else.




  32. Slow for a Monday but all correct and parsed in under my cut off time of an hour. Pleased with the result. Nice to see Manchester United’s George Best make an appearance (even though a random footballer must make it hard for many.). Liked ‘as stripper, finally’ for a definition COD

  33. Grateful for this one, as I found it quite biffable and I was struggling with a heavy swell on the Stornoway ferry and a noisy gaggle of small children beside me in the cafeteria. Anyway, COD to the stripper clue – simple but clever. LOI = EYEWASH. Incidentally, aren’t TACKED and TACT homophones in all English dialects?
  34. Solved mainly over lunch. The SE had to wait whilst I got my haircut. FOI EAR; LOI TOAST -a word which I think has fooled me before.
    I had MOUSSE long before the Chocolate arrived; a half-biff in the end.
    Lots to like but COD to SCRATCHCARD for getting a new (to me) word into a puzzle with a good surface.
    About an hour in total.
  35. DNF. 15 to me 12 to setter. Congrats to all finishers. My solve was in the east with only ear, North and in the from in the altogether in the west. FOI sterna, LOI cee. Am I bovvered? Thanks for the blog, Vinyl, and the puzzle, setter.
  36. 15:19 Not much to add. I took a while to understand SCRATCH CAR. Finished with BESOTTED and BADMINTON. I liked the Ikean IN THE ALTOGETHER.

    Edited at 2021-11-01 08:21 pm (UTC)

  37. Just two on the first pass (Hot Metal and North), which I normally take as a clear ‘thanks, but no thanks’ flag, but it was raining so I persevered. Some time later, (though still the same day!) loi Patron Saint went in with a shrug — I had the (a sport)* bit, but was trying to work anti + n in there as well. Very satisfying to finish something that seemed impossible on first sight. Invariant
  38. 16.13 but tricked by 7 dn. Opted for the Cue mentioned by vinyl1. All makes sense now but can’t remember the last time if ever I saw Cee as an answer. Just finished after a 10 mile walk in the Surrey Hills earlier today. Beautiful but totally knackering . Too tired to make any meaningful contribution. 😴
  39. 18:45 early this evening after the cricket. Quite difficult in parts, some other clues pretty straightforward.
    COD 21 ac ” in the altogether”. I liked the sequential structure of the clue and the surface itself. I also liked 3d “rule out” and 17 d “eyewash”.
    LOI 2 d “patron saint” where even with all the correct anagrist elements in place, I needed the crossers before I could see the answer.
    Thanks to Vinyl and setter
  40. 39.42. This was a struggle all the more so for being unexpectedly un-Mondayish. As if besotted, chocolate mousse, copyright etc weren’t chewy enough I also felt that I made heavy weather of some chestnutty ones like vital, driver and toast.

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