Times 28,277: Be Careful What You Wish For

Whew! Well you can’t say I didn’t ask for it. This was one of the most “interesting” puzzles in a long time, with a potential cluing error at 13ac and the pure madness that is 8dn. The Chinese city would no doubt have engendered howls of protest if it had been clued an iota less transparently than it was. In the bulging plus column the semi-&lits are all infinitely charming, such as my personal COD 1dn, and the choice of vocab and reference points ooze fun eveywhere. I’m all for setters pushing the cryptic envelope a little bit if their intention is to have fun and spread the fun around. Thank you very much setter (you maniac)!

Live solve can be viewed at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1469702285, starting at the 9 minute mark.

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

1 Victor, struggling with pesky rent, being this? (7-8)
9 Boast about French XI, first in Europe for a time (6,3)
BRONZE AGE – BRAG about ONZE, + E{urope}
10 A party with sailors on deck (5)
ADORN – A DO with the R.N. [Royal Navy] on the end
11 Seafood requisitions taking months, not days (6)
12 Better without clothing for race, one would agree? (8)
STREAKER – STAKER [one that stakes, lays bets], “without” R{ac}E, semi-&lit
13 Need large one before retiring (6)
ENTAIL – L I ANTE [large | one | before] reversed, except not. Can anyone see a better parsing?
15 Overused, of dubious merit now (8)
18 Replace spades, having finished with machinery (8)
SUPPLANT – S(pades) + UP [finished] + PLANT [machinery]
19 A cuff you weren’t expecting? (4-2)
TURN-UP – Double def, as in a trouser cuff and “a turn-up for the books”
21 I get browned off, swamped by stories and dull speeches (8)
LITANIES – I TAN, “swamped” by LIES
23 Image from bible with A-rating (6)
AVATAR – A.V. [Authorized Version] + A + TAR [rating, as in nautical type]
26 Spirit primarily cordial in houses backing onto one another (5)
HOOCH – C{ordial} in HO(use) + (esu)OH
27 Sharp right turns in front of entrance (9)
TRENCHANT – reversed RT “in front of” ENCHANT [entrance]
28 Where St Vincent, seeing snake, protected people, keeping lives secure (8,7)
WINDWARD ISLANDS – WIND [snake] + WARDS “keeping” IS LAND [lives | secure]
1 One having turned up barman at first tolerated? (3,4)
PUB BORE – reversed UP + B{arman} + BORE [tolerated], semi-&lit
2 Engine’s sound and very secure on ascent (5)
VROOM – V(ery) + reversed MOOR [secure]
3 For auditors, generate an invoice in the form of a flyer (9)
RAZORBILL – homophone of RAISE A BILL, in non-rhotic climes
4 What can appear long until just before November? (4)
YEAR – YEAR{n} [long, stopping before the N(ovember), semi-&lit
5 Chinese city’s restriction on books leading to offence (8)
TIENTSIN – TIE on N.T. [New Testament] leading to SIN [offence]
6 One judge is up in arms (5)
IRATE – I RATE [one | judge]
7 A bargain in pink and blue (9)
KNOCKDOWN – KNOCK [pink, as in engine noise] + DOWN [blue, as in sad]
8 Few like such garments merely to be the first for wearing? (7)
NONIRON – okay so this is one of the most convoluted clues I can remember. If you take FEW, and make it NON-IRON, you subtract the chemical symbol for iron (Fe) and are left with merely W, the “first” for W{earing}. But exactly what the resultant surface is intended to mean, I’m not sure I can tell you!
14 Pour tea to start: I must have mine to drink! (3,2,4)
TIP IT DOWN – T{ea} + I + PIT [mine] + DOWN [drink, as in “down in one”]
16 Match involving four old clubs is undecided (9)
EQUIVOCAL – EQUAL [match] “involving” IV O(ld) C(lubs)
17 One coming before performances to record shows (8)
ANCESTOR – hidden in {perform}ANCES TO R{ecord}
18 Jump in fare after auction ends early (7)
SALCHOW – CHOW [fare, as in food] after SAL{e}. A jump named for Swedish figure skater (and world champion in 1909) Ulrich Salchow, and not to be confused with the Norwegian Axel or the Austrian Lutz.
20 They’d ruin sea trip? (7)
PIRATES – (SEA TRIP*), semi-&lit
22 Be able to broadcast under any conditions? (5)
NOHOW – homophone of KNOW HOW
24 Sequence to work out (5)
TRAIN – double def
25 French day centre’s abandoned by Order of the Republic? (4)
JEDI – JE{u}DI. q.v. “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”, the video game

64 comments on “Times 28,277: Be Careful What You Wish For”

  1. I got all of them but TIENTSIN & STREAKER, although ‘got’ needs scare quotes: No idea how NONIRON worked; NHO PUB BORE, and ‘One’ isn’t a helpful def; couldn’t parse ENTAIL, of course; NHO TIP IT DOWN and couldn’t find it in Collins; didn’t understand KNOCK=pink (it would be ‘ping’ in the US, and I still wouldn’t have seen it). I don’t recall the Jedi being specific to some republic, and wasn’t pleased to see the movies treated as GK; and now I find it’s not the movies but a video game! All in all, I could have done without this one.

    Edited at 2022-04-29 02:55 am (UTC)

    1. I don’t really see why it would be the video game: the definition works fine as a reference to the movies.
      As for GK: a movie franchise that remains culturally prominent and hugely financially successful 45 years after it started is unambiguously in that category, however much you might dislike it!
      1. The Republic is, I think, first mentioned in the scene in the 1977 film where Obi Wan gives Luke his father’s light saber:

        “An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.”

        …and I think the more recent “prequel” films were set during the time of the Republic.

        Edited at 2022-04-29 07:13 am (UTC)

        1. Yes, the JEDI are part of the government in some way I can’t really remember: those films were so dreadful I haven’t watched them since they came out. My youngest son would know: he is a self-confessed ‘Star Wars geek’. Maintaining that kind of hold over the imagination of kids across generations like that is no mean feat.
          1. The Empire Strikes Back, dreadful??!

            Much you have to learn from your youngest…

              1. Use your gift wisely, galspray. Understanding such as that which you have attained may turn a young Jedi’s head, especially when at the bottom of the world he lives.
            1. As G says, I was referring to the execrable prequels. Empire is The Best Star Wars. Fact. I must have seen it 20 times and will do so again.

              Edited at 2022-04-29 08:56 am (UTC)

  2. I parsed ENTAIL the same way you did V ,but without noticing that it didn’t really parse close scrutiny.
    The last ten minutes were spent on the intersecting NONIRON and STREAKER, neither of which I could parse satisfactorily, but ended up bunging in with fingers crossed. Thanks for the elucidation. Loved the Jedi.
    Another Friday workout! 38:06
    1. ENTAIL was clued differently in my version (mobile app).

      Need large one, neat, to get drunk.

      Makes sense like that.

  3. Well, finally decided to wave white flag and retire from field while still a few brain cells left. Couldn’t get NOHOW, SALCHOW, TIP IT DOWN, NONIRON, ANCESTORS or LITANIES. A lot of the others were entered without really following what was going on. Thanks,.Mr V ,for putting it all in some sort of coherent form! One question -doesn’t NOHOW mean the opposite of “under any conditions”?

    1. I thought that. You could replace the two in a non-standard formulation like ‘I ain’t doing that, not no how’ I suppose. That’s quite a lot of work for a question mark though.
  4. 113 minutes. All in, ? correctly, but submitted off leaderboard due to various factors occurring while solving. I think ENTAIL is a boo-boo. Yes, I suppose “such things do happen”, but still not good. NONIRON was last in by a long shot. Having the enumeration as the expected (3-4) would have helped get the answer more quickly but I still would have had no hope of working out the parsing – phew! Is the whole clue also meant to be the def?

    Enough whingeing. There were some excellent clues here including the sneaky def for WINDWARD ISLANDS, the STREAKER and PUB BORE semi-&lits and the hidden ANCESTOR.

    Thanks to setter and Verlaine

  5. Isn’t the surface saying that noniron garments are ready to wear before the others? Because they don’t need ironing? Don’t ask me, all my clothes are “noniron”
  6. That’s the part of this I could get too. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Edited at 2022-04-29 04:18 am (UTC)

  7. I think the setter may have been in the wacky backy, what with ETNAIL and NON IRON. Despite, or, perhaps, because of, that, I rather enjoyed this one, latching on to most things (not excluding the weirdnesses) pretty quickly and only being briefly held up by SALCHOW, because I had forgotten the spelling and though the jump had a K.

    So where did Triple Towlup come from, I wonder.

  8. I gave up on NONIRON, except for the part Lou Weed explains, so your explanation (and I think it is that) is greatly appreciated.

    ENTAIL was my LOI (after PUB BORE) and I was just so glad to finish that I hallucinated a perfectly fine clue there. Oh, dear.

    PUB BORE I take as an &lit. “One” can be part of the definition the same way that “A” is in dictionaries, no?

    Edited at 2022-04-29 04:25 am (UTC)

  9. My view on ENTAIL aligns, I think, with ulaca’s. My reading of the clue is that, literally, the answer should be ‘etnail’.
    Not a clue about NONIRON and I also had no idea that Star Wars was also a video game.
    Thank you, Verlaine, for STREAKER, though.
    Because it reminds me of the first time I came across it in a clue, my COD to TRENCHANT. Back in 2015 in #26019 the clue was “Where to expect fourth queue for “Spellbound” (9). A: ENTRANCED
    More nostalgia for me in SALCHOW. This took me back to the days of watching ice skating with TV commentary by Alan Weeks.
    All-in-all, an enjoyable puzzle for me.
  10. 13ac has now been updated on the Club site to “Need large one, neat, to get drunk (6)”, so I guess that’s an admission that it was not as it should be.

    I submitted off leaderboard because of some interruptions, but you can still put me down for a half-hour grind.

    Some interesting clues, occasionally drifting into “too clever by half” territory. NON-IRON drifted a little too far I thought, and I’m impressed that the V-Dog was able to parse it at all.

  11. I really liked this one, despite being completely unable to parse 13ac or 8dn.
    17dn my last one in, a really good hidden catches me out every time..
    Salchow I am sure we had not so long ago
    1. Agree Jerry. A well-hidden hidden in a clue that didn’t have you instinctively looking for a hidden. Nice piece of setting.
  12. Unfortunately I didn’t note my finishing time so I don’t know I long I was on this, but I’d estimate between 45 and 55 minutes. As with another very recent puzzle the answers weren’t all that hard to find as I chipped away at it steadily, but the wordplay was more of a problem or definitions were unknown.

    SALCHOW was unknown but the wordplay got me to it. JEDI came from JE{u}DI after I’d given up on MA{r}DI but I had no idea what the definition referred to. Didn’t understand NON-IRON and didn’t notice the problem with ENTAIL. I think we’ve had our ration of faulty clues for the moment.

  13. Beaten by this one with just the unknown 5d TIENTSIN left to get in my hour. I must admit to rather giving up hope when I realised the wordplay would only give me a 50/50 chance of remembering whether the word was SELCHOW or SALCHOW at 18d.

    Quite galling, giving that I had, in fact, jumped the right way at 18d and made my way acrobatically through the rest of the hoops of this strange confection, including 13a (whose clue was replaced during my hour solve!) and 8d… Curses!

    Edited at 2022-04-29 07:03 am (UTC)

  14. Whew! This certainly felt like full-on Friday fare to me, – I came very close to bailing out several times, but dogged determination saw me through to a successful outcome. After failing for multiple minutes (like yesterday actually) on the !a anagram, started off with BRONZE AGE, and hacked my way through this puzzle, feeling like an explorer in uncharted territory. NHO ORMERs despite growing up beside the cockle-vendors of the Fylde coast, failed to spot ANCESTOR was a hidden word, biffed TRENCHANT… …but I wasn’t going to be diverted from the mission. “Snake” = WIND (yes, I finally remembered!) unlocked the SW corner, and I finished with SALCHOW (NHO) then NONIRON (only word that fitted the grid) and finally TIENTSIN (“offence” = SIN another solving weakness of mine squished).

    Despite the relatively modest SNITCH rating, I feel totally delighted to make it through this one – and also to complete a puzzle meeting with the big V’s approval. Thanks a lot Verlaine and setter.

    1. Sometimes the SNITCH rating can be misleadingly low if a number of the seasoned solvers make uncharacteristic errors (as I have twice this week !)

      I have five “yardstick” solvers who I consider to be of a similar standard to myself, and against whom I compare my time. Today, three of them aren’t there.

  15. 48 minutes with LOI an unparsed NONIRON after I finally saw STREAKER. I didn’t know ORMERS or SALCHOW but they could be constructed with the crossers in place. Star Wars didn’t come out until I was in my thirties and I’ve done my best to avoid it ever since, unsuccessfully as my COD is JEDI. Unfortunately, wife and kids are all fans. But I am old enough for my first car to have been a Ford Pop 100E which ‘pinked’ and the debate as to whether it was a tappets or fuel issue was never solved.. Either way, it did no harm. I quite enjoyed this. Thank you V and setter.
  16. RAZORBILL was the clue I solved third
    And it’s TIMEWORN because it’s a bird
    So I’m already IRATE
    Can it get worse? Oh wait!
    NONIRON with no hyphen. Absurd!
  17. 12:35. I really enjoyed this one. I had to cross my fingers for the Chinese city, which I only knew as Tianjin, and I had no idea about the wordplay for NON-IRON. Convoluted is the word!
    13ac had been corrected by the time I got to it so I didn’t really solve the same puzzle as the rest of you.
    ‘Knock’ is one of the approximately 786 meanings of PINK I have learned from doing Mephisto and Azed.
  18. I was thrilled to finish in just under 23 minutes, which is way better than my average. There were some guesses based on wordplay (TIENSTSIN, SALCHOW, NOHOW) so I was expecting a few pink squares. Had no idea how NONIRON worked, and would have expected it to be non-iron. Well done for parsing it V! Overall jolly good fun – thanks to setter and Mr V.

  19. I really enjoyed it. Got nowhere near to parsing NONIRON so am eternally grateful to our valiant blogger for sorting that out. Very very clever indeed.
  20. Seems rather perverse of this setter to go to all the trickier lengths to get a pangram only to omit the X and, of all things, the F.
    Perhaps if I’d noticed the missing F it might have prompted me down the non-Fe route to understand NONIRON. Which, incidentally, looks even sillier written horizontally without its hyphen.
    The (JEDI) Republic (curiously still with a princess) and the Dark Side Empire is yet another example of the Hollywood preference to casting the evil British against the wholesome Patriots. Check the accents.
    I almost liked this one, despite the buildable but otherwise unknown TIENSTSIN, and the (Wodehouse?) PUB BORE not-in-Chambers entries, and time spent wondering why PARTIES would be a problem at sea. I ploughed through in 22.24, much the same a yesterday, only to discover that I’d managed to invent the BRONZO AGE. Ah well.
    1. I was looking for a pangram, too—I think we’re also missing a “G”?
  21. 71:24
    The time says it all really – this was a handful. Glad to finish it.
    Thanks, v.
  22. My printed version, printed at 9 o’clock French time has 13 ac as: “Need large one, neat, to get drunk.” Better clue then.
    1. Yes, I was puzzled too by the problems people had with ENTAIL, for the same reason. Ed at work?
  23. V pleased with myself for almost finishing this: Missed JEDI, but love it now that I see it.
  24. 46 mins with a number of NHOs, ORMERS, TIENTSIN and SALCHOW. Somehow managed to work them out though. Agree with others, many whacky clues here, some of which I loved, 1ac 1d, 9ac, 14d, and some I had no idea what was going on. They have all been mentioned above.

    See my note above re ENTAIL which meant it didn’t prove too much of a problem for me. Anyone else have the same clue?

    LOI ANCESTOR, very well hidden in full sight…

    Thanks V and v.crafty setter.

    1. Yes, I had the same clue for Entail, around 9am UK time. One of the easier clues, unlike the original effort!

  25. As another later solver, I had no problems with ENTAIL. This comment has appeared on the Club Site in the meanwhile: “Mick Hodgkin
    Replying to aphis99
    Apologies, folks. I altered the clue this morning once it was drawn to my attention, so the website version now reads ‘Need large one, neat, to get drunk’.
    I’m aware there’s been a few such errors recently. As Times/Sunday Times puzzles editor as of this week, all I can say is we will try to keep an eagle eye out to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

    I started with VROOM and followed that with BRONZE AGE. I found a reasonably steady solve trickiest in the SW and NE corners. HOOCH was the key to the former with SALCHOW, SUPPLANT, NOHOW and WINDWARD ISLANDS then dropping rapidly into place. I was then left with the recalcitrant 8d, along with 5d and 13a. I constructed the unknown Chinese city first, then saw how STREAKER worked and shoved in LOI, NONIRON, without understanding the parsing. Convoluted or what!! 28:07. Thanks setter and V.

    1. Thanks for posting the comment from Mike Hodgkin John. It cleared up one mystery but started another. Does this mean he is replacing Richard Rogan and Peter Biddlecombe?
      1. Apparently not Olivia. Jerry has just replied to your post elsewhere. RR and PB have a new boss. Mike Hodgkin is replacing David Parfitt.
  26. Glad it wasn’t just me who was sometimes a little lost, but I also found this very quirky and original, and I may be in the minority when I add that I really enjoyed it (er, without always fully understanding it, specifically how NONIRON worked…having read the blog, I’m not sure I’m any wiser but I am, at least, better informed, so well done, V). I guess my time might have been a bit longer if I hadn’t arrived late enough to get the revised clue for ENTAIL, of course. Furthermore, if the lexicon used regularly by setters can theoretically draw its references anywhere from Beerbohm Tree to Star Wars, I’m very happy to see the pendulum favour the latter!
  27. Unusually, I’ve been solving with pen & paper this week, so I got the <ANTE error – but didn’t notice it at the time!

    9m 8s finishing on the unknown TIENTSIN, and I could easily have spent the same amount of time again to try and figure out what was going on with NONIRON – thanks V for explaining.

    This was a curious mix of near-genius and a bit of sloppiness. Clues like TIMEWORN, SUPPLANT, TRENCHANT, TIP IT DOWN, IRATE, PIRATES, PUB BORE & VROOM were all excellent; unfortunately the split of ‘A-rating’ in AVATAR belonged in the Guardian, as did the dubious second definition for TURN-UP.

  28. No wonder I couldn’t see a problem with 13ac: it had been corrected by the time I got to it. Wasn’t sure if I really knew the meaning of NOHOW. My last one in was the hidden at 17dn, which was highly irritating and convinced me of my feebleness. Good clue. Never understood how NONIRON worked, of course, and thought it was a rather feeble CD.

    I noticed that Verlaine was parsing fully as he went. My 45 minutes was rather longer than his — how does he manage to be in no rush at all yet still get it done in a time that is completely outside my zone?

    Edited at 2022-04-29 10:42 am (UTC)

    1. It’s slightly vexing to do the crossword as a live stream as one does feel obliged both to not cut too many corners and to offer semi-humorous semi-explanatory commentary throughout… I’m sure it’s not conducive to REAL speedy solving.
  29. 38:24. A toughie. ENTAIL had been corrected by the time I printed it out, but it didn’t speed me up much. I managed to get SALCHOW and NONIRON but hadn’t heard of the former and couldn’t parse the latter — probably never would even if I swapped my watch for a calendar. The rest just took time to assemble. Great stuff.
  30. By the time I got to ENTAIL it had been corrected and I see that there’s an apology from the editor on the Club forum. Absolutely no idea about NONIRON (thanks V). Some schoolgirl French needed for this one, entailing a recital of the days of the week and the numbers up to 20. Plus two engine sounds (is it our car making that noise?). TIP IT DOWN looked a bit funny for “pour” but it had to be. Some good stuff here but I ended up an EQUIVOCAL 20.36
    1. Tip it down refers to rain, rather than pouring from a spout — you’ve been too long across the pond!
  31. 24.00 but failed with jedi. Went for veni, thinking it was a reference to Rome . Bit put off by the dred in vendredi not being technically the middle. Should have stayed with my instinct and gone through all the days of the week!

    Ah well, enjoyed the puzzle anyway. Not convinced about pub bore. It fits but how does that fitthe whole clue?Liked the tricky poverty stricken but COD was nohow.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  32. …looked up the NHO TIENTSIN just to be sure before pressing submit.

    NONIRON might have been convoluted but the idea behind it was good.

    For some reason, I know of ORMERS but would be guessing if I told you what they look like.

    No probs with the ENTAIL clue — must have been fixed by the time I got to it.

    NOHOW — only place I’ve ever heard of this is in the lyric of Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost In Music’…:

    “I won’t give up my music
    Not me, not now, no way, no how”

    ….where I guess it means the same as ‘under any conditions’.

    1. Yes, I definitely think NOHOW passes the substitution test, in most usages of it that one can conjure up.
  33. Had to construct the unknown ORMERS, TIENTSIN and NOHOW from wordplay. Hesitated over KNOCKDOWN until I had the first K as I forgot that pink can mean knock. Didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on with NONIRON, thought HOOCH would be some quasi-religious spirit I wouldn’t know how until I put the two houses the right way round, and – as people of my generation like to put it – I was today years old when I learned how to spell SALCHOW.

    A fun challenge, even with the problems others have noted.

    FOI Irate
    LOI Salchow
    COD Tip it down

  34. ….which I was relieved to finish correctly. I’ve successfully avoided watching Star Wars from day 1 (although if forced I’d take it in preference to either Tolkien or Harry bloody Potter) but I do know enough of the basics to stretch to JEDI.

    I live close enough to Manchester to know that outsiders believe that it will TIP IT DOWN 200+ days per year, but I always found it wetter when I was exiled to the West Midlands.

    LOI NONIRON (nonparsed)
    TIME 12:46

  35. DNF defeated by NONIRON. First, I just couldn’t see it even with all the checkers. Second, it should be hyphenated. Third, the clue was…weird.
  36. Great puzzle, save for the error in clueing ENTAIL, which I noticed but forgave as I was enjoying myself. Very happy to finish, albeit after three visits, first before breakfast and last after the opera this evening (La Traviata in the Staatsoper in Berlin, and well worth an evening if you happen to be in town). No idea of total time, but it was lots. Thanks to our blogger for parsing NONIRON and for the ice-skating lesson: none of those jumps is known to me, but SALCHOW was generously clued.
  37. I stopped after 59 3/4 minutes with one clue to go, and when I returned about 3 hours later I saw NONIRON right away, but with no idea how it worked. And that may have been better — what a strange clue! TIENTSIN and SALCHOW were also not easy, but the wordplay helped a lot. As for the surface reading for NONIRON, perhaps the setter, like me, is not of the youngest generation: I remember when noniron shirts first appeared around 1960 or so that they were very stiff and uncomfortable, so “few did like such garments” then. Would that be an explanation?

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