Times 28,337: How Now Brown CH4

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

I thought this was just great and perfectly matched to its day of the week. Loads of brilliantly deceptive definition parts merging seamlessly into smooth surfaces. The best setters make it look easy but it really is a fine art making the cryptic part match up with the definition in such a way that the resultant surface is wholly sensical and at the same time completely misleading. Just go down the list of today’s clues and look how many of the definitions have been made to mean something completely different in the context of their surfaces.  May I propose an alternative “substitution test” whereby a clue deserves extra appreciation if you can’t swap the answer in for its definition part without things stopping making sense? I think all but a handful of the clues here would pass it. Quite magical work, truly.

COD a tossup between “eating bread pronto” and the “card game for bridge players” perhaps – so much here for connoisseurs of the old lift-and-separate to enjoy! – but there are very many delightful stories told in the other surfaces too. Top-notch puzzle, great stuff setter and thank you very much!

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

1 What one may do to rocket in take-off (4-2)
SEND-UP – double def; one may send up a rocket, or a send-up is making fun of something
4 Tommy’s edging round enchanting lady in a fearful state? (7)
TWITCHY – T{omm}Y round WITCH
9 Pizzazz from legislator wearing nothing? Golly! (5)
OOMPH – MP, wearing O + OH!
10 Single young man admits not eating bread pronto (1,4,4)
A FAST BUCK – A BUCK [single young man] admits FAST [not eating]. Bread pronto as in money, quick
11 State one’s arguments against invading land (9)
WISCONSIN – I’S CONS [one’s | arguments against] invading WIN [land; as in “land a big contract”]
12 Report of toughness in variety of rock (5)
METAL – homophone of METTLE; musical not geological rock
13 In turnover, hot and lush rhubarb (4)
TOSH – reversed H(ot) + SOT
14 Contemptuous comment declines another card game for bridge players (10)
POOHSTICKS – POOH! [contemptuous comment] + STICKS [declines another card, in e.g. blackjack]. Pooh sticks is a game played on bridges
18 Certain of success out tippling? Au contraire! (4,3,3)
HOME AND DRY – HOME AND DRY is the diametrical opposite of out on the booze
20 Monster blunder from the defence troops (4)
OGRE – O(wn) G(oal) [blunder from the defence] + R(oyal) E(ngineers)
23 Opera company repeated Ring movement (2,3)
ME TOO – MET [opera company] + (twice) repeated O [ring]
24 Call end to lottery and fail in entry method for pools? (5,4)
BELLY FLOP – BELL [call, as in “give someone a bell” or perhaps even a “belling stag”] + {lotter}Y + FLOP [fail]
25 Workforce, following decline, means to raise standards (9)
FLAGSTAFF – STAFF [workforce] following FLAG [decline]
26 Better in the fresh air, or hiding (5)
27 Not dating posh girl English idiot embraces (7)
AGELESS – GEL [posh girl] + E(nglish), embraced by ASS
28 Storer of cookies knowing to eat 500 (6)
ADWARE – AWARE [knowing] to eat D [Roman 500]
1 Cream sample of fabric covers measuring device (9)
STOPWATCH – TOP [cream] covered by SWATCH [fabric sample]
2 Undoing Nadine’s jacket I dipped in pickle (7)
NEMESIS – N{adin}E + I dipped in MESS
3 Make detached house in middle of county fine (6)
UNHOOK – HO(use) in {co}UN{ty} + OK [fine]
4 Old couple back for treatment, on the wagon (5)
TWAIN – {treatmen}T, on WAIN
5 Suggest convict holds appeal up (8)
INTIMATE – INMATE holds reversed IT [(sex) appeal]
6 Acid set off endless spasm (7)
7 Unsophisticated sort of tyranny on line (5)
YOKEL – YOKE [tyranny] on L(ine)
8 Special signal, something my old man may use in battle? (8)
15 Many a red deer has fled trembling inside (4,4)
HARD LEFT – HART has (FLED*) inside
16 Fold paper cut by rogue cop with energy (9)
SHEEPCOTE – SHEET cut by (COP*), + E(nergy)
17 Louvre, German agreed, more insect-infested? Not quite (8)
JALOUSIE – JA [agreed!, in German] + LOUSIE{r}
19 Maybe lower emission from flame than exhaust (7)
METHANE – hidden in {fla}ME THAN E{xhaust}. Lower = something that lows = a cow; methane may be emitted from a cow
21 Celebration with drink for fabulously animated figure (7)
GALATEA – GALA with TEA. A statue brought to life by Pygmalion
22 Great example of Times news (6)
BYWORD – BY [times] + WORD [news]
23 Parent with ace coats providing raised hoods (5)
MAFIA – MA + A(ce), coating reversed IF [providing]
24 Tin item on chest supported by ship (5)
BRASS – BRA [item (worn) on chest] supported by S.S.


60 comments on “Times 28,337: How Now Brown CH4”

  1. 38 minutes for this very enjoyable puzzle. JALOUSIE was unknown but I got JA straightaway and the rest was easy to deduce once all the checkers were in place.

  2. Very nice. Hard to finish, sheepcote and Pooh-sticks held out for a long time. A few MERs mid-solve tin isn’t brass, metal isn’t rock, but a moment’s thought proved the setter was right.
    COD methane.

  3. Something under a half-hour online, then off to the gym, and slowly finished over lunch; 40-50 some minutes of hard work. As Verlaine says, “loads of brilliantly deceptive definition parts merging seamlessly into smooth surfaces,” and brilliantly deceptive definitions: ‘maybe lower emission’ probably my favorite. So COD to METHANE, but I also loved SHEEPCOTE, POOHSTICKS, A FAST BUCK, GALATEA, inter alia.

  4. I’m glad others found this hard, as I wasn’t sure if I was just being extra-dense as I struggled for 54 minutes on this one. I managed to start off from a new area with no crossers four separate times, having petered out in every corner, then had an extra-hard time putting the middle together. PASSWORD—not so hard in hindsight, like many of the clues here—and SHEEPCOTE finally let me put the POOHSTICKS together at the end.

  5. 16:48. Another top quality puzzle following yesterday’s offering. I finished off with the tricky POOHSTICKS and SHEEPCOTE. For the latter I came close to putting SHEEPCOVE, having invented the word sheeve for paper, where I now realise I was thinking of sheaf. As it is that would have left a redundant “energy” in the clue though I could have overlooked that in my haste. Anyhow, I managed to come in all present and correct in the end.

  6. 43 minutes with LOI SHEEPCOTE. The SE was the trickiest, with BYWORD giving me ADWARE and GALATEA best known to me as a ‘Jub’ from my trainspotting days in the fifties. I do have trouble seeing CAUSTIC as acid. It’s not when combined with soda. Fortunately the cryptic for JALOUSIE allowed no other answer. COD to POOHSTICKS. Good Friday fare. Thank you V and setter.

    1. I think ‘acid/caustic’ works figuratively rather than chemically. One can make a caustic or acid remark, for instance.

        1. “Caustic soda, which is the same chemical as sodium hydroxide and is also known as lye, is a strong alkaline inorganic compound. ”

          .. alkali, NOT acid, for those that care about such things

  7. and never the Twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat

    25 mins mid-porridge. Good crossword. I agree with V about the surfaces except perhaps for the one about undoing Nadines jacket and dipping my pickle.
    I had to construct Jalousie.
    Thanks setter and V.

  8. AGELESS classics or the TOSH that is new?
    Playing POOHSTICKS or the ADWARE milieu?
    The Tory sleaze makes me TWITCHY
    The HARD LEFT’s CAUSTIC and bitchy
    You’re a senior METHANE emitter? ME TOO!

  9. 43 mins of great fun. I agree with Verlaine – virtually every clue here was top quality. Like others I particularly enjoyed Poohsticks, A Fast Buck and Methane, but also loved deception of “many a red deer”.
    Struggled for about 5 mins at the end with NHO Sheepcote and eventually got it from wordplay.
    Best puzzle for a very long time. Thanks setter and Mr V.

  10. 66m 10s
    So much to enjoy. Verlaine is spot on. It was a delightful puzzle. My only parsing query was with UNHOOK so thanks Verlaine for explaining coUNty.
    Matters Arising
    – 🎼FLAGSTAFF, Arizona; don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino🎼
    – As soon as I saw ‘fold’ in 16d, I thought of sheep. There was a stone sheepcote/fold near where we used to live in the Cotswolds.
    – One of the first times I visited POOHSTICKS bridge on Ashdown Forest there was no flow of water under it so it wasn’t possible to play the game!
    Thanks, Verlaine!

  11. Really enjoyed this (and not just because it was my first complete solve for a while, taking about half an hour), so a big thank you to the setter and blogger. Lots of lovely surfaces with misdirection – I think BELLY FLOP might be my favourite – which I nonetheless managed to untangle. SHEEPCOTE took me the longest: for a while I tried to fit ‘plod’ for ‘cop’ in to the P_O_E section, thinking the answer would be along the lines of fold as in the verb to implode, and it was only once I got POOHSTICKS (another nice bit of misdirection) that I figured out the kind of fold the setter was getting at.

    FOI Ogre
    LOI Sheepcote
    COD Belly flop / Hard left

  12. Chapeau with a sweeping bow to the setter of this elegant, witty and hugely enjoyable puzzle. Thanks V for explaining GALATEA which I thought was a cake. Too many tied CODs to mention, but on savouring them all in the blog with frequent smiles, the entry to pools was my favourite. Thanks v and brilliant setter.

  13. Liked this crossword a lot, as do others it seems. I didn’t find it particularly difficult, though a couple of clues stuck towards the end; sheepcote, poohsticks.
    Poohsticks and belly flop, great clues both..

  14. As Verlaine says, very enjoyable indeed. Relieved in the end to find that “celebration with drink” in GALATEA did not mean “ball” and “sup”. COD Poohsticks but they were all first-rate.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

  15. “Just one more hour and I’ll be HOME AND DRY” (the late, great Gerry Rafferty).

    I hated yesterday’s, but this was an absolute gem. I only got two of the across clues on my first pass, but was able to complete the SW quadrant quite quickly from there. After some 14 minutes I was left with the NE looking very sparse, together with my eventual LOI. My COD was SLOI, and opened the door to it.

    How do you pick a COD from so many brilliant surfaces ? I have done though.

    TIME 18:15

  16. Well over the hour, but very proud of myself for finishing this one. Not easy, and had to dig deep for some of the answers in the bottom half. I thought ADWARE, MAFIA and SHEEPCOTE were very clever, but my favourite by a mile was POOHSTICKS. JALOUSIE also very satisfying.

  17. News Letter

    The new Puzzles Editor has mentioned several times a weekly newsletter. Does anyone know where this is to be found? I’ve searched through the Club site and can’t find it.

    1. At the newspaper site (not the crossword club site) click on “my account,” top right, and then on “my newsletters.” There are no less than 17 to choose from … but I only get the Puzzles one

      1. Many thanks, Jerry, but surely as Puzzles Editor his column should be linked on both the online Puzzles page and at the Crossword Club. Apparently this is where we are expecting first news of the Crossword Championship if they decide to hold one this year.

        1. Well, I expect he would like it to be linked everywhere, but that is where The Times put their newsletter signups.
          My advice would be to not hold breath re the crossword championships. I think they see it more as an problem, than an opportunity

          1. They are probably pretty wary after last time’s… can I call it a debacle? Or would that be understating the case?

  18. My first thought for 25a was FLAGPOLES – but that may no longer be quite so much the case.

  19. I quite agree with Verlaine about this beautiful puzzle, although of course I was far slower and saw things with difficulty. Since I was over the hour I used aids for POOHSTICKS, excellent clue as was BELLY FLOP, but once I was given the answer was full of appreciation for it. Slight MER with ‘Maybe lower’ in 19dn: there’s no maybe about it so far as I can see: it is an emission.

      1. Yes but the fact that it may have come from elsewhere doesn’t stop it from being a lower emission.

  20. 23:21

    Surprised to see that so many found this on the hard side. Wavelengthy? Maybe…

    I had early footholds in the NE and SW, but it was only after a work-imposed break that it became full-steam ahead.

    Broke into top-left with STOPWATCH and NEMESIS, but even the relative unknowns (JALOUSIE, GALATEA, SHEEPCOTE) scattered around the grid fell easily and were confirmed by the easier crossers going straight in.

    Indeed, last in was ADWARE which required a little extra thought but on reflection, the parsing was quite simple.

    Good job setter and V

  21. 39 minutes. A welcome (semi-) respite from yesterday’s toughie, even though this was no write-in. Lots of entertaining clues with excellent surfaces as pointed out by others. BELLY FLOP was my pick.

    Yet again the interesting phenomenon of a not so common word appearing twice in different places in the same day.

    Thanks to Verlaine and setter

  22. I’d agree with Verlaine comments. If you want an example of why Times crosswords are so clever and enjoyable (and so difficult too), this would be a good puzzle to use. Thanks to setter!

  23. 23:54m. As inventive and entertaining as everyone says. A nice end to a good week of puzzles.

  24. Quite appropriately, I started with NEMESIS, and finished with METEL, which proved to be my downfall. Grrrhhh!! I was held up in the NE by a biffed INDICATE, where I tried to use indict as convict but couldn’t fit the appeal in. Great puzzle. Lots of PDMs. 42:33 WOE is me. Thanks setter and V.

  25. In the past two weeks, I don’t think I’ve completed a main puzzle in under 30 minutes. So when I did this one in 15, I thought, oh boy, verlaine will have been disappointed with this one! That’s wavelength for you.

    I did think this was a lovely puzzle, only slightly outdone by yesterday’s, which was my favorite puzzle to memory.

  26. I *loved* this, particularly coming at the end of a week of really tough but ultimately unsatisfying-at-the-finish puzzles, Tuesday’s particularly, which I was unable to complete. I’m not saying it was easy, just thoroughly enjoyable in the way that Verlaine has so tellingly described. So many PDMs, so many contenders for COD! In the end, a tie between POOHSTICKS and BELLYFLOP.
    By the way, can someone tell me how to underline, italicize or em’bold’en? I can see it’s possible, but not by the way I’ve always done it, using the CTRL key.

    1. Underline is a problem for some reason, but standard html coding for bold and italic is available to all.

    2. As jackkt said, it’s html:
      for bold, use <strong>tags</strong> around the word/phrase
      for italic, use <i>tags</i> around the word/phrase.

      1. In a post earlier today I couldn’t remember how to get bold, but guessed, ready to delete if it didn’t work, using b instead of strong as in isla3’s post. It did work.

  27. I thought for a second that Verlaine knew my postcode, but no it was methane!
    LOI POOHSTICKS a brilliant clue.

    1. CH4? You must live somewhere near where I grew up then! I was a CH6 boy.

      1. Ooh! A Flintshire boy! Regularly walk the dog at Flint Dock, probably looks a lot better now than in your day…

  28. Excellent crossword as had been stated- the surfaces are excellent. Poohsticks my LOI. Thanks setter and V.

  29. 15:50, enjoyable and deceptive. I started fast but really had to stop and think before I could work out what was happening in the NE corner.

  30. I had so few solved (9 I think) after 20 minutes I almost gave up. Verlaine’s precised comment glanced at “that this was great” put me on alert that this was bound to be tough.
    I’m so glad I persevered as I got a head of steam up, and finished in 56 minutes. I agree with the sentiments expressed above that many of the clues were outstanding and POOHSTICKS being my pick of the crop. LOI was SHEEPCOTE another great clue.
    Thanks to the setter and our esteemed blogger for a very entertaining hour.

  31. 3 tough ones in a row now but this was a beauty as the lord v describes. The surfaces are so elegant here it was a joy to struggle through. COD to the magnificent poohsticks. 31:34.

    Thanks V for excellent explanations and in the spirit of this weeks cycling – chapeau to the setter.

  32. What fun! This was a pleasure from beginning to end (except for the pink square from a typo when I submitted, doh). Some wonderfully misleading stuff such as POOHSTICKS, METHANE. I missed some things (like I just assumed there was a rock of the stone variety called METAL without thinking of music, or assuming in OUTDO that “in the fresh air” was OUT and wondering how DO was anything to do with hiding (both words for some sort of swindle?). I spent ages trying to find a word for a browser for the storer of cookies—I was onto the right meaning but it took several checkers before I twigged. There have been a series of wonderful crosswords this week, so many thanks to the compiling team (or whatever the right phrase is).

  33. Yes, this was very nice indeed.

  34. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s puzzle, too, as so many others have said. Hats off to the Setter! Also, I was very pleased to have completed it fairly quickly, in a week where I’ve really struggled with some others. I’m going to credit the quality of the cluing, rather than ‘wavelength’.

    Thanks, Verlaine. And Setter!

  35. 35.42. A fine puzzle. Wandered down many blind alleys but the light always happily dawned at the last.

  36. Three cheers for Verlaine to take the time to express so beautifully what makes for great clues. Thank you.

  37. I find the black scroll bar difficult to see. I’ve looked at various comments on the MS website. It seems it is not possible for me to change the colour in Windows 10.

  38. It was indeed a very good puzzle. After an hour I took a break with two clues left unsolved and when I came back took an agonizing 20 additional minutes to decipher POOHSTICKS and finally SHEEPCOTE, but many other clues were just as tricky, yet never unfair. A delightful puzzle and I’m glad I stuck through it.

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