Times 28393 – Back in the saddle…

After nearly four months away, it’s great to be back doing what I do, well, if not best, then, at least, probably better than I solve crosswords, that is, blogging them.

It would be remiss of me to continue without thanking those who stood in for me during my travels. Then again, I can’t go on without mentioning what I believe to be a world record. On 15 August 2012, I joined Vinyl in the Monday slot and so it was just last month that we celebrated  our decennial. I cannot believe that there has ever been a blogging pair that have lasted that long!

As for the crossword, it was as prototypical for the second day of the week as you could possibly wish for. A bit of geography, a bit of classics, a bit of science and a smattering of literature (in the broadest sense – sorry GB!) It took me 24 minutes. How did you get on?

1 Where art lover may be, catching the setter’s hint (8)
INTIMATE – IM (the setter’s = I’M) in IN TATE (museum)
5 Strengthen lead in tennis, having an advantage (4,2)
TONE UP – T (initial letter in Tennis) ONE UP (having an advantage)
10 Play rock ‘n’ roll hit, deprived of telephone use (10,5)
HEARTBREAK HOUSE – Mm, we have Elvis’s HEARTBREAK HOTEL with the TEL (telephone) replaced by USE (from the clue). One of the many plays GBS wrote which are seldom performed. Compare old Noel Coward.
11 Going straight home to wear wig, a bald drunk (3-7)
LAW-ABIDING – IN (home) in anagram* of WIG A BALD
13 Saving Italy’s capital, or one of its capitals (4)
BARI – BAR (saving – as in ‘bar none’) I (initial letter of Italy); the capital of Puglia known to me as the first club David Platt joined in Italy
15 Did some boring training with my boss (7)
DRILLED – DRILL (training) ED (the setter’s boss)
17 Articles by the writer writing to overturn conviction (7)
ATHEISM – A THE (articles) I (the writer) MS (writing) reversed
18 Fool is maintaining record’s purity (7)
ASEPSIS – EP (extended play – record) in ASS IS
19 Had to follow medic getting overwhelmed (7)
DROWNED – DR followed by OWNED (had)
21 The city of Paris? (4)
TROY – Hector’s brother Paris lived here
22 Crook and prison pal showing how partners may be joined (10)
CONJUGALLY – CON (crook) JUG (prison) ALLY (pal)
25 Perhaps who e.g. mum favouring old sister hugs (8,7)
RELATIVE PRONOUN – RELATIVE (e.g. mum) PRO (favouring) O (old) in NUN
27 Spurning love, copies ancient king (6)
XERXES -XER[o]XES; Persian king along with Darius, Cyrus, Artaxerxes etc
28 Rocky‘s incompetent boxing extremely suspect (8)
UNSTABLE – ST (initial and final letters of SuspecT) in UNABLE (incompetent)
1 Inspired current prince inspired by Kelly? (7)
INHALED – I (electrical current) HAL (prince) in NED (Kelly)
2 Having raised temperature, swallow hot drink (3)
TEA – EAT with the T (temperature) moved up
3 Cook boils meat mass — this gives you energy (10)
4 Drained river? Bound to go across it (5)
TIRED – R in TIED (bound)
6 Players’ line from the start of Ode to a Revolutionary? (4)
OCHE – O (initial letter of Ode) CHE (crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary, whatever I may think of him)
7 Offering instruction that is about banking old money and high loan (11)
EDUCATIONAL – DUCAT (old money) in reversal of IE (that is, i.e.) LOAN*
8 Cover payment of leader with a different kind of hesitation (7)
PREMIUM – PREMIER, with the er changing to UM
9 Denied profit, succeeded getting subsidies (8)
GAINSAID – GAIN (profit) S (succeeded) AID (subsidies)
12 Partners smuggling crack before arrest for kind of crime (5-6)
WHITE-COLLAR – HIT (crack) in WE (partners in bridge) COLLAR (arrest, as in nabbed by the police)
14 You no longer must accept hard time: it’s all over (10)
THROUGHOUT – ROUGH (hard) in THOU (‘you’ no longer [used]) T (time)
16 Break down copper with small crack (8)
DISSOLVE – DI (detective inspector, AKA copper) S (small) SOLVE (crack)
18 Comic figure, a big hit entertaining the disheartened Republican (7)
ASTERIX – TE (‘the’ with the middle letter removed) R (Republican) in A SIX (cricket shot that hits or clears the boundary)
20 Respected female finished suppressing desire (7)
23 WWII belligerent to criticise Munich Agreement at first (5)
JAPAN – JA (the German word for assent or agreement) followed by PAN (criticise); an unusual epithet for the land of the rising sun in these PC days, but none the worse for that. I look forward to how the setter clues Russia and China…
24 Broadcast set to receive unknown viewer’s complaint (4)
STYE – Y (unknown) in SET*
26 American friend has gone round the globe (3)
ORB – reversal of BRO (word used by men who have forgotten or never bothered to find out your name)

96 comments on “Times 28393 – Back in the saddle…”

  1. Congrats on the anniversary!
    Tore thru this one. Got the first two acrosses right off.
    Biffed HEARTBREAK HOTEL and then had to correct!
    Only saw XERXES after ASTERIX, but it was one of my faves here.
    “Going straight” is a bit (deliberately, I guess) misleading, as it typically implies turning over a new leaf, while a LAW-ABIDING citizen is generally assumed to consistently have been such.

  2. 30 minutes, but a DNF as I failed on BARA and realized after an alphabet trawl that the answer was going to be a place in Italy that I’ve never heard of. If the clue had started with ‘save’ rather than ‘saving’ I might have stood a chance with the wordplay.

    I thought ‘Munich Agreement’ JA was brilliant.

    1. Jack, we do seem to be quite opposites at times.

      My love of football made 13ac BARI a write-in, and after fifty years of travelling to Germany, the ‘Munich Agreement’ seemed somewhat pedestrian, IMO.

      But there is a silver lining, in that my twin brother, after thirty-five years residing at Hydrus Drive in Leighton Buzzard, has retired to the Gower, in South Wales.

      1. Beautiful Gower! I hope your brother enjoys his new life here. We’re generally a friendly bunch in this part of the world…

        1. The natives are friendly! Ann, that is good to know as only yesterday brother Peter was digging trenches! …………. in order to accommodate his new Internet Cable!

  3. 17:50
    Happy anniversary, U.
    I biffed several–LAW-ABIDING, RELATIVE PRONOUN (‘perhaps who’ did it), WHITE-COLLAR, THROUGHOUT–parsed post-submission. I didn’t get SIX=big hit in ASTERIX; should have guessed it was something crickety. LOI XERXES, which suddenly became easy with the X. ‘Conviction’ as a definition for ATHEISM seemed weak.

    1. Many of my fellow atheists insist that atheism does not imply a positive assertion (i.e., stating a conviction) that there is no God but is only the position that no convincing evidence has ever been presented for a deity’s existence. This is important because theists in debate typically challenge atheists to present proof that God does not exist (i.e., prove a negative), rather than themselves presenting the extraordinary evidence that would be necessary to prove their own extraordinary claim.

      1. I was going to say something similar, but you did it better than I would have! Russell’s teapot and all that. People also often say that atheism is a religion, which is a bit like saying that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

        1. Some atheists have at least a surface resemblance to believers in respect of a powerful drive to proselytise and an inclination to evangelical zealotry.

          1. Indeed (a certain evolutionary biologist comes to mind), but being an a******e is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for either atheism or religiousness.

        2. I assume you weren’t going to say something similar to “OMg!”, but anyway, atheism is a belief (true, as it happens) that there is no god; Guy’s friends strike me as a bit wimpy on that point. We have no good evidence that there is no God=agnosticism; There is no god=atheism. (I would say that Trump’s election was a proof that there is no God, but.)

          1. My reply was to GdS!
            I don’t think the distinction between agnosticism and atheism is a useful one. Atheism is a contingent belief – if anyone presented me with convincing evidence, I’d change my mind – so what’s the difference?

          2. I am quite convinced that no God exists as imagined by any of the world’s religions, which are all pernicious rot. But there’s no way to prove the negative proposition that there is not a Supreme Being who set the world in motion and lets it run its course without interfering, as the Deists believed. It’s also difficult to see what difference that would make! Atheism does shade into agnosticism at that level. (Some agnostics, though, seem to reserve judgment about those aforementioned religious conceptions as well.)

            1. ‘There’s no way to prove the negative proposition that there is not a Supreme Being’
              Well exactly. Agnosticism is really just a statement of the obvious. In other areas of life, if something can’t be 100% proven we don’t conclude that we can’t make judgements about it. If you’re just indecisive, say that!

              1. I used to spend a lot of time puzzling over these matters , often resulting in a headache. I consoled myself that this sharp pain in the brain might prove that I at least existed!

          3. A-theism – Isn’t it an absence of belief?

            The lie about god isn’t the big one anyway – it’s the whopper about the afterlife that concerns me

            1. It’s all the same really: the latter is the point of the former:
              That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
              Created to pretend we never die

              1. I’m not sure about that, catchy as it sounds. Judaism has rather little to say about the afterlife.

                Perhaps this is part of the reason why I don’t believe many non-believing Jews to be what they claim to be. Especially when I encounter them after they have moved to Israel!

                1. I think I know what you mean… (Correct me if I’m wrong.)
                  There have been many ethnically Jewish atheists, and it follows that they weren’t believers in Judaism—or Jews in that sense.
                  The conflation/confusion between ethnic identity and religious creed is, of course, a big problem in the modern world. It’s a throwback to the Bronze Age, during which Jahweh started out as the national god of a certain people.

                  Anyway, you’re right that there’s not much at all even hinted about an afterlife in Judaic scripture.
                  Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”

                    1. I, to the contrary, suspect that many people of whatever faith who say they are believers are… just telling themselves that.

    1. You have to love those stadiums that serve real communities/areas and are disproportionately large for their town of name. Although Bari may not quite fit, you have Lens and Guingamp in France. Probably many others globally.

      1. Think it was built as a showpiece for the 1990 Mondiale, replacing the perfectly adequate stadium that served the community 😉

      2. Not football but opera… My dad was stationed in N Africa during the war. They came back to Europe via Bari. His best wartime friend was a violinist (later to play in one of the major London orchestras) who took my dad to the Bari Opera. (Working class lads from the Welsh valleys didn’t get much opportunity to go to the opera.) Anyway, it started a bit of a love-affair and when the Welsh National Opera was founded after the war my dad and I were the first in the queue for the gods – all we could afford. He never forgot that Bari experience – particularly the fact that opera-going there was not an elite interest. The entire community was represented.

    2. Each to his own but for me Bari’s stadium stands out like a sore thumb or something from outer space that Spielberg might use for a remake of Close Encounters.
      Compare that to the way that Brighton’s Amex stadium nestles in nicely with the surrounding downland.

        1. One thing I’ve yet to understand; if Italy is the home of great design, how do you explain the FIAT Multipla? It’s as if one of their designers has gone on a scuba diving holiday in the Maldives, seen a Humphead Wrasse and thought: “that looks like a great idea for a car”!

  4. The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall Dissolve;
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind.

    25 mins pre-brekker. I really enjoyed this. Seven ticks, no crosses, no MERs.
    Wig/bald anagram, Rocky boxing, conjugal cellmates, different hesitation, and the excellent Munich Agreement. Top clueing IMO.

    One of these reminded me of the old gag: Who is the only 16 stone man to ride a Derby winner?
    Thanks setter and U.

  5. Technical DNF because, after sailing through most of this, I fell apart in the NE corner. That was largely due to biffing HEARTBREAK HOTEL. I was so convinced of the rightness of it that I made a mess of 8d, 7d and 13ac and used aids to solve them. Quattro Errori! Mamma Mia!

  6. I slung in HEARBREAK HOTEL at 10ac, and SITUATIONAL at 7dn an then had to unravel the mess up in Geordieland. That took me up to 40 minutes, rather than the 30 I was anticipating. Doh! Doh!!

    LOI 5ac TONE UP rather than TOSS UP!
    WOD 6dn OCHE – where the late ‘Jocky Wilson used to stand – on the ‘Ocheee’! “One hundred and eighteee!”

    The Kia Oval Test Match v South Africa has been quite sensational. At last ‘Creepy’ Crawley played a proper innings. I fear the heroic Subaltern Stokes is heading for the Zimmer shop, if he doesn’t get sorted out soon. Otherwise he won’t be able to stand for ‘God Save the King’!

  7. I also managed to mis-biff HEARTBREAK HOTEL, but I sorted that out very quickly as soon as EDUCATIONAL hove into view so it didn’t slow me down much. Neither did never having heard of BARI, Puglia, David Platt, or indeed even the fact that Italy has regional capitals… I romped home in 22 minutes, my quickest solve for some time. COD to 8d PREMIUM

  8. I started this puzzle after making a cup of tea and then TEA was my FOI. TIRED and INTIMATE followed and were soon accompanied by HEARTBREAK HOTEL. This entry persisted until EDUCATIONAL forced a rethink, at which point the NE corner fell nicely into place, with BARI finishing the puzzle. Liked XERXES and ASTERIX. 23:13. Thanks setter and U, and congrats on the milestone!

  9. 13:25. I also checked in at the HEARTBREAK HOTEL. Seems like it was pretty busy there. I finished with BARI, which occurred to me before I parsed it resulting in much head scratching as to how it could be a capital when Rome is the capital. So as is often the case I’ve learned something new from the crossword today. Now to find out what the other capitals are…

    1. Dear Mr. Pootle, Go on-line to ‘Easy Diplomacy’ for the Italian Regions and Regional Capitals. It is easy to forget that until 1861 that Italy as such, did not exist, only the Italian language. There were twenty states that became a confederated Kingdom.

      So there were twenty state capitals in Italy from Aosta to Venezia. This number included Roma which was the state capital of the Lazio region. Little wonder that the volatile Italians have had so many Goverments since WWll!

      The German states had federated by 1871, with each state naturally having its own capital. Again it was the language that was the unifying discriminator.

      The UK is now going in the opposite direction and we may soon revert to having an English King, rather than a British Monarch. And so who might be the ‘New Pretender’? Bonny Prince Charlie II seems to have disqualified himself, unless like his Great Uncle he abdicates prior to his Coronation!

      1. We “did” Italian unification in history at school, but the only thing I can remember about it, other than that it happened, is that Garibaldi had a hand in it somewhere, and I’ve only remembered him because of squashed fly biscuits.

        1. You are bang-on Professor Penfold, old bean! Garibaldi’s mama did the biscuits (under less than hygienic conditions), whilst his wife ran a shirt making factory, more often dyed bright red than not, so as to hide any signs of bloodshed, or was it the ketchup? Meldrew

          1. And there’s me thinking it was Guiseppe’s brother Aldo who created the Garibaldi biscuit when he was the manager of an outlet of Greggs in 1870s Milan!

  10. This felt like a bit of a work-out to me – made rather heavy weather of some (e.g.) RELATIVEly easy solutions. The layout of the 10a clue made it clear that “rock ‘n’ roll hit” couldn’t be the definition, but like others I had to fix HOTEL. Still had a lot to do in the SW at 30m – eventually XERXES was quickly followed by ASTERIX and TROY (a bit of a leap of faith) and finally GAINSAID.

    Monday completions have been thin on the ground for me recently, so 38:21 is no bad outcome. Thanks U and setter.

  11. Very quick EXCEPT for the NE which took longer, as to start with, I had the hotel not the house. Works in Monopoly, but ..
    Also being a wine drinker, I tried unsuccessfully to parse GAVI before settling on the right answer.

    1. I note from my Saccone & Speed Days, Piedmontese Asti frizzante, like Gavi, is derived entirely from the Cortese grape. There is a rather similar Portuguese wine. Meldrew

      On edit: from memory Louriere is the Portuguese grape, grown in the Minho region – (Vinha Verdi ?) I appear to have first sampled Gavi in Genoa.

  12. 25 minutes. Never heard of the ‘Play’ at 10a but once a few crossers were in, the wordplay helped. I couldn’t have told you the BARI was the capital of Puglia either. Interesting to see XER(O)XES for copies, not a word you hear used much these days.

    I’m in the “like” camp for the misleading surface for JAPAN.

    Congrats to ulaca and Vinyl on your ten year double-act.

  13. 14:20. Held up by about 3 minutes at the end in the NE corner by the mistake many others made of having HEARTBREAK HOTEL. Welcome back Ulaca and congratulations of the anniversary. Nice puzzle. COD to PREMIUM but I also liked the Munich agreement and CONJUGALLY. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  14. 10:16

    A pleasing solve, in that whilst nothing was an immediate write-in, a few seconds’ thought on most clues brought everything into focus. “Ah, that’s the definition, so the wordplay must be that and the answer is therefore…”

    Applying that to the first two acrosses opened things up nicely, whereas moving on too quickly would have led to a longer solve. It also meant that I had EDUCATIONAL in place before I got to HH, and while I paused to figure out why H HOTEL didn’t fit, I wasn’t tempted to BIFF.

  15. 10.15 but… I slowed myself down hugely on this with two over-hasty biffs – the HOTEL and CONJOINTLY – which I then didn’t question for far too long. And then I managed to type MATABOLISM.
    Welcome back, u, and congratulations on the anniversary.
    23d is a bit harsh. I had an image of JAPAN doing this puzzle and saying ‘you just have to keep bringing it up, don’t you?’

    1. A belligerent is a country participating in a war; Japan was one, so was the UK, inter alia. ‘Belligerent’ isn’t the same as ‘aggressor’ (which, of course, Japan was, too).

      1. Technically yes, but in everyday speech I think the adjective leaks into the noun meaning. And even if not it’s a bit reductive. But I was mostly just being facetious.

  16. “Well since my baby left me….”
    Whoops ! Pass the Tippex….

    I thought this was rather un-Mondayish, and struggled for a good 4 minutes at the end in the NE corner

    TIME 12:45

    1. Phil, for no reason whatsoever, I checked-out Brian Hyland. Perhaps I thought he was spelled Highland? I note that his first hit was ‘Itzy-bitzy, teen-weeny, yellow polk-dot bikini which went to No.1 both in the UK and Stateside. I was only nine at the time. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore! His only other success was, ‘Sealed with a Kiss.’
      Was Brian on your radar? It looks like The Bolton Wanderer is on his hols.

      On to the Oval where England require just over 33rpm to gain a remarkable victory, so over to E. W Swanton!

  17. I was 40 minutes over this, but enjoyed it greatly, Jocky at the OCHE and HEARTBREAK HOUSE being my favourites. I was too long down at the end of lonely street with Gene and Grace before the crossers told me it had to be Ned. ASTERIX has passed me by and was LOI. Thank you U and setter.

  18. Very nice crossword; as Penfold says you could nearly always work things out even if not immediately, which is what I did although not at his speed. Wasn’t tempted by HOTEL, since I was vaguely aware of the HOUSE and so didn’t want to biff one or the other. Liked PREMIUM. 35 minutes.

  19. (18.28)

    Congratulations Ulaca!
    After a week’s holiday in Scotland, this was a very jolly puzzle to return to. Not difficult but loads of fun throughout, with too many good clues to signal one out. To add to that, my knowledge of Italian constitutional matters has been significantly improved by the comments on here. I’m now hoping that Schleswig-Holstein might turn up in a puzzle later this week.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter.

  20. Nice to get you back Ulaca. I thought this was going to be a pangram with all those Xs, Ys and Js but in any case it landed right in my wheelhouse at 9.52 which doesn’t often happen. It was years before I realized that XERXES and Ahasuerus were one and the same. Some very good stuff here but the Elvis/GBS mash-up was my favourite.

  21. Enjoyed it, 20 minutes, didn’t put in HOTEL, have been to (through) BARI on the way to / from Greece. Congrats on long service ulaca. I have a milestone approaching too.

  22. 32:59

    Initially bunged in HEARTBREAK HOTEL before working out EDUCATIONAL and with HOTEL in doubt, working out PREMIUM soon after.

    RELATIVE PRONOUN cleared up the bottom half, with ASTERIX/XERXES and JAPAN/CONJUGALLY/DISSOLVE coming after that.

  23. A rather slow 26 mins held up by the HOUSE play which I hadn’t heard of, and not making USE of USE. Started in the SW, and was expecting Q and Z but they never materialiZed.

  24. I thought this was pretty easy, partly because of some easily spotted definitions such as at 25a. I avoided the HOTEL trap at 10a because I didn’t enter anything until the end. All done and dusted in 20 minutes.
    I liked the clues on the whole. Although relatively easy, they weren’t bland.

    1. Opposite reaction to my reading! Having lost heart over no entries on first look-through of acrosses, my confidence completely drained, I was in a negative frame of mind by the time I reached 25a ( which should have been easy). So followed a pathetic amount if head-scratching, and a conviction that solvers would find it as obtuse as I did! Not so …
      Setter a master/mistress of misdirection! Setter 10, Solver 0. 😫

  25. 18:38. Nice and gentle – bar the HOTEL for HOUSE dead-end. The crossers put me right but it took a while.

  26. I find it a little disturbing that so many respected solvers biffed HEARTBREAK HOTEL and moved on apparently without checking the wordplay, suggesting that speed of solving is paramount. Each to their own of course, but understanding clues as I solve is my personal priority.

    I saw the GBS play (HEARTBREAK HOUSE) at the Haymarket theatre in 1983 starring Rex Harrison and Diana Rigg with Rosemary Harris, Mel Martin, Frank Middlemass,.Paxton Whitehead, Simon Ward and Doris Hare, but even with that stellar cast I’m afraid it was rather dull stuff.

    1. Sorry to disturb you but I confess that, for me, speed of solving is very important! I wouldn’t say it’s paramount (there isn’t much correlation between speed of solving and enjoyment, for instance) but I always try to solve the puzzles as quickly as I can and I move on without checking wordplay all the time. Challenging myself to get better is an important part of my motivation for doing these things in the first place.

    2. I typically parse everything as I go along, but sometimes I just get off to a roaring start and if the first half-dozen clues go straight in I’ll see if I can go for a speed record by breaking my normal rules!

    3. I agree with you Jack and simply can’t see the point of ignoring what the setter has laboriously achieved, which is surely the point of solving crosswords. OK if one can combine parsing with speed then all well and good, but I can’t.

      But I would say that wouldn’t I. As if I’d be a speed solver were I to biff. As if. I’d make so many mistakes that it would probably slow me down.

      1. I had ambitions to build up speed when I first started contributing here (c2006) and that lasted for a couple of years until I realised I wasn’t making much progress towards the fast times reported by many of the regulars and I also wasn’t enjoying the pressure of always having one eye on the clock so to speak. Then in 2008 I started blogging, which was only once a fortnight at that time, but I decided to treat every puzzle as if I was going to be writing it up as a blog, so as I solved each clue I indicated its parsing and definition on my print-out. I found I got a lot more enjoyment doing it that way. I note my start and finish times and set a nominal target solving time of 30 minutes but I never race to achieve it or worry unduly if I don’t.

        For the Quick Cryptics I aim for 10 minutes but I don’t bother marking the parsing on my print-out, just try to see it and move on to the next clue.

        I’m aware that there’d be more enjoyment to be had if I paid more attention to surface readings but I’d probably find it too distracting from the solving process.

        1. Yes, for me it’s the surface readings that usually get ignored, which is a pity as they are often brilliant.

  27. 30 minutes exactly. Enjoyable Monday puzzle.

    Funny to see so many people going for HEARTBREAK HOTEL because I went for RIDGE, so at least I effed up in an original way.

  28. A very enjoyable puzzle. The SW was the difficult corner for me. Last two were ASTERIX and XERXES.
    I knew HEARTBREAK HOTEL was wrong but I thought it might be largely correct; which it was. As nearly my first in, it gave me lots of helpful letters.
    An interesting discussion above on many topics including football ground architecture. The new bits of Craven Cottage (backing the river) face the old stand which is listed and so cannot be touched (I presume).

  29. 16.20 and by no means easy for me. LOI was oche where I was trying to see a reverse first letter solution for far too long. Eventually managed to dredge up a memory of televised darts and there it was! What was the name of the Geordie commentator- Sid?

    Very enjoyable puzzle so thanks setter and welcome back Ulaca.

    1. Sid Waddell but it sounded more like Wardell to me!
      He was billed as ‘The Voice of Darts’ Dan Maskell was ‘The Voice of Tennis’ and John Arlott ‘The Voice of Cricket’, before Brian Johnson came along. Peter O’Sullevan was ‘The Voice of Racing’, Bill McLaren ‘The Voice of Rugby’ and Eddie ‘Up and Under’ Waring ‘The Voice of Rugby League’. Alan Weekes was ‘The Voice of Ice Skating’, David Coleman was ‘The Voice of Sport’, Peter Alliss ‘The Voice of Golf’, Kent Walton ‘The Voice of Wrestling’ and Kenneth Woolstenholme ‘The Voice of Football’.

      ‘They think it’s all over, it is now!’

      On edit; I missed Harry Carpenter ‘ The Voice of Boxing’ and the great Murray Walker ‘The Voice of Motor Racing’

      1. Don’t forget Phil Liggett ” The Voice of Cycling”. There was even a film about him of this name.

  30. No time recorded for this as I had too many interruptions, but would imagine it was getting on for the 60 minute mark. It would have been so much quicker if I hadn’t made the foolish mistake in assuming HEARTBREAK HOTEL must be right even though I couldn’t parse it. This made the nw corner problematical, but eventually solved 7dn and 8dn before seeing the light on HEARTBREAK HOUSE. I’ve been to BARI so this didn’t hold me up for long.
    Bari is in the Puglia region of Italy, and in recent times people have discovered what a great holiday destination it is. The city of Matera is worth the visit alone along with seeing the picturesque trulli houses.

  31. I think the only thing more disappointing than falling a few short of a successful solve (basically the NE corner bar Bari and Premium) is then discovering that the Snitch is less than 100. However, my delight at solving Asterix/Xeres does soften the blow somewhat. Invariant

  32. 24.29

    Strange one. Someone on the QC blog said that they almost did the 15×15 quicker than the QC so I was thinking I was being slow/stupid struggling at various points rather than the reality of what was probably a par solve

    No idea what was going on with the HOTEL and HOUSE but I had the U from EDUCATIONAL so it couldn’t be the song

    Also confused by TEA of all things – didn’t spot the instruction to move the t.

    Commenting on Jackkt’s comment I don’t insist on parsing the whole clue but I do make sure I’ve parsed enough to make sure it’s “right”. Problem then are the adjective/adverb bear traps which can tend to catch one out (along with plenty else for also rans comme moi). Here I worried about EDUCATIONAL until I saw the DUCAT and then moved on

    Thanks all

  33. 16’08” – which felt like a great time and I expected a higher Snitch than the current 90. I thought there were some lovely clues in there, and am definitely one of those who like the Munich Agreement thing. I’m normally a terrible biffer but something held me back from rushing in with Heartbreak Hotel. I guess it was quite simply that the ‘hit’ part of the clue did not appear to be the definition. Also liked the different kind of hesitation in 8d.

  34. 15.21. Neat puzzle. I initially entered heartbreak hotel with the sense that I was onto something and halfway there, intending to return to it. In fact the clue pretty much invites the solver to enter the rock n’ roll hit in the first instance and then amend it by substituting use for tel. It was just that last step in the process I hadn’t quite twigged. Educational and premium saw me right in the end. Of course it’s much easier to put in an answer that might need some later revision when solving online as opposed to solving on paper. The facility to insert / delete characters as many times as you like online makes it effortless. When I used to solve on paper, biffing was risky business. I would wait until I was almost 100 per cent certain of word play and definition before inking in any answer. Repeated corrections and revisions would make an illegible mess of the grid.

    1. I always solve on paper but use pencil rather than ink. I buy the disposable Papermate Non-Stop Mechanical brand (what happed to the term ‘propelling pencils’ I wonder?) which come fitted with an eraser that makes a really clean job of rubbing things out. That’s working on A4 quality paper rather than the printed newspaper which I imagine would still be a messy business.

  35. Terrible flop, as mentioned in above reply to Andy S; expected the Snitch to be a lot higher. Some days just start off badly…

  36. I suspect that most of those exulting in their performance were using the online version, that enabled checks and tests along the way. How many bloggers completed this with pen and paper, passing time in the contemplation room?

    1. Those solvers who are part of the NITCH (the index of difficulty of Times cryptic crosswords devised by one of our own) submit via the Times Crossword Club on the Times website. The Times Crossword Club does not allow checks and tests. These are available to people who do the crossword on the Times website’s puzzle pages.

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