Times 28413 – a long stretch

I thought this was quite hard, and it caused my eyebrows to be in motion more times than I would have liked. The parsing of a few clues took me longer than finishing the crossword. I thought they were quite a stretch too in some cases, like ‘flesh’ for excess weight, ‘friendly’ for practice, ‘weaves’ for intricate structures, ‘resource’ for support. But I got it done, so maybe it’s just what ‘cryptic’ means. I’ll be interested (as usual) to see what you made of it.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics.

1 Reduced collection of notes after second contribution to TV drama? (10,5)
BACKGROUND MUSIC – BACK (second, support) GROUND (reduced, e.g. to a powder) MUSIC (collection of notes).
9 Source of jelly part filling stomach after exercises (9)
PETROLEUM – PE (exercises) TUM (stomach), insert ROLE for part.
10 Mostly cut back on material for curtains (5)
SCRIM – SCRIMP = cut back on, lose the ending.
11 Legislator recording participating in required work (6)
DEPUTY – EP (extended play record) inside DUTY = required work.
12 California brought in French and Italian wine — an Italian white (8)
FRASCATI – FR(ench) ASTI (Italian wine) with CA inserted. Frascati DOC is an Italian white wine from the area of Frascati in Lazio near Rome.
13 Most of catalogue a little reduced, showing flexibility (6)
15 Junior editor with articles about new attempt to enjoy summer weather? (8)
SUNBATHE – SUB (junior editor) N (new) A, THE (articles).
18 Enthusiast left to bag runs before end of daily practice match (8)
FRIENDLY – FIEND (enthusiast) L (left) insert R and add Y the end of daily. I suppose a friendly match can be a practice match in a way, although my golf friendly matches are certainly not for practising, they’re for real.
19 Flower yield reduced when given copper and sulphur (6)
CROCUS – CRO(P) = yield reduced, add CU  (for Cu, copper) and S for sulfur, or sulphur as it used to be spelt.
21 Access support with couple wanting a switch (8)
RECOURSE – took me a while to see this one. Support = RESOURCE, you need to switch two letters – a couple – to get RECOURSE. At least, that’s the best I can see, but the idea of support and resource being synonyms is a stretch for me.
23 Picture that is displayed after revolutionary reduction in excess weight (6)
SELFIE – I.E. = that is, after FLES(H) reversed. Too much flesh can be excess weight, but I don’t see that flesh alone is necessarily.
26 Weatherman’s first to abandon intricate structures in projections (5)
EAVES -W (weatherman’s first) comes off WEAVES which I suppose can be regarded as intricate structures.
27 Old way adopted by American writer in selling approach (4,5)
MAIL ORDER – Norman MAILER the writer has O, RD, inserted.
28 Go and run after board to provide emergency equipment (9,6)
TURNTABLE LADDER -TURN (go) TABLE (board) LADDER (run as in stocking). My FOI.
1 Piebald horses around humans are like this (7)
BIPEDAL – (PIEBALD)*. An anagram at last.
2 Trade unionists apparently distressed (3,2)
CUT UP – T.U.C. reversed.
3 MC beginning to twirl in dress? But this place is deserted (5,4)
GHOST TOWN – HOST (MC) T (beginning to twirl) inside GOWN (dress).
4 Fan missing first part of Test match (4)
OVER – LOVER = fan, missing the L. Over as in cricket.
5 Quite a few expressions of hesitation getting in the way of sense (8)
NUMEROUS – UM and ER inside NOUS = sense.
6 Prophet’s manners showing a change of heart (5)
MOSES -manners = MORES, change the R for S. I thought this was going to be some obscure prophet I hadn’t heard of, but it wasn’t.
7 Mocking son, very cold about a sister at first (9)
SARCASTIC – S (son) ARCTIC with A S(ister) included.
8 Blend a lot of wine, enthralled by approach (7)
COMBINE – COME (approach) with BIN (a lot of wine) inserted.
14 Fielders that may be brought to book? (4,5)
SLIP COVER – two fielding positions in cricket.
16 Prohibit section of cartoon film about a European city (9)
BARCELONA -BAR (prohibit) CEL (section of cartoon animation) ON (about) A. Called a CEL because it was originally done on cellulose acetate as a transparent material.
17 People gathering quickly mostly shamble off endlessly in disarray (5,3)
FLASH MOB – (SHAMBL OF)*. Once I had the anagrist and put in MOB with the checkers, I was left with the letters of FLASH so I wrote it in, although I wasn’t familiar with the expression.
18 Supporting lifting obligation after fine or penalty (7)
FORFEIT – FOR (supporting) F (fine) TIE (obligation) reversed.
20 Clipper heading for Spain with one who’s received information (7)
SHEARER – S(pain), HEARER one who hears information.
22 Universal expression of annoyance about singular disturbance (5)
UPSET – U(niversal) PET (expression of annoyance) insert S.
24 Temporary passion to die, not new, out-of-date (5)
FADED – FAD (temporary passion) END (die) loses the N > ED.
25 Occasion seeing millions enthralled by deadlocked match (4)
TIME – M inside a TIE or tied match.


66 comments on “Times 28413 – a long stretch”

  1. 24m

    Totally bamboozled by a lot of clues here, mostly in the south-west. FRASCATI also took several minutes – not having heard of the stuff, I had to get the parsing correct. God knows how long I would’ve been if I’d had to do the same for FORFEIT, or RECOURSE. Jesus.

  2. I think FRIENDLY is meant in the sense of a practice match in, say, football, although there are not many of these left after the invention of silly tournaments. Support for resource and FLESH for excess weight are supported by Collins, while WEAVES for ‘something woven’ = ‘intricate structures’ doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.

    The random switch in RECOURSE caught me out, but it had to be the answer.

    Certainly on the quirky side but I liked it. 23+ change.

  3. 22:11
    I cost myself some time by biffing PASSE at 24d; I think it was SELFIE that finally made me rethink things. I had the same feeling about ‘flesh’ as Pip did, Collins be damned. DNK TURNTABLE LADDER. I’m pretty sure I biffed BACKGROUND MUSIC & RECOURSE. I enjoyed this, although it felt like it was going to take ages.

  4. 36 minutes, delayed several times along the way, starting with biffing INCIDENTAL MUSIC at 1ac (C at that stage was my only checker in the first word) but I was unable to parse it or to solve any of the hanging answers, so it had to go.

    I was confused by LISSOM as I only knew of it spelt LISSOME so couldn’t understand why I was expected to parse the second part as SOM{e} in order to make it fit the grid.

    My LOI was SLIP COVER which I never heard of in connection with books, only furniture, and Collins says the book thing is US / Canadian. I had been working on ‘fielders’ being the definition and was looking for the plural of a fielding position rather than two different ones. The absence of an S-checker at the end put paid to that idea.

    I parsed ‘manners’ as ‘modes’ at 6dn to arrive at MOSES, which I think is equally valid a route to the answer as ‘mores’.

  5. I saw the intro excerpt from the blog and thought, “Uh-oh,” and then was relieved as three-quarters of this didn’t seem very difficult. It was in the SW that the wind left my sails.
    NHO TURNTABLE LADDER, so the first part was long in coming.
    POI was SLIP COVER, and it just seemed to fit, though the cricket bit I didn’t… git.
    LOI RECOURSE, which I forgot to parse before hurrying here to say, “Hey, I finished!”

    FOI was FLASH MOB, which with SELFIE imparts a sense of freshness.
    BIPEDAL was fun, and I liked CUT UP a lot too.
    But LISSOM was annoying, without its E.

    I’m far from being a sport dude, but I also took the definition of FRIENDLY to include “match.”

    1. “Practice match” sounds good for a “FRIENDLY” to me too on the east side of the pond.

  6. By birds I am not really cowed
    Even antelopes I’ve not disavowed
    But I must raise a pout
    A la Astro_Nowt
    If two cricketing terms are allowed

    1. I guess if you’re not into cricket
      This crossword is a sticky wicket
      If it happens again
      Please use verse to complain
      Tell the setters just where they can stick it

  7. I’ve got half a dozen question-marks in the margins that agree with most of the points above, especially with RECOURSE. Forty four minutes that felt like longer, interspersed with shrugs and eyebrow-raising.

  8. 67 minutes. Off to a bad start by thinking 1a was going to be a ‘TV drama’ I’d never heard of and by not recognising 1d as an anagram. The rest wasn’t much easier though I managed to finish, with RECOURSE and BARCELONA (NHO CEL for ‘section of cartoon film’) unparsed. SCRIM was new and I hadn’t come across TURNTABLE LADDER and FLASH MOB often before.

    I agree about FLESH being iffy for ‘excess weight’. For once I was happy to see that chestnut of chestnuts ASTI, which rode to my rescue at 12a.

  9. 30 mins
    Same as jack with incidental music, which hung on in there until I saw ghost town. From a surface point of view, it seems a better answer. I do agree with you, pip; it’s a bit stretchy here and there. Great blog – thanks.

  10. 56 minutes with LOI the unknown SCRIM. I didn’t know the CEL of BARCELONA either and spent some time trying to justify the European city of BANGALORE. I can’t even actually say that RECOURSE was a biff as I couldn’t see a cryptic or a definition. COD to MAIL ORDER. A toughie. Thank you Pip and setter and to everyone for the birthday wishes yesterday. It was a great day until Wanderers lost last night!

  11. 51m 12s
    As my time is just about my historic average, I can’t say I found it THAT difficult. The only one of Pip’s queries I definitely agree with is FLESH equalling ‘excess weight’ no matter what Collins might say.
    Thanks, Pip, for decoding RECOURSE, MAIL ORDER (I wondered if Arthur MILLER might be involved), SCRIM, TURNTABLE LADDER, FADED and BARCELONA (Didn’t know that about CEL…. is that meant to be short for CELL?)
    As I’ve just said to Jack, my first attempt at 1ac was BACKGROUND NOISE.
    15ac: It appears the ToL doesn’t employ SUBS these days judging by the number of errors I find in photo captions, particularly in the News in Pictures feature.
    17d: FLASH MOB….try this particularly entertaining version of “Largo al Factotum” Great fun!

  12. Can yet the lease of my true love control,
    Suppos’d as Forfeit to a confin’d doom.

    I kept going to finish in 40 mins never quite hitting my stride.
    I suspect this is the start/end fiend again. Interesting that he/she has used ‘fiend’ in 18ac. End of, first to, beginning to, first, at first, heading for. So only six I hear you say. But today we have a different approach to the endings. Mostly, most of, reduced, reduced (again), reduction, mostly (again), endlessly. So I make it thirteen.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. Interesting that nothing was said about the start/end fiend when you mentioned him last week but the containment bloke I encountered yesterday found some support when I criticised him.

      1. Yes, I saw that. I agreed with some who said we should not be too prescriptive, e.g. there shouldn’t always be a hidden. But I agreed with you about too many containers. Similarly, more than 5 anagrams starts to feel too many. I once did an ST with 11 containers, I think, and on edit PB warned me off it. The key issue for that one was that 5 of the 11 were the first 5 across clues – so easy to spot the repetitive nature.
        I try hard to have a mix of clue types, although I admit that unlike Dean (the best IMO), I struggle to come up with great CDs.
        And I endeavour never to repeat the same abbreviation or ‘first’, ‘last’, ‘leader’ etc. in the same crossword.

        1. Thanks. I’d agree about not always having to have a hidden answer but when a setter uses 16 containers (as yesterday) and no hidden word it might be a good time for the editor to step in and suggest a bit of variety.

    2. I thought you were going to give us the Grantchester curates who “come and go, on LISSOM clerical printless toe”.

  13. 14:38

    I agree that some of the word meaning equivalence was a bit “stretchy” so I wasn’t 100% confident that there would be no pink squares.

    Piebald horses around was very good though.

  14. Just in case anyone is wondering where I’ve vanished to, I’ll be back next midweek when my tablet has been repaired. The break may do me good !

  15. 14:36. I found this hard, and not very enjoyable for the same reason as our blogger and others: just too many definitions that you can sort of justify if you root around in a dictionary for long enough but seem bizarre. SCRIMP as a transitive verb, ‘practice’, ‘support’ (had no idea about that so thanks for the parse), ‘excess weight’ (Antonio would like a word), ‘intricate structures’. I’ve also never come across the TURNTABLE LADDER which contributed to a long delay in the SW corner.

    1. You should have watched “Fireman Sam” with yr children about 30 years ago. Ladders AND a pole to slide down.

      1. Oh I did, believe me! And once I had solved the clue I knew immediately what it was referring to, I just don’t remember ever seeing the term before.

  16. Relieved to see that others struggled with this. Like Jack et al. I think of SLIP COVERs as upholstery. Thanks for the parse on RECOURSE Pip – I had no idea what was going on. And for far too long I was convinced the clipper in 20d was going to be a ship. FRIENDLYs is an ice cream chain around here – I knew it wasn’t going to be that but I was baffled by the “practice match”. 24.18

    1. I too was convinced the clipper was going to be a ship, so lost a lot of time over that. Also missed the anagram at 1d , expecting a description of piebald…but can’t say I enjoyed this, as too many definitions were ‘iffy’ in my book. ( My excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

  17. 09:09, so quite pacey despite brief pauses in the same places as many others. NHO the curtain fabric, but there are a lot of fabrics on my list of “previously unknown words” so it seemed a very plausible candidate from the off. Ended up going with RECOURSE because it had to be, and SELFIE likewise (and because the checking letter meant there definitely wasn’t such a word as TEIDIE).

  18. BARCELONA entered because it had to be, but cel taken on trust, nho. The things that people found a bit stretchy didn’t really worry me, perhaps they should have done, but it seems to me that flesh is good enough as excess weight, and that resource = support is OK. weave can be a noun so surely it’s good enough as intricate structure. 51 minutes.

  19. 41:19. Pleased to come in at around my average time on a puzzle that was quite hard. I never parsed RECOURSE and I wasn’t sure about SCRIM – which I think of as waste fabric used as cleaning cloths – so it went in with a shrug. Like someone else above, I noticed the modern feel of FLASH MOB and SELFIE

  20. Another who struggled to reconcile equivalences of meanings in various clues. RESOURCE went in with a vague feeling that a resource is a sort of support, but no idea how the clue was parsed. Relieved not to have a pink square in that one. SCRIM as a material was new to me. Took a while to see CUT UP, with HET UP distracting me. That gave me the BACKGROUND for my MUSIC. OVER was then LOI. 32:48. Thanks setter and Pip.

    1. John, I knew it as a special kind of fabric that’s used as a stage curtain in some productions. When it’s lit from the front it’s opaque to the audience but the performers can see out. When the house lights go down and it’s lit from the back it’s transparent to the audience. Often there is scenery painted on it and the effect can be quite magical. There’s a famous one in the opening scene of the Balanchine Nutcracker at Lincoln Center.

      1. Thanks for that Olivia. Very interesting. Every day is a school day in tftt 🙂

  21. 12m 50s with the last 4+ minutes trying to figure out OVER. At the end of that time I just wrote it in, with no expectation that it would be correct – and then immediately parsed it once I saw the green cells. I was just so convinced that ‘first part of Test’ would be T that I was blind to anything else.

  22. 27:40. Tough after yesterday’s breeze-through. I didn’t parse RECOURSE but I was at the “if it fits, bung it in” stage by then. I think, though, that defining a SUB[-editor] as a “junior editor” is just wrong. It’s a bit like saying everyone who isn’t the news editor is a junior reporter. I’d suggest our esteemed crossword editor avoid the newsroom after 4pm for a while!

    1. I was told many years ago by a journalist that ‘sub-editor’ can cover any number of junior positions in the hierarchy, whereas the top people beneath the editor will be called ‘deputy editor’. I’ve no idea whether that was true then, let alone now. One also hears of ‘associate’ and ‘assistant’ editors.

      1. A sub-editor is quite a specific role – laying out the news pages, selecting the stories and editing them. They are often the most senior people in the newsroom – particularly on the tabloids.

        1. Thanks, David. The setter seems to have been relying on one of the American definitions in Collins: 1. a subordinate or junior editor.

          1. Interesting. I didn’t think there was really any such thing in US publishing – “copy editor” springs to mind as the nearest equivalent. The particular skillset of UK sub-editors was supposedly developed and honed during the war when rationing limited the availability of newsprint and skilled editing was needed to fit everything into the available space. It gave UK newspapers an economy and punch that was taken to the extreme by the tabloid newspaper subeditors in the 70s and 80s – subsequently much emulated in the US but never bettered.

            1. I’m a copy editor (here in NYC) and have nothing to do with selecting or laying out stories—while I do lots of work on page formatting for the digital edition, that’s the second part of my current job title (Web Copy Editor / Producer). I’m almost the most senior person on staff.

              We don’t have to cut for space online. I just correct grammar, misspellings, malapropisms, and the occasional factual error; smooth the flow of sentences and ensure that they say what they were meant to; enforce our house style; and so on.

      2. I retired 20 years ago, but in my days on The Times, the term ‘sub-editor’ denoted a quite specific role on the paper. The sub-editors were the people to whom reporters sent their raw copy. Their task was to check for any spelling or other mistakes, tidy up the prose, write a headline if required, and if necessary reduce the length of the article to fit the available space in the paper. In my time on the paper, there were two teams of sub-editors, one to handle the copy of home-based reporters and the other to deal with copy sent in by foreign correspondents.

        1. I think there were quite a few sub-editing teams scattered around. The business section had a sizeable team and most sections had at least a couple of subs of their own. Subbing was a very important part of the publishing process in those days – often involving a complete rewrite of a reporter’s copy – but I get the impression its role has diminished over the years. If you have an experienced writing staff, the subeditors are a tempting target for cuts.

  23. Took two goes to get this one. Didn’t know SCRIM so had to hope that scrimping was the idea behind the wordplay, figured out the unknown FRASCATI from wordplay, had no idea what was going on with RECOURSE, and got tripped up by thinking the “or” in 18d was part of the answer so struggled to parse FORFEIT. Didn’t know the ‘cel’ bit of BARCELONA either, like a few others.

    FOI Time
    LOI Scrim
    COD Ghost town

  24. NHO of TURNTABLE LADDER or SLIP COVER (as applied to books), which made the SW… challenging. Got them both in the end, with doubts, but never did see RECOURSE. Not going to beat myself up, because it’s a poor clue. A puzzle of two halves – top half quite easy, I thought, but bottom pretty challenging.

    1. I associate the TURNTABLE LADDER only with fire-engines when I were a lad back in the 1950s. I assume the modern ones have them in some form but back in those days it was a very specific additional feature. Try googling ‘Dinky toy fire engine turntable’ and you’ll see what I mean

  25. 28:50
    I thought this was tough. I had no trouble with FRIENDLY but I agree wth Pip re FLESH. I wasn’t that keen on WEAVES or RESOURCE either. That said, I did like NUMEROUS and COMBINE and I thought BIPEDAL was excellent. Never knew about CELs.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  26. Surprisingly, not a whole lot of trouble with this, though I missed the subtlety of the switched letters in my LOI, RECOURSE. No cricket vocab problems either (though I enjoy cricket, I was baffled yesterday by ‘Lords ducks’, which I solved with the other half of the clue). Only unknown was CEL, but there was no room for ambiguity. A bit slower than yesterday, but not much.

  27. DNF. Well, gave up on the hour. More that I didn’t like than I did. Just didn’t enjoy it. For me too many stick it in, take it out, put it somewhere else.

    We have Reduced twice and reduction, mostly, most of, end of, first, beginning, missing, at first, a lot of, mostly (again), and, not new. Phew.

    There were discussions the other day re this style of crossie. I’m not for it.

    If his nibs will allow me, mood Meldrewvian.

    Thanks Pip anyway. Good blog.

  28. I don’t often concede defeat, but I totally ran out of steam with this one. As per our blogger, some of the definitions were not up to normal standard which does make it harder. NHO SCRIM, TURNTABLE LADDER, FRASCATI

  29. I was flying along quite nicely with this, and after 27 minutes had only the bottom left corner to sort out. It took me over 20 minutes to sort out the last few finally crossing the line in 48.10. At least all were correct including RECOURSE which I couldn’t parse, so thanks to Piquet for the explanation. LOI was FRIENDLY where I spent an age trying to fit FAN into the answer before thinking of FIEND.

  30. 18:59 this afternoon. Given my negative overnight reaction to the COVID/Flu jabs yesterday (as I mentioned in the QC comments today), I was delighted to finish this at all.
    I agree with the comments of our blogger and other contributors that there were several MERs flying around, although overall I found the puzzle enjoyable and entertaining.
    I confess to a few Biffs en route to completion. At 10 ac “scrim” I had NHO the fabric-related term but relied on the cryptic element “scrim(p)”. NHO of the “cel” in 16 d “Barcelona” but it sounded sufficiently plausible. For 21 ac and LOI “recourse” I couldn’t see what was going on.
    12 ac “Frascati” reminded me how much I’ve enjoyed Italian wines over the years. Just back from a week in the Veneto, where several of the local whites (Prosecco DOCG, Soave Classico and Fruilano) slipped down all too easily.
    COD 18 ac “friendly” – agree that the term may be considered rather euphemistic for golf matches in particular.
    Thanks to Pip for his illuminating blog and to setter.

  31. Gave up on the hour losing the will to live with five left.

    I hate Americanisms- it’s a dust jacket.

    Didn’t know MOSES as a prophet.


    Access = RECOURSE? Baffling.

    Legislator = DEPUTY? Deputy what?

    1. DEPUTY is a common term for a member of the lower house of a legislative assembly. They are ostensibly the people’s representatives—i.e, delegated or deputed to act in the name of their constituencies.

  32. I gave up with many unsolved, but I liked SLIP COVER, which I think is the sort of box that books from the Folio Society come in. BIPEDAL was clever.

  33. 41.15. I found this a bit of a grind. The unfamiliar slip cover and turntable ladder made the SW tough. I agree that some of this was a stretch.

  34. Nearly managed to finish this in several sessions over the course of four hours. Finally got MOSES from the checkers, having run through all the Old Testament prophets – never really considered him as a prophet.

    DNF, with one to go, since NHO SCRIM.

  35. No problem with Friendly, and my trash detective story reading always seems to have a fleshy (ie, somewhere between fit and chubby) villain so the extension to Flesh didn’t jangle. With the M and the S in place I just dropped M“anner”S in favour of “ose”. What took me forever was putting in DUP for the unionists at 2d. I liked it.

Comments are closed.