Times 28,427: Very Sad Not To Have Solved This In 4’33”

There were definitely some finely turned clues in this one – I was very taken with the two different setters in 23ac and the two different covers in 4dn – but honestly there can be only one COD and it is the very prescient 26ac. A better-timed clue is hard to imagine.

I also very much enjoyed the GK content of this, requiring a definite smattering of light erudition to parse some of the clues effectively.  Many thanks to the setter, an enjoyable puzzle to end another crazy week in British politics.

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

1 Small number of shots in fight (4)
SPAR – S(mall) + PAR [number of shots, in golf]
4 Be fond of a drink and jollies, with great success (4,1,5)
LIKE A CHARM – LIKE [be fond of] A CHA [drink] + R.M. [Royal Marines = jollies]
9 In different camps around river that’s very small (10)
FRACTIONAL – FACTIONAL [in different camps] around R(iver)
10 Jelly, pavlova, gargantuan wraps (4)
AGAR – hidden in {pavlov}A GAR{gantuan}
11 Admirer hiding under emptied desk (6)
BUREAU – BEAU [admirer], hiding U{nde}R
12 Stove off? Cook starter for dinner above it (8)
OBVIATED – (D{inner} ABOVE IT*). LOI, mainly because I don’t ever quite know exactly what “obviate” means
14 One nursing husband is to be tender (4)
ACHE – ACE [one] nursing H(usband)
15 Profits initially grow, following record company (10)
ENTERPRISE – P{rofits} + RISE [grow], following ENTER [record, as a verb]
17 High rent, amount that’s something people contest (10)
20 A set of bars from composer (4)
CAGE – double def. John CAGE (1912-92), avant-garde composer
21 I’m amazed about king entering African country’s sporting event (8)
GYMKHANA – reversed MY [I’m amazed!] + K(ing), entering GHANA
23 The setter, backing what setters do, set out (6)
EMBARK – reversed ME [the crossword setter] + BARK [what canine setters do]
24 Abridged version of opera standard (4)
NORM – NORM{a}. Opera about a druidic high priestess by Bellini
25 Run miles by river outside of town (10)
EXTRAMURAL – EXTRA [run, in cricket] + M(iles) + URAL [third longest river in Europe]
26 Admitting ebbing zest, extremely sloppy leader is one keen to retire? (10)
SLEEPYHEAD – reversed PEEL [zest] in S{lopp}Y + HEAD [leader]
27 Times reporter’s shock (4)
DAYS – homophone of DAZE
2 A light-hearted pair of Conservatives, very casual (11)
PERFUNCTORY – PER [a] + FUN [light-hearted] + C + TORY [two Conservatives]
3 Source of deplorable traffic noise we heard periodically (9)
RACKETEER – RACKET + {w}E {h}E{a}R{d}
4 Cover of literature: nameless cover not working? (7)
LEISURE – L{iteratur}E + I{n}SURE
5 Regularly, man’s captured by pieces in chess game (4,2,3,6)
KING OF THE CASTLE – OFT [regularly] + HE [man] is captured by KING and CASTLE [two pieces in a game of chess]
6 Too effusive about stripped off male partner (3,4)
7 Specific terms obtained by gutless ambassador (5)
ARGOT – GOT by A{mbassado}R
8 Sank hull of icebreaker in sea (5)
MIRED – I{cebreake}R in MED(iterranean)
13 A large number, after festival drinking gallons, in a state once (4,7)
EAST GERMANY – MANY, after EASTER drinking G(allons)
16 Music style sure to be covered by The Stones? (4-5)
ROCK-BOUND – ROCK [music style] + BOUND [sure]
18 Little woman embraces English rebel in school (7)
ACADEMY – AMY [March] embraces [Jack] CADE, now that’s a fanfic I would pay money to read
19 Hydrate ground where copper may be found (3,4)
THE YARD – (HYDRATE*) As in Scotland Yard
21 Guileless young guys missing in class (5)
GENUS – {in}GENUS. We are more familiar probably with ingenuEs, but this is the male version
22 Spread, say, jam around (5)
MARGE – reversed E.G. RAM

64 comments on “Times 28,427: Very Sad Not To Have Solved This In 4’33””

  1. The desk-hiding and the casual Conservatives might also be seen as inadvertently topical.

    I didn’t know that STOVE could be a past tense of STAVE. There you go.

    1. Well I’ve been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet
      Had my head stove in, but I’m still on my feet and I’m still, willin’
      – Lowell George

  2. A castle is not really a chess piece- it’s a rook, though this might upset Astronowt. From the Persian word rukh meaning chariot. Castling is a move.
    I found this tough, taking 39:04. A good portion of this devoted to LOI OBVIATED, where I failed to see the correct anagrist. Cook with a capital C ; someone named Cook? Or use the letters of ‘stove’?

    1. LIKE A CHARM? No, more like a cow
      This one made my brain ACHE, and how!
      I do crosswords for LEISURE
      I’ve had DAYS of great pleasure
      But I’m glad this one’s ALL OVER now

    2. I imagine the piece in English is “rook” simply because it is a homonym of rukh. Interesting that the piece is a “tower” in both German(Turm) and French(Tour).

  3. Another great puzzle. And another solver with LOI obviated, not really knowing what it meant. Since it probably started OB I was mentally stuck on {h}OB for the stove with the cooked starter, wondered if verted meant off, and if obverted meant above. Then finally saw the anagram.
    There were a few first&last letter pairs today: emptied desk, extremely sloppy, cover of literature, gutless ambassador, hull of icebreaker. The setter was all over it – that was the opposite, a stripped-off male.

  4. I crossed paths with John CAGE a few times (one afternoon twice, and quite literally, on my lunch break from the Nation office at 72 Fifth Ave.) and got his autograph on a book about Brian Eno (he is mentioned in it, more than once) just days before he died.
    I wanted EXTRAURBAN (though… ugh) so took a while to see EXTRAMURAL.
    Really liked OBVIATED, once I got it. It’s a word I’ve used (and always correctly! ha), but the anagram to unravel was elusive for a minute.

  5. I was on track to achieve my half-hour target but at the last minute I was held up by the intersecting answers, RACKETEER and FRACTIONAL, and that pushed me to 42 minutes.

    Our veteran contributors will remember the retired colonel who used to work himself up into a rage whenever ‘castle’ was mentioned with reference to the chess piece, however it’s in all the dictionaries and according to SOED dates back to the 17th century. Presumably that’s how ‘castling’ came to be called ‘castling’, a term that nobody quibbles about.

      1. Yes, Paul, it’s all here. Not sure how best to find him though as I don’t recall his user name.

  6. My LOI was OBVIATED like everyone else. I thought it meant avoided, and it took far too long to click it was an anagram. ROCK-BOUND took too long, given that the ROCK bit was pretty much a write-in. I had no idea INGENUS was a word, and would have used ingenues for young men too.

  7. 49 minutes with LOI OBVIATED. I couldn’t get going until the third read through. CODs go jointly to SLEEPYHEAD and EMBARK. ROCK-BOUND was entered with a shrug. A ROCK-BOUND beach, island etc? I suppose so, but I’d just say ‘rocky’. Toughish. Thank you V and setter.

  8. 43 minutes. Another one with OBVIATED as last in and GENUS unparsed. Same comment about ROCK-BOUND as boltonwanderer above. Favourite was the def for RACKETEER.

  9. 1 hour, held up like Jack on RACKETEER and FRACTIONAL and add PERFUNCTORY. LOI OBVIATED where I completely missed the anagram and bunged it in on a wing and a prayer. NHO jollies for the Royal Marines either, although we’ve probably had it before. It’s also not in my online dictionary.

    Some very good clues though. I liked GYMKHANA, SLEEPYHEAD, and THE YARD.

    Thanks V and setter. PS V you’ve got HE’S in 5d when I think it is just HE.

  10. 26:05. I managed to take several wrong turns today. For SPAR I had a tentative JABS, thinking the clue was somehow a double definition regarding vaccination and boxing. I had LIKE A DREAM, thinking that the drink was a dram. And I thought that ROCK BOUND was going to be something BLUES. I did briefly wonder if there was a music style ROCK BLUES. Anyhow, I was pleased just to finish after sorting those out.
    @verlaine – it would seem more appropriate if you’d entered nothing after 4’33”.

  11. About 30 minutes, with several unparsed. Didn’t know that the Royal Marines can be jollies (though LIKE A CHARM couldn’t have been anything else with the second A in place), didn’t see the ‘peel’ bit of SLEEPYHEAD, didn’t know Jack Cade in ACADEMY, and didn’t work out that ‘ingenus’ was the word being hinted at for GENUS. But enjoyable stuff nonetheless, so thanks to setter and blogger.

    FOI Agar
    LOI Bureau
    COD The Yard

  12. I was pleased to finish this at all, and super pleased to do so in only 35 mins.

    I saw OBVIATED very quickly, mercifully, but was convinced for some time that ‘with great success’ must be LIKE A STORM, which delayed me in the NE corner. Also knew THE YARD was an anagram but just couldn’t tease it out quickly. Liked EMBARK and LEISURE. LOI MARGE

    1. $10 a head/$10 per head (my keyboard has no pounds or euros symbol).
      I always associate it with Anax/Dean Mayer, he’s into very minimalistic clueing.

      1. I think one of Anax’s best is: “Likes eating” (11) Cannibalism.
        Or…”Joined Labour Party” (5,4) Chain Gang.

  13. 82m 38s
    I found that very hard but I derived satisfaction from completing it with only the assistance of online dictionaries and an online thesaurus. It took me so long that, on checking my answers before pressing submit, I felt as if I had entered some of them yesterday.
    – In 4ac I toyed with ‘storm’ and ‘dream’ before charm suggested itself.
    – If aphis99 is incorrect about STOVE/stave, I don’t see the connection with OBVIATE.
    – I agree with isla 3 about the number of first and last letter pairings.
    – Like pootle, I toyed with ROCK BLUES as I know there is the genre of blues rock.
    – 2d: ‘a pair of Conservatives’ may be all that get elected if a General Election is held soon. Verlaine is certainly right that 26ac is very apposite.
    – Thanks, verlaine for GENUS and RACKETEER.
    – 17ac TOURNAMENT. Well hidden anagram, I thought.

    1. “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband.” NEVER FORGET

  14. 25:47, but 2 wrong. Defeated by ROCK-BOUND and DAYS as I had a no-hoper ROCK BLUES for 16D. I failed to parse OBVIATED, but at least I knew it was the answer. The 10-letter answers all held me up as I became MIRED. Maybe I was being a SLEEPYHEAD this morning having slept in. COD to GYMKHANA. Thanks V and setter.

  15. 31:26. Same issues as everyone else with OBVIATED – my failed attempt at 4ac was “LIKE A CHAMP{ers}”?! I shall have to remember the jolly jack tars…

    I loved 23ac. Very clever.

    Thanks verlaine!

  16. Completed but with very little pleasure. I found a number of the definitions very loose.

  17. I found this hard and used aids to finish off after an hour, eventually taking 65 minutes. SPAR seemed very doubtful and I removed it having put it in, because number of shots = par seemed so weak: one could take any number of shots. For LIKE A CHARM I was trying to make ‘like a dream’ work with ‘like a dram’. Company = ENTERPRISE seems thin. MIRED = sank? Not quite the same, I’d have thought but no doubt the dictionaries will say it’s OK.

  18. 6 minutes dead, and I think I must have been both on the wavelength and also rather lucky in the order I solved the clues, as it meant I got some generous checkers for words like SLEEPYHEAD and GYMKHANA.

    As soon as I saw CASTLE I thought there would be someone in the comments who didn’t like it… Chambers describes the meaning as ‘informal or childish’, so it’s perfectly fair game but shows at least what they think of it.

  19. 46:43 but with LIKE A DREAM at 4ac, not noticing that it turned my ARGOT into ERGOT. Two errors, four pink squares, for a should-do-better day

  20. 26 mins. Not the hardest of Fridays. Struggled to see the cryptics for OBVIATED and GENUS, thanks Verlaine for those.

  21. Undid all my good work by biffing LIKE A DREAM and not noticing it had corrupted my ARGOT 🙁 Drat! 35:23 with 2 errors. Thanks setter and V.

  22. 17:23. I found that very hard, and a bit of a mixed bag. Mostly excellent but one or two rather loose bits that held me up. Most of it (sank = MIRED, source of deplorable traffic = RACKETEER) is fine on closer inspection, but I still don’t think ROCK-BOUND means ‘covered by’ stones. It means surrounded by them.

  23. 37’24”. I thought a good alternative answer for 19D would be WET LAND, where COPPER butterflies are known to abound. Or not. OBVIATED the last one in, obviously. STOVE as a past tense had me confused. SPAT nearly went in at one across. And the second part of 16D could only be BLUES, till it couldn’t. A tricky puzzle, and all the better for it.

  24. 17:03, mostly held up in the SE corner by the temptation of ROCK-BLUES (not just me, then), which I couldn’t make work for what turned out to be a very good reason i.e. it was wrong. Challenging, but it is Friday.

  25. 29.33. A stiff test but very satisfying to complete. Had to revisit clues again and again to recalibrate my understanding of what words comprised definition and what words were required for word play.

  26. I see I am not alone in being LIKE A DREAM and therefore ERGOT not ARGOT after a hectic week entertaining visiting grandchildren; mind needs time to recover focus. Otherwise 30 minutes, liked GYMKHANA, and a shrug for KING OF THE CASTLE. Peace restored tomorrow.

  27. Too much for me. Bored after the hour with 62% done. Probably should have seen one or two more…

    Hey ho.

  28. Not enjoyed at all as this was a bit like being in detention. Gave up on the hour which detention usually was. A DNF and few quibbles.

    (LOI) 1ac SPAR
    COD 19dn THE YARD

    Quibbles: 4ac DREAM and 7dn ERGOT. CHARM far too loose – Ed?
    At 16dn I had ROCK SOUND (sure) as ROCK BOUND is not scree! Loose stones!
    So 23ac EMBARK remained a mystery. 8dn MIRED = sank!?
    Mood Meldrewvian

    1. I can see how the definition for ROCK-BOUND is a stretch but if you can’t stretch the rules a little to get to “covered by the Stones” in your surface, what’s the point of anything at all?

    2. I’m surprised you could ever have been subjugated to detention, such an erudite and upright student as you undoubtedly were!

  29. Found this pretty hard, and when I had all completed, I decided to revisit 12A, OBVIATED, as I had not parsed it. At this point, failing to understand the mega-obscure Stove as a past tense of Stave, I had a re-think and bunged in OBVERTED, the other possibility, instead, with the vague idea that Off meant turned away. I didn’t, of course, see the anagram. Apart from that there was lots to love in this teaser, with some rewarding PDMs as the answers got wrestled out and the grid slowly filled up. Thanks, Verlaine, for the elucidation and the Cage reference.

  30. Same problems as most: LIKE A DREAM, couldn’t get OBVIATED; ARGOT missed due to DREAM.

  31. These clues were certainly tricky with the unholy trinity of concealed definition of the answer, obscure definitions for the word play and unusual vocabulary and/or GK. Did I let it beat me? No. Did it take me three days? Yes it did. Fun though.

    Thanks setter and blogger

    1. Just my kind of solver, I appreciate the company. Five days to solve, mainly in 5 -15min bursts: bus, train and pre-repose. Did not parse 21d and partially unparsed 6d (AL). ROCK BLUES 16d clearly not working so had to look to the dictionary for an assist, no quibble with BOUND. Slow but steady work towards a complete solve, typical for me. LOI 25a.
      I usually pick the hardest puzzle of the week, anything deep orange upward, and spend my spare moments completing, by which time the next excruciating (nonetheless enjoyable) challenge has usually emerged.
      Thanks to all for making this communal commentary possible.

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