Times 28463 – the weakest goes to the wall

36:20 but DNF

A good Friday tester, but not so fiendish to have caused any  real problems for the regulars, I suspect. On the other hand, I gave up after staring at 23ac for several minutes and realising that I had no idea what was required 🙁

Comments on 21dn appreciated.

Definitions underlined.

1 More safe crackers triggering alarm? (8)
FEARSOME – anagram of (crackers) MORE SAFE.
5 Pacific state importing South Indian pastry (6)
SAMOSA – SAMOA (Pacific state) importing S (south).
8 Article written in standard English gets punishment (3)
RAP – A (article) in RP (received pronunciation, standard English).
9 Five among literati restored unknown theory (10)
RELATIVITY – V (five) in an anagram of (restored) LITERATI, then Y (unknown).
10 Strolls on quiet street in York (8)
SHAMBLES – AMBLES (strolls) on SH (quiet).
11 Some quantity of light pressure blistering leg (6)
PHOTON – P (pressure) + HOT (blistering) + ON (leg, in cricket).
12 Female on farm runs for pitcher (4)
EWER – EWE (female on farm) + R (runs)
14 Decorative items: sprays between two flowers (6,4)
OBJETS D’ART – JETS (sprays) between OB and DART. I got the DART bit, and at first thought it would be a decorative stitch on a blouse or dress.
17 Cut out returning strain after duke’s been admitted to hospital? (10)
DISINHERIT – reversal of TIRE (strain) after D IS IN H (duke’s been admitted to hospital).
20 Break right foot when crossing isle (4)
RIFT – R (right) + FT (foot) crossing I (isle).
23 Chapel in speculation facing endless perdition (6)
BETHEL – BET (speculation) and HELL (perdition, endless). I thought this might be ‘ch’ in something, and had never heard of the word for a Baptist/Methodist church.
24 Travel back with husband, soak outside in disgrace here? (8)
DOGHOUSE – GO (travel) reversed + H (husband), then put DOUSE (soak) outside of it.
25 Work for barrister: being bound to accept it (10)
LITIGATION – LIGATION (being bound) containing IT.
26 This old character resides in terraced house (3)
EDH – hidden in terracED Houses.
27 Some work to stop chap finding port (6)
BERGEN – ERG (some work) in BEN (chap).
28 Threaten to chase the woman pinching one’s valuable property (8)
HEIRLOOM – LOOM (threaten) after HER (the woman) containing I (one).
1 Extreme way drink’s bottled in rural location (9)
FARMSTEAD – FAR (extreme), then ST (street, way) in MEAD (drink).
2 Tape playing with superb content (2,5)
AT PEACE – anagram (playing) of TAPE, then ACE (superb).
3 Good person having to dress flasher at disco (6)
STROBE – ST (saint, good person), with ROBE (to dress).
4 Married island girl from south, easily persuaded (9)
MALLEABLE – M (married), then reversal of (from south) ELBA (island) and ELLA (girl).
5 Taste something cheap and something dear? (7)
SNIPPET – SNIP (something cheap) and PET (something dear).
6 Upcoming Irishman with degree coming in post (4-5)
MAIL-ORDER – reversal of (upcoming) LIAM (Irishman) + ORDER (degree, as in a grade/rank/position in a hierarchy.
7 “Look again”, said Queen Jane (7)
SEYMOUR – sounds like “see more” (look again).
13 Affluent speculator acquiring East German house (9)
REICHSTAG – RICH (affluent) and STAG (speculator) acquiring  E (east). DNK ‘stag’ in this sense, nor ‘reichstag’, but guessed.
15 Abstract poem, about to disappear, is featured in book (9)
EPITOMISE – EPIc (poem), missing the ‘c’ (about, circa, to disappear), then IS in TOME (book). Not the first meaning to come to my mind, but supported by Chambers.
16 Drink, then sloshed before noon in London district (9)
TOTTENHAM – TOT (drink) + anagram of THEN + AM (before noon).
18 I feel cold winds, having wrapped love in frozen sheet (3,4)
ICE FLOE – anagram of (winds) I FEEL with C (cold), containing (having wrapped) O (love).
19 Virtue-signaller supported by low-down element (7)
HALOGEN -HALO (virtue-signaller) then GEN (low-down). Loved ‘virtue-signaller’!
21 Content of little eggs yet to be delivered? (2,5)
IN UTERO – hidden in (contents of) mINUTE ROe (little eggs). Biffed from checkers and parsed after the fact. I thought hidden letters ought to appear on the page, so to speak? If this, then why not indirect anagrams?
22 Seller ultimately associated with Polish sock production? (6)
SHINER – last letter of selleR with SHINE (polish), and what might happen if you get socked, i.e. a black eye.

76 comments on “Times 28463 – the weakest goes to the wall”

  1. I wasn’t aware of the def. here for EPITOMISE, so that was briefly a poser. And my LOI was the “Queen Jane” (not Approximately) clue, which is probably easier for subjects of the Crown, though I do remember her (SHAMBLES, though, was an utter guess). But this hardly seemed up to the mythical level of Friday difficulty, as I conquered the NW, plus RELATIVITY, PHOTON and EDH, in a flash, and then proceeded methodically to fill in the SW, SE and NE, in that order.

  2. My comment on 21d is: So that’s pretty much why I couldn’t parse it.
    thanks, wjs

  3. I agree that the little eggs clue breaks the unwritten rules of setting. I biffed it without being able to parse, so thanks for the explanation.
    I also thought the decorative items would be something to do with needlework after the river Dart appeared. The river Ob seemed to fit well at the start, so I toyed with WETS for ‘sprayed’ leading to the plausible OBWETS DART, named after that pioneer of embroidery Sir Julian Obwets? Until the penny dropped. Note to self: apostrophes in answers are missing.

  4. Not too hard, no Friday beast. Not keen on the IN UTERO clue, guessed but unparsed. It breaks my unwritten rules of clueing, which of course aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. No problems with NHO SHAMBLES, or getting SEYMOUR early – the Y gave it away. FOI in SEMAFORE at 1ac which looked wrong; and is, it’s PH not F. 2OI STROBE caused a rethink. LOI EPITOMISE feeling the cold shiver of vocalophobia, and not knowing that meaning of abstract or that meaning of epitomise – guessed from the cryptic and hoped for the best.
    I notice a plural in vinyl’s comment – now going to have to do the Quick Cryptic to see if I can spot something.

  5. 29 minutes with IN UTERO unparsed. Knocking off letters from a suggested word is one thing but taking two suggested, normally unassociated words, putting them together and knocking off a letter at either end to reveal the ‘content’ as the answer is something else – an indirect hidden answer. I’m not sure even The Guardian has done that in the three years I have been solving it every day.

  6. 25:11
    Having the I and the E and the enumeration, I biffed IN UTERO, thinking in passing that it was a cryptic def. I knew the DART River, and I knew ‘egg and dart’, but I was pretty sure there’s no Egg River; something finally suggested OBJETS D’ART, and I took it on trust that there is in fact an OB River. POI 1d FARMSTEAD, where the parsing stumped me for a long time, as I was taking TEA as the drink; twigged post-submission. It didn’t help matters that I had put in PRAMBLES. (NHO SHAMBLES.)

    1. I wondered whether ‘The Shambles’ would be difficult for overseas solves or not… a gimmie for me, as I live in Yorkshire, although I suspect more Americans than Yorkshiremen have visited.

      It’s a rather quaint old market street, named after the shelves that once displayed meat at the front of butcher’s shops.

      1. Named after the local abattoirs from whence came all the meat shown for sale on those shelves before the shops that lined the street.

        1. It’s named after the shelves. The Anglo-Saxon word fleshammel refers to the wooden shelves on which butchers displayed their meat. There have been shops of all kinds on this street since at least Domesday. Some of the first butchers had abattoirs on site, of course, but there is no slaughterhouse to butcher’s shop chronology, and the name appears only after the majority of shops on the street became butchers. Prior to this, the street was named after the hay used to soak up slaughtered animal’s blood, and then the needles made from the bones. By the early 15th century, most of the shops were butcher’s shops, with shelves, and the name of the street then changed accordingly. It is not until the mid/late 16th century that ‘Shambles’ came to mean slaughterhouse.

            1. The first definition of shambles in the OED is: “A stool, footstool. Chiefly in figurative context.” And the first mention dates from 825AD, which is going some. The last mention dates from 1483, so I’m a bit surprised it wasn’t marked as obsolete!
              Now to look for a way to drop it into a conversation …

          1. This set my oversensitive cod etymology nerves ajingling.. but according to the OED, you are quite right in that the first recorded mention (in 971AD, no less!) is “a table or counter for exposing goods for sale, counting money, etc.” This is followed (in 1371, 400 years later) by “A table or stall for the sale of meat.”
            The slaughterhouse does not arrive until 1548: “The place where animals are killed for meat; a slaughterhouse.”

            Still, that was heading towards 700 years ago, so I feel a draw with honour on all sides is appropriate here… it must be one of the oldest recorded words in the OED!

            1. There’s no way that’s a draw. William knocked Guy clean out of the etymological ring!

          2. Very interesting—surprising, counterintuitive! Obviously, I saw no need to look it up. Thanks.

            If this were one that I blogged, I would not have omitted the word’s origin. Of course, I always have a whole week to write mine.

          3. How fabulous to have a complete timeline of a single street. Thank you for that interesting history. KC

  7. Enjoyed this rather a lot, feeling like I was in good form and making respectable progress, until the NE corner gave me quite a work-out. Should have got SAMOSA far quicker – I was imagining the shape and taste for ages before actually coming up with the word. After that I worked through to LOI OBJETS D’ART (though I figured DART early in the solve), a quick typo-check then…
    …ugh! For some reason I put a hopeful SPYMOOR at 7d instead of the far more obvious SEYMOUR.

    Fun solve, but a 35:19 fail – thanks William and setter

  8. 24:59. Enjoyed the top half, struggled on the bottom. Didn’t know EPITOMISE as “abstract”, and didn’t know ERG so couldn’t be sure of BERGEN. I thought IN UTERO was just a cryptic definition.

    Thanks lots to setter and William!

  9. 21 minutes, with IN UTERO biffed and LOI EPITOMISE eventually constructed with a shake of the head. Jane SEYMOUR hit me after a brief dalliance with Jane Grey and while wanting to reach more drastic conclusions. COD to PHOTON, another quantum of uncertainty. Good puzzle apart from the two I didn’t like. Thank you William and setter.

  10. 16:44
    Cantered through this for some reason. The clue for 21d is taking the …
    Thanks, w.

  11. 20′ 13″, with EPITOMISE LOI.

    Parsed 21d, but the answer was obvious with checkers…..

    Thanks william and setter

  12. 26:12

    Some very nice clues. But I agree with the criticisms of IN UTERO. Playing devil’s advocate, the clue as a whole defines the answer. But that doesn’t really work as a defence because it’s not a cryptic definition and this is a cryptic crossword.


  13. 51 minutes. The one I had trouble with was DISINHERIT which wasn’t the first answer to come to mind for ‘Cut out’. Same comment as many others re the unparsed IN UTERO and unknown EPITOMISE for ‘Abstract’. Don’t know if they’re related but BETHEL went in courtesy of previous appearances of “Bethesda” for CHAPEL.

  14. Three missing at the 45 min mark: EPITOMISE, FARMSTEAD, DISINHERIT. Was close on EPITOMISE, trying “poem about” as an anagram of Poem, and “about to” as OT. For FARMSTEAD, “Forest” was my rural location, and a word ending in -EST looked sure for a definition of “extreme”. That initial T sank DISINHERIT.

    Also had BENGAL as a fair six letter port beginning with B before backtracking. And IN VITRO looked just as likely as IN UTERO — which I think is just a cryptic clue, no word play.

    COD HALOGEN, with virtue-signaller=HALO!

  15. 15:16. I found this pretty tricky, and like yesterday I got stuck at the end on one clue, in this case DISINHERIT.
    I didn’t parse IN UTERO and now that I understand it I’m unsure about it. On the one hand removal of one letter at each end (or more likely adding them to reverse-engineer the wordplay from the answer) doesn’t require a huge stretch of comprehension. On the other it’s distinctly indirect-anagramish. On balance I think I’ll just not worry about it.

  16. I didn’t help myself by entering MALLEEABL, which made OBJETS D’ART rather difficult and so the crossword took me 47 minutes. I think I’d have got OBJETS D’ART fairly quickly as I had the DART part and the fact that it was a plural strongly suggested some slightly odd construction. I hope the IN UTERO clue, which I just thought was in some way a very feeble CD, isn’t the thin end of the wedge. With FARMSTEAD I reckoned that the drink was tea, and that there might be some abbreviation MSD for way, something a bit like m/o. Didn’t think much of the surface at 1ac.

  17. As is often my wont, I found the apparently tricky ones surprisingly easy and ripped through this in 22 mins, but was tripped up by one that nobody seems to have struggled with: even though I had -E-G-N, I couldn’t for the life of me see BERGEN and therefore DNF. Like many, biffed IN UTERO, which does seem pretty out there if that is indeed the right parsing. Liked MALLEABLE.

  18. For 21d (easily biffed) I have to say that the words mINUTE and ROe do not spring to mind for “little eggs”, so MER. The river Ob must have come up before as it is in my list of useful things.
    Enjoyed being in the DOGHOUSE. Andyf

  19. Done on paper on the train, so not timed or submitted. EPITOMISE and DISINHERIT held me up, and my LOI really shouldn’t have been !


  20. Sometimes after the first couple of entries you can tell it’s going to be a lovely crossword, and I nodded appreciatively after FEARSOME, AT PEACE & RAP. This one took 5m 25s, so it wasn’t especially Fridayish in terms of difficulty, but still a very pleasant experience.

    For [m]INUTERO[e] I must admit I didn’t parse it at all. I’m inclined to say it’s just about OK, because only one letter is being taken from each side. Many years ago I wrote a clue for TOMATO that was based on the word ATOM appearing twice, trimmed at each end, and it was not very well received – so perhaps I’m biased.

    I have failed to spot anything remarkable about today’s puzzles, so I look forward to being enlightened at some point.

    1. I’m not sure that ‘remarkable’ is the correct description unless I’m missing something, but I think this is a reference to the fact that there are very similar clues to the same, slightly unusual word in both 15×15 and QC. I hope it’s okay to say that much without giving anything away and spoiling anyone’s enjoyment of whichever puzzle they haven’t yet tackled.

  21. Seldom give the quick crossword a go
    (Kinda busy; and my solving is slow)
    You might guess from this rhyme
    That I just found the time
    And the mystery? Sounds like I know!!

  22. No parse on IN UTERO. Wrote in EPITOMISE about four times then took out; eventually just had to embrace the yolo and submit.

  23. 13:01, like others I zipped through the top half, but then found the bottom half required much more attention.

  24. Enjoyed this one. Definite pick of 21dn as my COD. Until these unwritten rules are written, I will continue to pay them no heed whatsoever. I will go further: I dislike unwritten rules. They are only there to confuse and befuddle the uninitiated. This clue was both creative and solvable .. good enough for me. And perfectly fair, unwritten things aside.

    I have not mentioned the startling thing about todays crosswords, if only because I can’t for the life of me see what it might be. Though I haven’t looked at the others…

  25. I started off AT PEACE but was then unnerved by a FEARSOME STROBE which EPITOMISEd the SHAMBLES I made of SEYMORE, which held up OBJETS D’ART for a while. I would definitely shove the setter in the DOGHOUSE for IN UTERO, which I scarcely need say, I failed to parse! I have to say that I did enjoy the puzzle though. 21:38. Thanks setter and William.

  26. A whisker under 30 minutes at 29.58 but with one wrong. Stared at 15dn for about 3 minutes and decided to make up the word EDITORISE, the answer EPITOMISE never occurred to me. I could have spent a month of Sundays trying to parse IN UTERO and not succeeded, and I hope not to come across this clue solving device again! COD for me goes to REICHSTAG, where I was looking for a while to insert the German OST into the answer.

  27. 27 mins Thought this might be the wrong day of the week, after doing the NW in 4 minutes, but the rest strung me out till I got there. Wracked my brain for a while at the end for a suitable element until I realised it wasn’t a specific element. In fact I give it COD, Virtue Signaller, brilliant.

  28. 25:22. A good workout, with the same caveat about 21d as others. I suspect a hidden in two clued words is essentially unparsable unless you have already stumbled on the answer from the definition. Perhaps this one escapes censure by being a cryptic definition with a disposable cryptic freebie thrown in, but the surface is not quite smooth enough for that and a separate cryptic element is strongly implied in the wording. I hope this doesn’t become a regular feature.

  29. Struggled with this one. No time as completed in three sessions. Last two in SNIPPET and PHOTON. Can’t say I really enjoyed it and I definitely don’t like the idea of working out potential synonyms and then extracting the answer from them.

    Thanks William and setter.

  30. 25:12 but inexplicably managed to stick in an A for ICA FLOE also affecting BATHEL!! Pink square counting double error-wise – must be more careful.

    Grrr. Grrr. Grrr.

    Otherwise, not too bad, though did struggle to think of FARMSTEAD. No idea about the parsing of IN UTERO (a term I’d never heard of pre-Nirvana!)

  31. Most of this went in quickly, with SAMOSA first in, and then mainly top to bottom. However, I ground to a halt with some unsolved, and for other reasons, had to give in. FARMSTEAD, OBJETS D’ART, DISINHERIT, SHINER and DOGHOUSE were the ones that stumped me.
    I thought the IN UTERO clue was a cryptic definition, so it passed me by.
    Many thanks for an excellent blog. I seem to have found Monday’s and Wednesday’s puzzles to my liking, but have come unstuck in various ways on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Today’s.
    Have a great weekend!

  32. 29:55 today, with no obscure (i.e. anything I don’t know) GK to throw me off course. I liked “some quantity of light” as a definition for PHOTON, and like many others had no idea why it was IN UTERO. I wonder if this will start a new trend of hidden clues that are so hidden they don’t appear at all. Thanks setter & blogger.

  33. 30.45, with the last five minutes of that spent on 5dn.
    I biffed IN UTERO, but could not parse it. Thanks for the explanation in the blog – I don’t recall having previously seen an answer hidden in words not printed.
    Having first done the QC, I think I have spotted the thing vinyl does not want us to mention, but won’t discuss it either.

  34. 8:02 here, which was a bit surprising as I’d just really struggled with the QC, limping home in 6:59 for that one. I noticed a coincidence between the two puzzles as I was solving this one – I suppose it was quite remarkable as they might have been set by different people at different times.

  35. Remarkable for me because of a Friday finish without aids or angst.

    Another Welsh chapel (Bethel) , I believe we ( of this parish ) had visited BETHESDA recently.

    SHAMBLES took me down all sorts of rabbit holes. Las Ramblas in Barcelona being one.

    The absence of apostrophes remains troublesome for me but I’m sure has been discussed ( OBJETS D’ART ) .

    All in all a satisfying Friday solve listening to TMS . What more can one want in life!

    Thanks to blogger , setter and contributors.

  36. Just over 30

    But with a v sloppy PROTON bunged in right at the end so DNF

    Liked it though surprised by the eggs

    On OBJETS D’ART I recall a Private Eye cartoon of one gallery-goer saying to another when gazing at some incomprehensible modernist creation “It’s certainly an objet but is it d’art”. Cue laughter

    The double clue is remarkable and surely not a coincidence

    Thanks all

        1. That makes sense, of course. I was being facetious.
          The editor might regret not noticing it.

  37. Struggled towards the end but glad I persevered to a rare Friday finish in a little over an hour.

    LOI DISINHERIT after a long stare, clocked DISINH which was nice.

    I realise the rules to crossword setting are unwritten but surely the proportion of biffs in the comments here suggests IN UTERO wasn’t entirely “fair”.

    Thanks all!

  38. I have never blogged before but feel compelled to admit that when I read that there was something unusual today, I looked at the across answers and saw:
    Fearsome Rap; Rift; Shambles; Disinherit; Heirloom; Objets Dart; Litigation; Doghouse; Bethel
    and thought a story was unfolding!

  39. Saw IN UTERO not as a hidden, but a subtractive charade, as the content of synonyms for LITTLE & EGGS is literally what we want. I don’t find it indirect at all.

    1. Yes, as I and others indicated. What people are saying is that you have to guess the phrase “minute roe” to parse it (and inside that, the answer is indeed hidden). Subtractions from single suggested words occur all the time, but from a phrase, and a rather contrived one at that…? This seems a borderline case and I’m not sure how “legal” it is. It’s more likely the phrase would occur to someone only after they got the answer from the definition (like most, if not all, who posted here).

      It would be really difficult to make a plausible surface with that phrase in it!

      1. This exactly. I would be very surprised if anyone solved this clue from the wordplay, rather than guessing and then parsing after the fact, as I did. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have bothered if it weren’t my blogging day.

        The main issue for me is that the clue is *not* of the subtraction type (it contains no subtraction indicator, such as beheaded/docked/without energy/etc.) it is clearly indicated as a hidden answer (contents of) but the answer is not hidden in the clue. Or perhaps it is too well hidden!

        Fair, legal, loose, whatever; I contend it is not up to the Ximenean principles that we assume apply to this paper.

        Begruntled from near York.

        1. I don’t think the standards here are very strictly Ximenean, in any case. Many clues have “connective tissue” that is neither wordplay nor definition. And you know what the man said…

      2. I actually parsed it as minute zeros, with eggs ~ zeros, which necessitates the even more unreasonable separate contents of two words! I agree that roe is the correct parsing.

  40. 13:20. But… After 12:39 I thought I’d finished and came here to check the parsings only to find I’d forgotten to complete 1D and had to go back and write in and parse the answer I’d seen. I was baffled, like others, by IN UTERO. FWIW I think the clue unfair and equivalent to an indirect anagram. Having done the QC first, I noticed the coincidence, but it didn’t bother me. Thanks William and setter.

  41. It’s only annoyed people, I think, because a subtraction is required. We see convoluted charades all the time in Times xwds, and no-one bats an eyelid.

  42. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that IN UTERO has nothing to with “minute roe”, as there is already a “hidden” (EDH) in this puzzle, and Times generally does not allow two “hiddens” in the same 15×15 puzzle. So maybe just a CD.

  43. First ever finish of a Friday 15 X 15. Really chuffed.

    Took ages to get epitomise(spelled with a Z in my Oxford dictionary for some reason).

    In utero was obvious to a medic but never parsed it. Thought the little eggs must be from the ovary.

  44. I also enjoyed being able to finish what felt like a fair and straightforward Friday puzzle (late after a busy trip North- even ‘norther’ than York). I saw the ‘minute’ in 21d but failed on the ‘roe’ so thank you for that.

    I have no problem with the crossword throwing up all sorts of clever clueing, accepted or original. Surely the game is to get into the head of the setter and solve with whatever means possible. I imagine the puzzle is evolving all the time?

  45. (A) halogen is not an element: it’s one of a group of 7: iodine, chlorine, bromine, fluorine, astatine and tennesseen. Black mark, setter. Or, halogens describes the group.

  46. Failed on quite a few, by not recognising the synonyms for DISINHERIT or FARMSTEAD; and biffed another few without ability to parse, like IN UTERO, EPITOMISE (abstract?) and DISINHERIT. NHO OB. Enjoyed OBJETS D’ART, EDH ( did Old English at Uni) , SHINER and especially TOTTENHAM. Never do the QC, so can’t imagine what the co-incidence is, but reading the across clues in this one there’s a distinctly ominous feeling, so….

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