Times 28510: there’s a second time for everything

In all the time I have been blogging here, this is the second time I have given up on a puzzle. I could not think of a plausible answer for 24 across for the life of me, and after 30 minutes, I tossed in the towel.  Now I have looked at the answer, I am still stuck on how to piece it together, hopefully something will come to me as I write things up.

I think there is something funny going on at 19 down too.  Edit: there was an error in the original clue for 19 down.  The online version has been changed.

The rest of it is pretty difficult too, and some of the solving times in are off the charts.  How did you do?

1 Steady progress? Judge wrong turning outside sporting blunder (3-4)
JOG-TROT – J(judge), then TORT(wrong) reversed surrounding OG(own goal, sporting blunder)
5 Something loopy and irrational about religious books (5)
PICOT – PI(an irrational number), C(about), OT(religious books)
9 Plant, end of stem becoming black, declined (5)
EBBED – EMBED(plant) with the last letter of steM becoming B(black)
10 Quilt stuffing placed on rock for makeshift bed (9)
SHAKEDOWN – DOWN(quilt stuffing) after SHAKE(rock)
11 Love to come together briefly to spin a little mischief! (7)
GREMLIN – NIL(love) and MERGE(come together) minus the last letter, all reversed
12 Complaint harboured by Anthea on meeting Rachel (7)
EARACHE – put anthEA and RACHEl together and they hide the answer
13 Baked small crumbles for function (6,4)
15 Girl falling just short of the record? (4)
ANNA – ANNAL(the record) minus the last letter
18 Soft food in time something that flies mysteriously rebuffed? (4)
TOFU – T(time) then UFO(something that flies mysteriously) reversed
20 Harsh call by the way to split a medical department (10)
ASTRINGENT – RING(call) next to ST(way) inside A, ENT(medical department)
23 There’s word of action every so often being at plant (7)
VERBENA – VERB(word of action) and alternating letters in bEiNg At
24 West Ham’s football stars making international European team (7)
FAEROES – I think I see this now – the West Ham football stars are F.A. ‘EROES?
25 A new strategy for crossing river in inhospitable territory (9)
ANTARCTIC – A, N(new), TACTIC(strategy) containing R(river)
26 Physicist backing Whistler’s claim? (5)
FERMI – Whister’s claim could be I’M REF – reversed
27 Party before long for senior member (5)
DOYEN – DO(party) and YEN(long for)
28 Drinks at college assembly (5-2)
ROUND-UP – a ROUND of drinks, and UP(at college)
1 Unemployed girl getting word from well-wisher? (7)
JOBLESS – JO(girl) and BLESS(word from well-wisher)
2 Exploitation of gasfield annoying people (8)
3 Son au naturel, perhaps, got up (5)
RISEN – S(son) inside RIEN(French for nothing) – so the son is wearing nothing in French
4 Salesman with top drawer, see, concealed in counter (9)
TRAVELLER –  RA(artist, top drawer) and V(see) inside TELLER(counter)
5 Verse work recalled English essay (6)
POETRY – OP(work) reversed, then E(English), TRY(essay)
6 Game starts in confusion, opening once, and never finishing (7)
COONCAN – first letters of Confusion and Opening, then ONCe, and ANd without the last letters. I think this has only appeared once in a Jumbo, and it stumped several commenters
7 Hint for one? Dunce needs to have 3! (5)
TINGE – EG(for one) and NIT(dunce) all reversed (3 down was RISEN)
8 One who composed message on Mother’s Day gift? Revolting, oily stuff! (8)
BERGAMOT – the composer is Alban BERG, and a Mother’s Day gift may be inscribed TO MA – reverse that
14 Shower cap placed around heated bath (9)
BESPATTER – BETTER(cap) around SPA(heated bath)
16 Social worker getting one’s child to stop going on slide (4-4)
ANTI-SKID – ANT(social worker), I’S(ones), KID(child)
17 Maybe wanting fare controlled by US bank (8)
UNDERFED – UNDER(controlled by), the FED(US bank)
19 Having left later, dallies with Yankee in front of others (7)
FIRSTLY – the best I can come up with this is FLIRTS(dallies) with the L moved (though the T has to move as well), then Y(yankee). Other suggestions welcomed.

The online version of the clue was replaced by
Flirts outrageously with Yankee in front of others (7)
leading to an anagram of FLIRTS with Y(yankee)

21 Self-promotion developed fully, with energy rising (3,4)
EGO TRIP – GOT RIPE(developed fully) with the E(energy) rising
22 Cooper? In short, one thing that coops (3,3)
HEN RUN – biffed this.  HENRY Cooper was a British boxer, remove his last letter and add ‘UN(one)
23 Sex with a dish (5)
VIAND – VI(sex is the combining form for six, so VI), AND(with)
24 Drive off after payment picked up for shawl (5)
FICHU – two homophones – one for SHOO(drive off) and FEE(payment)

90 comments on “Times 28510: there’s a second time for everything”

  1. A relief to finish, but I needed 3 sessions. On a completely different planet to the setter, staring at clues and having no idea. Not to mention crossing unknowns like cooncan and picot, and a barely remember fichu. I did know Faeroes… they beat someone a few cycles ago in Euro qualifications, from memory! Seeing all the answers there’s nothing particularly difficult, the mark of a good puzzle.
    Last few in were bergamot, gremlin, ebbed and after another break hen run, where the only Cooper I could think of for a long time was Gary.
    I parsed Firstly as FLIRTS with the L moving, completely missing the error in the clue.

  2. And Alice Cooper, who had a chicken killed during a stage performance.

    Over forty minutes, with at least ten spent on FAEROES, but a great pdm when I saw how it worked. I spent too long thinking that the cockney accent part would refer to the initial F being a TH, as in ” it was a frow-in from the side-line”. All came to nothing anyway as I’d biffed EMBED instead of EBBED at 9a.

  3. DNF. Time so far off the scale I submitted off the leaderboard. I stared at 24a for I don’t know how long, but somehow fluked the correct answer, only to fail on EBBED for which I didn’t make the M to B substitution.

    Not a puzzle I was destined to solve.

  4. Just like to point out that “shakedown”, which I have never come across elsewhere, also appeared in “Black Ajax” by George Macdonald Fraser, which I mentioned earlier this week. The historical pugilist Bill Richmond (about whom Ben Macintyre wrote roughly a year ago) offers to give the book’s hero temporary accommodation – “Give him a shakedown,maybe”, from memory.

  5. FA ‘eroes? I see, good call but an obscure bit of wordplay. I was looking for a substitution (where the I for International becomes E for European). This and at least three other answers were entered without full understanding.

  6. DNF. I started using aids after an hour when I had maybe two-thirds of the grid completed, but even then I was unable to finish it and I ended by revealing the last three or four answers, two of which were the unknown crossers FAEROES and FICHU. The only answer I needed help with in the top half was the unknown COONCAN.

    I note that at 12ac we had an interrupted hidden answer, a device I don’t ever recall seeing before yesterday’s puzzle when it was commented on by others.

  7. Over an hour and I couldn’t get FAEROES. i bunged in FLEXORS as the only word I could fit, with no expectation it was correct. I was also confused at how FIRSTLY worked and I think it may be an error. Never heard of COONCAN but managed to get that one. I was annoyed I just had one clue I couldn’t get after struggling through several other difficult ones.

  8. DNF in something under an hour
    Gave up on FAEROES; I guessed that West Ham was in East London and was pretty sure it was a soccer team, but that got me nowhere, especially as I didn’t know that Faeroes was. NHO COONCAN, of course, and was surprised to find it in the dictionary. I did get HEN RUN–there was an animated film called ‘Chicken Run’–but not having a clue as to who the Cooper was. Didn’t understand how EGO TRIP worked, and didn’t notice the problem with FIRSTLY. I can’t imagine what tomorrow’s will be like.

  9. 73m 43s and lucky to finish. I nearly put TEASELLER for 4d but couldn’t make sense of EAS for ‘top drawer see’. Eventually thought of TRAVELLER but the explanation for RA V only came to me later.
    I’ve not checked the SNITCH yet but, surely this must be in the ‘Very Hard’ basket.
    I was surprised I managed to work out FAEROES fairly quickly, having once got the F.
    Managed to drag up PICOT, COONCAN and FICHU from somewhere.
    15ac was nearly ALMA(nac) but three letters didn’t really qualify as ‘just short’ and, besides I don’t think an almanac counts as a record.
    Didn’t spot the clue error in FIRSTLY.
    No COD; just pleased to finish. LOI: TRAVELLER.

    1. Just checked the SNITCH, and with about 10 or 12 solvers in it’s dipped under 200 – now 198.
      From what I understand it only uses correct entries; so far it seems there will be fewer than normal. My estimation is that the better solvers (Magoo, Mohn, Jason etc) will be more likely to get it correct, meaning the SNITCH will be artificially lowered from what it should have been – it will be biased by being calculated from proportionally more of the better solvers and fewer of the average solvers. If that makes sense.
      Is Starstruck out there to tell me if I’ve interpreted it correctly?

      1. I cannot speak with Starstruck’s expertise. One thing is that ‘failing to complete’ is an indicator of hardness not recognised by the Snitch. But the relative weight of better/average solvers who have completed may not be that significant. For example, I sometimes compare my own performance with Verlaine’s (we are at opposite ends of the Snitch list) and our nitch is often similar. So long as we both complete correctly, we both make the same contribution to the Snitch calculations. But today’s is extreme enough to make it a bit academic; we all know it’s hard

      2. The SNITCH is now at 193. I knew that there would be ‘trouble ‘t mill’ when I submitted my entry and saw that Verlaine had taken all of 16m 17s. Now I can see that Magoo took only slightly less – 16m 01s. So to be within Vx5 is, for me, quite an achievement!

      1. Our blogger tells us that sex is the ‘combining form’ for six, and I’m sure he’s right. But I haven’t the slightest idea what that means, and clueing anything with a foreign word, especially one in a defunct language, really is not on, in my opinion. Why Latin and not, say, German, Russian, Czech, Slovak or Polish, any of which I could have translated? A sloppy error at 19D and numerous obscurities plus this … I’ve not so much thrown the towel in as chucked it, the gumshield, stool and cornerman’s bucket right out of the ring. Dischuffed in the extreme.

        1. Then you would not have enjoyed one of my favourite clues from a few years ago:
          “Roman sex position daughters came to see (7): VISITED.
          I’ve found over the years that ‘sex = VI’ and ‘see = V’ are in fairly common use in Crosswordland in The Times.

          1. For me your clue is better because it indicates the sex is Roman, rather than leaving the language unindicated. That’s also how I read Norm0’s gripe – random foreign language not indicated.

            1. It’s as a result of the clue that I mentioned that, when I see the word ‘sex’ I automatically think of VI as well as ‘it’.

              1. Apologies for late reply, and thank you for your input. I’ve become used to associating ‘sex’ with ‘it’, and I’ll try to remember the possibility of ‘VI’ in the future. We live and learn!

            2. I think that’s probably where I was coming from, Isla, although I was also coming from a condition of being pretty steamed up. If I’d let the pressure ease rather than blasting it through the safety valve, maybe I’d remember exactly how I was feeling. I’m over it now, anyway, having polished off Friday and Saturday’s puzzles without incident.

        2. I’m sure that “combining form” simply meant that “sex” at the beginning of various words means “six” – “sextet” and “sextuplet” for example, because “sex” is Latin for “six”. It’s not the only such combining form, as “hex” (Greek rather than Latin) is also used, “hexagon” being one example.

          Why Latin? Partly because at least some living people were taught Latin in British schools, very few of which would have offered Russian or other Slavonic languages, and partly because even if you didn’t do Latin at school, in the case of words like “sex” there are English words from which you can guess what’s happening. In my couple of years of Latin, “What words do we get from this?” was one of the teacher’s favourite questions. [I had one year of German, but I think that was pretty unusual.]

          The oldest use of sex=6 that I can remember was (from memory) in a Times championship final in about 1995. “In which three couples get together for sex” (5) was a clue for LATIN, and you could hear a snigger from most contestants as they solved it with bits of Latin and maths (3 x 2 = 6).

          (Added later: another source of Latin without school Latin is the various bits of Latin tags used in English, like “et cetera” and “ab ovo”.)

          1. Peter – thank you for your post, which answers a few questions for me (someone who had no classical education to speak of but who did pretty well in Modern Languages at school (top grade A levels in French and German) then, in later life, lived for three years in Moscow and more than 22 years in Prague. My Russian is now rather schoolboyish and my French has become rusty, but my Czech and German are fluent and, if I listen hard, I can get the headlines from Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Croatian, all of which, of course, are closely related Slavic languages.

            As to Latin, well, I can manage ‘Caesar adsum iam forte, Brutus adarat. Caesar sic in omnibus, Brutus sic inat’, but I think that’s due more to that grate skolar, Nigel Molesworth, the Curse of St Custard’s, than to anybode else.

  10. Stopped after 40′ with six answers missing. Parsed all but the nho COONCAN. Also nho FICHU, although I spent some time wondering about ‘chew’ as a homophone.
    I have three chickens but have never ever heard the phrase HEN RUN (which I did get).
    Liked RISEN (with hindsight).

    Thanks george and setter.

  11. DNF. I was completely floored by this. I really liked Masked Ball and Doyen. But as for the rest – it was well past Livingstone. (Beyond my Ken).

    1. #Me too! Stopped counting the number of clues left blank, and waved the white flag after about an hour. Felt like this had escaped from the Mephisto ( which of course I’ve never attempted, but which I scoured once with the hope of finding a word I recognised, and came up with a total of one!)
      I did get, and liked, the two you mentioned, but only a sprinkling of others: SHAKEDOWN and RISEN I was happy to get. Need a confidence boost tomorrow, or I’ll begin to think I’m ‘losing it’.

  12. DNF. I knew it was going to be hard when my first read through the across clues before picking up my pen only yielded FERMI. After more than the hour, I was still short of SHAKEDOWN, CONCOON, FAEROES and FICHU and a couple of others were biffs. Life’s too short as it is, and I surrendered. Je ne regrette rien. Thank you George for unscrambling this and setter for the agony without the ecstasy.

  13. DNF after my 30 minutes (That is an understatement). Well done to those who solved it. Far too many reversed clues I thought.

  14. Crikey.
    Completed in 30:27 and amazed to see I’m in the top 10 on the leaderboard. Didn’t see Sex = VI (luckily nothing else seemed to fit V-I-D.
    NHO COONCAN – sounds dubious but seems to come from Spanish. Also NHO that sense of SHAKEDOWN.
    Liked TOFU – my LOI.

  15. 28:03. Hooray! I finished! Four of those minutes on my last two COONCAN (which I eventually remembered) and FAEROES, the only one I failed to parse. Great stuff, but hard work. Lots of lovely clues. I had ticks by FIRSTLY (although I see now I missed the error in the clue) and ANTI-SKID and exclamation marks for the cleverness of RISEN, VIAND and HEN RUN. Thank-you George and clever setter.

  16. 19D has now been changed in the online version, apologies to those held up or perplexed by the error. Mick

    1. Thanks for the update, unfortunately the Australian reprint was not amended so even a recourse to aids left me perplexed until I came here.
      Also defeated by Faeroes, Cooncan and hen run, only the last was even vaguely gettable for me. So dnf.

  17. Another DNF. Thought I was having a dim day till I came here and found I was in good company.

    Thanks for the explanations George and a begrudging thanks to the setter!

  18. Second DNF on the trot. I’d like to blame this dreadful debilitating illness that I have (man flu according to Madame) but I doubt that I would ever have got COONCAN, FAROES, HEN RUN or FICHU.

    Just for a day or two I would be grateful for some puzzles with plenty of CARTHORSE/ORCHESTRA -type clues.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  19. DNF after 1 hour 20 minutes with five left: FAEROES, ANTARCTIC, COONCAN, BESPATTER and FICHU. Pleased, I suppose, to have cracked the others but that’s just clutching at straws

  20. 21:19, slowest for long time, but apparently in Top 10 on Leaderboard. Really tough, occasionally bit borderline – eg 6dn which would be so much fairer without any of the misleading punctuation (and still would make sense). Smiles at first, then grimaces later, but some original ideas, notably “au naturel”, “one” = ‘UN (I hope this doesn’t become common practice), and the devious (but ultimately satisfying) West Ham football stars …. thanks to setter, great work by blogger to unravel it all.

  21. Mrs S called this “challenging” and DNF.
    That in itself is rare, so I thought I’d have a look, for my education. Not surprisingly most clues were well beyond me, and I had more than a slight MER at Faeroes, not a spelling anyone uses for the islands, which in their own language are Føroyar and in English Faroe Islands.

      1. Well if the dictionary says so it is clearly OK for the purposes of the puzzle, so I stand corrected. Though I am surprised Collins does not mark it as “obsolete” or even “archaic” as the spelling Faeroes is an old anglicisation of the Danish Færøerne (the Icelanders also use a-e as their word for the islands is Færeyjar). But I do go there regularly, and I would just say the Faroese don’t use it (in their English-language writings, that is), and don’t like it, and would rather others didn’t use it either.

        Google for once is more on the ball than Collins, as if you search for Faeroes you are directed to the page for Faroe Islands.

  22. FOI was RISEN followed by JOG TROT. Then the teeth pulling started. 53:37 later, FAEROES went in. Surprisingly the grid was all green and I’m 30th on the leader board. Fortunately the clue for 19d had been changed to “Flirts outrageously with Yankee in front of others (7)” which made it somewhat more gettable. Thanks setter and George.

  23. DNF in an hour. Some brilliant clues and new ploys plus some that were IMO rather beyond the pale (COONCAN and FAEROES I’m looking at you) plus one error add up to the most difficult puzzle since 2018 according to the SNITCH, and I think the third hardest since AstroNowt’s records began. Too much for me, that’s for sure, though hats off to the naturist son now I understand it, and the dislocated girls with EARACHE. Thanks for the heavy lifting, George, and for the heavy loading, setter.

  24. Having seen this and the SNITCH, glad I gave up at 45 mins with only half completed. Wouldn’t have seen FAEROES, RISEN or FICHU in a month of Sundays. Dispiritingly tough. Hats off to those who completed.

  25. 45 mins and an EMBED and also ANTI SLIP, so not a good morning. Left at the end staring uncomprehendingly at FAEROES.

  26. DNF – too many unknowns for me left a big hole in the NE corner:

    PICOT (heard of the word but didn’t know what it is)
    SHAKEDOWN (as makeshift bed)

    Unparsed: HEN RUN (couldn’t think what else this might be from the definition)

    I think six/sex should perhaps have had a Latin indicator – I suspect that most of our younger viewers (incl. me 🙂 ) did not study Latin at school.

    I did like RISEN and FAEROES.

  27. 22:56 here (about double my average). Funnily enough COONCAN was one of the first 2 or 3 I got as I’d heard of it before from somewhere. FIRSTLY went in without noticing the error and FAEROES was biffed as I didn’t get the wordplay until I came here.

  28. Got there in the end (somewhere over the 30 minute mark) but by then I’d turned to Google to check some of my answers so didn’t submit. 19d had been corrected by the time I saw it. Some very clever stuff but I was defeated by FAEROES and COONCAN. I gather the latter is a sort of Mexican rummy, maybe from Cancun. We’ve had FICHU causing trouble before. It’s something women used in the 18th and 19th centuries to cover up an excess of decolletage – now we’d probably just wear a Tshirt underneath.

  29. Hmm. As I was doing this, it felt like hard going, but after completion and seeing the snitch and other comments here, I was flabbergasted at how well I’d done, relatively. 19:25. FOI POETRY after thinking 5ac was PICOT but couldn’t remember exactly what a picot was, so wanted a confirmatory crosser. Picot wasn’t the only definition I wasn’t sure about, either – I needed crossers to be sure of FERMI and FICHU as well. I’d never heard of COONCAN, but I thought that’s what it must be from the wordplay. Eventually entering SHAKEDOWN, which I wasn’t sure of, either, but thought I’d heard somewhere before, gave me the last crosser and it was my LOI. Didn’t see RA for ‘top drawer’, but parsed everything else as I went along. Relieved not to have any Pink Squares for the un- or barely- known words.

    One thing of significance, maybe. The online Crossword Club Cryptic, which I did this morning, had the following clue for the controversial 19dn:

    “Flirts outrageously with Yankee in front of others. (7)”

    They must have changed it!

    Thanks George for the blog, and Setter for a tester.

    1. I had a quick scan through the comments but couldn’t see anyone else mentioning the change to 19dn, but now I’ve had another look I see I wasn’t the first to mention it after all. As you were.

  30. I guess you could call England a national team or an international team. However in the table of UEFA contestants Wikipedia lists ‘Faroe Islands’, not the bizarrely spelt FAEROES.

  31. DNF, defeated by COONCAN… never heard of it, and the wordplay was too tricky to figure out, unlike other unknowns (BERGAMOT, FICHU, PICOT, FERMI) which I managed to get. I also didn’t see where the R came from in TRAVELLER, as I didn’t figure out the top drawer=artist=RA device. Like several others, I didn’t notice the problem with FIRSTLY. Really liked the au naturel device in RISEN, though it wasn’t until I’d biffed it that the penny dropped.

    As jackkt has noted, we had a second interrupted hidden in the space of two days for EARACHE.

    COD Risen

  32. 47:50. I was worried I was getting worse at these puzzles after a run of difficult ones in recent days, so was relieved to find I am in good company. COONCAN was the only out-and-out guess and there were too many lovely penny-droppers to single any out. We had an outing of the West Ham/cockney device recently, which helped with FAEROES, though it was still my LOI by a hefty margin.

  33. FAEROES was fair as a clue – it’s a well-known place, and the wordplay (while tricky) … worked. But COONCAN? This would win my prize for one of the worst answers for some time (the clue was OK, although hard – I’ve only just realised that it does actually work). Google says it’s an alternative (and surely racist) word for an already obscure game, and even then it’s two words!

    Just realised I’m becoming the sort of person who only comments to complain: I love doing the crossword, and think the level of ingenuity in cluing is gradually going up all the time. Thanks to everyone involved!

  34. DNF after two sittings and who knows what time. I’m with Keriothe, a waste of time.

    Thanks G and well done for your perseverance!

  35. Gave up with just about two thirds completed. Ironically I had no problem with FAEROES which seems to have defeated quite a few, but having checked out the answers I think I would never had got COONCAN and one or two others. Congratulations to anyone that finished it, a proper test!

  36. I was looking for a word with “eroes” in it for 24a, but gave up because I was irked by the likes of cooncan and picot. I should have persisted. Gunnar Nielsen was goalkeeper for the Faroes according to an episode of The Chase this week. He also played for Man City.

  37. 25:55, so very much one of those days where breaking the half-hour felt like a triumph, and not even a Friday, either. All the same, I was in the camp where all the answers bar one seemed perfectly straightforward once the penny had dropped, even if it took a while (F.A. ‘EROES, I’m looking at you); the exception being CANCOON, which needed a fair bit of wrestling before I summoned up a version of wordplay compelling enough for me to enter a word I’ve never knowingly encountered.

  38. I gave up on this one about half way through. Didn’t help that I wrote in ‘EMBED’ rather than ‘EBBED’ for 9a and the error in the clue for 19d made it impossible for me (the correct, on-line clue is easy enough).

    I was never going to complete this one, given that I’m only an occasional solver , a latecomer as well, and often the word play, especially some of the old chestnuts like’current’ = I, ‘sex’ = ‘IT’, etc. passes me by. Except when the wordplay is fairly obvious, and for anagrams that I tend to spot quickly, my solving method is basically to think of a likely answer based on the word(s) in the clue that might be a synonym and then retro-fit it to the clue as a whole before writing it in – in other words, I biff a lot. This method doesn’t work at all for words that are not in my vocabulary – ‘PICOT’, ‘COONCAN’ – and so, today, especially given the intricacy of some of the clues, I was on a loser from the start. A bit of a come down after two reasonably quick completions yesterday and the day before.

  39. Liked this one; no time though (not that I ever do) as I put it aside and came back later to finish it. Half hour maybe, or a bit more. Sadly failed to notice the problem with 19dn..
    Not keen on cooncan but otherwise some fine clues.

  40. I gave this an hour and then retired hurt, having failed to find a satisfactory answer for 24ac (the only word I could see from the checkers was FLETONS, obviously wrong) and punting SLATEDOWN instead of the correct SHAKEDOWN at 10ac. In other cases the penny dropped, but it often took a while to do so.
    FOI – EARACHE, but strange that we had two ‘separated enclosed’ clues on successive days
    LOI – n/a
    COD – FERMI, not especially difficult, but neat.
    Thanks to blogger and others.

  41. After two sittings and calling in Mr Ego I finally managed to finish, though had to resort to aids for the last two or three, though not the NHO and unlikely COONCAN, which, somewhat amazingly, I worked out with just the O and Cs. BERGAMOT was no problem given the composer BERG, but I failed to parse the second part of it. I think I was so dispirited by then that I took it for granted I wouldn’t understand. Nevertheless, I did understand the guessed HEN RUN, though I was puzzled by ‘Un as one – it’s obvious with the apostrophe. FIRSTLY was one of the early entries – by that time I’d already prepared to admit defeat, so just shrugged at the ST substitution, hoping it was a mistake by the setter rather than a complete misreading by me. SHAKEDOWN and PICOT were known, if rather hazily – the former helped with RISEN, TINGE and TRAVELLER. I was massively off the wavelength on this one, and really didn’t expect to finish. LOI FAEROES, after UNDERFED, which in retrospect I should have thought of sooner. And perhaps, had I thought of West Ham as ‘Cockney’, I might have got FA ‘EROES sooner, but it meant nothing to me. Is West Ham Cockney? Surely not…

  42. One of my proudest ever finishes in 48 minutes that currently has me 45th on the leaderboard😲 very tough very enjoyable puzzle I just trusted to the word play for the NHOs cooncan, picot, fichu, fermi.

    I would not normally have expected to complete one as tough as this – Lady Luck on my side today.

    Thanks G and setter

  43. I vented my spleen above, and immediately regretted doing so in this very tolerant forum. I see that many others were unhappy with today’s puzzle, but they expressed their displeasure with calmness which I can but admire. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone. Hopefully it won’t happen again. And I take my hat off to those who completed today’s challenge.

    1. Not that I see any reason why you should have done so in this case, Normo, but there’s a facility to edit a contribution posted in haste and then regretted. It lasts for 12 hours.

  44. Whew! So I’m not alone! Just got here—just “finished,” or rather gave up (haven’t looked yet—is it FAEROES?). Now I’ll read the other comments.
    Enjoyed this, though. Couldn’t start till this morning, and it required much thought! Some very clever stuff here.

    Oh, great, so it is FAEROES! Yippee! I was only halfway thru parsing that, though.
    And 19 down had been entered with a shrug. Very good to know what happened there.

  45. 16 minutes, many of them spent on COONCAN, which is presumably sometimes played in Cancun.

    Great Friday puzzle. If I had my way, the Monday puzzles would be this strength, and ascend in difficulty from there.

Comments are closed.