Times 28591 – Half an answer is better than none!

Music – Shostakovich, Symphony #8, Previn/LSO

Time: 34 minutes

After getting only two answers in my first run-through of the across clues, I realized I might need to think a little.   But aren’t the downs always easier?   Well, they were, fortunately, as I solved 8 1/2 of them at first go.    I should have sped up after that, but did not.   Looking over the solved puzzle, I don’t think it is really that hard.   Biffing bartender and not having heard of supply teacher did slow me down, but I should have gotten the easy ones like duck and arena more quickly.  In the end, I would say this one is rather average.


1 Like specialised equipment for speaking an ancient language (5)
AZTEC – Sounds like AS TECH.
4 Pub employee‘s dog biting front of Eagles record? (9)
BARKEEPER – BARK(E[agles] EP)ER.   Biffing bartender will set you back.
9 Bearing second article — jewellery (9)
MOTHERING – MO + THE + RING.   If you fixate on bling, your time may be a long one.
10 Some birds cower (5)
QUAIL – Double definition, a chestnut at last.
11 Officer’s getting young person’s vehicle when everyone’s out? (7,6)
14 Avoid a very low score (4)
DUCK – Double definition, which I somehow missed until the very end.
15 Those in charge of viral image including a horse and cart ultimately (10)
MANAGEMENT – M(A NAG)EME ‘N’ T, one many solvers will biff.
18 Landlord following old writer’s public correspondence (4,6)
OPEN LETTER – O PEN + LETTER, one of the few obvious ones.
19 Eye piece from virtual assistant swivelling around (4)
IRIS – SIRI backwards.
21 Possibly miss standing in party heels with cup getting drunk (6,7)
SUPPLY TEACHER –  Anagram of PARTY HEELS + CUP, an unknown expression solved from the cryptic.   In the US, substitute teacher is used nearly universally.
24 Running near a stadium (5)
ARENA – Anagram of NEAR A.
25 Plan put Berlin in a pickle (9)
27 Drinking beers, closely follow persuasive argument (5,4)
28 Mostly fairly quiet like Lloyd-George (5)
WELSH – WEL[l] + SH.
1 Queen and wizard involved in extra destructive event (10)
ARMAGEDDON – A(R + MAGE)DD-ON, where the cryptic gives you which possible spelling to use.
2 Item that’s baked without sugar finally rubbish (3)
TAT – TA[r]T.
3 Hamburger maybe covered in extremely crunchy fruit? (6)
CHERRY – C(HERR)Y, one I was strangely slow on, even though I twigged early on that a Hamburger was likely to be a German fellow.
4 Fantastic comedy film subject inspiring poor over time (9)
BRILLIANT – BR(ILL)IAN + T, one I biffed.
5 Fix hat when leaving a fair (5)
RIGHT – RIG + H[a[T.
6 Asked, in French, about splitting some money (8)
7 Elephant and rat swimming in our home (6,5)
8 Regret carrying large measuring stick (4)
12 Pinch pure metal finally, then reportedly pinch an alloy (6,5)
NICKEL STEEL – NICK + [pur]E [meta]L + sounds like STEAL.
13 He attracts bats with some difficulty (2,1,7)
16 Amazed when One Direction gets into a fight? (9)
17 Friends upset over wicked-sounding guitar technique (4,4)
SLAP BASS – PALS upside-down + sounds like BASE.
20 Half a dog’s allocation is fruit? (6)
PAWPAW – A PAW and a PAW – only enough for half a dog!
22 Book lender ignoring railway sign (5)
23 Mother ship’s bulk (4)
26 Not well drilled in part (3)
ILL – Hidden in [dr]ILL[ed].

75 comments on “Times 28591 – Half an answer is better than none!”

  1. 18 minutes. I had a similar experience to you: first pass of the acrosses made me think this might be a very difficult puzzle, but in the end it wasn’t. Also similarly, SUPPLY TEACHER was unknown and held me up.

  2. 16:55
    As with Vinyl and Jeremy on the acrosses: FOI 18ac OPEN LETTER. Also DNK SUPPLY TEACHER. or SLAP BASS. Also biffed BARTENDER, but took it out almost immediately. I didn’t notice until after I’d submitted that I hadn’t accounted for the N in MANAGEMENT; I had to come here to get it.

    1. I thought the second N in MANAGEMENT was an error, not realising it was meant to stand for AND. Duh!

  3. Twigged to SUPPLY TEACHER on a first run through, so blazed through the rest, 6:50.

  4. Loved GENERAL STRIKE. (France may be headed for that.)
    SUPPLY TEACHER was new, but solved from definition and then parsed.
    I biff less than most earlier commenters, I think, because I’m not watching a clock (I was watching cartoons). Did consider BARTENDER, but it obviously didn’t fit.
    I wondered where the N in MANAGEMENT was coming from; wasn’t sure if it was a mistake or if ’N’ for “and” was acceptable here!
    POI AZTEC, LOI RIGHT—pretty clever clue.
    I also really liked the German dude in CHERRY.

        1. But you can add me to the list of those who couldn’t account for the N. Even down here on the south coast, “fish ‘n’ chips” is far from a universal usage, at least in writing, though the ‘and’ is admittedly often reduced to little more than a grunt in speech by those of us with the increasingly homogenised south-east English accent.

      1. A very good ‘n’ that one. People tend to say, “do you fancy fishen chips?”

  5. Same story as everyone else, felt very tricky during the solve but all dropped out rather quickly. Missed the ‘N’ for and, but no other problems, even the unknown SUPPLY TEACHER and Welshness of Lloyd-George went straight in. Two problems, self-inflicted: misspelling BASE and AWESTTRUK held up SALES TALK and LOI BLUEPRINT. Like Guy I’m a non-biffer so never considered bartender. Thanks setter and blogger.

  6. 25 minutes. Generally sluggish and slow to see the anagrams. I thought I’d parsed everything but I was another to miss that second N in MANAGEMENT. SUPPLY TEACHER and my LOI SLAP BASS were both new to me too.

    One minor quibble; I think ‘virtual assistant’ at 19a should be qualified by a suitably ambiguous term such as “so-called”.

  7. 25 minutes. Another slow start here . After being unable to get going with the early Across and Down clues I tried the old trick of jumping to the SE corner in search of easier pickings and found them aplenty. Working backwards up the grid, everything gradually fell into place.

    I can’t say I’d heard of SLAP BASS as an expression before but the wordplay pointed to that and the Gershwins wrote a song called Slap That Bass for one of the old Fred ‘n’ Ginger films so that was enough to convince me.

  8. … Full of berrys
    And of reddest stolen cherries.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
    (The Stolen Child, Yeats)

    20 mins pre-brekker. I liked it, mostly the drunk teacher. Eyebrow flickered at ‘n’. We rarely see it in this crossword.
    Ta setter and V.

  9. Finished the crossword before my breakfast tea, so must have been on the right wavelength for a change.
    Recalled Lloyd-George’s nationality from here before, and I’m a Level 42 fan so slap bass was no problem.
    Only pawpaw was unparsed, couldn’t get dog bowls and rations out of my head.
    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  10. Hard for a Monday, but then it is a bank holiday (hence the extra Jumbo).
    DUCK FOI, but generally slow at first as noted by others. Nho SLAP BASS. I started my career as a SUPPLY TEACHER (on a technicality) but had a permanent contract very quickly.

    Cannot see the Welshman’s name without recalling that he knew my father.

    20’23”, thanks vinyl and setter.

    1. As several here (Americans) didn’t understand SUPPLY TEACHER, I feel they’re not going to understand your reference to Lloyd George! (My father knew him, too!)

  11. 18 minute with LOI MOTHERING. After a slow start I zipped through this, although it took me a while to spot the naughty boy who wasn’t the Messiah in BRILLIANT. COD was the delightful GENERAL STRIKE. Nice puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

  12. 8:07. Same experience as others: started slowly with the acrosses then accelerated with the downs.
    Now I have a Lessons in Love earworm. Could be worse.

    1. Don’t see how your ‘started slowly’ goes with an 8-minute completion time! It took me 15 minutes just to read and ponder the across clues!

      1. I try to ponder clues as little as possible! My first go through is always done as quickly as I can, bunging in answers when they leap out at me and moving on immediately when they don’t. So my initial clue reading speed is more or less always the same, but my clue solving speed can vary significantly. Today I think I only got two or three answers from my first go at the acrosses.

  13. I seem to be different to others, having started with a bang in the NW, slowed up a bit on the Eastern side And finished quite quickly in the SW. 28 mins. LOI MANAGEMENT, never did see the ‘n’.

    An enjoyable Bank holiday romp. I liked GENERAL STRIKE, PAWPAW and SLAP BASS which I did know.

    Thanks v and setter.

  14. Quick and straightforward today, but then I usually start with the downs anyway.
    Liked the planet Earth clue, very neat, and the general’s trike.
    My sister was a supply teacher, for a while. Not a job for the faint-hearted..

  15. 12:21. AZTEC went straight in but then I slowed down with the rest of the acrosses, like, I see, others did. I was wondering where the extra ‘N’ came from in MANAGEMENT. I tried like others to make BARTENDER work for 4A, but PLANET EARTH ruled that out. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  16. 19 minutes today. NHO SLAP BASS but the clue made it easy. LOI BRILLIANT. Enjoyable holiday puzzle (unlike my battle yesterday, which we‘ll come to next Sunday)
    Thanks setter and blogger

  17. 27m 43s
    A surprising number of people attempting a British crossword seem to be surprised at being expected to know a British term such as SUPPLY TEACHER.
    I was going to complain about the second N in MANAGEMENT but Ulaca solved that with his comment about ‘fish ‘n chips’.

    1. Since the number of people expressing surprise is nil, are you surprised at the absence of surprise? 😉

      1. Make that slightly annoyed that people attempting a British crossword should think it worth mentioning they don’t know a British term.

  18. Very happy to have finished in 40 minutes. Didn’t solve much until getting to the SE and built from there. I did biff MANAGEMENT and struggled over several including BARKEEPER and AWESTRUCK. Managed to stretch to LOsI PAWPAW (excellent clue) and WELSH. All in all very enjoyable.

  19. As with others I started slowly but then never really speeded up, taking 49 minutes eventually. There seemed to be plenty of anagrams and I was slow to see them; usually I can just look at the letters and see them, but here there were several where I had to write the letters down, and sometimes even then struggled, as with PLANET EARTH. In the MANAGEMENT clue ‘n’ for ‘and’, despite fish ‘n’ chips, struck me as a bit of part of 13dn and rather inelegant (I considered MANAGERIAT for a while).

  20. 20:50 but…

    …a careless ATTIC for AZTEC. Oh well.

    Didn’t see the parsing for RIGHT – thought that might be the definition of Fix. MANAGEMENT went a long way over my head – would not have thought of MEME in a month of Sundays.

    Another here linking SLAP BASS to the work of the amazing Mark King/Level 42 – still touring and well worth catching if you can.

    COD LIBRA (well, I liked it)
    One or two NHO’s, as usual, but a nice puzzle for a bank holiday.

      1. Icelandic food? No, COD is clue of the day, FOI is first one in, LOI is last one in. Somewhere on the page – top right on a PC – is a link to a Glossary, under the heading Useful Links.

  22. Very quick for me dashing to a gym class; mental then physical workout.
    Started with ILL finished with AZTEC. Thank you for ARMAGEDDON and BRILLIANT. Happy Bank Holiday all.

  23. Nothing too tricky here and worked my way through steadily with just Hamberger for HERR unsure of and also the last ‘N’ in MANAGEMENT unaccounted for. I did think of BARTENDER too but could see it didn’t work.

  24. An easy start to the week. TAT went in first, quickly followed by AZTEC. LOI, SUPPLY TEACHER, was held up by a mistyped AWSTRUCKK until I noticed there was only one R in the anagrist and so R_A_H_R wasn’t going to work. Liked CHERRY and BRILLIANT. 18:19. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  25. I seem to have bucked the trend by solving quite a few of the across clues on first pass, as I always work my way from top to bottom with all across clues before the downs. I nearly biffed BARTENDER at 4ac, but for once decided that if I couldn’t parse it immediately,don’t put it in. My LOI was IRIS as my initial thought LENS lingered too long in my thoughts. I eventually crossed the line in 26.20 for a good start to the week.

  26. 11:54. Pleased with that.

    COD: SUPPLY TEACHER. Standing in and standing in heels – nice “Miss” direction.

  27. 31:33. Started slowly, and never sped up enough to beat the half hour. I liked CHERRY, PAWPAW and GENERAL’S TRIKE

  28. 24:55. Not the speediest of solves but no particular hold-ups, except for puzzling over the extra N in management. The abbreviation for “and” didn’t occur to me, so thanks for the enlightenment.

  29. The same experience as the blogger and others. Not a particularly hard puzzle, but my first solve was 24a, ARENA. As a result I built the grid from the bottom up, which wasn’t too axing.
    26 minutes.
    I thought the clues were very good.

  30. The only problem is that Lloyd George was not Welsh – he was born in Manchester to Welsh parents. Admittedly he is see as the epitome of Welshness, but he was not born there.

    1. “Being born in a stable does not make a man a horse.” 😊

  31. I consider myself a journeyman when it comes to Times cryptic and only look at this blog to explain what I don’t understand. I think I did quite well today but couldn’t see why ‘END’=‘SOME MONEY’. Could some one explain please? (6 down)

  32. 18:51
    A nice gentle start to the week on this, the first of four May Bank holidays in France. No major problems solving though I struggled to parse 5 down correctly thinking that Fix meant RIGHT in the sense of righting a wrong. Also briefly flirted with the idea that there was a SLAP DASH guitar technique (Eric “Cackhand“ Clapton?). Once I got the nag and the meme I didn’t even notice the extra “n” in MANAGEMENT. COD – SUPPLY TEACHER.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  33. 20 mins NHO SLAP BASS even though I play guitar. Maybe a technique I should learn?
    Held up at the end trying to justify ATTIC until the penny dropped.

  34. Not having a lot of time today, I came to this quite late and despite filling in the bottom half quickly, became unstuck with very few of the top half filled in, so looked up 1D to get me off again. So DNF, but that at least let me complete the rest of the grid, albeit with a mistake, MATTERING for 9A, half of which didn’t parse, but I couldn’t think of anything else. I was bothered by the N in MANAGEMENT – never thought of ‘n’ – one to bear in mind for the future. Thanks to setter and to Vinyl for the blog.

  35. Solved this crossword this morning, but have only just got round to posting. MANAGEMENT was a semi-biff once I’d seen the “a nag” part, so the second N that seems to have caused one or two problems for others completely passed me by. Straightforward enough otherwise.

    FOI Tat
    LOI Mothering
    COD Supply teacher

  36. NHO SLAP BASS but the slap was obvious from the definition and an alphabet crawl didn’t need to go very far to get the bass. COD to PAWPAW.

  37. I’m so glad I stumbled across this blog – it’s full of useful information and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it often.

  38. I’m applauding myself (!) for a finish in reasonable time for this one, which is rare indeed for me. Especially liked the lack of (mostly) obscure words – the phrase SLAP BASS being an exception, and my LOI. Very clever clueing hid the definitions well, while remaining plausible phrases, and the only query I had was the MOTHERING for bearing…until I looked sideways! So, a Happy Bunny here, and a good start to my weekend. CODs to PAWPAW and GENERAL STRIKE for the giggles.

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