Times 28619 – many called from the vasty deep

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic


I was glad to finish in under an hour, as I found this quite difficult, particularly the SE corner. I biffed, and guessed, and lifted and separated (and googled). Here’s hoping and expecting the more experienced solvers had less difficulty!

COD to 15ac.

Definitions underlined.

1 Empty fajita, very hot on the outside, in the main (9)
SEAFARING – FajitA (i.e. empty) with SEARING (very hot) outside.
6 Might one be a surrogate father? (5)
LOCUM – cryptic definition, a stand-in clergyman.
9 Company that delivers, bagging credit increases (7)
UPTICKS – UPS (company that delivers) containing TICK (credit).
10 Casual worker missing work to begin with (7)
OFFHAND – HAND (worker) with OFF (missing work) at the start.
11 Live entertainment not primarily what a crossword may provide? (10)
BEMUSEMENT – BE (live) and aMUSEMENT (entertainment).
12 Booty from large house picked up (4)
HAUL – sounds like “hall” (large house).
14 Not firm figure in French radio, perhaps (5)
UNSET – UN (one, a figure, in French) + SET (radio perhaps).
15 Alcohol and some cocaine — last bit of crack (9)
PUNCHLINE – PUNCH (alcohol) + LINE (some cocaine).
16 European arriving at chamber for event (4,5)
POLE VAULT – POLE (European) + VAULT (chamber).
18 One getting into flash car? (5)
RACER – &lit. with ACE (one) inside RR (Rolls Royce, flash car).
20 Man with issue twice a year (4)
PAPA – 2 x P.A. (per annum, a year).
21 Group receiving direction before start of Long March (10)
BORDERLAND – BAND (group), containing ORDER (direction) and the start of Long. March meaning borderland between two territories was one of those definitions I didn’t know I knew.
25 Hide eastern articles in both hands (7)
LEATHER – E (eastern) and A + THE (articles), all inside L+R (both hands).
26 The spirit of Henry IV, say (7)
BOURBON – double definition. Henry IV of France was from the House of Bourbon.
27 Some perfumier he interested in eau de Cologne locally (5)
RHEIN – hidden in perfumieR HE INtersted. Literally, the local name of the water flowing through Cologne.
28 Henry quits Asian bank, perhaps he goes in last (9)
TAILENDER – ThAI (asian) missing ‘h’ (Henry), then LENDER (bank, perhaps). Easy if you’re a fan of cricket.
1 Short, stout person rowing up to the half-way mark (5)
SQUAB – SQUABbling (rowing) up to half-way.
2 Periodically cheers up, given what you may be reading now (2,5)
AT TIMES – TA (cheers) reversed + TIMES (what you may be reading now).
3 Appeal after copper stops working case (10)
ACCUSATIVE – S.A. (sex appeal) after CU (copper), contained by (stops) ACTIVE (working).
4 Briefly with or without Mary? (2,3)
IN SUM – the definition works “with or without ‘mary'”, since briefly = IN SUMmary.
5 Venue for sports fan getting snack food (9)
GROUNDNUT – GROUND (venue for sports) + NUT (fan). I only knew this as an oil, and now wonder what they taste like as a snack.
6 Story including Fitzgerald’s opening sentence (4)
LIFE – LIE (story) containing Fitzgerald’s first letter.
7 Bread and a little butter, with spicy drink going around (7)
CHAPATI – PAT (a little butter) contained by CHAI (spicy drink). Not a ram to be seen.
8 Where hammer and anvil are extremely tough taken from Tolkien’s realm (6,3)
MIDDLE EAR – MIDDLE EARth (Tolkien’s realm) missing the outermost letters from ‘tough’. The malleus (hammer) and incus (anvil) are bones of the ear.
13 Kind of green plan to recycle (10)
CHARTREUSE – CHART (plan) + RE-USE (recycle).
14 Not in country club with tree outside for all to see (9)
UNPOPULAR – UN (country club), then POPLAR (tree) containing U (universal, for all to see).
15 Privileged person with clout drunkenly punching twit (9)
PLUTOCRAT – anagram of (drunkenly) CLOUT, contained by (punching) PRAT (twit).
17 Mathematician climbing mountain in pretty fabric (7)
LAPLACE – ALP (mountain) reversed inside LACE (pretty fabric).
19 Perverse creature who might pinch twirling girl attending many parties (7)
CRABBED – CRAB (creature who might pinch) + reversal of DEB (debutante, girl attending any parties). Not a word in my vocabulary.
22 Call e.g. ChatGPT capital (5)
DUBAI – DUB (call) A.I. (e.g. ChatGPT).
23 Day with stormy rain one’s spent in Algeria, say (5)
DINAR – D (day) + an anagram of RAIN.
24 Character from Jerusalem I name in support of peace! (4)
SHIN – I + N (name) underneath (in support of) SH (peace!). From the (very old) Hebrew alphabet, but new to me.

77 comments on “Times 28619 – many called from the vasty deep”

  1. 28 minutes today. I found this quite easy, with LOI SQUAB which took me 2 or 3 minutes at the end. CRABBED also took a minute or two.
    Nice change from DNF yesterday at least.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  2. Easy?? Crikey Steve, I gave up at well over the hour with SHIN, CRABBED, BOURBON and RACER still unsolved. And I got through yesterday’s all correct in a bit over 20 from memory. Not sure what that tells either of us. I enjoyed the challenge of this and now that they’ve all been explained I suppose I should have finished, but I didn’t. Couldn’t. For a while it was looking like a CNS (could not start). Not sure about GROUNDNUT, is it ‘venue for sports fan (ground)’ plus ‘snack (nut)’ = food, with just food as the def?

    I’m also not sure about groundnut being anything approaching what I’d call food, but I have form here. Once at customs I was busted with a chocolate bar having not declared on my entry form I was bringing in food. That’s not food, I said. It’s confectionary. They let me off with a warning…

    1. Think GROUNDNUT is as per the blog. Ground as venue for sports, nut for fan, and snack food for Nobby’s Nuts, which you’ve surely nibbled?

      1. Amazing what you learn in this forum. A groundnut is a peanut, who knew? Not this idiot! Like someone else here I thought it was a cooking oil and not my kind of snack. And yes, I’ve nibbled the odd Nobby’s nut, probably even in a venue for sports…

  3. Friday beast. Easy to guess a squab is short & stout, visiting priests were locums, and Henry was a Bourbon; failed to see what was happening with or without Mary. Otherwise had all the knowledge and all parsed, so the difficulty was in the abstruse clueing and dodgy definitions e.g. “in the main” or “perverse”. LOI BORDERLAND – Ridings and Marches learnt from these puzzles. Shin known from Shin Bet, the Israeli spies? Secret Police? Happy to finish, very slow.

    Edit: ChatGPT is amazingly topical for inclusion The Times, very surprising. Also not an AI; the clue’s technically wrong and relies only on ephemeral usage, unusual for The Times.

    1. Not “an AI”? An? I don’t follow. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot. It’s an example of AI in action. It’s AI, really—in a word. But what are you saying?

      1. It’s a Large Language Model that’s able to simulate human writing. It’s not an AI in the sense it has no inherent intelligence, no ability to reason, and no knowledge of what it’s writing about – why it quite often comes out with “alternative facts”. It just strings together words in patterns similar to those it’s been trained on.
        Everyone calls it an AI, but that doesn’t make it one.

        1. I don’t think any machine really knows anything. Was considering whether this machine has the capacity to “learn” and if that would be the definitional factor.

            1. “It’s not an AI in the sense it has no inherent intelligence, no ability to reason, and no knowledge of what it’s writing about – why it quite often comes out with “alternative facts”. It just strings together words in patterns similar to those it’s been trained on.”

              Which is similar, broadly speaking, to the way that lots of AI works. Do you think that neural networks have ‘inherent intelligence’ or ‘ability to reason’ ?

              ChatGPT is an archetype of AI

              1. I’m a member of IEEE, get Spectrum magazine every month. More than a few AI researchers have written about ChatGPT, all agree strongly that it isn’t AI. Most say AI barely exists yet, it’s still a few years away (they have been saying that since Turing). However in the same magazine’s news articles, ChatGPT is routinely referred to as AI.
                Without actually knowing, I side with the experts. But they have a more technical definition of AI beyond the layman’s “something that looks like magic”.

                1. We’re probably talking at cross purposes.

                  If you mean that ChatGPT isn’t ‘really’ intelligent or doesn’t ‘really’ think, then of course you’re right. But then I would say, as Guy du Sable did, that no machine can or ever will achieve that. I think the Turing test is NOT a proper criterion for ‘real’ intelligence or ‘real’ thinking – even if a machine were to pass it, it would still be true that the machine lacked real intelligence.

                  But most researchers, contrary to what you say above, do apply the term ‘AI’ to the sorts of technology that is already out there, and has been for decades.

                  It all depends on whether you think ‘artificial intelligence’ means intelligence that has been artificially created (impossible according to me and G d S) or a simulation of intelligence (already existent).

                  1. To a linguist, and hence for the purposes of the crossword, if people generally use ‘AI’ to refer to ChatGPT then it’s AI.

                    1. <waves white flag>
                      I agree, it’s a fair clue linguistically.
                      But in 2 or 3 years ChatGPT will have been consigned to the dustbin of history, obsolete. It’s a current fad, not a “thing”.

  4. About an hour (but with a typo). Isn’t a groundnut just another name for a peanut? Hence the German for peanut butter being the wonderful erdnussmus (ground nut mousse). I only know that since when I lived in France you could only get peanut butter in cans with several languages on the label.

    1. Actually, that piece of German is no longer current – now it’s simply
      “ Erdnussbutter”.

  5. I had all but 5 answers (all in the SE) as the hour approached, then after nodding off briefly I abandoned it for the night. On resuming this morning I spotted BORDERLAND immediately but the extra checkers it provided didn’t help me and I was stuck again.

    I decided to use aids at 22dn as ‘ChatGPT’ meant nothing to me and the only capital I could think of to fit D???I was ‘Delhi’, but then again ‘capital’ could have meant a currency of which there are hundreds with much scope for my never having heard of it. The B checker from DUBAI gave me BOURBON and then CRABBED and RACER followed naturally.

    Unknowns were SHIN as a letter, UPTICKS, LOCUM as a possible priest, and IN SUM needed some thinking through.

    Not the best of days but I had been enjoying the solve up to the point where I became stuck the first time.

  6. Never did see how IN SUM worked! I liked this. It wasn’t as easy as it had seemed when I had three crossing words in each quarter, but the quarters still unconnected…

    I thought of SHIN immediately, before even considering the parsing. I even know what the letter looks like.

    I am glad to see the puzzles keeping up to date, with such references as AI—an existential threat to humanity, so we’re told, and that’s not so unbelievable. (Though robots will certainly be smarter than some humans I’ve met—and no less empathetic.)

    The “flash” part of RACER eluded me, but I was getting impatient by that point (not that this was in any way a drag, just that it was getting late).

    1. One meaning of ‘flash’ is ‘smart and expensive’ (Chambers) which I’d say describes a Rolls Royce perfectly. Collins has ‘expensive’.

      [Ah, I think this is a response to a comment later edited out]

      1. Yes, as I said, it’s late here, and for a moment I was forgetting that this is an &lit. I am aware of the appropriate meaning of “flash.”

  7. Pretty much at the limit of my solving chops – didn’t think I’d make it through, but was pleasantly surprised when dogged persistence paid off. Finishing sequence BORDERLAND – CRABBED – RACER and finally the vaguely-known SQUAB, which caused me lots of trouble because I interpreted the clue’s “row” as a sport rather than a noisy dispute.

    Anyway, a successful finish on 130-ish Friday is a big confidence-booster and achievement for me, in 51:11 – thanks blogger and setter

  8. 51 minutes with question marks against SHIN and CRABBED. I was none too sure of UPTICKS either, a word that seems to have crept into the lexicon since I retired and gave up on the bullshit. Or at least on that sort. I did know of the GROUNDNUT scheme, but not that they were the same thing as peanuts. After a day at Lord’s yesterday, COD has to be TAILENDER. Pretty tough and obscure in places. Thank you William and setter.

  9. Don’t ask me how I contrived to finish this at all, let alone be currently 4th on the leaderboard ! I biffed seven answers and am more than usually grateful to William for putting in the hard yards !

    COD BOURBON (ah, THAT Henry !)
    TIME 13:38

  10. 35’16” for this clever monster, and all parsed.


    SE was last to fall, BORDERLAND eventually clicked which gave me LOI DUBAI.

    Thanks william and setter.

  11. 1 hour 20 mins. A real slog, but got there in the end. Same NHOs as others.LOI SQUAB again, not really knowing the word.

    I have ticks against PUNCHLINE, MIDDLE EAR and CHARTREUSE.

    Thanks William and setter.

  12. What is this Life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.
    (Leisure, William Henry Davies)

    And stare I did. After 40 mins mid-and-post-brekker I was left with the square bordered by Punchline/Plutocrat and Tailender/Dinar with nothing in between. Not even the capital ending AI.
    So I threw in the towel. Should have got Dubai/Chartreuse but not sure I’d have got the rest.
    Good one.
    Ta setter and WJS.

  13. Enjoyed this one, not easy but seemed fairly gentle for a Friday…
    No queries, no complaints, several excellent clues

  14. Didn’t think I was going to get anywhere with this one, LIFE and a very tentative LOCUM being my first entries. I associate locums (loca?) with doctors rather than clergy, and have always considered it amusing that the boss of the many clergy who adopt the title Father specifically prohibited the practice.
    I would have preferred BOURBON to be clued by biscuits rather than Henry IV, since my knowledge of dynasties doesn’t go back further than Plantagenets. IN SUM is very clever, but as for many others, lost on me. I’m not hip enough (or perhaps worried enough) to know that ChatGPT is anything but a mysterious typo. Can computers solve The Times? Perhaps that should be a Tuting test.
    So lots of bemusement today but also lots to admire and even like. 36.39.

    1. And a postscript: the MCS yesterday took less than 10 minutes extra. Dumbing down?

  15. Over the hour but pleased to finish after much brain activity. If I’d worked this hard at school before breakfast I might have done quite well. For some reason the harder the crossword the more likely I am not to give up.

    Thanks all.

  16. This has come up before but I am not sure that Dubai can be called a capital.
    It is the only city in the Emirate of Dubai but never referred to as the capital.
    It seems like calling Singapore the capital of Singapore.
    The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.

    1. It’s the only city in the emirate but not all of the emirate is in the city.

      1. I agree but the only parts not within the city are desert.
        Jebel Ali is in the city of Dubai and the only thing going inland is desert until you reach another Emirate
        I suppose it is a question of usage but in 16 years I never heard it referred to as the capital.

      2. From Wiki:
        Dubai (/duːˈbaɪ/, doo-BY; Arabic: دبي, romanized: Dubayy, IPA: [dʊˈbajj], Gulf Arabic pronunciation: [dəˈbaj]) is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, the most populated of the 7 emirates of the United Arab Emirates.[7][8][9]

  17. Pleased to finish this at all, and even happier to do it in 45 mins. Most of that spent trying to get BOURBON and RACER. As usual, a tea break did the trick. Odd how you often see things immediately if you walk away for a while. Thanks for explaining IN SUM, which I didn’t parse. Liked UPTICKS and TAILENDER.

  18. 12:48, so pleased to solve pretty methodically and without any great holdups. Without entering the debate about the accuracy of the description, I keep meaning to make a note of when various neologisms make their Times debut, as it’s interesting to mark the point where a thing like ChatGPT becomes mainstream enough to be included in a daily puzzle (though it may, of course, just as quickly become one of those things which solvers in a few years regard as absurdly dated and obscure).

  19. 11:50, with a couple of minutes at the end puzzling over RACER/CRABBED. I really enjoyed this one: nicely chewy.
    I was puzzled by Henry IV for BOURBON. What next, Lewis XVI?!
    I learned this meaning of BORDERLAND from holidaying in Le Marche.
    I knew that green was a kind of CHARTREUSE but not that CHARTREUSE was a kind of green.
    Thanks for parsing IN SUM: I had no idea.

    1. I trust you went and listened to The Barber of Seville in Pesaro.

      On my bucket list, anyway…

      1. I think I went to one concert there, but I can’t remember what it was. My parents had a house there so they used to go a lot. They also once went to a concert at the church in Ascoli Piceno, attended by about a dozen people, where an unknown English pianist called Paul Lewis was playing!
        The house was destroyed by the earthquakes in 2016 so they don’t go any more.
        Edit: I’ve just realised I was getting Pesaro mixed up with somewhere else. I’m not even sure where, but I’ve never been to Pesaro!

  20. over an hour and anyway DNF again, with everything ok except WONDERLAND for BORDERLAND, after umming and erring between the two. Just couldn’t see the parsing today.

    Tough stuff! But COD to 13D

  21. Burst my bubble this week, after a PB and other decent times (for me) this one really duffed me up. DNF, yet once I gave up, the 5 clues that I didn’t get seemed obvious. (Well apart from ACCUSATIVE, which I might have biffed but wouldn’t have parsed in a month of Sundays). Enjoyed Borderland. Thanks to all for bringing me back down to earth.

  22. Lots to admire here, especially among the Down clues:
    Appeal after copper stops working case (10)
    Briefly with or without Mary? (2,3)
    Kind of green plan to recycle (10)
    Group receiving direction before start of Long March (10)

  23. Wavelength has eluded me for quite a while but I caught it with this one. Henri (of Navarre) IV founded the house of Bourbon and was an interesting guy. He was a Huguenot but turned Catholic for practical political reasons saying “Paris is worth a mass”. I think most Americans know that GROUNDNUT and peanut are the same. As for peanut butter there is of course the celebrated “fruites de nuts de Georgia” as in the equally celebrated Russell Baker NY Times column from some years ago in which he discusses “fine dining”. Recommended for the foodies among us and here it is. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/354970-francs. 20.36

  24. Pleased to finish in 52’. NHO house of Bourbon, but liked Chartreuse and Dubai

    Thanks setter, William and commentors

  25. For all the hype about ChatGPT, I can report that it is utterly hopeless at solving cryptic crossword clues. I gave it this simple clue:

    A tree was rotting in brine (8)

    Its first guess was CABINETS. After some back-and-forth in which I explained the various reasons that wasn’t correct, it came up with REBRAIN, which is even worse. At this point I decided to hold its hand and walk it through the clue, pointing out that we needed an anagram, and the anagram fodder was “A tree was”. Aha, it said, it must be REBRAINS.
    Further heavy nudging got it to WATER, and eventually SEAWATER.

    1. Bravo; keep up the good work. AI will not do for us. However, those seeking to make a mint from it might.

  26. And it’s a complete week! Was struggling in the NW with IN SUM the LOI. Had fingers crossed with SHIN and my spelling! Glad to have remembered LAPLACE and CHARTREUSE from previous occasions.
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  27. My FOI was DINAR, then LIFE. After a long hiatus, OFFHAND and MIDDLE EAR got me moving, and after a long struggle I was left with _H_N. I was fairly sure it ended with IN, then a flash of inspiration saw SH for peace, and the ordeal was over. Not that I knew the Hebrew character! 39:43. Thanks setter and William.

  28. 32:05. SEAWATER, IN SUM and the topical AI, et al, made for a fun puzzle, with the SE corner slowing proceedings to a crawl. Great stuff.

  29. 48 minutes. Felt I was slow but a few uncommon words like SQUAB, UPTICKS, UNSET and CRABBED put paid to a quicker time. I made an effort to parse everything but had almost given up on ACCUSATIVE until I saw the light just before submitting. Favourites were the ‘eau de Cologne locally’ and the RACER &lit.

  30. DNF in around 40 minutes. I ploughed through most of this in reasonably good order but almost ran aground in the SE corner which I found particularly tricky. Eventually negotiated that successfully only to find that I had got the relatively straightforward homophone clue the wrong way round with hall instead of haul.

  31. 24:28, which is very solid for me. Would’ve been slightly quicker had I not insisted on parsing IN SUM before entering, which took a bit of thought. Probably my standout, alongside PUNCHLINE. I’d just about heard of HAMMER Horror, although I’ve never seen one, and like others I dragged out SHIN from Shin Bet, with a shrug for SH meaning ‘peace’.

  32. 6m 46s – must have been on the wavelength today. RACER was very nice, that was my COD.

    For LOCUM I had rather unpleasant ideas of what it could be talking about, but rejected them as unworthy of the Times (and cryptically unacceptable… maybe in the Guardian).

  33. DNF, in OWL club again after putting ‘squib’ rather than SQUAB. Was tempted to biff ‘Wonderland’ for 21a for a while until I figured out BORDERLAND.

    COD Accusative

  34. 51:42

    Not so keen on grids where I don’t know much of what’s going on. NHOs first:

    SQUAB – knew as a baby pigeon, but not as a synonym of short and fat
    IN SUM – who says this? If I said it at the end of a presentation in my office, no one would understand
    GROUNDNUT – heard the word, indeed bought the oil, but no idea it is a peanut
    LAPLACE – added to my list of mathematicians
    SHIN – I can think of much easier definitions for this word
    CRABBED – not heard of this = perverse
    BOURBON – would have been nice to know that we were talking about a Henry IV from a completely different country – it’s hard enough keeping up with English royalty

    On the plus side, no parsing problems plus the following:
    – There was a LOCUM priest at my church when I was a kid
    – UPTICKS – well known if you dabble in stocks and shares
    – DUBAI – got this from first and last checker – I had heard of ChatGPT via my university-going son

    Thanks for unravelling William

  35. 36:32 today, less than 4 Verlaines on a chewy Friday very satisfying. Loved the Eau de Cologne hidden. Everything crossed when entering squab.

    Thanks William and setter.

    PS as a retired IT person, I loved Islas AI discussion above. I agree with her but I think if most laymen call chatGPT AI then it’s fair enough in crosswordland.

    1. Hi Grumpyoldmag,
      Name notwithstanding, I’m a he, not a she.
      And I agree with you it’s a perfectly valid clue in crosswordland, as I agreed with Keriothe above. I got to the clue with the final I in place and instantaneously realised it ended AI. Dubai was very quick.

  36. 29.13 with a lot of time spent on the South East corner. ‘Shin’ went in with a hope and a prayer.

    1. A wing and a prayer were in my mind for this clue as I pressed the button.

  37. Around an hour, picking away at this after golf while watching entertaining tennis. It was quite hard, but fun, I thought. I took an age to see SQUAB(BLING) but not as long to see IN SUM(MARY). HAUL was LOI as I had thought of it but was looking for a better definition and reversing L *** with a three letter house. Also took an age to see why it was BORDERland not WONDERland, when the Welsh marches came to mind.
    Although I got DUBAI from DUB and checkers, I had to go afterwards to find out what ChatGPT was as had no idea.
    Well blogged william_j_s.

  38. Around 20 mins
    Steady solve – enjoyed it. Thought locum was only a doctor, so learnt something today.
    Thanks, setter and w.

  39. Rowing not rowing, you p(lutoc)rat!
    It’s funny how being familiar with a topic often proves to be either a handicap or distraction. I should have seen Laplace earlier once the alp seemed likely. Having half an eye on the test helped with the SE.
    There is a Guardian clue of interest to Times solvers today – nothing new under the sun. Muggins almost foxed by the same trick in the space of a week.
    Compliments to the setter for some very elegant clues and thank you William and contributors.
    Early pace, ran on at one pace, never nearer:
    35′ 51”
    (+10′ if I’d not parsed ‘in sum’ in retrospect)

  40. Finished in 40 minutes. Happy with that for a Friday. Happy with the ChatGPT/AI part of DUBAI, too many quibbles from other commenters. Didn’t know Henry IV was House of Bourbon, but put it in without hesitation. Amused at number of folks who didn’t know groundnut = peanut! Anyway, a pleasant 40 mins sat in the sunshine.

  41. About an hour. Done in two parts and messed up the timer. Bit of a struggle but perseverance rewarded. Bottom half was particularly tough going with my LOIs being Bourbon, crabbed, racer, chartreuse and finally borderland.

    Good ending to the week, thanks setter and blogger. COD tailender, which I rather suspect I might be in the league table.

  42. Just under the hour after an exhausting day stuck in jams. NHO SQUAB in that sense, thought it was a pigeon

  43. Yes I was pretty sure that Friday’s would be harder — I took just over an hour and had a few bits of help from lists. Several that caused difficulty: I never knew that a LOCUM was also a stand-in clergyman; or that UPTICKS were increases; or that a SQUAB was a short stout person; or that CRABBED meant perverse; or that a SHIN was a Hebrew character. The sum/Mary clue was good. I parsed GROUNDNUT less than perfectly. My heart sank with the Tolkien clue, since I have no intention of ever reading him, having read 30 pages of The Hobbit and chucking it away in disgust, but in the end it was OK.

  44. This took me over an hour but got there in the end. Very enjoyable, with no iffy clues. Some words I’d never heard of (Squab, Shin, Laplace) but they were all perfectly gettable.

  45. 1 hour 10 minutes and two longish interruptions were needed for me to finish this, but perseverance did pay off, as I eventually got SQUAB, RACER and CRABBED (my LOI). Everything else was not quite so hard. Enjoyable puzzle.

  46. 25:21. Solved a day late. Like others I got stuck in the SE corner with PUNCHLINE, BORDERLAND and CHARTREUSE all taking quite a while. DNK SHIN was a letter. I enjoyed the BENUSEMENT – bith the puzzle and the clue. Thanks William and setter.

  47. Like others, delayed start due to a few obscurities, then kicked off with a carefully parsed BEMUSEMENT and HAUL. Certainly went over the hour, but enjoyed every bit – clever concise clueing included. Also stumped in the SE by unusual definitions, eg CRABBED and BORDERLAND, but happily knew that a groundnut was a peanut ( they abound in Queensland!). Worked hard to get SEAFARING and LOCUM, but POLE VAULT, PAPA, RACER, and LAPLACE and TAILENDER were satisfying PDMs. Never did get SHIN , BORDERLAND or IN SUM. All up a good Friday work-out.

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