Times 28669 – Biff City, Arizona

Greetings from Galicia!

I must have biffed half of these clues, so working out the parsing now is going to take a bit of doing. 12:34, held up a bit at the end on the right-hand side, as I recall.

1 Girl with small outhouse, reduced in status (10)
6 American boxer attending Mass in African state (4)
10 News welcomed by a murder victim’s woman (7)
11 Contemptible soldier thrown over by peer, perhaps (7)
12 High-spirited former worker sheltering over in Munich (9)
13 Small group united in Holy Writ (5)
14 Sign of tooth decay displacing top of crown (5)
15 Like several religions mentioned at first in revised Bach aria (9)
ABRAHAMIC – M in anagram of BACH ARIA
17 Boatman, one with no future outside lido, sadly (9)
20 Fibre in vegetableS IS A Luxury (5)
SISAL – hidden
21 Month the Spanish must produce literary work (5)
23 Fuming about tribe’s consignment to hellfire (9)
25 Banned drug swallowed by sick young woman (7)
26 Reported out-of-hours charge for fertiliser, perhaps (7)
NITRATE – ‘night rate’
27 Culturally pretentious leader leaving political group (4)
28 Lewdness of French composer transfixed by posh English trains (10)
1 Old buccaneer finally turned libertine (5)
DRAKE – [turne]D RAKE
2 UK citizen, male copper, one visiting granny (9)
3 Declaration of responsibility badly belies one’s blog (8,6)
4 Domestic fowl given to a Muslim ruler’s wife (7)
SULTANA – SULTAN (domestic fowl) A
5 One throwing out England’s first conqueror (7)
7 Vestment seen on an early Christian martyr (5)
8 Just the same perfect setting for conservationists in charge (9)
9 Cool chute Tunisians engineered (14)
14 Traveller crossing river in a Spanish-speaking country (9)
16 Chew acorns, say, consumed after mince regularly (9)
MASTICATE – MAST (fruit of forest trees) [m]I[n]C[e] ATE
18 Pander to popular Law Lord going over notes (7)
INDULGE – IN LUD reversed G E
19 State of Arab entering Burlington House (7)
22 Farewell ultimately apt for a gentleman’s gentleman (5)
24 Impoverished woman brought up in US city (5)
NEEDY – DEE reversed in NY


92 comments on “Times 28669 – Biff City, Arizona”

  1. 11:19
    The lowest SNITCH I’ve seen in a long time. I biffed 3d NOBLESSE OBLIGE from the N, B, O, & L without reading the clue; parsed post-submission. DNK the fowl, DNK the martyr. 15ac ABRAHAMIC took a while to sort out.

  2. Wow, that was fast. Call the QC crowd over! I didn’t know that Burlington House is the location of the Royal Academy, so just now looked that up.
    (And just realized I biffed a few more than I thought! “Domestic fowl,” eh?)

  3. 12:57. Like the others, I biffed more of these than I can count, including NOBLESSE OBLIGE off N _ B and the enumeration, without looking at the clue. I don’t feel proud of this….

    Despite all the biffing, this is not close to my fastest time on a puzzle!

  4. If I can do this in 24:41, must be easy, well inside my target of half the snitch, which was 60/2 = 30 mins. Agree that this was highly biffable, and hence vaguely unsatisfactory. EJECTOR was a miss-biff for EVICTOR, as was ARCADIA for ROMANIA, where the only Burlington I’d heard of was the Burlington Arcade.

    Why does NN=news in ANNABEL ?

    COD none.

    1. Burlington Arcade runs next to Burlington House between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens.

  5. 23 minutes but with nothing biffed. My only unknown was ‘domestic fowl / SULTAN’ which I assumed would be in the dictionary when I got round to looking it up as I was in no doubt about SULTANA as the answer to the clue.

    ‘Burlington House / RA’ is a chestnut I first met in Telegraph puzzles 50+ years ago. Its two most recent appearances here were in May 2021 and February 2022.

    I’ve seen ‘fibre / SISAL’ clued as a hidden word only a couple of days ago.

    1. Was Burlington House in a daily 15×15 in May 202 and/or February 2022?
      I’ve not been skipping any, but didn’t remember this.

      1. Yes, #28219 21/2/22 blog by Ulaca and #27980 18/5/21 blogged by me. You commented on both puzzles but didn’t mention the Burlington House clues.

        1. I don’t find a comment from myself on 28219, and it’s actually not beyond the realm of possibility that I have, perforce, on occasion skipped a daily 15×15. This one isn’t ringing any bells now.
          In the clue in 27980, “Burlington House member” was either so sufficiently explanatory that I instantly accepted and then forgot it or so far beyond my ken that I merely assumed RA stood for “resident advisor”!

  6. 15 minutes. A proper Monday puzzle. The only two bits I didn’t know were SULTAN for ‘Domestic fowl’ and the ABRAHAMIC ‘religions’. Both were easy to work out so no complaints.

  7. 13:36. I started out apace but like ulaca the right hand side slowed me down, in particular the crossing pair of NONET and ALBAN. Although I thought of NONET, it took some time for me to see past U for united and I was also comparing a NONET to duos, trios, etc, thus thinking of it as quite a large group. Having lived in St Albans for 5 years proved no help with ALBAN!

    I had a feeling my time would be slow relative to the SNITCH and I note that Verlaine knocked this off in a mere 2:31!

  8. 12 minutes, which would have been a sub 10 if I’d been more enthusiastic about UNENTHUSIASTIC. I didn’t know a SULTAN was a domestic fowl but everything else was familiar. The noblesse didn’t get where they are today though by being obliging, apart from in the bedchamber! Let’s give COD to the Mancs. Highly enjoyable if easy. Thank you U and setter.

  9. 36 mins. Slow finishing in the NW. I’m clearly in good company having never heard of the « fowl » but, as Jack says, the answer had to be SULTANA.

    I liked ANNABEL (LOI) when I finally saw the NN.

    Thanks u and setter.

  10. In sickness not ignoble, I rejoice,
    Aye, and could weep for love of such award.
    (The Fall of Hyperion, Keats)

    20 mins mid-brekker. Neat and tidy.
    I spent a min wondering if any conquerors were called Mitter.
    Ta setter and U.

    1. You’ve reminded me of a long ago christmas. My Auntie Gwen and I were talking horses, and she was reminiscing about their days as schoolgirls living on the Snailwell Road, Newmarket when my grandfather was a stud groom on Lord Derby’s stud.
      My mother looked up from her crochet and asked, ‘Who was that little chestnut we used to feed apples to?’
      ‘Mother, that ‘little chestnut’ was the most important British sire of the twentieth century, Hyperion.’

  11. 17:25
    No dramas. The only person named Alban I’ve ever come across was my university tutor. But we weren’t allowed to call him Alban.

  12. 15m 36s
    Possibly my second or third fastest time. Just about everything was biffed, including the domestic fowl-a, except my LOI, DEBAUCHERY, which only took a few extra seconds to solve.

      1. Hi starstruck. I’ve wondered for a while why my fastest time is for a Saturday concise from last year (I think this is true for other solvers as well). Possibly something funny in the Times data that day?

        1. Thanks for pointing this out (perhaps more than once?). I know there’s a bit of clean-up to do for the top 10 times. It’s on the to-do list but, at the moment, I’m working on moving the SNITCH off heroku and cleaning it up a bit to make it more maintainable. I hope to get to the top 10 list soon. Thanks again for the comment.

          1. Something’s wrong, definitely. The two fastest of my top 10 times are for Concise puzzles, cf. Pootle above. The other eight look legit–I checked the club site for several of them–but the times simply can’t be correct; I’m not that fast.

          2. Thanks for the update starstruck, and ongoing thanks as ever for the sterling work you do with the SNITCH.

  13. 6:49. Must be one of my quickest. Almost a clean sweep and I didn’t even need to read the clue for NOBLESSE OBLIGE to see the answer. Thanks U and setter.

  14. 11 minutes, easily my fastest ever time. Didn’t know sultan=fowl for SULTANA or acorns as mast for MASTICATE, and only remembered that Burlington House can give RA once I had that as the first and last letter. NOBLESSE OBLIGE was a biff while also being one of those “Oh, so that’s what it means” moments.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Diminished
    LOI Damnation
    COD Noblesse oblige

  15. Please could someone explain why Aries = top of crown? I got it from Caries but wasn’t sure why it was right – all I can think of is the astrological sign and a quick google didn’t help. Thank you!

    1. “Sign” is the definition, caries minus C (top of crown) gives Aries.

  16. Hot diggity dog, 4:20, beating my previous PB by over 2 minutes. Now that’s what I call a Monday puzzle!

  17. Did it last night in 19 minutes before going to sleep.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  18. 18:08. probably one of my fastest times. was more like a QC … hadn’t heard of Sultan as a fowl, and biffed Noblesse Oblige.

  19. 11.42, which is about as fast as I get in my post-stroke days, especially if I’m consuming my tea and toast at the same time.
    Born in March in St Albans to religious parents, this might have had me in mind, though I’ll not mention the illegal debauchery and probable damnation, that would be ignoble. Maybe I should claim diminished responsibility: noblesse oblige.
    Curiously, St Albans nearly always scores nul points in Pointless, even though Alban has a better claim as England’s patron saint than the mythical Turkish(?) George. I mean, he might have been a Roman but he did manage to achieve martyrdom actually in England.

  20. Sub 25′ which is good for me. Since I’ve only been doing this from around the beginning of the year I’m afraid there are few chestnuts for me to pick up, but biffing and post parsing worked for quite a few. As with others SULTAN/A never parsed, nor “mast” in MASTICATE. Enjoyed NOBLESSE OBLIGE, didn’t quite take to NEEDY (another girl’s name..). LOI ARIES which I didn’t “get” first few times of asking.

  21. I don’t often post here but I was directed from the QC blog. It took me a squidge over 30 mins which is unusually fast for me. Lots of biffs but all parsed.
    NHO Sultan as a fowl but no problem. Had a bit of a delay on 19d because I always associated Burlington House with the Royal Society of Chemistry which occupies a part of the building. My FRSC has now lapsed, though, post-retirement, so I have not been there in a while.

  22. well, definitely an easy one and another PB here at 5.09 – so close to the sub-5 minute holy grail! Just pleased not to get a typo at that speed.

    Not a lot to add – thanks u and setter

  23. 12.44, possible PB, don’t keep a record. Brain freeze on LOI, ARTY, might have been quicker otherwise.

  24. 41 minutes quick for me so must have been on the easier side.
    DAMNATION parsed after stopping the clock. DEBAUCHERY I needed the blog to fully understand the parsing of also ROMANIA as I didn’t know the RA bit and SULTAN for domestic fowl which I have never heard of.

  25. If I can solve it in 17 minutes it must be easy. When I saw that Verlaine had managed it in less than 3 minutes (how can anyone even write the answers in that quickly?) I was pretty sure, and the SNITCH confirmed it. Nothing caused any problems really, except perhaps ABRAHAMIC, which was easy to work out.

    1. For any touch typist 60 words/minute is about average .. so typing 30 into a grid in under a minute is not hard.
      Solving the clues as you go, slightly harder …

  26. 06:06: sprinting doesn’t really suit my constitution these days, but this was obviously an easy ride for the experienced solver (even if they don’t remember previously encountering that sort of SULTAN).

  27. I join just about everyone in saying how easy this one was, finishing in a rapid (for me anyway) 14.47. This was still over two minutes outside my best time, but there were too many questionable answers that made me hesitate just a little. I did at least parse everything, although my GK didn’t extend to knowing Sultan as a fowl, but the clueing suggested that it had to be.

  28. Easiest puzzle in ages. Finished in 15 minutes. I rarely get below that time.

    DI and DEE. Two notes: G E. ‘Burlington House’ for RA
    Not too keen on clues like that.

  29. 10:22. Tantalisingly close to that elusive sub-10. So many biffed that I don’t think I parsed more than half of them but I doubt it would have been much slower if I had done. I actually took longer to do today’s concise.

  30. I’ll add myself to the list of those whose knowledge of the domestic fowl is lacking, but it didn’t stop me putting the SULTANA in her place. I started off by inserting SHED at the end of 1a, which immediately evoked the EVICTOR, leading to ABRAHAMIC, and hey presto, there she was. A gentle amble around the rest of the grid culminated in an UNENTHUSIASTIC finish. 13:36. Thanks setter and U.

  31. I’m usually quite pleased with myself when everything is correct but, after reading today’s blog, feel a bit down because I took so long.
    LOI ARIES (wasn’t familiar with the word “caries” but I seem to be alone there)

  32. 16:41

    A smooth solve though I didn’t find it as quick as others seem to have. I had completed 31% after 5m30, 62% after 10m30. I claim post-holiday lethargy.

    Didn’t know SULTAN as fowl and assumed ABRAHAMIC is a bunch of religions. Lived in St ALBANs for five years or so, so for me, always features highly on lists of saints and small cities. Bunged in NOBLESSE OBLIGE from four checkers including all of those in the second word, then saw that it fitted the anagrist.

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  33. 18:21, which is very fast for me. NHO SULTAN as a fowl, and wasted some time trying to fit HEN into SHAH., especially as I had originally put EXTROVERT for 12a. After sorting those out, my LOI was ANNABEL

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  34. Pretty much at writing speed apart from reassembling the BIFD DEBAUCHERY.
    Mast=tree fruit was used really quite recently; those claiming NHO have likely forgot!
    I remember a film called “Zee & Co” with an eponymous heroine Zee but have never knowingly met a Dee for the 24d NEEDY. Didn’t delay me tho’.

  35. Relatively quick today although not as quick as some of you! NHO MAST or SULTAN the bird, but given it’s named after the Muslim royal I find the clue a bit unsatisfying.

  36. 8’34”, top ten undoubtedly. Nho SULTAN, although I have some chickens.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  37. 9.29

    Probably my second fastest. The biblical anagram needed a pause but even with the h I needed all the checkers for the cool one.

    I much prefer the harder ones but nothing wrong with a gentler one from time to time

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  38. 7.02. A PB by quite some distance and considerably quicker than my time for today’s QC. The domestic fowl was unknown but not sufficient to delay me at all. Very easy but satisfying to rattle off in a quick (for me) time.

  39. Encouraged by the QC blog I gave this a go and finished after a couple of visits.

    Question: Does 28A work?

    “Lewdness of French composer transfixed by posh English trains (10)

    Am I missing something? Does the U not need to be transfixed by the composer and not the other way round? Or am I misunderstanding the meaning of ‘transfix’? Or does transfix apply to composer, posh and English trains? Ta.

    1. I see it as of French=DE, U for posh in BACH, RY=railway=trains.
      I think the composer is transfixed by U. So for me it works.

      1. You’re absolutely right andyf. I really should have looked it up. Transfixed = pierced. In my mind in the clue it was transfixed = held down by = enveloped by. That is clearly wrong.

        The clue works alright. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  40. Encouraged to come here from comments on the QC TfTT blog and rewarded with my fastest time on the 15×15 by a country mile – 14½ minutes against a previous PB around 23 minutes (and very few completions under ½ hour). So as everyone else has commented, not the most challenging; indeed fully 10% of my QC finishes have taken me longer.

    Not quite all parsed though, as I had not heard of the Sultan bird and didn’t see Agent = traveller in Argentina. And in my excitement at completing the puzzle with my LOIs Gondolier and Debauchery, both put in from checkers, I did not fully parse those two either. But all in all a Red Letter Day.

    Many thanks to Ulaca for the blog and to others for encouraging me to give the 15×15 a try today

  41. I might have ben able to record a first sub-ten if I’d timed myself. And that’s in 60-odd years of the Times cryptic calypso, or whatever it is the mind does with these things. Still, not much of a work-out, which is really what one goes to them for.

  42. I think second fastest ever for me, though I don’t keep a record, certainly second time under 10 mins.

    I had AMBAN until I remembered the vestment is ALB, which at least gave me a martyr I’d heard of. DEBAUCHERY was LOI.


  43. 6:26, which I was quite pleased with but now I feel a bit disappointed having seen how quickly verlaine and mohn did it. Amazing!
    NHO the bird, obviously, but like so many other clues today I just biffed the answer and didn’t even notice.

  44. 17’30”
    Smartly out of the stalls, stayed on well under pressure.
    I was really chuffed, but now I see my 17 1/2 has proved rather pedestrian. All parsed en route, bar a bit of semi-biffed debauchery.
    I am certain I have seen sultan as a fowl before, but it may well have been a Guardian.
    Congratulations to all the PBs, thanks to Ulaca and to the setter for an enjoyable romp and, as always, to contributors here for broadening my ken.

  45. I knew that when I’d completed sub 19 minutes there would be some jaw dropping times. However, it’s always satisfying to complete. Alban & Abrahamic were the last in. Wondering why Alban isn’t mentioned more often.
    Downside of an early finish today was having to complete menial domestic chores and listen to a soggy end to the test match.
    Thank you to blogger, setter and contributors.

  46. 15:55, so quick but no PB. It didn’t help that I biffed ‘ROMANOV’ for 19D or that I hadn’t heard of ‘Sultan’ being a type of fowl. Many thanks to the setter and blogger.

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