Times 28713 – Occam’s razor

Sometimes we befuddle ourselves by imagining things are more complicated than they really are. Once I got going, this was on the easy side, done and dusted in 15 minutes, but there were quite a few clues where I looked for more complexity than existed, so it could have been faster had I applied the maxim of William of Occam. 1a, 11a, 13a, 17d for example. I’ll be surprised if the SNITCH is in three figures.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Female philanthropist’s gripe about new player (12)
BENEFACTRESS – BEEF (gripe) about N(ew), ACTRESS = player. I was thinking about lady philanthropists with long names, before the penny dropped.
8 Cross-country runner,   one that disturbs   a bird of prey (7)
HARRIER – a triple definition, a rara avis indeed.
9 Note diving bird nibbling Mike’s sage (7)
SOLOMON – SO (a note) LOON (a diving bird) with M for Mike inserted.
11 Memorable saying for part of speech (7)
PROVERB – PRO (for) VERB (part of speech). This one escaped from the quick cryptic.
12 Give account of island in old map (7)
EXPLAIN – EX (old) PLAN (map) insert I for island.
13 Arsenic, for example, subject to analysis? (5)
ASSAY – AS (As is the chemical symbol for arsenic) SAY (for example). Another QC level clue.
14 Extremely pretty teacher, astonishingly original (9)
ARCHETYPE – (PY TEACHER)*, PY being the extremes of pretty.
16 Briefly drawing back, ultimately feel very mean (9)
NIGGARDLY – DRAGGIN[G] reversed, L Y the last letters of feel very.
19 Hindu sage’s son with friend in Rouen (5)
SWAMI – S (son) W (with) AMI (French for friend).
21 Expatiate tediously about old barbed missile (7)
HARPOON – HARP ON = expatiate tediously, insert O for old.
23 Tense about performing in the near future (7)
TONIGHT – TIGHT (tense) insert ON (performing).
24 Medication taken by one on bike seat (7)
PILLION – PILL, I, ON. Another easy one.
25 Turn one out, identifying particle (7)
26 Wager involving everyone Asian having a passion for dance (12)
BALLETOMANIA – ALL in BET then OMANI (an Asian), A.
1 Snag over scraps in animal shelters? (7)
BURROWS – BUR (snag) ROWS (scraps). BUR or BURR are acceptable spellings.
2 Gullibility of first-class surgeon in New York (7)
NAIVETY – NY (that city) has A1 VET inserted. I’d have spelt it naïveté but it has been anglicised.
3 One who’ll agitate, and sack musicians without resistance (9)
FIREBRAND – FIRE (sack) BAND (musicians) insert R.
4 First of children at school taking English class (5)
CASTE – first letters as above.
5 Deterioration concerning Scandinavian nomads, reportedly (7)
RELAPSE – RE (concerning) LAPSE sounds like LAPPS.
6 Southern girl receiving useful marks primarily for precis (7)
SUMMARY – S MARY (southern girl) insert U M the first letters of useful marks.
7 Fellow at sea evidently holding city priest’s office (12)
CHAPLAINSHIP – a CHAP IN SHIP is a fellow at sea, insert LA for Los Angeles.
10 Susceptible sort in Nantes for a change (12)
15 Weep over quiet chap initially misusing code name (9)
CRYPTONYM – CRY (weep) P (quiet) TONY (a chap) M first letter of misusing).
17 Travel runs badly: at the bottom of that is a primate (7)
GORILLA – GO (travel) R (runs) ILL (badly) A.
18 Not gregarious like spies in centre of Honolulu (7)
ASOCIAL – AS (like) then CIA inside OL the centre of HonOLulu.
19 Inflammation principally suffered on a French stream (7)
SUNBURN – S (first letter of suffered) UN (a French) BURN (a stream).
20 State supplying some practical geriatricians (7)
ALGERIA – hidden, as above.
22 Brought up part of joint composition (5)
NONET – TENON (as in mortise and tenon joint) reversed.


79 comments on “Times 28713 – Occam’s razor”

  1. For 1d, my parsing was that ‘Snag over’ required the reversal of RUB. Looks like both may work.

  2. I, too, figuratively slapped my forehead more than once when I finally saw the obvious way certain clues work—mainly simple charades. NHO PILLION, that I can recall.

      1. the original french phrase books apparently had my postillion has been struck by lightning (sorry can’t remember the French)as well as j’ai perdu la plume de ma tante…such useful phrases!

  3. Self-befuddling indeed. Careless parsing gave me the ridiculous BALLETAMANIA, when clearly the ridiculous BALLETOMANIA was required. And a careless typo gave me SUMBURM / TOMIGHT, so let’s just call it one of those days.

    I may have been pre-befuddled by the absence of fresh warm-up puzzles on the website. At the time of writing, yesterday’s KenKens, Futoshikis, Codewords, etc are still showing yesterday’s versions. Anyone else seeing that?

    Meanwhile, I thank Pip and the setter, who are both blameless for my befuddlement!

    1. I think you’ve successfully coined a new word which I shall use after lying face down in the sun for too long.

  4. 16:12
    A straightforward, Mondayesque puzzle. I had some trouble remembering PILLION (all I could come up with at first was PILLOCK). After several clues where As clued ‘arsenic’, I suppose it was time for ‘arsenic’ to clue AS.

  5. Very easy, very quick. Had rub inverted at 1dn, and missed the middle def of harrier after filling it from crossers and half two-thirds-remembered clue. A few seconds at the end working out the actress bit of 1 across. Liked the chap in the ship and draggin’ back.

  6. Nice puzzle completed in 26 minutes. Another RUB reversal at 1dn here.

    I missed that HARRIER was a triple definition or even a double. I was going for wordplay with I (one) contained by [that disturbs] HARRER (bird of prey) and was then left puzzling why I couldn’t find the bird in any dictionary.

    I’m surprised at the comments about PILLION, but maybe it’s known as something else across the Pond? Or would ‘motorcycle’ rather than ‘bike’ have made it more familiar? I understand that originally it was an additional saddle or attachment on a horse.

    1. In one of Michael Portillo’s travel progs in USA, he’s offered a ride on the back of a motorcycle. The lady rider asks him if he knows what it’s called. Yes of course, he says, it’s called pillion. No, she says, it’s called “Riding bitch”.

  7. 23 minutes. After a few minutes staring at 1a, ASSAY was eventually my way in. Not difficult, but a few not commonly seen words such as BENEFACTRESS, CHAPLAINSHIP, CRYPTONYM and BALLETOMANIA – Not guilty, M’lud – added a bit of spice.

    Favourite was the triple def for HARRIER; a pity there wasn’t room for a jump jet too.

  8. I’m sat here entirely perplexed
    The Times App has me very vexed
    The grid that’s on view
    Which I solved yesterday – I’ve been hexed!!

        1. Same for me. the wrong crossword on the app on my tablet and the app on my phone. Tried the website which was also showing the wrong crossword and the link to the crossword club didn’t work.

          My wife went to show me how she gets to the crossword club on her laptop which required her backing out of it and then it would not reload.

          All in all very frustrating.

          1. The whole puzzles page on both tablet app and website seems to be showing yesterday’s puzzles. I too just get a blank page trying to load the Crossword Club.

  9. Wow that was easy!! 11 minutes 13 seconds, and if the anagram at 10 down hadn‘t slowed me up at the end I‘d have been on 10 minutes for the first time…
    Thanks setter for giving me hope that one day I‘ll get under 10 minutes, and today‘s blogger of course
    PS yes the app is still showing yesterday‘s puzzles, but Crossword Club works

  10. Carelessly put in NONRESISTENT, my LOI, so a pink square for me. I also missed the triple definition and was confused as to what some of the words in the clue were doing since both the runner and the bird of prey were HARRIER, and HARRER was not a bird of prey to put the I in (as far as I knew). I was another inverted RUB at 1D. I am surprised how many people didn’t know PILLION, presumably never having been on the back of a motorcycle.

  11. There was a young chap from Bombay,
    Took the slow boat to China one day.
    He was chained to the tiller,
    With a sex-starved Gorilla,
    And China’s a bloody long way.

    20 mins mid-brekker. No ticks, no crosses.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  12. 11:41. Like others I thought this seemed quite impenetrable at first with an initial pass through all the outside clues only yielding BALLET-. However once I got going everything flowed quite quickly. It did make me wonder if I might be better off starting by glancing through the clues to see if anything jumped out and building from there. You heard it here first – there’s the strategy that’s going to win me the championship!

  13. Quick(ish) today, c12 minutes but some will be faster I think.
    I too had RUB back for 1dn.
    Took me a little while to sort out NONRESISTANT from the nondescript anagrist.

  14. 28 minutes with LOI BURROWS. I’m suing the newspaper for one sheet of A4 plus printing costs and significant damages for making me go through the whole rigmarole of printing the damn thing again from the e-paper. I nervously constructed CRYPTONYM with the benefit of crossers but without the final M, and then came up with BALLETOMANIA, a wretched disease that I’m immune to. I made this harder than it should have been.Thank you Pip and setter.

  15. 15 minutes. Would have expected NONRESISTANT to be hyphenated, and missed the triple definition for HARRIER, but otherwise this was straightforward. Like one or two others, I thought the snag in 1d was giving rub to be reversed, though the alternative parsing works just as well.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Swami
    LOI Nonresistant
    COD Firebrand

  16. 35 mins and lots to like. 3 down is definitely what someone will have to do soon, methinks. Same probs as others trying to get the beggar loaded. Eventually e-mailed to myself.

    I liked the two long clues, ARCHETYPE NEUTRON and NIGGARDLY, which I can sometimes be (so Madame says, anyway!)

    Thanks pip and setter

  17. 11:15. I was a bit slow getting started, but once I got a few checkers the pennies started to drop. LOI BURROWS. Thanks Pip and setter.

  18. 13:15, including a minute staring at 10dn, my LOI. All the outer answers seemed a bit edgy, a bit borderline.
    LOL: comments above about 3dn, which didn’t strike me at the time.

  19. 16.26 which is possibly my P 2nd B, surprising considering how long I took to get going. Not to mention how long I took to even get started when the website annoyingly kept offering yesterday’s. Like piquet mentioned I’m one of those who made it harder than it mostly was, and the two refugees from the QC he mentioned – ASSAY and PROVERB – did not arrive in QC time. But a lot of fun, LOI NONRESISTANT which I’ll take on trust as being a word.

  20. 10:35. I got held up at the end on this trying to justify a few where the answer seemed obvious but I couldn’t see the wordplay::
    – HARRIER: I know there are numerous running clubs called the Harriers but I never realised it was an actual word.
    – BURROWS: I thought the snag was a BURR. I didn’t know it could be spelled with one R, but the reversed RUB seems like a better parsing anyway.
    – SUMMARY: I thought the girl was UMA
    Sorted it all out in the end.
    The club site was working but quite glitchy by the time I got to it. When I first accessed the puzzle it came up without any black squares.

  21. Easy today, though NHO of BALLETOMANIA and had to construct it from clue and crossers. Liked HARPOON, but nothing much else to get excited about.

  22. Done on the Times site, which meant I got the warning about a typo before succeeding in a sedate 18.56. I worried about spelling BALLETOMANE and making it fit before sanity struck.
    My father’s first motorised transport was a Lambretta, on which I rode PILLION on occasions, much to the amusemen of my fellows: I went to the kind of school where a Bentley was looked down on as being a bit plebby.
    Liked the treble, even if it took me a while to stop trying it as a more conventional clue.
    I don’t recognise CHAPLAINSHIP as such: us Charlies have always spelt it with a CY

  23. Two silly misakes in the rush to finish when I realised I was on course for a sub 20 minute solve. Never mind. Good fun.

  24. A couple of words that seemed odd, probably new to me: NONRESISTANT (something to do with having to iron shirts?) and CRYPTONYM, both easily got from the wordplay. I seemed to be going unusually fast and was having no difficulties in just writing answers in, so was hoping for a super-fast (for me) time, but inevitably things slowed a bit at some point and eventually I took 22 minutes. NIGGARDLY my LOI, biffed and parsed afterwards.

  25. 25 minutes of steady solving for me today, with nothing to overly strain the little grey cells. I think I’d have stripped another 5-10 off had I not been sat in a cafe earwigging on slightly salacious gossip.
    No unknowns unless you count BALLETOMANIA which just looks and sounds wrong.

  26. 07:57, providing a quite Mondayish feel. Which is not a problem, even though it’s…what day is it? Not Monday anyway.

  27. Well under 20, so must have been an easyish one. A change, having struggled on Monday and Tuesday.

    Had to write out and stare at the anagrist for LOI NONRESISTANT.


  28. No real problems with this one, although I entered the ‘crypt’ portion of 15D in isolation, and had to write out the anagrist for my LOI.

    TIME 8:16

  29. I found this easier than the last two days’ puzzles, where I struggled. I wasted time at the end trying to justify HARRIER. I failed to see it as a triple definition. BENEFACTRESS was a long time coming. Like the blogger, I was trying to think of a particular example.
    25 minutes.

  30. 13 mins. Only held up at the end because I couldn’t work out the reason for CASTE until I saw the bleeding obvious, which then gave me SOLOMON instead of the ____MAN I was expecting.

  31. Surprised to find I’d completed in under 20′, which is very fast in my world, but it does have a very Monday feel about it. Nothing really held me up though I did try to conjure some medication from saddle+i… I hope no-one will be sacked for including 16 across!
    I did have the pleasure of working in the BAe Harrier factory in Kingston for a time…very good piece of kit!

  32. My owl inspired existence means that any issues with the site are usually corrected before I emerge blinking in the late morning with a large mug of coffee! BENFACTRESS hove immediately into view and was quickly followed by the down clues for which it provided the first letters. CHAPLAINSHIP didn’t go in until I had PILLION as it’s always been known as CHAPLAINCY to me. BALLETOMANIC was corrected when I arrived at ALGERIA. I also had to scribble down the anagrist for LOI, NONRESISTANT. 16:46. Thanks setter and Pip.

  33. A quick time for me is under 30 minutes, and I managed it with a few seconds to spare at 29.25. BALLETOMANIA was a new word to me, and I was grateful for the accurate direction to enable me to parse it. My longest hold up was probably in solving 1ac and 7dn, although on finally getting them I wondered why they held me up. An enjoyable half hour.

  34. Definitely a bit of a strange one, with some answers going in without a thought, interspersed by periods of staring at the clues for several minutes to no end. Eventually it was all done without aids, but taking nearly half an hour, which is the point at which I tend to give up these days.

  35. This must have been fairly easy because I managed to complete this all parsed (bar BURROWS) in less than an hour. Several of the clues had a rather QC-ish air which of course suited me perfectly. I enjoyed building CHAPLAINSHIP (known to me as chaplaincy) and BALLETOMANIA from the wordplay. Thanks all. A finish is a finish!

  36. 32.33 Having spent a similar amount of time on today’s QC I was delighted with this. Thanks to sltrach for the recommendation and piquet for the blog.

  37. Agree with others that this had a Monday feel to it, with several clues which might have come from the QC. All done in 26 minutes, after a long struggle to sort out the anagram at 10dn. No problem with PILLION, nor with the IT glitch as I stick to pen and paper.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  38. 18’15”
    Good early pace, fine turn of foot closing stages.
    This balletomane did not seem to share Pip’s problems in wielding Billy Ockham’s Blade, although I fear his trainer will get a grilling from the stewards about his sudden improvement.
    No unknowns and all parsed, thanks to having a falconer for a brother and having shared a local pub with a pack of Harriers.
    I’m surprised no one here but me seems keen on the ballet; I’ve wept all the way through quite a few in a bizarre collection of locations including Cardiff, Cambridge, Prague and Sardegna (Lo Schiaccianoci) .
    What’s happened to Astro-nowt; I was expecting the harrier to get harrangued ?
    Lots to like; many thanks to Pip and setter.

    1. You’re not alone on the ballet front. I’ve enjoyed performances in Cardiff Covent Garden St Petersburg and Havana. I also like a bit of Strictly too 😀

      1. Thank you. I saw a balletic version of Carmen in Cardiff.
        St. Petersburg must have been magical; what did you see there?

  39. Being behind with the puzzles owing to holidays and work, I was battling with Tuesday’s, not having today’s, but came home to find all resolved and today’s waiting on the table for me. So a late, but ultimately satisfying and speedy (for me) solve. Agree about Chaplaincy, but the SHIP bit was the first to go in, following the parsing for ‘at sea’, so no problem with that. LOI NONRESISTANT, after writing out the remaining letters. FOI NAIVETY, straight in from the wordplay, so an encouragement to persevere. 11A began as PHONEME, until FIREBRAND disproved it, as I thought maybe ‘phone me!’ was a memorable saying! Luckily, PROVERB made more sense!

  40. Seeing how easy you all found this, it was evidently a good one for me to make my maiden effort on this august page. My total number of clues solved was eight, a PB by far. Very gradually, I’m learning….

    1. NIL DESPERANDUM; some of my early efforts took me two weeks to complete. Keep at it and you’ll get there, without doubt.

  41. Stuck, stuck, stuck; oh, I’ve just solved a whole corner. Repeat…
    Loved the triple definition.

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