Times 28723 – Melts into the sea…..eventually!

Time: 49 minutes

Music: Mahler, Symphony #7, Horenstein/NPO

I was going quickly in this one, and had about 2/3 of it complete in 15 minutes.   Then, as sometimes happens, I came to a complete halt and could not solve another clue for the next 15 minutes.   I finally managed to see how Estonia worked, and then got unilateralist, but progress was tough.   Some of the clues had very tough parsings – I found stencil, nouveau, and softened difficult.

I suspect that if I had just had a little more momentum, I might have solved on and cracked the whole thing in under 30 minutes.    Just a few crossing letters are all experienced solvers need to see what is going on in a clue, but I didn’t have them.


1 Bits of music naturally fitting into second verse occasionally (8)
SNATCHES – S + NATCH + [v]E[r]S[e].
6 Chief allowed to carry key for holiday home (6)
CHALET – CH (A) LET, i.e. the key of A.   Once you see allowed and holiday home in the same clue, you should know the answer.
9 Group of colleges subsequently very famous for promoting individual policies (13)
UNILATERALIST – UNI + LATER + A-LIST, a clue rather hard to get a grip on.
10 Class containing one hugely intelligent person (6)
11 Freewheeling firm introducing a scam (8)
13 Endless search to get a pickle to accompany ace Mexican dish (10)
QUESADILLA – QUES[t] + A DILL + A for ace.
15 Go to bash? (4)
16 Small island between two areas where most people live (4)
ASIA – A(S,I)A.   It’s true – the estimated population of Asia is 4.5 billion, so they have the majority.
18 Keep being swept away by the tide, perhaps? (10)
SANDCASTLE – Cryptic definition, with an answer that many would consider two words.
21 In the end, commenters online had to accept frequently getting moderated (8)
SOFTENED –  [commenter]S (OFTEN) [onlin]E [ha]D.    If you think frequently is oft, you won’t quite get there.
22 Bishop provided guidance for church office (6)
23 Momentous, violent alien conquest (13)
25 Insignificant landmark bordering loch (6)
26 Returning desire to be involved in series of matches and competitions (8)
TOURNEYS – TOUR(YEN backwards)S.   I had tournies for a long time, but couldn’t parse it and couldn’t get locally, so I tried again.
2 New word maybe describing an object briefly covering part of the eye (7)
NOUVEAU – NO(UVEA)U[n].    If you thinks this starts with NOU[n], you’ll have trouble, because veau is not part of the eye.
3 Sin that isn’t corrected immediately (4,7)
4 Loads of clapped-out motors (5)
HEAPS – Double definition.
5 Reproduction of letters in lines cut at the edges? (7)
STENCIL – Anagram of LINES + C[u]T, at the edges.
6 Short opportunity to acquire horse and vehicle it could pull (9)
7 Somewhat exhilarating, up-and-coming boxer (3)
ALI – Backwards hidden in [exh]ILA[rating].
8 No good ignoring brutal execution in each country (7)
12 Going around Euston a bit after initially touring Camden Town? (4,7)
TUBE STATION – T[ouring] + anagram of EUSTON A BIT.
14 Outside the city, find it’s unusually clean (9)
DISINFECT – Anagram of FIND IT’S around EC.
17 Patient measurement system mostly covers the majority of work (7)
STOICAL – S(TOI[l])CAL[e].    The cryptics are  getting pretty elaborate.
19 Pronouncement of growth dismissed, for sure (2,5)
NO DOUBT – Sounds like NODE OUT.
20 Accountant dipping into money from nearby residents (7)
22 Language graduate given books by university (5)
BANTU – BA + NT + U.
24 Problem failing at first to cause discomfort (3)
NAG – [s]NAG.

81 comments on “Times 28723 – Melts into the sea…..eventually!”

  1. 26 minutes, ending with STOICAL after NOUVEAU.

    Whatever the dictionaries might say, there is only one way to pronounce NOUVEAU – the Essex way, preferably in the same sentence as FONDU.

  2. 28:44
    Unlike Vinyl, I started off slow (FOI QUESADILLA) and continued that way. One major contribution to my slowth was 7d, where I confidently put in PUG (exhilaratinG UP-and-coming). So CHALET, which should have been a gimme, was impossible, as was UNILATERALIST. I finally decided the latter had to be, and saw ILA. I biffed TUBE STATION, never parsed it. BANTU is not a language–this has come up before–it’s a language family, comprising heaps of languages. I liked STENCIL & ESTONIA. Tough for a Monday.
    Vinyl, you need an A before DILL (a pickle).

  3. I got the answer, but not the parsing, to everything – so thanks vinyl especially for Stoical where I was hung up on SI units. Like noun in the wrong place at Nouveau having the right cryptic letters but for the wrong reason and in the wrong places still got the horse back to the barn. Meantime, I still don’t see the anagram indicator at Stencil – what am I missing?

    1. I think the def is just ‘reproduction’; so ‘letters in …’ is the anagram indicator.

      1. I had STENCIL as an excellent &lit, the whole clue is the wordplay and the whole clue is the answer.

        1. I don’t see how that works (then, I often don’t see how &lits work). For one thing, stencils aren’t only reproductions of letters; and what does ‘lines cut at the edges’ mean literally?

          1. Lines cut in the plastic sheet – the stencil – to make the edges of the letters reproduced underneath – the stencil. Or something 🙂

            1. I can’t see it as a pure &lit. It’s no coincidence that LINES plus CT is an anagram of the answer… Wordplay bolstered by an &lit-esque surface, I’d say.

  4. Not really Mondayish, but no real problems. Liked CAMDEN TOWN, a bit unexpected. LOI SANDCASTLE also very good, needed all the crossers.
    Edit: TUBE STATION, of course.

  5. This was hard, I was pleased to finish all correct in 40.57. POI was SANDCASTLES which I might have got a lot sooner if I’d paid proper attention to the title of Vinyl1’s excellent blog. Forget about Mahler, give Axis: Bold as Love a spin! Until coming here I had no idea how many of these worked, notably SOFTENED, BE AT, NOUVEAU, ESTONIA and the diabolically crafty STOICAL. Tough start to the week.

  6. You didn’t account for the first A in QUESADILLA, Vinyl, but it’s given to us literally in the clue (“a pickle”).
    I just had a “Philly cheesesteak quesadilla” at the bar where I karaoke. The spelling is easy if you remember that the first part is cheese.
    I liked this, and suspect it seemed harder than it is because of my… state of mind—before a late (Irish) coffee, anyway.

  7. 27 minutes, so completed within my half-hour target but with five or six answers going in with fingers crossed as I didn’t fully understand the clues or parsing. NOUVEAU was one such (NHO UVEA as part of the eye) and STOICAL another. On the other hand I arrived at QUESADILLA via wordplay but I didn’t know the word.

    I would agree with Kevin re BANTU if it were defined as ‘a language’ but it isn’t. In all its various forms BANTU is ‘language’ so the clue seems fine to me.

      1. Yeah, well, unless I’m on blogging duty, Jumbo clues don’t always get the same level of scrutiny as I might apply for a daily puzzle. This was a hidden word that didn’t require much thinking about so in it went and I moved on taking the definition on trust whilst not really registering it. If you’d told me it was in a puzzle I blogged two days ago I would have started to worry.

  8. Got there in the end with everything except NOUVEAU and STOICAL fully parsed. Definitely not the Monday stroll I was expecting, but fun once I realised I was going to have to use my brain a bit harder.

  9. 34 minutes with LOI UNILATERALIST. We had QUESADILLAs last night for tea but that didn’t stop me trying to make ENCHILADAs fit. COD to CHARABANC, such an evocative word somehow. Try as I may, I can’t make ‘provided guidance for’ equivalent to RAN. The non-exec is trespassing, or am I missing something? Trickier puzzle than it looked. Thank you V and setter.

  10. A wand’ring minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches,
    of ballads, songs and snatches, and dreamy lullaby.
    (The Mikado, G&s)

    25 mins mid-brekker. I liked it. I puzzled about Stencil, but have concluded it is a valiant attempt at an &lit that I think works (based on my limited knowledge of stencils), but I recognise others may quibble.
    Ta valiant setter and V

  11. About 25 minutes, the last 7-8 spent on NOUVEAU. Eventually got there, but uvea as part of the eye only rang the vaguest of bells.

    Like boltonwanderer above, not convinced by ran=provided guidance for in BRANCH.

    No real problems otherwise. The SI thought that seems to have slowed a few people down with STOICAL never occurred to me… which in the long run is perhaps not such a good thing.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Ali
    LOI Nouveau
    COD Unilateralist

  12. 15:41. A careless UNILATERALISM held me up at the end in the NE corner. ESTONIA eventually fixed it followed by COASTING and STENCIL as my last 2 in. Like tohers DNK UVEA and I failed to parse STENCIL and STOICAL. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  13. 12:05
    Biffed STOICAL; happy with STENCIL as an &lit. I’m not sure a purebred arab would take kindly to pulling a CHARABANC.

  14. I found that hardish taking exactly 30 minutes. LOI NOUVEAU which I could not parse. NHO UVEA so I‘m off to google that now.
    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  15. Little bit chewy for a Monday I thought.
    Is a genius necessarily “hugely intelligent?” I have heard Maradona so described, along with a wide variety of musicians ..

    1. This is definitely the right place to float the question, as we are blessed with a veritable plethora of geniuses and geniuses-manques.

      As you would know, Jerry…

      1. I feel I belong in the genius-manque subsection ( though on good days I can rise to idiot savant).

        1. I had to look up manque, which probably disqualifies me, right there..
          I am a true genius with risottos, but that is about as far as it goes

  16. My first two clues in were Piles at 4down and Pug at 7 down. Both wrong, but I think both valid?

    Which made the rest of the puzzle a lot harder !

      1. I can’t see how ‘pug’ can be valid, as ‘[and] coming’ cannot indicate reversal, and pug can’t double up as literal and reversal indicator. Am I missing something?

        1. The clue is in the hyphens… up-and-coming is all one entity. Seen it before in The Times, but too late at night to search out an example.
          Edit: Except of course, if you take it that way there’s no reversal indicator. My apologies.

  17. UNILATERALISM made ESTONIA more difficult than it should have been.

    I thought it generally tricky. I liked SAND CASTLE and TUBE STATION though.


  18. 25 minutes-ish, with 2 stabs at the cherry thanks to having to (attempt to) fix a broken car seat mechanism mid-solve. The second sitting was much more productive mainly thanks to realising that I’d entered 16A into 15A. Thereafter a steady solve, with QUESADILLA lodged somewhere in my filing system, and STOICAL presenting itself when all checkers were in place.
    A fun puzzle though, maybe a touch tougher for a Monday, but no nasty surprises. Thanks to the setter and to vinyl1.

    1. Thought you were going to say: The second sitting was much more productive mainly thanks to the seat mechanism being fixed.

      1. If only I could have provided such a happy ending to my rather mundane tale! Unfortunately, in spite of my manful efforts, the front seat of the car is now only suitable for the vertically challenged. On a plus note, there is acres of room in the back.

  19. 7:30. Fairly plain sailing in the end this morning but it felt a bit trickier than that.
    I agree that STENCIL is &Lit, because you need all the words of the clue for the wordplay.

  20. Nice to have “tough for a Monday” illustrating the famous misconception. I was pushed just over 20 minutes by this one, not by PUG or PILES but by STAB at 15, which is definitely possible, all key words being prefaceable by “have a”. Left me wondering what TEST had to do with Camden Town.
    I thought the word play in SANDCASTLE was particularly complex, and I’m surprised no-one has spotted it.
    Not wholly convinced by “provided guidance for” as RAN: run that by me again.
    I wondered at a horse drawn CHARABANC, as the only image in my collection is of Tabernacle Baptist Church’s Women’s meeting on the annual outing to (probably) Southend. That body would have needed more than one horse, to be sure.
    All that said, decent puzzle, with thanks to V for elucidation on NOUVEAU which I blurred and SOFTENED where I was oft mistaken.

    1. I looked at RAN twice too, but I suppose its ‘run’ in the sense of ‘manage’ or ‘organise’ a business or event. When others are involved this would involve providing guidance on how they should carry out their duties. It’s a bit indirect though.

    2. STAB occurred to me, but was rejected… all the meanings you mention are the same, so it’d be a repeated single definition not a double definition, which never happens in The Times. It was too much of a stretch to make stab (attack with knife) equal bash (attack with fist or blunt object).

      1. I probably would have complained if bash was given as a straight definition of stab, but go is a good enough definition of “attempt”, so is bash. That looks to me like two definitions, and the only thing to do then is to come up with another word which means the same. “Never happens in the Times” is a bit contentious, don’t you think?
        The saving grace is perhaps that the word “to” is in there, which arguably is superfluous in my presumed DD. But not impossible even in the immaculately Ximenean Times!
        You’re welcome to have a go/stab/bash/ shot/hazard/venture/try/attempt to show me my error!

        1. The point I was trying to make is that in double-definition clues the two definitions of the answer are two completely different meanings of the answer.
          e.g Register for work (4) answer TILL – 27 ac. Cash register/work the soil… two very different meanings.
          In lesser crosswords you sometimes see two similar meanings (GO/BASH for STAB) masquerading as a double definition, but in my memory and experience that doesn’t happen here. From what I can see you are saying go/bash/stab are all the same – meaning try – no argument there. But if that’s you’re contention I’m saying it’s not a double definition clue, it’s a single-definition repeated clue.
          As for showing you an example, you’re like the bloke proving all crows are black by showing all things that aren’t black aren’t crows… sits in his living room and points to the lamp – that’s not blasck, and it’s not a crow! Points to his teacup – that’s not black, and it’s not a crow! Repeat ad infinitum (without leaving the living room): everything that isn’t black isn’t a crow, therefore all crows are black.
          My challenge to you: show me a Times double-definition clue where the two definitions are synonyms. e.g. GO and BASH, for STAB. I can show you a million (slight exaggeration) double-definition clues where the two definitions have completely different meanings.

          1. A bit bemused by this discussion, as it would never occur to me to see “stab” as a good synonym for “bash” (or vice versa). A knife injury seems different from blunt force trauma.

            1. 🙂
              We’re talking: have a go/have a bash/have a stab at something. Go bash stab synonyms meaning attempt.
              I think?

                1. OK, I’ll take that (I think!), though I don’t particularly agree that two words meaning the same thing would necessarily mean an inferior clue. However it’s phenomenally difficult in short order to find examples. I know, I’ve just tried! At the time of solving, the possible equivalence between my three words made enough sense for me to be surprised when my stab at an answer was wrong. But then I’ve been caught out by “be at” before. Or in the slightly extended Milton Jones version: “anyone can make this – you can’t Beatrice! Sorry you can’t beat rice”.

                  1. For me, being particularly pedantic and particularly particular, two words meaning the same thing is totally unacceptable. Keep an eye out in future – I will too – to see if it ever happens.

                    1. I’m with you on this. A proper double definition has two distinct senses, and the further they are from each other the better. Which is also true for a CD, which typically plays on the ambiguity in one word or phrase.

                2. It wouldn’t. My take was that “go” and “bash” suggested stab via a common meaning of attempt: at the time I only had the A to work with.

  21. 22 mins, however I got stuck in the middle and had to do a bit of research into Mexican cooking (of which I know nothing) before I could rapidly complete. SLIGHT and NAG caused some difficulty towards the end, but last was BE AT which took a bit of thinking because there are a lot of options.

  22. Struggled with this. Almost every answer I threw in was almost a complete guess. I didn’t waste time trying to parse them.
    Over an hour.

  23. Got there, if rather slowly. The residents make ‘locally’ a little less accurate rather than more so. Last in was ‘beat’ which I liked after raging at it in furious incomprehension for a moment. Also liked the ‘stencil’ clue.

  24. 28:08
    Similar experience to vinyl. Got most of this done quickly then the last few took an age. Initialy having PUG for my boxer, and UNILATERALISM didn’t help.

    I liked SANDCASTLE, TUBE STATION and NO DOUBT. Not so keen on BRANCH.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  25. I took an embarrassingly long time on this (53 minutes) and had to use aids, because I’d never heard of a QUESADILLA and feebly failed on hunt = quest, although for a long time I knew what the ending would be. Also I entered piles instead of HEAPS at 4dn and this held me up for ages. It seemed that the clue for NOUVEAU was faulty since I was thinking ‘briefly’ applied to the word and should have been closer to it, but the whole thing is shortened, so OK.

    1. I don’t think the clue for NOUVEAU is OK but for a different reason. Admittedly a long time ago, I was taught that a ‘word maybe describing an object’ was an adjective and not a noun.

  26. 20:45 – struggled for several minutes of that in the NW corner until I wondered about an -EAU ending and NOUVEAU went in from there, after which SNATCHES and HEAP completed the set.

    Thanks both.

  27. 21:45

    Mostly done in 16 mins with four in the SW – STOICAL, SOFTENED, NAG, SLIGHT solved in that order – taking a further 6 mins. Not keen on RAN for ‘provided guidance’ and didn’t spot the UVEA in the bifd NOUVEAU. Liked QUESADILLA (made me hungry) and TUBE STATION.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  28. 17’23” (with untimed snooze in middle). Everything was going swimmingly until the last ten or so. LOI NOUVEAU, and only parsed when I read the blog. UVEA was new to me. I thought it was part of Wallis and Futuna.

  29. You’ve heard of BAFTAs, right?

    I’d like to suggest an award here called a DAFTA….(Desperate Attempt For The Answer)…..

    My entry for a DAFTA today is for 21A, where, having spotted “oft”, I sought to justify SENED as a variant spelling of the word SENEDD, which I mistakenly thought might be the panel of judges who “comment on lines” in poems at the Eisteddfod.

    Sad, huh?

  30. Found this quite hard ‘for a Monday’. Not because the vocabulary was particularly hard – all known except TOURNEYS and UVEA. It was more a case of simply being unable to think of the required answers, meaning most of them had to be worked out rather than guessed at and confirmed. This might be because I am suffering for the past four days from a heavy cold that has kept me stodgy and largely useless. I liked SANDCASTLE a lot. I also had a pencilled STAB, which TUBE STATION overrode, finally giving me BEAT as POI along with an unparsed NOUVEAU. Thanks to the setter, and to VINYL for the explanation.

  31. All done in 53 minutes except for UNICAMERALIST, which doesn’t make any sense, and NOUVEAU, which I just couldn’t see. I studied parts of the eye decades ago but UVEA had evaporated. The rest were parsed except for SOFTENED and NO DOUBT. Thanks to vinyl1.

  32. Must admit I’ve never heard of quesadilla nor of ‘dill pickle’, which seems to be an American term. Obviously I need to expand my culinary horizons. 45 minutes.

  33. Tough for a Monday – and solving post-work may not have helped. NOUVEAU and BRANCH were both last in and took their time about it too.

  34. Beaten by STENCIL (interested to hear the discussion about this clue) and used aid to get STOICAL, otherwise all answered correctly (although not all parsed). The part of the eye was new to me. Completed at odd intervals throughout the day. Very enjoyable. Thanks all.

  35. 48’18”
    Started slowly, finished slower.
    Parsley the lion and DILL the dog, happy memories, but dill the pickle, that’s a new one on me.
    I may have eaten a quesadilla, perhaps that’s why it rang bell; there’s a photo somewhere of me riding a horse towards Los Ladros (bandit mountains), the route Butch and Sundance might have taken, but I never got out of New Mexico.
    This tired old hack has a serious case of the slows, but all parsed.
    Thank you setter, I thoroughly enjoyed the slog, and thank you Vinyl; how do you complete crosswords whilst listening to Mahler?

  36. I remember being pleased to find that my one or two words of Sesotho would also work in Setswana. DNK “uvea” and made the same mistake with PUG as others and even when I realised it was wrong I could not think of Ali (even though the pour soul comes up every other day). A good puzzle I think but ultimately defeated by it. Thanks for the blog.

  37. Thought I was going to be a long way short but nearly got there, just the NHO QUESADILLA and NOUVEAU (NHO the bit of the eye) outstanding. COD: TUBE STATION.

  38. 23.31

    Late entry.

    Very decent crossword. Assumed I was being a bit slow but it turns out it was a harder than usual Monday.

    NOUVEAU was in out in out and finally biffed though way off understanding the w/p. Ditto LOI STENCIL

    TUBE STATION was vg

    Thanks Vinyl and setter

  39. Had to cheat to get a few answers, (STENCIL- which I couldn’t see as the definition, STOICAL and NHO QUESADILLA), all of which helped me bif-fest several others. However, I was happy to solve the ones I did ‘honestly’, like CHARABANC, SANDCASTLE, TUBE STATION and BEAT – to name only the PDM ones. Tougher than usual, I thought, with (for me) too many complex construction clues, but overall a good challenge.

  40. Have been doing these puzzles with my wife for over thirty years and we both enjoy rhe challenge.However,I lost interest in this one when natch for naturally and tourneys became obvious answers.I realise our language is always evolving and setters constantly need to challenge us hence the brilliant clue for sandcastle but these two answers are not English!
    Surely our language has enough words for the setter without resorting to this.I see from the comments that I am on my own with this view.

Comments are closed.