Times 28739 – hath the brightest day a cloud

53:00 and counting.

An early SNITCH rating of 93. I still cannot fathom 10ac…

Definitions underlined.

1 Oriole initially on kind of perch is a singer (5)
BASSO – first of Oriole on BASS (kind of perch).
4 Do up judge’s clothing close to late autumn period (8)
RENOVATE – RATE (judge) containing the last of latE and NOV (autumn period).
8 Rightists twice holding wild rave where music’s played (14)
CONSERVATORIES – CONS + TORIES (rightists twice) containing an anagram of RAVE.
10 Most brilliant flower boxes just the ticket (9)
BRIGHTEST – BEST around RIGHT, where flower is neither a plant nor a river, but means the pick or the elite.
11 Large duck wanting day in den on river (5)
LODGE -L (large) and dODGE (duck) without the ‘d’ (day).
12 The King drunkenly speaking made-up words (6)
ELVISH – sounds like a slurred version of (drunkenly speaking) “Elvis” (the king).
14 Maybe slip on this jacket of beautiful jewels plugged by a fashion label (5,3)
BLACK ICE – outermost letters of BeautifuL + ICE (jewels) containing A and CK (fashion label).
17 Bug with a thousand and three feet circling holy ground up north (8)
KIRKYARD – IRK (bug) contained by K (a thousand) and YARD (three feet).
18 Lime mixed with G&T or lime mixed with gin (6)
GIMLET -anagram of LIME + G+T.
20 Easy to take in water? It gets knocked back (5)
NAIVE – EVIAN (water) reversed.
22 Crack team at sea makes decisive act on board (9)
CHECKMATE – CHECK (crack, see Guy’s comment) + an anagram of TEAM.
24 Discerning detectives tailed felon with money (£1000) (14)
DISCRIMINATING – DIS (detectives) + CRIMINAl (felon) + TIN (money) + G (a grand, £1000).
25 Not becoming popular, Anglicans beset by depression (8)
INDECENT – IN (popular) + CE (anglicans) contained by DENT (depression).
26 Belief which might come from the Left or the Right? (5)
TENET – palindromic belief.
1 Very tough crook’s outside robbery filling sack (12)
BACKBREAKING – outermost letters from CrooK + BREAK IN (robbery), all contained by BAG (sack).
2 Where tablets were taken, stopping pains in ailments (5)
SINAI -hidden in painS IN AIlment.
3 In public, suffers from unknown rash (9)
OVERHASTY – HAS (suffers from) contained by OVERT (public), then Y (unknown).
4 Troops contend with formal inspection (6)
REVIEW – RE (troops) + VIE (contend) + W (with).
5 Tacky products banned completely? Don’t mention it (3,2,3)
NOT AT ALL – NO TAT (tacky products banned) + ALL (completely).
6 Like some complaints ubiquitous on the internet (5)
VIRAL – double definition.
7 Ornament packaging made badly? It’s tedious work (9)
TREADMILL – TRILL (ornament) containing an anagram of MADE.
9 Sestet with score in triplicate making this record (7-5)
SEVENTY-EIGHT – 6 (sestet) + 20 (score), multiplied by 3 (in triplicate) = 78.
13 Red cat follows e.g. rats up until noon? (9)
VERMILION – LION (cat), after VERMIn (e.g. rats) up to the letter ‘n’ (noon).
15 Get on well with one in club offering enticement (9)
CLICKBAIT – CLICK (get on well) + I (one) in BAT (club).
16 Rehearse eulogy that must inspire court (8)
PRACTISE – PRAISE (eulogy) containing CT (court).
19 Paint great work, filling in outline from Dubuffet (6)
DEPICT -EPIC (great work) contained by the outermost letters from DubuffeT.
21 Part of the theory of relativity, for the radio presenter (5)
EMCEE – part of the equation E=MC^2 (theory of relativity).
23 1970s film frame from Altman — absorbing fiction (5)
ALIEN – outermost letters from AltmaN containing LIE (fiction).

101 comments on “Times 28739 – hath the brightest day a cloud”

  1. Whatever’s RIGHT (for the job, say) is “just the ticket.” That’s how I took it, anyway.
    I found this pretty easy for a Friday (especially since we still hadn’t had a real toughie all week), but did resort to Collins after finishing to justify CHECK as “Crack.” It’s there! And I was a bit slow on PRACTISE, but only because we don’t usually spell it that way over here.

    CRACK TEAM is not an anagram of “checkmate.” The only anagram part is MATE, which is (team)*. CHECK = “Crack,” hence my recourse to Collins (isn’t it cool that “recourse” is an anagram of “resource”?).

    1. It was the FLOWER = BEST bit that had me head-scratching. It looks like Vinyl did the honours with the blog in the wee hours, and all was made clear to me by Jackkt this morning – “flower of youth”. Thanks all.

    2. As a senior teacher responsible for checking reports that went home to parents, I continually had to correct the misspelling of practise / practice (verb / noun).

          1. If it’s universal, there is presumably no defense for the American usage of ‘license’ as a noun? (And, isn’t ‘practice’ a verb in American English? I think that’s probably Guy’s point.)

            English may be a (or the) universal language, but I love its variant forms, whether in spelling or through creation of new words. (Example from Indian English: ‘prepone’ – vb. reschedule (s.th.) to an earlier time. So obvious, but why didn’t the English ever invent it?)

            1. We don’t need to invent.. we just grab any word that’s going, from whatever language we choose 🙂

              One of the great benefits of living in Shakespeare’s time was that you could spell any word however seemed good to you, and nobody would critycize or complane ..

              1. … And that speling tradishun was cared on years later by the grate skolar Nigel Molesworth, the curse of St Custards cheers cheers cheers.

            2. Merriam-Webster decrees “practise” with an S a variant of “practice” with a C for both noun and verb in American English, so I was making no distinction.

              1. Ah … thanks for the education. I’d always thought American spelling conventions were the reverse of British ones for practice/practise and licence/license. We learn something every day.

      1. I have to approve docs from healthcare Fitness to Practise proceedings and sometimes the regulations themselves. No matter how often I explain that it’s like advise / advice, most people just have a guess. I won’t give up!

      2. The somewhat convoluted way that I remember which is which is to note that “practice” comes before “practise” in the dictionary, and “noun” comes before “verb”.

        1. I used to use word order tricks as well, but then also used reverse word order a few times, and of course soon got completely confused. . .

  2. 31 minutes, found it quite easy despite only 2 hours sleep
    In uk english -ise is for verbs -ice for nouns
    Loi was the 78 which made me smile

    Thanks setter and william


    1. Hmm .. can you prise the goods you are selling? But if you set the prise wrong, you are doing your customers a disservise ..

  3. I found this tough but enjoyable until I hit a brick wall at 35 minutes with two answers missing and after 10 minutes with no further progress I decided I was out of ideas and, unusually for me, I threw in the towel and looked them up.

    The two that did for me were NAIVE and KIRKYARD. On reflection I should probably have got both. The reversed water device is something of a chestnut but the definition is well-hidden (!) as ‘easy to take in’. The other clue had the possible tang of football about it and I suspected the answer might be the name of a club ground Oop North. As discussed here very recently, that in itself would often be enough to numb my brain, and so it proved today.

  4. I messed up on VERMILION, deciding it was one of those words for monks to divide up the day, coming up with VERMINIAN, with “up until noon” as the definition. That made IAN a red cat I’d not heard of, but not too implausible. Clifford is a red dog after all. I even know the word VERMILION and know it is red. Oh well, two pink squares for me. And I failed to finish the Quickie today too.

  5. 20:40
    POI KIRKYARD took some time until I thought of IRK; LOI took even longer, first to think of NAIVE, then to see how that would work. No problem with ‘flower’, e.g.
    One day I was looking o’er my father’s castle wall
    I spied all the boys a-playing at the ball
    My own true love was the flower of them all
    He’s young, but he’s daily growing.

        1. I immediately thought of the Steeleye Span version as that is the one I know but, on searching for the song on YouTube, I came across several versions, including Joan Baez’s.

          1. Missing the folk/rock reference altogether, I assumed the author was male, and thought maybe the Times was taking liberalism a touch too far!

  6. Found it quite easy, but made the same mistake as our esteemed blogger – anagrammed CRACK TEAM into CHECKMATE! Right for the wrong reason – didn’t know and wouldn’t have guessed a crack in timber or veneer was a check. Alien in the 70s? Wow.

  7. 16:07. Another batch of clever clues. Nice way to finish the working(?) week.

    Struggled to equate CHECK with CRACK but happy to take Guy’s word for it. And it’s not as if there was any doubt over the answer.

    Good luck to those who are championshipping tomorrow. I expect at least a dozen regular TftTers to make the semis, and hopefully one in the final. Will see what Ladbrokes are offering for an each-way bet on Topical Tim.

    Thanks William and setter.

  8. 19’58”, very pleasing. Didn’t parse BRIGHTEST, but now recall ‘Flower of Scotland’. Also hesitated over PRACTISE (see above). Wrote in SEVENTY EIGHT without parsing. Still don’t get crack = check.

    Thanks william and setter.

    1. I wrote in TRIPLE TWENTY immediately and was astounded that they had the wrong enumeration.

      Then I read the clue.

    2. See GdS’s comment above. The 31st (!) definition of ‘check’ in Collins is ‘a small crack, as one in veneer or one that occurs in timber during seasoning’.

      1. It first appears in Collins a bit further up the page, as a verb: 11. to crack or cause to crack.

  9. Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
    She stood in tears amid the Alien corn;
    (Poor Ruth. I drag her out every time we get an Alien. Keats’s one about the nightingale).

    30 mins pre-brekker, but five of that was puzzling over flower=best (ok, I get it) and crack=check (which requires a dictionary and patience).
    Ta setter and W.

    1. Come on, Ruth ,standing around feeling sorry for herself isn’t going to get much gleaning done.

  10. Happy to get round in 34.57, with quite a number not fully parsed and relying on William’s useful blog to resolve. BLACK ICE was one, BRIGHTEST another, and now I find NAIVE/EVIAN is a chestnut. Huh! I got SEVENTY-EIGHT despite my maths deserting me and thought this overall a fun and challenging puzzle with a lot of clever clues, nice way to end the week. Good luck to all having a crack at it tomorrow.

  11. Re 1ac: ORIOLE: twenty years ago, while living in Sicily, one Spring, I was very fortunate to see a Golden Oriole in our garden on its way north.
    Re 11ac: When the setter uses the word ‘wanting’ I always have to wonder if the setter wants us to take away or add a letter.
    Thanks William for BRIGHTEST, CHECKMATE (and thanks there to Guy) and SEVENTY EIGHT.

    1. Interesting to note the double gold in golden oriole:
      Wiktionary oriole: from Old French oriol, from Latin aureolus, diminutive of aureus (“golden”).

  12. Haven’t managed to post for a couple of days as I’ve had my shoulder replaced.

    49 mins today and quite enjoyable. LOI NAÏVE. I liked ELVISH, BLACK ICE and GIMLET. Yes please!

    Thanks William for the blog as I had a couple un parsed.

      1. Thank you and yes it did. I did write a little poem below., ODE TO A SHOULDER. Mind you I might get told off for posting it. Not sure what the protocol is?

        Farewell my old shoulder I must say “goodbye”
        As today you are off to your place in the sky
        For seventy years you’ve been in my bod
        But now you’ve packed up, you silly old sod
        The sawbones is ready with scalpel and knife
        To put a new shoulder where once you had life.
        You helped me to play both football and tennis
        (But for my golf, you turned out a menace)
        And lo, dear old shoulder, you’re falling to bits
        So I’m shaving my hair from my back to my tits
        A Bettadine shower and nowt to eat or to drown
        I’m waiting for the trolley to take me down.
        After the Op I am told, my shoulder’s a winner
        And I’m offered a roll and tea for my dinner
        Now we’re back home, and what a relief
        I can soon stop the rattle of my shakin’ old teef
        The kitchen is filled with medicines galore
        With boxes and parcels all over the floor
        God knows what do with all these tubes and these pills
        Hopefully the nurse will know what role each fulfills
        So ta-ta old friend, as we say our farewells  
        But I’ll soon be playing golf just like Ernie Ells!

        1. 🙂
          Get well soon.
          Too bad you’ll be golfing like Ernie Ells. I’d like to golf like the big easy Ernie Els; but alas I too golf like Ernie Ells. Though I’ve been under 80 twice, in my lifetime, on real par 72 courses. And 80 once at The Vines where they used to play a European Tour event – though I was off the members’ tees, not the pros’ tees. Els was there one year while I was spectating, should have won, but made a silly mistake. Hit his ball in a bush, elected to take a one-club drop rather than re-hit or line-of-sight backwards , but it was a big bush and when he dropped it it was still in the bush. Had to take another penalty; triple-bogey; lost by 1.
          Edit – That might be wrong – maybe he ended up on or adjacent to and standing on a concrete cart path next to a big bush, elected to drop, and the nearest place to drop was in the bush. After he’d chosen the drop option, without thinking through the consequences, the marshals enforced it.
          16th hole. Up the hill, through a narrow gap in the trees, large green with lots of swales. His drive went off to the left.

          1. Ouch. We’ve all been there, just not at that level. And yes, sorry about the dangling L. Oops.

  13. 12:18

    Definitely not a Friday toughie, let’s hope the hard puzzles aren’t all being saved for tomorrow.

    Thanks for the explanation of LODGE, and the FLOWER bit of BRIGHTEST (I wanted to but something in (river) TEST.

  14. 11:06. Enjoyable mid-range puzzle I thought.
    I went through a period of making cocktails during Covid lockdowns and the GIMLET featured regularly. Apparently I was far from alone in this, and worldwide sales of posh booze have slumped since the end of the pandemic.

  15. 20 minutes, quick for my Friday standards.

    Like others, wasn’t sure about the best in BRIGHTEST or the check in CHECKMATE, but clearly both are fine; didn’t know that lime mixed with gin is GIMLET, but the wordplay and the checkers made it clear; didn’t parse SEVENTY-EIGHT; and have never been sure which colour VERMILION is.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Not at all
    LOI Kirkyard
    COD Black ice

  16. Tough but fair and overall less of a monster than many Fridays for me, yielding in just over 40 minutes. I live in Kirkwall so the northern holy ground was no problem, but I needed the blog to understand BRIGHTEST, BLACK ICE and CHECKMATE, the last of which I had sloppily assumed was an anagram. Thanks setter and blogger for excellent work.

  17. I was very pleased with a 12:28 after not really feeling on the wavelength on Wed/Thurs. I’m heading down to London tomorrow to make up numbers so looking forward to seeing anyone here who is there.

  18. Happy to crack 20 minutes by a few seconds. As others have said, not a particularly arduous one for a Friday… but thanks to Penfold for raising the prospect of all the toughies being saved for tomorrow!

  19. 36:31
    Check = crack is listed in OED as noun meaning number 9 of 9, and it applies only to timber. An uncrackable obscurity for most people, I would have thought, and the clue was only rescued by the fact that the answer was obvious. That apart, another agreeable puzzle in a week of such.
    Thanks, w.

    1. To be fair, it is listed in Collins as “to crack or cause to crack.”

      (and there are various mentions in the OED, which The Times does not use, including “To split or crack along crossing lines”)

      1. Thanks, Jerry. I guess I need to get my head out of the OED; I have a paid online subscription to it, so it’s tempting to check things out there 🙂

        1. I LOVE the OED! I even have a print version (different to the website version)… it has actual articles in it, about the words and their origins, not just definitions.
          But sadly, it does not help us much with The Times crosswords .. they seem to be more into Merriam Webster these days 🙂

          1. It is an amazing piece of work. I have a two-volume Shorter from uni days in the 70s, which is getting a bit past it now. But yes, it’s not always the ideal thing for the Times.

  20. 23 minutes. Gentle for a Friday. Unknowns were CHECK for ‘crack’ and LODGE for ‘den on river’ though I see now it is a specific term for the dwelling-place of a beaver or otter. LOI and my COD was NAIVE; as pointed out by Jack, a well-disguised def can turn a chestnut into a head-scratcher.

      1. Thanks. My mistake, having looked up Chambers which gives “The dwelling-place of a beaver, otter etc” as sense 9 for LODGE although it also gives “An otter’s den” as sense 4 for “holt”.

  21. Back to the fun stuff, with the giggle quotient boosted by SINAI and ELVISH, and the spoof anagram for CHECKMATE. And the gloomy Church of England. And product placement: I hope we get a fee from Calvin Klein and mm Danone. And a blast from the punk rock past.
    I actually did the maths for 78: 3x(6+20) is such an unlikely sum. Maybe I’ll have a crack at the next Listener numeric.
    Clever to put the CLICKBAIT in close proximity to the ALIEN, and come to that to VIRAL: does our setter use Facebook, I wonder?
    16.10, not tough but who cares?!

  22. Everything in bar KIRKYARD at 32 mins. Stared at it for another 15, then gave up. Baffled by flower, but see it now. Thanks also for explaining that robbery = BREAK IN. Saw the answer but couldn’t see why.

  23. Just over 40′ but any completion of a Friday works for me, though this was one of the easier ones I think. Stared at “crack team” for a while but then realised only “team” was the anagram. Got stuck on the left hand side until I eventually saw BACKBREAKING which allowed me to finish with EVIAN and LOI EMCEE. Didn’t parse SEVENTY EIGHT, but is now my COD. thanks William and setter.

  24. 08:08, though you’ll have to take my word for it, as I seem to have put in CPNSERVATORIES with my fat fingers, so no appearance in the top 1oo for me. I may well make a mistake on Finals Day when solving with a pen, but at least that sort of thing won’t be it (which doesn’t mean anybody should bet on me, even each way 😀). Anyway, I enjoyed this, even if I had the obvious delay while I tried to work out why CHECK was “crack” and BEST was “flower”.

  25. 45 minutes with no major problems, but at the end I took some time on NAIVE, and at the end of it was still feeling that easy isn’t the same as naive, until I looked at the blog and it was obvious. Didn’t understand why check = crack, but never looked it up and would never have known. Nor did it seem that indecent was the same as not becoming, but Collins allows it in a US use.

  26. Good fun, with KIRKYARD my LOI in 15.20. Needed me to reset my brain and stop looking for an _R_ meaning holy to complete the name of a bug (KATYDID was flitting around unhelpfully as well).

    Particularly enjoyed ELVISH. Thanks both.

  27. 32:04 After struggling with the QC, this was a pleasure by comparison. Normally I have to pause with the puzzle three quarters done and return later, but today it all worked in one sitting.
    I enjoyed 12a, to which my response is “Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo”.

    Thanks William and setter.

  28. An enjoyable puzzle solved in the lounge area of my B&B in Cheddar, where at 1am this morning I wondered how much sleep I might get with the local yobbos doing doughnuts around the car park outside the window! There was an article in the Times a few months ago about boy racers using the Gorge inappropriately. I can confirm they are still at it. Fortunately they packed in soon after that. SINAI got me up and running and I fairly rattled through with EMCEE and NAIVE holding me up a bit at the end. 17:10. Thanks setter and William.

  29. 26:50 NAIVE held me up – never seem to think of trade names – but the rest wasn’t too taxing and seemed easier than the usually Friday fare (and some others this week)

  30. Totally foxed by 11a LODGE. Was so foxed I didn’t even put it in so DNF.
    Struggled with NAIVE/EMCEE but suddenly was hit by memory of chestnut Evian water.
    Not sure that E=MC^2 is actually a part of the theories (Special and General) of relativity. Relevant but not actually written there I fancy.
    Liked BACKBREAKING and ELVISH. Had to confirm that the alcoholic GIMLET had lime and gin in it.
    Thought the musical places were always called conservatoires, which doesn’t work with the two rights, so pencilled in with the TORIES and looked up to confirm is OK.
    Never worked out BLACK ICE. Have heard of Calvin Klein but thought that was spelled KC!

  31. 26:08
    Good puzzle. A reasonably steady solve although I took Crack = Check on trust and needed William to explain LODGE.

    Thanks to William and the setter and best of luck to all taking part tomorrow.

  32. Another fairly tough one, but easier than yesterday’s. I plodded through in 50 minutes. For a long time I had gaps on the left-hand side, but BACKBREAKING opened up everything, and I almost raced home to the finish. A final change from VIRUS to VIRAL gave me LODGE.

  33. 27:54

    Steady solve with some question marks along the way:

    B(RIGHT)EST – didn’t get the flower reference at the time
    CHECKMATE – pencilled in from the start but the crack = CHECK was extremely random (judging by the number of solvers that didn’t get it)
    CLICKBAIT – LOI – clue could have done with an indicator that this was internetty – never heard of it in any other context

    COD to ELVISH with BLACK ICE a close second.

    Thanks William and setter

  34. 12:40
    NOT AT ALL a BACKBREAKING lead-up to the Championship.
    LOL ELVISH (echoing the Kirsty MacColl joke in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Soul Music’, which features a boy working down the fish shop who swears he’s Elvish).

  35. I forgot to say: Good luck to all taking part in the Championship tomorrow. I’ll raise a glass to those of you at the George from my Somerset lodgings (or more likely some other establishment serving suitable beverages)!

  36. 33 mins. KIRKYARD held me up at the end, looking for the wrong literal. Love the Pratchett ref, John.

  37. Late to the party today but I saw this one off in about 25 minutes.

    When I first started solving the 15×15 I used to dread Fridays as I’d inevitably grind to a halt with the ink in my pen untroubled. They still have a psychological hold over me, and whilst solving this relatively easy one I was waiting for the sting in the tail.

    Thankfully this one posed no problems, with no unknowns and with all clues parsed except for 9D.

    A nice mix of clues and an enjoyable solve so thanks to the setter, and to the blogger for the number crunching.

  38. 18.30 with LOI kirkyard. I thought it might be a sports venue at first. Glad I didn’t persevere along that route. Is practise the American spelling? No objection if it is, us Brits get plenty of home grown clues.

    No major issues so thanks setter and bloggger.

    1. My dentist practises at a dental practice. This is the usual British English spelling: c if it’s a noun, s if it’s a verb. Nothing to do with the USA, where they say what the hell and spell all of them with an s. No doubt in due course we will also, makes more sense.

  39. Dad was a teacher and must have helped many to pass English ‘O’ Level with his “‘C’ for C_ommon nouns” (i.e. not verbs), together with his other aide memoires….Hope this helps!

  40. Not bad for a Friday. NAIVE LOI – may be chestnut, but I don’t think I’ve seen it.


  41. A bit surprised the check/crack obscurity is so widely accepted with a slight shrug at the most. To be literally on the page but very widely off it in general practice or knowledge is not what’s wanted for a good crossword I’d have thought, which otherwise this is if on the easy side.

      1. I get the point, but wouldn’t a more sharply-angled clue be preferable to justification by dictionary rules of an easily guessable answer? I’m no clue-setter but something on the lines of, say -‘Obstruct an officer is the absolute end!’ – ?

    1. Much as I agree with you, you won’t get very far with that argument on here. The crossword seems designed these days only for those who have access to a full complement of dictionaries. And everyone seems to lap it up-although as an aside, quite what standing Merriam-Webster has in the UK, is a continuing subject of bemusement to me.

      A far far cry from the days when it should have been possible to complete the crossword on the daily commute, without having to pack a weighty dictionary into one’s briefcase.

      Ironically on the subject of dictionaries, I’m still wondering why nobody else hasn’t used one to point out that a bass isn’t a type of perch. One lives in hope. . .

      1. All of the usual source dictionaries (Collins, ODE/COED/SOED and Chambers) have entries supporting bass as a type of perch. It seems a little unlikely they would all be wrong, but if they are it’s not the setter’s fault.

  42. 26’50”
    Dwelt at the start, quickened home straight, stayed on well.
    All justified bar crack = check. I am still baffled; Collins (v) to crack or cause to crack … but what, and in what context ? Perhaps it is in the context of the cracked veneer.
    I’m very chuffed with four double digit Witches on the trot, today’s pleasingly matching the gramophone record; long players, EPs and singles being near impossible pipedreams.
    I’ll be keeping all digits crossed for all of you here in tomorrow’s classic getting a clear run.
    Thank you William and setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    1. Exactly the same definition given by Keriothe above is also no. 31 (not exactly the top of the hit parade!) in Dictionary.com: “a small crack, as one in veneer or one that occurs in timber during seasoning.” So veneer and timber are two contexts.
      But in another listing there it’s 42: “a small crack: There were several checks in the paint.,” which would be another.
      And 43 is “an egg, designated for market, having a slightly cracked shell and an intact inner membrane.”

  43. Only just finished as I have had a busy day. No one has mentioned it but robbery does not equal break-in if we want to be fussy. A robbery has to involve violence or the threat of violence to a person, which a break-in seldom does. ‘Theft’ or just ‘crime’ might have been better

  44. I liked it. Plus I was pleased with myself for backing in to two of them through whatever we call completely mis-reading the clue but having the mis-reading get to the right answer. Goofy parsing. (The two didn’t include Checkmate, which I got the correct way, check or no check).

    And good luck to all TftFs tomorrow – I hope you all finish in the top 10.

  45. Better late than never, I thought this was a tidy puzzle and although I failed to parse BEST and CHECK they seem fair to me. I presume the adjective CHECKED (as in patterned with small squares) derives from this meaning. Maybe “part of the theory of relativity” was a bit weak. Thanks for the blog.

  46. Yet another in the increasing number of crossies that look so obscure to me at first that I lose hope and the result is obvious…
    Looked blindly about for a “toe-in” but ended up cheating for my first! (Needed to get started – just proves the dispiriting effect is devastating !). When I eventually got underway, not too bad: I was aware of what I was looking for in 1a (another name for perch + 0 = singer), but was looking for the wrong kind of perch! And so forth…the sorry saga continued. Started to enjoy it eventually (especially ELVISH and NAIVE), but have to admit to 11 look-ups out of 27 answers. Maybe I need to lower my expectations 😩

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