Times 28755 – we’re still warming up

The second puzzle in the heat of the Crossword Competition, I thought slightly less ‘hot’ than the first; I’d have just fitted it into a twenty-minute slot if pushed to hurry and skip some parsing. Nothing really delayed me, although I was thinking something hen-like was involved in the “many layers” for a minute or two.

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

1 Road with a bend towards farm building, reportedly (8)
AUTOBAHN – A, U (bend) TO[wards] BAHN sounds like barn.
5 Break into post office quickly (6)
PRESTO – REST (break) inside PO.
9 Go downhill and almost slip? (3)
SKI -almost SKID.
10 Old item in kitchen with power to make drink (6,5)
ORANGE JUICE – O[ld], RANGE (in kitchen), JUICE = power colloq.
12 Sum of money — small one — seized by young lady (5,5)
GRAND TOTAL – RAND is a currency, money, TOT a small one all inside GAL.
13 Payment to acquire lead from roof on the house (4)
FREE – FEE with R[oof] inside.
15 Look around globe, turning every direction but north (6)
BROWSE – ORB turning = BRO, then WSE all directions except N.
16 Mutter about pinching piano and another instrument (7)
TRUMPET – P inside (MUTTER)*.
18 Ruler with no charm, unfortunately (7)
20 Stupid hairdo ultimately a mullet, perhaps (6)
OAFISH – [haird]O, A FISH = a mullet perhaps.
23 A bit of remorse when backing City (4)
ROME – hidden reversed as above.
24 Soft muscle injur\\\y when cutting grass (10)
RESTRAINED – STRAIN inside REED = grass.
26 Guardian to print a novel involving US spies (6,5)
PATRON SAINT – insert NSA (US spies, National Security Agency) into (TO PRINT A)*. No CIA involved here.
27 Ready to move lightly, shedding pounds (3)
FIT – FLIT loses L.
28 Outskirts of resort wiped out? Fine! (6)
RIGHTO – [B]RIGHTO[N]. I thought it was RIGHT-HO, but not in this case.
29 Sentimental act around river close to estuary (4-4)
DEWY-EYED – DEED (act) around [river] WYE and [estuar]Y.
1 Task fool with singing occasionally (6)
ASSIGN – ASS (fool), s I n G i N g.
2 Greeting in moving train results in nothing? (4,3)
THIN AIR – HI inside (TRAIN)*.
3 Sibling notices news chopper? (10)
BROADSWORD – BRO[ther], ADS (notices), WORD = news.
4 Come this way, ignoring Republican and Liberal Society completely (4,4,5)
HEAD OVER HEELS – HEAD OVER HE[R]E = come this way, , L, S.
6 Eastern ruler upset a king? Yes, in Germany (4)
RAJA – A R (king) reversed = RA, JA German for yes.
7 Satisfied noise from cat — it’s turned over footrest (7)
STIRRUP -all reversed, PURR, ITS.
8 Oscar allowed in to dispense food (8)
OMELETTE – O (oscar) METE = dispense, insert LET = allowed.
11 One with shell shock gets into a riot (5,8)
14 Advertisement by railway that has many layers? (4,6)
PUFF PASTRY – PUFF (advertisement), PAST (by) RY (railway).
17 One catching mischievous children is unacceptable! (8)
IMPROPER – an IMP ROPER could be someone who catches mischievous children.
19 Picked up box office chap’s ID (4,3)
NAME TAG – Reversed (picked UP), GATE MAN the chap in a box office.
21 Insect? Shudder at first, then run off (7)
22 Not the same computers carried by men? (6)
EDITED – two men, ED and ED, have IT inside.
25 Source of trail for the auditors (4)
ROOT – sounds like ROUTE.


52 comments on “Times 28755 – we’re still warming up”

  1. 34 minutes. Dead easy until breeze-blocked in the SE corner by SANDFLY, ROOT, FIT and EDITED.

    1. I had a similar experience, except that after that I just couldn’t see ROOT, and gave up after 40 minutes. I’m really terrible when I don’t have the first letter of a word…

    2. I had the same experience “on the day”. This was quite a bit easier than Puzzle 1, which I left uncompleted to come back to later, and I got through the majority in 10 mins or so. Then I was left with an insect beginning S_N, and a word for sentimental with _E_Y-_Y__, neither of which seemed likely. I ended up trawling through the alphabet before coming up with sandfly, after which it all came together very quickly. Strangely, I parsed the Brighton clue on the day but not this morning! About 15 mins on the day, and 6 mins today without leaderboard. COD to OAFISH, and dodgy homophone of the day to AUTOBAHN.

  2. I wonder whether I’m the first to post from Kazakhstan? In Astana for business and woke up early due to jet-lag and thought the crossword might help me sleep. It didn’t.
    I enjoyed this one. Almost done in 15 mins then took another 22 to finish the SE corner; same struggles as jackkt.
    Too late to go back to sleep now, might as well get up.

  3. The SE hung me up too, for much too long after breezing thru the rest.
    (Still waiting for ink delivery.)
    POI EDITED (of all things), LOI RESTRAINED, but I would have had that much sooner if I hadn’t committed a word-length typo, absent-mindedly typing HILLS for HEELS—pretty goofy!

    1. FWIW, Guy, I got to doing the on-line version for reasons which don’t matter, and after a couple weeks have found that unless it’s a stinker I’m just as happy saving a tree or two, not to mention pen or printer ink. I was surprised.

      1. Well, I’m getting faster at the online interface, so it’s not so bad. But the weekday puzzles come in after I’ve already sat for a whole day at my desk, staring at a screen. And I like to doodle too!

  4. DNF
    Could almost have made it in 20′ if I had thought of ROOT, but after a couple of minutes of alphabet trawling, where I may have overlooked R, I said the hell with it. Never parsed PATRON SAINT, RIGHTO, or HEAD OVER HEELS.

    1. Got entangled in ROOT for way too long at the end. Finally brute forced it, giving me a time twelve seconds outside the magic 20’…

  5. Almost done in 20 minutes. FIT was slow but it was BROADSWORD and BROWSE after that – hung up on sibling being blood rather than a simple bro. And LOI needing a full alphabet trawl was ROOT, just couldn’t see it, like Kevin and flasky.
    So now I have about 7 minutes left for next week’s puzzle, to sneak in under the hour. Not going to worry Verlaine any time soon.

  6. I’m definitely not qualified for the championship. I messed up my solve by putting great tortoise, not checking all the anagram letters. This naturally made grand total my LOI, when I finally decided to check. Dewy-eyed was also difficult, until I tried using short English rivers instead of just R.

    Time: 52 minutes

  7. Too many whiskies waiting for the US mid-term election results to beging to gel for me to ever have a chance at Root, but either my innate wit or all the whiskies made the Imp Roper highly amusing. Well done, setter. Overall I’m in full agreement with Pip though: nice puzzle, but didn’t seem Championship-like sharp-edged.

  8. This took me about 10 minutes, which I think is longer than the first time! I got completely stuck in the SE: couldn’t remember any of the answers so had to work them all out again from scratch.

    1. I was about halfway through before I realised this was one of the qualifiers. And even when that penny dropped I still took forever over GRAND TOTAL.

      1. I think this is another example of that phenomenon in the championship whereby if you leave one puzzle and solve another (as I did with this one) some sort of subconscious process makes the first one easier when you come back to it. I solved all three of these puzzles in about 27 minutes on the day and I didn’t find this one the hardest, so I really do think I was slower on it this morning.

  9. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible
    (1 Corinthians 15:52)

    A 20 min twinkling of an eye pre-brekker left the last trump, Grand Total, which took a few mins. I was convinced the “Sum of money” was the Grand.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  10. 19’12”, pleased after a dnf on the first one. As noted, SE more tricky.

    A few gimmes, PRESTO, RAJA, ROME, really helped. Biffed TRUMPET.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  11. Took me 32 minutes so I can forget the championship for a while 😉 The last 2 or 3 of those minutes were my LOI ROOT which took me an alphabet trawl.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  12. Thrown by the level of misdirection in 12A – thinking a sum of money was a GRAND and trying to convince myself that GRAND WOMAN was a thing.

    1. From what I can remember that was the subject of quite a bit of discussion after the session

  13. 38 minutes, with LOI ROOT, almost good enough for the championship. PATRON SAINT was a biff, as I didn’t think of the NSA, if I knew it. I think St Jude, patron saint of lost causes, gave me the parsing of RIGHTO. COD to PUFF PASTRY. I could just go a vanilla slice now, even if I have to call it a millefeuille round here to get one. A bit easier than I expected. Thank you Pip and setter(s).

  14. Over the hour after starting quite quickly but, like Jack and others, came to a grinding halt in the SE. Last two in, SANDFLY and FIT, after finally seeing DEWY-EYED. Oddly, I didn’t have a problem with ROOT.

    At 4d Pip I think it’s HEAD OVER HERE=come this way which then loses its R.

    I liked THIN AIR, OMELETTE and BROWSE. I’m another who won’t be worrying Verlaine soon!

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  15. 14:47 the second time around… probably slower than when I did it on the day and getting stuck again everywhere I did before, with e.g. GRAND TOTAL and SANDFLY holding me up. Thanks Pip and setter.

  16. 12:15, probably only slightly better than on the day, when I averaged 16 minutes.
    Once again, I have no recollection at all of several of these clues, though I do recall wondering why SANDFLY had a question mark in the definition.
    LOI last time AUTOBAHN, this time FIT.

  17. 34:47. A nice simple one, except for the hard bits, especially ROOT. Hats off to GRAND TOTAL, a splendid clue, my last one in. Like others, I had to resist the temptation of GRAND WOMAN. I enjoyed the IMP ROPER and RIGHTO

  18. 48:09
    SE corner … I thought I was done for, having stared at it for 15 minutes, and then it all fell into place in a few seconds. Why can’t I just cut straight to the bit where I see it? It’s not as if I’m working towards the answers in the staring phase – it’s just blank bafflement.
    Thanks, pip.

    1. You might believe that you’re just staring at the clues but, behind the scene, your brain cells are up to something without you being aware of it. Strange how it (usually) works.

  19. Forgetting it was a champer, I flew into this one thinking I’d stumbled into a slightly larger Quickie, until struggling with DEWY EYED, the fine SW, and eventually GRAND TOTAL a mantlepiece of misdirection. GATEMAN <, Robert Helpman, the scariest character in children's cinema history, and the ever-popular bRIGHTOn made all worthwhile.
    Just outside the necessary 20 minutes.

    1. I did something similar, but in reverse. Knowing a ‘champer’ was coming, I avoided the comment at the top of the pdf.
      Last week the comment highlighting the mistakes slowed me up by making me check for traps. It worked; much quicker today.

  20. More evidence if required as to why I didn’t waste the train fare to London.

    I raced through 3/4 of this crossword in no time at all before grinding to a halt in the SE corner.

    SANDFLY and DEWY EYED held me up for a few minutes but I was still on for a good time until 27A raised its head.

    I decided quite early on that the answer was FEE, with “to move lightly” being FEEL, as in to feel your way around a room. This of course made 22D an impossible solve.

    Sense did prevail eventually, but 30 minutes or there abouts is not exactly championship standard and I will stay firmly in my box for the time being.

    A nice easy-medium puzzle though so thanks to the setter and blogger.

  21. 23.32

    This took me a little longer than last week’s. Like others got bogged down in the SE but not helped by bunging in a confident AUTOBARN for starters 🫣 which held up the HEELS clue.

    Thanks Pip and setter

  22. Great puzzle. Never noticed it was a “champer”. Liked bRIGHTOn, DEWY EYED. Never fully parsed PATRON SAINT; had forgotten looking up the NSA a few months ago, for another puzzle I imagine. Anyway I had ANS rather than NSA left over because of the way I cancelled the letters.

  23. 27 mins but needed help for the difficult SE so I’ll pass on the championships as well!

  24. I see from the SNITCH site that my average completion time is improving at the rate of about 1 minute per year. Give me another 20 years and I’ll give Verlaine a run for his money.

  25. Pretty much the same experience as most others above, racing through several across clues and wondering if all the others were going to be that easy. But of course I got hung up on the SE for the longest time having trouble with DEWY-EYED, SANDFLY, and just grinding to a halt for some 20 mins on LOsI FIT and EDITED, even though I’d already thought of one random Ed. Once RIGHTO went in, ROOT was obvious, but those two were also late into the grid. All parsed as I went (since there was no point in timing myself) except PATRON SAINT, after discovering the CIA were not represented!

  26. 25′ with one left, then DNF after 5 mins looking at it. Like a few others I got GRAND easily enough but fell for the misdirection and ran out of gas trying to find alternatives for Dame/Lady. Also wasted a bit of time trying to force CIA into 26a. Enjoyed it nevertheless. Liked AUTOBAHN, even though it doesn’t quite work for rhotic Scots like me. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  27. 21.30 but in the heat of battle the bottom segment might have induced panic. A few difficulties down there. Didn’t recognise NSA in patron saint and wasn’t entirely sure till I got name tag and righto- my COD.

    Dewy eyed finally did the trick with sandfly, edited and restrained finishing matters. Edited was particularly troublesome as I was convinced men would be OR. A reminder not to get too comfortable with particular abbreviations.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  28. After last week’s utterly pathetic performance this wasn’t much better, as I became stuck on several and needed aids. Even with these I took 54 minutes. Difficult to parse GRAND TOTAL. NSA NHO. SANDFLY also HHO (hardly). I was looking for S + a six-letter word for run off. ROOT my LOI.

  29. Two goes needed, with PATRON SAINT (I need to remember NSA as an alternative to CIA) and eventually ROOT falling into place on the second attempt.

    Had been fairly quick until then. I resisted the temptation to biff ‘pronto’ for 5a and didn’t fully parse HEAD OVER HEELS, but no other problems.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Ski
    LOI Root
    CODs Patron saint / Omelette

  30. 16:59

    Didn’t complete this on the day (in my view it was a tad easier than the first one printed last Wednesday) and I’ll admit to remembering a few of the answers that I did manage. Pleased to get it over the line – under 20 mins at the second attempt! – but still didn’t manage to parse RIGHTO in flight.

  31. 36’40”
    Good early pace, stayed on well.

    I was delighted just to complete the final puzzle, and also last week’s tricky offering, so I’m cock-a-hoop to have done this in a smidgeon over my par.
    All parsed en route and all familiar, as NSA came back to me while I was alphabet trawling to root out something to replace an unjustifiable font. Ten minutes to do the third; the only hitch being that it is a negative ten minutes.
    Very enjoyable; thank you setter and Pip.

  32. I didn’t notice this was a championship puzzle until I was almost finished. BROADSWORD had delayed me for a while, but it was ROOT and LOI, GRAND TOTAL that took me from around 25 minutes to 34:55. I’d been trying to make FONT sound like some sort of trail, but fortunately kept worrying at it. It wasn’t until I stopped looking at GRAND as the sum of money and tried GAL as the young lady that I lifted and separated correctly to get GRAND TOTAL. 34:55. Thanks setter and Pip.

  33. Knowing it’s a championship puzzle slows me down at the start, because I’m worried it’s going to be harder than it normally turns out to be. Then I take courage when I see it’s not so bad. Crept in just under the 30 mark, with ROOT taking up five minutes at the end. Many thanks.

  34. Same experience as many others: sailed happily through the top 3/4, came unstuck in the SE. But thoroughly enjoyable, with IMPROPER and OAFISH CODs

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