Times 28761 – the end of the beginning

The third and easiest of the three Championship “heats” puzzles, I thought, I saved a few minutes against my allowance of twenty for this one.

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

EDIT: I had assumed this was the third puzzle in the Championship heats, as we were advised that this would be the Plan by the editor. But it doesn’t actually say so today. Could someone who was at the event (and can remember the puzzle!) please confirm or deny.
EDIT to edit: confirmed below this was puzzle 3 of the heat.

1 Pass through edges of thoroughfare packed with partygoers (8)
TRAVERSE – TE (edges of thoroughfare) with RAVERS inserted.
5 Front component removed from funny eyepiece (6)
10 Ignoring the odds, tell couple to run off together (5)
ELOPE – alternate letters as above.
11 Bird — a crow, say — possibly eating spiders at first (9)
CASSOWARY – (A CROW SAY)* with S[piders] inserted.
12 Cultured Liberal taken in by long set of policies (5,4)
PARTY LINE – PINE (long) has ARTY and L inserted.
13 The best European diet (5)
ELITE – E[uropean], LITE = diet as in e.g. Coke.
14 Gentleman left ring burning for some meat (7)
SIRLOIN – SIR (gentleman) L[eft], O (ring) IN (burning e.g. a fire is in).
16 Thick slice of bread I put safely back (6)
STUPID – hidden reversed.
18 Family-friendly car in close to immaculate condition (6)
ESTATE – E (end of immaculate) STATE (condition).
20 Exasperated PA losing head in front of journalist (7)
ANNOYED – PA here meaning public address system, TANNOY, loses its head
22 After knocking back ten, was the boss tipsy? (5)
OILED – OI (10 reversed) LED (was the boss).
23 Every single carriage fitted with extremely snazzy, comfy seat (4,5)
EASY CHAIR – EA (each, every) S[ingle], CHAIR (carriage as in sedan chair?) insert Y the end of snazzy.
25 Shelter to use here in a storm (9)
26 Festivities drag in the end, unfortunately (5)
GALAS – [dra]G, ALAS = unfortunately.
27 Bearing in mind love liberates hearts (6)
NOTING – NOTHING (love) loses H.
28 Unruly individual crude after drink? Indeed! (8)
TEARAWAY – TEA (drink) RAW (crude) AY (indeed!)
1 Step required to break lock and gain unlawful entry (8)
TRESPASS -TRESS (lock of hair) has PAS (step) inserted.
2 Grieve endlessly following a romantic affair (5)
3 Terribly nervy when on date, sometimes (5,3,3,4)
4 Piece of bagel placed in dry container (7)
SECTION – SEC (dry) TIN (container) insert O for bagel, zero in tennis.
6 You almost succeeded locating obscure novel (5,3,2,5)
7 Current facility supporting large debt (9)
LIABILITY – L[arge] I (current) ABILITY (facility).
8 Welsh chap inviting me in for chips and dips for two (6)
RHYMES – Welsh chap is RHYS, insert ME. Took me a while to see the definition after going through my list of Welshmen.
9 Valuable things like TVs? (6)
ASSETS – AS (like) SETS (TVs).
15 Tough soldiers not speaking about the final part of WWII (9)
RESILIENT – RE (soldiers) SILENT, insert I the end of WWII.
17 One horribly sad year, it seems to me (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY – I (one), (SAD YEAR)*.
19 Joke always largely upset square (4,2)
EVEN UP – all reversed, PUN (joke) EVE[r] = always largely.
20 Author mostly concerned with having no luxuries (7)
AUSTERE – AUSTE[n] = author mostly, RE = concerned with.
21 American city gift stores selling tat, primarily (6)
BOSTON – BOON (gift) with S T inserted.
24 Tolerate everything that hurts! (5)
ALLOW – ALL (everything) OW! that hurts.


100 comments on “Times 28761 – the end of the beginning”

  1. Oh, wow. Didn’t notice it was from the competition. This week’s puzzles seem to be getting easier every day! My eyes first alit on CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR. So I had to work the other 15-letter Down next, of course. That got me off to a flying start, and I only slowed down a bit in the bottom half. We’ve had Tannoy mentioned here before, but I put ANNOY in before I figured out the wordplay. OILED took a while to come, and TEARAWAY was my LOI.

  2. 16:25
    I wasted some time on LOI NOTING, trying and failing to parse it; rather dense of me. Biffed the two long downs, never parsed; in the case of 6d I didn’t read the clue until after ‘solving’.
    I parsed EASY CHAIR as EACH (every single) incorporating SY (extremely snazzy), + AIR (carriage).

    1. Was thinking like Pip of “carriage” as some sort of CHAIR when I threw in the answer but I find your parsing more convincing. I also took both the S and the Y from “snazzy.”

    2. Not that I worked out the EACH bit, but I certainly agree with S(nazz)Y and AIR for carriage.

  3. I agree with Guy. I thought I was on track for a much faster time than 36m 54s but I slowed down in the bottom half. The only part I was unfamiliar with was in 14ac ‘burning’ = ‘in’.
    I nearly put OCULUS for 5ac because the word reminds me of one of may favourite works of art, the oculus in the ‘camera degli sposi’ by Mantegna in Mantua. It’s VERY cheeky!

    1. I didn’t even notice that part of 14A. And didn’t notice that I didn’t notice it. But we’ve had that before, and I’ve come to accept it. If the fire can be out, then why (shrug) can’t it be in?
      You know, I usually resist biffing, have to parse, but guess sometimes the answer is just too obvious…

  4. For me this was a bit of a 50-50 puzzle, with quite a few going in quickly but others requiring a lot more effort. I finally got there in 32.44 and am grateful to piquet for a number that I could not parse, notably NOTING, TEARAWAY and PARTY LINE. OILED as tipsy I had NHO. I liked the two long anagrams and would probably award RHYMES COD.

  5. What an absolutely elegant crossword. I have just gone back over each clue to appreciate the surfaces. Thank you very much setter.

    1. Now that you mention it! Difficult to appreciate when you’re rushing through either to beat the clock or just because the answers flow so smoothly.

    2. Agreed – you only ever notice the really clunky clues, rather than a puzzle full of good clues. Can I ask a question about 14ac… is ring in the sense of a gas ring, as in a 1950s shilling-in-the-meter type tiny kitchen barely able to cook a fried egg and a slice of bacon at the same time?

          1. I was in your camp until I tried induction, and I will now be converting to induction when I replace my current kit.

              1. Takes a bit of getting used to. One slight problem is that my favourite frying pans are made of aluminium…

      1. Interesting. When I see ‘gas ring’ I immediately think of the device you mention, which was small and portable and plugged directly into a gas point, but it seems it can also apply to any of four burners to be found on a gas hob.

  6. 24 minutes. A few were sneaky like OILED and the not obvious ‘Piece’ def for SECTION, but otherwise not too difficult and I don’t imagine it caused those who tackled it in the Championship much trouble. Favourite was the surface and def for RHYMES.

  7. Raced thorough most of this with the whole of the top half solved immediately on first reading the clues. The SW was similar apart from EVEN UP but the SE needed more thinking about.

    30 minutes exactly.

  8. This was – for me at least – comfortably the least tricky of the first set, actually did this in a single pass as a breather before going back to the other 2. Having said that on re-solving I wouldn’t say I was that much quicker (came in just over 40 minutes for the 3 on the day) – perhaps solving on the train using a dodgy bluetooth keyboard that likes to double type certainnnnn (see) letters puts me on a par time-wise with the exam conditions of the champs. It certainly reduces my error count as I’m forever going back to remove spurious n’s

    Anyway, nothing of a particularly equine-aggressive nature – both long anagrams were biffed both times, as were quite a few others. As I said, a bit of a breather compared to the other 2

  9. 19:21 on this one so a lot better than yesterday. As several people have said already this was a pretty easy but fun puzzle.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  10. And yet upon these maxims meditate:
    All women dote upon an idle man
    Although their children need a rich Estate
    (Vacillation, Yeats)

    15 mins pre-brekker. Very nice, proper crossword. No MERs, no crosses and a couple of ticks. I especially like “chips and dips for two”.
    Ta setter and Pip

  11. “Was that rather easy?””Not half!”
    “CASSOWARY?””They’re just having a laugh!”
    To the setter we say
    Make it harder, we pray
    “Times of London” – not “Telegraph”

  12. Just over 5 minutes the second time. I’m pretty sure this was my quickest on the day too, certainly the only one I solved in one go.

  13. Was this a Championship puzzle? It wasn’t billed as such on my iPad and didn’t seem like one when I was solving it. And now my TffT login has gone and so has my cat. Never mind.

  14. 7:06 (take 2). This wasn’t announced as a championship puzzle on the club site and I forgot they were being published each Wednesday so I cracked straight on with it in ignorance that I’d solved it before. A couple of clues rang a vague bell but it wasn’t until I read piquet’s blog that I realised that I had solved it just a few weeks back. That would explain the time – a new entry in my SNITCH top 10 feels a bit of a cheat now!

  15. Record 12 mins for me. Went in almost as quickly as I could read them. Only OCULAR and BOSTON/NOTING put up any resistance.

  16. 11’42”, didn’t know it was a Championship puzzle. Not convinced about ‘burning’ for ‘in’. Spent some time seeking a long book title.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  17. O for bagel and IO for ten. Sneaky!
    Chips and dips for two – super definition although I would argue that is one rhyme.
    Lovely puzzle, thanks all.

    1. I would argue the same but, although ‘chips and dips for one’ works, it would mess up the plural answer.

      It would also mean that chips, dips and ships are two rhymes, which doesn’t seem right? Or would you say that’s still one rhyme? Or four (three doubles and a treble).

  18. Wow, as quick as I can go. 11.5 minutes, so about 64 minutes for the three competition puzzles. 6 down! And a full minute and a half at the end to get RHYMES, finally guessed the answer and saw Rhys around me. Everything else parsed as it was written in – I was an EACH AIR. And as others note, bottom was the harder half.
    Quite liked it, but too easy for the championships?

    1. Easy perhaps, but doing three crosswords in an hour, under pressure, is taxing and it was a nice morale booster, having left the first two partially completed, to get this one under my belt.

  19. 31 minutes having started like a bat out of hell in the NW. Delusions of adequacy slowly faded. LOIs NOTING and BOSTON. When did the phrase in 6d come to prominence? I wouldn’t have known it thirty years ago but now it’s a commonplace. I’d usually put a WELL in front of OILED to mean tipsy. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. My favourite use of 6d was in the letters page, where a letter – clearly aiming for the bottom right spot – had been placed one above it, with 6d as the heading (which The Times adds to your letter).

    2. Agreed. I first encountered it from a colleague a mere 3 years ago (just pre-Covid). But now it seems to be everywhere, including in crossword grids. It’s like when you change your car to a model you’d been unaware of: you suddenly see them everywhere.

    3. Eric Partridge, in his incomparable Dictionary of Catch Phrases, states that it is a US catch phrase, “used mostly in sporting contests” and dates it from c. 1930.

  20. 15 minutes, but with no real confidence that the unknown CASSOWARY was right. Also didn’t understand burning=in for SIRLOIN or bagel=O for SECTION (didn’t know the tennis term), though I’m sure they’ve come up before. Agree with Kevin’s parsing of EASY CHAIR.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Traverse
    LOI Cassowary
    COD Close but no cigar

    1. I first encountered a cassowary in London Zoo (labelled as such on the panel), in about 1960 and never forgot it. (Though I think this is first cruciverbal sighting for me.)

  21. 5:30, making my total for the three qualifiers 23:35, about half the time it took on the day.
    Definitely the easiest of the three, with two user-friendly long down clues. I recall BOSTON being my LOI then, as it was today.
    The paper version of the puzzle made it clear that this was one of the qualifiers.

  22. 8:02 this time. Yes I think it was the easiest of the 3 in the qualifier, although I think it took me a bit monger on the day. I remember enjoying it at the time and did so again today. Thanks Pip and setter.

  23. Yes, this is the third of the qualifier set, and a very elegant affair too.
    I found it easy today – not noticing I’d done it before! – we seem to get so many repeated clues nowadays.. but I don’t recall finding it all that easy on the day.
    In = burning a regular, almost a chestnut.

  24. FWIW regarding levels of toughness, the brief was basically just to do what you usually do and not to aim for difficulty just for difficulty’s sake.

    I was there on the day and took great pleasure in watching people breeze through it and then tell me it was the easiest of the three!

    1. You’re the setter? Excellent puzzle, thank-you 🙂 I asked a question a bit above about the use of “ring” in 14 ac… is that a gas ring in the surface? Seen in Len Deighton books, not used down here.

      1. For those who may not know, Jalna is a regular setter of Quick Cryptics with 28 puzzles to his (?) credit since August 2019.

      2. As luck would have it, that is one of the clues that was edited from my original submission. I assume that the surface is implying a gas ring, though, yes 🙂

        Many thanks for the kind comments (here and everywhere else). Much appreciated.

    2. Thank you for an excellent puzzle – beautiful surfaces – not sure if it was easy just flew in for me today, the mystical wavelength thing 😊

  25. Had forgotten the Wednesday economy of rehashing the Champs, and it’s not so shown online. Perhaps for that reason, I felt no pressure, and whizzed through in 13.19, which would have meant a total time of around 1 hour 6.
    When I eat a bagel, it’s with smoked salmon and cream cheese, so resembles more of an enormous full stop than an O, but I’m not that fussed. But we also had a ring, a love (which turned out not to be O) and were lucky not to have a monocle as part of 5. O tempora!
    As sawbill suggests, it’s very easy to miss the prettiness of these clues in the push to finish, but pretty they are. Well played setter.

  26. Like others found this very straightforward but also a nicely presented puzzle. About 18′ which is very quick for me, not quite PB but close. The use of PA as (t)ANNOY was fun, maybe a chestnut, but new to me. One or two I forgot to parse along the way but were write-ins. Hadn’t realised it was an (albeit easy) championship puzzle, doesn’t make it any more likely that I’d ever enter! Thanks Piquet and setter .

  27. 15 minutes all told and at present this is about as fast as I can go. I didn’t parse most of the clues along the way as I was mindful of trying to complete it quickly, and this saved quite a bit of time. I do prefer a long steady solve though so I might abandon my new found need for speed…

    I agree that this is by far the easiest of the championship puzzles, with no unknowns, and I doubt this troubled the speedsters for more than a few minutes.

    An enjoyable solve though so thanks to the setter and blogger.

  28. 17:58

    Got to admit I failed to notice that this was a Championship puzzle and didn’t really recognise the clues either, though I did think I had seen CASSOWARY and TREEHOUSE (which I thought at the time was a slightly odd, if correct, definition for a shelter) recently. On the day, I did find the third of the three qualifiers much easier than the other two.

    1. I had the same thought about TREEHOUSE. In the overwhelming majority of cases if the occupants really wanted an effective shelter they would just go back into the house!

      1. There is something rather fine about watching the elements doing their worst while you yourself are under cover. Houses don’t quite deliver this, but tents and treehouses do ..

  29. I was quite pleased with my 28 minutes until I looked at some of the times. It never occurred to me that this was a Championship puzzle for two reasons: the digital version didn’t tell us that it was (and I’d forgotten that it was a Wednesday), and the fact that Verlaine bothered to do it. Agree that this was good. CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR we’ve had before: it’s not in Chambers and although it’s in Collins there is no mention of the ‘close’, which I should have thought was the important part of it.

      1. As I said: ‘it’s not in Chambers and although it’s in Collins there is no mention of the ‘close’, which I should have thought was the important part of it.’

          1. I seem to be getting an awful lot of stick for this, which I can’t understand. All I said was that CBNC wasn’t in Chambers (which is true) and that although it’s in Collins (also true) there is no mention of the closeness idea.

  30. As Sawbill says, a really elegant puzzle. I started in the NW with 1A and worked my way down and across the grid, but got held up in the SW corner with OILED and BOSTON, having initially thought of Austin, which meant I couldn’t think of any other cities. I decided early on that this couldn’t be a Championship puzzle after all, so the pressure was definitely off, which was a good thing, but it still took at least half an hour, so I won’t be entering any time soon!

  31. This was certainly the easiest of the competition puzzles by some distance I thought, and an enjoyable one to solve. The thing I like about this quality of puzzle is that the parsing is so clear, and you are left in no doubt that you have correctly solved the clue. So often, in my case at least, an answer goes in with fingers crossed.
    My time for this was 33.35 nicely inside my 45 minute target with my LOI being NOTING.

    1. Yes, you’re right about the parsing – I do hate it when I can’t be sure if an answer is right or not.

  32. Fun. I solved on paper but as so often didn’t bother to read the heavy type message that this was a Qualifier.
    20d AUSTERE biffed; I never saw jane AUSTEn. Doh! Thought Sterne might come into it somewhere, and moved on.
    As others a bit surprised by def of TREEHOUSE as shelter. House fell out instantly from the anagrist, but I spent a while with TERE before the tree hit me. Doh!

  33. 20 minutes, which gave me a momentary glimpse into the elite solver lounge – but the door slammed as I realised it probably would have taken me twice as long had I made the trek from the far north to experience competition pressure, and that this was the easiest of all the puzzles.

    Since solving, I have been going back over every clue and savouring the genius of this setter’s work. Beautiful. Thanks setter and Pip.

  34. Did not realise this was a championship puzzle, but was pleased with my 34 mins anyway.

    I took “o” ring from mechanics, a kind of gasket. I liked the two long clues and I DARE SAY.

    Much to like and all has been mentioned , really.

    Thanks pip and setter.

      1. Agreed. It mattered not to my parsing … but one has to admit post facto that nevertheless it conveniently and deceptively fits the surface all too well.

  35. I solved this eartly afternoon on my PC by which time the Club site advised that this was a championship puzzle. I set off at a gallop in the top half, then slowed a bit as I descended the grid. TREEHOUSE was delayed by a biffed EVERY NOW AND AGAN, which I eventually noticed didn’t quite fit. Otherwise no particular holdups and I finished with LIABILITY. 15:55. Thanks setter and Pip.

  36. 32:31. I would have been quicker, but for my LOI RHYMES. My brain was stuck on DAI as the only Welshman in crosswordland, and I has to pause whilst my subconscious worked on the problem, and finally gave me RHYS. I biffed NOTING, but could not see how it worked, and was pleased to finish without pink squares. Thanks for the blog, which made sense of it.
    5a reminded me of the lines from Patience – “ I’ll tell him that unless he will consent to be more jocular, To cut his curly hair and stick an eyeglass in his ocular, …”

  37. 27’30”
    Steady pace throughout, never nearer.

    Whilst the pace has been more than somewhat leisurely, there is a pleasing symmetry to my times; the final puzzle completed in the 50s and the qualifiers in the 40s, 30s and 20s respectively. Are we now in for the knottier propositions of the semi-final puzzles in this slot, I wonder ?
    I thought this a very elegantly presented dish, with just the right amount of seasoning to add a little spice; the returning ten, the bagel and the other Welshman. It all pleased me, particularly not(h)ing.
    Well done and thank you Jalna, I think you fulfilled your brief admirably, and thank you Pip.

  38. Wow – flew through this in 13 minutes so would have had a little bit of time to try the blanks I was left with on the previous two (5 and3respectively). On this basis I think I’d have scored something like 83-85 on the day so very much a 6 down😊

    Thanks pip and setter

  39. 27.20 Quick for me. OCULAR as a noun was unknown. Last two in were STUPID – mocking my inability to spot hiddens – and LIABILITY, which should have been obvious. It was fun. Thanks piquet and Jalna.

  40. Gave it my standard hour and fell four short – unable to get RHYMES, LIABILITY, BOSTON, NOTHING. Arguably I might have alphabet trawled my way to those if I could be bothered. Would have got RHYMES if I’d thought of RHYS and LIABILITY is the simplest of the four. I found it hard to get into, the NW a little easier as others have said but otherwise I had to slog my way round – none of it coming easily after the low hanging fruit had been picked.

      1. Thanks CO. I think I was a bit miffed as I’ve solved four 15x15s with a PB of 37mins (others 48, 53, 53) – so with this snitching at 67 I wasn’t expecting to struggle round like I did. Anyway I’m over myself now!

  41. At my level it was nice to solve a Championship Crossword even if it was on the easier side.

  42. 14:51 for me but 3 mins of that was spent on the last 3 answers: RHYMES, NOTING and BOSTON. A relatively straightforward one today.

  43. Very easy, under 29 minutes, and nothing gave me any trouble at all except the parsing of NOTING and perhaps TEARAWAY, my last two in. I liked RHYMES and the bagel in 4dn.

  44. Got most of this but NHO Cassowary – and please can someone explain “Close but no cigar” (which I biffed but hadn’t come across the phrase before)?
    Thanks again to all contributors.

    1. I always thought it referred to fairground or amusement park games, like shooting galleries or ringtoss, where in the old days a cigar was often one of the prizes. So, CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR, was a nice way of saying to the customer you almost won, try again!

  45. I filled in so many answers on the first pass that I thought it must be the QC. All done in 16 minutes without any heavy breathing, and then saw the small print reminding me it was a competition qualifier. Agree with AndyPandy about the clarity of the parsing. A very satisfying exercise.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors, including the setter who has dared to raise his head above the parapet.

    1. I had exactly the same experience, Ucalegon, thinking that there was a mistaken entry from the quickie at first, (which btw I’ve never seen nor solved – the only crossword I’ve time to do is the TftT!), as I raced through the top 2/3 basically. But had a pause at NOTING, which I wish now I’d remembered that I’d seen before, and BOSTON, forgetting ‘boon’ as’gift’. Also a bit slower to see RHYS as the duty Welshman, but liking it a lot when I did. Thank you Jalna for the confidence-building, and Piquet for the blog.

  46. A poor performance by me – 25’41”. I raced through the first three-quarters, but then ran out of steam. LOI RHYMES

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