Times 28768 – deja vu

Time taken: 8:47.  I may have been on the setter’s wavelength because my time seems a little faster than the average of the early solvers.  I really enjoyed this one, there’s three unusual pieces of wordplay and I like it when these little-used devices come into play.

How did you get along?

1 Foil employer who erects barriers? (6)
FENCER – double definition, for the combat sport and home handyperson
5 Ill after start of fast? Get medicine here (8)
PHARMACY – HARM(ill) inserted after the first letter of PACY(fast). First piece of unusual wordplay – we don’t see this sort of containment indicator often
9 Star actor I recast as Dracula, say (10)
ARISTOCRAT – anagram of STAR,ACTOR,I – Dracula was a count
10 Kind of weight that a horse finally brought down (4)
TROY – double definition for the system of weights, and the city with the gift horse
11 Split personality, for example, in tattered raincoat (8)
CROATIAN – anagram of RAINCOAT.  The last daily puzzle I blogged used “Split personality” as a definition for DALMATIAN so I was right on to this
12 Love one part of school that’s stupid (6)
OAFISH – O(love), then one part of school is A FISH. I originally had one=A, but as pointed out in the comments, that convention isn’t used in the Times. I was in Mephistoland a few days early.
13 Surrounded by maidens, surrounded by helping hands (4)
AMID – M(maiden overs) inside AID(helping hands)
15 The main challenges for sopranos, as you can hear (4,4)
HIGH SEAS – sounds like HIGH C’S (challenges for sopranos)
18 Old soldier turning in torn decoration (8)
ORNAMENT – O(old), then MAN(soldier) reversed inside RENT(torn)
19 Being behind, with others going back (4)
LATE – ET AL(with others) reversed
21 Spirits raised after swallowing a litre (6)
MORALE – MORE(raised) containing A,L(litre)
23 Dawn to stand up and boast (8)
COCKCROW – COCK(stand up) and CROW(boast)
25 Grave situation from doctor’s perspective (4)
TOMB – the situation from a doctor’s perspective could be TO MB
26 One group in difficulty that’s always ready to ignite (5,5)
PILOT LIGHT – I(one), LOT(group) inside PLIGHT(difficulty)
27 Overeat a lot around a time for celebration (8)
HOGMANAY – HOG(overeat), MANY(a lot) surrounding A.  Anyone else think of Terry Pratchett here?
28 Like unsatisfied consumer taking article from European country (6)
HUNGRY – remove A(article) from HUNGARY(European country)
2 English educational foundation embraces old fallacy (5)
ERROR – E(English) and RRR(the three R’s, educational foundation) surrounding O(old)
3 Like novelist, runs into accountant who was unbelievably accurate? (9)
CASSANDRA – AS(like) the novelist George SAND, and R(runs) inside CA(Chartered Accountant)
4 One of four men initially on board that is neophyte (6)
ROOKIE – ROOK(one of four on a chess board), IE(that is)
5 How numbers of letters appear here to bring up one demand they oddly put about (15)
PARENTHETICALLY – PARENT(bring up), then I(one), CALL(demand) inside an anagram of THEY.  Definition referring to the enumeration after clues.
6 Even if a learner pondered, not reaching conclusion (8)
ALTHOUGH – A, L(learner), THOUGHT(pondered) minus the last letter
7 After short time, like fiddle that’s taken up theme (5)
MOTIF – MO(short time) then FIT as a fiddle reversed
8 Eccentric co-stars in part of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (9)
14 Visitor to China has nothing to pack up before game (5,4)
MARCO POLO – O(nothing) and CRAM(pack) reversed before POLO(game)
16 In part, take French or Spanish translation for the anthology (9)
SELECTION – fun wordplay part 2: LE or EL(“the” in French or Spanish) inside SECTION(part)
17 Saint subject to criticism? That’s child’s play (5,3)
PETER PAN – Saint PETER, then PAN(subject to criticism)
20 Put the lid on strong drink (6)
SCOTCH – double definition
22 Former American student briefly holding British record (5)
ALBUM – ALUM(former American student briefly) containing B(British)
24 Further letters after one or two from female or male relative (5)
OTHER – quirky wordplay #3 – remove one letter from MOTHER or two from BROTHER

93 comments on “Times 28768 – deja vu”

  1. Thanks to an unusual bout of insomnia I found myself awake in the wee hours and in my wisdom I decided to do battle with the crossword rather than count sheep.

    Although I didn’t find this nearly as easy as George, I agree that it was an enjoyable solve with some nice wordplay and I was happy to finish without any errors in 50 or so minutes.

    Another excellent crossword this week and I look forward to attempting Friday’s offering, albeit hopefully not for another 30 hours or so.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger.

    1. You and me both; I’m putting it down to one of Astro-Nowt’s syzygies.
      I was curious to see what happened in these parts when I’m usually stupefied with sleep or drink. Not as much as I’d guessed, it seems.

  2. This felt very fresh! It looked harder than it turned out to be after I took a break for turkey/apple/brie/Dijon on a big crunchy CROISSANT. Basically worked clockwise from the SW, ending quite neatly with the last Across and the last Down.

    1. Thank you for you appreciation of my “mock-baroque” musical homework.
      The Delerue is in D (probably as a mark of respect to the ancient Bach trumpet, tuned in D), the Burgon C, but both seem to be scored for piccolo (in B flat up an octave) trumpet, which is very pretty. Burgon uses only one, but Delerue four; for volume. You cannot blow hard into its tiny tubes, unless you want to risk passing out.

      1. Interesting, but I think you meant to reply to someone else.

        I did a Google search on your name and Delerue and found that you meant this to go to someone commenting on yesterday’s 15×15.
        Mystery solved.

      2. [Now off-topic, but thanks for the further information. I was interested to read in Wikipedia that the trumpet solo in “Penny Lane” was played on a piccolo trumpet after Paul McCartney had heard one in a performance of the second Brandenburg Concerto. He mentioned this to George Martin and the same trumpet player then played the solo on “Penny Lane”.]

        1. There’s a legend, which turns out to be true, that trumpeter David Mason objected that the impossibly high note in Penny Lane was “officially out of the range of the piccolo trumpet even.” Then played it anyway, perfectly and first (and only) take.

  3. 30’20”
    Sharply out of the gate, stayed on under pressure.

    Double digit nitch ‘n’ witch, but I don’t think the Snitch will cling on to the 90s for long. All parsed and familiar, but alum. I had to surmise as being a plausible stateside curtailment.
    I do not recall Miss H. munching pastries (Guy’s pastry sounds as though it contains enough sustenance for an entire day); I only remember her gazing in at the window. Perhaps she had one in a paper bag. She did well with Moon River; I can vouch for it being tricky on a ukulele.
    My brother is a fencer, or rather a hedger of fields, not funds, with birch and such like.
    Lots to like; thank you setter and George.

  4. Good to see the man on the board called a rook not a castle, though Astronowt might complain.

    1. Only when he’s got company, according to my Grandad:
      If you see a load of crows, they’re rooks.
      A lone rook isn’t, he’s a crow.

      1. Dictionaries say a single crow can be called a “rook.” But that’s an intriguingly unusual concept. Like maybe there could be a special name for an owl that applied only if it were among a “parliament” in session.

        1. I think the idea is just that rooks and crows look very similar but crows are solitary whereas rooks flock together, which is how you can tell which is which.

          1. OIC
            But a rook is a kind of crow, “a member of the crow family,” which are all said to be “gregarious.” I guess some may be more gregarious than others.

            1. Big family, the corvidae. From Wikipedia:
              “The rook is generally gregarious and the crow largely solitary, but rooks occasionally nest in isolated trees, and crows may feed with rooks; moreover, crows are often sociable in winter roosts.”

            2. I can’t vouch for the truth of the aphorism, which I’ve heard in various forms over the years, but that’s what I’ve always taken it to mean. It is of absolutely no use in helping to remember which is which!

          2. Giveaway is the pale colour of a rook’s beak. Used to see lots of them when I was young but now invisible where I live.

  5. My last answer went in just as 60 minutes came up on the clock. A very enjoyable solve, but not at all easy and I found some of the LH a lot harder than the RH.

    I’ve no criticisms, but I noted the definition in 8dn would surely have merited a question mark on any other day – it seems to be crying out for one. I didn’t know the American abbreviation of ‘alumnus’ at 22dn so I was wondering about ‘briefly’ apparently indicating the removal of 3 letters instead of the customary one.

    Later Edit: My third point no longer applies because sawbill’s comment immediately below has negated it, but I leave it here as it serves to remind us of a Times convention that may or may not still apply anyway: 12ac breaks a Times House Style rule as stated by Peter B in 2008: One – “one” in a clue can indicate I in an answer, but not A. It didn’t bother me when solving because I am used to The Guardian doing it all the time, but although not without precedence in a Times puzzle, it’s a very rare occurrence.

    1. I had the same reaction as you whilst soving 12a but I now think that it should be read together as ‘one part of school’ is ‘a fish’.
      Enjoyed the crossword in my usual time.

      1. Oh yes, that works! Many thanks. I’m so used to lifting and separating that I forgot it doesn’t always have to apply.

  6. Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
    Was there another Troy for her to burn?
    (No Second Troy, Yeats)

    30 mins pre-brekker with the last five struggling to construct Croissant of all things, which then gave me Troy.
    Brilliant puzzle IMO. I especially liked Croissant when I got it.
    Ta setter and G.

  7. 35 minutes. I liked the “three unusual pieces of wordplay” even if PHARMACY went in from the def with a “?”. I didn’t know what ‘at Tiffany’s’ was doing in 8d (I see Jack’s comment) and had to look up the relation of CROISSANT to the film, as alluded to by IPdO (I’m lazy), afterwards; it really did put the ‘breakfast’ in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Another one I looked up afterwards was CASSANDRA and the significance of ‘unbelievable’ so a few things learnt as well.

  8. Unusually I’ve complete before heading to golf, 30′ with about half done before a long hiatus of nothingness until PARENTHETICALLY came and opened up the rest of the puzzle. Quite enjoyed Croatian, I’ve not done this long enough to have chestnuts if it is one. thanks GLH and setter.

  9. 51m 12s
    Re 15ac, ‘HIGH SEAS’ here’s Pavarotti bringing the house down at the Met in 1972 with 9 of them in the aria “Ah, Mes Amis” from “La Fille du Regiment”:
    I thought this puzzle was very good, too. I particularly liked 11ac, ‘Split personality’ and, most of all, ‘TROY’ in 10ac. Oh, and a runner’s-up award to PILOT LIGHT in 26ac.
    Thank you, George.

  10. 34 minutes with LOI TOMB. COD to CROISSANT. An enjoyable puzzle with, unusually for me, everything parsed. Thank you George and setter.

  11. Fun puzzle, I really liked the CASSANDRA clue. I have been to Split, but was a bit slow with the answer. PARENTHETICALLY went in without parsing after several crossers emerged.

    ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a brilliant song by Deep Blue Something. https://youtu.be/1ClCpfeIELw?si=ChWZYbyCwKy-RjvE

    14’25”, thanks george and setter.

  12. 4th struggle in a row. Perhaps I’m just getting thicker? Certainly slower. Well over the hour again. Last two in, MORALE and PETER PAN, and couldn’t see how PHARMACY worked at all. Definitely not on the wavelength today.


    Thanks g and setter.

  13. 11:50
    Excellent, loved “Split personality”!
    Holly Golightly did nibble eccentrically on a CROISSANT on the pavement outside Tiffany’s in the film, but the Fifth Avenue store opened its Blue Box Café in November 2017, so it’s now possible to have breakfast at Tiffany’s (if you have no objection to using the colloquialism for Tiffany & Co).

  14. 12:00, but with a silly typo. I know perfectly well how to spell PARENTHETICALLY but my fingers clearly don’t and I failed to notice the stray A when I checked my answers.
    Excellent puzzle. I didn’t know what Holly Golightly ate in the movie but the wordplay was pretty clear.

  15. About 20 minutes, with TROY finally entered with a bit of a shrug. Partly because I didn’t know it as a system of weights, and partly because I was thrown by the ‘finally’, thinking one or more last letters might be involved.

    Smooth enough otherwise, though I held off on PHARMACY until the checkers forced my hand as I can’t recall seeing that wordplay before, and I hadn’t heard of Sand the author for CASSANDRA.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Fencer
    LOI Troy
    COD Tomb

  16. 16:07 of fun, with a few more seconds afterwards checking the parsing of a couple I’d biffed. I liked TROY, OAFISH, FIT as a fiddle, LATE and TOMB best. Thank-you George and setter.

  17. Really liked this crossword, inventive, medium-hard but no unknowns. Liked a lot of the clues including the Split personality, the challenged sopranos and the parentheses…
    11ac may be a chestnut, but as you get older George, you gain the ability to appreciate them regularly as they are new each time 🙂

  18. 32 minutes, started off very slow but got in the swing and finished the last half in 10 minutes or so.
    Another great and enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  19. Over the hour but first completed in a while so pleased with that. Nearly gave up with 3 left but finally saw ALBUM which gave me MORALE and re-read 10 across to see the cryptic rather than replacement type clue.

    On with my day….

  20. 28:16 Usually I do the QC in the morning, and the 15×15 late afternoon or evening. Today I was stuck on the QC and paused it, then found this one to be easier than the QC.
    I was fortunate in spotting PARENTHETICALLY early on, which made the rest easier. Biffed PHARMACY, but could not parse – thanks glh for explaining how that one works.

  21. 17.52. I’ll leave you to guess how long I spent trying to justify replacing the F of FARMACY with the more customary PH. This was good, inventive fun, densely finishing by me not working out which horse lost its tail to create TROY. I ninja turtled CASSANDRA via Only Fools, because that’s the peculiar way my internal filing system sometimes works. I’m delighted to find here that the gorgeous Audrey really did have a breakfast CROISSANT – it’s that sort of detail that makes the Times a class apart. Well played, setter, and George on once again coming in on half my time.

  22. Relieved to finish this – thought I was going nuts after several days of DNFs. That said, still don’t understand the parsing of PHARMACY. Can’t see how ‘Ill after start of fast’ means that you should insert HARM in ‘fast’, albeit after the first letter. Prob being dim. Otherwise liked this, for the most part, though it took me 45 mins.

      1. Eh? No F in PHARMACY and I still don’t get how you’re supposed to understand that HARM needs to be inserted in PACY. This is usually clued in some way (‘pens’, ‘surrounds’, ‘takes in’ etc etc).

        1. Doh! P obviously, the first letter of PACY. You put HARM after that. I can’t see the problem.

            1. That wasn’t supposed to be a snide comment, I’m just not sure what is unclear. The start (first letter) of PACY is P. If you put HARM after the P in PACY you get PHARMACY.

  23. Excellent puzzle, with MORALE and ALBUM my LOI, didn’t quite see why “American” was in 22d, we have alumni here? Liked the CROATIAN, as @jerryw says, the chestnuts get better each time you’ve forgotten them. 30 minutes.

  24. Challenging but fun puzzle, PARENTHETICALLY a hoot when it finally presented. Thanks to George for unpicking PHARMACY, SELECTION and PILOT LIGHT. Not sure why we have ‘initially’ in the clue for ROOKIE. All done in 35.26, not bad considering I spent most of the day at lunch.

      1. It’s just that ‘men on board’ is quite common as a reference to chess pieces and I thought ‘initially’ was superfluous. In this case I went for ROOKIE because neither KNIGHTIE nor BISHOPIE was ever going to cut it.

    1. One of the examples given in Collins is ‘we don’t get much call for stockings these days’.

  25. Given the difference in size, expected difficulty etc etc, I also found this easier than today’s QC.

    V enjoyable, with minimal biffing, except PHARMACY, which I didn’t get at all, so thanks to glh.



  26. DNF. 11a CROATIAN forgot about the Split trick and didn’t spot the anagram. DOH!
    Finished the rest but couldn’t parse 5a PHARMACY, 18a ORNAMENT, never bothered to parse 5d PARENTHETICALLY.
    Stunned that the 8d CROISSANT is relevant to the film.
    Thought 24d OTHER was clever; it delayed me.

  27. An enjoyable puzzle. FENCER was FOI. I thought of PHARMACY straight away, but didn’t put it in until crossers made it inevitable. Couldn’t parse it though! PARENTHETICALLY was a big help. Liked HIGH SEAS, PILOT LIGHT and LOI, PETER PAN. CASSANDRA was good too. 20:05. Thanks setter and George.

  28. 10:30 but, like at least one other, I biffed and misspelt/typed PARENTHETICALLY. Disappointing after a fun ride. Some very nice definitions, in particular.

  29. Sailed through this until I was left only with 21ac — and that’s the way it stayed.

    It didn’t help that I made an assumption that the answer had to be something to do with alcohol and never moved away from that assumption, but even if I had, I don’t think I would have got there from the word play: ‘more’ = ‘raised’? Not in my book.

    Thanks to anyone kind enough to explain what I’m missing here.

    1. If something leads to a ‘raised chance’ of something, there’s now ‘more chance’, perhaps? It’s not perfectly synonymous but enough of a shared meaning that I took it on trust (although in practice I think I spotted the answer and backparsed, which helps with these things). Might also be better examples!

      1. Thanks. If I’d spotted the answer, instead of blinding myself with drink, I might have backparsed it – that’s frequently how I solve things anyway, but I would still have been unsure. As you so rightly say, it’s not a prefect synonym – “a raised chance”, sure, but “a more chance”?

        Vaguely approximate “synonyms” are my pet hate in the Times crossword – especially ones like this where you can’t actually substitute one word for the other – not in any phrase I can think of – because they are completely different parts of speech (“raised” being a past participle used as an adjective, whereas “more” is an adverb, except in expressions like “I want more”, when it is a pronoun – it is never an adjective) I guess it’s my fault for being too literally minded.

        1. I think more can be an adjective. You’ll have more luck if you keep your head down. There are more possibilities than you imagine. There’s a novel by Canadian Morley Callaghan “More Joy in Heaven”.

          1. I’ve owned up to being a pedant – when more is used in that way, it is not an adjective, it is a determiner, (sometimes called a quantifier); it is the same part of speech as cardinal numbers when applied to nouns, e.g. “ten green bottles”. I should have mentioned this use in my post above.

      2. But ‘raised chance’ isn’t a phrase is it? ‘Raised possibility’ is a phrase of course, but that makes the clue indirect by two steps. Which is a bit much.

  30. 32.59, with much of it spent on LOI TROY. Smart definition, which had me trying to use the final letter of something, and although I’ve heard of the weights, it was too vaguely to come quickly.

    Really enjoyed the inventive but fair approach to wordplay here, with OAFISH my favourite.

    Thanks both.

  31. An excellent puzzle today with some clever clues. Although outside target time at 47.16 I am quite happy to have finished with all correct and parsed. I did have a bit of a wobble with 15ac where I initially decided the answer DEEP SEAS was what the setter was after. I would readily agree that HIGH SEAS was better however. My LOI was CROATIAN and it would seem I have a blind spot where the lovely city of Split is concerned, as I don’t seem to read it in the clue as a city, in spite of having been there!

  32. 21.08 which doesn’t put me very high in the list of finishers. All reasonably straightforward apart from LOI morale. Wasn’t quite sure of offish and then it dawned!

    Surprising one for me was parenthetically, it sprang into my mind even before getting the P at the start. One of those strange insights you get doing crosswords . Didn’t even bother parsing it I was so convinced.

    Argh! Just realised my offish was wrong! Damn.

  33. I didn’t know CROATIAN was a chestnut. It made me laugh so is my COD.
    An enjoyable crossword, just right for me.

  34. 31.57

    Bit on the sluggish side but got there in the end albeit just outside the range of the snitch, Actually thought this was toughish but as others have said the parsing was clear

    Thanks all

  35. 35:02

    Pretty good progress around the board until the final SW quarter, which was partially cludged by somehow typing PARENTHESICALLY. Once uncludged, it still took a while to finish – NHO ALUM so 22d went in only from definition.

    Liked CASSANDRA (though I’ve NHO writer SAND)

    1. George Sand, pen name of Chopin’s lover. I think she thought no-one would read a book written by a female.

  36. I enjoyed this one, despite being led down the blind alley at the side of Tiffany’s.

    TIME 9:50

  37. 22 mins. Yes I finished on MORALE as well, spirits can mean many things in a crossword and MORE wasn’t my first thought when looking for a synonym for raised.
    Very enjoyable after yesterday’s still uncompleted effort.

  38. Another really excellent and engaging puzzle. I semi-bifd PHARMACY, parsed it and moved on anti-clockwise around the grid, getting PARENTHETICALLY fairly quickly, 5th clue, I think, which helped the grid. Nothing unknown and all parsed save SELECTION and ORNAMENT, which were obviously correct, so I just moved on. Liked PILOT LIGHT, HIGH SEAS and OAFISH – well, everything really. Thanks, brilliant setter and George.

  39. I thought there were two ways in which the CROATIAN clue is a chestnut: the fact that raincoat is an anagram of it, by now surely too well-used; and the Split personality joke — we only had it the other day and it was far from new then. It took me so long to get started that I thought this was going to be hard, but eventually nothing held me up for too long and I finished in 44 minutes. Initially I thought The Times had slipped up with a for one in the OAFISH clue, but it has been perfectly well explained and I missed that.

  40. Well, I fell into the trap. ARCATION is not a psychological disorder? Of course CROATIAN is my COD, but I did get all the others right (and parsed, even PHARMACY), in 35 minutes.

  41. Somewhere around 50-55 minutes (my recorded time of 1 hour 7 seconds included taking a telephone call and having to answer the door!)

    LOI = TROY which was probably my COD
    PARENTHETICALLY came very quickly from checkers but took time to fully parse. Similarly PHARMACY
    CASSANDRA was part biffed (I didn’t get the SAND part)

    Nice puzzle

  42. Can you have an over of maidens? If not (and I’m not sure you can) then wouldn’t there need to be an ‘S’ in amid or indeed more than one ‘M’?

    1. No. The bowler’s figures in any cricket scorebook have a column headed “M” which records how many maidens he/she bowled. (The other columns are headed O, R and W.)

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