Times 28773 – top billing

A really good, quite difficult test, I thought, with several unusual words and some lateral thinking needed. It took me around 40 minutes, and a couple of clues had to be parsed after the answers were clear enough. I loved the billed character best, but there was much to like and a new town to discover.

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

1 Sauce and beans occasionally found in pancake (7)
TABASCO – TACO = pancake, insert B A S alternate letters of beans. I put Tabasco on things, a lot.
5 Measure Juliet put into pub’s glass container (4,3)
BELL JAR – ELL (measure) J[uliet] all inside BAR.
9 Sheep kills time in an easterly wind (9)
LEICESTER – REEL = wind as in reel in a fishing line perhaps; reversed = LEER, insert ICES T for kills time. Being in Rutland next to said county, we are surrounded by fields of Tom’s Leicester breed sheep. Very daft animals, they just stand in our road and look at the car waiting to pass. Tom’s Dad says “sheep are born to die “- but aren’t we all?
10 Northern town taxi turned towards a centre (5)
BACUP – CAB reversed, then UP must mean towards a centre? I’d never heard of it but Mrs P had, when I asked her about a town with 5 letters beginning with BAC. Pop 13,000 or so, somewhere near Rochdale I gather. It’s pronounced back-up not bake-up.
11 Showing heart, cross about conflict, one trained to attack (6,7)
CENTRE FORWARD – CENTRE = heart; FORD (cross) around WAR.
13 Patent protecting firm — origin of Apple Mac? (8)
OVERCOAT – OVERT (patent) around CO, A[pple]. As in mackintosh.
15 Duke ingesting MDMA joins a celebration (6)
FIESTA – MDMA is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly called ecstasy or E; insert it into FIST (duke) and add A.
17 Despair initially avoided may become hope (6)
ASPIRE – despair, lose the D, so (ESPAIR)*.
19 Trap a king — what’s stopping merry old one? (8)
CAKEHOLE – the merry old king being COLE, insert A K and EH? for a king, what?. As in “shut your trap / cakehole!”
22 Take serious risks? Ditch the idea, bowling round wicket (4,4,5)
DICE WITH DEATH – insert W for wicket into (DITCH THE IDEA)*.
25 United by wise tradition (5)
USAGE – U for united, SAGE for wise
26 Daughters in coffee bar that’s contemporary (6-3)
LATTER-DAY – LATTE being a kind of milky coffee, (not my kind!) RAY being a bar e.g. as in sunlight, insert D for daughters. I had something DAY for a while and wanted to see MODERN but the checkers showed I was going wrong.
27 Family outside on marks close to royal citadel (7)
KREMLIN – KIN = family, insert RE (on) M (marks) L (close to royal).
28 Second sin St Anthony embodies? (7)
INSTANT – slightly hidden as above.
1 Count to play the informer (4)
TELL – double definition, tell as in elections, tell as in inform.
2 Impatient exclamation from Scot splitting cheese roll (7)
BRIOCHE – our cheese is BRIE, insert OCH! which an impatient Scot might say. I spent a while trying to fit MAC or IAN into something cheesy.
3 Beatles manager once leaving record for writer (5)
STEIN – Brian EPstein loses his EP. Gertrude Stein was a rather unattractive lesbian novelist and poet and a Nazi sympathiser, I’ve never read her stuff.
4 Spontaneous occurrence before the public holiday (8)
OUTBREAK – OUT = before the public, BREAK = holiday.
5 Whistler secured in bank that’s robbed? (6)
BEREFT – REF, referee, our usual whistler, inside BET which here means bank, as in “you can bet / bank on that”.
6 Debauchee having left island, knight Edward VII embraces? (9)
LIBERTINE – Edward VII was known as Bertie to his friends, family and mistresses, so L for left, I for island, BERTIE with N inserted.
7 The Fool — as shown in the cards? (7)
JACKASS – AS inside JACKS as in queens, kings etc.
8 Disowned aide, put out, getting into the wine (10)
REPUDIATED – RED wine with (AIDE PUT)* inserted.
12 Character billed as old and decrepit — nothing to it (6,4)
DONALD DUCK – took me a while to see what was going on here – and “character billed” is very good. ((OLD AND)*, then DUCK = nothing, going on the end. I don’t remember seeing decrepit as an anagrind before.
14 Short file, kept by alliance in Somerset, that goes sideways (9)
CARTWHEEL – apparently a somersault can also be called a somerset; so a somerset which goes sideways is a cartwheel. A CARTEL is an alliance, insert WHE[T], where to whet a blade is to sharpen it on a grindstone.
16 Outlaws part that’s wrapped with note (8)
BANDITTI – I couldn’t get this until I had the final I, then thought of the word and reverse engineered it to explain. Part = BIT, insert AND = with, add TI the musical note.
18 Select times for admission to A&E? That’s ground-breaking! (7)
PICKAXE – PICK (select) A E, insert X = times.
20 Old Greek character given support raised snakes (7)
OPHIDIA – O (old) PHI (Greek letter), AID (support) reversed. I knew this word, saw it recently in a GK crossword (was it weekend before last?)
21 Taken to beer without opening tin cans? (6)
STOLEN – SN = Sn, symbol for tin; insert TO, [A]LE.
23 Partners in crime? (5)
ABETS – cryptic definition, usually used in the phrase “aids and abets” for assisting a criminal.
24 Crew said something at Chiswick in Boat Race (4)
EYOT – pronounced properly it sounds like “eight” as in rowing crew. I knew Chiswick EYOT was an island in the Thames but had to ponder between EYOT and AYOT for a while, as AIT means island too and there was scope for pondering.


98 comments on “Times 28773 – top billing”

  1. Made very easy progress for awhile, started with the obvious 1D, then 1A, skipped to LATTER-DAY and got OPHIDIA fourth… The clue for ASPIRE is very clever! Think I’ve NHO DICE WITH DEATH. Was worried about ever getting _ Y _ T, but it was the NE that remained unfilled-in when all the rest save that was done, until REPUDIATED opened that quadrant up. Speaking of UP, in BACUP (NHO), I guess it might mean “toward a center” in the sense of “to a more important place”—but UP means, above all, away from the center of gravity, so I was slow to accept that… POI CENTRE FORWARD (some sport or other!) and LOI, finally, EYOT (whew!).

  2. Re. 10ac. When I lived in the UK, people would go ‘up to London’ irrespective of where they were starting from.

    1. commuters go to work on the UP train – towards the centre of town – and come home on the down train

      1. Except in the Welsh valleys, where trains to Cardiff are “down” trains, and you go “up the valleys” to return.

  3. ‘Character billed’ raised a smile. Lots to like here. I think BACUP has turned up before, but I knew it anyway, as I have always loved studying maps. An instantly memorable northernish type of word.

    I’m sure the boat race commentators used to pronounce the islet Chiswick ‘eye-ot’, but that it may be pronounced the same as ‘ait’ is no real surprise. 24 minutes.

    1. Always pronounced ‘ait’ in my memory, going back to the days of John Snagge (I don’t know who’s ahead, but it’s either Oxford or Cambridge).

  4. Regarding DONALD DUCK, I saw a funny cartoon about our American holiday Thanksgiving, where Goofy is serving Mickey a roasted bird but Mickey is distracted: “Where’s Donald?” I sent it around. Favorite reaction: “OMG, Sandy, that’s awful.” I said I was thinking of another roasted Donald.

  5. Just over an hour for me. A bit confused about my LOI EYOT since I didn’t know how it was actually pronounced and “aye-ott” didn’t make any sense. Also wasn’t sure what was going on with my POI ABETS. So I was pleased it was all green since there were things I could not explain fully.

  6. Failed on ABETS after about 35 so DNF. Many good clues here and thanks to piquet for figuring out LEICESTER, LIBERTINE, CENTRE FORWARD and FIESTA. Now that we are citing MDMA I can only suppose that the occasional jibes about how drug always = E have sunk in, to this setter at least.

  7. Failed on BACUP – an OP instead of an UP – having forgotten the town from its most recent appearance here last year when the wordplay was kinder. A few others I was unsure about such as the pronunciation of EYOT and the def for CARTWHEEL so can’t complain.

  8. For BACUP, having unfortunately lived in Rochdale for a while, I dispute that “it’s pronounced back-up not bake-up” – the reverse is the case, although usually with a strong regional accent.

      1. Oh. I did look it up on one of those “how to pronounce” sites, two or three alleged Lancastrians said “backup” so I went with that. I’m sure you’re right enough though. As a Dorset lad, can’t say I’m that bothered, but thanks for the correction.
        Sympathies for Rochdale, our niece lives there too, I’ll ask her.

  9. 55 very enjoyable minutes for this inventive and amusing puzzle.

    I hesitated far too long over writing in LATTER DAY because I wasn’t sure of ‘bar / RAY’. BANDITTI went in because it seemed to fit the definition but I wasn’t sure of the spelling (double-T). I knew EYOT from the boat race and 3 years as a student in Chiswick in the 1960s.

    After writing in TABASCO, TELL and BRIOCHE immediately on starting I then found myself unable to progress for a while so I adjourned to the bottom of the grid and worked my way up from there. Things may have been different if only I could have remembered the name of The Beatles’ manager, but I had a mental block and could only recall his first name as Brian.

    OUTBREAK was my LOI with the last 5 minutes of my solve spent on that alone.

    I had no idea about ‘Somerset / CARTWHEEL’ whilst solving but having read the explanation I now remember meeting this before, and quite recently. I’ve not been able to trace it in the archive so I assume it must have been in The Guardian or elsewhere.

    1. It’s in Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. “And Mr. H will demonstrate, ten Somersets he’ll undertake…”

  10. DNF but didn’t mind as it was a clever crossword with some good surfaces. Perhaps the setter could have been a little more helpful in AYOT v EYOT.

    1. This spelling isn’t recognised by any of the usual sources (Collins, ODE, Chambers), so perhaps the setter either wasn’t aware of it or didn’t think the distinction necessary. OED has it as a variant spelling but the only citation is from 1836!

  11. 45m 25s but the last 20 mins or so were spent on the NW corner. Still managed to type in AYOT instead of EYOT. After BACUP I wouldn’t be surprised to find there’s an AYUP in Yorkshire…
    Re CARTWHEEL and Somerset, older solvers may just remember this line from “Being for the benefit of Mr Kite” from “Sergeant Pepper”:
    “And Mr. H. will demonstrate Ten summersets he’ll undertake on solid ground.”

  12. 19:34

    On the money on my occasional Wednesday morning Glasgow train – must do this more often…. (not!). Knew the parochial stuff BACUP (though I live in the North-West, I’m a Londoner so confess to having no idea which way it should be pronounced), EYOT (though I’m a Londoner, I wouldn’t have known that it rhymed with ‘eight’, but it’s a well known Chiswick landmark if you’ve ever watched the Boat Race). Didn’t quite get how BANDITTI worked in flight and didn’t know the word OPHIDIA, so an educated guess at the Greek letter. I’ve heard the Somerset = somersault thing before somewhere, but failed to parse the WHE. LOI LEICESTER. Liked DONALD DUCK but COD to CAKEHOLE (great word!).

  13. 16:37. Was this a championship puzzle? My iPad doesn’t say it was and I didn’t recognise it.
    Anyway, I started off in completely the wrong direction – I thought 1A might be BELLINI, with sauce = alcohol and blini for pancake; and from the enumeration and the J I thought 5A was going to be TOBY JUG. At least I didn’t enter either. Ultimately it all came together though I did have some doubts on submitting. OPHIDIA sounded right but could equally have been parsed as OCHIDIA. And I was thankful that EYOT has appeared often enough that I remembered how to spell it and didn’t mix it up with ait.

    1. I think they said the championship puzzles will restart on the 13th. Somebody suggested (I suspect correctly) that the ones we are getting now may have been those destined for the second championship heat that didn’t happen.

  14. 11:52. Tricky one. A couple of borderline-unfair clues in here: both EYOT and OPHIDIA are, I would argue, rather obscure words so unambiguous wordplay is called for. I’m aware of the former mostly because a friend had her wedding reception on Queen’s Eyot many years ago. It was described in some of the associated bumf as ‘Queen’s Eyot Island’.
    BACUP rang a vague bell.
    I knew next to nothing about Gertrude STEIN so had no idea about her political sympathies and wartime activities. Quite extraordinary.

    1. Gertrude Stein was an interesting and complex woman… opinions on her political sympathies seem somewhat divided. She was a jewess, and I have always rather suspected that her “sympathies” were governed mainly by expediency. She had some high-ranking friends in France, but for a jewess with a significant art collection to survive WWII in occupied France is no mean feat. All speculation of course

      1. I only just discovered this history, so I can’t express an informed opinion, but whatever else you think it is certainly extraordinary. According to Wiki she was defending Pétain up to and beyond his death.

        1. Ah, you mean, not a jewess? Why not?
          I watched a programme on TV last night by someone who calls herself the “Yorkshire Shepherdess.” Is she at fault too? And no more actresses?

            1. For the avoidance of doubt I am not for a second suggesting that any of this applies to you, but it is an interesting analysis of why the term has fallen out of favour, as these things do.

              1. That’s a really interesting article, James. I would never dream of using the term Jewess, yet I had never delved into the reasoning thereof. I do think David Aaronovitch is an excellent and insightful writer at all times.

                1. It’s a term that sets my teeth on edge, but these things do change over time.
                  I’ve listened to a couple of John Buchan audiobooks lately (The 39 Steps and Greenmantle) and part of what I found interesting about them (along with the delightfully silly boy’s-own macguffin-driven plots) is the window they offer into a very different world in terms of cultural and racial attitudes and language. These changes can appear subtle in the short term but when you go back a few decades the difference is very stark.

                  1. As a youngster I read prolifically through my father’s large collection of novels, including Dornford Yates, Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle and Buchan. Much as I enjoyed the adventure stories, I suspect I would find their colonial imperialism and openly anti-semitic attitudes completely unreadable now, whereas then, they merely made me rather uncomfortable.

                  2. ‘Jewess’ (and ‘Negress’) were definitely unacceptable when I was a child 70 years ago.

  15. 16’18”, ni re CARTWHEEL clue, but I know it goes sideways.

    I once cycled through BACUP, it was uphill all the way and I had a soggy tyre.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  16. 55 mins so tricky enough to be a championship puzzle for me. A number put in unparsed LEICESTER, CARTWHEEL & STOLEN, so thanks blogger. Also the unknown BACUP held me up for a bit.

    I liked DONALD DUCK.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  17. 44 minutes with LOI OPHIDIA, which I constructed without that much confidence.. COD to CAKEHOLE, with ‘shut your’ in front, a once-common expression. All my many Lancastrian origins are from west of BACUP, which I have always pronounced BAYCUP, but then Wanderers have never crashed so far down the leagues as to be playing Bacup Borough, so what do I know? Tough but fair. Thank you Pip and setter.

  18. 15:42

    Loved that. I should have been quicker but had trouble with my LOI BANDITTI as I’d mis-typed DICING WITH CEATH.

    Having lived in Bury, Lancs for 10 years I can confirm the bake-up pronunciation.

    I had no idea what was going on with CARTWHEEL (I thought the Somerset Alliance was a weird part of the wordplay) and just put it in from checkers and a sideways motion.

    Nice to see CAKEHOLE, haven’t heard it for a while.

  19. Stein pops up a lot in A Moveable Feast. She was a wealthy American who lived on Rue de Fleurus with Alice B Toklas and patronised Hemingway and the artistic crowd. Quite a figure in her time. Completed this in 22’40”. No great difficulty though I had to guess BACUP, and dragged EYOT from some sinkhole of the meninges. Many thanks. Now to work.

  20. DNF, defeated by EYOT. I was thinking of the word ait, but that didn’t really help here, and I had no idea how the place in Chiswick is spelled, and with _Y_T I’d never have guessed it correctly. Like jackkt, I hesitated for ages over LATTER-DAY because I wasn’t sure about bar=ray; for CARTWHEEL, I didn’t have a clue what was going on beyond seeing the cartel part; and I didn’t parse the ‘ass’ bit of JACKASS.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Donald Duck

  21. I shouldn’t have been defeated by AYOT. My son coxed for UL and would be at Chiswick most mornings for 5am rows before lectures started. How he stayed awake for them I never knew. He used to send me wonderful photos of the sun rising over the bridges.

    Thanks for the memories, the crossword and the blog.

  22. 28 mins. Held up by the mysterious clues for CARTWHEEL and ABETS, in the end just biffed them and came here. Good to be introducing soft southerners to towns north of Watford. It’s BAYCOOP (approximately) by the way.

  23. Memory lapses today include BERTIE (The King’s Speech), Somerset (despite the 56 year old Sergeant Pepper) and that AYOT is spelt with an E. I did however remember the mnemonic
    “I don’t like the family Stein,
    There is Gert, there is Ep, there is Ein:
    Gert’s poems are bunk,
    Ep’s statues are junk.
    And nobody understands Ein.”
    Which only needs a reference to leather trousers to bring Brian to mind. Or was that the Rutles?
    19 marred minutes, but it was fun.

  24. DNF
    I knew eight and ait, but NHO eyot, so guessed eyit (also considered eyyt).
    ‘Sheep kills time in an easterly wind’ … westerly wind, surely. Towards the west (left). Because easterly wind here isn’t wind in the aeolian sense – a breeze originating from the east; it’s wind rhyming with mind being reversed, i.e., going in a westerly direction. Apols if I’ve got this wrong.
    Thanks, p.

    1. That’s a subtle point, which I was inclined to agree with. However I looked up easterly and Chambers has (esp. of the wind) coming from the east, so I think the bracketed bit makes the clue passable.

    2. Could be either, no? There’s a degree of abstraction in the concept already in that left and west aren’t really the same thing, so applying the aeolian sense, as you put it, to a word doesn’t seem too much of an extra stretch to me.
      It’s never occurred to me but these (easterly, westerly etc) are all words that also mean their opposites!

      1. Likewise I’d never really acknowledged that easterly, etc are contronyms. Hopefully sailors are consistent in their usage!

        1. An easterly wind blows from east to west but an easterly current flows from west to east. After many years sailing I still have to stop and think about this.

  25. 25 or there abouts and solving on paper which I find much easier.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this crossword which had some lovely clues and nothing too obscure in my opinion.

    I was held up in the end with EYOT as my mind was fixed on CRS even though I know Chiswick is in West London. Sometimes the Boat Race is just the Boat Race.

    Thanks to the setter and to piquet for the blog.

    1. I certainly thought (and worked on) the idea that ‘face’ had to come into the answer ! So at first put eyes ( as in Boat Race)..then when INSTANT had to be right, left the clue blank…as to the rest of the crossword: started very badly, having to descend to the SW before anything emerged . So USAGE was FOI, closely followed by KREMLIN and PICKAXE, and I was off to an admittedly late start. Really enjoyed the clues – some good surfaces here, especially liked the Apple Mac, DONALD DUCK, and the cakehole. NHO OPHIDIA or the LEICESTER sheep, LOI BEREFT as I couldn’t think of the ref meaning and was looking for a bird!

  26. Slowish, and found it a bit of a curate’s egg. Loved some of the clues, Donald Duck was superb. But many were a bit meh. Definitely a UK-centric puzzle, NHO Bacup or Chiswick Eyot or cartwheels in Somerset; all guesses. A bit dubious about BAR/RAY, and wouldn’t call a whet(stone) a file, personally – missed that parsing. Did know one king was called Bertie – probably from the unseen film – but would have guessed it was Albert, Victoria’s squeeze. Fortunately knew the spelling of EYOT and the word ophidian from past puzzles, so a lucky all-correct.

      1. Fair enough. My reservation was that files are hardened steel with teeth on them to cut whatever is rubbed on them, but whetstones are smooth – often ceramics – with no teeth. Whetstones being orders of magnitudes harder than the steel they’re being rubbed against work by slow grinding rather than sharp cutting. No matter what Collins says. Collins alludes to that with the grinding / friction fence-sitting.

    1. Albert, Victoria’s husband, wasn’t king – he was known as the Prince Consort. His eldest son was also called Albert, hence Bertie, though took the name of Edward when becoming king for his (short) reign. Bertie’s grandson Edward VIII, who abdicated before his coronation, was christened David. All UK monarchs have the choice to be known by another name – I think there was general relief here in the UK when it was announced that Charles would be known as Charles III.

  27. DNF, BANDITTI, OPHIDIA and STOLEN. Also couldn’t parse CARTWHEEL, but it had to be. Quite tough.
    Chiswick Eyot was a doddle. Used to live in Hammersmith and patronised Fullers Brewery in Chiswick. CAMRA had a deal for members to buy pins of beer direct from the brewery which is spitting distance from the eyot.
    I delivered some caravans to BACUP back in the sixties or seventies, name stuck in my mind especially as a tyre blew out in the snow on the M1. Had to leave a caravan on the hard shoulder then borrow a wheel from another van and crawl in the snow to change it. Ugh.

  28. I had opsidia (OPHIDIA was a vague memory but not enough to displace opsidia), and that slowed me down because I then thought that with that s 22ac wasn’t going to be an anagram. Perhaps my 54 minutes (which didn’t count anyway because I used aids for the ABETS CD, which I thought was quite good for a CD but oh how much better a clue it would have been as just a regular one with ‘partners in crime’ as the definition) would have been rather better, but perhaps not; ABETS would still have delayed me. Somerset a complete mystery and I wondered why cartels were specific to Somerset, but now that it’s explained it is — as with OPHIDIA — vaguely familiar.

  29. DNF. Got through quite a few biffs (wondered where Somerset came into things!). Ground to a halt in SE corner after 45 mins with STOLEN, LATTER and ABETS, which, to be honest, weren’t the most difficult but I felt by then I was just guessing!!

    Some nice clues though, enjoyed trap for CAKEHOLE. Well done Piquet and setter.

  30. Enjoyed this one, superior I thought, which imo gives added credibility to the idea that it is one of the Championship-heat-that-wasn’t ones.
    Was not sure about bar = ray but Collins has: “a narrow band or stripe, as of colour or light”
    Needed Pip’s help to work out what Somerset was all about! But the answer was obvious enough.
    Loved “Character billed.”
    Definitely “Baycoop,” to locals.
    Gertrude Stein, no great fan but an interesting woman.

  31. 29:05
    A first-rate puzzle to return to after a “riotous” week in Dublin.

    So many good clues but “character billed” for DONALD DUCK just shades it as COD. No problem with EYOT. I grew up in Fulham with the Thames at the bottom of our street, so the Boat Race was always a big event.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

      1. Difficult to recommend places not knowing what type of food/ budget you have in mind and I don’t want to get struck off for advertising. However…
        For pub food, Sheehan’s in Chatham Street, and the Beer Temple in on the corner of Dame St. and Parliament St are both reasonable. I liked Peruke & Periwig in Dawson Street and Hugo’s in Merrion Rd, more up-market wine bar places with corresponding prices. Really you will have no trouble finding any number of places of ever type in the area between Dame St and St. Stephen’s Green. Far too much of my sustenance was provided by Guinness and toasted cheese and onion sandwiches in the wonderful Grogan’s (William St South)

        1. Have you thought of becoming a travel blogger? Very comprehensive so thank you. We’re in Wynns tonight which is a hop , skip and a jump to Temple Bar and all its delights.

  32. 27.10 for my first success of the week. A few guesses helped on the way. Leicester which I assumed was a sheep breed after giving up on trying to find a place for you. Stolen though in my defence I got the SN part and had the L, banditti which I never worked out and Ophidia. So in essence definitely 22 acrossed.

    Liked abets, small but beautifully formed.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  33. 48:12 – I am sure OPHIDIA has turned up recently – perhaps in a Mephisto – or perhaps not, but I knew it anyway. Lots of stuff to pick over in a particular knotty collection. ABETS went in with a question mark and I clocked the possibility of EYOT long before putting it in for lack of anything else I could think of that fitted. I wasn’t quite sure what an eyot was – I was vaguely aware of some sort of nautical connection – and didn’t know Chiswick had one.

  34. 12:34, with a higher than usual proportion of that time spent on parsing / justifying / crossing things out and starting again. Most of the pennies dropped in a satisfying way sooner or later, apart from the Somerset reference, where I required the help of our blogger. Nice puzzle of the semi-chewy variety.

  35. Not sure I have ever been so “on wavelength” as this. I’ve been quicker, but on 50-60 snitch puzzles.



  36. I’ve not commented for some time as I mainly tackle the QC these days – having failed to reduce my completion times on the main puzzle – but I have a question I want to raise.
    Ophidia is a word I have never seen before which it is not possible to construct from word play. There are three Greek letters which fit the space – chi, phi and rho. Ochidia, ophidia and orhodia all look like possible words. Does this make it a poorly constructed clue?
    Thanks as always to the setters (of course) but mostly to the bloggers who improve the quality of my life enormously.

    1. Hi Joe. I certainly feel that obscure words should be clued with no ambiguity, and that this clue fails that test. I’d say the same for EYOT. From comments today and previously I know there are others who share this view.

      1. So, no reliance on general knowledge at all? You are setting the setters a high bar!
        I expect that as usual, most of those without the required GK will share your view. But surely we all should be expected to know a little about squamate reptiles? 🙂

        1. I agree with Pootle that obscure words are the ones I don’t know. Sadly, that means there are a large number of them so the wordplay has to enable them to be derived. As for eyot, Saturday mornings reading the newspaper and peering at the map of the boat race course in the far off world of ‘London’ followed by watching the strange ritual on Grandstand initiated me into the delights of the word.

          1. Technically, the wordplay need do no such thing .. it is the GK that needs attention. Having said that, if London is indeed a “Far off world” then I applaud you for your efforts to understand this strange little country and its stranger language.
            I am sure I would not know half the words in the NY Times crossword, so have been careful never to carry out the test.

  37. 18:32, but with a pink square where, even though I did a quick proof read, I missed JACKAAS. Drat and double drat!!! STEIN and TABASCO were first 2 in and OUTBREAK brought up the rear. Smiled at DONALD DUCK. Thanks setter and Pip.

  38. What – am I the only ochidia today? Had a choice of two Greek letters and picked the wrong one😊
    Gertrude stein apparently said “a rose is a rose is a rose” implying that using the name of a thing automatically invokes the meanings and emotions associated with it. I know this not from any reading of her poetry but from the great track Roseability by the Scottish band idlewild😊
    Very enjoyable and difficult puzzle that I was delighted to get thru in 27 minutes even with a pink square. Thanks p and setter

    1. When I was younger “A rose is a rose is a rose” was very frequently heard but I think nowadays the most popular Gertrude Stein quote is “There’s no there there”.

      1. Ned Rorem set this Gertrude Stein poem to music:

          I am Rose my eyes are blue.
          I am Rose who are you?
          I am Rose and when I sing
          I am Rose like anything.

  39. No you are not alone, I put in OCHIDIA as well, I even thought it rang a distant bell, but no…. I added to this mistake by putting in AYOT for 24dn, thus ending up with two wrong letters instead of my customary one. I was fairly pleased to finish what I thought was a tough test in a time of 51.35, but my relief was short lived! Having said that, I still enjoyed what I thought was an excellent puzzle.

  40. I got off to a flying start in the NW corner. I didn’t expect it to last but I seem to have been on the wavelength today. Clocked off at 25 minutes. A very enjoyable puzzle.

  41. I finished this in 28 minutes – except I didn’t as I put in TALK rather than TELL at 1dn, on the basis that, e.g. ‘money talks’ means money counts for something or exercises an influence. That’s my excuse anyway. Otherwise a reasonable workout. Thanks for the explanation of several clues which I could not parse, inc. LEICESTER and CARTWHEEL, both written in as they could not really be anything else.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  42. Had to guess quite a lot of these and was pleased to find correct but I failed with FIESTA. I seem to be alone in that respect.
    LO(not)I -I-S-A

  43. What a marvelous clue 24dn was: if you had one piece of knowledge (that there is an island called Chiswick Eyot and it apparently plays its part in the Boat Race) then this was really easy. But if for some unexplainable reason you knew nothing about Chiswick and its Boat Race then the wordplay couldn’t save you, even if you understood it, as I certainly did (I put in AYIT, but was not very surprised when the pink squares appeared). I don’t think this is the way clues in the daily cryptic are supposed to work — they can be hard, as the rest of the puzzle certainly was, and they can be unusual or not commonly known expressions because you do get a second chance. And I did solve the rest of the puzzle correctly, but EYOT was a clue I had essentially no fair shot at. Nice to know the setter is knowledgable, but I would prefer it if he was also creative enough to create clues that really can be solved with common knowledge and not just one very special piece of information.

  44. 15:29. Like Mike H I did this on a train yesterday so not commented on until today. Super crossword. I liked CAKEHOLE, DONALD DUCK, STOLEN and PICKAXE best. Thanks Pip and setter.

  45. 62′
    One-paced throughout, and a slow one to boot!

    Realised fairly early on I was in for the long haul, so just over an hour and nearly the same again to get the whole thing satisfactorily parsed. As a coxswain EYOT was a gimme, ophidian rang a faint bell, and Bacup I’ve seen in grids before but always makes me nervous.
    I finally tracked down a SOMERSET and a TUMBLESET in The American Heritage Dictionary, which labels it as a usage in the southern states.
    Hard work but highly enjoyable; well done and thank you to Pip and setter.

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