Times 28831 – What’s it all about…..

Time: 23 minutes

Music: Holst, The Planets, Previn/LSO

I found this puzzle…..interesting.   I had a hard time getting started, and I ended up biffing most of the answers.   I suspect inexperienced solvers would find it very difficult, lacking both the general knowledge and the tricks of the veterans.   Many of the cryptics are rather extreme, and if the literals had been equally hidden the puzzle would have been much more difficult.

The SNITCH rating is rather low, and my time confirms that, but I think the rating will go up as we get more solvers on the board.

1 Court request collected works — has to involve President first (6,6)
HABEAS CORPUS – H(ABE)AS + CORPUS.   I actually put Abe in has without seeing that this produced a word – a Latin word, but a word.
9 Dominant kid grabbing Pole repeatedly (5)
BOSSY – BO(SS)Y.   Bonny was considered and rejected.
10 £25, including fees returned by Mike Carroll? (9)
PSEUDONYM – P(DUES backwards)ONY + M from the NATO alphabet.   What Lewis Carroll is a DBE for.
11 A cry for help about worst poisonous substance (8)
ASBESTOS – A + S(BEST)OS.   where both worst and best are verbs.
12 Move poet to pen right line (6)
PROPEL –  P(R)OPE + L, where a specific poet is required.
13 Person possibly given documentation after prison sentence (4,4)
LIFE FORM – LIFE + FORM.   Well, I suppose, although this expression is usually reserved for aliens and such.
15 Courageous and fortunate in pursuit of power (6)
PLUCKY – P + LUCKY, a chestnut.
17 Writer’s one book covered in a lot of rubble (6)
18 Bet success will be welcomed by a theatre fan (8)
PLAYGOER – P(LAY,GO)ER.   A bunch of classic cryptic tricks here, with the cleverly disguised a = per.
20 Intense skill, circling where animal hides (6)
21 A youngster rejected fame without disagreement (2,3,3)
AS ONE MAN – A + SON + NAME backwards.
24 Unduly sentimental, though not about son being involved in river disaster (9)
CATACLYSM -CA(T[re]ACLY,S)M.   Most solvers will ignore the ridiculously convoluted cryptic and write in the obvious answer.
25 Shy, cut short the argument (5)
26 “Fancy beer,” I crow, “runs in my place for making it” (12)
1 Item that fixes part of cooker having new trouble (7)
2 Base receiving warning after cream tea curdled — when still edible? (4-6,4)
BEST-BEFORE DATE –  BEST + BE(FORE)D + anagram of TEA, another convoluted cryptic.
3 Article from the pen of singular Saint: something deep (5)
ABYSS – A + BY + S + S.
4 Start to climb up to get on piece of furniture (8)
CUPBOARD – C[limb] + UP + BOARD.
5 Dance very unnecessary in party (4)
6 Fail to stress indication of softness in some carpeting? (9)
7 Policeman redirected persons to crime (9,5)
8 Exploit upset the person writing this procedure (6)
EMPLOY – ME upside-down + PLOY.
14 Dodgy story supported by account provided by one mathematician (9)
FIBONACCI – FIB + ON + ACC + I.    Is acc. a valid abbreviation for account?   Chambers says yes!
16 Alfred picked up expression of sadness about King in sudden gathering (5,3)
FLASH MOB – ALF upside down + S(H.M)OB.
17 Scrutinise attention in school (6)
SEARCH – S(EAR)CH.   I carelessly created this from the cryptic and still didn’t see it, had to come back later.
19 Catwalk is home to a fugitive (7)
RUNAWAY – RUN(A)WAY, a bit of a chestnut.
22 Egg on something explosive (5)
23 Worker in cloth often runs from laundromat machine (4)

59 comments on “Times 28831 – What’s it all about…..”

  1. I worked up from the SE, the end, for some reason, and wound up in the NW, biffing HABEAS CORPUS without a second thought. For some reason, the climb was a bit slow, and I found a toehold on a previous clue all the way before proceeding, which is not my usual modus operandi.

  2. 36m 34s
    Ended up biffing a lot, as vinyl said, and surprised to find I had an all-correct submission. somehow in t
    Some of those were very tricky.
    16d: On my bucket list is to find myself part of the audience in, say, a shopping mall, of a FLASH MOB performance of one of my favourite arias, particularly ‘Dies Bildniss ist bezaubernd schön’ from ‘The Magic Flute’.

      1. Indeed!
        My favourite ‘flash mob’ performance, though, is of ‘Largo al factotum’ from ‘The Barber of Seville’, as performed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport. You can find that on YouTube.
        Also on YT is a wonderful performance of Nessun Dorma in a shopping mall in, I think, Leeds. The tenor is superb but what makes it for me is the female chorus which casually emerges from the crowd and then equally casually merges back into it.

  3. Took an eternity to get going with FOI ABYSS at 3dn. Struggled to get (and to get as in understand) LIFE FORM which was my LOI and dragged me out to 28.35. Getting INSPECTOR MORSE almost instantly helped get things going but there were still quite a few here that refused to yield without a fight. Is ASBESTOS a poison? I’m not sure if it would be necessarily harmful if you were stupid enough to eat it, the problem is inhaling the microscopic fibres. But maybe that counts as being poisonous. Was also held up by thinking Mike Carroll might be some dead Brit I’d never heard of before the PDM. Thank you Vinyl1.

  4. 8:39 but ruined by a typo.

    Got lucky on the long ones, which did a lot of the heavy lifting in filling out the grid.

    As per Vinyl’s comment I didn’t have a clue about the parsing of CATACLYSM.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  5. 25 minutes. Working out some of the tricky wordplay to confirm the answer was the hard bit as noted by vinyl1. I also initially had the wrong ‘Court’ for 1a so was slow to get going.

    Favourite was the amusing surface for MICROBREWERY; if they’re successful here, they often seem to be gobbled up by a brewery of the macro variety.

  6. 39 minutes. A good 5 minutes had passed before before I entered anything in the grid and at the end I spent 9 minutes on the last three answers, ARDENT, CATACLYSM and FIBONACCI, a name I only know from here and can never bring to mind before wrestling with wordplay. A commenter very recently objected to ‘account’ = AC saying it is never used any more, so I await with interest their opinion of ACC!

    I thought of CATACLYSM when the checkers C Y and M were in place but was unable to parse it even partially, so it didn’t go in until the arrival of other checkers made it inevitable. Only after the event did I spot CAM for ‘river’ and the rest of the clue made sense.

    V, we’re missing an underline at 8dn.

  7. There’s a typo in my on-line edition for 25a. A rogue comma appears after the ‘a’ in sentimental. The ‘l’ reads as an ‘I’. Very confusing.

    1. 24ac. I spent a few seconds wondering, like Talleyrand, “What did they mean by that?”, then decided that it was but a typo (of the sort I’m all too often guilty of).

  8. Attempting to rekindle my neglected solving skills, I figured that doing the Monday puzzle would give me some practice whilst still getting to work on time.

    Starting with an inspired 1a biff after solving 1d, I zipped through this one with little trouble, assuming it must be a super-easy 50-something SNITCH. Completed after some brief head-scratching with MICROBREWERY – FIBONACCI – FORM…
    …but tragically found I’d typed PSUED. Fast fail in 15:37 after correction.

    1. Welcome back! Haven’t seen you for a while. V good time (despite your slip) for one who claims inexperience. Mine was a gross 40 minutes.

  9. 35′ of much biffing. As others, a slow start working back from the south east corner. Didn’t make much sense of a lot of the parsing (still don’t in some!). Couldn’t get Bernoulli out of my head for the mathematician ending in i before “fib” made it obvious. Enjoyed MICROBREWERY but CATACLYSM was a write in only after all crossers appeared. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  10. Nay, fly to altars; there they’ll talk you dead:
    For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
    (Pope, Essay on Criticism.)

    25 mins pre-brekker and lots of that reverse engineering the biffs. I thought a few of the synonyms were a bit of a stretch.
    Ta setter and V.

  11. 9:32. Quite gentle Monday fare I thought. No great hold-ups, although I didn’t quite get around to parsing CATACLYSM or PSEUDONYM.

    Thanks both.

  12. 32:11. I like to be clear about the parsing, even if I don’t totally nail it down, so this was a bit of a struggle. A MER at HOBNAIL which is not an “item that fixes”. It is a stud

  13. Did this last night before going to sleep and was quite slow at 30:53.
    LOI CATACLYSM, I found the misplaced comma very offputting probably because I was tired – and didn’t parse it properly anyway, thought it was something to do with TACKY but I see it was TREACLY
    Thanks setter and blogger

  14. No time, doing it while watching the cricket, which India have just won. Good game, good puzzle. COD to HABEAS CORPUS. All those years in my youth reading Perry Mason weren’t wasted. I hated the new television series, by the way. Thank you V and setter.

  15. I spent almost as long parsing my large number of biffs after completion, as I did in actually solving the puzzle, but must thank Vinyl for his work on CATACLYSM, which totally defeated me. I had the LIFE part of my LOI early on, but only when I got SLOI FIBONACCI was I able to kill the beast.

    TIME 7:43

  16. 10:07. I was a bit slow getting started but the last few came in a rush thanks to the helpful checkers and definitions. I found the rogue comma in 24A a bit confusing, but gave up trying to make sense of it after not too long. LOI RUNAWAY. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  17. 18:57. Surprised myself by not only getting HABEAS CORPUS pretty sharpish but also for correcting my typo HABEUS soon after. Seems my proof-reading is getting better, with no nasty pinks at all today. Famous last words, no doubt.

    Agree with Vinyl on the laboriousness of CATACLYSM’s cryptic, considering the checkers couldn’t lead to much else.

    COD to PLAYGOER for giving me a run for my money until the end, although FIBONACCI was my LOI. Scree was also a nice misleading word to use in 17a, as I was trying to see how DEBRI might work.

    Thanks setter and blogger! 🙂

  18. 13’35”, with 3′ on PLAYGOER, and time spent parsing CATACLYSM. Good to see FIBONACCI making an appearance.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  19. 15:41 but with a fat-fingered typo in CATACLYSM.

    Otherwise a generally mild start to the week with no unknowns and quite a few clues entered without considering the cryptic.

    Thanks to both.

  20. 15 minutes.

    CATACLYSM went in unparsed (did anyone parse it before putting it in?!); didn’t bother parsing BEST-BEFORE DATE either; FIBONACCI went in as soon as I had the F and the start and the I at the end; for 12a, I thought the poet was Poe and wondered where the extra P came from before remembering Alexander Pope; and I really don’t like the best=worst equivalence as used in ASBESTOS. I know it’s a legitimate usage, but I see it so rarely outside of crosswords (just a personal hang-up!)

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Micrbrewery
    LOI Reel
    COD Pseudonym

  21. 10:20
    INSPECTOR MORSE took longer than it should have, especially as I once won an Azed competition with “Do crimes puzzle this DCI?” (5). I mentioned this accolade to Sir Jeremy of that ilk at a subsequent Azed lunch, at which Colin Dexter was also in attendance, and congratulated him on his own winning entry for Azed 666 (the Number of the Beast), which involved removing the name of an animal from the clue. He chose MORSE, another word for walrus.

  22. Quick today, and although I don’t know whether beginners would find it “very difficult,” I certainly didn’t. Failed to parse CATACLYSM, though I didn’t try very hard.
    Good to see Fibonacci make an appearance. Having a numerical sequence named after you is clearly an excellent way to be remembered, considering he was born around 1170ad

  23. Absolute biff fest after being faced with 2 clues filled in after seven minutes.

    Thanks vinyl for shining a light.

    All ruined in leaderboard terms by EMPLYY anyway.


  24. As others, I was slow starting, FOI ABYSS. Eastern half went in quickest. Several towards the end I biffed, only parsing (if at all) after the event.

  25. No great difficulties here, except those of my own making. I couldn’t sort out the parsing for EMPLOY and ended up entering it without understanding, because I was unnecessarily confusing myself as to what was the definition. CATACLYSM had to be, but to parse it took a while. HABEAS CORPUS was also obvious, but it wasn’t an instant parse. Yes OK one can just put things in, but then what’s the point of it all? To do so only seems to me to make sense if one is a contender, which I’m certainly not. Was careless about Mike Carroll and thought he was the definition and some unknown dead Irishman. 31 minutes.

  26. 24:15
    Good start to the week with a few neat twists and turns. LOI CATACLYSM was biffed. COD a tie beween FLASH MOB and MICROBREWERY.

    Thanks to Vinyl and the setter/

  27. 14:58

    Slow start – five from the first pass of all clues – but HOBNAIL was enough to write in three across clues at the beginning of the second round – HABEAS CORPUS (be careful how you spell it) gave further starting letters.

    Several not fully understood in flight, yet none of them could really be anything else – PLAYGOER bunged in from Y and O checkers; AS ONE MAN, FLASH MOB, BEST-BEFORE DATE, FIBONACCI and CATACLYSM also from checkers.

    Thanks V and setter

  28. 11:04. I would have broken the Ten Minute Barrier if I hadn’t misspelt DATE which then messed up CATACLYSM.


  29. 7:20 but with a silly typo. Left at the end with _M_L_Y and no immediate idea how to solve it I took a moment to check all my other answers carefully. When I came back to the clue I saw immeditely what was going on (funny how that happens) and promptly wrote in EMPLYY.

  30. I look forward to Monday because I have a fighting chance of completing. And so it came to pass.

  31. 18.46. I found the clues in this puzzle somewhat sub-par. Other commenters have already mentioned the quibbles.

  32. 18:45 for what seemed like standard mid-of-the-road fare (and nothing wrong with that) though the treacly bit of the catastrophically capsizing catamaran on the Cam went in unparsed until reviewing post-solve. Some of the definitions seemed ever so slightly off.

  33. Happy to finish with all correct in 38.35, although like others failed to parse CATACLYSM. I even took a while to decipher Vinyl’s explanation, and as he rightly said a very convoluted cryptic.

  34. I count myself as an ‘inexperienced solver’ but didn’t find this too troublesome. Everything was correct and parsed in around 45 minutes. I biffed then parsed a fair few which certainly helped. My favourite was PSEUDONYM as it had me galloping down the ‘who’s Mike Carroll’ rabbit hole at first. Many thanks all.

  35. 18a PLAYGOER I bunged in PER as backwards REP (theatre) without reading the clue. Oops!
    14d fibonACCi, I too doubted acc for account, but was happy to ignore the problem.
    16d FLASH MOB biffed, couldn’t parse. Thank you Vinyl, and setter.

  36. 18.30 but I made heavy weather of it and almost messed up by spelling pseudonym wrong which made my LOI reel. Playgoer was a tricky one as was life form until the penny dropped. Wasn’t sure how to spell Fibonacci either butthe crossers made that easy in the end.
    Good puzzle and a positive start to the week.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  37. I think, if like me, you saw HABEAS CORPUS instantly ( and parsed it!) this puzzle presented few difficulties, as I continued straight through (not including time to sort out the wordplay for CATACLYSM,I). Only REEL resisted, partly because RAVE does not lose a V, and partly because, like Denise, I spelt PSUEDO wrong until it couldn’t be. 14 minutes exactly.

  38. Nothing tricky here. I did the 4 letter clues. Then I did the 5 letter clues. Then I filled in the gaps. PLAYGOER and CATACLYSM were only partially parsed so thank you V.

  39. Tough Monday. Got there in the end, but my TO THE MAN held me up no end. Of course it’s TO A MAN… silly me.

  40. 35 minutes. Thanks for the explanation re Playgoer, which I didn’t parse. Tricky-ish for a Monday, I thought.

  41. My clock says 33:33, which is rather nice, but that includes the usual two or three minutes of proofreading. This was a very biffable puzzle, but although I did work out the wordplay for many clues (including CATACLYSM after trying to figure out what happened to the K in TACKY and then seeing the missing RE in T(RE)ACLY), there were some I never got round to, like UNDERPLAY. No matter. CUPBOARD would be my COD, I think.

  42. A strange puzzle, as Vinyl implied, with many going straight in, but others mystifying. I didn’t help myself by putting, like Eniamretrauq, TO THE MAN, assuming TOT to be correct and being unable to account for the H. CATACLYSM put me right, as it screamed FLASH MOB for 16D. LOI was EMPLOY, where I can’t see that as = exploit, which to me has an extra sense of ‘make the most of’ rather than ‘use’. Of course I failed to parse CATACLYSM! Thanks, Vinyl and Setter.

  43. 22.48 Nearly done after fifteen minutes but EMPLOY, PSEUDONYM, CUPBOARD and particularly LIFE FORM took an age at the end. I never did parse CATACLYSM. Thanks vinyl1.

  44. 19’58” but judging from the Snitch I should have been quicker. EMPLOY and PROPEL were the last to fall. Thanks to all.

  45. A faster than average 28:01 helped by a good dose of biffing, inc. CATACLYSM, and I still don’t understand the RE in NITRE. Thanks Vinyl.

  46. RE=on, Illusion. The trouble with doing the crossword just before bed is that other solvers have already made all the apt comments, and with more skill, but yes, much of this puzzle was so obvious from the definitions and crossing letters that the clever cryptics could be ignored. Nevertheless thanks to the setter and Vinyl1 for a pleasant Monday canter and some much needed explanations.

  47. 29’50”
    Steady pace throughout until baulked by Fibonacci closing stages.

    I enjoyed this lots, was pleased to finish in under half an hour and was not miffed to be relegated to an also ran by the handicap mark.

    Much to like; thank you setter and Vinyl.


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