Times 28851 – what the Romans did for us.

I was enjoying this puzzle, thinking it would all be done in the usual 15 to 20 minutes, when I ground to a halt, having entered a wrong answer at 19d and been unable to make any sense of 20a. Even now, with the correct answers in place, I can’t parse 20a (see below). Elsewhere, there were some cracking clues, my favourite of which was the surface and unlikely anagram for KILIMANJARO at 7d.

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

1 Congratulatory gesture one way to make friends? (8)
BACKSLAP – friends = PALS, put back is SLAP.
5 Agent runs after rent? (6)
BROKER – rent = BROKE, add R[uns].
9 Extremely useful bird boxes at last! (8)
ULTIMATE – U[sefu]L, TIME (bird, prison time), has AT “boxed”.
10 Navigation with Poles winding down (6)
SLALOM – I think this is just a cryptic definition of a downhill ski race.
12 Line’s included in church hymn: we must think it’s a bloomer! (13)
CHRYSANTHEMUM – CH (church), RY’S (railway line’s), ANTHEM (hymn), UM (we must think!).
15 Times goes on being a favourite of the Queen (5)
ESSEX – ESSE (existence, being, from Latin) X (times). The Earl of Essex, Robert Devereaux, was a big favourite of Elizabeth I; the jury is out on how close their relationship really was.
16 Gripping new English writer is pleasant change (9)
NINEPENCE – NICE (pleasant) is “gripping” N, E, PEN (new English writer).
17 Military band ridiculously bars women (3,6)
SAM BROWNE – (BARS WOMEN). A kind of belt.
19 Gather confession from fool (5)
AMASS – I confess, (I) AM (an) ASS.
20 Magnitude of blow dealt by defeat here indeterminate? (6,7)
LITTLE BIGHORN – I knew nothing about this American battle, so read it up on Wiki. I am still none the wiser about how to parse this, except for the obvious “little / big” dichotomy leading to something indeterminate. Perhaps one of our Transatlantic solvers can explain it to us.
22 What you keep with practice or give up? (4,2)
HAND IN – double definition.
23 Such errors often attributed to ministers? (8)
CLERICAL – cryptic definition.
25 Viewing aid picked up the smallest things (6)
SPECKS – sounds like SPECS, spectacles, glasses.
26 A second girl’s turned set on (8)
ASSAILED – A, S (second), DELIA’S reversed (turned).
1 Risqué word that raises a smile: Danish? (4,6)
BLUE CHEESE – BLUE (risqué), CHEESE (word said by photographer to make us smile). Danish Blue being a popular kind of blue cheese. (edited)
2 Fur left behind by old pet (3)
CAT – COAT loses O for old.
3 Exams set mostly especially for certain types of school? (4-3)
SAME-SEX – (EXAMS SE[T])*. I went to a same-sex school, all boys, but I imagine that’s a non-starter these days.
4 Old defence area not fiddled with in high-scoring draw? (8,4)
ANTONINE WALL – A (area), (NOT)*,  NINE ALL with W[ith}inserted. The Antonine Wall was the northernmost border of the Roman Empire in these islands, running from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth, 63 km long, 3 m high and 5 m wide. Quite a thing.
6 Shock after submarine finds preserved fish (7)
ROLLMOP – ROLL (sub, type of sandwich), MOP (of hair).
7 High Mass having a major link with Islam originally, surprisingly (11)
KILIMANJARO – (A MAJOR LINK I)*, the I from I[slam].
8 Quietly finishing off drink, or what’s left? (4)
RUMP – RUM (drink), P (quietly).
11 Legendary weapons in truth cleaned out: fails to secure enough? (12)
THUNDERBOLTS – T[rut]H, UNDER BOLTS meaning fails to secure enough.
13 Blame screen for distorting likeness (11)
14 Article by a couple of boys eclipses what one puts in the paper (8,2)
PERSONAL AD –  PER (by), SON, LAD (a couple of boys), insert A (article).
18 Strip of green clothing transformed the design afresh (7)
RETHINK – a RINK can be green, e.g. a bowling green. Insert (THE)*.
19 Country tune, say: part of it almost certainly recalled (7)
ALGERIA – all reversed; AIR (tune), EG (say), LA (part of Algeria reversed). I had ERITREA in for a while, and thought it parsed, but 19a and 20a put paid to that idea. EDIT see below comments, ideas about the LA being part of a tune. Seems a better explanation.
21 It follows forthwith — usually — but not all of it (4)
THUS – hidden as above.
24 Largely hair-raising mountain route? (3)
COL – LOC[k] reversed.


83 comments on “Times 28851 – what the Romans did for us.”

  1. At 49 minutes I found this hard and wondered more than once if I would get through it in a single session or have to abandon it for the night. Anyway I persevered and got there in the end.

    I’m still not entirely convinced by ‘rent / BROKE’ at 5ac as I think more of tearing or slashing than breaking. The nearest I can find in SOED is ‘pull to pieces’.

    NINEPENCE took some working out from wordplay but proved worth the effort.

    20ac is certainly an odd clue and although I sort of see where it is coming from I can’t find a way to explain it any more clearly than Pip has managed. It’s the sort of clue bloggers dread turning up on their watch.

    NHO the ANTONINE WALL which as my LOI required an additional 5 minutes to itself, but as with NINEPENCE it was worth the extra effort and I felt very satisfied to have worked it out eventually.

    I wrote in THUNDERBALLS (thinking of cannonballs, perhaps) at 11ac but dissatisfaction with the parsing saved me from myself and I corrected it. Unfortunately there was no wordplay to save me from SLALEM at 10ac so I finished with a one-letter error.

    At 19dn I started by trying AUSTRIA when I had no checkers in place, progressed through NIGERIA and finally ALGERIA when the arrival of AMASS sealed the deal. If the wordplay for LA really is nothing more than two letters taken from ALGERIA I don’t think much of it – and why ‘almost certainly’?

    Edit at 07:45 re 19dn. Could it be that LA as a musical note is almost certainly part of said tune?

      1. Not sure who you are replying to but ‘La’ is not confined to the note A in the most commonly used form of tonic sol-fa where ‘doh’ is moveable and simply means the first note of the scale. In the ‘fixed doh’ system ‘doh’ is always C and you are right that ‘La’ would be the note A.

  2. Whew, cool, so it wasn’t just me!
    I don’t think there’s anything particular American about the parsing of LITTLE BIGHORN and that Pip has gotten to the (shallow) bottom of it. I really didn’t know how AL in ALGERIA was clued.
    Had mistyped KILIMANJARO but was entering the answers online after working all but three on paper and was warned of the error (fast time though! Ha).

  3. 23:52
    I was hoping for enlightenment here about ALGERIA & LITTLE BIGHORN. I started off thinking ‘blow’ might be wind, but gave that up, and then thought, Is HORN supposed to =blow? whose magnitude is indeterminate; that would leave ‘defeat here’ as the def, I guess. (Not everyone, of course, would call it a defeat; as the bumper sticker used to say, ‘Custer had it coming!’) That’s the best I could do, and it’s not very good. What Jack said about ALGERIA. I also wondered about green rinks. COD to KILIMANJARO, although it leaped out at me from the checkers. Kilima, in case anyone wanted to know, is Swahili for ‘hill’.

    1. I have added a further thought to my comment about LA. I think it might just work and is at least better than the ‘two letters from Algeria’ idea.

  4. 43:35

    Managed about half before coming to a grinding halt, with a lot of open windows on the RHS. ANTONINE WALL came from nowhere in particular but parsed OK, leaving me thinking that 20a could be LITTLE BRITAIN but could not justify – spotted the BIGHORN in the end, a HORN being something that is blown. Could not parse RETHINK – no idea that a RINK is a strip of green in bowls. Of the last two, pencilling in BROKER (BROKE = rent seemed dubious) finally led me to LOI KILIMANJARO – very good.

    Thanks setter and P

  5. Collins:
    4. bowling
    a strip of the green, usually about 5–7 metres wide, on which a game is played
    A new one on me.
    LA.is a note ( do re mi so fa la ti) AIR is the tune, add in e.g. all backwards and voila.
    Little and big make the size of the blow on the horn indeterminate – neither big nor small.

    Quite hard today, though

  6. 44 miniutes with LOI THUS. I’ve no better explanation for ALGERIA, nor LITTLE BIGHORN which I’ve previously thought of as three words. COD to BLUE CHEESE. I liked the CHRYSANT too. I think we must have had SAM BROWNE before, which I half-knew. A tough puzzle, just about within my compass, Thank you Pip and setter.

  7. No time as 1) had interruptions, and 2) had to look up the wall. No idea what was going on. Unlike Jack, I couldn’t work it out. Oh well.

    I agree BROKE is odd and I’m also baffled by LITTLE BIGHORN. I had AUSTRIA for a while which didn’t help!

    I liked my FOI. BACKSLAP. All went downhill from there really.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  8. 47:37
    My longest for a while. I was way off wavelength with relative gimmes such as CAT not going in on first reading.

    A couple of unknowns (ANTONINE WALL, SAM BROWNE) but both well clued so no issues.

    A struggle but I’m glad I persevered so thanks to the setter for the challenge and to piquet for the blog.

  9. 24’50”, with lots of general knowledge being dredged up.

    I once walked Hadrian’s Wall, so knew there was also another attempt at such a barrier.
    LITTLE BIGHORN not parsed properly, and also ALGERIA. CAT LOI. Spelling of the mountain still doesn’t look right. Nho RINK. So basically the same as everyone else.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  10. 44:19, with a long while before anything was entered into the grid at all. Once I had CHRYSANTHEMUM things started rolling along, though, and I was on the wavelength.

    Really enjoyed this challenge, nothing too obscure for me but very chewy. COD to BACKSLAP or perhaps to BLUE CHEESE which should have been biffed straight away probably.

    If a horn is both big and little, then the blow required to operate it would be indeterminate I suppose?

  11. Just over half an hour, but with a fair few unknowns.

    – I’m still not sure how LITTLE BIGHORN works, though the explanations given here make sense;
    – I didn’t understand how roll=sub in ROLLMOP;
    – I held myself up by thinking of ‘leaser’ for 5a for a long time before getting BROKER, which in turn unlocked the previously unfathomable KILIMANJARO (my previous attempts at piecing together the anagrist for it were completely off, not helped by thinking the definition was just ‘high’);
    – SAM BROWNE was an unknown (or something I’d forgotten) but the only possible combination of letters that worked with the checkers;
    – ANTONINE WALL went in unparsed;
    – I was on the verge of putting in ‘thunderballs’ until bolts occurred to me and THUNDERBOLTS went in;
    – I agree that ‘la’ as part of a tune makes the most sense for ALGERIA

    Tough stuff. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Col
    LOI Thunderbolts
    COD Ultimate

    1. Next time you are in the bread or sandwich department of M&S look out for ‘submarine rolls’, with or without filling!

  12. 16:18 while I waited, and waited, and waited for a Tube I could actually board.

    Similar shrug as others at LITTLE BIGHORN & eyebrow at rent/broke. The Latin and royal history connection for ESSEX made me fear this would be a real stinker, but I made decent progress throughout.

    NINEPENCE and ANTONINE WALL held me up a bit – I was looking for a word with the suffix -ENCE, which is pronounced differently, and didn’t know the wall.

    KILIMANJARO was a great anagram, and I was glad that one of the second I / second A crossed, which resolved what could have been a tricky spelling decision for me.

    Thanks Piquet & setter.

  13. 11:43. Moderately knotty.
    I don’t think there’s anything more to 20ac than LITTLE/BIG = indeterminate size and HORN = something you blow. Not the finest example of the art of the cryptic definition perhaps.
    Surprised not to have heard of something like the ANTONINE WALL, my interesting new piece of knowledge for the day.
    When I solved 19dn I thought ‘part of it [tune]’ indicated LAy, but that doesn’t account for the words ‘almost certainly’. I think jackkt’s explanation is right.
    Another MER at rent/BROKE.
    Small point Pip but ‘word’ in 1dn belongs to the second half of the clue: BLUE is just ‘risqué’, CHEESE is a ‘word that raises a smile’.

    1. Snap! Without knowing – not being musical – I guessed a LAY was part of a tune. Either way, if no-one understands the clue it must be rated as: Not Great.

    2. I used to live in Bearsden, a northern suburb of Glasgow. It has an Antonine Road, and parts of the wall remain there and can be explored.

  14. 21:35
    Toughest this week so far, and on a Wednesday!
    I realised it was going to be a challenge when I got as far down as AMASS before entering anything. Some elements of the wordplay seemed deliberately obfuscatory – maybe that’s why they call them cryptic.
    1d reminded me of Dr John Cooper Clarke’s gag about a photographer asking his subjects to look glum: “Say chalk”.
    LOI THUNDERBOLTS (after correcting from THUNDERBALLS).
    COD ANTONINE WALL (despite the obfuscation in “fiddled with”).

  15. In BLUE CHEESE isn’t it BLUE = ‘risqué’ and then CHEESE = ‘word that raises a smile’?

    Lovely puzzle, thanks setter and blogger.

  16. I had the opposite experience to others, including our blogger, being slow to start but building up steam. Like Jack I considered taking a break and coming back to it. I needed the crossers to see what was going on in some of the shorter words BROKER, SLALOM, COL, ESSEX and was pleasantly surprised to have worked everything else out in 54 mins.

    LOI ASSAILED (I was sure this would have something to do with the telly. )

    Thanks P

  17. 55′ of toiling for me and a DNF with THUNDERBaLlS.. made sense at the time. Too many unparsed clues to make it enjoyable. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  18. What others have said. Couldn’t parse ALGERIA or LITTLE BIGHORN, and now that I (sort of) see it I’m not convinced the latter was a terribly good clue. Nor does rent = broke in my book. But hey. Liked ESSEX and NINEPENCE.

  19. 11:25, and I was another who thought this was going to be utterly intractable, with only two across answers going in on first pass, but somehow that tiny toehold proved to be enough to build the rest up pretty steadily. As per others, more time spent working out exactly why things were right than coming up with the required word in the first place, but no complaints.

  20. By my standards I actually whizzed through this in 24:44, having no real problems
    Last one in was the SLALOM
    Little big horn is just a horn for blowing that’s little or big?
    Enjoyed this! But maybe, some puzzles are just more my personal style than others.
    Thanks setter and blogger
    PS The one that really made me smile was NINEPENCE, as I just wrote in the letters given by the clue, with no expectation they would lead to anything, and suddenly there in front of me was 9d! Made my day!

  21. 13:53

    This felt decidedly chewy whilst solving so I was delighted to stop the clock just inside my current NITCH average.

    I pieced the wall together from the wordplay and what emerged tinkled the faintest of wee bells.

    I initially had NIGERIA for the country but then spotted the musical LA when I cam to AMASS.

    I knew the battle as a friend had the Waddingtons board game The Battle of the Little Big Horn (note the enumeration) which we’d play in the school holidays when it was too wet to be out playing football and climbing trees.

    I also knew of rinks as both parents played bowls competitively.

    Interesting puzzle, kudos to the setter for taking on awkward words like Chrysanth and Kili.

  22. Custer’d Creams
    Well now, put me firmly in the challenged but very satisfied category. Lots of clues where the answer prompted a surprised wow of recognition, and while I share others’ ??? about rent from broke, I came away with a cheesy grin and mild disbelief that it only took 20.31.
    Horn is also a verb, according to Chambers , so little/big blow works fine for me, though if I didn’t know the battle (do people really not?!) I might have struggled.
    BACKSLAP and NINEPENCE both worth the price, and even little THUS -has there ever been a better “hidden”? And now I know what I’ve done when failing to secure my back gate properly. Zeus would be pleased.

  23. Biffer’s paradise for me. RETHINK (LOI), ANTONINE WALL, PERSONAL AD, LITTLE BIGHORN, ASSAILED, BACKSLAP, ESSEX. I may as well have called it the concise. Thanks to piquet for the explanations.

    With all that biffing, my time looks pretty good, given the snitch. Though my snitch average is severely flattered by omitting all the dnfs, or finishes outside the top 100.


  24. 34:20 – a rewarding stinker. Lots to ponder during and post solve but having come here I now think the LA = note bit of the ALGERIA clue is neatest of the lot.

  25. Why is a THUNDERBOLT legendary? Because in the 3rd definition in Collins it says so. But it’s a definition by example — it doesn’t have to be legendary. So perhaps the setter put a question mark at the end of the clue, which actually referred to the first word (or maybe it referred both to the first word and to the last bit, or maybe the setter didn’t even bother about the DBE). I always find clues like this unsatisfactory. The clue needs to say “Legendary (?) weapons in …”, which it can’t really. The fact that the setter didn’t say something like “Maybe legendary weapons in …” suggests to me that they didn’t bother abut the DBE. Lots of hard (for me) clues and I finished, after using aids, in 68 minutes.

    [On edit: of course it’s fine — I never noticed the significance of ‘weapon’. My apologies, especially to the setter.]

    1. Isn’t the use of thunderbolts as weapons confined to the realm of legend? The question mark relates to the fact that “under-bolts” is not an actual word. It’s not a very good clue though, as the surface meaning is not very clear.

      1. I wouldn’t class a Republic P47 Thunderbolt, WWII Fighter airplane, as particularly ‘Legendary’, although it’s definitely a weapon 🙂

    2. This would only be true if there were examples of THUNDERBOLTS which were non-legendary weapons. [Edit: cross-posted with Stavrolex!]

      1. They were supposedly Zeus’s preferred option.
        BTW, I’d’ve thought ‘mythical’ were better than ‘legendary’. Is a legend the same as a myth? Legends can be true, myths not.

        1. Yes, I agree Zeus and his thunderbolts are mythical rather than legendary (and of course Thor gets his name from an old word for thunder), but I imagine there are still some Christians & Hindus who believe their gods have literally smitten sinners with such things (if not recently), so I guess that would make them legendary?

      2. There have been a couple of fighter planes called THUNDERBOLT, but I somehow doubt that’s what the setter had in mind.

  26. 10:12 Strangely enough I thought that was pretty straightforward and I’m surprised by some of the negative comments. I didn’t parse LITTLE BIGHORN or ALGERIA while solving, but that’s kind of normal, and I think they’re both fine clues, as were most of the rest. REND = TEAR raised an eyebrow, but ripping or tearing something up effectively breaks it, and we were supplied with a question mark to suggest that things were not quite as one would expect. COD to KILIMANJARO for the lovely surface.

  27. I really liked this one. A steady, chewy solve and no queries once the battle and the LA got sorted.
    On the subject of walls, the Antonine is an obvious place to put one, if you look at the map, Britain is only a bike ride wide at that point. And the additional benefit of being actually in Scotland, unlike Hadrian’s.
    Not that either wall was ever intended (imo) as a genuine barrier. I am pretty sure they were built to keep the troops occupied, always a major problem. And if it also impresses the natives, so much the better.

    1. I was taught in year 8 I think that the walls were built not to stop the Scots (or Picts or whatever) getting IN to Roman Britain (mainly Eng & Wales) but to make it VERY HARD to get the stolen cattle/whatever back OUT.

  28. Challenging. DNF (used aids for 20 ac, which led me astray anyway). Convinced myself I could parse ASSYRIA, which dealt the deathblow to 20 ac, and thence ‘blow’ led me to BASSOON. LITTLE.BASSOON? Even I realised that was a non-runner. Still enjoyed the workout, tho’. COD NINEPENCE. Also liked 4 dn, 7 dn, 17 ac.

  29. 64:26 and all green. Slow, but time well spent. Lots of excellent clues including NINEPENCE, BLUE CHEESE, ROLLMOP…. A joy

  30. I found this a bit worrying. Couldn’t parse LITTLE BIGHORN. Then went shopping and when I got back the Antonine Wall suddenly came into my head as I picked up the paper but hadn’t re-read 4d. Why? I may never know, and A-W wasn’t in my cheating machine, although Hadrian’s was.
    Lots of answers where I was somewhat confident but not fully convinced, which I think I don’t like.
    NINEPENCE at 16a was clever and COD.
    Like ChrisLutton I didn’t understand how roll=sub in ROLLMOP, now I suppose that SUBWAY shops are called that for a reason. As happens so often I have learned and forgotten sub(marine)=roll several times….

  31. Did ok on this, with 18’10” on the clock. In 19d, I definitely took the LA to be the note, as being “almost certainly part” of a tune. Didn’t particularly like the LITTLE BIGHORN clue, though I kind of get it. Remembered from Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. Many thanks.

  32. I mis-remembered (I think) “as right as ninepence” appearing in one (or more) of Frank Richards’ Greyfriars School stories. The meaning is “all manner of things are well with me”. However the www did not confirm this. Apparently the etymology is diffuse, one citation referring to a ninepence silver coin from long ago. Humerous reference to a “nine-bob note” (i.e. folding money valued at nine shillings which was much more than my weekly pocket money, ever) popularly indicates fraud: who would be so stupid as to counterfeit a denomination which never existed!
    “Right as nine pins” as in the game of skittles and “right as a trivet” both mean “all standing up”, i.e. all as it should be.

    Thus could be a ‘pleasant change’……

    1. Very interesting. The oldest quote (from 1659) in the OED is “as fine as fippence, as neat as nine pence”, and so there seems to be some alliteration at play here (“as nice as nine-pence” also became popular in the 19th century), since there have never been ninepenny pieces in circulation in the UK. The phrase “as right as nine-pins” came later and is totally separate, but the two got confused some time in the Victorian era.

  33. Thank you, setter, this was just nice all around.
    I would have thought that the battle at Little Bighorn would have been known to more of of the non-North Americans via Flashman.

  34. SAME SEX and ULTIMATE were first 2 in. I thought of BACKSLAP for 1a but didn’t put it in as I couldn’t quite parse it(thanks Pip) and was still considering FOUR LETTER for 1d. Eventually BLUE CHEESE and the ANTONINE WALL arrived to confirm it. I had lots of fallow periods during the solve, then another clue would suddenly reveal its secrets and help things along with the new crossers. THUNDERBOLTS and ALGERIA(I’m with Jack here) gave me the BIGHORN part of 20a., which seemed ok to me. ASSAILED and PERSONAL AD completed all but a couple in the NE. KILIMANJARO arrived with a huge thud, then SLALOM, ROLLMOP and finally BROKER finished the struggle. 30:07. Thanks setter and Pip.

  35. 49 mins, most of it spent trying to work out if there was such a thing as a LITTLE BASSOON and how AUSTRIA worked. Looking at the above comments, I could have been correct after all.

  36. I would echo Zabadak’s comments on this one, even though I took twice as long to complete it. Was held up for a long time in the NE and could not believe 7dn was an anagram (despite all the pointers) until I convinced myself that 5ac had to be BROKER, and the penny finally dropped. I would also echo others’ comments on the parsing of 19dn and 20ac, but the crossers made it clear they had to be right.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  37. For quite a while, with all bar one crosser, I thought it must be Atlantic Wall (as in 2nd World War), but couldn’t make sense of that until I finally saw Antonine Wall. Algeria clue somewhat strange, as others have said.
    50 minutes to complete.

  38. 36.30 done in two parts. Still had 7 to go after 32 mins but the break seemed to sharpen me up. The not so magnificent seven were in the SE corner but once I realised 7 dn didn’t start with salim but was in fact a proper anagram, the end came swiftly. LOI personal ad.
    Didn’t get the reference to Custer’s last stand either .

  39. Wasn’t sure about a number of my entries so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that one was wrong, THUNDERBALLS, but it’s always disappointing not to get it all correct.

  40. Just over an hour, so very hard but quite enjoyable. It just took a while to correct all the initial wrong guesses and filter out what was really being asked for. I wondered a bit about SAME SEX, but now I see I had misread the clue as talking about “certain types at school” rather than “types of school”. And I also couldn’t figure out where LA came from in ALGERIA.

  41. 33’47”
    Found the going testing, hung on gamely.

    Relieved to have finished, and surprised to be under my par, and nearly all parsed – la ala Jack’s la – but I am still bemused by Custer’s Waterloo.
    Thank you Pip and setter; very enjoyable.

  42. 42:45
    Last three in were ROLLMOP (unparsed), THUNDERBOLT and ASSAILED.
    Like others, I biffed ALGERIA as the only country that fitted, without fully understanding the parsing.

  43. 16:43. Nice puzzle. I enjoyed BACKSLAP, ROLLMOP and RESEMBLANCE most but others as well. LOI SLALOM, which I initially thought must end on ROOM (winding down = MOOR). Lovely cryptic definition. I was rather unconvinced, like others, I see, by LITTLE BIGHORN. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  44. This one was, by and large, on our wavelength as, at 33:20, we were well ahead of our notional target of half the snitch. No problems with the Antonine Wall. We weren’t happy with the parsing of LITTLE BIGHORN but moved on, as with AL(GERIA) once AMASS had put paid to NIGERIA. Liked KILIMANJARO. Thanks Piquet and setter.

  45. Loved BLUE CHEESE and KILIMANJARO. Hated LITTLE BIGHORN and ALGERIA. FOI and a pleasant surprise after almost abandoning hope was CHRYSANTHEMUM.

  46. Found this by far the easiest of the last few weeks ( no, I don’t get it either!) and trundled along happily thinking that I’d come here and find that y’all would think so too! First in BACKSLAP, followed by the first word of 1d (left the second until I had some checkers), then closely following the cryptic, got ULTIMATELY and SAME SEX easily. Had the NW corner finished in a few minutes, and the easily-seen CHRYSANTHEMUM helped the rest along. Only NHO was ANTONINE WALL, but that was fairly clued, and the belt was a guess. CODs to LITTLE BIGHORN and NINEPENCE. Great puzzle.


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