Times 28873 – Bit of a biff-fest

Quite accessible, this one, I think. I managed it in 17 minutes plus change. How fared you?

1 Restrain obstinate beast biting a couple of Zulus (6)
4 Heavenly food provided by male relative in vast continent (8)
10 Liable to pinch uncle’s oar somehow? (9)
LARCENOUS – anagram* of UNCLES OAR; cheeky definition
11 Combination of notes, one used in a form of jazz (5)
12 Eggs on violent activists to begin with (3)
OVA – initial letters of 2nd to 4th words
13 Alarmist in Greece mostly involved with Romans (11)
14 Figure standing briefly at end of lane (6)
16 Old woman ditches union leader, getting shot? (7)
OPALINE – O (old) PAuLINE; OPALINE and SHOT (adj) both mean streaked with colour
19 Presumptuous president once torn apart by conflict (7)
20 In run-down environment, finally keep fast (6)
22 Sensational act clears up messes (11)
25 Dynamic type on radio in part of India (3)
GOA – sounds like ‘goer’
26 One primarily relishing beer — bitter (5)
ACERB – ACE (one) Relishing Beer; common crosswordy word for ‘bitter’
27 Model former politician protecting key city transport (9)
EXEMPLARY – E (musical key) in EX MP + LA RY
28 Lamb possibly? Try it without sauce initially (8)
ESSAYIST – Sauce in ESSAY IT, where ‘without’ means outside; Charles Lamb, AKA Elia
29 Jam ingredient originally exported in copper container (6)
PECTIN – Exported in PC (copper = police officer) TIN
1 Flowering plant everyone cut round the edges (6)
2 Persian prophet raised lightweight chicken for cooking (9)
ZOROASTER – OZ reversed ROASTER (chicken for cooking)
3 City shelter succeeded, having duke involved (5)
5 Unusually slim models see English girls in Paris (14)
MESDEMOISELLES – SLIM MODELS SEE E*; takes a bit of working out if you have only O-level French – or a bad memory of previous crosswords
6 Share drink? That’s the thinking (9)
7 Throw out  injured member’s supporter (5)
SLING – double definition
8 Old cow marshal observed at foot of tree (8)
ALDERNEY – [Marshal] NEY after ALDER; an extinct breed of cattle from the Channel Island of the same name
9 Elderly noblewoman’s bet daughter unveiled at first during party game (7,7)
DOWAGER DUCHESS – WAGER (bet) D (daughter) Unveiled in DO (party) CHESS (game)
15 Pamphlet cleverly put together in a manageable way (9)
17 Resentful granny finally hurt by current jibe (9)
INDIGNANT – NAN hurT after IN (current/trendy) DIG (jibe)
18 Not fair, coach being out of sight of the house (8)
OFFSTAGE – OFF (not fair, as in ‘bowling underarm was a bit off’) STAGE (coach)
21 Tropical tree some accommodated in bar (6)
23 Welshman has change of heart, finding betting odds (5)
EVENS – EVaNS with the middle letter changed to E
24 In Mauritius ready to regret restricting exercise (5)


62 comments on “Times 28873 – Bit of a biff-fest”

  1. 39m 16s
    I find that, although Monday puzzles are generally on the straightforward side, they can often throw up a couple of clues which have me scratching my head for 10-15mins. Today it was 16ac OPALINE and 8d ALDERNEY.

  2. 14 minutes. I thought I was on for a sub 10, but the spelling of MESDEMOISELLES and then OPALINE slightly detained me. COD to ESSAYIST. Thank you U and setter.

  3. 25 mins and would have been quicker if I hadn’t carelessly bunged in TRACTABLE which made ESSAYIST difficult. Once I saw it, OFFSTAGE went in then a few minutes on the last, OPALINE. Didn’t work out the « shot » though. Thanks to our blogger for that.

    I liked the longer anagrams and the DUCHESS. Good fun today.

    Thanks U and setter.

  4. 7:29. This felt like a continuation of the QC. I hesitated over OPALINE not being sure of the meaning but otherwise no real hold-ups. LOI DOWAGER DUCHESS. Thanks U and setter.

  5. 7:30. No major hold-ups today in spite of a few unusual words. I don’t remember seeing MALLOW before. I wasted a bit of time trying to do something with CU at 29ac.

  6. 12’15”. Nearly banged in ‘exemplify’; struggled with the Frenchwomen spelling, despite having a diploma in the language; didn’t know the meaning of OPALINE; and it had to be ALDERNEY, no bovine knowledge necessary.

    Thanks ulaca and setter.

  7. A shambolic DNF for me. Never heard of the marshal, and didn’t make the Channel Island/cow connection, so went for ALDERLEY. Also couldn’t see the right sense of ‘house’, so convinced myself I was after something casino-related. Lots of S_A_E words occurred to me, but alas not the right one.

    Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.

    Thanks both.

  8. 22 minutes with the last 4 of those spent thinking of the appropriate meaning of ‘house’ to give me OFFSTAGE.

    ACERB was helped by having appeared in the 9th March QC with reference to ‘acerbates‘ and it was also mentioned several times in last Friday’s discussion of the clue to ‘alembic’.

    PECTIN known from reading labels on jars at the breakfast table.

    I needed to check the meaning of OPALINE after completion to understand the clue.

    DOWAGER DUCHESS enjoyed a revival in recent years as portrayed by Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey.

  9. Did this last night directly after the QC in 18:31.
    Held up by OPALINE which took me an alphabet crawl till I reached PA(U)LINE then I vaguely recognised OPALINE and had to hope for the best.

  10. 25 minutes or so.

    Same issues as a few others: didn’t know that OPALINE means shot in that sense; put ‘tractable’ at first for 15d, and only corrected to TRACTABLY when I remembered Lamb the ESSAYIST; got the ‘moiselles’ part of MESDEMOISELLES first and then pieced together the start of it once I had the checkers; only vaguely remembered the ALDERNEY cow and the BANYAN tree.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Muzzle
    LOI Essayist
    COD Mesdemoiselles

  11. A slow 42 minutes. A major breezeblock for my LOI OFFSTAGE, the correct sense of ‘house’ and STAGE for ‘coach’ only coming after a break and brain reset. Along the way I was lucky to get OPALINE. It’s been a while since I’ve seen ALDERNEY as a ‘cow’ – I didn’t know they are no longer with us.

  12. My level of Myrtilusness in classic poetry:
    The Dairymaid
    She curtsied,
    And went and told
    The Alderney:
    “Don’t forget the butter for
    The Royal slice of bread.”
    The Alderney
    Said sleepily:
    “You’d better tell
    His Majesty
    That many people nowadays
    Like marmalade
    AA Milne, When We Were Very Young
    Slightly put off by the “old”, though I see we have the Nazis to blame. I believe we’ve debated shot for OPALINE before in this parish: it was nearly my last in, saving me from ALDERMAN who for all I know may have herded cows in the dark ages. My last in was actually PECTIN, recovered just in time from PEPTIN, which might aid in the digestion of jam, but is not -ahem – PC.
    The rest was Quickie quality, and I finished in 12.27 feeling it should have been quicker.

    1. Strangely enough I just read that delightful poem to my 3 year old granddaughter visiting from America as a good night story two days ago. So no problem with the cow. She said she also liked butter on her bread.

  13. 8:34 Nice easy puzzle for a Monday morning. Nothing wrong with the occasional biff-fest. Anyone brought up on AA Milne (as mentioned above) will know about Alderneys, though I wasn’t aware they were now extinct as a breed. All done in 6 mins or so apart from OPALINE, which I only got by working out that it must be PAULINE without the U. I knew the word but had no idea SHOT was a synonym, so thanks to the setter for improving my vocabulary.

  14. 15.45. As expected, my time was good by my standards but distinctly tardy compared to the really quick solvers.

  15. Biffed OPALINE, parsing it afterwards, and absolutely flew through this in only a minute plus change slower than the QC. It’s been quite some time since I last cleared both puzzles in under 10 minutes.

    TIME 5:21

  16. A couple short at the 30 minute mark, with OPALINE being a DNK, and struggled to find a 7 letter girls name with a U. With RATIONALE missing I was struggling.

    Poor spelling of MESDEMOISELLES meant that I looked at the SCAREMONGER clue backwards, as “alarmist” surely had to be anagram fodder, think “involved with Romans” might be something Catholic.

    I liked ESSAYIST.

  17. 23:18
    Good fun. I didn’t find it particularly easy but much of my time was spent being stuck on OPALINE ( a new meaning for me) and OFFSTAGE, which I liked, along with INDIGNANT and the DUCHESS.

    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter.

  18. 20.05

    Those were also my last two and quite pleased to see OPALINE. STAGE took longer as I didn’t think of that sort of house

  19. Liked 23d EVENS although it took a while. Reminds me of Evans Above the undertaker and Evans the Death in Under Milk Wood.

  20. All pretty easy, 27 minutes. I didn’t know the precise meaning of OPALINE. It seems that many of us know our A.A.Milne and I was all set to quote from ‘The King’s Breakfast’, which is the only place where I’ve heard that the Alderney is (now was) a cow, only to find that Zabadak had got there first. Sad that the breed no longer exists. Has anyone read Lamb? I’ve never read his essays, may have read one of two of his tales from Shakespeare as a child, but I doubt it.

  21. 14:30 – I had no idea Alderney cows were old/extinct, but I had never given it much thought, I suppose. OPALINE was the only unknown but was gettable.

  22. 13:38

    Very quick – was very careful with the spelling of the French woman, thinking I’d made a mistake with that some time ago. Pleased to remember Lamb as ESSAYIST from checkers which corrected my bunged-in TRACTABLE. Also remembered the Marshal (perhaps from a previous grid?), vaguely aware of the cow. LOI OPALINE vaguely recalled.

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  23. 26 A. Isn’t it ACE + RB (the first letters of relishing beer? Don’t think ale comes into it

  24. 12’43” and would have been less if OFFSTAGE hadn’t inexplicably held me up at the end. A lot was eminently biffable, so I biffed. Guessed OPALINE. Thanks to all.

  25. I must have been absent from class when ‘shot’ and ‘Opaline’ came up before. Funny about arcane puzzle-knowledge: the Lamb, Elia, Essayist trio are the first thing to come to mind when one or another appears; same for Marshall and Ney, who was quite popular in US crosswords a while ago. (With our setters’ over-fondness for things North American, Earp suggests himself, too) Good thing about Ney, as I didn’t remember my AAMilne, didn’t know the cow, so needed the wordplay.

    1. NEY is only known to me from UK crosswords and always clued with reference to his being a Marshall.

      1. The value in a US puzzle is all letters cross, so the NEY letters are very friendly to setters. Another favourite for the same reason was ARA – Ara Parseghian was gridiron football coach at Notre Dame university.

  26. 28:59 and all green. I too knew ALDERNEY from “The Kings Breakfast” (and was ready to quote it). LOI OPALINE requiring a major contribution from the random woman

  27. No holdups. The only tropical tree I know is the banyan, which was lucky. And the only Marshall I can think of is Ney. My last one was 16a. Opaline was the only word that fitted what was already in the grid.

  28. About 7 minutes so definitely Mondayish. Only slight holdup was opaline (I do dislike random names). The two long down ones went in almost before I finished reading the clue.

  29. Much harder than the average Monday crossword, I misspelt MESDEMOISELLES, trying to start it with MA- and had OPALINE, OFFSTAGE and FORWARD left (Ford didn’t easily come to mind like Abe, Ike, Lee, Grant, Bush and Taft did. I’m not sure why not).

  30. MUZZLE was FOI, then I made pretty rapid progress until the East, South West and South extremities held me up. PECTIN and BANYAN (BAOBAB didn’t parse) came first, OFFSTAGE and ESSAYIST were next, then ALDERNEY which left O-A-I-E. Maureen didn’t fit the bill, but a memory of irridescent and shot from previous puzzles, conjured up OPALINE with Pauline’s help. 15:07. Thanks setter and U.

  31. The only problems I encountered were those described by others already, in that I originally put in Tractable making 28ac difficult, and not knowing what OPALINE meant. All correct and parsed in 32.34, so a satisfactory start to the week.

  32. Going along quite nicely until my last two, the overlapping Opaline and Alderney. I should have got the latter given that the Alder part was obvious and I was also aware of Marshal Ney, but I just couldn’t put the two together. Opaline for shot on the other hand was a dnk. I could see how the clue worked, but focused on names beginning with U: Ursula, Ulrica etc, so doubt that I would ever have made it as far as a Pauline pdm. Invariant

  33. 18.19

    LOI OPALINE took a couple of minutes, so otherwise pretty quick for me. NHO MALLOW or ALDERNEY in these contexts, but au fait with the Marshall, so no problem.
    Enjoyed this after I stank on the QC.


  34. Very happy to finish all correct. Biffed ALDERNEY, never having heard of NEY (clearly a Marshall to remember). Stuck on Maureen for a while before Pauline came to mind generating the very plausible-sounding OPALINE. LOI OFFSTAGE once the penny had dropped. Many thanks U and setter.

  35. 20’00”
    Quickly into stride, stayed on gamely.

    Opaline as a synonym of opalescent and so shot/ iridescent is fine, but the clue also, it seems to me, works with shot as a noun, as an opaline was a photographic print fixed on plate-glass, according to my antediluvian edition of Chambers.

    Thank you setter; a Nitch in the 50s is a rarity these days, and thank you Ulaca, and Zabadak for reminding me where I’d come across Alderney before.

  36. I found this a pleasant Monday morning stroll. No issues and all done and dusted in 20 minutes. Good to see the old Marshal recalled to the colours after a longish absence. I recall that at one time he could hardly keep away.
    Thanks to ulaca and other contributors.

  37. 13.40 not helped by having to work hard at getting spellings right. DNK opaline but happy to put it in. Nearly messed up Lamb by putting tractable in but realised my mistake in time.

  38. I found this quite a struggle, yet now I wonder what on earth was holding me up. Despite my French being reasonably fluent, I missed the anagram in 5d until I had most of the crossers, then had to unravel it to make sure I was spelling it correctly. And NHO the cow, or if had, forgotten, and ended up putting ALDERMAN, which made LOI OPALINE impossible, especially as I was trying for OMA-I-A. Eventually, I got the marshal and then it became obvious, post-parsed as Pauline minus U. Liked OFFSTAGE for the misdirection and EXEMPLARY for the exemplary wordplay required to construct.

  39. Beaten by opaline, despite several alphabet trawls!
    This week has not started as successfully as I had hoped

  40. I was surprised to go trotting through this quite quickly ( a few anagrams helped), but refused at forward for presumptious and of course the NHO ALDERNEY . OPALINE too would not come to mind – otherwise a speedy ‘near-solve.’


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