Times 28955 – bending his (cros)sword, left me enrag’d


And several more minutes to parse 26ac and 16dn (CoD). Very hard, in my book. The bottom half more or less yielded to half-focused effort, but the top was much more reticent. Most seems pretty obvious in retrospect, though, so a very good puzzle too.

Definitions underlined.

1 Such behaviour could be start of serious issue? (8)
SEDITION – first of Serious  + EDITION (issue).
5 Regretfully admitting leader of British airstrike is missing (6)
AFRAID – rAF RAID (British airstrike) with the leader missing.
10 Instruction that reminds new student to enter help option (9,6)
REFRESHER COURSE – FRESHER (new student) in RECOURSE (help option).
11 Institution claims after losing case against company (7)
COLLEGE – aLLEGEs (claims) losing the outermost letters, next to CO (company).
12 Refined male character that’s hard to grasp (7)
GENTEEL – GENT (male) + EEL (character that’s hard to grasp).
13 It’s cheap to develop something based on existing material (8)
PASTICHE – anagram of IT’S CHEAP.
15 Stop working with backside visible? (3,2)
END ON – END (stop) + ON (working).
18 Articulate English Liberal backed moderate (3,2)
LET UP – PUT (articulate) + E (English) + L (liberal), all reversed.
20 Star’s part in disaster is key (8)
ASTERISK – hidden in disASTER IS Key.
23 Botched menial task ignoring request could result in complaint (7)
AILMENT – anagram of MENIAL + Task (after deleting ‘ask’ (request)).
25 Ladies perhaps passed round drink endlessly (7)
LATRINE – LATE (passed) containing dRINk (without its ends).
26 Metre introduced by Napoleon’s possibly — equal to a yard? (8,7)
IMPERIAL MEASURE – cryptic hint: a measure (such as the metre) if devised by an emperor (such as Napoleon was) might be described thus.
27 Got lost going around the wrong part of town (6)
GHETTO – anagram of GOT, containing an anagram of THE.
28 Vulgar society rejected by fashionable family in the past? (8)
INDECENT – ‘s’ (society) deleted from IN (fashionable) + DEsCENT (family in the past).
1 Caught in street fight (6)
STRUCK – ST (street) + RUCK (fight).
2 Sort of deflation that has a detrimental effect on growth? (9)
3 About to get promoted within institution hosting company on that account (7)
THEREAT – THEAT(RE) (institution hosing company) with the ‘re’ (about) being promoted.
4 Yellowish mass extracted from molten chrome (5)
OCHRE – ‘m’ (mass) deleted from an anagram of CHROmE.
6 26 gathered piece of material (7)
FLOUNCE – FL. OUNCE (an imperial measure).
7 Area mainly covered with grass for match (5)
AGREE – A (area) +  almost all from GREEn (covered in grass)
8 Daughter favourably placed with good place to live (8)
DWELLING – D (daughter) + WELL IN (favourably placed) + G (good).
9 Piece from tabloid staff in broadsheet (8)
FRAGMENT – RAG (tabloid) + MEN (staff), all inside FT (broadsheet).
14 Rubbish place to catch sexually transmitted disease? (8)
CLAPTRAP – cryptic hint, where one might catch gonorrhoea (the clap).
16 Do what Mars and Pluto are thinking (9)
DISFIGURE – DIS (Pluto) + FIGURE (are thinking).
17 Getting over process for getting into university (8)
CLEARING – double definition.
19 What may ruin seaside attractions for pantomime performer? (7)
PIERROT – cryptic hint, PIER ROT (what may ruin seaside attractions).
21 Gunmen manage to find scene of cut-throat activity (3,4)
RAT RACE – RA (gunmen) + TRACE (manage to find).
22 Fraud bound to have accepted church backing (6)
DECEIT – TIED (bound) containing CE (church), all reversed.
24 Fall from grace in large section of church? (5)
LAPSE – L (large) + APSE (section of church).
25 Disappointment of French omitted from their paper (5)
LEMON – ‘de’ (‘of’ in French) deleted from LE MONde (their paper).

72 comments on “Times 28955 – bending his (cros)sword, left me enrag’d”

  1. 62 minutes. I also found this hard work and not particularly enjoyable. I lost time in many places along the way, the NE segment in particular with its cross-reference to a clue that also didn’t come easily as I had been working on the first word being EMPEROR’S to account for mention of Napoleon. LEMON was my first one in, which gives some indication of how many clues I read before an answer leapt out at me.

  2. DNF. I was nowhere near to getting DISFIGURE , the only word I had thought of which fitted being destitute. Tricky clue.

    Addendum: Whilst I think it is a very clever clue, I do think that the M being capitalized in the definition “Do what Mars” detracts from it a little.

    1. Snap on 16 down. Even after reading the blog and comments, I still don’t understand the clue. How does DIS relate to Pluto?

    2. I can’t agree on Mars. False capitalisation is part of the setter’s legitimate armoury and in this instance the surface reading wouldn’t work without it.

  3. Tricky, tricky! I enjoyed most of this even though I failed to finish. Imperial Measure went in as I had the P from lapse and an M from lemon, but still don’t really get the ‘equal to’ part of the clue as a metre is way more than a yard. Couldn’t get LOO out of my head for Ladies but saw latrine eventually. Failed on Disfigure and even when I had it couldn’t figure out the cryptic. Thereat went in with more than a little hope.
    Thanks setter and William.

  4. Around 90 minutes. Hard where I found towards the end I started putting putting in entries I had been reluctant to put in since I wasn’t absolutely sure of the definition and had no idea of the wordplay. I was quite surprised to have everything right. Seeing Williams excellent parsing showed I really didn’t know the definition in a number of clues. Slowed by initially putting SIT-IN for 15A thinking perhaps the question mark meant backside not visible. Had to get crossers to correct it. Got DISFIGURE vaguely think it covered both Mars and Pluto because of the “are”. Put in FLOUNCE without much of a clue. GENTEEL thought there should be an ie for that is.
    Generally floundered through.
    Still unsure of 16D parsing since has “are thinking” Perhaps the definition is “Do what” so Mars and Pluto are thinking (figure)

    1. I justified it with “they are thinking” = “they figure”. But it’s nasty as the phrasing (and capitalisation) makes you lump Mars and Pluto together, obfuscating the definition. Congrats on completing!

    2. Mars, despite the deceptive capital, is used as a verb. So the definition is “do what mars”. I.e. do what disfigures.

        1. In the cryptic wordplay, the individual parts of the clue can be considered separately.

          So DIS=Pluto. FIGURE=are thinking, as in:
          “Do you know what they (are thinking/figure) will happen?”

          Never the twain need meet!

  5. 28:55
    V diff/severe. Not keen on using the almost meaningless ‘institution’ to define both COLLEGE and THEATRE. FL OUNCE was clever.

    1. At least the second one has ‘institution hosting company’ as the definition of THEATRE which is a bit more specific than ‘institution / COLLEGE’. I just noticed that both clues also have ‘company’ in the wording, which seems a bit odd.

  6. I abandoned ship after about 30 minutes when I became concerned that I was doing serious damage to my head by banging it against a brick wall. By then I had got REFRESHER COURSE, by default my COD, and a tentative IMPERIAL MEASURE, but too many others were missing. I wouldn’t have got DISFIGURE if I’d kept going until the cows had come home. Thank you William (you really did draw the short straw) and evil setter.

    1. Almsot word for word what I was going to say myself. I would ony add that the cows would probably have arrived before I got FLOUNCE and AFRAID.

    2. I was less patient than you, and jacked it in after half the time. I’ve had more enjoyment being harangued by Dastardly Denise.

  7. Gave up on the hour without getting AFRAID, my brain was starting to hurt. I found some of these were really very hard and I’m grateful to William for clearing several up. I’m still not sure about DISFIGURE and IMPERIAL MEASURE even though I managed to jag them. Challenging puzzle but a bit of a grind by the end.

    From (yet again) Tombstone Blues:
    Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bedroll
    Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
    And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
    To the old folks home and the COLLEGE

    Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
    That could hold you dear lady from going insane
    That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
    Of your useless and pointless knowledge.

    1. Not that it is ever going to happen but I have long thought I would entitle my album “Road Maps For The Soul”.
      I think the version on his ‘Unplugged’ album is just superb.

      1. I was always going to call my autobiography “600 Miles in the Mouth of a Graveyard” from another Dylan classic.

        1. I very much look forward to both projects being realised. It is quite astounding how many magazines, blog sites etc have evocative names based on two or three words cribbed from a Dylan song. They mostly sound quite romantic, I guess ‘Down In The Easy Chair: The Life of a Crossword Solver’ might not cut it…

  8. 30 minutes on the dot as the final penny finally dropped for the superb DISFIGURE.

    I found the RHS overall a challenge, though some was my own fault, like AGREE and AFRAID, both of which I saw early but took time to confidently parse.

    I eventually parsed IMPERIAL MEASURE as measure/metre as in poetry, with IMPERIAL (Napoleon’s possibly) introducing/preceding it.

    Thanks both.

  9. I found a number of the clues don’t appear to read right for me which somewhat marred the enjoyment.

    If I put something end on, I can see it’s side not it’s back but I guess other people may use that phrase differently.

    However, I’m still struggling with Napolean’s possibly. For the clue to work, it needs to read: Metre introduced by Napolean is possibly… Meaning ‘s stands for is. I would write “the cat on the mat is black” I wouldn’t write “the cat on the mat’s black”.

    1. Would you write “the cat’s black”? I think most people would.

      X’s for “X is” is used a lot in crossword clues. I think there are a couple of examples in today’s QC.

  10. Just over half an hour.

    Biffed IMPERIAL MEASURE; didn’t understand THEREAT as I didn’t see what ‘institution hosting company’ was getting at; forgot Dis=Pluto so had no idea how DISFIGURE worked; NHO DEFOLIANT; wasted time trying to get ‘the FT’ into 9d before realising it was just FT that we needed for FRAGMENT; and didn’t figure out the ‘trace’ part of RAT RACE as I didn’t read ‘manage to find’ together.

    Tough stuff, but lots of excellent clues. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Ochre
    LOI Disfigure
    CODs Sedition / Afraid / Pastiche

  11. More tricky than most this week for me – thanks though! Can someone put me right on ‘equal to’ in Imperial measure? Where does it fit in?

    1. I don’t think we can take it as “exactly equal to” because it isn’t by around 3 inches. I think our setter just about gets away with it as “equivalent to” meaning it’s the same kind of measure, about that long. Since a yard is dependent on how big a barleycorn is, it’s probably close enough!

      1. I’m delighted that you, at least, take the ‘Napoleonic yard’ clue in the spirit in which it seems to be written.
        I think it very clever, and am surprised that so few seem to realize that UK and USA use our Imperial measures (note, no capital M ) not to be confused with emperor Napoleon’s introduction of the metric system.
        If a yard can be described as a measure, then it certainly is an Imperial measure, and the ‘equal to’ certainly has the prevaricating ‘?’ after it.
        A bit late in the day but there was work to do!

  12. Another dnf here, but feel less bad after reading comments. Not had a good week on the Times crossword.

    I agonised over whether THEREAT was even a word, and certainly didn’t parse it. AFRAID was beyond me. Liked DISFIGURE, took a while.

    Possibly a setter who also does the Guardian, hence the obligatory reference to toilets.

    Thanks william and setter.

  13. Tough going, not least because so many of the clues had you looking in entirely the wrong direction. I tried forever to squeeze FURLONG out of the clue for 6d because it was the only Imperial measure I could think of that begins with F. The Fl Ounce was diabolically clever. At 16d, the only thing I could think of that distinguished both Mars and Pluto is that they are both round, which is pretty general, and even when I remembered the DIS thing I was still thinking that Mars isn’t a Dis figure.
    I thought caught to STRUCK was a bit of a stretch, but item 34 in Chambers’ list on strike gives the fishy, flick of the wrist idea.
    I contested this one for just under 30 minutes, enjoyable in the way the Listener is often enjoyable, not as in having fun but in the elation of overcoming a tough opponent. Which I did.
    CoD probably to DEFOLIANT, because it looked nothing like an anagram clue and had me scratching my head for a CD solution in economics.

    1. You were looking up the wrong word Z.

      You only have to go as far as def 13 for CATCH in Chambers to get “to strike, hit”.

      While solving I was thinking along the lines of “I caught the edge of the table with my elbow”.

    2. The clever Fl Oz paired with the Imperial Measure made me wonder if the setter had both words before he or she began to write up the clues, or whether IM was added to facilitate Flounce. I’m impressed either way. And I also squinted a little at Struck.

  14. I found this hard but not super-hard taking 40:27
    LOI was DISFIGURE which took me several minutes and multiple alphabet trawls to come up with FIGURE.
    Didn’t know FLOUNCE for a ruche I suppose but got the fluid ounce aspect.
    Thanks setter and blogger as usual

  15. 19:28, and enjoyed the mind-bending nature of this one (not that I’d necessarily want to have to think that hard every day, of course).

  16. Hmmm, well I did fine, getting through it in a just over average time of 21:21. That was with 3 mins looking at LOI DISFIGURE, and bunging it in as a likely looking word and submitting with my fingers crossed. I was surprised to get it right as I was nowhere near parsing it, but more surprised, and less than delighted to have fat fingered DWEELING.

    DNF, though as it was a fat finger, I’ll let myself off.

  17. DNF. Gave up on the hour with half a dozen missing. DISFIGURE and AFRAID had me beaten me all ends up. I might have seen SEDITION and FLOUNCE in due course, but Life intervened.

  18. Patchy I thought; some v hard, some easy.
    5a rAF RAID, tricky and I think COD.
    11a COLLEGE too clever for me, biffed.
    15a End On LOL!
    26a Imperial Measure. I can’t find this as a thing, is it green paint? Not in Crosswordsolver nor Wiki nor Wiktionary. Wiki has “Imperial units” as a heading, but measure is not mentioned directly with Imperial anywhere. Same for Dr Google. Tentatively added to Cheating Machine. I wasted a lot of time trying to get the pig from Animal Farm in there somewhere.
    16d Disfigure; does this really work? I knew Dis=Pluto, but the verb is plural so mars should be a god. On edit; sorry, not even that works as dis is in the answer. So if it was “disfigures” then it was a great clue, but it isn’t so MER. Biffed with help from CM so DNF.

    1. Dear Andyf:

      I am sure I have recipe books which, in addition to showing the amounts in grams and millilitres also say they have the “imperial measure” equivalents.

      (You possibly won’t see this. I leave the Saturday and Sunday prize-puzzles until the answers are posted. Then I ‘blitz’ them off in a batch. I was a bit surprised this puzzle was still open for comments.)

      A gem of a puzzle; chapeau to setter.

  19. Two hours, but got through it. I once went to my dentist so that he could pull out a wisdom tooth that didn’t want to go anywhere; most of the clues reminded me of that experience.
    Thanks, w.

  20. 35:32
    For some reason I struggled in the NE having made pretty quick work of most of the rest of the grid. FRAGMENT eventually appeared and unlocked the rest of that area, and DISFIGURE was last in as I didn’t understand the Pluto reference, but it had to be.

    I am always in awe of the speedsters who can race through this level of puzzle.

    Thanks to both.

  21. DNF, didn’t know the DIS=PLUTO thing and couldn’t get my head around AFRAID. After a while, and given the rest of it wasn’t too easy either, I resorted to aids. Agree with earlier comments re the repeated and largely unhelpful usage of institution/ company. Thanks William and setter.

  22. 42:20 with at least 10 minutes on LOI, DISFIGURE, mostly trying to justify destitute – a particularly clever clue in a generally clever and taxing puzzle.

  23. 21:23

    Very tough but I enjoyed the struggle. I thought I was going to have to give in with much of the NE corner blank, but I sorted that eventually and spent a couple of minutes on LOI DISFIGURE.

  24. DNF. Just a bit too torturous for me to enjoy today. I was never going to crack disfigure so threw in destitute in desperation.

  25. 43:22

    I enjoyed this – answers seemed to come reasonably regularly though a slow start produced only four inked in (PASTICHE, ASTERISK, OCHRE, PIERROT) – I was never really completely stuck. Finally left with CLEARING and the very good DISFIGURE which needed all of the checkers to help the scales fall from my eyes. I liked the chestnuttish FLOUNCE as well – surely not the first time that device has been used. IMPERIAL MEASURE bunged in from three checkers, then worked around it to cement in place.

    Thanks William and setter

  26. Of course I found it all very hard, and finished in 81 minutes after using aids a bit. DIS = Pluto an unknown, and I was totally bewildered by IMPERIAL MEASURE and still don’t really understand the ‘s: surely an imperial measure is arguably a metre introduced by Napoleon possibly; the ‘s just confuses the issue.

  27. 53.30, so a struggle. I was thinking of conceding with 50% of the top half blank, but getting REFRESHER COURSE got me on track.

  28. 54:15; unusually I know my time down to the second as I’m in Crete at the moment and solving on my phone rather than paper. I’m not sure that that handicapped me very much on this one compared to the ten minutes or so it took me to figure out DISFIGURE, let alone anything else. At least I came in under the hour!

  29. No proper time as several interruptions but it would have been between one and a half and two hours. Most of the difficulties I had have already been raised by others. DISFIGURE, more or less parsed, was my LOI too. Even though eventually all in, too much of a slog for me to enjoy this, so I thought I’d wind down with a nice and gentle Elgar DT Toughie. Er…

  30. It felt good to finish this one all correct, albeit after well over and hour. I got DISFIGURE fairly early on since I was immediately onto the capital on Mars being misleading and Pluto being DIS. My LOI was AGREE, obvious when you see it but hard without the checkers.

  31. 52’0″
    A fairly respectable one pace throughout….

    …. in what was a real Queen Alexandra Stakes of a crossword, so I was very chuffed to get over the the line with a double digit Witch and all parsed (although I took the rather whimsical imperial measure on trust, thinking I was missing something that wasn’t there).
    Thank you setter for a very enjoyable hour, and William for your perseverance.

  32. Stinker. Made it just under the hour, although I had the LHS completed in 15 mins. Game of two halves, methinks.

  33. I’m glad I persevered with this beauty, as I finally made it with all correct and parsed. I was sailing along quite nicely with about 30 minutes expended and five to do. At this point the wheels fell off, and I was staring blankly at the rest before the answers slowly dawned on me. By this time a further 40 minutes had elapsed before DISFIGURE was my LOI. I nearly gave up on numerous occasions, but the sense of achievement on finishing was worth the wait.

  34. DNF – this was the hardest one for a while! My FOI was also LEMON so that also indicated to me that it was going to be a hard slog.
    Couldn’t work out DISFIGURE or DEFOLIATION and although being a lawyer once upon a time not sure I ever used THEREAT. Tried very hard in 15ac to manipulate MOON (!) but see that I was completely on the wrong track…
    Thanks again to setter and blogger for enlightening me.

  35. 16:19

    Absolutely loved the challenge of this Friday special. SNITCH at 150, even without the usually fast commenters here who are conspicuous by their absence (average times and all that, I guess).

    DISFIGURE is one of the most cunning clues I’ve seen in ages, whilst the surface for GHETTO is a beauty. Another superb cross-reference clue too. Really not a dud in sight. Chapeau, the setter, whoever you are!

    I’d like to see more puzzles like this on a Friday, although I appreciate that not everyone would second this.

  36. ”Surely” said I “surely that is
    Something at my window lattice;
    Let me see, then, what THEREAT is,
    and this mystery explore –

    At last! All done! after several visits during the day and nearly two hours on the clock. (I had stopped worrying about the minutes ticking away.) Most clues parsed, more or less, except DISFIGURE where I thought the definition had to be “Do” (a bit of a stretch) and assumed that Mars and Pluto must be two DIs from some cop show on the telly.

    I cannot pass up the opportunity to quote one of my favourite rhymes in poetry (above) from The Raven. Hard to pick a favourite clue, but I’ll go for FLOUNCE

  37. Count me in the liked a lot and a tip of the old Stetson to the setter and another to Wm.

  38. Done Monday in 55’03”. Real toughie. While agreeing that DISFIGURE is a great clue, I was put off — as others were — by the capital M . Had I got that earlier, it would have opened the way to the last redoubts of resistance in the top and bottom right. CLEARING was tough as well. Many thanks.


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