Times Championship 2015: Grand Final, puzzle two (Times 26295)

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
In my view this was the hardest of the three puzzles in the Grand Final; it took me over an hour, so I’d have been sitting chewing my pencil long after you speedy solvers had adjourned to the pub. You may have seen a brief flash of the blog below, put online last Wednesday, before it was replaced by my blog for puzzle 3.
28a was an unknown to me but fell from wordplay. Of course, 20a is my CoD.

Across
1 PROMPT – PROM = American school-leavers dance = Yank ball; PT for point; D cue.
4 NOT A PEEP – NO, TAPE, EP; NO being Japanese drama, TAPE and EP being different forms of recordings; D one’s mum making this.
10 THE MIKADO – THE MIK(E) being something karaoke performer might assume, endless; ADO being trouble; D work.
11 AZURE – I saw this as being sky blue and the blue of the oceans which form a large area of the Earth. If I missed something please enlighten me. EDIT: see below proposition it’s a homophone for ASIA (“some say”) but if so it’s not one I can easily swallow. Or say.
12 IFS – Reversed alternate letters in S o F a I l; D doubts.
13 MASTER MASON – Well hidden in MICHAEL(MAS TERM AS ON)E OFF; D lodger, as in member of a Lodge.
14 FARROW – FAR = much (as in ‘far too thin’ for example); ROW = scrap; D litter, give birth to lots of piglets.
16 DEAD LEG – Cryptic def; PIN for leg, made numb by a nasty blow from behind. Olivier Giroud got one, and a bad ankle, in Arsenal’s recent magnificent 3 – 0 win in Athens, but he soldiered on to score three goals.
19 ALFONSO – ALSO = as well, captures N OF retreating; D Spaniard.
20 OWLISH – (WHO IS L)*, anagrind ‘whip’, D recalling Members of Parliament; a parliament being the collective noun for owls, of course. What a hoot. I loved it.
22 MAKE FACES AT – MAKE = force, as in make someone do something; FACE = meet; SAT – day; D show a variety of features.
25 ROE – Double def., roe being small deer not big bucks.
26 TIMON – MO = medical officer, doctor, inside TIN = money; D misanthropic Greek chap in the Shakespeare play.
27 RHEUMATIC – (CURE HIM A T)*, the T being last letter of joint; D partial &lit., disorder involving a joint.
28 OUT-HEROD – OUT = striking, HE = fellow, ROD = a stick; D go past in one’s cruelty. An expression I had vaguely heard of but not one you hear every day.
29 SIX-DAY – SID is the boy, collecting X (Times) and then AY (yes); D not taking in Sun(day).My second-favourite clue in this grid.

Down
1 PATOIS – PAT = unconvincing, as in ‘he reeled it off pat’. OI would be a call for attention, OIS is plural. D jargon. A somewhat unconvincing clue.
2 OVERSTAFF – (OFFERS VAT)*; D man inappropriately.
3 PRISM – Insert S into PRIM = purse, tight; D figure.
5 ON ONES DOORSTEP – D close; O for old, NONES = service, midday liturgy; DOOR = entrance; STEP = stage.
6 ALARM CALL – A, LAR(D) = short fat; MC = host; ALL = completely; D alert first thing.
7 EQUUS – EQUAL = peer, as in peer group; drop the AL (forgets a line); US = useless, unserviceable; D play. By Peter Shaffer, 1973; I saw the movie and was bored.
8 PFENNIGS – FE is emptied out fake; NN for notes; insert into PIGS = synonym for answer to 14; D old coins, in Germany and Poland.
9 WARSAW CONCERTO – My first one in. Campaigning = WAR, got = SAW, CON = Tory, CERT = banker, O = over. D composed piece, by Richard Addinsell for the 1941 movie Dangerous Moonlight.
15 RING FENCE – RING = sound, FENCE = use foil maybe; D protect.
17 LUSTRATED – LUST = sin, RATED = severely scolded; D purified. Not an everyday word.
18 PALMETTO – PAL = mate, MET = joined, TO, D tropical tree.
21 PEACHY – PE = exercise, ACHY = sore; D lovely.
23 KEMPT – K = close to park, EMPT = first half of EMPTYING, vacation; D in place. As opposed to the more usual UNKEMPT meaning scruffy.
24 TEMPI – I PM = an hour after midday, ET = film; reverse all (“up”); D speeds.

50 comments on “Times Championship 2015: Grand Final, puzzle two (Times 26295)”

  1. I think 11ac is a homophone for Asia. I originally said it was ‘dreadful’ but retract this as some people (but not me) say ‘ayzure’ for the colour and the clue does stipulate ‘some’.

    I found this very hard and had only about 5 answers after 30 minutes, but I persevered and got there in the end after 90 minutes and resorting to aids for the unknown LUSTRATED. I got the ‘rated’ bit but had no checkers to help with the first word. Should just have run through the Deadly Sins. Couldn’t parse 1dn as PAT didn’t mean ‘unconvincing’ in my mind. Guessed DEAD LEG and OUT-HEROD.

    Edited at 2015-12-30 07:27 am (UTC)

    1. I see your idea jackkt but I know of no place where ASIA and AZURE could be pronounced similarly. I always think it is A-ZEW-ER. But some chap with a transatlantic accent on you tube says A-ZER with the stress on a short A. Ho hum.
  2. That hurt – finally stuggled to a stand-still

    OUT-HEROD
    PATOIS
    PFENNIGS
    AZURE – really!

    DNF

    Well done to the 14 who finished.

    We are not worthy!

    horryd – Shanghai

  3. My time was off the scale but I’m on holiday and my doggedness was rewarded with an all-correct after I finally twigged what must precede RATED at 17 down. Although I am fairly well up on matters ecclesiastical, the finer points of – especially Roman Catholic – nomenclature are not my strong suit.

    I thought the DEAD LEG clue (my penultimate) was absolutely outstanding, but did raise an eyebrow at the AZURE. With so many possible pronunciations of each word, I suppose there is a chance that one pronunciation of one word mirrors one pronunciation of the other, but, for me, at any rate, this clue prevents the puzzle from being classified in the very top rank.

    Interesting to see OF reversed (at 19 across) after something very similar in Monday’s puzzle.

    Edited at 2015-12-30 09:07 am (UTC)

  4. I managed to complete this in 40 minutes, tho’ I thought I would never get started! I have real admiration for those of you who can even attempt to crack three such puzzles in an hour!
  5. I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.

    Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

    FYI…

    Midas

  6. I stared for a very long time at D*A* L*G and then thought it must have something to do with wrestling pins, but I see it doesn’t. Yes 11a, AZURE is pronounced “as your” in this house. I did wonder if there was a pangram looming and had “oblast” (well maybe they have some sort of duma or something) for a while in 20a, until I thought better of it. 37 on the nose.
  7. Very difficult puzzle made harder by putting in “chastised” for 17D until 27A showed it to be wrong.

    13A must be one of the longest hidden answers ever – guessed MASTER MASON from “lodger” and checkers and only then saw it hidden. Likewise guessed PFENNIGS and reverse-engineered cryptic

    Don’t understand AZURE – pity that one clue spoils what would otherwise be a masterpiece. Well blogged Pip

  8. 90 minutes with 29a unfinished (I lazily put in TEMPO for 24d).
    As I have just returned from “Azure” staring at turquoise seas and skies, you would think that I would not need the three checkers in a five letter word before getting it.
    A tough but enjoyable crossword. CODs to DEADLEG and MASTERMASON.
  9. If this is the second puzzle then it’s the one I found hardest, and had still had five or six blank at the end of the hour.
    I was a bit puzzled by 11ac at the time but both Chambers and Collins give pronunciations that are exact or very close homophones for ‘Asia’ so I can’t see the problem. ‘I don’t pronounce it like that’ isn’t really a valid objection.
    1. At risk of being pedantic; I can find online pronunciations such as here
      http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/azure
      which pronounce it differently from my experience, fair enough; but still not very close to AY-SIA or AY-SHA as they all have a short A, not AY-ZURE, whether the stress is on the first or second syllable. I don’t understand those phonetic symbols on paper so maybe they ‘say’ something different.
      1. My Chambers app gives helpful examples of the phonetic notations and one of the three pronunciations it gives for AZURE is:
        > a as in day
        > s as in vision
        > er as in lower
        with the stress on the a, which seems pretty clear to me. Collins is a bit less clear but I interpret the phonetic notation as indicating something similar. It’s true that this pronunciation isn’t in ODO but two out of three ain’t bad.

        Edited at 2015-12-30 01:20 pm (UTC)

    2. Not so sure about that. Unless you have Chambers/Collins in front of you when solving, the only pronounciation that is likely to occur to you is your own for homophone purposes. Different of course for the common Eastender-type of clue, ‘Arry.
      1. Whether it occurs to you and whether it’s a ‘valid’ pronunciation surely aren’t the same thing. If the pronunciation is in two of the usual dictionaries I don’t think we can object.
        1. We have an understanding here that if a word is in one of the main dictionaries, it is fair game for the setter and down to the solver to know it. I think that pronounciation falls into a different category.
          1. I would say that if I’m going to object to the use of a particular pronunciation in a puzzle the onus is on me to show that it’s not in general use. If I found it in both Collins and Chambers I would consider myself on shaky ground.
              1. You’re an American? Who pronounces the rhotic R in words such as azure? And indeed in the letter R itself. All(!?) Englishmen, especially London-based Times-standard-pronunciation ones, don’t pronounce the R in words like Azure. Or even in the letter R itself – pronounced AAH. I’m Australian, so also don’t pronounce Rs.
                Beaten by this – not enjoying it enough to struggle through, I’ll do a Jimbo and say too arty: A play, and obscure (I didn’t know it) line from Shakespeare, a character from Shakespeare, another play, a piece of music, an Italian musical word, a Spanish name. Very Times-ish. I like it in small doses, but not in this amount.
                Rob, definitely never making a grand-final.
    3. Interestingly, Collins (online) doesn’t give the second ODO pronunciation, and the one I am most familiar with (mostly through hymns, I rather imagine- but it’s a long time since I knowingly used the word!), namely /ˈazjʊə/ , with ‘a’ for apple.

      With my background in linguistics of course I take your point about varieties, and note with interest that I his dialect/idiolect mohn pronounces Asia and azure the same.

      Tentatively, I wonder if the pronunciation with the short ‘a’ sound, with which the majority of us seem to be more familiar, is not, to some extent at least, influenced by its poetical use (it is after all, in its non-scientific colour spectrum use, predominantly a literary word), where it would often occur in phrases starting with the denfinite pronoun, as for example ‘the azure sky’. In such contexts, it would seem to me that a short ‘a’ after the long ‘e’ of ‘the’ provides a more natural rhythm.

      Ramblings aside, still not the greatest clue of a very fine bunch, in my opinion…

      1. I have only come across this word courtesy of ‘Rule Britannia’, ie ‘azure main’, where the two syllables have equal stress. Never mind. I think that we agree that this was not the best clue of the day.
      2. Isn’t that the second pronunciation given in Collins: /ˈæʒʊə/? The ‘Asia’ homophone being the third, /ˈeɪʒə/. If I’m reading it right /ˈæʒʊə/ is also the one I’m most familiar with, although as you say it’s not a word one tends to use very often. I’ve never heard it pronounced /ˈeɪʒə/ but I’ve never heard anyone use the word ‘blue’ to mean ‘waste’, to give just one of hundreds of examples.
        I agree that this isn’t the best clue in the puzzle: I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
        1. The ODO has the zed sound with a glide, how I would pronounce it, rather as a Cockney would say “has your” (i.e. more or less “as yer”), while Collins only has the “drunken” Cockney pronunciation, “aszh yer”!

          This is phonemically represented by the /ʒ/ in Collins as against the /z/ followed by /j/ in ODO. I find it a little odd that such a mainstream pronunciation should be ignored by Collins.

          1. Ah yes, I see now, thanks. I would pronounce it the same way as you, so I agree this is a bit odd. To compound the oddness Chambers is the same as Collins.
  10. 56:07. Rather hard, and a long struggle but at least I completed correctly without aids. Persistence was rewarded when I finally parsed 20a. Some clues were bit of a stretch… I was dubious about PATOIS, AZURE and OUT-HEROD. NE my last area I had NOT A WORD wrongly in for 4a, but eventually saw PFENNIGS. Deceived also by 13a looking for an anagram when it was just hidden. I’m with sawbill on this – tough but enjoyable. DEAD LEG my favourite.
  11. After getting AZURE from the definition, spent some time muttering “azh- yoor” to myself without being able to think of a land mass which sounds vaguely similar, but decided to leave it.
    I also decided to leave OBLAST (with similar thoughts to Olivia) in at 20ac, after failing to think of anything else to fit, having rejected OJLASH – the J needed for the pangram + the whip in the clue. (Using aid after submitting revealed right answer – and that this merited COD award.)
  12. Tough one, with plenty of unknowns/half-knowns for me, and by far the hardest on the day. Took about 21m, doing about a third of it in 10m then taking a break to do puzzle three before returning. Spent ages on the SW corner courtesy of whacking in DRACO at 26A, which I couldn’t parse but he was the only 5-letter Athenian with a doctor in his name that initially came to mind. Remembered OUT-HEROD from a previous puzzle where it had completely baffled me, and I pronounce Asia/AZURE almost exactly the same so the homophone didn’t vex me. Not a puzzle for biffers, with a selection of unhelpful definitions (“Misanthropic old Athenian” being an exception – at least if you’ve read the play), but certainly a Grand Final-strength offering.
  13. Solving this for the second time today I got to appreciate what a fine puzzle it is with some terrific originality dotted about.
    1. If we can’t be excessively pedantic about the meaning and pronunciation of words here, where are we supposed to do it?!
  14. Gosh,found this one tough. Completed in about an hour and a half, with google and inspired guessing, but enjoyed the challenge. Thank you, Pip, for the enlightening blog.
  15. IMHO this was an absolutely terrific puzzle and I enjoyed every minute of it. Yes, it was difficult, but enormously satisfying. Only minor gripe is with Asia, in line with many others who have commented,
    and Prism, which I believe to be a 3-D object and therefore not really a ‘figure’. Unless I am missing something. Highly likely.
  16. Going quite well but ran out of steam and failed to get the concerto, the mason, six-day and prism. If no-one here, a scattered handful of the Earth’s surface, has heard azure as Asia, I think we can mildly complain of the setter’s too close adherence to the dictionary as divine text. I was wondering about “a shore” myself if without conviction. But it’s the purse / tight, prim equivalence I don’t follow. One’s a noun or verb, the other an adjective, with no cross-over I can see. But I must be missing something.
    1. Chambers gives “vt: to set (the face) or purse (the lips, mouth) in a prim expression”
      1. Thanks. As with the azure pronunciation, I think that’s going it a bit too. I’d like a criterion of recognisable usage (not necessarily present-day) to bring the dictionary down a peg or two from the top of the totem pole. It couldn’t be objectively observed but the sense of a gesture in such a direction wouldn’t be inappropriate.
  17. What a wonderful puzzle. When I had a blank grid I immediately thought of AZURE/Asia but figured it wasn’t close enough to put in with no checkers. Since I used to live on the Cote d’Azur I pronounce it pretty much the French way, as it seems do most of you. But I think it was fine, although there are lots of other ways to clue it and it is for sure the weakest clue in an incredible puzzle.

    I was totally fooled by MASTER MASON and got it from the definition and decided MAS was an abbreviation for Michelmas, then TERM IS, and then one-off = ON (one with a letter missing). Doh!

    I also raised an eyebrow at defining PRISM as a figure since it is a solid. I don’t think cube or icosahedron would be a figure either

    1. Now that you mention it, I’m certain this has influenced my own pronunciation of the word. Perhaps the setter’s version is more authentically English.
    2. Didn’t even notice that… as an engineer a 2-dimensional shape is a 2-dimensional shape, while a 3-dimensional solid is a 3-dimensional solid, and neither is a figure. Looking at some dictionaries Chambers has the unhelpful “geometric form” for figure, while Oxford has “an enclosed 2- or 3-dimensional space” (I paraphrase) so prism is ok.
      Rob
  18. Superb puzzle, which bested me in 2 places. A hearty ‘well done’ to those who completed it today, and a heartier one to those who did so in the competition. My failures were with OWLISH (yes, I had OBLAST) and the unknown SIX-DAY, where I had MID-DAY. I had trouble with OUT-HEROD, ‘prim’ as a verb, and of course AZURE but eventually sussed those out. Certainly a worthy challenge in a championship. Regards.
  19. Nothing to add except that I loved this puzzle. Eventually finished correctly in 47 minutes. Held up by SIX DAY – the penny took ages to drop. Done in bed this am while the gale howled outside. Cheered me up no end…
  20. Thoroughly enjoyed this for well over an hour—-to be honest getting on for two. The hardest puzzle I can recall, but every clue works—–well, maybe not the distinctly dodgy “azure” sounding like Asia.
  21. 27 mins with OUT-HEROD my LOI. My time was helped by seeing DEAD LEG straight away. I didn’t raise too much of an eyebrow at the AZURE/Asia clue because although I don’t pronounce them the same way I could see how speakers of other dialects might. There was indeed some excellent cluing on offer in this puzzle, so a definite tip of the hat to the setter.
  22. Day out in Paris today; 2hrs up and 2hrs back on the train and still DNF. Even if I had spotted the dreadful Azure/Asia homophone, I don’t think it would have helped much as I didn’t know that farrow is also a noun. As for PIN number, all I could think of was acupuncture which didn’t help at all. “The Rivals” was my other ear worm. I had T – E -I -A – – – but never made the leap to G&S
  23. Sadly I had a brainstorm during this puzzle, and somehow convinced myself that the correct spelling of the answer to 18dn was PALMATTO. Worse still, when I was making my final check before handing in my solutions, I somehow managed to convince myself that the wordplay supported this. All I can say is that I was pretty much running on empty that afternoon after weeks of disturbed nights worrying about how to persuade half-witted solicitors and refractory house-sellers to cooperate. To add to the misery, this was my first mistake in the Championship since 1995.

    I’d reached a low ebb by the time I’d filled in about half the answers (including PALMATTO), and then did what I always dislike doing, which is to move on to the next puzzle before completing the current one. I was so exhausted by this time that I gave up on that one after solving even fewer clues, but somehow managed to exert myself just enough to roll bumpily downhill picking off the remaining clues, first in this one and then in the third puzzle.

    I spent the last couple of minutes pondering AZURE, and had to wait until afterwards for someone to explain its alternative pronunciation. It’s not my favourite clue, but I can’t really do more than raise an eyebrow at it. Apart perhaps from that, I rate this an exceptionally fine puzzle, and entirely suitable for a Championship final.

  24. This took forever. I ground it out clue by clue and eventually made it to the end, but it was a war of attrition right from the start. All in all an excellent, challenging puzzle. Great blog too.
  25. About 3 hours of very hard work for me. It’s beyond my wildest imaginings how anyone could do this in less than an hour – way out of my league, but congrats to those who can. Still I eventually finished it all, including half-guessing OUT-HEROD and LUSTRATED from the word play. I had the same reservations as others about the pronunciation of AZURE, and PRISM. So many great clues, but PFENNIGS, NOT A PEEP and WARSAW CONCERTO were just a few.

    Thank you (I think!) to setter and definitely thanks for the blog.

  26. It took a while to get my man back, but Dr Obodo did it, I was gutted when he left me, but with his hard work and never giving up attitude he got him back for me, thank you so much.forward your mail to Doc via templeofanswer@hotmail.co.uk +2348155425481… Dawn – Essex.

  27. I am also Australian and went to school before Advance Australia Fair became the national anthem. We sang the Song of Australia, as below, where azure was always pronounced ay-zure, so no problems here.
    The Song of Australia:
    There is a land where summer skies
    Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
    Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies;
    And grassy knoll, and forest height,
    Are flushing in the rosy light,
    And all above is azure bright –
    Australia!

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