Times Crossword 25835: Don’t bank on it.

24 minutes dead for this one, which is four better than a clue a minute. I enjoyed this as a technical exercise, finding that many of the clues yielded to the careful unravelling of the wordplay rather than the intuitive guess (or desperate stab in the dark) and subsequent decoding. I rather think that’s how cryptic clues should be, though it may be that a contributing factor to my (perhaps, we shall see) leisurely time was the savouring of well presented clues. I doubt that I would have guessed the dreaded “plant” at 12, and  while the wordplay certainly demands some careful separation of parts and lateral thinking, it does give a convincing answer which (given that I know both constituent words as being at least a bit planty) looks better than probable.
In a grid where almost all the tricky letters are taken care of, we are short of a pangram by an X and, bizarrely, a G. It would be interesting to know if anyone was diverted from the true solver’s path looking for either. As far as I can tell, there are no alternative answers, no misnumberings, no missing words, no misclued entries, no wrecks and nobody drownded. A welcome departure for our beloved obsession. And (spoiler alert, look away now if you haven’t done the puzzle yet) there is a Nina.
Here’s my reasoning.

1 BLOW BY BLOW  Recording all the hits
I call this one in this fashion. B for black, Y as youth’s first, digested by BLOW(s) (two of them) which rather cheekily translates the verbal “fans”
6 OPEN  up in the air
As in unpredictable, that sort of open/up in the air – derived perhaps from the toss of of coin? Schroedinger’s penny? It’s concealed backwards in aeroplaNE POssibly. I like it when “possibly” plays out of position.
9 COMPATRIOT Country fellow
itself something of a cryptic definition, but the wordplay is (it helps to Yoda the word order) COP (busy, old slang) AT RIOT (attending disorder) protecting M(aiden). Smashing clue, made much harder for me by a false entry at 1 down, vide infra.
10 SOAP cleaner in [the form of] a bar
The far tip from generouS allied to an O(ld) A(ge) P(ensioner).
I hate that definition. B(ishop) LADDER (steps) CHAMPION (back) dropping H(usband)
14 NAWABS Old governors
The most famous probably the Nawab of Pataudi, a right handed bat and useful bowler who played both for England (under Jardine in the bodyline Ashes) and for India. Educated at Baliol, don’t ye know, so of course he qualified. Anyway, a “violation” of SAW BAN. On edit: I am so glad I didn’t think of BWANAS first.
15 SPELL OUT Specify
Or indeed a period of inactivity: a timely double definition just when you thought you were getting stuck down the right hand side
This one needed reverse engineering. In UNION (marriage) one (I) becomes BUTT, or object of ridicule
19 BALTIC water in abundance
BALTI is your spicy food, just add C(old). In my experience, lager is a better coolant G&T better still.
Choose for yourself where you put the apostrophe. The grid doesn’t care. I built this from the back. SITE (place) alongside LECTOR (reader), both contained within COLM, an Irish male name derived form Columba
24 IOWA Union member
As in part of the US of A. Sounds remotely like “I owe her” translated from “one’s indebted to girl”. Chestnut flavoured with a strong hint of ouch.
25 TRANQUILLY In relaxed style
The building blocks are TRY (essay) A N(ew) QUILL (writer, thing wot writes) Insert parts B ,C and D into part A.
26 NINA Miss, perhaps
Told you… A NINE is a square, cut it by removing the E, reverse as per instructions.
27 LOVE LETTER Hot lines
The “potentially” might belong to the definition, but I think, with “done in” it indicates the anagram of R(egiona)L (case of) and TELEVOTE, a means, m’lud, of deciding which incompetent warbler is better than another bunch of incompetent warblers for the enrichment of Mr Simon Cowell.

1 BUCK Money
Also Blood (Chambers “a swaggering dandy about town” though now more likely a bit more “street”, something passed to the dealer (in poker), so a triple definition. For the duration of the puzzle, until 12 across insisted otherwise, I had BANK, which kind of satisfies all three definitions (I’ve heard of a blood bank). Just as well it didn’t fit with 12, or I might have been putting in another appeal.
2 OHM’S LAW Principle.
O(ld) plus King: H(is) M(ajesty) with COLESLAW the salad minus the Cole. Another bit of Yodaspeak.  I=V/R. But then you knew that.
3 BRANDY BUTTER something sweet, and with spirit
Christmas goo (or at least that’s when M&S make it available) made with butter (surprise) brandy (another surprise) and sugar. Two B(achelors) hang onto RANDY, cutely clued by “wanting relations” nudge, nudge and followed by UTTER, “say”
4 BARNET Set of locks
Barnet fair, the unlikely CRS for hair, made up of BAR (bolt) and NET (safety device – think trapeze)
5 OTOSCOPE Instrument
For examining ears. Make it up as you go along from the following conventions – Books: O(ld) T(estament). Large O(ut) S(ized). Firm CO(mpany). Exercising: P(hysical) E(xercise)
7 PROVISO  Condition
Anaground IS V(ery) POOR
As in a near thing. More commonly in modern parlance, from the procedures involved and a TV series, elective (hence non-medical) surgery for the removal of excess this and that, so a double definition
11 A MILE A MINUTE rapidly
You might think that rapid, but light does 12,000,000 miles a minute, that’s the fastest speed there is. M(otorway) splits A1 (fine), then LEA for meadow and MINUTE for reduced in size. Though it might have been that big to start with, of course.
13 INJUNCTION One’s often taken out
Well, I suppose it is. Knock off the end of JUNCTIO(N)  for meeting, and insert it in INN, or tavern. Try not to notice you’re replacing one N with another N.
The first of the canon of James Bond films. COD (joke) is sent up and TORN for ragged and 0 for love are appended.
18 BALDWIN Prime Minister
Stanley dominated British politics between the Wars. and famously saw off Edward VIII. BA is graduate. Lord Home, meant to be seen as a later PM, only in fact gives LD and IN (home) which in turn embrace W(ife).
20 THE FLAT that Lincoln’s run over
A horse race without hurdles or any other obstruction, the Lincoln is the first race of the British Flat Racing Season, run at Doncaster (obviously). Dilapidate FELT HAT for your answer
21 BRONZE medal
B(ritsh) R(ailways) was once the fine, steam driven, unified rail system in the UK. Add a French eleven for your answer.
23 DYER Who’s ultimately handy in reversing colour
In other words, this is an &lit where the last letter of handY is inserted into RED (colour) and reversed to satisfy the whole question.

40 comments on “Times Crossword 25835: Don’t bank on it.”

  1. Another one with the mistaken BWANAS and NINA as the LOI. Not sure about “I owe her” but, otherwise, a fine piece of work.

    I see Germany are at $2.15 on a $1 bet. So best of luck Ulaca!

  2. My travails continue, as I recorded a third consecutive time in excess of an hour and a half. So many blind alleys was I led up, not excluding ‘sod’s law’ and ‘loop-to-loop’ / ‘shot-by-shot’. Last in COMPATRIOT. I am agreed that this was a very fine puzzle.

    The Lincoln Handicap is not actually the first race of the flat season but by tradition the first feature event of the season. It was indeed run at Lincoln until the course there closed 50 years ago.

    1. I should have learned by now never to make any pronouncements about the Sport of Kings, though at quizzes I can still (just about) do the one about the Classics.
    1. Just showing they’re faves right now with Argentina and the FT draw at $3.30. So spill it … what odds did you get?
  3. Thought this was a tough one, but eminently fair. BLADDER CAMPION is as obscure to me as are most plants, but left with L—– clued by ‘steps’, I should have been able to get LADDER without cheating. Should have been.

    Also slowed up by BWANAS, despite fond memories of the Nawab of Pataudi from the ABC Cricket Books of my childhood. Even back then I thought it was a cool name, without having a clue what a Nawab or a Pataudi might be.

    Agree with others that this was an excellent puzzle. Thanks setter and blogger.

  4. Another 90 minute solve here, but that was with a little assistance towards the end in a couple of places. I take the view that once an hour has passed, if I become completely stuck, then all bets are off as far as unaided solving is concerned. On rare occasions (like that Saturday puzzle a couple of weeks ago) I might go all out with every aid available in order simply to fill the grid, but on days like today a couple of nudges to get me out of a rut may be all that’s needed.

    Put me down for BWANAS too. Who’d have thought there’d be a second anagram of SAW BAN that would come anywhere near fitting the definition? Amazing! I wonder if anyone else first came across the word in the title of the Bob Hope film “Call Me Bwana”?

    Last in LOVE LETTER. Last understood, unaccountably DYER where, as is often my practice, I had concentrated on word play to find an answer, but failed to read the clue as a whole so I couldn’t relate my answer to a definition.

    I am hoping things will be kinder tomorrow on my watch.

    Edited at 2014-07-10 05:51 am (UTC)

  5. Tough but enjoyable, so very much a challenge without being a slog; as Z suggests, I found it was the case that careful breaking down of the clue brought the answer (eventually), rather than leaping to the obvious definition and then reverse engineering the solution. Proper setting, that is.

    Count me as yet another who confidently put in BWANAS on first pass. What are the chances?

  6. 22 minutes with a lull mid-solve before the rest came in a rush. BWANAS initially thanks to reading my father’s Teach Yourself Swahili, acquired during RAF service in East Africa. I did raise an eyebrow at ‘governor’ but then thought that ‘guvner’ passed muster. Bladder campion very common around my part of the world, along with white and red, which should have made the answer come more quickly. And I have learned that the Lincolnshire has been abbreviated – I was sure it was going to be a car. Lovely puzzle. With a bit of luck this will be a sweetness and light day.

    Edited at 2014-07-10 08:48 am (UTC)

  7. 32:14 … looks like I’m the grumpy old sod today. I found this very clever but not very enjoyable or satisfying. I may just be in a bad mood after staying up late last night for two hours of twenty-two men trying their best not to play any football.

    Clues like those for BLOW-BY-BLOW, BRANDY BUTTER and A MILE A MINUTE always make me feel like I’ve spent half an hour in a gym when I’d sooner take a nice walk in the country. It’s just a matter of taste, I know, and I do admire the ingenuity of it. But I can’t pretend to enjoy it. I’d rather have a nice, witty cryptic definition any day.

    Less said about IOWA the better (and I actually like homophone clues!).

    I’m glad everyone else enjoyed it, anyway. And thanks for the entertaining blog, Z8

    1. Sorry to hear about the grumpy sodness. I confidently scribbled in SODS LAW for 2dn before doing my version of tippexing (scribbling all over it)

      Edited at 2014-07-10 04:13 pm (UTC)

    2. It was a terrible match, I thought. And I missed the previous night’s extravaganza. Now that IS Sod’s Law!
      1. Honestly, it was the single most disappointing football match I’ve ever seen, a sort of craven anti-sport devoid of any courage or ambition. They should both be sent home.

        Still, makes it easy to know who to support in the final. Ich bin etc …

  8. 52′ with yet another bwanas, with a stab at sahibs after getting the b…not my finest near-hour. A neat offering overall with that something extra. 1 and 8 but hardly at 11 for something close to 22.
  9. Add me to the BWANAS team, until Ohm sprang to mind. Tricky puzzle with some not fully understood, and put in NINA without conviction. About an hour, hampered by adjacent rampant grandchildren, and it was not PC to don my noise cancelling headphones. Well blogged Z, glad this was not my turn.
  10. 43m. I thought I was in trouble when I had nothing in for over 5 minutes but once I got going a slow and steady solve ensued.

    My COD to BRANDY BUTTER purely for clueing randy as ‘wanting relations’.

  11. 23.1 here and yes, I was distracted by the pangram possibility. Also glad “bwanas” never occurred to me. Thanks for unravelling “nina” Z – I didn’t get it at all. “Blood/Buck” from the always useful Georgette Heyer and “nawab” from Jewel in the Crown.
  12. 38 mins. I’ve certainly struggled with the last three puzzles after Monday’s doddle. I actually enjoyed this one more than the previous two, but I could do with an easier one tomorrow. BARNET was my LOI after COMPATRIOT, and I struggled to see DOCTOR NO, LOVE LETTER and COLLECTORS ITEM.

    Could me as another who confidently wrote in BWANAS at 14ac until the LAW element of 2dn became obvious, and for that clue I also considered SOD’S LAW for quite a while although I never felt confident enough about it to put it in.

  13. I found this a struggle, taking a full hour to complete it, and twenty minutes trying to get the last four, 1dn, 4, 13 & 17.
    I thought there were some splendid clues (the deceptive one for 6, and 9 especially). I’m less enthusiastic about a small number of others, such as the dodgy homophone at 24, the very vague definition for 13, and the supposed &lit at 23 (one of those &lits that doesn’t quite make it).
  14. This was my kind of puzzle – not too much GK, and well constructed cryptics. A pity I made such a mess of it. My excuse is feeling a bit under the weather due to a nasty UTI – aren’t they all, I hear you say. When will I learn that a ‘u’ can be preceded by a ‘q’? 25 across would have been easy then. Another ‘BWANAS’, making Ohm’s Law difficult, and that from a retired electronics engineer! Also had ‘BOOT’ at 1down, which seemed to make sense… Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.
  15. …for the second day in a row.
    I had all but two done in twenty minutes. It took me another ten to get LOVE LETTER purely from going through the alphabet to find something that fitted the checkers. That left me with 13dn, but this was made difficult by the fact that I had RENA for 26ac. This was so obviously right that I didn’t seriously question it. The fact that I couldn’t see how to get ‘tavern’ into the answer should have tipped me off.
  16. DNF. Found this one hard work. Used Onelook to help me get the last five: Buck, Barnet, Compatriot, Tranquilly and Doctor No.
  17. Glad it wasn’t my turn today – I was stumped a few times but got there in the end at a third look. Also went for BWANA first. BLADDER CAMPION and THE FLAT from wordplay alone, but COLLECTOR’S ITEM without figuring out the wordplay (though at the time I had all checking letters except the C).
  18. I’d meant to include this earlier but was distracted by a phone call. In the summer of ’71 (salad days) a few years before moving to NYC permanently I saw the premiere of the Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. The original was much better but the song stayed with me. You never know what these clues will trigger.


  19. Definitely one to be measured by an hour glass rather than a stopwatch. 1a went in a dream and then… nothing. I eventually limped home, via “bank” for 1d, but fortunately thinking it was a pangram gave me the Q for 25a (using the old adage).
    I’ve definitely found this week something of a struggle.
  20. The Lincoln is indeed the first Heritage Handicap of the Flat season but the Listed Cammidge Stakes usually precedes it. Too much information!
  21. Unlike yesterday, this was a most enjoyable puzzle with some good clues. Never heard of BLADDER CAMPION but like other potential unknowns, workable from the wordplay. Thank you setter.
  22. Hi all, enjoyed the puzzle today, with a couple of really awkward ones halting me in my tracks for a DNF with 3 to go. Particularly liked 17ac. Can’t work out how “cop”=busy, I know blogger kindly adds “old slang” but where does this come from? Or is it one of those”you either know it or you don’t” ones. Guess I’ll know it next time, though I’ll prob mistake it for an anagram indicator! Most difficult part of improving my times (and finishes) is the volume of seldom used abbr. all help appreciated, Sean
    1. Chambers rather brusquely gives “n (sl) a detective”, but it’s definitely one worth putting into the compendium of crossword oddities, because it comes up often enough and can introduce any number of the useful words for policeman. You are also quite right, and it would be just your luck for it to mean “anagram” next time. “Probably” turned up this time at 6ac not doing what it normally does.
      If this is your first time here (or even if it isn’t, welcome to this peculiar planetoid. Registering on this site is comparatively easy and, more importantly, free, and makes for a more complete experience.
  23. Also started with BWANAS, quite confidently, so it took a while, nearly an hour. A lot of cleverness here today. No time for more commentary, so regards.
  24. I rather slogged my way through this one, and I regret to say that, like Sotira, I did not find it as pleasurable as others have. For the second day running I had the feeling that the puzzle had something of the Grauniad about it.
    I’m genuinely pleased that bigtone enjoyed the puzzle after being so uncharacteristically grumpy yesterday.
    I await with interest to see what the Dorset correspondent thinks of today’s effort.
  25. That was tough but very clever. Plants have always been a void in my GK, so needed help for the bladder campion. I had NONO for 26ac, as in a sort of miss, wondering if the square cut was a cricketing reference. Fortunately didn’t think of bwana or would have leapt at it! 86 minutes, but enjoyed it……
  26. 14:17 for me, making heavy weather of some easy clues – particularly 27ac (LOVE LETTER) where I was spooked by the first three checked letters (‑O‑E ‑E‑T‑R). I spotted BLADDER straight away for 12ac, but had a ghastly senior moment with CAMPION.

    Fortunately I switched to the downs just before reaching 14ac (NAWABS) and so had the W and B in place before I had the chance to bung in BWANAS.

    (I had to bing “no wrecks and nobody drownded” to remind myself where it came from. Splendid stuff – very popular when I was young.)

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