Times Cryptic 26554 – October 27, 2016. Une jolie puzzle avec many choses interestant.

25 minutes for this one, an interminable time trying and failing to parse 18dn as befits a conscientious commentator. Apart from this and others in the Cornish corner, I found this easygoing with some pleasant humorous touches. Early indications on the leader board suggest this was not quite a doddle, and there may be a heffalump trap which I have yet to identify, though the impressionist may serve to derail the inveterate biffer.  By coincidence, 25ac was where Mrs Z came unstuck in her recent appearance on “Rebound”, a mid afternoon quiz show on British television.
Here’s how it works (including 18dn) with the usual clue, definition  and SOLUTION


1 Lacking members to back the Church, it’s unpleasant  (9)
CHARMLESS  The missing members are arms, giving ARMLESS to follow CHurch.
6 Constant function for loop  (5)
PICOT Two mathematical terms, PI the constant and COTangent the inconstant (as I remember it that’ll be adj over opp). A picot is an ornamental loop in lace making and such, and rather wonderfully both what Hispanic speakers buy instead of Alka Seltzer and a French brand of baby milk (not to be confused. Please). If this were the TLS, it would be François-Édouard Picot, artist.
9 Sleeveless garment, way to keep warmer?  (7)
SINGLET  Once you get ST from way, you only have to work out where the rest comes from. An INGLE is a fireplace. It’s also Spanish for groin – not sure how that qualifies as “warmer”.
10 Pass a black spot  (7)
ABSTAIN  Easy stuff: A B(lack) STAIN. Pass as in pass up on.
11 Leaders in all administrative regions generally hapless — oh no!  (5)
AARGH The first letters of the five words after in, just as well, because I believe there are many variants. From my elder grandson (7): what’s a pirate’s favourite letter? R!
13 Pope, a tragic youth bearing cross  (9)
ALEXANDER  There are currently 38 pope’s names to choose from. The one you want is formed from A plus LEANDER (the one who drowned swimming the Hellespont for the sake of Hero) with an intervenient cross X. The sixth, being a Borgia, was probably the most fun. Or you can just assume it’s the poet.
14 Shrew quick to find insect  (9)
DRAGONFLY  You need to equate dragon with shrew, both synonyms for, let’s say, difficult women. Add fly for quick as in –witted.
16 Announcement of PM’s successor: a Muslim ruler  (4)
IMAM  Such fun: sure as night follows day, AM follows PM, declaring “who am I? I’M AM.
18 Chestnut tree’s centre hollowed out  (4)
ROAN  That colour of horse that most closely resembles a conker. Take the middle out of ROwAN
19 Range — a pound figures  (9)
APENNINES  Italy’s spine, formed from A: A, PEN: pound (think sheep) and (pick any figure from an infinite series) NINES. So not from mostly sedimentary rocks then.
22 Focus attention on insignificant boxing prize  (9)
SPOTLIGHT  No sign of belt or purse. Boxing is a containment indicator, so POT (prize) in SLIGHT (insignificant).
24 House call that comes after golf  (5)
HOTEL  NATO alphabet. Oscar Kilo?
25 Fancy man in unpredictable race  (7)
CHIMERA  Not the goat-bodied beast of myth, but just any old wild flight of fancy. HIM (man) in CERA, a less-than-predictable spelling of race.
26 Italian food that’s cold then hot in cooking, not ok to change  (7)
GNOCCHI C(old) and H(ot) in an anagram of COOKING without the O and K.
28 Twenty-fifth experiment, perhaps, making one irritable?  (5)
TESTY  Another fun clue. Experiment 25 would be test Y
29 Biker initially seen cycling ahead of walker  (9)
SCRAMBLER, both the bike and its rider, formed from the initials of both Seen and Cycling followed by RAMBLER, walker


1 Fish scoffing brilliant apple  (7)
COSTARD Fish is COD (not my vote for the best clue, just the – and chips variety) and brilliant gives STAR. Enfold.
2 Bristle, as part of law nullified  (3)
AWN  Hidden in lAW Nullified.
3 1320 yards before dog catches tail of athletic dairy animal  (5-3)
MILCH COW  Get your calculator out: 1320 yards is three quarters of a MILe. Dog is CHOW, and the last letter of athletiC produces the caught letter. I think I’ve only seen it in its metaphorical, exploited sense.
4 Time to bag ten thousand for a start, as bonus (5)
EXTRA  Stop trying to remember the Latin for 10,000; just the X ten, plus T for the start of Thousand, set in ERA for time.
5 Flat replacement for middleweight?  (5,4)
SPARE TYRE  Double definition, being also a jocular description of middle age spread.
6 Unit of pressure drawing up resin and plant fluid  (6)
PASCAL A reverse of LAC (resin) and SAP (plant fluid). We used to call it PSI.
7 Master cracking a clue that’s cryptic on time for artist  (6,5)
CLAUDE MONET  Master gives you DEMON, and if you crack A CLUE you get the surrounding CLAUE. Add T(ime). Follow the wordplay to avoid wrinting in MANET, who was Édouard anyway
8 Smack, then batter Chinese puzzle  (7)
TANGRAM  TANG fro smack or taste, and RAM for batter.
12 US policies once implicating military leader in heinous crimes, no?  (11)
REAGANOMICS  Ronnie’s way of doing the numbers. Your military leader is AGA, and the rest is provided by a “heinous” version of CRIMES NO. It’s round about here that my solving ability collapsed.
15 International communication process fails, having called for investment?  (9)
FRANGLAIS  If you process FAILS, you get FLAIS, into which you inset RANG for called, as per instruction. The late Miles Kington was the acknowledged master of the language in “Parlez vous Franglais”, in Punch, but the history is much longer. From a 1688 legal report: “assault per prisoner la condemne pur felony que puis son condemnation ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice que narrowly mist” and allegedly from Churchill to DeGaulle: “Si vous m’opposerez je vous get riderai”
17 Caterpillar in underground stem touring borders in hedgerow  (4-4)
INCHWORM  An underground stem is a CORM. IN precedes it, and the borders of HedgeroW are inserted.
18 Little time hiding rings — like diamonds?  (4-3)
ROSE-CUT  I have only just this moment got this. Not RECUT somehow meaning little time and  O’S rings, but SEC, little time ringed by ROUT for hiding (as in give a good hiding to). D’oh.
20 Man passing current through fuse (7)
SOLDIER  Current is I (sci-talk) and SOLDER is fuse
21 General occupying filthy home that’s cold and damp  (6)
SLEETY  The General is Robert E LEE (think Dukes of Hazard) and filthy home is STY Assemble.
23 Big pussycat good to break up row  (5)
TIGER  Hardly the most difficult of today’s clues. G(ood) in TIER, row.
27 Pass unfriendly contracts  (3)
COL  A mountain pass, and a contraction of COLd

43 comments on “Times Cryptic 26554 – October 27, 2016. Une jolie puzzle avec many choses interestant.”

  1. Good mix for all types of solver. Numerous instances from science, technology, engineering, arts and maths. And indeed started with a full head of steam, but it ran out in the bottom half of the grid. ROSE-CUT was last in and had to be retro parsed. Fiendish! Liked the “loopy” pair at 6ac and 17dn.

    Edited at 2016-10-27 02:37 am (UTC)

  2. Then there was, on dit, the tourist chasing after a bus and shouting, “Arretez! Je suis gauche derrière!” I’m not a very happy campeur: After about 13′ I was down to 18ac and 18d; I then came up with rowan for the tree, but the O in the 3d square made that impossible (I also didn’t see at first how ROAN would work, but). It took me 6′ or so to notice that the O should be an A. I was insecure enough about Manet/Monet that I checked post-biff. I figured out LOI ROSE-CUT just before coming here; very nice.

    Edited at 2016-10-27 03:23 am (UTC)

  3. Also raced through to end up with 18a and 18d. For a time I wondered if REOT was a word for a chestnut that I’d never come across (tree’s cente = RE, and hollowed OuT is OT). It also took me forever to see FRANGLAIS since none of the crossers seemed to have anything to do with the clue. I wondered if it was something like KISSOGRAM but with a more international flavor, before the penny (centime?) finally dropped.
    1. I figured out Reaganomics and wrote it in without re-reading the clue, figuring the military leader must be a GEN. Except I wrote it as I’d speak it, REAGONOMICS. After a trawl for the unknown ROSE-CUT gave an R, REOT it was for the unknown UK slang for chestnut. Dragonfly and Franglais the only other holdups, but not particularly quick – bottom half seemed tricky.
  4. After breezing through the NW and SE corners I became horribly stuck and eventually battled my way very slowly through most of the remainder but eventually gave up and resorted to aids to find PICOT, TANGRAM and ROSE-CUT (all unknown or forgotten) and, to my shame, CHIMERA which I so nearly cracked but thought the answer had to start with CR instead of ending with RA.

    Other problems were FRANGLAIS (very annoying as I mentioned it and Frenglish in my Tuesday blog commentary) and the mountain range / flat tyre duo. I thought of the mountains early on but in my mind I spelt their name with two PPs, so was unable to parse it or to solve 5dn until I had realised my error. I note that although our blogger has explained the clue correctly he has written two PPs in the answer, suggesting that I am not alone in thinking that it looks more correct than the proper spelling. Of course if one thinks “Pennines” and just sticks an A at the beginning the correct spelling becomes obvious.

    Edited at 2016-10-27 05:23 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the heads up on APPEN… APENI… the mountains. I have adjusted accordingly. You’re right, the correct spelling looks wrong.

      Edited at 2016-10-27 06:52 am (UTC)

  5. 23:24 … with a full 10 minutes on ROAN / ROSE-CUT, a very tricky combination if the rowan tree isn’t somewhere to the fore in your mind. And if I knew that ROAN and chestnut were the same thing, I had forgotten.

    FRANGLAIS fairly sprang to mind after the very entertaining LE GROOM the other day.

    Very nicely crafted puzzle.

    Z – takes a brave soul to go on a television quiz. Regards to Mrs Z.

  6. About 18 minutes for all but the PICOT / TANGRAM crossing. Assumed that the function had to be COS, but PICOT rang a faint bell, so I eventually got the T right. Then never having heard of TANGRAM, I went for TAN = smack, DRUM = batter, giving TANDRUM, the well-known Tan dynasty’s version of a conundrum.

    It’s amazing what you can convince yourself of if you try.

    Greatly enjoyed MILCH-COW, which was a write-in and ROSE-CUT, which certainly wasn’t.

    Thanks setter and Z.

  7. Like many others, SW was like walking through treacle. ROSE-CUT could not be risked without parsing, ROAN was over the horizon. I had ALEXANDER the poet rather than the linked hero. PICOT from wordplay alone, TANGRAM well known in school mathematics, and PASCAL of thr famous triangle. Only recently have heard of INCH-WORM, singing the song. I parsed 27d as COOL contracted. 27′. Thanks z and setter.
    1. Cool to col is at least as good and may well be better, since contract suggests drawing in rather than dropping a bit off the end. In Alexander, the linked hero is part of the wordplay, the alternative Alex being  one of the Popes. The poet struck me as an alternative because I’m working on the TLS blog and his name was fresh in my mind, but it’s entirely legitimate, of course, and may have been the setter’s intention.

      1. On my mind, too, after yesterday’s puzzle, where the DISPORT clue made me think of a couplet that has stuck with me since O’level. Pope’s facetious description of angels’ robes in The Rape of The Lock:

        Dipp’d in the richest tincture of the skies,
        Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes,

      2. Since Hero and the ‘Tragic’ Leander are mentioned in ‘Letters to Mrs Montague I assumed it must be him.
        Chris, London
        1. Thanks, that was a hole in my knowledge of the great poet. The current TLS is often full of that sort of depth, the Times less so. Perhaps the setter would care to comment on what would be a fine piece of cluing.

  8. About 30 minutes but I didn’t know PICOT and couldn’t think of the function so came up with PICAT. As soon as I’d amended it to PICOT I thought of cotangent so feel I should have got this.
  9. Very enjoyable puzzle and great blog – thanks z8

    Of course FRANGLAIS to the French is using short English phrases to replace French mouthfulls. I recall they once tried to ban things like Le Weekend. It certainly never caught on in golfing circles where ny French colleagues continued to speak of Le Bunker and so on

    1. By ‘they’ I think you mean the Academie Française, J. They still insist on ‘fin de semaine’ instead of ‘weekend’, and ‘courriel’ instead of ’email’. Fortunately – and predictably – everyone ignores them. Fools in robes.

      Edited at 2016-10-27 11:04 pm (UTC)

  10. Franglaisish thoughts are in full flow. We were just changing from cgs to mks, to be known as SI, when I read Physics. That’s my excuse for spending ten minutes on a newton per square metre. Bring back the dyne per square centimetre, or the psi, or the ton per acre. I’d have preferred PASCAL clued as a bet on God, which seems like sound advice at my age. I also struggled with PICOT for a while despite knowing both terms well. After 40 minutes DNF, not getting ROSE CUT despite seeing ROAN early from either my rural upbringing or a pub in Aintree. COD TESTY. followed by MILCH COW.
    1. You obviously haven’t spent much time being forced to stare into the windows of Preston’s.
      1. I gather it’s shutting down from a snippet in the Bolton News, read on t’internet for the football. I’m afraid we’ve lived in the south-east for over thirty years. Bolton won the best shopping centre in the country a decade or so ago. It’s turning into a ghost town now. I guess t’internet and proximity to Manchester are jointly to blame.
  11. 58 minutes, held up at the end by the scientific crossers. Now where’s horryd’s goat when you want it?
  12. 31:43. Was done with all but SW corner in less than 20 mins and then got stuck. I see I was not alone. Once REAGANOMICS came to mind I got moving again, but FRANGLAIS, my LOI, took ages to spot – I was sure FLAGS had somethign to do with it. Doh.
  13. Glad I wasn’t the only one who found the deceptively simple looking ROSE-CUT so difficult, along with quite a few others clues such as those for PICOT and CHIMERA. I liked FRANGLAIS, SPARE TYRE, REAGANOMICS and SCRAMBLER, a term you don’t hear as much these days; the more prosaic and less descriptive “trail-bike (or moto-cross) rider” seems to have taken over.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  14. Absolute nightmare today – for some reason I put LEESTY at 21d and this held me up in the SW corner for ages. I was on the verge of giving up when I spotted the issue, then the corner went fairly quickly for a total time of about 25 mins.
  15. That was definitely less easy than some! I was held up for ages in the SW, but eventually finished all correct in 68 minutes. FOI AWN, LOI FRANGLAIS. Lots of chewy clues and satisfying to finish. Biffed GNOCCHI from CH and the initial G, so didn’t fully uncook it. Had CUT for 18d for ages, but took a while to get the rest of it. I was messing about with semaphore for 15d for ages too. Had PANGRAM for a while until Claude surfaced and I was able to confirm PICOT, which I had considered earlier without knowing its meaning. Excellent puzzle and great blog. Thanks setter and Z.
  16. 35 min: SW cost most time – got 18dn to start, but after SHORT came to mind in 22ac, couldn’t think of the word needed. LOI was 15dn, after eventually rejecting possible anagram of FAILS, & FLAGS. By the way, I agree that 19ac looks to be spelt wrong!
  17. I accidentally threw my print-out away as I thought I had posted both QC and 15×15 early. Retrieved from the WPB.

    I very often have the same time as vinyl and today I was 63 minutes finding this a little tricky at around 2 minutes per clue on ave.

    Penfold had a ‘hold-up’ – yet managed to finish in a splendid 12 minutes! My hold-ups can be of that magnitude.

    The problem was the ROAN / ROSE-CUT intersection at 18 – LOI(ROAN unparsed).

    WOD 17dn INCH WORM (climbing the marigolds.)


    1. In the interests of accuracy the inch-worm was measuring the marigolds. Flowers presumably, not the rubber gloves.
      1. Jack -You remember your ‘Hans Christian Anderson’ better than I remember mine! Danny Kaye!
        I believe ‘climbing’ would have had slightly better scansion than ‘measuring’. I’ll have a word with Frank.
        But hey ho! Another day another dollar!
        1. Have a word with Frank? Good luck with that as he’s been dead for 47 years! I hope you know a happy medium.

          Actually “measuring” scans rather well and fits nicely with the mathematical theme of the lyric which “climbing” would not.

  18. 12:06, no problems here, despite slowing down somewhat after a lightning start in the NW corner. I biffed ROSE-CUT (thanks for the parsing Z) which made ROAN easy enough to spot. At last my time spent pretending to listen to Mrs Penfold banging on about diamonds has paid off. Biggest hold up for me was Reaganomics.
  19. Foiled by SW corner. Plaudits to the setter though!

    p.s. Your saying that “we used to call pascal PSI” led to me read up a little on this. When I check my tyre pressure there’s no mention of pascals, but there is of bars (from Greek baros=weight). But pascals are tiny (1 bar = 100,000 Pa) so a bit of a faff, so weatherpersons and carmakers refer to bars instead. I look forward to a cryptic that somehow makes use of the fact that one hectopascal equals one millibar!

    I also learned that there is a unit called a barn, being a very small unit of area indeed (100 square femtometres) and the even smaller “shed” (=1 yoctobarn). Who says physicists have no sense of humour?

    Edited at 2016-10-27 03:52 pm (UTC)

  20. The usual 20 minutes, although ROSE-CUT was biffed in (I also thought the rings were ‘OS’) and TANGRAM went in last as a guess from wordplay. I liked CHIMERA as a ‘fancy’. Regards.
  21. A few seconds under 13 mins so I was pretty much on the setter’s wavelength, although I confess to having biffed ROSE-CUT. I saw ROAN/ro(w)an fairly quickly which obviously helped. Unlike several of you I finished in the NE, and SPARE TYRE was my LOI after ABSTAIN. I also spent too long trying to parse TANGRAM. I’m another who thought that smack=TAN and I was wondering if GRAM was a name for a type of batter used in a foreign cuisine. When the TANG penny dropped I felt a right eejit.
  22. AARGH! is the word for it. But I did finish, in 62 minutes, once I too dragged the RO(W)AN tree out of the cobwebs in my brain and then actually managed to parse ROSE-CUT correctly. Lots of unknowns today (PICOT, ROSE-CUT, even COSTARD, and MILCH-COW, which is apparently Denglish [the German analogue of Franglais]). Quite enjoyable (like Donald Trump, I only say that when I win, and I hope very sincerely that is the only similarity).
  23. Not sure of my time on this one, but after a slow start I found the last few just dropped into place, so I was faster than I expected to be.

    PICOT was unknown, or at least I think it was. It rang a distant bell in the far corner of the landfill I refer to as my memory. Or perhaps I was thinking of “tricot”, another word which I only half-know and which has something to do with fabric, or something, maybe. Anyway, got there.

    I agonized briefly over SLEETY, which I wouldn’t think of as cold and damp, although perhaps it is. There were also a few skin-of-the-teeth answers (COSTARD, REAGANOMICS, MILCH COW, ROSE-CUT) which I’d heard of but could easily not have.

  24. 12:04 for me, starting quite briskly with the first three acrosses followed by the first four downs going straight in, but then slowing badly.

    A most interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

  25. 18m, feeling like I was making heavy weather of it. I enjoyed it a lot though, particularly AARGH, which is a lovely word.
  26. I was confused by this. A chestnut horse can be a roan, but it can also be just chestnut. I suggest that the definition is therefore too loose, and given that ‘rowan’ is not the first tree one might think of, the clue becomes difficult especially with the unknown ‘rose-cut being equally challenging to parse.

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