Times Cryptic 26566 – November 10, 2016. Here is the news.

Quite a lot of this one reads like a cryptic series of headlines on the affairs of the day, though whether that’s deliberate on the part of the setter or the imaginings of the shell-shocked solver’s brain is probably irresolvable. It struck me as a medium to quite a bit tough solve, and stretched me and my determination to parse everything on the way through to 32 minutes (and two seconds button clicking response time). A substantial aspect of the challenge is, in many cases, identifying the definition – 19ac providing a case in point.
I have provided the usual clue, definition, SOLUTION coding to provide clarity, and my usual tortured syntax to undo all that good work. Errors and omissions expected.


1 Wolf, perhaps, hunted bird  (4-4)
WILD FOWL  One of those clues where the answer is potentially another clue. Wild fowl might be the word play for WOLF. On the surface, can he mean The Donald?
5 Make stronger complaint before judge  (4,2)
BEEF UP  Complaint as in Chandler detective stories “what’s the BEEF”, and UP as in standing before the judge. I went to one of those schools with a merry discipline procedure called “Up Pres”, where one was judged by the entire prefect corps for minor offences such as talking in the Abbey or eating in the street. On my third such offence in the entire time at the school, I was told I was “carving myself a record”. By jingo, it still stings to this day.
Oh, and the surface surely references Trump’s other hobby.
9 Spoon about to be used with pasta  (8)
CANOODLE  “By the light of the silvery moon, I want to spoon, to my honey I’ll croon love’s tune”. Canoodle neither rhymes nor scans, but may still be the way Donald describes his favourite hobby. CA about (short for circa) and NOODLE for pasta
10 No point backing old preacher  (6)
BUNYAN  Author of Pilgrim’s Progress, which he conceived while in prison for preaching without a licence in the 1660’s. A reverse of NAY NUB, no point. Of the original Republican candidates, Mike Huckabee, I believe, would fit the surface of clue but not the wordplay
12 Swallow heading off to find some warmth? (3,2)
EAT UP  find some warmth gives HEAT UP, from which you remove the “heading”
13 One encouraging followers of Democrat to tweet in support  (4,5)
PIED PIPER  The mass child abductor of Hamelin so “one encouraging followers” formed for D(emocrat), PIPE (tweet) place inside PIER (support). Nothing to do with Hillary, then.
14 Cry of desperation as girl cornered by dog  (3,5,4)
FOR PETES SAKE. The girl is TESSA, the dog a PEKE, which leaves “as” to provide FOR and a simple assembly job
18 What can raise stature of travelling rep most of all?  (8,4)
PLATFORM SOLE  An anagram (“travelling”) of REP MOST OF ALL. A scarcely veiled reference to the rise and rise of (occasional REPublican) The Donald. Dammit.
21 Fine fellow in train heading to West country  (9)
MACEDONIA  Our setter proves here (and elsewhere) he can do “street”  just as well as Honey G, for ACE translates fine. DON is fellow, and the two are retained by AIM for train (think archery) reversed
23 How to conquer one’s opponent, ultimately?  (5)
WORST  (It’s a verb). My last in, because in these circumstance you have to parse before entry. And I forgot that “ultimately” sometimes means the last letters of all the words, in this case of the title of Trump’s memoir of the campaign.
24 What you could make on raid?  (6)
INROAD.  An &lit with an unlikely-looking anagram of ON RAID
25 Lower classes engaged fellow in series of challenges?  (8)
DEFIANCE  The lower classes are D and E, and the engaged fellow is a FIANCE. Make up your own political connection: I don’t want to get sued.
26 Threaten to go out fighting at the end, say  (6)
GUTTER  This thing really is about Trump and Clinton after all. Though the wordplay is the end of fighting and UTTER for say. To make sense of threaten to go out = gutter, think Candle in the Wind, your earworm for today. Sorry.
27 Minor country artist a telethon includes  (8)
STATELET  Hidden in artiST A TELEThon.


1 Sort of basket that’s excellent — right for daughter  (6)
WICKER  Our Setter down and dirty again, with excellent translating to WICKED. Once you have that, substitute D(aughter) with R(ight)
2 Leave never-ending trash after emptying yard, maybe  (6)
LENGTH  Another one of those clues where the instruction “Emptying” includes all the words, so LeavE Never-endinG TrasH.
3 Game of pool? For sure!  (9)
FOOLPROOF  Game indicates this is an anagram, of OF POOL FOR. I think I can make game mean “rearranged” but I’m keeping my reasoning secret.
4 Refreshing coverage of fifties journal in opening flourish  (12)
WALLPAPERING  My initial biff on this was ILLUMINATION, the florid letter at the beginning of a fancy bit of calligraphy. Clever, eh? Pity about the parsing, which for the real answer is fifties LL + journal PAPER + in IN, all contained in flourish WAG.
6 Fit of pique?  (5)
EQUIP  as in fit out. I think the anagram indicator for PIQUE is just the question mark, but it’s possible that fit is doing double duty.
7 Smart sons beg mister to stop buzzing?  (3,5)
FLY SPRAY What a fine hidden-in-plain-sight definition! Smart: FLY, S(ons) beg: PRAY
8 Cooked a certain way, in a day, glazed on the outside  (3-5)
PAN FRIED  A day is rendered as FRI, and then set inside PANED, slightly whimsical for glazed.
11 Present for camper, perhaps, includes small, uninspiring books  (3,9)
NEW TESTAMENT A decent enough present for a camper would be a NEW TENT, and the necessary insertion is derived from S(mall) TAME (for uninspiring)
15 Time to put an end to very mean fellow’s game  (4,5)
SOLO WHIST  A very mean person would be SO LOW, and fellows produces HIS. Now if you only had  T(ime).. ah, there’s lucky. Trumps, of course, are a feature of the game.
16 Inappropriately sending up plots associated with Dynasty  (8)
SPAMMING  A close description of The Donald’s election strategy to end the hegemony of dynastic White House occupancy. And also MAPS (plots, verb) up, and the MING dynasty
17 Sponsor, we hear, to desert game  (8)
BACCARAT Today’s soundzalotlike  BACKER  for sponsor (noun) and RAT, desert
19 Sultanate one deserts for large Kingdom?  (6)
BRUNEL, as in Isambard Kingdom. BRUNEI is the Sultanate that gives up its roman I for L(arge)
20 Bowled in a cricket match in most favourable conditions  (2,4)
AT BEST  And today’s cricket references in honour of India v England. A cricket match (especially this sort, is A TEST, a B is the scorecard abbreviation for bowled, one of the 10 ways of a player who is in being out, in which case he goes back in until it’s time for his team to come out again.
22 One famously kept bowling partner for a duck  (5)
DRAKE  Sir Francis playing boule on Plymouth Hoe, allegedly, before tackling the Armada, or indeed the partner of a duck.

68 comments on “Times Cryptic 26566 – November 10, 2016. Here is the news.”

  1. 42 minutes one wrong – that being 13ac PIED PIPER (LOI) which parses all understanding! Pipe = tweet!?

    My version was PLEA PAPER!#@!


    1. Yup, birds do it, bees – um – don’t, but think sandpiper and the piping/tweeting sound it probably makes. Other bird priducts are available.

  2. I was a bit chuffed at having squeezed in under the 30′ mark, only to be told in no uncertain terms that I had one wrong. I biffed ‘For pity’s sake’, ironic in that I don’t use the phrase, but might use the correct one. I also biffed ‘spoofing’ (inappropriately sending up?), but (unlike 14ac) checkers soon enough made me see reason.
  3. I really struggled with this and as the hour approached with less than half the grid completed I considered giving up on it, at least until after a night’s sleep. But it suddenly started to fall into place and I got there eventually in 83 minutes, although still with WORST and LENGTH unparsed. And I thought 25 across was IAN engaged within a selection of lower classes CDEF. 1ac was going to be GAME FOWL and 8dn POT ROAST, both for far too long under consideration.

    My problem seems to have been that several that seemed biffable and where it turned out I had the correct answer, I had difficulty parsing and this sapped my confidence when dealing with other clues where I was having to rely on wordplay.

    It would be lovely if one could retreat to TftT for a few moments each day to escape the troubles of the world and think only about crosswords and other pleasant things, but it’s now a forlorn hope, I fear. However I don’t intend to spend whatever time is left to me on this planet worrying about things I have no control over.

    Edited at 2016-11-10 06:06 am (UTC)

  4. No idea on a time since I was giving someone a lift and when I settled down to do the crossword I got a call and had to go. I don’t trust the crossword software to succesfully suspend and restart on a different network, usually it loses everything.

    The presidential election has reminded me of Kissinger’s comment about the Iran-Iraq war “It’s a pity they both can’t lose”.

    BRUNEL went straight in as a founder member of the Brunel Society at my school (a school which both John Cleese and Roald Dahl attended, and wrote about, as it happens).

    1. You gave someone a lift and did the crossword – damned impressive!

      Our school did not have a BRUNEL Society, unfortunately. (a school which Cecil Rhodes and Mark Wallington attended!)

    2. It took me longer than I’d have liked to see BRUNEL, but being from around the area clearly helps. I remember Cleese bemoaning his experiences in Weston when he came to Bristol on his “Alimony Tour”…
      1. Cleese seemed to enjoy it from his autobiography. Since he taught there during his gap year, his revealed preference is probably a better indicator than whatever stories he came up with for comedic effect. Whereas Roald Dahl clearly hated it, from his autobiography.

        Two things about that school in that era (Cleese was a few years ahead of me so not there at the same time, but it had the same headmaster, Tolson, described in his autobiography). All the servers in the refectory were Spanish, with very little English. Not hard to see where Manuel came from. And there was a very old-fashioned teacher called Captain Lancaster who was exactly like the Major in Fawlty Towers.

    3. Cannot think of anyone interesting who went to my school, although I was a contempory of both Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and the (then as now) annoying Nicholas Witchell.
  5. 26:23 … after a very slow start — 5 minutes to solve anything at all.

    I liked CANOODLE and GUTTERS, though the latter reawoke one of my lifetime ear-worms, that excruciatingly stoopid line from ALW’s Memory “Someone mutters and the steetlamp gutters”. I just got round to looking it up and find it was written by Trevor Nunn, cribbed from an amalgam of two of Eliot’s original ‘Cats’ poems (Preludes, and Rhapsody on a Windy Night, if you’re wondering). There are indeed gutters and mutters in the originals, though needless to say deployed with a little more craft by Eliot. Still, it made Nunn and ALW richer than Croesus, which proves an old maxim.

    Tough, clever puzzle, though I sometimes wonder if setters have been driven (if we’ve driven them) too far in the search for oblique definitions. ‘Refreshing coverage’ for WALLPAPERING is ever so clever but doesn’t make me happy. Perhaps the negative feedback that ‘obscure’ words generate leaves setters with nowhere else to go, but I’m starting to feel I would prefer a bit more challenging vocab. and a little less whimsical definition.

    Z8 – I hadn’t realised you went to the sort of school that built the Empire (actually, that Up Pres business sounds like something the Khymer Rouge would come up with). Congratulations on surviving it.

    Sorry for the long post. Recent events have left me deranged and rambling.

    1. Only 32.13! You did mention you were sick – with man flu I believe. I can send you you some patent Flu Man Chu remedy.It’s mainly tiger penis but it will do the trick!
    2. Ah, gutters! Thanks. Until now this was one of those lyrics where I’ve just shrugged and vaguely wondered what a street lamp gutter might look like.
      1. I prefer this from Noel Coward:

        The party’s over now, the dawn is drawing very nigh,
        The candles gutter, the starlight leaves the sky;

        Edited at 2016-11-10 08:45 am (UTC)

    3. Indeed, mine was founded in 948, in St Albans Abbey, and when I was there shortly afterwards was in the top ten in the country for academic achievement. My 6th form was in the 1365 Abbey gateway, which survived both me and the 1381 Peasants Revolt siege. John Ball, sometime leader of the Peasants Revolt, was an alumnus. Other alumni include me, Pope Adrian VI, Stephen Hawking, Tim Rice and The Zombies.
      I got there under the very wonderful Direct Grant system, phased out for being elitist in 1975, thereby closing access to the school for all but the wealthy elite. So that worked.
      1. I’m relieved those Up Pres experiences didn’t crush your self-esteem (“me, Pope Adrian VI, Stephen Hawking”, indeed!). They were clearly oppressing a downtrodden Direct Grant kid.
  6. Dozed off mid-solve (did I mention I was sick?), but that may have helped my solve rather than hindering it.

    Some great clues today, with GUTTER and FLY SPRAY my two CODs. And smooth, plausible surfaces throughout. Top-class stuff I reckon.

    Thanks setter and Z.

  7. 14m. Lots of biffing for me, but the definitions weren’t always easy to spot.
    I usually enjoy your blogs very much, z8, but I’m afraid you are interfering with my coping strategy, which involves pretending that yesterday didn’t happen.
    6dn is very unusual, in that there doesn’t appear to be an anagram indicator. It might be a sort of reverse semi-&Lit (have I invented a new category?) where the whole clue is the wordplay (and the anagram is indicated by ‘pique’ having a ‘fit’) and the definition is part of it. Or not.
    ‘Game’ is also an unusual anagram indicator, but works for me in the ‘lame’ sense.
    I’ve never understood the expression PAN-FRIED. Can you fry in anything else? Even if you can, how does it matter? Chefs also refer to ‘frying off’, which as far as I can tell means ‘frying’.
    1. “Dallas”, I think it was, managed a whole series before Bobby woke up, so I live in hope that we’re sharing one of those insistent nightmares where something awful has happened and you feel compelled to do stuff you’d rather not do. If England score, say, 500 plus against India, I’ll know I’m dreaming and my id is trying to compensate for the bizarre alternative history that is Trump.
      My Pennsylvanian daughter-in-law’s coping strategy is to apply forthwith for British citizenship. Can’t help thinking European citizenship might be better, after British Transport Police’s Ewige Jude style poster hit the Underground, but since it’s all a dream….
    2. Surely the anagram indicator is ‘fit’? i.e. the word pique fits, thrashes about. Fit is also the definition, and one has a ‘fit of pique’. No idea what this clue would be described as in crossword speak.
      1. Yes, that’s what I meant (probably not expressing myself very well) by ‘pique having a fit’.
        1. Re Fit of pique=EQUIP

          All the clue is saying is that EQUIP (=FIT)comes from the letters of PIQUE, so in that sense is a “fit of pique”

          1. I’m glad that’s sorted out.

            Congratulations on what has clearly been taken as a fine and challenging piece of work!

            1. Excellent puzzle/blog. Thanks setter and blogger. No quibbles from me over EQUIP, but I do have a minor one over the next clue, FLY SPRAY. I had always understood (it would seem wrongly) that by cruciverbal convention the letter S could be an abbreviation for “son” but not the plural “sons” as is required here for the surface read to work. As a consequence I wasted some time trying to fit a second S into the solution. Does this also mean that D can be an abbreviation for both “daughters” and “daughter”?
          2. I remember hearing about an author who attended a lecturer in which some of his writing was being deconstructed and analysed. After a while, he identified himself and offered to explain what the words meant. The lecturer rounded on him, saying that the author was in no better position than anyone else to say what the words meant.
            1. That story takes me back. There was an awful lot of it about when I was an undergraduate. These days the situation would no doubt be considered triggering, for either the author or the students. Or possibly both.
          3. Thanks setter. So it is indeed an anagram without an indicator (which, for the avoidance of doubt and without prejudice to the foregoing, is fine by me).
            1. Depends what you mean by “indicator”. You need something to relay the idea that the letters from somewhere are used to make the answer, and in certain cases “of” does the job just fine, although obviously not so convincing in every case.
              1. I suppose I just meant the conventional indicator that the letters need to be scrambled. I agree that here ‘of’ (which I read as a kind of shorthand for ‘made of’) does the job just as well. And of course it makes for a very elegant clue!
  8. Oooh….toughie, but I found the hour it took to complete well spent. Great definitions and sneaky misdirections all over the shop…

    Couldn’t parse MACEDONIA for ages, thinking ‘fine’=IA at the end; ‘engaged fellow=fiance’; ‘refreshing coverage=WALLPAPERING’ – all pdms for me!

    Dnk GUTTER=threaten to go out. Oh, and dnk PIPE, either.

  9. I admit I wasn’t entirely expecting to see the “Congratulations!” message when I hit submit at 57:34, but see it I did. Clearly my instinctive judgement of “oh, that *must* be it” even when the wordplay is only half-parsed is improving.

    I enjoyed this one, partly because I seemed to start off completely off the wavelength but managed to wrest myself around to how the setter was thinking as I went along, which is rare for me. WOD CANOODLE, LOI the crossers of BRUNEL (for shame! I can walk to *two* of his bridges in ten minutes!) and DEFIANCE.

    1. Clifton to the Cumberland basin in 10 minutes! My, you must walk fast, though it is downhill I suppose.
        1. In which case 10 minutes to get to the Clifton suspension bridge up Constitution Hill from Hotwells would be enough to give you a coronary.
          1. I reckon I can get there in 10, but I’m at the west end of Hotwells, near Hope Chapel, so a lot closer than Constitution Hill!
  10. Two days running, I’ve heard my Dad answer a clue from beyond, this time “FOR PETE’S SAKE”, not heard for many a long year. He didn’t come up with GUTTER though, a word that I’d nearly forgotten and didn’t remember today, so a DNF. The rest eventually was done and parsed in 45 minutes. COD CANOODLE, another faint remembrance of things past.
  11. 35′ today, not helped by biffing POT ROAST first, and struggling with WORST, failing to parse it. Also spent a while looking for a pasta as the definition at 9 ac, and toyed with RUNCIBLE too. Thanks z and setter. Tomorrow is another day.
  12. Very much enjoyed this. LOI was 7dn, where the definition was worth the price of admission alone. Lots of clues involved the opposite of biffing, where I deduced what the answer must logically be, then managed to see the definition, which I am happy with.
  13. About 20 minutes. I was absolutely on the setter’s wavelength (it happens once a year at best). Thanks setter and Z8.
  14. Managed to sneak in inside 2 Magoos (just) with a 13 and a half minute time. Still suffering from (hopefully now the tail end of) a terrible cold, plus the imminent New World Order, I’m not sure how much of a fit state I’m in for solving crossword puzzles!
  15. I’ve been using the same coping strategy as Keriothe – but I think I need something stronger. Somehow standing on Fifth Avenue among the tourists and yelling at Trump’s ridiculous tower, as some did yesterday, doesn’t seem appealing. I had a very nice picture of an overflowing garbage can with his name on it outside his building just up the block from us (the Trump Palace, not to be confused with our excellent local eatery the Peking Palace), that I was hoping to work in somewhere but it’s now been, ahem, trumped. The same may unfortunately be true of a joke in French that I had prepared for my TLS blog tomorrow. Right, tell self to shut up.

    The puzzle (God bless it) – seemed to be right up my street. Yes, special mention to FLY SPRAY. Thanks for the parse on LENGTH Z – it eluded me. 21.48

  16. 70 minutes with another shout out to FLY SPRAY. I had a telephone conversation today (itself becoming more and more of a rarity) with the first person of my acquaintance to admit voting for Trump. Strangely, at school, he was a rabid Bennite. And atheist. Still the latter, though probably not the former.
  17. Was rather held up because my first in was WATERPOLO at 3D. I read it as a “backwards clue”, though I was not too keen on “water” (something that can be poured out, perhaps) as an anagram indicator. It allowed for the W in what had to be an anag at 1A, but only after getting clashing answers did Irevisit 3D.
  18. A slow start but picked up after that, finishing in 9m 48s. Might have been a bit quicker if I’d not chucked in PLATFORM SHOE carelessly, which slowed me down in the SE corner.

    I enjoyed ‘mister’ in 7d, but put a big cross next to 6d. Certainly seems like double duty to me, and a clue I wouldn’t have expected to see in the Times.

  19. Very much enjoyed this puzzle which rewarded proper analysis combined with some lateral thinking. Liked BRUNEL, GUTTER and EQUIP – thank you setter

    Looking forward to the Trump reign which will I suspect never be less than interesting as he comes to terms with the US internal checks and balances as well as the antics of certain slippery foreigners

    1. I have a feeling that the POTUS elect will be happy to eschew the minutiae of Washington business for a round of global visits. A Supreme Court Justice or two to be appointed will probably be fairly high on his agenda too.
  20. About 30 minutes here too, late last night, and held up by my bleary eyes seeing ‘minister’ instead of ‘mister’ in the FLY SPRAY clue, making the parsing a bit more difficult than it should have been. LOI was DEFIANCE, because while I could read the clue correctly, I was too thick to see that ‘fiance’ supplied the engaged fellow. It was just biffed in at the end without real understanding. Regards.
  21. Having sussed out Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, yesterday, as a possible place to escape Armageddon, I emerged for the drive back up north, and stopped off at Tamworth Services to tackle today’s puzzle over a Costa while sitting in the car park. I polished it off in a fairly quick, for me, 33 minutes, oddly enough, the same time as yesterday. FOI, BEEF UP and LOI CANOODLE. Started slowly, flitting about the grid, but then settled in and steadily ground the answers out. I also originally thought of For Pity’s Sake, but the wordplay helped me avoid that pitfall. I thought there were some clever clues and quite enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks setter and Z.
  22. 24 mins. Like a few of you I found this one quite tough. I found the SW quadrant straightforward enough for the most part, but the rest was slow going. On 23 mins I thought I’d finished with DEFIANCE after BRUNEL, but earlier in the solve I’d misbiffed “gather” at 26ac where I’d managed to satisfy myself it worked if “threaten” was the definition (as in clouds or crowds), but I obviously hadn’t been able to parse. I got up to make myself a coffee, realised “threaten to go out” was the definition, and saw the obvious parsing, so GUTTER became my LOI. Eejit.
  23. Well, I am now three days behind and failing to catch up.

    Like Andy, I justified “gather” for 26ac but, unlike Andy, I failed to see my mistake. Ah well. I also had “for pity’s sake” at 14ac.

    If I hadn’t found the rest of the puzzle such hard going, I might have worried more about the unparseability of my answers. As it was, I just decided that the whole puzzle needed a bigger brain than the one I am currently using.

  24. No, of course it isn’t a reference to the Donald! FOWL is an anagram of WOLF, and I suppose WILD is the clue for that, with the whole meaning ‘hunted bird’.
    However, I’m not boasting (honest). I also had ‘for pity’s sake’ and never thought of Pete, and I didn’t understand DEFIANCE either, so thanks for those.

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