Times Cryptic 26614 – January 5, 2017 Take two

Much harder than the grid posted on the time warped Club site, at least for me, though I was solving on my smart phone, an experience akin to keyhole surgery. As with next Monday’s puzzle, I have given you the option of not reading the answers and explanations so that you can tackle it as I did, without hints in about 30 minutes.

[To reveal, click here]

Clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 Just about to answer, then clash (4)
AJAR  A(nswer) plus clash JAR. We’ve chuntered on about to, almost, and ajar before. Let’s not do it again.
3 Papa freshly presented with medals gives you a lump in your throat (5,5)
ADAM’S APPLE  Anagram (freshly presented) of PAPA plus MEDALS. Slightly (you, your) suggests all solvers are male. Don’t blame me for such casual sexism
9 Mini cooler holding British beer pot (4,3)
TOBY JUG  So that’s TOY for mini, JUG for cooler (both slang for prison) and an intervening B(ritish)
11 With savoir-faire I must meet the French being touchy-feely (7)
TACTILE  Savoir-faire provides TACT, add I and LE for “the” in French
12 Complete clues fall in a tumble (4-5)
FULL SCALE  “tumble” the letters of CLUES FALL
13 Join customer getting boxes (5)
MERGE  Hidden in custoMER GEtting
14 Some possibly inside lorry briefly moving into building (12)
CONSTRUCTION  CONS are prisoners, so possibly “inside”, TRUC(k) is a short lorry, and the moving letters of INTO provide the rest
18 A bloke’s baptism? Matter which superficially lowers tension (7,5)
WETTING AGENT Or, slightly adjusted, wetting a gent. What it says.
21 Fancy that recruit? A majestic companion (5)
CORGI fancy that: COR, recruit GI. Almost my last in, trying to think of a generic companion such as Rani
22 Exclude implied but unstated backtracking in plot (9)
RUSTICATE “Sending down” a student from Oxbridge. TACIT reversed in RUSE
24 Old woven silk, cool material to keep you dry (7)
OILSKIN  So that’s O(ld), SILK “woven”  and IN for cool (as in hip, happening)
25 Record of peer touring round this country? (7
LOG BOOK Not only sexist (see 3 above) but UK centrist, when this country therefore means GB. Bracket it with LOOK for peer. One edit (thanks, Jack): you also need “round” to provide the otherwise missing O
26 Love George, say, picking up small bottle (10)
SWEETHEART  George is an example of a ST, insert WEE for small, and add HEART for courage
27 Produce stick (4)
BEAR  Another late entrant, as there are too many possible synonyms for both words in the clue. Our answer matches both


1 Sculpture, say, providing cool craft (8)
ARTIFICE  Sculpture is one form of ART, providing gives you IF, and cool ICE
2 A doctor aunt upset going round pound walking (8)
AMBULANT  A doctor provides A MB, an upset aunt UANT, which goes round £ for pound.
4 Pursue higher degree in teaching (5)
DOGMA  “I have PhD, so I look down on him because he only has an MA.” “I have an MA, so I look up to him because he has a PhD, but I look down on him because he only has a BA.” “I know my place” Precede with DOG for pursue for what is also a fine, if incredibly foul-mouthed movie with an exceptional performance by the late Alan Rickman as the voice of God (played by Alanis Morissette).
5 Gent’s heart, after annual Test excitement, is in a bad way (4-5)
MOTH-EATEN The MOT is the UK annual check on cars aged three years or more HEAT is excitment, and the heart of gent is EN.
6 Helpful stuff in magazine about cold officer becoming old-fashioned (13)
ACCOMMODATING Stuff in a magazine is AMMO, a cold officer is a C CO, and becoming old-faxshioned DATING. Assemble.
7 Nippers in peril playing close to roads (6)
PLIERS An anagram (playing) of PERIL plus the last letter of roadS
8 Train, in America, regular soccer team? (6)
ELEVEN The EL(evated) is what Gene Hackman drives under in The French Connection. Regular provides the EVEN
10 Exactly what’s needed for travelling unladen? (4,3,6)
JUST THE TICKET  Two definitions, the second a touch whimsical.
15 Sheer genius absorbing new declaration (9)
UTTERANCE  So that will be an UTTER ACE with an inserted N(ew)
16 Don’t interfere in service being repeated without help (3,5)
LET ALONE  Think tennis for a LET, a serve that must be repeated because the first one touched the net on the way through or suffered some other hindrance. ALONE is without help.
17 Exposed runner, one gambling maybe on getting in? (8)
STREAKER  Whimsical definition, and a whimsical STAKER for one gambling, including RE for “on”.
19 Answer receiving mistaken sign throughout (6)
ACROSS  A(nswer) plus that sign for “wrong” which was sometimes accompanied by “see me”. Arguably, should be marked wrong because it’s a down clue.
20 Question closely what closes off fire? This could (6)
GRILLE  Grill for question closely plus the end of firE
23 Zoom up around fifty — it’s to do with the sun (5)
SOLAR   SOAR ( and not a word meaning zoom, backwards) circles L, Latin for fifty.

36 comments on “Times Cryptic 26614 – January 5, 2017 Take two”

  1. Yes, more difficult than Monday’s and not so much fun We appear to have an O not accounted for in 25ac.
    1. I think it’s accounted for by “round”, as “touring” is sufficient to provide the enclosing instruction.
      1. Yep, I see it now. Thanks. I was going to add more to my comment but now can’t edit it so I’ll post here:

        I wasn’t delayed by much over my target half-hour. WETTING AGENT I guessed from wordplay as without the baptism reference I’d have gone for “setting agent” which at least I’ve heard of. I had GEAR at 27ac which I reckon is arguably correct but not if one had thought of BEAR first. I’d no idea about the train at 8dn. Well done on your second blog today, Z. It looks as if Ulaca may get next Monday off!

        Edited at 2017-01-05 09:55 am (UTC)

  2. Solid today, but was nearly in despair, very briefly, at the two four letter answers at 1ac and 27ac, got them reasonably soon but only by alphabet check – I suspect some may think AJAR an old chestnut. Knew RUSTICATE, but WETTING AGENT went in with crossed fingers. Will US solvers cope with 19d? – I think they do things differently there. Also. either I am woefully ignorant or everyone has an ADAM’S APPLE, it’s just usually more pronounced in males? 27′, thanks z and setter.
    1. It is specifically Adam’s apple: everyone has a larynx and associated bits, but the lumpy version is supposed to be a distinguishing feature of males. Allegedly it’s the evolutionary throwback of getting a large piece of “apple” stuck in your throat. Eve, being sensible, chewed hers more thoroughly.
  3. Firstly, thanks to Z8 for blogging. Writing in TOBY MUG while clearly under the influence of something, probably beer, didn’t help. Didn’t know the train (What the EL?)but biffable. Good fun.
  4. The double exposure effect seemed to have been corrected on the Club site by the time I got to the puzzle. The WETTING AGENT was a guess for me too and I spent too much time trying to do something with “artefact/artifact” in 1d. No trouble with ACROSS – I’m not sure why Rob thought it might cause difficulty.

    I have a feeling the Club board is still in a bit of a muddle and if you try to post a comment for the (now)correct puzzle you get gibberish. 12.31

  5. I thought I was on for a rapid finish, but I ground to a halt in the SW, which took me 15 of my 37 minutes. I also had 26a wrong coming up with SWEETIERRE as a jar for sweets, parsed as SWEETIE and HEIR picked up. Turns out it’s nearly a shop not a jar. Boo hiss! Like Z I spent some time on RANI derivations for 21a before seeing the obvious. I thought of BEAR for 27a straight away, but waited for 17d before sticking it in and then confirming with LET ALONE. Liked 6d with the stuff in magazine. Thanks setter and Z for going beyond the call of duty. I wondered what the talk of ants on the bottom line was about. I’ll wait until Monday to find out as I have the treeware edition.

    Edited at 2017-01-05 10:44 am (UTC)

  6. Top management in the form of my wife insisted that the Christmas tree and cards came down, interrupting the crossword this morning. I wanted to wait until tomorrow. It’s back to the userpic budgie. All that’s left now is the Christmas Card reconciliation to see who fell off the end this year. Found the SE short ones tricky today with LET ALONE LOI having decided BEAR was the least worse answer. I’ve always liked my TOBY JUG collection from single man days, another source of disagreement for over thirty years with management. She doesn’t like my pre-Raphaelite prints either. Just about knew Wetting Agent, from her contact lens stuff that I too often knock off the window ledge opening the blind. I know fellow frequenters aren’t keen on Spoonerisms but RUSTICATION brings out the worst in me. ” You have tasted two whole worms; you have hissed all my mystery lectures and been caught fighting a liar in the quad; you will leave Oxford by the next town drain.” About 35 minutes I would guess in the two and a bit parts.

    Edited at 2017-01-05 11:17 am (UTC)

  7. 11:18 … having taken two hours to realise that this puzzle was available in addition to the one I solved earlier. This situation could confuse a stupid person.

    Some fiddly things here with which experience certainly helped (like the EL-, MOT-, “Just about to ..”) and a tricky BEAR to finish off. I had definitely heard of a WETTING AGENT and definitely had no clue what it was.

    I’ve just noticed we have a man-of-action (calling room service is hard, you know) nina … BEAR GRILLE(s)

    Edited at 2017-01-05 11:55 am (UTC)

  8. Found this tough. 43′ (half-)dead. Didn’t know the El; fairly horrified by ‘providing’ as ‘if’ in 1 dn. Worse than sunk for sank etc. and that’s hard enough to take in the name of the ever-developing language etc. Hell, I even write ‘mediaeval’ when I have the chance. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
    1. What on earth is wrong with ‘providing’ for ‘if’, in the sense ‘on condition that’?
  9. I didn’t know EL either but of course do know how many players the Wanderers start the game with. My wife’s arbitrary declaration of Twelfth Day left me too confused to remember that I’d biffed this. I did see The French Connection first time round but didn’t understand a word said in the first half hour. Peter Biddlecombe was sniffy about RODEO DRIVE in the Turkey puzzle. How does this get through then? And what am I going to do tomorrow when three guys turn up at the door with gold, frankincense and myrrh? Say “sorry pal, the party’s over”?

    Edited at 2017-01-05 12:44 pm (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the giggle, BW. We’re doing 12th night tomorrow but only because we’ve given up trying to work out when it should be and we quite like our tree this year.

      On the subject of the magi, there’s a very funny ‘hispter nativity set’ that’s been causing a bit of fuss in the US this year: http://www.ufunk.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/hipster-nativity-set-9.jpg

      I especially enjoyed the magi on Segways bearing gifts from Amazon dot com. But Joseph scoring a selfie of him and Mary with the newborn is a close second.

  10. I found this one quite tough, stopping the clock on 13m 20s. I’m not sure I was at my finest today: early on, for 12a, I noted that I needed an anagram of CASLE but couldn’t think of anything fitting… kicked myself when I came back to it.
  11. First commuting puzzle of 2017, of which I found much to be a biff-fest until I was slowed down in the SE corner. I didn’t have much confidence in WETTING AGENT or BEAR so it was a pleasant surprise to find I had everything right.
  12. 45m but two wrong, having biffed ARTEFACT for 1d on the basis that CRAFT was in there somewhere and a sculpture is …. Ok it’s a fair cop and the setter had me in the BEAR (for me GEAR!) trap. Very good puzzle though I guessed EL was an unknown in some way and special thanks for the beyond the call of duty blogging today!
  13. I was held up because 27 was ‘obviously’ CROP. **Z8** I respectfully suggest you erase the spoiler about Dogma cos it’s a delightful surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
    1. Is that a spoiler? I rather thought it was an affectionate trailer. For sure the best God anywhere in film. Charlton Heston and Milton Friedman don’t even come close. Anyway, if you can find it (occasionally in Ch 4) do take the opportunity, now that there’s two of us making recommendation.
  14. Knocked this off in 20 minutes, after the promised shopping trip having done the (wrong) crossword before. Didn’t get the EL bit so thanks for that Z8. Liked the Queen’s dog clue.
  15. 22:46 with no real hold-ups apart from my slow typing on iPad. Seems that EL is not widely known but I thought that it was a regular form of transport in Crosswordland. Liked WETTING AGENT. Much respect to z8 for blogging twice
  16. 15 mins. WETTING AGENT was my LOI with fingers crossed after the ACROSS/SWEETHEART crossers. I was under the impression that EL as a US train appears in crosswords fairly regularly, but from the comments above it may be it doesn’t appear that often in Times puzzles. I saw the possibility of BEAR for 27ac as soon as I read the clue but I waited until I had both checkers before I entered it.
  17. By the time I got to this the puzzle you all solved this morning was no longer available. I’ll have to wait until Monday.
    12:25 for this one, but continuing my miserable run of errors in 2017 (three out of four now) with GEAR. I wasn’t very happy with it, and spent ages trying to think of something better. I must have considered BEAR and can’t now remember which aspect of it I failed to see. Probably the ‘produce’ bit, since that’s the more tricky. Needless to say I’m even less happy with GEAR now, and I’m not going to try and defend it.
    Like a couple of others I thought EL was a crossword staple: it’s certainly the only way I know it. Perhaps is just hasn’t appeared for a while. It made no difference one way or the other because I just biffed this one.
  18. I’m glad I warmed up on this morning’s mistaken edition and did this one after a cheery afternoon walking around Blaise Castle estate in Bristol. Harder, but I managed it in just about exactly my target hour, with similar difficulties to other solvers, it seems—the stray “O” in 25 being my only unparsed bit.

    Last two were 26 and 27; it took ages to see SWEETHEART. Luckily I turned up BEAR with an alphabet search and considered it good enough not to bother carrying on!

    This one’s a sign of progress for me, I think—this time last year I would probably have been flummoxed by AJAR and RUSTICATE, to name but two. Thanks to all for the continuing education!

  19. I seem to have lost the knack, struggling with pretty well the whole lower part from CONSTRUCTION downwards, and finishing in 21:18. ACROSS and SWEETHEART gave me a particularly hard time at the end.
  20. This was actually the only word fitting the checkers that seemed to me to match both definitions—and I wouldn’t have thought of it as matching “stick” if it hadn’t been for previous editions of this crossword. Maybe somebody who opted for GEAR can tell me how that works for “produce.” (For “stick,” I’m assuming you mean a DBE, as “gear_” is a kind of stick. It doesn’t seem to stand alone.)
    Never heard of a TOBY JUG. “Well, there must be something called that, that’s what the clue says.” Always enjoy that kind of revelation.

    Edited at 2017-01-05 11:55 pm (UTC)

  21. Having had three bashes at this, totalling 49 minutes, I gave up hope of getting 26ac and bunged in the unlikely and unparseable “scentierre” (a small bottle for holding perfume; although it isn’t, of course).

    I was also sure that LET ALONE was wrong, because seemed equally unparseable – so, thanks to our blogger for explaining it.

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