Times Cryptic 26674 – March 16, 2017 MIA

For those tackling this one early on the Club site, the lack of a clue for 9ac, and the lack of any means of typing in the letters not covered by the down clues meant that we were doomed to at least a 1 error outcome, and while it looks as though the omission was corrected by around 2 AM my time it can’t be corrected for those of us who stoicly submitted with a hole in the grid, in my case after 24 minutes. It means that my dominant reaction to this puzzle is one of frustration, which is a bit of a shame, as it’s quite a decent, accessible grid, albeit with a Spanish dance you may not have heard of and a bean masquerading as a musical instrument. Possibly the other way round.

Here’s how I construed what was available, plus the miss
ing clue as supplied by the online newspaper version.

Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS


1 Females generally in West, gracious about Eastern state  (9)

WOMANKIND   W(est) gives you a start, the Eastern state is OMAN, and gracious KIND
6 Latvian, possibly, at first introducing Pakistani cuisine  (5)
BALTI There are many theories about the origin of Balti curry, Pakistan being one of them, Stoney Lane, Sparkbrook, Birmingham being another, the name coming from the steel, wok–like bowl in which it is cooked and served. A Latvian is, among others, a BALT, and I is the first letter of introducing. Mix over a strong heat and serve.
9 Girl accepts wine, revealing easing of relations.
DETENTE Very much needed by those of us attempting the early version of the puzzle and prodding fruitlessly at the light. I suppose the girl is DEE, because the wine is TENT, but the Dee who sang and (possibly) played the thing that goes tschhh in “Zabadak” is a bloke.
10 He accumulated great wealth, using various sources  (7)
CROESUS  As in “As rich as”. His method was to scrumple up each £5 note so as to find it increases. A variety of SOURCES
11 Ensure prosperity: don’t buy off-the-peg garment (4,2,4)
HAVE IT MADE  for instance in Savile Row, not as found in Asda.
12 Quickly write a Spanish dance  (4)
JOTA New word for today, which I have always assumed was a variant on Iota, and a useful score in Scrabble™. JOT for write quickly (which refused to come readily to my mind, still annoyed over 9ac) plus A, masquerading as a.
14 Persistently attack judge’s conclusion in worst case  (5)
BESET  The conclusion of judge is E, so you have to do that bit of mental gymnastics which makes worst BEST (it does work, look it up) without having to do a Michael Jackson impression. It then becomes the “case” for the E
15 Basis of amusing books about stock panto character (9)
FUNDAMENT  Amusing: FUN, books: the evergreen New Testament, and DAME from panto land, placed centre stage.
16 Trendy girl, some say, and free from injury  (9)
INVIOLATE Assuming one alternate pronunciation which allows Violet to be pronounced as if spelt as our answer. Trendy supplies the IN.
18 Old-fogeyish farmer’s first posh enclosure  (5)
FUSTY Farmer’s first F, posh U (ref Mitford, can’t remember which one) and STY from enclosure.
20 Supporter Republican dismissed from mass meeting  (4)
ALLY So many to choose for the literal but C.J. Cary will do, chucked out from a Trump rally despite being a full on Republican. Take the R(epublican) out of the rALLY.
21 Like elder, perhaps, stop brief falling out in sleeping area  (10)
DENDRIFORM  Elder as in tree. Stop: END, brief falling out RIFt, sleeping area DORM, and assemble.
25 Vessel wrapped by laid back daily?  (7)
DIURNAL You don’t have to translate LAID into anything except its reverse, and then insert an URN which won’t hurt a bit.
26 Confections given to the French by spectators at match  (7)
GATEAUX  “To the” in French is AUX, which is given to the GATE, your matchday crowd
27 Give up flipping home improvements, saving energy and pounds  (5)
YIELD Home improvements has to be DIY, which after “flipping” “saves” E(nergy) and £
28 Shows impatience about men with joint academic position  (9)
TUTORSHIP TUT for “show impatience” surrounding O(ther) R(anks) and waiting for a new HIP to replace the old joint.


1 Swim this distance, accompanying daughter to centre?  (5)
WIDTH  Accompanying WITH, and move D(aughter) where it says.
2 Test American composer’s reasons  (7)
MOTIVES  MOT (Ministry of Transport) tests ensure your car is roadworthy. IVES is Charles, whose work was virtually unheard  during his lifetime but has a greater following now.
3 Lie under new screen finally digesting old biography, say?  (3-7)
NON-FICTION  Works like this: Lie translates to FICTION, preceded by N(ew) screeN (finally) and O(ld) in the middle.
4 Part of alimentary canal, or pelvic bone, we hear  (5)
ILEUM Not helped by the absence of 9ac to provide you with the checking letter, but this version is a bit of intestine, the I version is the bone, or come to that the city with the topless towers which was Troy.
5 Corruption found in northern church after some years  (9)
DECADENCE  For some years read 10. Add N(orthern) C(hurch of) E(ngland)
6 Barracks demanding alcohol, by the sound of it  (4)
BOOS  Which sounds like “booze!”
7 Supple girl is so merry at heart (7)
LISSOME  Today’s hidden: girL IS SO MErry
8 Popular time to visit Falklands port, missing English at once  (9)
INSTANTLY  IN is popular, this time. STANLEY is the port, from which you remove the E(nglish), and allow T(ime) to visit appropriately
13 Shamefully she flirts with a family member! (4-6)
HALF SISTER  And an anagram (shamefully) of SHE FLIRTS and A.
14 Plundering of sailing-ship, as well as trains  (9)
BRIGANDRY  ailing ship BRIG, as well as AND, trains R(ailwa)Y
15 Standard obstruction limiting rise of old eastern instrument (9)
FLAGEOLET Standard: FLAG, hindrance LET (think tennis) sandwiching O(ld) E(astern) reversed. In my tins it’s a bean, but back in the day it was the forerunner of the tin whistle.
17 Rapacious type opposed to the arts? Not initially  (7)
VULTURE Arts is represented by CULTURE, from which you remove the top and replace it with V for “against”, versus.
19 Corporation taking to graduate in school  (7)
STOMACH  Graduate is MA, and you also need the innocuous TO. Stuff both into SCH(ool)
22 Contemptible person overwhelmed by girl’s figure  (5)
DIGIT Your contemptible person is a GIT, and DI is the venerable girl. Overwhelmed only means under here
23 Confusion arising in the afternoon about university team  (3-2)
MIX-UP Afternoon PM, U(university) and XI forteam are inserted and the whole reversed.
24 Aim to accommodate one’s girl (4)
ENID  I think the setter may have been getting tired by now (I know I am) I’s surrounded by END for aim.

66 comments on “Times Cryptic 26674 – March 16, 2017 MIA”

  1. with the untypable letters missing from DETENTE, which I got from the checkers anyway. The missing clue problem is about all there was in this puzzle to talk about; not that I have anything of interest to say about it. Glinka wrote a ‘Jota Aragonesa’ that gets trotted out quite often in concerts and radio programs. Strephon enters playing a flageolet in ‘Iolanthe’; he evidently tried it on the Lord Chancellor, but was thrown out of court.

    Edited at 2017-03-16 03:46 am (UTC)

  2. …one error. DENDTIFORM with a short tiff looked way too Germanic. Sure we’ve had DENDRIFORM before, but couldn’t bring it to mind. No such problems with the unknown JOTA, seen written on the back of Diogo Jota’s jersey 2 days ago playing for Porto against Juve. Similarly GATEAUX freshly in mind, googled just yesterday. I’d followed a Guardian link to a surfing video:
    and was so taken by the music I tried to find what it was – took only a minute, by googling on the vaguely heard gateau. “Le Goudron,” by Brigitte Fontaine.
    Quite enjoyable, even with 4 random girls DEE DI ENID VIOLET. I seemed to be on the wavelength.
    1. Unspammed. Live Journal regards clickable links as suspicious and treats them as spam unless you have maintainer rights.
    2. Under my 30 mins target, but with dendtiform as Isla. Chose to trust the wp, shrugged, and moved on… Note to self: remember tiff/riff.

      JOTA u/k, but here the wp was pretty unambiguous.

      1. It might be better to remember tiff/rift, as I think rift is the word the setter’s indicating.
  3. The edge was taken off this by the missing clue which I discovered having printed out the puzzle and relaxed with a pencil but not with the appropriate LP as I prefer silence when solving. It didn’t work out for me because I always access the main puzzle via the Club so that it prints a grey grid and fills an entire sheet of A4 instead of a black one that’s squashed into two-thirds of the page.

    I was pleased to dredge up DENDRIFORM from somewhere and to work out the unknown JOTA (okay, I met it once before in an ST puzzle in 2009, but I think I can be forgiven for not remembering it).

    40 minutes interrupted by a trip to the computer to see if the missing clue was available on the new platform.

    At the time of posting I cannot see that the error has been amended as stated by Z8 in his intro.

    Edited at 2017-03-16 05:51 am (UTC)

    1. I was going by the (now 4) correct entries that have appeared. On the club board, however Tom Stubbs gave a workaround involving being really insistent until the grid gave up, and Lou Weed suggested it involved XP, Firefox and possibly the Dark Arts. Currently we have a mere 25 submissions,
      1. I’m not sure HOW I got the letters in, but they did eventually appear somehow. The lack of clue was more vexing, but at least the answer couldn’t (really) have been anything else.
        1. I can reproduce the effect in Chrome by increasing zoom before opening the puzzle to anything above 100%, but it will take a more knowledgeable geek than me to explain why it happens. Microsoft have been sending me unsolicited messages about how much more wonderful Edge is than Chrome. But hey, I’m used to Chrome and it chimes with my Android phone. So there.
        2. I think the rest of us think you’re using some form of alchemy anyway (58 seconds for the Concise indeed!) so it’s not that surprising when the spirits bend to your will. How are you on speed dating?
        3. Without knowing much about it, I read that there is a Standard called HTML. Rules. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Mac etc follow these rules. Microsoft doesn’t, they randomly do whatever they feel like. Since 95% or so of the world uses Internet Explorer or Edge, web designers make their webpages work for Microsoft browsers and don’t bother testing on other browsers. So most webpages ignore HTML standards, and are instead tweaked to work on non-standard Microsoft products.
          Might be wrong – not what I know, only what I’ve read. I use Linux/Opera, but still have a backup windows system to read crappy webpages.
          1. This is a reasonable reflection of the darker history of the web, but Microsoft are conforming very well to web standards these days.

            Partly, that’s because of the rapid rise of mobile phone browsing and Microsoft’s failure to get much of a foothold there. The leading web browser is now Chrome, a country mile ahead of IE and Edge in market share on both desktop and mobile. Safari has also had quite a surge because of the iPhone. This has tended to lead the market in the direction of web standards, though there are always areas where browsers differ, whether deliberately or accidentally!

            1. Cheers Matt. Sounds like I’m 15 or 20 years behind the times. (But accustomed to that – I live in Perth.)
        4. Odd. I just tried it in Chrome and Firefox and it looked fine. I wonder if it’s because of the missing clue? I have 9ac present now, of course…
    2. I like a puzzle sized about the way it would be in the paper, so I copy from the Page Source in my browser, paste that into a new document in the html app BBEdit, run a script and a Unix filter on that (so the accents, quotemarks and some other punctuation come out right) and rebreak the columns of the clues so that they will line up evenly in the template I have made, into which these clues are then pasted with a screenshot of the grid. I open the newly revised template file in Safari, print the puzzle, and settle down with my preferred Ultra Micro Uniball pen. Really, it’s no trouble at all.

      Edited at 2017-03-16 07:30 am (UTC)

  4. A straightforward solve. Since I was doing it on paper, I didn’t even really get held up by the missing clue, since the checkers don’t leave much (any?) choice. The dance held me up for longer since I’d never heard of it and JOT didn’t come immediately to mind.
    1. Chambers has DETINUE and DETENUE. It seems unlikely anyone would plump for one of those over DETENTE!
  5. Missing clue, so as for others I had to guess 9a from the crossers. Ended up by doing an alphabet trawl for JOTA and took about 45 minutes. Where I come from ‘barrack (for)’ means to support or follow, as in “What team do you barrack for?”, almost the opposite of the sense given here. I liked the surface for HALF-SISTER, and was interested to learn that BRIG specifically means an “ailing ship” – presumably the ‘S’ was plundered.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Thank for spotting in such a gentle way. I shall leave it uncorrected in honour of the spirit of the day.
  6. 9a still missing in my world so unable to complete and submit the puzzle. Took me about 12 minutes to get the rest and guess DETENTE.

    Shame about the snafu as there are some nice things in this. Very satisfying to be able to assemble DENDRIFORM from wordplay and then recognise it as something seen before. INVIOLATE got a chuckle here.

  7. Well the clue still wasn’t available when I logged in at 8 am in Zurich,very enjoyable puzzle apart from that.
    Came here to parse the let in Flageolet and still not convinced by it.
    1. Check your Passport (if you have one filled out personally by our lady Elizabeth): “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”
      1. Brilliant just checked , it’s there on my new passport that I renewed on Friday 10th March 🙂

        Many thanks indeed

  8. Well I managed to top the leaderboard even with a clue missing, but it’s put a damper on the whole affair, I agree.

    At least I had a good day on the Concise puzzle – 58 seconds and certainly a personal best!

    1. Did it let you submit sans 9a? Didn’t occur to me to try.

      PB on the Concise for me, too, though a bit less stellar at 1:36. I think that might be terminal velocity for me.

    1. Good question. Call in the Witchfinder General I say, with a side order of Inquisition.
  9. …including four or five minutes trying to work out what was wrong with my browser when 9ac wouldn’t go in. As others have said, a strangely deflating experience.

    Pity, it was a good puzzle otherwise, with a lot of half-known words neatly clued.

    Thanks setter and Z.

  10. 8m for the clues that were there. I couldn’t submit anyway as I was solving on the iPad so I awarded myself a completion on the basis that DETENTE was the only thing that could possibly fit, and I would’ve if I could’ve. I think this makes me the winner today, I’m sure you’ll all agree.
  11. Stopped without dendriform, gateaux, brigandry, flageolet and vulture.

    Haven’t heard of the dance jota or pena which I considered.

    I have seen that worse = best before but its still confusing.

    COD 27a.

  12. 19 minutes on reliable treeware. An earlyish start today as the old dog sadly hasn’t wanted walk or breakfast. On top of much else, his pancreatitis has returned. Daughter’s train cancelled with Muggins wanted for the resulting car journey to another line interrupted my flow. I’d got DENDRIFORM early, on the basis of knowing Dendron to be trees as in Rhodo and Mark 8. DNK JOTA but it seemed the best biff. CROESUS would HAVE IT MADE too much. Like most physicists I know no biology (aka stamp collecting according to Rutherford and Feynman) and was pleased the E from DETENTE gave the right vowel. Couldn’t one half of the clue have referred to Troy? Maybe the alimentary canal went through there. ILEUM aside, good puzzle. FOI INSTANTLY. LOI ILEUM.
  13. 9ac not yet resolved on The Times iPad app so unable to type in letters Will go off and do something else.
    1. Update at 11.50. An updated edition of The Times is available for download at the app. Sadly the updated version does not insert the missing clue.
  14. … to crawl through this, having been a bit sick most of the day. Had to bung in the answer to the missing 9ac.

    At 3dn: there’s “say” (for example) and a question mark. Can we reasonably assume that not all biography is non-fiction? Several examples spring to mind, including a very interesting one by Ray Davies. Not sure I quite agree with the FICTION = lie equation either.

    1. Perhaps we should ask the expert to distinguish between the two. Mr President….?
      1. Ta. Very much needed a laugh. Talking of which, was CROESUS another mad scouser?
        1. Possibly. Is there a universe somewhere where rich and scouser can coincide? (Great spot, by the way)
            1. I’m coming to the defence of my colleague Lancastrians, though most Liverpudlians have forgotten that they are. (Don’t start me again on Heath’s administration.) Almost wherever you are in the world, you’ll meet a scouser, and they’ll be friendly and good company. I lived there for a couple of years. They’d welcome anyone, including Hitler’s brother and me.
  15. A little bird has told me that the reason the Club software blows up is that accents and italics are quite beyond it… so that explains what happened with détente!
  16. 15 including ‘firing’ up my aged lap top to find the missing clue on the Times site.The club site is now amended.
  17. The mix-up had been fixed up by the time I got up. This didn’t strike me as a controversial puzzle so I was surprised to see such an unusually large number of comments on the Club Forum when I submitted. We had “tent” in a recent Saturday puzzle and I thought then that it was a wine unlikely to be recommended by a sommelier and only met with in crosswords. It reminded me of this cartoon. https://s3.amazonaws.com/lowres.cartoonstock.com/food-drink-wine_tasting-wine_tasters-fine_wine-wine_tasting_evening-wine_clubs-mstn310_low.jpg 19.51
  18. Pleased with myself to finish correctly in the hour, without rising from my sofa to find out what the missing clue in my print-out was. I think I would have been baffled and defeated by this sort of thing a year ago.

    Exceptionally glad that a friend needed FLAGEOLET beans for a recipe recently, and I looked them up on Wikipedia at the time. (Especially as I’d forgotten all about “let” for hindrance. I see now it’s also where a let in tennis comes from.)

    FOI 1a, COD 13d, LOI 17d. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  19. …having allowed for the time taken to exit the ipad app to look for the missing clue on the web site. Took the gloss off a good performance somewhat. Only knew JOTA as a rather fearsome 1970s motorcycle made by Laverda but a Spanish dance seemed plausible.
  20. Straightforward enough puzzle I thought, was all there at 10 am CET, 17 minutes, with JOTA vaguely remembered and FLAGEOLET a surprise as an instrument not a bean. CoD GATEAUX
  21. I almost always solve the old-fashioned way – on the back page of the Times – so there was no IT excitement for me. I thought I might be on for a record time, but slowed considerably in the bottom half to finish up in 9m 12s.
  22. I was fortunate enough to sleep badly and rise late to find the site working properly. Commiserations to those who suffered the double frustration of 9a. I surprised myself by completing this correctly in 25:37, as well as getting my own PB of 3:20 in the Concise. My FOI was BALTI and LOI DENDRIFORM which I dredged up from the recesses after finally seeing DIGIT. DORM came to mind early on but the rest of it refused to materialise until I had the checkers. HAVE IT MADE made me giggle after the recent HAVE IT AWAY. I enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks setter and Z for the usual erudite blog.
  23. Having an urgent message to deal with meant I didn’t look for this till a couple of hours ago, so wasn’t aware of any problems. All done in 23min.
  24. 43m here in Co Durham, with all clues ready and available via the Times paper site. Struggled to close the deal as I had entered Pena for the dance but seeing the hidden answer eventually helped me to the right answer. I enjoyed this one a lot and the accompanying blog so thank you setter and Z.
  25. 13:58. I had to do an alphabet trawl to get vulture and thought dendriform was particularly tricky: I don’t knowingly know the word and aside from having to decide between TIFF and RIFT and spot a suitable synonym for stop is was also necessary to work out whether to put the latter before or inside the DORM.

    Thanks for the blog and thanks to Jack for earlier posting the clue to 9a.

  26. I printed this out at 10:37. No problem by that time. I seemed to be on the wavelength today. I always associate FLAGEOLET with the instrument rather than a bean. Have seen plenty of the former but wouldn’t recognise the latter. We once had a double-flageolet which could manage two-part harmony. 20 minutes – a good time for me. Ann

  27. BALTI and DIURNAL GATEAUX – now that’s my kind of diet.

    No problem with DETENTE as I do the newspaper version.

    Time: all correct in 40 mins.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  28. About 25 minutes, with a little issue working out DENDRIFORM. Not much else other than having to guess the missing word, which, as said, didn’t leave too many choices once the checking letters were in, so the guess was my LOI. Regards.
  29. ! I think the setter may have been getting tired by now (I know I am) I’s surrounded by END for aim.”

    Probably one of the great myths of corssword setting.
    Towards the end the cryptic brain should be in overdrive

    1. There is a world of difference between “should” and “is”. Obviously I have no idea how and in what order any setter sets the clues. I was merely reflecting that, in my opinion, this was a bit of a lightweight clue. And, at 2 in the morning, believe me, I was flagging.

    2. And furthermore, though I have never read “Great Myths of Crossword Setting”, I’m prepared to bet this isn’t one if them.

  30. 10:15 for me,coming reasonably close to the setter’s wavelength for the top half, but losing it again for the bottom half. An interesting and enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.
  31. Once more I find myself a day behind, but I got through this one in twenty minutes, and missed all the kerfuffle about the missing clue. Very enjoyable.

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