Times Cryptic 26852

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I may have made heavy weather of this one because I took exactly an hour to complete it, but on reflection, when I came to write the blog it all seemed straightforward.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 After fare’s cut by pound, drunk’s brightened up (8)
FLOODLIT – FOOD (fare) containing [cut by] L (pound), LIT (drunk). More usually ‘lit up’ I think, but ‘lit’ is in the dictionary too.
5 Rot from Conservative stars (6)
CARIES – C (Conservative), ARIES (stars). Tooth decay. No politics please!
9 Commute time halved through big road opening (8)
MITIGATE – TI{me} [halved] contained by [through] M1 (big road) + GATE (opening)
10 Overturned more than one schoolboy error (4-2)
SLIP-UP – PUPILS (more than one schoolboy) reversed [overturned]
12 Maybe hear terror is what gives you a shock (4,8)
15 Like an egg base for taco not binding (5)
OVOID – {tac}O [base], VOID (not binding). I’m  not sure that ‘base’ is effective indicating the last letter here. ‘Base’ would work in a Down answer where the last letter is seen to be supporting those above it, but written here, horizontally in a clue, it seems a bit dodgy. In this context there may even be case for T as the base of ‘taco’, in the sense that it’s the starting point of the word.
16 One figure touring river or part of canal? (9)
INTESTINE – I (one), NINE (figure) containing [touring] TEST (river). Alimentary, my dear Watson!
18 Win over queen’s follower (9)
SUCCESSOR – SUCCESS (win), O (over), R (queen)
19 Bachelor’s taken off woman’s top, the cad! (5)
LOUSE – {b}LOUSE (woman’s top) [bachelor’s taken off]
20 Government building‘s aide getting wine out to chill (6,6)
PATENT OFFICE – PA (aide), TENT (wine), OFF (out), ICE (chill)
24 Where bird may be seen running and tripping? (2,4)
ON HIGH – ON (running), HIGH (tripping)
25 Pet circles round track in some fine attire (4-4)
COAT-TAIL – CAT (pet) contains [circles] O (round), TAIL (track)
26 Bloomers live to the west around desert (6)
ERRATA – ARE (live) reversed [to the west] contains [around] RAT (desert)
27 Impassioned bird call (8)
STIRRING – STIR (bird – both slang terms for prison), RING (call)
1 Iron-clad shell of uranium hit the roof (4)
FUME – U{raniu}M [shell] contained [clad] by FE (iron)
2 Stored in silo, a type of cereal (4)
OATY – Hidden [stored in] {sil}O A TY{pe}
3 Something easy, nursing doctor before a stroke (3,6)
DOG PADDLE – DODDLE (something easy) containing [nursing] GP (doctor) + A
4 European football team calling for half-time? (12)
INTERMISSION – INTER (European football team), MISSION (calling)
6 Tax returns holding up a grant (5)
ALLOT – A, TOLL (tax) reversed [returns]. ‘Holding up’ here simply indicates position in the Down answer rather than containment and / or reversa.
7 Lordly houses very unaffected (10)
IMPERVIOUS – IMPERIOUS (lordly) contains [houses] V (very)
8 Replaced top cops and media bosses (10)
SUPERSEDED – SUPERS (top cops), ED + ED (media bosses)
11 People generally not forgiving insolence in former warzone (7,5)
WESTERN FRONT – WE (people generally), STERN (not forgiving), FRONT (insolence)
13 In France, once, change a strongly acidic element in brass (10)
SOUSAPHONE – SOUS (in France, once, change), A, PH ONE (strongly acidic element). On the PH scale the acid range is PH 0-6 so PH1 is pretty strong. Once again being very nit-picky, I wonder whether a single brass instrument qualifies as ‘brass’. [On edit: Lou Reed has kindly suggested this alternative parsing: SOUS (in France, once, change), A (a), PH 0 (strongly acidic), NE (element – neon).
14 Crouch down, about to pick up frame on US train (10)
COWCATCHER – COWER (crouch down) contains [about] CATCH (pick up). I biffed this one and worried about wordplay later.
17 Legal man, then, with legal men (9)
SOLICITOR – SO (then), LICIT (legal), OR (men)
21 It’s almost time when I should retire (5)
NIGHT – NIGH (almost), T (time)
22 Foreign land mass? Clay’s beneath it (4)
MALI – M (mass), ALI (Clay – boxer)
23 Drink up to get a quid (4)
PLUG – GULP (drink) reversed [up]. ‘Quid’ and ‘plug’ can both mean a small amount of tobacco, especially for chewing.

55 comments on “Times Cryptic 26852”

  1. I had doubts about ‘base’, too. I biffed DOG PADDLE, from the start taking ‘something easy’ to be the definition, and then thinking PADDLE=stroke. Even though I twigged to SOU right off, 13d was my next to last in (ERRATA being LOI). Is a cowcatcher a frame? he wondered.
    1. Collins has: a metal frame on the front of a locomotive to clear the track of animals or other obstructions
      1. I’m never surprised by what Collins has, or Chambers, but I still don’t see ‘frame’, since a cowcatcher doesn’t frame anything–to the best of my knowledge, anyway; haven’t seen a cowcatcher in decades.
        1. If you google images of of cowcatchers, most of the traditional ones have a sort of ribbed design consisting of bars or rods held together within a frame.
  2. And managed to spell it SOLICITER

    Feeling a bit slow today; kept putting in answers, looking at them, deleting them, putting them back in again, etc

    Put in BRUTE for 19ac, which made the SE kind of tricky

    Another alternative for the parsing of 13dn:
    SOUS (french change) + A (a) + PHO (pH 0, strongly acidic) + NE (neon, an element)

    1. Thanks, Lou. I think your version is marginally better and probably what the setter had in mind so I have added it to the blog. [Edit: Having read further comments below I’m now not so convinced about your version being better. I hope not anyway, as otherwise I shall have to learn abbreviations for the whole periodic table!]

      Edited at 2017-10-10 08:20 am (UTC)

      1. Yeah I think the ‘element in brass’ parsing is probably correct
        I’d be more convinced if it had been worded ‘element of brass’
        Anyway I hadn’t parsed that clue at all until I read your blog, so thank you
    1. Thanks David, but I don’t think ‘element’ would add anything to the definition. Lou Reed suggested an alternative parsing which may be what setter had in mind as far as wordplay is concerned, but it doesn’t make the definition any stronger, in my view.

      Edited at 2017-10-10 08:16 am (UTC)

      1. Hi Jack, great blog, cheers.

        I think it’s this….
        In France, once, change a strongly acidic element in brass (10)

        In France, once, change = sous; a = a; strongly acidic = PH 1 (phone). That gives you all the wordplay, then ‘element in brass’ (definition) = an element of the brass family, one of the brass instruments.

        It took me bang on an hour too. Like pulling teeth. 🙂

        Best wishes.

        Edited at 2017-10-10 01:26 pm (UTC)

        1. I agree with this: ‘element in brass’ is a definition of one brass instrument and better than just ‘brass’. It also makes the clue more cryptic in my view by using ‘element’ to mean ‘one’ and not a chemical element as you might expect after ‘acidic’.
          1. Actually there is no such thing as an acidic element. An acid is “a compound usually having a sour taste and capable of neutralizing alkalis and reddening blue litmus paper, containing hydrogen that can be replaced by a metal or an electropositive group to form a salt, or containing an atom that can accept a pair of electrons from a base. Acids are proton donors that yield hydronium ions in water solution, or electron-pair acceptors that combine with electron-pair donors or bases.” So ‘element in brass’ gets my vote as the definition too.
            1. Oops. I misread the argument. Of course PH 0 for acidic + NE for element works, but I’m still in the side of “element in brass” as it is only one of the instruments in the section.
  3. I had SLUG instead of PLUG for a time (SLUG meaning “drink up”). And I was convinced 27a had to be STARLING (which fitted all the checkers) before I saw how the clue worked.

    But one error didn’t get corrected. I put COAT-RAIL (it’s a track, but doesn’t quite work).

    I also thought 13d was pH 0 and not sure where the NE came from, since I too took the literal to be “element in brass.”

    1. Similarly misled I put in COAT RAIL too. And, even worse, had SLUG for 23d. And it all took me 38 minutes. I blame my new medication. Actually I rather enjoyed this puzzle. Several fun clues. I vote 16a as my COD, but loved the SOUSAPHONE too. I wish I could play one. Any sousaphone players here, I wonder?
  4. 24:57 … that was good fun, though I got completely becalmed in mid-solve and took ages to get going again – I console myself that if it was next month’s Champs I would just switch to another puzzle for a while. Just the right amount of challenging in this one for me.

    Especially like the surface for LOUSE

  5. 23:07. Very similar experience to sotira: I found this tricky but fun, and got quite stuck in the middle.
    I had forgotten SOUSAPHONE, although I’m sure it’s come up before because I remembered the association with John Philip Sousa, albeit only after working it out from the wordplay. I took the definition to be ‘element of brass’ but I think Lou Weed may be onto something.
    I read TENT OFF ICE as being a whole phrase meaning ‘wine out to chill’, failing to register in the process that this doesn’t really make any sense, and if it means anything it’s the opposite. This sort of mental leap is a good way to make mistakes.

  6. especially with 11dn WESTERN FRONT which took an age.I was at about 1 hour 20 minutes in two sittings. This was the Tuesday/Friday combo.

    FOI was 1dn FUME and LOI 25ac COAT TAIL thank the good Lord I didn’t see COAT RAIL!

    3dn DOG PADDLE was new to me as I only use DOGGIE PADDLE these days! 2dn OATY yes but… no but..!

    COD 18ac LOUSE

    WOD 13dn SOUSAPHONE – with all its chemistry!

    Edited at 2017-10-10 07:24 am (UTC)

  7. 25.58 (almost) bamboozled by SOUSAPHONE where I feared the whole clue was an antique piece of French money that I had completely forgotten about. I both think and fear that Lou is right about Ne for Neon, the fear coming because we already have random notes, names, directions and such, and now face the use of random extracts from the periodic table from H to Og at the last count.

    I was also held up by putting IMPERSONAL at 7d, believing “very” was the common SO and s*d the rest of the wordplay.

    A good challenge after the early clues flattered to deceive.

    1. I don’t remember that puzzle. Amazing that the element Oganesson is considered GK! I had to look it up. But then it was discovered well after I stopped studying physics and chemistry (by more than 25 years). With a half-life of 0.9s (as I have just read), it is somewhat ephemeral.
  8. According to the Snitch this morning this one’s bordering on very hard and it certainly felt that way to me. I was held up considerably in the SW corner, with LOI SOUSAPHONE. Some devious definitions, not least ‘frame on US train’. I could have looked at that clue for an hour and not spotted the definition in there. Hats off to the setter.
  9. 55 mins with yoghurt and fruit (inc. raspberries). Hard going, especially in the SW due to Sousaphone and Cowcatcher (terrible word/image over breakfast).
    In the PH0 versus PH One debate – I favour PH One on the basis that we can’t allow ‘element’ to be any old element abbreviation, surely? That way Periodic Table madness lies.
    Mostly I liked: Hair Restorer, Blouse remover, On High, Stir-ring, Dog Paddle.
    Nice to see Tent still on the menu, even if no-one ever drinks it.
    Thanks cow dodger setter and Jack.
  10. I thought I was slow today at 36′ but seems OK having read the comments. I think INTERMISSION should be an essential part of modern films. Thanks jack and setter.
  11. …having brought this tricky number to heel in 22 minutes. One of those where every time I came to a halt another answer would pop up to get me moving again. The SW corner held out the longest with SOUSAPHONE the last to fall.
  12. 35 minutes, better than I expected from early struggles. I had the notion that it might be PH ONE, so SOUSAPHONE was solved quickly. Old Chemistry master Fruity Hankinson came to the rescue again, as he did earlier in the week with Avogadro. The acid concentration must have been 10 to the minus 1 gram.ions per litre of hydrogen ions if my memory serves me well. Honest, I haven’t googled it. Fruity’s nickname came from his scouse pronunciation of an ester’s fruity smell. A good guy. LOI STIRRING which cost me a couple of minutes trying to make STARLING fit. COD HAIR RESTORER. DNK CARIES but biffable. Must have been a good day as I even remembered that the canal might be bodily for INTESTINE, rather than suffering the usual physicist mental block. Good puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.
  13. Ran out of time at 40 minutes with COAT TAIL and the “APHONE” bit of SOUSAPHONE missing. Enjoyed it very much. Tough but concise clues and I knew all the words – so no excuses.
  14. Another LOI SOUSAPHONE here, thought it a clever clue when the French pennies dropped. About 8 minutes here – I thought this was a model crossword with plenty of entrees to the grid but some actual thinking cap deployment required later on.
  15. After starting with FUME, the rest of the NW stayed blank until the INTERMISSION, and then some. SLIP-UP and ALLOW(soon changed to ALLOT) preceded LOUSE, ON HIGH, MALI and NIGHT, before I ground to a halt and began the slow job of extracting (CARIES ridden?) teeth. Gradually things began to flow again, and the longer clues fell into place. the train frame was spotted from crossers, and SOUS lit a bulb for 13d. I was happy enough with PH ONE as the acid element, but following the discussions, it does look as though a random neon has crept in. Liked PATENT OFFICE. MITIGATE and then DOG PADDLE were my last two in. 42:46. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Jack.
  16. I had most of this done in 45 mins but having put “up high” (up and running anyone? No?) instead of “on high” at 24ac meant it took me until just over the hour to spot and correct the error and enter the, until then, utterly inscrutable 13dn. Given the choice I would plump for the PH one wordplay; element in brass definition at 13dn. Plenty of stuff to get one’s teeth into here, very enjoyable. I rather liked my FOI, the simple but elegant 10ac, so that’s my COD.
  17. So it wasn’t just me. There were some very sneaky components here. With SUCCESSOR I wondered for quite some time if it could also be spelled with ER on the end for queen, having ascribed the wrong significance to “over”. I can certainly see “element” going both ways in SOUSAPHONE (Jack’s and Lou’s) but by then I was desperate to finish. This one would definitely have weeded me out at the champs. 25.33
    1. I had an eyebrow-raising SUCCEEDER until it became clear that wasn’t going to pan out…
    2. … and that One (very careless) Error was ‘successer’. Drat. Double drat. 40 mins otherwise. Good crossie.

  18. 23 mins here and I’m pleased to see I was in good company time-wise. I struggled to get on the setter’s wavelength and I’m another who finished with SOUSAPHONE. Nice time Penfold, and I’m with you as far as its parsing is concerned.
  19. 14:17, fun with some tricky elements.

    I’m firmly in the PH ONE / ELEMENT IN BRASS camp, if there is one.

    1. I solved the clue as PH ONE, and posted proudly about it, but I think I’ve moved the other way. PH 0 is an order of magnitude more concentrated, Ne is an element, and a Sousaphone would be more likely to be described as an instrument if element wasn’t needed for another purpose. Unfortunately Fruity Hankinson isn’t around to ask.
  20. I gave up after an hour with most of the SW unfinished.

    Not sure if I’m allowed to comment as I didn’t get the answer, but having read the arguments I favour PH ONE/ELEMENT IN BRASS. But what do I know – I spent ages trying to fit COPPER round the P of PATENT OFFICE. Interestingly, I thought the PH scale started at 1, but apparently it can actually be a negative number.

    Many thanks for the blog.

    1. I’m very excited that the pH scale can go up to (at least?) 14 – that makes Spinal Tap’s amp look pretty measly by comparison.
      1. Why don’t you just make ten more alkaline and make ten be the top number and make that a little more alkaline?
  21. Interesting to read all the parsing analysis between Ph One and Ph0, which largely passed me by on the BIFF. I tend to favour the latter on the basis that a sousaphone is not really an ‘element in brass’ although ‘in brass’ (section of the orchestra) seems a sufficiently clear indicator.

    Gandolf 34

    1. I favour the “element” route by interpreting it as (an) element in (the) brass (section), but hey, that’s a lot of parenthesised stuff.
  22. You are a clever lot! This was a step too far for me in the bottom half. Forgive me – chewing tobacco, clay=Ali, on high (I never heard anyone using the on when at uni!) etc. Perhaps this is a 50’s puzzle. And then we have a sousaphone. Boring.
    1. High on its own accounts for tripping, on = running (e.g. dishwasher) and the whole is where birds can be.
  23. Around 25 minutes, with a bit of a different experience. I biffed SOUSAPHONE so I can’t claim to have any affinity for PH ONE vs. PH 0, but now I see it I’d expect the NE bit has to signal the element. My LOI was actually WESTERN FRONT, where I was assuming I needed “men..” at the beginning, or try to fit “race” in somewhere. Regards.
  24. All these mind-altering experiences! SOUSAPHONE was my LOI, partially because I was determined for a long time that “my bird” was going to be ON ACID, even though it made no sense.
    Not sure, but I think I may have had a COWCATCHER on the front of an engine on my OO-gauge Tri-ang trainset as a lad.
    67m 13s
  25. Late here today .. thought this slightly on the harder side of medium, which I see SNITCH agrees with.

    The most amusing aspect is watching the panic that seems to have set in at the thought of us being expected to know a little smattering of basic chemistry, ie element names and designations. Bwahahahaa … 🙂

    1. You’d at least think the setter could drop by and put us into or out of our collective misery 🙂

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