Times Cryptic 27152

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 35 minutes. Mostly straightforward. There was one clue that presented some problems in the parsing but the explanation suddenly revealed itself to me whilst I was writing the blog. Another clue is one of the most feeble I have seen in a Times crossword.

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

1 The wrong character, perhaps, to race on motorway (8)
MISPRINT – M1 (motorway), SPRINT (race)
6 Fruit headmaster initially introduced into French school (6)
LYCHEE – H{eadmaster} [initially] contained by [introduced into] LYCEE (French school). The fruit can also be spelt ‘lichee’ so knowledge of more than basic French is required to avoid an error on the first unchecked letter and some may consider this a little unfair, especially as the most common French word for ‘school’ (école) is not the one required here.  However ‘lycée’ is listed in all three of usual English source dictionaries, and that’s the yardstick I tend to use if I have doubts about the inclusion of foreign words.
9 Scam involving grandad’s first bill for drink (6)
COGNAC – CON (scam) containing [involving] G{randad’s} [first], AC (bill – account)
10 Precision recognised in a key church office (8)
ACCURACY – A, C (key- music), CURACY (church office). ‘Recognised in’ simply facilitates the surface reading.
11 Decline verbally, showing brief togetherness (4)
SYNC – Sounds like [verbally] “sink” (decline). ‘Brief’ indicates the answer is an abbreviation (for ‘synchronism’ / ‘synchronization’ etc).
12 Part of skeleton of second animal maybe one found across river? (10)
BREASTBONE – BEAST B (second animal maybe – geddit?) + ONE  containing [found across] R (river). I had extreme difficulty parsing this one and thought I would have to post the blog and ask for assistance, but then I suddenly spotted the ‘Beast B’ device.
14 Disproof concerning what Jeeves would do, we hear (8)
REBUTTAL – RE (concerning), BUTTAL sounds like [we hear] “buttle” [what Jeeves would do]. ‘Buttle’ is a back form of ‘butler’. I was going to write a further comment about this but then found exactly what I wanted to say on Wikipedia so I shamelessly reproduce it here verbatim: “Jeeves is a valet, not a butler; that is, he is responsible for serving an individual, whereas a butler is responsible for a household and manages other servants. On rare occasions he fills in for someone else’s butler.”
16 Reportedly one who was bound to explore the internet (4)
SURF – Sounds like [reportedly] “serf” [one who was bound]. ‘Bound’ in the sense of ‘restricted’.  SOED has ‘serf’ as: a person in a condition of servitude or modified slavery, in which the powers of the master are more or less limited by law or custom; spec. a labourer not allowed to leave the land on which he works, a villein.
18 Suggestion made by husband in jest, ultimately (4)
HINT – H (husband), IN, {jes}T [ultimately]
19 Condition recognised by chemists first of all in 1811-20? (8)
REAGENCY – A{ll} [first] contained by [in] REGENCY (1811-20). This was the period after George III had been diagnosed as ‘mad’ and his son ruled by proxy before taking the throne himself as George IV. I take the definition on trust.
21 Small picture in vessel, one next to a shrub (10)
POINSETTIA – INSET (small picture) contained by [in] POT (vessel), I (one), A. The name may not be familiar but I imagine there are few who would not recognise the distinctive red pot-plant with dark green leaves that is a popular decoration at Christmas time.
22 In Idaho, a rare type of frost (4)
HOAR – Hidden in {ida}HO A R{are}
24 Bonanza wife and daughter dipped into in autumn (8)
WINDFALL – W, D (daughter) contained by [dipped into] IN + FALL (autumn). A little music to enliven the day
26 Legal right — what a woman may fight for, not a man (6)
EQUITY – EQU{al}ITY (what a woman may fight for) [not a man – Al]. Random man.
27 Boy catching large fish (6)
BLENNY – BENNY (boy) containing [catching] L (large). Random boy.
28 Female by chance catching tail of crested duck (8)
SHELDUCK – SHE (female), LUCK (chance) containing [catching] {creste}D [tail]. Oh dear, ‘duck’ defining a duck that has ‘duck’ in its name! One for intervention by the editor perhaps? Or maybe it was a double bluff intended to make the solver think it couldn’t be that easy.
2 Smooth youth leader’s gentle mockery (5)
IRONY – IRON (smooth),  Y{outh} [leader]
3 Emergency device working in cap, though not when raised (5,6)
PANIC BUTTON – Anagram [working] of IN CAP, BUT (though), NOT reversed [when raised]
4 Brood at home, worried about youngster (8)
INCUBATE – IN (at home) + ATE (worried), containing [about] CUB (youngster)
5 Cashiers least disposed to swallow most of party’s tall stories (10,5)
TRAVELLERS TALES – TELLERS (cashiers) + anagram [disposed] of LEAST, containing [to swallow] RAV{e} (party) [most of]
6 Stripper has old Charlie gripped by lecherous desire! (6)
LOCUST – O (old) + C (Charlie -NATO alphabet), contained [gripped] by LUST (lecherous desire)
7 Vehicle taking armoured troops to north (3)
CAR – RAC (armoured troops  – Royal Armoured Corps) reversed [to north]
8 Oddball caught with little money in Morecambe (9)
ECCENTRIC – C (caught) + CENT (little money), contained by [in] ERIC (Morecambe). The late comedian may not be widely known across the pond but he’s turned up here several times before.
13 In spring she sat rocking family pet, perhaps (6,5)
BASSET HOUND – Anagram [rocking] of SHE SAT contained  by [in] BOUND (spring)
15 Leader’s time going over report of Oxford college (9)
EDITORIAL – TIDE (time) reversed [going over], ORIAL sounds like [report of] “Oriel” (Oxford college)
17 Practical joke involving a nurse once upset certain Asians (8)
JAPANESE – JAPE (practical joke) containing [involving] A then SEN (nurse once) reversed [upset]. SEN stands for ‘State Enrolled Nurse’ a qualification that appears to have been withdrawn in the mid-1990s. I’m not a great fan of having words like ‘once’ or ‘old’ etc in clues when there’s a reference to something that has changed its name or ceased to exist. If it’s something in ancient history then perhaps it’s needed, but not for comparatively recent things like this one. We still get TA for ‘volunteers’ at least once a week although it ceased to exist under that name some years ago, and I don’t think I have ever seen it clued as ‘old volunteers’  .
20 One’s left, for example, in flimsy clothing (6)
LEGACY – EG (for example) contained by [in… LACY (flimsy)…clothing]
23 Greek screen with ends cut off (5)
ATTIC – {l}ATTIC{e} (screen) [ends cut off]
25 Study conclusion of Iliad in French (3)
DEN – {ilia}D [conclusion], EN (in, French)

39 comments on “Times Cryptic 27152”

  1. Same comment about 28a. Maybe there was a 15d 1a involved. Some others though were a bit harder and I missed BREAST B and the parsing of EQUITY. Managed to fluke the dreaded ‘shrub’.

    I liked BLENNY which is a good word by itself, but even better when combined with the adjective “Gattoruginous”, referring to one of the species of blenny. Apparently they are “handsome and lively and amuse us with their quaint gambols and clever acts of petty larceny”. Love it. Thank you Mr. Google.

    Thanks also to setter and blogger

  2. Overall pretty easy. Like Jack I looked askance at 28ac. Didn’t like 27ac either, since I didn’t know the fish and had to guess the random boy.

    Edited at 2018-09-25 01:10 am (UTC)

  3. I was one solver who thought 28ac was a trick at first; I wondered if there was a shedluck among the birds. But I was soon enough forced to face the ugly reality of a really bad clue. Biffed 21ac, 5d, and 13d, solved post submission. I assumed (assume) that REAGENCY is derived from ‘reagent’, which I’ve assumed is a chemical that undergoes a reaction.
  4. Some quite smooth and slickly misleading surfaces here, kudos to the setter. But I’m sure we wouldn’t run a clue like 28 across in my magazine. Why not “crested bird,” anyway?
  5. I find myself swimming against the tide, having enjoyed both BLENNY (what an apt name for that wonderfully weird looking fish) and SHELDUCK. Of course, the setter and editor meant it as a double bluff. Just how dumb do we think these outstanding minds are!! 🙂
  6. 4m04, even with my mother (who is no respecter of such things) trying to start conversations with me throughout! Very easy, really.
  7. I got off to a good start with this, but eventually gave up and slung in the unknown SHELDUCK with a frown, but sadly (and also frowningly) also put in “slonny” for the unknown fish at 27a. Fitted the wordplay better than a random boy for me, and might’ve been a fish, for all I knew…

    Thanks for the parsing of POINSETTIA! I had “S ET” as “small picture” and couldn’t figure out what the vessel was.

    Edited at 2018-09-25 07:06 am (UTC)

  8. 30 mins with a croissant and the sublime G&L marmalade (hoorah).
    Well it was relaxing, but maybe a bit too easy.
    Duck to define a duck with a duck in its name is just odd.
    Is it just me, or do others dislike the idea of using female/woman/girl for ‘She’ (and the male equivalent). I can’t get it to pass the substitution test without it being ‘*that* female’.
    Maybe the clue could have been worse:
    Duck shell, not one left by duck (8)
    Mostly I liked: the lady rocking the basset hound.
    Thanks setter and for the very thorough blog, J.

    PS I suppose I have been known to ask dog owners if the dog is a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. Hoist with my own petard.

    PPS Shell reported! Duck! Duck! (8) (Enough now, Ed)

    Edited at 2018-09-25 07:18 am (UTC)

    1. “SHE is the cat’s mother”, as an old primary school teacher of mine was wont to observe in reponse to “Please miss, SHE stole my pencil !”
  9. A reagent is any chemical that is used to create a chemical reaction

    Easy puzzle with much biffing. Couldn’t believe SHELDUCK.

    1. Yes I was somewhat bemused. Surely not in The Times!

      And yes indeed an extremely easy puzzle, though it was not without its moments.

      Believe it or not I have been to Much Biffing. It’s right next to Stratford Johns.

      Edited at 2018-09-25 08:36 am (UTC)

  10. 13.20 for a a straight-through solve, though I left BASSET HOUND until last because spring is usually spa.
    Despite the headline warning of 1ac, though, and as seems to happen only when the crossword is particularly easy, I managed to substitute C for G in REAGENCY, and myopically didn’t notice it until it glared at me reproachfully in pink after submission.
    If it looks like a duck… But I don’t think I was the only one trying to squeeze in SHELDRAKE when a) it doesn’t fit and b) you can’t make lrake mean chance no matter how hard you try.
    Entertaining blog, many thanks.
  11. Hmm, very easy. I am inclined to agree that the duck = duck idea did not come off, assuming it was intentional. Replacing the duck with “bird” seems to improve the clue a fair bit.
    Although I agree about Jeeves too, finding a butler everyone has heard of is tricky .. the best I can offer is Crichton, but I bet there would be complaints about being expected to know even him.
    on edit: Alfred, in Batman? Paul Burrell? hudson from upstairs downstairs? My favourite was Antony Hopkins in Remains of the Day but I would not have remembered his name (Mr Stevens)

    Edited at 2018-09-25 07:57 am (UTC)

    1. I thought of suggesting “what Jeeves might / may do” as an alternative but then decided I’d still have felt bound to draw the distinction between valet and butler in my comment so we wouldn’t have been much further forward.
  12. 23 minutes. LOI MISPRINT where for some reason I just wouldn’t put the M1 before the SPRINT, probably because we usually crawl up it. Some trip round some aquarium some time or other gave me BLENNY. We have a POINSETTIA every Christmas, so it’s always an early call for a plant clue. I actually managed to keep one for several years. I also did a double-take at SHELDUCK. Shome misshtake surely? COD to REAGENCY, although I did try to make something Napoleonic about the answer first. I’ve been dum dumming, bum bumming the Bonanza music before I went to your link, Jack, but thanks for making it real. Thank you both to you and setter for blog and crossword.
  13. Nothing original to add. A very straightforward puzzle, with one clue so weak I had to look twice just to make sure I wasn’t missing some sort of elephant trap; and, since I am a devotee of Wodehouse, a internal monologue as I solved, something along the lines of “I say, Jeeves, this fearful setter has just described you as a butler, don’t you know.” “Yes, sir, but I am sure we are intended to remember that this is Crosswordland, where Daleks are, after all, regularly deemed to be robots, and we must perforce accept that we know what the clue means, despite its factual inaccuracy.” “Yes, but dash it all, Jeeves, it’s still a bit thick. I should like you to telephone the editor chappy and express my indignation.” “Very good, sir.”
  14. 15’49. Just missed my “good time” cut-off by staring at the blenny-legacy waters too long at the end. Not only 28 let the side down: 6 dn and 8 were Guardianesque I thought in an overfamiliar way. 26 a touch right-on as well. World’s coming to an end.
  15. I shall say no more about 28A.

    FOI MISPRINT, leading into a 6:55 finish, though I confess to parsing BREASTBONE and LOI POINSETTIA after completion, and give my thanks to Jack for explaining WINDFALL, TRAVELLERS TALES and EDITORIAL – all three entered confidently however.

    COD LOCUST. Loved the “stripper” definition, and the surface is top drawer.

  16. All over in 21 minutes, but with more biffing than parsing. Count me as another one who scowled at the double-duck in 28ac – defining it simply as a bird would have been eleganter and would have added a little to the difficulty. I hadn’t encountered REAGENCY before (“reactivity”, yes).
  17. I can’t duck the controversy regarding 28a. I have to admit it ruffled my feathers too. IRONY was my FOI and BLENNY, then REAGENCY finished off the puzzle. A relaxing stroll in the park compared with some recent puzzles, but none the less enjoyable for that. 24:47. Thanks setter and Jack.
  18. Oh dear, I felt way off the wavelength today. After finding yesterday’s easier than most, I’ve gone the other way and – despite a quick start – struggled with this one.

    Just over 13 mins, but with LICHEN instead of LYCHEE at 6a (what do you call biffing when the definition is wrong?), and a lot of time trying to work out BLENNY & REAGENCY. The former is a fish that I expect has cropped up in dozens of crosswords but seemed entirely, er, fresh to me.

    I was going to make the usual complaints about Jeeves, but I see there’s no need.

  19. <11′ Random fish entered with crossed fingers. ‘Man from Crossroads big in fish?’. Second-rate lion fish? (enough)

    Thanks jack and setter

  20. Oh dear. 35 minutes. NHO blenny, so a random name search cost me about 5 minutes, before I came up with benny and threw it in with a shrug. And the shelduck clue was grim: I stared at it for about 10 minutes, trying to avoid the conclusion that the answer was indeed the answer. Legacy was tricky too: lacy = flimsy? I think that’s pushing it, tbh. Not to mention an unattached ‘A’ in the clue for 26ac, which had me trying to figure out how L = male, instead of looking for yet another random name. The whole thing felt a bit ramshackle, but I’m probably being too picky. Great blog, thanks.
  21. 26:12 after a less than promising start where i couldn’t seem to get anything going I soon clicked into gear and it was pretty much plain sailing with just a slight delay trying to remember blenny and then putting in LOI legacy. I think Royal Armoured Corps may be a new military abbreviation on me but I wasn’t exactly struggling with vehicle: C-R. Minor Eyebrow Raise Gazing At Non Satisfying Explanatory Rationale for 28ac (if that specialist acronym for questionable duck clues gets any traction I’ll eat my hat).
  22. Re the SEN comment, I think that crosswordland has its own special inhabitants which don’t exist outside in the real world, which one just has to know. Eg eat for worry etc. As a scrabble player I find that scrabbleland has its own versions of this theme eg words like etaerio, aecia, iure etc which no self respecting player would ever want to know the meaning of (unless you need to know if it pluralises of course).
  23. There is of course nothing wrong with suggesting that Jeeves may ‘buttle’, as he does just that occasionally; indeed Bertie avows that he can ‘buttle with the best of them’. There’s a difference between saying someone may paint and someone is a painter.

    ‘Duck’ on the other hand is a mistake despite valiant attempts to suggest some sort of double bluff

    The Editor

    1. The problem is that the clue didn’t say ‘may buttle’ (that was my suggestion for an improvement), it said ‘would buttle’.
      1. I think ‘would do’ is fine if the emphasis was on the ‘would’ (i.e. ‘would do if he had to’) rather than on the ‘do’ or indeed the ‘Jeeves’. I don’t think the clue need indicate the emphasis.
  24. (Somewhere near Much Biffing and Stratford Johns). I arrived at Grinding Halt about twelve clues in, after which it was hit the PANIC BUTTON rather than a (MI)SPRINT to the finish. This TRAVELLER’S TALE was a tide of woe. Top half completed first but stuck with the same conundra as others over BLENNY and SHELDUCK. I was quite happy with REBUTTAL recalling Wooster’s use of ‘buttle’. LOI was the unknown REAGENCY. More than 1h 🙁
  25. 14:20, solving on iPhone which works pretty well as an interface but is a bit fiddly.
    I was less shocked by the repeating duck than by the suggestion that Jeeves would buttle, the editor’s comments notwithstanding. A bit thick indeed.
    BLENNY from Octonauts.
  26. …second time round online. Completed in 28:10 but had stuck in ACCURATE, then overwrote the T with ECCENTRIC without noticing that the final letter of the former should be a Y.

    Oh well.

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