Times Cryptic 28766

My solving time was 59 minutes with at least the last 20 of these spent on four clues: 3 & 5dn and 9 & 13ac. I realised early on that the top half was going to be trouble so I headed for the bottom of the grid and worked my way very steadily up from there.


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]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 I run a check on currency for brother (10)
FRANC (currency), I, SCAN (run a check)
6 Walk with one in fur, spending time later (4)
STOA{t} (one in fur,) [spending – losing – time later – not the first ‘t’]
9 One painting a capital but not one other city (7)
RA (one painting – Royal Academician), V{i}ENNA (a capital) [but not one]. I struggled forever with this as I didn’t know the Italian city despite its appearance in a puzzle in September 2022 when I also didn’t know it.
10 Early stage in imagination (7)
IN, FANCY (imagination)
12 Get high up to install large sort of panel (5)
SOAR (get high up) containing [to install] L (large)
13 Task force for Hull City? (5,4)
A straight definition with a cryptic hint. Another clue that gave me grief. I didn’t know the answer, and as for wordplay, whilst I guessed Hull City FC might have a nickname, I didn’t know it is ‘The Tigers’ so that cut off both lines of approach. SOED defines Tiger Team as: colloq. a team of specialists in a particular field brought together to work on specific tasks.
14 Hopeful lawyer’s second drink? On the wagon, in emergency (9-6)
AMBULANCE (wagon, in emergency), CHASER (second drink). Listed as American slang in some sources. I thought it was a quite recent expression but it appears to date from the last decade of the 19th century.
17 Unfortunately deaf following last hymn or anthem (4,2,2,7)
Anagram [unfortunately] of DEAF F (following) LAST HYMN OR. The Welsh National Anthem.
20 Fraudulently obtained title with cash for sport (9)
Anagram [fraudulently obtained] of TITLE CASH
21 Nearly laid out by a tree (5)
A, SPEN{t} (laid out money) [nearly]
23 Very keen daughter replacing front of hands-free device (4,3)
D (daughter) replacing front of {h}EADSET (hands-free device)
24 Cut and separate a few lines (3,4)
BIT (cut – small piece), PART (separate). A small role in a play or film.
25 For a kiss, cut down strong drink (4)
Hidden in [cut down] {fo}R A KI{ss}
26 One nearest almost slack, very close to death (2,8)
I (one), NEXT (nearest), REMIS{s} (slack) [almost]
1 Anticipate no relaxation during trip (9)
0 REST (no relaxation) contained by [during] FALL (trip)
2 Volume concealed by a zip that will go under the hammer (5)
V (volume) contained (concealed] by A + NIL (zip)
3 Belligerent allies, we suggested (7,6)
This was my LOI. It took me forever, and I had no hope of solving it until all the checkers were in place. If only I had remembered my European history at the turn of the 20th century which I studied successfully for O Level 60 years ago I would have got there a lot sooner. To quote Collins: The Central Powers were a. (before World War I) Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary after they were linked by the Triple Alliance of 1882, and  b. (during World War I) Germany and Austria-Hungary, together with their allies Turkey and Bulgaria. As for wordplay, it’s one of those reverse-clue devices with ‘WE’ suggesting the CENTRAL letters of POWERS.
4 Small pine for one, or spruce (7)
S (small), MARTEN (pine for one – pine marten). It was helpful that ‘pine marten’ was an answer in yesterday’s puzzle.
5 Suffering pins and needles by the fire (7)
AT INGLE (by the fire). Another that delayed me unduly.
7 One in fifty seven teens not very excitable (9)
Anagram [excitable] of SE{v}EN TEENS [not very]. Fifty American states.
8 Sailor on motor yacht turning around southern gulf (5)
AB (sailor), then MY (motor yacht) reversed [turning] containing [around] S (southern). It was handy that this unusual word came up in a Jumbo I blogged at the end of October. Non-Jumbo solvers may have needed a bit longer to work it out.
11 Defensive position mad character had about source of cash, indeed (3,4,6)
FORT (defensive position) + HATTER (mad character) containing [about] ATM (source of cash). ‘The Hatter’ appears in both Lewis Carroll’s Alice books but he is never referred to as ‘The Mad Hatter’.  The definition and answer are both used for emphasis and in some contexts may be interchangeable.
15 “Mountain church,” a gospel standard (9)
BEN (mountain), CH (church), MARK (gospel)
16 Stones are remarkable for echoes (9)
Anagram [remarkable] of STONES ARE
18 Wet month abroad? Lots of them (7)
MOIS (month abroad – in French), TEN (lots of them)
19 For safety switches housing benefit with bachelor — cunning type making the case (4,3)
FOX (cunning type) contains [making the case forUSE (benefit) + B (bachelor). In legal documents use of, or access to something (e.g. land) may be described as a benefit.
20 Apparently embarrassed prosecutor upset poisoner (5)
RED (apparently) + DA (prosecutor – District Attorney) reversed [upset]
22 Pence and shillings raised in charity work by David (5)
P (ence), then ‘alms’ (charity work) becomes SALM when the S (shillings) is raised. Many of the Psalms in The Book of Psalms have been attributed to King David.

78 comments on “Times Cryptic 28766”

  1. Lots to chew on here. 36 mins with last in CENTRAL POWERS; on half a wing and a prayer, as I had spotted the WE, but wasn’t sure how (if) it fitted in.

    Particularly liked ABYSM – a fine word.

  2. 29:28. Phew. DNK CENTRAL POWERS, but eventually saw the “we” device and decided that POWERS was more likely than TOWERS or VOWELS. Also DNK the Italian city so needed all the checkers, and as Jack said was lucky that MARTEN got a guernsey recently.

    But the big problem was caused by my incorrect ABYSS, which was just parsable enough to not have me revisiting it when faced with TIGER _E_S for an unknown expression and an unknown soccer team. Until eventually I did, and we all lived happily ever after.


    Thanks for the workout setter, and for the blog Jack.

  3. Phew, that was quite a workout, very pleased to complete this successfully and to do so in 49 minutes. Without Jack’s blog I would still have no idea what was going on with TIGER TEAM or CENTRAL POWERS, or that ATHLETICS was an anagram, or what the anagrist was for the anthem. Which evaded me for a while because I had on mind our, not my, fathers. (I mean, when you think about it…) For ages at 7dn I was seeking some arcane word meaning one in fifty, then TENNESSEE came along. I too had a blank top half for much of the time and kept chipping away at it. FOI was IN EXTREMIS (way down the bottom) and LOsI were ATINGLE and ABYSM. Very good puzzle I thought.

  4. 14.25, after I stopped trying to make ABYSS work and gave in to my knowledge of football. Tough corner if you don’t have that though. CENTRAL POWERS had some nasty crossers (CONTROL TOWERS was my first thought) but eventually yielded.

    Thanks both.

  5. I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
    The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, …
    (King John, Shakespeare)

    40 min, enjoyable workout, pre-brekker. I knew the Tigers, but not that David did Psalms. Mostly I liked the Small Pine Or Spruce.
    Ta setter and J.

      1. I was going to quote that scurrilous song about David and Solomon and their very merry lives, only to discover that, according to Google, the version I know originates from me, posted here a couple of years ago. Shan’t do it again.

        1. If you’re referring to your blog 27754 Thursday, 27 August 2020 “David and Solomon lived very merry lives”, then you didn’t give us the verse then, just the first line.
          Go on, give us the whole thing; it’s a good mnemonic.

          1. It was 28022, 6/7/21:
            “David and Solomon lived very merry lives
            Had 40,000 concubines and 30,000 wives
            Later in their lives to settle all their qualms
            One wrote the Proverbs and the other wrote the Psalms”
            It seems whenever the subject comes up the authorship has to be questioned, and the response given.

    1. I again thought you might take the Wilde route, but no, so here’s a snippet:

      Adieu! Adieu! yon silver lamp, the moon,
      Which turns our midnight into perfect noon,
      Doth surely light thy towers, guarding well
      Where Dante sleeps, where Byron loved to dwell.

      (Oscar Wilde on Ravenna, in his 1878 Newdigate Prize winning poem Ravenna)

  6. I thought I was in trouble quite early, and after half an hour I only had four answers in, which certainly confirmed that suspicion. An hour after that I’d actually finished, much to my surprise. DNK (or had forgotten after other crossword-only appearances!) RAVENNA, that Hull City were the Tigers, the CENTRAL POWERS (LOI), ABYSM, or what David had to do with PSALMS.

    Didn’t parse IN EXTREMIS or LAND OF MY FATHERS, which I’d also forgotten was the Welsh national anthem despite living so close to Wales. I suppose I might actually have heard it in real life if I’d ever been to a Rugby match…

    It’s quite lucky I’m working from home today, as I’d normally be on my walk to the office by this time of day!

  7. I threw in the towel after 20 minutes. I’d already biffed LAND OF MY FATHERS and CENTRAL POWERS by that time, and was left with 3 clues in the NE corner. Unfortunately I’d entered “abyss” at 8D, so despite the soccer club from my home city being known to me I couldn’t expand on TIGER, and didn’t know the expression anyway. I also failed on TENNESSEE – had I got that, I’d have got STOA.

  8. 43m 23s
    I thoroughly enjoyed this one but I thought our ‘furrin’ solvers might have had problems with TIGER TEAM. Or maybe not, as I think it was one of those that dispatched Jamal Khashoggi.
    I was fortunate that I successfully biffed three of the long clues (14ac, 17ac, 11d).
    Thank you, Jack!

  9. 19:10. LOI the unknown CENTRAL POWERS where CONTROL TOWERS had been tempting because I’d at least heard of them. I’m guessing several people will have seen “One in fifty seven” and thought of Heinz, though I daresay they have a few more varieties these days.

  10. 21’01” today, felt good. LOI ATHLETICS, unparsed. CENTRAL POWERS no problem, the ‘we’ device unspotted. SMARTEN went quite quickly in after yesterday.
    I’m so glad that jack got in first about the HATTER (although hatters were often thought of as mad because they suffered from mercury poisoning).
    The book of PSALMs is often ascribed to King David, although other named psalmists are available.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  11. Someone may notice their comment in rhyme posted earlier has been removed. I realise it was posted in jest but since it was addressed at the setter I didn’t feel it was appropriate.

    1. My rhyming will therefore suspend
      When I get to line five and press send
      Since the censorship’s poor
      There won’t be any more
      It was fun while it lasted. The end.

      1. Please don’t stop Astro_Nowt! Your rhymes bring smiles to my face and I’m sure those of many others here.

            1. For the record, and to explain my departure…

              My intention today was to award our setter an Oscar for their fabulous performance on a very tricky puzzle, (exactly the sort I like), with no birds!!

              I trust you will concur that an Oscar is widely recognised as a symbol of outstanding and meritorious performance.

              As is usually the case, I attempted to do so in a humorous fashion. (I fully accept that I do not always achieve this, but I do try). Today’s offering was, I felt, amply signposted as being light-hearted, including the words “ho, ho ho” and a smiley face to finish.

              Unfortunately my error was to submit it on a day when the blog is moderated by someone with no discernible sense of humour, who deleted it – I presume because they misinterpreted it as some sort of insult to the setter, which was the very opposite of my intent.

              1. I suspect it was the last line that got to him, Astro. Most English people would regard it as extremely rude, no matter how many ho’s followed it …
                Please do carry on though ..

                1. I didn’t see the rhyme – came on here too late -but this site is enlivened by the erudition of various contributors, and by the devilment of Astro and the wit and humour of contributors like Zabadak, who never fails to raise at least a smile.

  12. 49 minutes, but with a confession. I’d biffed ABYSS for 8d, then thought of TIGER TEAM (I knew Hull were the Tigers) and didn’t revisit the remaining ABYSM , a word I didn’t know. After half an hour, I thought I’d never finish but then things started to solve. COD to AMBULANCE-CHASER. Thank you Jack and setter.

  13. Very disheartened by this. Gave up after 20 mins with only 5 clues solved. Knew it was beyond me. Worried I’m getting Alzheimer’s. Genuinely.

    1. You probably aren’t and there is a test coming soonish.
      I think we all get off days, and this was a hard one.
      Doing the Xword is said to be somewhat beneficial in delaying Al’s Hammer (Cider House Rules, a novel by John Irving, highly recommended).

  14. 17:00
    Tricky Tuesday, with all four long answers biffed (I spotted the ‘we’ CENTRAL to POWERS after entry). Not keen on ‘Fraudulently obtained’ as an anagrind, but it does make for a nice surface.
    If doodling whilst awaiting inspiration, don’t try filling in any of the letters of Hull City FC with a pen – they’re famously the only Football League team that you can’t. One of my local teams, they play in orange and black stripes, and have tiger mascots called Roary (male) and Amber (female) who recently refused to go near the MKM Stadium’s North Stand after the latter was “grabbed inappropriately” by a Hull supporter.

  15. Not my day today, finishing with a short-sighted typo in just over 30 minutes. Really couldn’t see the simple ATINGLE, which made looking for a word meaning Hull that also described some sort of team practically impossible. After staring at blank squares for ages, the pins and needles finally gave way and I vaguely remembered the Hull Tigers were a thing and surmised that a Tiger Team might also be a thing. CENTRAL POWERS was late to fall, and only when it did did I see the significance of that rather too cunning clue. Unscrambling the Yoda phrasing of FUSE BOX took a while, saving me from FAST BOX which was nearly my desperate entry. I couldn’t place RAVENNA on a map, even to the right country, but thought it was some sort of city, which it is in Ohio where anything with more than a few hundred citizens qualifies (sic, it has 11,000).
    Grudging acknowledgements to the setter for a stiff test, and just for clarification, it wasn’t me that wrote the deleted poem. Honest.

  16. 42 minutes last night, hard but like yesterday’s very enjoyable. Wouldn’t have got 4dn so quickly if pine martens hadn’t come up yesterday. NHO ABYSM but the motor yacht made it clear and the 2nd word of 13ac had to be TEAM. Resonates is not echoes, but ok I knew what it meant of course. LOI TIGER TEAM which I didn’t understand but T-G-R had to be tiger.
    Thanks setter, great puzzle, and blogger
    PS COD 14ac which I thought was very clever

        1. Thank you; that took me back to Gloucester more than forty years ago, for I was singing the top line then.
          But I associate an abyss more with an evening when I was dragged from my gin in The Eagle to see Nick Cave at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. I resented him for being allowed to chain smoke at his piano. However, the evening was worth it for one lyric:
          ” You jumped into the abyss, and it only came up to your knees !”
          Edit: Not quite, rather “You leapt into the abyss, but find
          It only goes up to your knees….”

            1. Alas no, my voice was discovered too late, but they gave me a consolation music bursary and I sang with the school choir, in which over seven years I sang as treble, counter-tenor, tenor and bass, alongside the broken voices of ex-cathedral choristers. We were all boys then, and good enough to tour, with evensongs in Hereford, Worcester, Wells, Lichfield etc. as well as an annual ten day gig singing Easter sevices in Brittany, which was a scream, staying at a cracking little monastery in Dinard.
              I had a bit of a solo career as a treble; the useful upshot being I’ve never had a problem speaking in public. Another being I can cox an eight without amplification; very useful when the battery dies.
              As a sixth former I had to supervise the cathedral choristers for lunch; I insisted on Gardner sitting on my left; very bright and an excellent clarinettist to boot. He ended up as the musical director of English National Opera.

  17. 14:45 Nice puzzle. Quite tough. I wasn’t sure I’d heard of CENTRAL POWERS but the WE in the middle settled it for me. I know nothing much about football and was not familiar with the term TIGER TEAM (is it mainly in US use?), but it could have been nothing else once I got the G from ATINGLE. Would the STOA clue have worked if humans didn’t have an unfortunate tendency to wear ermine? I mean there are lots of furry animals out there. COD to BENCHMARK for the smooth surface reading. There probably is song with that title.

    1. Reading the comments it strikes me that I was luckier than I thought to know TIGER TEAM. I’m in IT and a few of my friends work in “cyber” security, where a TIGER TEAM is basically an expert group of white-hat hackers that test a firm’s defences and report on weaknesses. I’m not sure I’ve heard it used in the wild outside that context. Extra-glad I knew it today because I know nothing of football!

      1. TIGER TEAM occupies a similar sort of place in my half-consciousness to ‘agile’: I’m vaguely aware that it’s something you IT types do without any precise idea of what it means.

        1. I wouldn’t worry about ‘agile’; in my experience nobody in IT actually knows what it means, either.

          1. From my experience it means a development and implementation philosophy that disrespects everything that underpinned the soundness and reliability of mainframe software, only to discover that soundness and reliability are actually quite desirable attributes.

            1. I know vanishingly little about IT, but when described to me it’s always sounded suspiciously like ‘make it up as you go along’.

              1. Gerald Weinberg, author of The Psychology of Computer Programming, apparently once observed that “if builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization” and it’s hard not to agree, having seen a lot of programs from the inside.

            2. My experience of agile development led me to consider it a bit of a contradiction in terms, like the old military intelligence gag.

          2. Amen to that. I’ve just retired from a life in IT (first job with I.C.T. in 1966), and working as a test engineer for the last 20-odd years, and I’ve never heard the term, even at work (though admittedly I was never a member of such a team).

            1. Hey I worked briefly for ICL Dataskil in the mid 70s! Many very smart people there. Agile development methodology is pretty new, last decade or so. The students all learn it now.

              1. I just used to moan when some other plonker in IT thought up a new TNT (The Next Thing) and thought it would change something. No chance.

  18. 16:23. A tricky challenge, made trickier by another careless ABYSS. ‘No wonder I was staring blankly at 13ac for so long,’ I thought to myself when I saw the problem, before proceeding to stare blankly at 13ac for several more minutes. Eventually I thought that TIGER TEAM rang a vague sort of bell, and a Hull sports team might be called the Tigers for all I knew. So in it went, but without conviction and I was relieved to see no pink squares.

  19. 35 minutes or so (on paper today) and it all suddenly fell into place in the last 5 minutes after looking doubtful for a while.

    As a proud Welshman I am embarrassed to say that Mae hen wlad fy nhadau, or whatever you English types call it, wasn’t a write in during the first pass but it eventually revealed itself and earnt myself a kick.

    I didn’t seem to get into any rhythm at all but it was a nice meaty solve with no complaints, so thanks to the setter and blogger both.

  20. I had similar problems to Jack (with the exception of Ravenna — my Pears Cyclopedia has two entries for Ravenna as a city and as a province of Italy, and doesn’t mention the Ohio version), but he is made of sterner stuff and I simply gave up on ATINGLE and CENTRAL POWERS and used aids, and so I finished in 52 minutes. TIGER TEAM because of a vague feeling that Tigers has something to do with Hull’s Rugby League team, which may or may not be correct. I’m not convinced by spent = laid out (21ac). Are there two appropriate sentences?

    1. I think ‘spend / lay out’ is fairly common. Collins has: lay out 4. informal
      to spend (money), esp lavishly.

      I tend to think of it being said in circumstances where a lot of money has been spent on an event (wedding, holiday etc) but the result was disappointing e.g. I laid out a fortune on the holiday but the weather was atrocious.

    2. Second definition for ‘lay out’ in Chambers is ‘to spend (money)’. Probably really more common in ‘outlay’ for an instance of spending.

  21. DNF, defeated by ABYSM (where I never looked further than ‘abyss’, despite vaguely remembering MY for motor yacht) which then stymied TIGER TEAM. Also didn’t parse CENTRAL POWERS, so thanks for the explanation.

    COD Franciscan

  22. I knew this was going to be on the tricky side when, after my first pass of across clues, I’d only entered SOLAR and LAND OF MY FATHERS. So I was pleased that I made steady progress to submit in 16:38. But then, horror! A typo on BEMCHMARK had changed it to LAMD OF MY FATHERS. A pink square worth 2 errors. Grrrr.

    Land of My Fathers always reminds me of Dylan Thomas. Apparently he once quipped, ‘The Land of My Fathers? They can have it.’

    Thanks Setter, and Jack for the blog.

  23. 19.58

    Avoided the ABYSS trap and although I didn’t know the term TIGER TEAM I did know Hull play in orange stripes.

    Thanks setter and Jackkt

  24. 65 mins and exactly the same problems and hold ups as our esteemed blogger, but I’ll up the ante with ABYSM (NHO).

    Two tough days on the trot.I’m exhausted.

    I liked the fast pedaling lawyer.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  25. 36’15”
    Fortunate to get a clear run, quickened under pressure final furlong.

    Double digit Nitch by a cigarette paper, which I fully expected the Snitch to shove well into three figures, but no. I was lucky to be on the wavelength and the setter seemed to be humouring me.
    A.J.P. Taylor (The Struggle for Mastery in Europe/The Habsburg Monarchy) gave me 3, and O.Wilde 9 (see above). All parsed and familiar, bar the hatter’s hole-in-the-wall and the celtic anthem being unravelled in retrospect.
    The magic of algebra: 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and a 6 horse accumulator make a Heinz, a 57 bet, 6 horse outsized Yankee. Add one to the ‘basic factor’ ( 7/2 , BF 4.5 +1 = 5.5 ) multiply them all together, subtract one and the total of the BFs – there are no singles – and there’s your return.
    The fun we had settling 2 1/2 p each-way Heinzes with dead heats and rule 4 deductions in the 1980s.
    Lots to like; thank you for your kindness setter, I hope you’re on duty again soon and to Jack.

  26. Managed to get TIGER TEAM in the death throes of my attempt at this puzzle after revisiting ABYSS when I decided the second word of 13a had to be TEAM, then a guess at TIGER allowed me to get ATINGLE. That left 9a and 3d. I guessed REVENNA and looked it up only to find RAVENNA. It was the RA as painter that I missed! CENTRAL POWERS, howver eluded me completely, and I stuck in a despairing CONTROL LOVERS. A miserable failure in 64:35. Thanks setter and Jack.

  27. 37:18

    Found the lower half easier than the upper. AMBULANCE CHASER and RAVENNA opened things up a bit but it wasn’t until FRANCISCAN and working out CENTRAL POWERS (CONTROL TOWERS would have fitted but made no sense) left me with just the NE to finish. Had bunged in STOA and ABYSS early on, picked off TENNESSEE and INFANCY before a lengthy pause until FOR THAT MATTER which made me think of TIGER for Hull (had thought Hull City would be some sort of wordplay) – knew of their nickname as a football follower. Couldn’t think of the second word so revisited 8d and followed the cryptic more closely there before entering a tentative TEAM to follow TIGER – US military jargon – never heard of the Task Force!

  28. Over 55′ but within the hour and at least not a DNF after yesterday’s. Similar issues as many above. Never heard of TIGER TEAM despite many years in business struggling with IT services! Still not sure I fully get the CENTRAL POWERS parsing, I see “we” is “central” in powers, but how did we get to POWERS? Anyways thanks Jackkt and setter.

    1. You’re spot on, WE didn’t !
      On wordplay alone it could have been CENTRAL BOWELS. I’m not sure I’d have relished taking on belligerent bowels as allies, or foes, for that matter !

    2. It’s a particularly tough reverse cryptic. If the answer were the cryptic definition you would end up at WE. Tough because I doubt the phrase has been used by anyone in conversation for many decades.

      1. I knew the phrase and biffed pretty quickly (bit of a history buff, Max Hastings always good on 20c wars). Just didn’t know how wordplay took one to POWERS.

  29. A hard slog. I had most of it sorted after 30 minutes but then spent 15 minutes on 13 ac, 3dn and 5dn. Eventually I saw ATINGLE and just biffed the other two. Thanks for the explanations, but like Gerry Murphy I am still off the wavelength on 3dn. NHO TIGER TEAM despite following the footie for many years.
    FOI – FRANCISCAN ( a false dawn!)
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  30. I was held up in SW for a while by having biffed MONSOON at 18d, but LOI was TENNESSEE, as having entered ABYSS, 13a seemed to be TIGER CUBS, when nothing would fit at 7d.

  31. No time to record as it was done in three sessions, but certainly over an hour in total. I was on the point of giving up with about four or five to do, when I remembered that Hull City were called the tigers, and TIGER TEAM it had to be. Thanks to this clue the ne corner became clearer and fell into place. This left only 3dn to solve, and a further couple of minutes passed before POWERS came to mind. It could then only be CENTRAL or CONTROL in front, and fortunately I went the right way.
    A very tough puzzle, but so glad I persevered.

  32. Guessed RAVENNA ever so quickly from R_V but took for ever to parse; odd as it’s really easy.
    Couldn’t parse 21a ASPEN, had biffed APPLE.
    Guessed 3d CENTRAL POWERS early but didn’t spot the location of WE, so a biff, although I could see that the ‘we’ had something to do with POweRS. DOH!
    As mentioned lucky we had PINE MARTEN yesterday, otherwise I would have been stuck on 4d SMARTEN for a loooong time.
    Spotted the drop-the-v anagrist trick at 7d but TENNESSEE has ALOTOF t,e,n,s nothing else, so hard to find. Tenseness was close but no cigar. One in fifty ought to be 2%.
    Don’t like words like 5d ATINGLE although that is my fault not the settter’s. It delayed me as well as the blogger.
    DNK any nicknames of any footie teams and loathe football with a passion, although I have no objection to RFU which I didn’t enjoy at school where it was compulsory.
    COD For That Matter; so clever!

  33. 28’51” Had to guess TIGER TEAM. For some reason I had it in my head that the anthem was LAND OF OUR FATHERS (which in a way is more logical – after all we’ve each only the one father). This despite having been born in Dinas Powys. Wasted a few minutes before I saw why it wouldn’t fit. Good fun. Many thanks.

  34. DNF. After over an hour, I failed to get STOA or TENNESSEE. NHO STOA, and thinking along the wrong lines for “one of fifty seven” trying to fit baked beans or soup into an answer.

  35. DNF what I thought was a very difficult crossword. Slow filling-in from the bottom came to a grinding halt with what might have been CENTRAL or CONTROL POWERS, and I didn’t get the We bit… Football not my thing and never heard the phrase TIGER TEAM, so although the TIGER was guessed at, the second word was not, not being helped by having ABYSS until the answer to 13A was checked. Liked ATINGLE, BENCHMARK and SMARTEN – some great clues, but I lacked the history and IT knowledge to complete.

  36. Defeated by CENTRAL POWERS (control lovers anyone). Which was a pity as TIGER TEAM was the easiest clue for me today, knowing both the Hull City nickname and its use in IT. Liked ABYSM (hoping it was correct). NHO STOA so crossed fingers for that one.

  37. Pretty tricky I thought so pleased to finish in just over the half hour, 30.45 . LOI stoa preceded by Tennessee. Spent ages trying to get something related to Heinz till the penny dropped. Almost left abyss in but changed it to abysm .

    Thought Tiger Team was pretty good but a bit of a stretch for participants across the pond?

    Rushed to put in sake at 25 ac which was not the brightest as adder was pretty easy really.

  38. I too biffed in SAKI, but corrected by the more obvious ADDER; and I was all at sea over CENTRAL POWERS (NHO) and LAND OF MY FATHERS, which left me short on helpful crossers for down clues. After ages looked up DEAD SET ( couldn’t think of the hands-free device) and AMBULANCE CHASER (too clever for my old brain!). Slogged on, only to get a few more, but the NHO TIGER TEAM , RAVENNA and ABYSM did for me. Brave try, but not my day.

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