Times Saturday 26676 – March 18, 2017. Insights sadly lacking.

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
As I start this blog I still have three answers unexplained: 1ac, 11ac, and 12dn, although given the checkers I think all three answers are clear. I hope the penny drops soon. (Aha – 1ac is very clever!)

Even though there were no Dickensian or Shakespearean references,  the whole thing felt like more of a struggle than usual to me, but perhaps I came to it tired from other commitments. Or maybe it was just the setter’s artistic work that wrongfooted me so often in parsing the clues.

Looking at the leaderboard, I see that at the time of writing, the 100th best time was nearly 21 minutes compared with 15 or 16 minutes on a typical Saturday – so it does look like it was a little harder than usual.

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined. Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised. Then there’s the answer IN BOLD, followed by [the parsing of the wordplay]. (ABC)* means ‘anagram of ABC’, {deletions are in curly brackets}.

1 Recording capital exchanges, party fudges ledgers (9)
CASHBOOKS: A Spoonerism of BASH COOKS and, refreshingly, without actually mentioning the good Reverend. Finally got it. Well done, setter!

6 Sacred song, second to be introduced to mate before mass (5)
PSALM: S in PAL before M.

9 A female splitting collection up (5)
ALOFT: A then F in LOT.

10 Re-open hut, possibly, with that (9)

11 Task ends, hemming length on stretch covers (9,6)
PATCHWORK QUILTS: WORK [task] then L [length] in QUITS [ends], all preceded by PATCH [stretch]. “Of course!”, he says, tongue in cheek.

13 Busybody going round with doctor’s plant (8)

14 Spare silver slipped between adjacent notes (6)
MEAGRE: AG [silver] in ME RE [adjacent notes as in “do re me”].

16 Poster displaying US author (6)
MAILER: FOI. Norman Mailer, author of 12 novels and other works, none of which I’ve read. Nor will I, I expect.

18 Hardly any, it’s said, idle under Medieval system (8)
FEUDALLY: sounds like “few dally” – I don’t expect many objections to that as a homophone!

21 Bumbling moth let out when we got it (5-4,6)
LIGHT-BULB MOMENT: (BUMBLING MOTH LET*). I saw “light” as soon as I had a few helpers, but the whole expression was elusive.

23 Demand for product on ground-breaking course (9)
NEWMARKET: MARKET [demand for product] after NEW [ground-breaking].

25 Lines bridging tiny distance forming connector (5)
MODEM: ODE [lines] in MM [tiny distance]. The thing that connects your computer to the internet.

26 Each end of race precise (5)
EVERY: {rac}E VERY [precise, as in “the very thing”].

27 Stained metal dart ultimately pierces better (9)
TINCTURED: TIN [metal] then {dar}T inside CURED.

Not familiar with “tinctured” in this sense, although tincture of iodine for example would certainly stain anything it came near!

1 Restrict stuff on page (5)
CRAMP: CRAM [stuff] on P [page].

2 Having a Scotch, perhaps, en route’s a weakness (11)
SHORTCOMING: SHORT [Scotch, perhaps] COMING [en route].

3 British formed pairs, heading off in a group (7)
BATCHED: B [British] {m}ATCHED [formed pairs, heading off].

4 Established novelist makes short broadcast (8)
ORTHODOX: ORTHO [certainly sounds like “author” in some, but admittedly not all, accents] DOX [clearly sounds like “makes short”].

After the vigorous debate last week over the pronunciation of “tortoise”, I’m going to say that as long as the suggested pronunciation is in reasonably common use, it’s fine with me.

5 He stops believer becoming leader of another faith (6)
SHEIKH: HE in SIKH. Saw quickly I needed to put “he” in something, but took a while to work out what. I suspect the spelling of “sheikh” made it harder to see!

6 Pawn? Come back to take it (7)
PRESUME: P [pawn] RESUME [come back]. For a while I contemplated “pledgee”, as in PLEDGE=to pawn, followed by E={com}E back. It’s in Chambers, but happily it was another red herring.

7 Arsenic, poisoner’s top killer (3)
ASP: AS [chemical symbol for arsenic] P{oisoner}.

8 Flash queen confined to vile single-sex establishment (9)
MONASTERY: MO [flash] ER [queen] in NASTY [vile].

12 Cash that must be taken on reform, tip included (5,6)
LEGAL TENDER: LEG [“on” at cricket] then END [tip] in ALTER [reform].

13 Show enables MC to appear in new guise (9)
SEMBLANCE: (ENABLES MC*). I had some doubt about which end of this clue was the anagram indicator, and which the definition!

15 Proscribed part of speech frequently lacking force (8)

17 European royal house detailed unknown form of English (7)
ESTUARY: E [European] STUAR{t} Y [unknown].

Wikipedia: Estuary English is an English dialect or accent associated with South East England, especially the area along the River Thames and its estuary … Estuary English shares many features with Cockney, and there is some debate among linguists as to where Cockney speech ends and Estuary English begins.

No doubt a hint of the pejorative? Ah, why can’t they be like we were – perfect in every way!

19 Party men, dull, not the type to fight back (7)

20 Alien following ship in publicly funded trip (6)
JUNKET: JUNK [ship] ET [the canonical alien].

22 Shrinking fabric finally cut up (5)
TIMID: DIMIT{y} read backwards.

Eminently buffable, but I was slow with this … I thought the “T” came from “finally {cu}T”, and then searched for evidence that DIMI was a fabric. D’oh!

24 Trouble’s over between playing partners (3)
WOE: O{ver} between W{est} and E{ast}. Clearly many setters are bridge players. Is the same true for solvers?

16 comments on “Times Saturday 26676 – March 18, 2017. Insights sadly lacking.”

  1. This Saturday Special was rather fiendish and took me a whole 90 minutes- requiring several 21ac LIGHT BULB MOMENTs.

    FOI 7dn ASP and LOI 1ac CASHBOOKS – The Reverend Spooner has much to answer for. I think ‘good’ is not particularly applicable to the dwarfish, albino recluse.


    My tort-oise is doing just fine. Meldrew

  2. A very good workout but rewarding to get there in the end. I had the same three unparsed as our blogger when I finished on Saturday morning but managed see the wordplay when I came back for another look later in the week. Solving time: off the scale.
  3. Managed to solve and parse all this in 42 minutes, apart from biffing TIMID, after penultimate TINCTURED fell into place. If ever I knew DIMITY, I’d forgotten it. I’m sure TINCTURE used to be used to mean a shade of paint generally and not just in heraldry, but can’t find it on Wiki. Maybe it was when the shade of paint was achieved by mixture. Or was it used by car manufacturers for their metallic paint? The LIGHT BULB did shine in that context when I thought of it. In the days when jelly was served with blancmange, pre- Angel Delight, we’d have a milk based concoction called a JUNKET for afters. (No, I am not going to say pudding. That was reserved for hot jam or syrup sponge or the like.) I’m not going to get misty-eyed over this memory! COD PATCHWORK QUILTS.

    Edited at 2017-03-25 07:28 am (UTC)

  4. My notes say I was eight minutes short of two hours on this, and that it was a “hard bottom-to-top solve”. Glad I at least didn’t come here to find everyone else thought it a breeze.

    Looks like I parsed everything, at least. FOI 3d, LOI SHEIKH, just after ORTHODOX, presumably fairly quickly after I finally twigged my COD, CASHBOOKS. Honourable mention to 21a. Thanks setter and blogger!

  5. I took 54:38 for this one. Never did see the switched capitals in 1a. Clever! FOI CRAMPS, LOI ORTHODOX. In fact a lot of tricky stuff in this puzzle. Liked MONASTERY and 21a. NHO DIMITY, so biffed TIMID. Also biffed 11a from checkers. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  6. 27:04. I struggled mightily with this one, although looking at it now I can’t remember why. Clues always seem easier when you know the answer!
    We’ve had the debate on this homophone before. It doesn’t work in all accents but so what?
    1. I see what you are getting at Jack but one does not need to be gifted, to predict that! Never has a homophone been deployed, without a complaint from someone ..
  7. Starting, as we’ve seen, with the Marrowskyism at 1ac, and not getting much better as things went along. 12dn proved hardest I think. Missing “on” = LEG! No excuses.

    Thought I was going to be helped by the pangram … but the Z’s missing. It would be that one wouldn’t it? (I sense a deliberate device here.)

  8. I am making more progress than I ever imagined I could from the quick cryptic to the 15×15.
    Nonetheless, hell would have frozen over before I would have solved 4d. With common orth words such as orthopaedics, orthodontics and, indeed, orthodox, I cannot begin to hear “author”. As a Cambridge man I would pronounce it awe Thor. Maybe I’d get the homophone if I spoke Boltonese or Buryese where the negation NO is commonly pronounced as if GNAW which is roughly the author sound. Would Heard, Verlaine or one of the other geniuses help me to get there -pretty please.
    1. Homophones have been a hot topic. I think you just have to view alternative pronunciations as a piece of obscure knowledge, like classical references and names of flora and fauna!
      1. Many thanks for your trouble. I still don’t see how it works – authordox has an r which demands to be pronounced and needs to be three spaces backwards (aurthodox), surely, or am I just incurably thick!!!?
        1. Probably the key issue is whether your dialect is rhotic (i.e. strong on pronouncing “r”s), as I’m guessing your Cambridge accent is, or non-rhotic, as Australian is.

          Many in my parts would say orth(a)dox, [where by (a) I mean the neutral vowel sound], and with the initial “r” hardly audible. In that pronunciation it would sound much like author docks.

          Tangentially, one thing that really struck me when I visited Boston is that despite all the rest of the USA joking that Bostonians never pronounce the letter “R”, their Rs were completely audible to an Australian ear!

        2. As brnchn says, the key is rhoticity. If you don’t pronounce the Rs the homophone is perfect. Certainly in my non-rhotic accent it is: in both cases I say ‘awth uh dox’, where ‘uh’ in the middle is the neutral ‘schwa’, the most common vowel sound in spoken English.
  9. I enjoyed this and managed to finish it.
    I also thought DIMI must be a fabric. I had no objections to any of this although I was not able to parse everything. David

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