Times Saturday 26688 – April 1, 2017. Elegant simplicity.

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Another Saturday on the easy side, for me at least. Perhaps I was just on the setter’s wavelength. Lots of clever clues, but few obscurities, although I’ve only ever met the gentleman in 11ac in crosswords. No flora or fauna, although remote Asian capitals are good stand-ins. I loved how elegantly the definition in 19dn was disguised. Several other clues started me running enthusiastically in the wrong direction, before the penny dropped. Compliments to the setter.

Looking at the leaderboard, I see that at the time of writing, the 100th best time was under 16 minutes, about normal for a Saturday – so it does look like it was middle of the road in difficulty.

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. Answer, so long in the telling, that’s worth paying for? (1,4,3)
A GOOD BUY: A for answer, then sounds “in the telling” like GOODBYE=“so long”.

9. Living in English castle somehow is a step up (8)
ESCALATE: E for English then (CASTLE*) with the final A “living in” the middle of it. Tricky.

10. Concert where some stand for anthem finally (4)
PROM: PRO=stand for, M = anthem finally. FOI.

11. Following home match Percy, losing heart, overwhelmed (2,3,7)
IN HOT PURSUIT: IN SUIT=home match, all “overwhelming” HOT{s}PUR=Sir Henry Percy, 1364-1403, aka Harry Hotspur. Once I had the “H” and “T” to give me HOT, I biffed this one and worked out the parsing later.

13. Russian not available, turning to Italian? (6)
ANGELO: OLEG N/A, “turning”.

14. Old police officer journalist proved wrong (8)

15. Judicious use of online fraud? Good grief! (7)
ECONOMY: E-CON=“online fraud” perhaps. O MY=“good grief”.
As soon as I saw the second letter was a C, I tried fruitlessly to do something with “SCAM”!

16. Purse features in gesture that is not touching (3-4)
AIR KISS: A better than average cryptic definition.

20. Soldier, with masses revolting, of little use? (8)
GIMMICKY: GI=soldier, MM=2 x masses, ICKY=revolting. No, not an anagram of masses!

22. Admitting knight in the Red Guards (6)
OWNING: OWING=in the red. All “guarding” N=knight. Did anyone read “Red Guard” as belonging together? Nice feint, that.

23. Must wash finally: junior to opt for shower (7-5)
THUNDER-PLUMP: TH=final letters of “must wash”, UNDER=junior, PLUMP=opt for. Never heard the expression, but it’s in Chambers.

25. Symbol that’s popular holding firm (4)
ICON: IN “holding” CO.

26. Something in the kitchen encourages insects (3,5)

27. Capital, seeing Superman with facial hair! (8)
TASHKENT: Clark Kent with moustache, of course.
This city I did know – the name, at least; but not that it’s the capital of Uzbekistan.

2. Grand, and I hesitate to say obsessional, characteristic of some Europeans (8)
GERMANIC: G=grand, ER=I hesitate to say, MANIC.

3. Book about aspects of computer chess games? (2,4,3,3)
OF MICE AND MEN: mice being the computer aspect, men being the chess pieces.

1937 novella by John Steinbeck. Wikipedia: it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression.

The title, as Jackkt hinted last week, is taken from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley”. Something else I didnae ken.

4. American privy to harm boy briefly unleashed (8)
The subtleties of UK vs USA may be lost on me here. Don’t the English have bathrooms too? Or perhaps the idea is, Americans say “bathroom” where the English might use “loo”? Does anyone still say “privy”?

5. Its branches were yet to develop? (3,4)
YEW TREE: (WERE YET*). A literal definition of sorts.

6. Steal from orchard that is behind (6)
SCRUMP: SC.=that is (abbrev. of “scilicet”), RUMP=behind.
The abbreviation “sc.” Is another of those “only in crosswords” things for me.

7. Luck maybe needed off and on to raise capital (4)
BAKU: alternate letters of “lUcK mAyB e”, “raised”.
This place was totally unfamiliar, but at least the wordplay was clear. Turns out to be the capital of Azerbaijan.

8. Compounds quietly record comings and goings on beach (8)
PEPTIDES: P=quietly, EP=record, TIDES=comings and goings on beach.

12. Upset that pivotal figure’s kept in the shade (8,4)
SHOCKING PINK: KING PIN=key figure, “kept in” SHOCK=upset.

15. Figure the genie must be out of the bottle? (8)
EIGHTEEN: (THE GENIE*). Lovely clue.

17. Old word often linked with status in girl’s native tongue (8)
IROQUOIS: O=old QUO=word often linked with status(!), all “in” IRIS=the girl of the moment.
The “status quo” element appealed to me!

18. Expel from post with NI district council (4,4)
SEND DOWN: SEND=post, DOWN=county in Northern Ireland.

19. Variable speed in goal leads to miss after it? (7)
NYMPHET: Y=variable MPH=speed, all in NET=goal. Nicely disguised definition. The archetypal nymphet may have been the title character of Nabokov’s Lolita. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour: don’t!

21. Prepare together article in Italian after school (6)
COEDIT: COED=school, IT=Italian. I tried for too long to find an answer ending with IL=“article in Italian”.

24. Fancy liqueur gentleman bottles (4)
URGE: hidden word.

23 comments on “Times Saturday 26688 – April 1, 2017. Elegant simplicity.”

  1. A bit of a struggle, with DNK THUNDER-PLUMP (ever get the feeling that English has too many words?) my LOI. Like Bruce, I biffed 11ac from HOT; unlike him, I left it at that. It took me a while to recall PLOD, not in my dialect and seldom used here. The definition of NYMPHET was brilliant, I thought; I’d also second Bruce’s opinion of the book, though I’m sure we’re in the minority. I could have done without the definition in 17d, though. Every language is a native tongue; ‘native’ here serves only to indicate a language spoken by some of the lesser breeds without the law. ‘girl’s language’ would have done fine.
    1. I also debated “native tongue”. I eventually decided it is OK, in that Iroquois is presumably pretty much only spoken by the natives of that group, whereas say English, Spanish and Chinese are world languages.
  2. I assumed in 17d that “native tongue” was a reference to being spoken by what we used to call Indians and now call “native americans”. I once dated an Indian woman who said they all hated the phrase “native american” since it just meant someone born in the US to them too, at least when it first came into vogue, the whole country version of a “native Californian”.

    THUNDER PLUMP was my LOI and I wasn’t really convinced it was correct since I’d never heard the phrase and it seemed unlikely. I’d never heard of BAKU either but the clue was pretty unambiguous and it was a plausible name for a city.

    I think PLOD for police comes from the Enid Blyton Noddy stories where Mr Plod was the policeman. I assume nobody reads them any more, and overseas probably never did anyway.

    1. I make a point of irritatingly repeating here every time the question arises that the term for an American Indian is “American Indian”–the term the people themselves generally use–and not “Native American”–a term that people like me use to refer to people like me.
      1. Ah, fine, American Indian it is then .. until someone decides that that is somehow a slur, as well as all the other racial descriptors seem to become in time
  3. Did this in 38 minutes according to my scawl. Success again attributed to my fine English master Peg-leg Wakefield. In class in the Lower Fifth we read Henry IV Part 1 where I had a spell reading the Harry Hotspur lines. (I still recite the first few lines of Prince Hal’s “I know you all and will a while uphold…” as a party piece. Cracking parties we have at our house.) To celebrate Burns Night that year we studied To a Mouse. Our home reader one term was Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which was liked for being so short after David Copperfield the previous term. Biggest problem in the crossword was the unknown LOI THUNDER-PLUMP, constructed carefully from cryptic. COD AIR KISS followed by NYMPHET. It was de rigeur to read Lolita back then but I must add not in class, nor as home reader. I don’t want the Savile Inquiry police exhuming poor old Peg-leg. Lady C, Room at the Top and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning were also to be on the pupil-compiled ‘must read’ list a year or two later. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you brnchn and setter.
    1. hmm, by an amazing coincidence I have read all of those. Even enjoyed one or two of them. I seem to recall enjoying The Carpetbaggers more, though
  4. And I thought we were supposed to call them Native Americans, inaccurate term though it is?
    Racial politics is beyond silly, these days
  5. THUNDER-PLUMP deserves liberation from the oubliette wing of Chambers because it’s such a fine BFG of a word. I shall use it at the earliest opportunity, hopefully forestalling the Urban Dictionary, which has it as (offending just about everyone alert) “an extremely gay overwieght person, who rocks a jew fro but is unfortunately methodist” (sic – don’t come complaining to me about punctuation and spelling either)
  6. About 50 mins for me which is average(ish) for a Saturday. 11a and 13ac took a while to parse. Capital of Azerbaijan known from them being victorious in and later hosting the Eurovision song contest. I liked 15ac but COD to 19dn for wit, invention and misdirection. A rashly biffed egg timer held me up slightly at 26ac but was fairly easy to spot, parse correctly and amend. DNK the unusual thunder-plump but “to opt for” and P_U_P allowed for little else. Did not realise that it could have such an extraordinarily specific other meaning – I can ‘t envisage it coming up in conversation but useful to know anyway. LOI the tricky 17dn which fell as soon as I thought of status quo.
  7. 31:32. I felt thoroughly off the wavelength with this one, but was properly undone by just three at the end: the unknown THUNDER-PLUMP, IROQUOIS and NYMPHET. I considered the possibility of THUNDER-PLUMP quite early, but couldn’t believe it existed.
    Great puzzle though.
    This week’s was easier, but my time was a bit spoiled by Child 4 throwing half a box of Shreddies at Child 2, which probably wouldn’t happen in the Championship.
  8. A really lively and enjoyable puzzle at the easier end of the Saturday spectrum although THUNDER-PLUMP was bordering on the unknown as far as I was concerned. On reflection I thought it had come up before but searching LJ doesn’t find it other than in relation to this puzzle.

    In his heydey, before he turned into a political bore, Eddie Izzard used to do a fabulous routine on the subject of the “best laid plans of mice and men”. We can all imagine the plans of men, but of mice??? It was even funnier when he performed it in French.

  9. 23ac I have never come across before so my WOD

    COD had to be 19dn NYMPHET.

    My LOI was 18dn SEND DOWN and FOI 10ac PROM

    Thanks to the branch manager for a blog to match the puzzle which held my attention for 50 minutes. Splendid!

    Edited at 2017-04-08 01:35 pm (UTC)

  10. I had plenty of time to look at this last Saturday on a train up to Preston from London and back after PNE vs Notts Forest (1-1 in case you were wondering). I managed to fill in all the squares; guessed the unknown Thunderplump; could not work out the Russian clue and could only see Angelo as fitting. A good guess as it turned out. For some reason Iroquois occurred to me well before I even began to try to parse it.
    Enjoyable puzzle. I have made great progress since the days when I nearly drew a blank on Saturdays. Thanks to all on this site and particularly the bloggers. David
  11. I have in front of me my treeware version of this crossword, from which I can see that I have written THUNDER-PLUMP. Where this came from and where it went afterwards is a complete mystery to me but obviously at the crucial moment, it briefly surfaced.
  12. Excellent puzzle with good clues coming one after the other, my favourite of many being SHOCKING PINK. Looking at the finished product, few unknowns apart from the expression at 23a. Geography, literature, science, GK and a bit of humour. Made to order.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  13. I’ve got just a very minor query about this enjoyable puzzle; I wonder if I’ve got the wrong end of the air-kissing stick, but are “pursed” lips the same as what I think might otherwise be called “puckered” lips? I’ve always thought of pursed lips as something indicating disapproval. Didn’t actually bother me that much, but thought it was worth a mini-query.
    I echo David’s (above) thanks to all the bloggers and commenters on this great site for helping me understand these puzzles much more.
    – Peter
  14. 49:43 with THUNDERPLUMP unknown and constructed from wordplay. IROQUIS surfaced recently and went in with an Aha! Knew the Hotspur connection. Glad to see BW being so considerate over Peg Leg’s reputation. Nice puzzle. Didn’t get chance to comment yesterday as I was driving overnight and then catching a ferry to my present location in Arinagour. Even here we now have Wi-Fi and the occasional phone signal. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  15. Here, a bathroom necessarily contains a bath, but the loo is often to be found elsewhere – it appears that US bathrooms frequently have no provision for actually bathing.

Comments are closed.