Times Saturday 26790 – July 29, 2017. Call me baffled.

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
I don’t know if it was because I have just got back from being heavily engaged in other things, but this crossword seemed to be a struggle from start to finish. (Thanks to McText for filling in last week!)

I started over breakfast and got not very far, and then inched through it during the course of the day, working up and left from the SE towards the NW corner. I finished about supper time! Looking at the discussion on the Club site, I don’t seem to have been the only one struggling. The times on the leader board are right up at the high end too.

To be fair, I don’t think any of the clues were uncrackable – I think it was just a fine puzzle. There was a nice mix: some clues where with the aid of the helpers I guessed the answer, and then struggled to work out the cryptic, and others where I eventually worked out the cryptic and then had to take the definition on faith. Three answers I didn’t know, three others in unfamiliar uses. My choice for the clue of the day has to be 6ac. Congratulations to the setter.

Clues are in blue, with the definition underlined. Anagram indicators are bold and italicised. The answer is in BOLD CAPS. (ABC)* means ‘anagram of ABC’, {deletions are in curly brackets}.

1. Feasible being without a room at first for changing (8)
VARIABLE: VIABLE (feasible) around (without, meaning outside) A, plus R=room at first.
6. Being properly prepared puts the girl out (6)
KOSHER: KO’S (knocks out) HER. A lovely definition.
9. Pine ridge that obscures sea view (4)
FRET: triple definition! Pine=fret, ridge=fret, sea mist=fret. And a lovely surface.
10. Flag received on trip (5,5)
JOLLY ROGER: JOLLY=trip, ROGER=“received/understood” in British radio code.
11. Drink with blooming tramp! (4-3-3)
DOWN-AND-OUT: DOWN=drink, AND=with, OUT=blooming.
13. Letter to the Corinthians from the east that Ezra covers (4)
ZETA: reverse hidden answer. Corinth is in Greece, and so we get a Greek letter.
14. Idler crossing yard who’s come back down to earth? (8)
SKYDIVER: SKIVER around YD=yard.
16. Working shifts you tend to lack energy (2,4)
ON DUTY: (YOU TND*), where the anagram fodder lacks E=energy.
18. Possible effect of number raised being in endless supply (6)
STUPOR: UP=raised inside STOR{e}. “Number” with a silent B is a setter’s ploy that never goes stale.
20. Hail storms of concern to batsmen? (8)
AVERAGES: AVE=Latin for “hail/greetings”, RAGES=storms.
22. Am I not able to save first opponent? (4)
ANTI: {c}AN’T I? The first C of CAN’T is saved for another day.
24. Unlicensed trader to make off with jar (10)
FLYPITCHER: FLY=make off, PITCHER=jar. Didn’t know this expression – presumably British.
26. Bob promoted — so was Donald (4-6)
28. Tips switched in lounge for future Derby winner? (4)
FOAL: LOAF with first and last letters swapped. Not all foals are future winners, hence the question mark.
29. GPS rue organising event for winter (5,1)
SUPER G: (GPS RUE*). FOI, entirely from the anagram since I’d never heard of the event.
30. Sets about yak in mountains when on hikes (8)
UPSPEAKS: UPS=hikes (process, say), PEAKS=in mountains. Quaint word – I had to check the dictionary to set my mind at rest.

2. Express appropriate reason for discomfort on flight (3-6)
AIR-POCKET: AIR=express, APPROPRIATE=pocket [confiscate or steal, say].
3. One of Kelly’s fans, perhaps, was singing (7)
INTONED: or INTO NED [Kelly], the bushranger.
4. Caribbean native born a month before others (5)
BAJAN: B=born, A, JAN=month before all other months. Another word I didn’t know, but I put it in confidently based on the wordplay.
5. Former length of building extension (3)
ELL: double definition: a measure of length, or an unfamiliar usage where I would expect to see “L-shaped extension”. Couldn’t find it in Chambers, but it is in Collins and the Shorter Oxford.
6. Press producing letter, maybe: a major coup? (9)
KEYSTROKE: KEY=major, COUP=stroke. Another nice definition.
7. Went off in opposite directions, having escaped slowly (7)
SNOOZED: South/North, OOZED. Went off to sleep … nothing to do with directions!
8. Use ash, perhaps, when covering cross up (5)
EXERT: TREE [ash, perhaps] covering X=cross, all written upwards.
12. Mary’s 27-yard jogging (3,4)
OUR LADY: (LOU YARD*). This one gave me 27dn, rather than the reverse.
15. Struggling to hold axe up for checking (9)
VERIFYING: VYING, around FIRE written upward. My first thought was to look for EXA = “axe up”, but eventually the helpers saved me.
17. Brussels politician opening flood defence and leisure centre (5,4)
THEME PARK: THE ARK around MEP. Would it be picky to suggest the Ark was an escape mechanism rather than a defence?
19. Little point in end of winter hot water bottles (7)
PRICKLE: PICKLE=hot water, around {winte}R.
21. Shot of race horse leading rival (4-3)
ARCH-FOE: (OF RACE H*). H is a standard abbreviation for horse; the “leading” refers to the foe, not the horse.
23. Island not displaying any aquarium oddly (5)
NAURU: even letters of aNy AqUaRiUm.
25. Home with mostly clean running water in Asia (5)
INDUS: IN=home, DUS{t} =“clean”, mostly.
27. Watch suitable for anyone, male or female (3)
LOU: LO=watch, U=universal exhibition. Can be a man’s or woman’s name.

18 comments on “Times Saturday 26790 – July 29, 2017. Call me baffled.”

  1. 1hr, 17mins 53 secs. I also found this tough, never really finding the wavelength. It was a struggle to see what was definition and what was wordplay in quite a few clues. 9ac was a bit of a hit and hope based on the vague recollection of fret as a word meaning a type of sea mist rather than knowing it as a pine or a ridge (I suppose that’s ridge as in a guitar “fret”board?). I also had no idea what a Super G was but entered on the basis of checkers and anagrist. I had “upspeaks” in mind for sometime at 30ac but couldn’t parse it for ages (another where I kept changing my mind about what was def and what was wordplay). I liked 3dn where I saw Gene and Grace before Ned finally came to mind. BTW for info I believe a flypitcher is a gent with a large suitcase full of goods that may have fallen off the back of a lorry. He is able to pitch a makeshift stall for his goods of dubious provenance “on the fly” flog them to as many customers as he can and make as much money as he can before the attendance of the local constabulary forces him to pack up and run off as quickly as he came to find another site where he can do it all again.
  2. Roughly one hour to get through this ‘shopper stopper’.

    FOI 9ac FRET. LOI 24ac FLY PITCHER once I finally twigged 17dn THEME PARK.

    COD 28ac FOAL! Also like 10ac JOLLY ROGER.

  3. 16:34. I didn’t have too many problems with this, and I enjoyed it for the most part, but I don’t really like clues like 9ac or even more 5dn: double (or in the case of 9ac triple) definitions that are difficult only because one or more of the meanings is obscure and/or oblique. There’s something of the same sort of feel about the use of a (bit of a non-) word like UPSPEAKS, too. Like I say though I enjoyed most of it: some nice misdirection in here.
  4. I was done in 1hr 27m, enjoying 26 most along the way, according to my notes. FOI 11a, LOI the incorrect 4d, which was my downfall. Not knowing either the length or the extension, I followed the wordplay and put in the improbable EXL, thinking it might be some obscure architectural term. Oh well. By the sounds of it, I was doing well to “finish” in under an hour and a half even with one wrong!
  5. 55 minutes with LOI UPSPEAKS. COD DUCK-BILLED. “Daddy, there’s a man at the door with a bill.” “Don’t be silly, son, it’s probably just a duck with a hat on.” (Bumper Fun Book 1927) My idea of winter sports is football, or cricket in Australia, so deciding which letter to miss out of the anagram for SUPER G occupied most time. I think bowlers worry just as much about AVERAGES, which might account for Jimmy having mid-on and mid-off when he’s moving it sideways. Thank you B and setter.
  6. No problems with this, except didn’t know or like UPSPEAKS. Knew about the Super-G from Ski Sunday. 30 minutes it says on my print out.
    Where can I get a copy of the Bumper Fun Book 1927? Is it in Kindle?
    1. It was just something we said in our house in the fifties when someone cracked a corny joke. Google it and it’s mentioned on Birmingham History Forum, so it’s not just a Lancastrianism.
  7. I have a feeling I solved this correctly, but I have no idea how long it took as my history has been wiped from the club site, and it reckons I never did the puzzle. Disgruntled of Middlesbrough. Thanks for the blog Bruce.
    1. The club seems to have retained my time and score for this, but not my answers.
      1. If I select the puzzle and ask to see the solution, it tells me I haven’t done the puzzle and that viewing it will prevent me from submitting it.
  8. DNF – Last week I spent my weekend allowance of solving time in a bar with a bunch of rowdies, but seeing the answers it seems unlikely I would have finished even if I’d applied myself properly. As one example, UPSPEAK is a good word (using a rising intonation at the end of a non-question sentence) but that definition wouldn’t have a plural, and I couldn’t get my thoughts all the way to the Yoda-like answer.

    I’m finding the second half of this week equally difficult. Time for a coffee.

    Nice blog, Bruce

    Edited at 2017-08-05 01:40 pm (UTC)

  9. I found this very difficult. Well over an hour. I often find that if I can’t get 1a it makes the NW corner hard to crack. I just couldn’t see VARIABLE – although in retrospect it should have been quite simple. I tried to print this puzzle this morning from the club site but all I got was a blank page. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve last Saturday’s paper from the recycling. I printed out a nice copy with a large font size. I would do this every day if I had a morning delivery. It would solve the problem of the new site. But my son collects the papers somewhat randomly – sometimes only once a week. The new site is terrible for people like me. It feels like I’ve gone back to the 90s…
  10. I attempted this on holiday and I put plenty of time into it.
    Eventually I gave up needing 2d, 14a and 18a. And I put Cret (Crest without S) for 9a and Examining for 15d until I got Flypitcher.
    It seemed tough to me and when Monday’s 15×15 came along, confidence was restored. Liked Kosher and Averages and the fiendish anagram for Super G. David
  11. 5 down: Former length of building extension (3)
    I did not know about the “building extension” usage of ELL but I was reminded of the 1960s book/film “The L-Shaped Room”. When a solution is in Collins but not Chambers I sometimes wonder if there is any pressure (by Collins) on the setters to include such words 🙂

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