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Times 25672

Solving time: Over the hour

Found this very hard. Could just be the hangover. I shall be as brief as possible.


1. DEFACED. Rev. FED (full) + ACED (as in tennis).

5. BIRETTA. B + anagram of “attire”. &lit.

9. MERGANSER. NAG (scold) rev. in MERSE{y} + R (river).

10. CUPPA. C (caught), UP, PA (Dad).

11. {b}ETHEL.

12. ATTAINDER. Anagram: anti-trade.

13. IDENTITY THEFT. That which your papers confirm/identify + THE, FT (Financial Times).

17. NO HOLDS BARRED. Two defs. One a bit sillier than the other.


24. DIRGE. G (good) inside DIRE (serious).

25. GNASH. Rev. of SANG + H.


27. TUMBREL. “Tumbler” with L and R exchanged.

28. MADONNA. MAD (crazy), O (old), rev. of ANN.



2. FORTHWITH. FORT + WIT between H & H.

3. CHARLIE. CHAR{m}, LIE. “Tail-end Charlie”.

4. DESCARTES. Anagram of “sad secret”. As Gaukroger’s biog shows, he spent hardly any time on philosophy.

5. BERET. BET (feel confident) inc RE.

6. RECEIPT. “Re, seat”.

7. TYPED. TYPE-A = first class … so … ?

8. ALACRITY. A LAY (poem) inc CRIT.

14. TRA{i}NS,FORM.

15. EIDERDOWN. Anagram.

16. IN-FLIGHT. A pun.

18. LURCHER. CH inside LURER.

19. RED LEAD. Two defs: one to do with cards; the other chemistry.
A New Year joke for Jim: Sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium sodium Batman!

20. HELENA. {t}HE, {g}LEN, A. Someone else can tell me why she dreams.

22. SPA(S)M.

23. TOWEL. TO (closed), WEL{l}.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:15 am (UTC)
Not Bonham-Carter
Helena is one of the lovers in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:21 am (UTC)
A character in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:21 am (UTC)
55 minutes, so a rare sub-McT for me to continue the week of miracles. The bottom half apart from the chemical one and for some odd reason DIRGE went in quickly, but I was then held up for roughly half my solving time by those two and 6, 7 and the unknown 12 in the NE. Interesting to see SPASM after SPASMIC caught so many out in the Concise recently. TYPE-D is similar in type to one that came up on my watch recently, which I have now forgotten, but which Keef helped sort out.

A healthy New Year to all.
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
Not even close to getting MERGANSER without aids. And eventually plumped for RED HEAD knowing it couldn't be right. Took over an hour to get that far.

Was going to blame the flu again, but I guess if I didn't have flu I'd have a hangover, so same result.

Happy 2014 to everyone.
Jan. 1st, 2014 07:50 am (UTC)
Attempted this at 2:30am after a drink or two and promptly fell asleep with only 4,23,22 & 21 solved. On resuming some hours later I needed another 50 minutes to complete the grid. No unknowns other than why Helena was dreamy. I thought I knew that play, yet even now I don't recall the name.

Wasted ages at 14dn thinking the answer was CLASSROOM.

Edited at 2014-01-01 07:52 am (UTC)
Jan. 1st, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
Inked in TV-DINNER for 16Down and wasted so much time discovering the error ... sheesh. Otherwise, very entertaining with 14Down the COD for me
Jan. 1st, 2014 08:49 am (UTC)
Usually I do the crossword on the train at 7am travelling up to work - and I struggle. For the 1st time I did this one at 1am after a few drinks and finished it quite easily in 30 minutes.

Is there a lesson there?

Thanks for explaining 7d.
Jan. 1st, 2014 09:14 am (UTC)
1am after a few drinks
I can do that too, only to discover in the morning that I've filled the entire grid with X's.
Jan. 1st, 2014 09:18 am (UTC)
Did this one from the bottom up (apart from FYI DESCARTES, the originator of Cartesian coordinates) but not helped by getting hooked on AL FRESCO for 16D (an escaper is presumably outside). Surprisingly (to me) I found that I knew the bird.

Happy New Year to all.
Jan. 1st, 2014 09:25 am (UTC)
24 minutes for this, not understanding how TUMBREL worked or why HELENA dreamed. I also thought that the MERGANSER was a goose, but what the heck.
I liked the macabre "leaving ceremony" and the neat &lit at 1ac, but my favourite of the day was EIDERDOWN for ts completely believable surface.
RED LEAD LOI, possibly because the surface in that was a bit of a train wreck, but to complain would be unfair to a fine and challenging set of clues - compliments to the setter.
Jan. 1st, 2014 10:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for the joke McT. To understand it you need to know that the symbol for sodium is Na. Too much knowledge can be a problem at 19D because RED LEAD isn't insoluble - try eating it if you don't believe me, but make a will before you do.

This was quite difficult with a lot of off beat definitions, some of which I thought were a bit of a stretch but not to worry. Crawled home in 30 minutes

It's still raining cats and dogs here
Andy Borrows
Jan. 1st, 2014 10:54 am (UTC)
18 mins, although I stayed sober last night so that probably helped. It felt difficult while I was solving it and I was surprised with my time.

I confess that I couldn't parse RED LEAD but it seemed the most likely answer, and I didn't know HELENA from MND but the answer was signposted clearly enough. Other than that all were parsed and I thought there was some excellent cluing here. I had the most trouble in the NW even after MERGANSER was entered, and CHARLIE was my LOI after FORTHWITH and DEFACED.
Jan. 1st, 2014 11:21 am (UTC)
Holy sodium Batman !!
Na,Na,Na,Na,Na,Na.Na,Na Fatman !!
Jan. 1st, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
Like bigtone found the south side went in more easily. 40.35 but with tumbril, the only spelling I knew and not seeing the possible tumbler to give the alternative. A neat enough puzzle to set the year going.
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:05 pm (UTC)
Rather slower than yesterday, taking just under an hour. ATTAINDER was new to me but at least it could be guessed from the anagram fodder and the checked letters. The NW corner was the last to be completed. I entered RED LEAD without understanding the clue; I still don't - red lead is certainly not insoluble as dorsetjimbo says. What's the double definition referred to in mctext's blog?
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:10 pm (UTC)
The first refers to "lead a red coloured card" ie a heart or a diamond as against a spade or a club

The second refers to RED LEAD being nearly insoluble in ordinary water, forgetting that acids, such as stomach acid, will dissolve it
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:07 pm (UTC)
22min - like Andy, this felt harder than it really was.
19dn - the definitions are there, but the clue resists analysis.
20dn clear from wordplay, needed the comments to remind me of MND.
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
Happy New Year everyone - solvers & setters.
One wrong today - a guess at Beritta for unheard of Biretta.
FOI Descartes.
Found the NW corner the most difficult.
Jan. 1st, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
Happy New Year everyone. I haven't had time to solve, let alone comment, in the last few days, so I've been working my way through the puzzles this morning. Good hangover therapy.
15:40 for this one, which had a few traps in it:
> MERGANSER strikes me as very difficult if you don't know the duck, which fortunately I did. Anyone get it from wordplay alone?
> If you don't know BIRETTA there's nothing to stop you (like Daniel) putting in BERITTA
> If like me you normally spell it TUMBRIL you need to pay attention to the wordplay. Fortunately today I did, for once.
I didn't understand the dreaming reference. ATTAINDER seemed the only possible combination of the letters. RED LEAD was also new to me (whether insoluble or not) but I got it from the card reference. My last in.
Jan. 1st, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
Couldn't finish last night...
....stuck after an hour, so I went to bed at the usual 10 AM. Slept in until 7, got up and took another look. I had 'defamed' at 1 ac, and couldn't get 3 dn. The logical conclusion was to erase 'defamed' and try again - bingo!

On the other hand, I put 'merganser' in from the literal with only two checkers. I was a bit surprised to see 'biretta' and 'beret' actually crossing, since they come from the same root.

I successfully became a Times Web Pack subscriber yesterday for the low introductory price of £1 a week. I had only a little difficulty because my crossword club account was still active so I couldn't sign up with the same email address, but I pinged the online chat and they closed my old account, allowing me to immediately re-open it and get the puzzle as usual.
Jan. 1st, 2014 01:35 pm (UTC)
10:42 for me - the main hold up being getting the right word in 1a.

Happy New Year to all
Jan. 1st, 2014 01:48 pm (UTC)
Another one that's a staple of the NY Times puzzles (OLIO, ERNE, ANENT anyone?). Did the same as keriothe with the spelling of TUMBREL. Within the last year or so we had it in a way that could just as easily have been TUMBRIL which was annoying as I recall. Glad to see Vinyl has re-upped (yet another NYT word). Given that the NYT is $2.50 per DAY with a crossword I don't bother to do 4 days out of 7, the L1 per week web pack is a pretty good deal.
Jan. 1st, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: merganser
Well, you didn't think I'd give up the honor of being a world-famous TftT puzzle blogger, did you? The £1 price is only good for 3 months, then it goes to the regular price of £2.
Jan. 1st, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
Pleased to have all but 3d after 45 minutes but then realised through the blog that DEFAMED was wrong and that I'd misspelt TUMBREL which might have explained why I could not parse it. Except that on reading McT's explanation I realise I would never have got to that parsing! So a chastening start to the New Year. Regards to all for 2014!
Jan. 1st, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
Started late when hangover receding, surprisingly MERGANSER was my FOI, guessed ATTAINDER from the letters and no idea why HELENA was a dreamer, the Bard is not my thing. HNY to all ... still raining here too Jim, I just watched Saints lose to Chelsea and saw your rain.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 09:51 am (UTC)
Today (Thursday) the sun is shining for first time in ages and I don't need the light on to do the crossword. Some bad flooding here and one death reported. More storms tomorrow according to the forcast. Should I be building an ark?
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
Bottom half fine, top half rather fuzzy - and that applied to the crossword too. I try not to use aids so when I give up I come to the blog - so, thanks for merganser, biretta (I could only think of the gun with an 'e') and attainder.
Jan. 1st, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
No time to report today
No time recorded today as I solved the puzzle in instalments due to interruptions, but I enjoyed it.
I don't understand why z8 describes 1a as an &lit, but I don't fully understand &lits anyway.
I had some fun with 16d,as I initially spotted an anagram of 'alfresco' in the consecutive characters of 'meal for escapee', but thought that 'alfresco' couldn't be hyphenated: then I thought that the answer might be 'on-wheels' before the proverbial penny dropped and I inserted the much more sensible correct solution.
Happy New Year all.
Jan. 1st, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)
10:38 for me - not a disaster but I should have been faster with such a straightforward puzzle. A pleasant start to the year.
Jan. 1st, 2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
Done in four stages throughout the day, with interruptions, probably about just under an hour in all.

An odd one. The NE, starting with BIRETTA, was practically one write-in after another, then both "long" clues fell effortlessly. After that, most clues defied a "way in" yet, in retrospect, seemed quite straightforward. Setters, more of the latter, please!

SW seemed uncrackable for a long time, and then once the log-jam broke with the excellent LAST RITES they all went in practically as write-ins - including the odd spelling of TUMBREL. LOI GNASH!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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