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This was my first blog from the new Crossword Club site. I was able to solve on paper more or less as usual. The only real hiccup came when I tried to cut and paste the clues into this blog, but we may have to live with that. I am also posting from foreign parts in a different time zone, so let’s hope that works.

I thought overall this puzzle was middle of the road for a Saturday, although the leaderboard on the club site suggests it was harder than average. Is this a sign of summer holidays? For me, it was easy to get into, with a generous scattering of starter clues around the grid. Then there were some real challengers in the NE corner particularly. My choice for the clue of the day was 15ac, with a mention for 11ac. Thanks to the setter.

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

Across
1 Quietly utter joke (5)
PRANK: P=quiet, RANK=utter.
4 One replacing a DIY essential for occupant of flats (9)
SANDPIPER: SANDPAPER … change the second A to an I. A nice construct. Nice misdirection in the definition too: birds on sand flats rather than DIYers in apartments.
9 In favour of cutting Liszt’s 3rd and 4th with old musician’s direction (9)
SFORZANDO: FOR inside SZ = 3rd and 4th letters of Liszt, then AND plus O=old. The answer is obscure to me, but the clue is generous.
10 Free and easy (5)
LOOSE: is this a triple definition or a double definition &lit.? LOOSE = free, LOOSE = easy, LOOSE = free and easy? I hesitated to put it in until I had the checkers, because it all seemed too obvious.
11 Simple code that cannot encrypt bid, for example (6,7)
MIRROR WRITING: because “bid” seen in the mirror is still “bid”. A very nice concept.
14 Horse and trap’s return is imminent (4)
NIGH: H=horse plus GIN=trap, all reversed.
15 Hyper? Arrange sedative and R&R (10)
ADVERTISER: (SEDATIVE RR*). Loved the definition!
18 Wind instrument contributing to atmospheric records? (10)
ANEMOMETER: cryptic definition. I thought the clue a bit unhelpful if you’re unsure of the spelling.
19 Feature of landscape gardens comprising two hectares (2-2)
HA-HA: no explanation needed?
21 Wretchedly moan often: this is a fellow who certainly did (5,2,6)
TIMON OF ATHENS: (MOAN OFTEN THIS*). Never read it, but apparently it’s the sad story of a philanthropist whose generosity is unrequited.
24 Cheers and jeers largely disapproved of (5)
TABOO: TA=cheers, BOO{s}=jeers.
25 Pancake falls to earth once tossed (4,5)
DROP SCONE: DROPS=falls to earth, then an anagram of ONCE.
27 Before Christ impressed Mark, providing an example for followers (9)
PRECEDENT: I’m not too confident of the parsing here, but I think CE=Common Era, known in my youth as AD. So before Christ is PRE-CE. Then the “impressed Mark” is a DENT.
28 Scottish League One team’s first in division (5)
SPLIT: SPL=Scottish (Premier) League, I=one, T= the first letter of “team”.

Down
1 TV character represented on stamp — apt! (7,3)
POSTMAN PAT: (ON STAMP APT*). I got sidetracked by assuming the second word would be MAN.
2 Trouble? A spot, not tons (3)
ADO: A DO{t}.
3 A quiz finally entering knockout round with small noisy buzzers (6)
KAZOOS: A plus Z=”quiz” finally, both inside KO, then O=round plus S=small.
4 Club seals and we’d get hides (4,5)
SAND WEDGE: I am often slow to see the hidden answers, and so it was again here. But beautifully hidden, indeed!
5 Woman I grumble about (5)
NAOMI: reversal of I MOAN. A chestnut.
6 Relieve picket, holding the rear up (8)
PALLIATE: PALE=picket, as in paling fence I guess, holding LIAT=TAIL reversed. (“Up” indicates reversal, since it’s a down clue). I only recall “palliative”, but the verb form is clear enough.
7 Distribute supporting navigation guide for groundbreaking device (11)
PLOUGHSHARE: SHARE=“distribute”, of course. The navigation device is the Plough, the seven brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major, which apparently form an “asterism” within the constellation. When will we see that as an answer?
8 Aid for landing fish after a little resistance (4)
REEL: R=resistance, EEL=fish. A semi-&lit clue I think: the whole clue covers the definition, only the latter part is wordplay.
12 Unhappy teetotaller opening beer and lager for refreshment (11)
REGRETTABLE: (TT BEER LAGER*), where TT=teetotaller.
13 Some pages flutter around street, discarded mostly (10)
BROADSHEET: BET=flutter, containing (“around”) ROAD + SHE{d}.
16 Look forward to present after studies (4,5)
EYES FRONT: EYES=studies, FRONT=present (as in “he presented for inspection”).
17 Line up digger capturing hydrogen in small tunnel (8)
WORMHOLE: WOR=ROW backwards, MOLE=digger, containing H for hydrogen.
20 Briefly remain with relative in stable condition (6)
STASIS: STA{y} plus SIS{ter}.
22 Cue imparting spin on for example brown (5)
NUDGE: EG=for example, DUN=brown, all backwards (“spun”).
23 Leading couples in Strictly episodes must be in this (4)
STEP: ST{rictly} EP{isodes}. This one is a full &lit clue, I think.
26 Even pieces from gorilla can constitute a work of art (3)
OIL: g O r I l L a.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
sawbill
Aug. 12th, 2017 01:01 am (UTC)
With the exception of WORMHOLE there were some great surfaces here. POSTMAN PAT, SANDPIPER, MIRROR WRITING, SAND WEDGE, TIMON and DROP SCONE for example. I do not have a time but it would have been my usual 30 minutes.
vinyl1
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:22 am (UTC)
No time, don't remember doing...
....but at least my copy is complete and correct.

Now about Sunday's....
Alan J Cannon
Aug. 12th, 2017 04:32 am (UTC)
alive and kicking
Surely Postman Pat is alive and therefore disqualified. I'm sure he'll be very upset when he hears. Can't be arsed with the new website. I'll wait till Xmas when the library closing times make it awkward to access. Couldn't get into the library last couple of days so yesterday, when i could, I gathered 26799,26800,26801 together and set myself a chmpnshp simulation in the pub with a pint. Got pretty much it all but Neonatal and Moriarty in 800, in the hour and they were readily gettable so slightly annoyed . I was flying there for a while cos i was in shock having just hit my head on a roadsign and drawn blood but the side-effects of the medication I'm taking for my recently diagnosed Hypothyroiditis((15) compilers take note) kicked back in so extraneous thought and sudden spikes in the pub burble took a toll. Funny how the mind works. All in all a good break from the miserable times in which I find myself
horryd
Aug. 12th, 2017 04:37 am (UTC)
Plenty of time, remembered...
Yes, I wrote 1 hour at the top of my A4 sheet.

An unremarkable puzzle with 1dn POSTMAN PAT (and his black and white cat) FOI! Being alive (or even animated) no longer disqualifies one from the Times week-end puzzles!

LOI went unnoted - it might have been 17dn WORMHOLE from IKEA (which I never enjoy)!

COD 4ac SANDPIPER - our Cockney friends would not recognise the difference - methink!

WOD 9ac SFORZANDO - I imagine Starbucks are eyeing up this word for future use.

Edited at 2017-08-12 04:41 am (UTC)
boltonwanderer
Aug. 12th, 2017 06:11 am (UTC)
It was a rainy day in Greendale...
My tribute to Postman Pat, who my three children grew up with. Beautifully written, well-developed characters, great stories. As were Thomas the Tank Engine and Fireman Sam. It wasn't a rainy day at Old Trafford last Saturday and I did this with both eyes also on the Test Match so the hour taken was in the high side. COD MIRROR WRITING, seen from crossers before the penny finally dropped. I had to get used to CE for AD when doing the divinity degree. I guess that's the explanation for PRECEDENT. I still growled as I filled it in. Middle of the road puzzle. Thank you B and setter.
special_bitter
Aug. 12th, 2017 08:38 am (UTC)
I thought that CE also stood for Christian Era. At least that's how I accounted for "pre CE" equating to "before Christ" in 27ac. I found this tough. With 1hr and 23 mins on the clock I still had 7dn empty. I had to put the paper down for a while and return to it sometime later whereupon the answer appeared from the mists. Some nice clues. I liked the definition in 15ac. Liked 16dn and 17dn. COD to 4dn which I thought was a very good hidden.
boltonwanderer
Aug. 12th, 2017 09:16 am (UTC)
CE as Common Era was coined to remove the Christian connotations. Hence my curmudgeonly growl.
special_bitter
Aug. 12th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC)
Thanks BW, I hadn't realised. I see that my concise OED only has Common Era under CE, not Christian Era, though the latter has its own entry later on, so presumably must still legitimately be in use. So the one has been substituted for the other for fear of offending because of its reference to Christ, but the "Common" era still has as its key reference point the life of um err....If I have understood correctly I can see why you might have filled that one in with a curmudgeonly growl.
john_dun
Aug. 12th, 2017 11:04 am (UTC)
This one kept me busy for just under the hour at 57:15. I can't remember where I started, but BROADSHEET was my LOI. CE irritates me too! PLOUGHSHARE took a while to see. Nice puzzle though. Has anyone managed to submit today's Concise 7416. I've submitted it a dozen times on the club site and it still says it's in progress at 0%. I've tried it in different browsers, and proved it's all correct by doing it on the main site. I'm reluctant to start today's main cryptic in case it does the same. Thanks setter and Bruce.
martinp1
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:47 pm (UTC)
Concise 7416 back on track and so is the Cryptic 26802. Peter Biddlecombe and David Parfitt have both apologised.

Edited at 2017-08-12 02:47 pm (UTC)
john_dun
Aug. 12th, 2017 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks Martin. I did eventually get it submitted, but it was at 15 minutes instead of 7 and a bit, and I made a typo when I had to re-enter the grid. Still, worse things happen at sea :-)
keriothe
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:21 pm (UTC)
17:39. I remembered the obscure wind meter from the last time it came up, but not how to spell it unfortunately. Harrumph.
bigtone53
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:32 pm (UTC)
This was fine with me. My Great-Grandfather W H Dines FRS invented the pressure anemometer (as opposed to the spinning cups one) so this was a write-in. Qu. What was Postman Pat called after he was sacked? Ans. Pat. Thanks S & B
martinp1
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:46 pm (UTC)
Pat! Haven't heard that one before! Thanks!
horryd
Aug. 13th, 2017 05:00 pm (UTC)
Postman Pat
After he was sacked he went abroad and became an ex-Pat...
taxi for one!
martinp1
Aug. 12th, 2017 02:52 pm (UTC)
This was my first post-update prize puzzle and found I couldn't print the completed grid so I came to the Club site with no idea if my submitted solution was correct or what time I had taken. I had also forgotten whatever it was about the puzzle that would make it comment-worthy, except, perhaps for CE.

In the absence of anything noteworthy to say about the puzzle, I offer dictionary.com's 'word of the day': SAPIOSEXUAL. It is defined as:
"a person who finds intelligence to be a sexually attractive quality in others."
I thank you!
mohn2
Aug. 12th, 2017 07:41 pm (UTC)
Unspammed
(Anonymous)
Aug. 12th, 2017 03:04 pm (UTC)
isla3
I read 4 down and said, "you can't write that in The Times!"
Definitely Clue of the Year thus far, for its surface reading - it's brilliant.
galspray
Aug. 12th, 2017 03:50 pm (UTC)
17:52
Don't recall much of this one, other than appreciating the generous cluing of SFORZANDO.

For what it's worth, in an era of globalisation, BCE and CE seem eminently more sensible to me than the previous notation.

Thanks setter and brnchn.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 12th, 2017 05:53 pm (UTC)
QC report
Another Saturday puzzle which I managed to finish after a long struggle. I feel like Brighton in the Premier League with these.
LOI was the excellent Advertiser preceded by Wormhole.
I liked the hidden Sand Wedge ( I carry two) and managed to use the word play to get several. Parsing of Precedent eluded me till now- thanks as ever. COD to 13d narrowly. David
(Anonymous)
Aug. 13th, 2017 05:16 am (UTC)
LOI SFORZANDO,never heard of it but wordplay helpful.
Ong'ara,
Nairobi.
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Aug. 16th, 2017 04:24 pm (UTC)
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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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