March 4th, 2019

  • ulaca

Times 27289 - The Silver Fox meets Bobby Moore

Well, almost. It's amazing what setters can get into a crossword if they try hard enough, or if the solver looks hard enough. Today, for example, we have Booby Moore (who was 'Born Barking' - which must have frightened the Beejusus out of his mum) meeting Marcello Lippi (Anglicised as 'Lippy'), Italian World Cup winning coach, known to one and all as 'The Silver Fox'. It is with a tip of my hat to such skill (or is it only serendipity? surely none dare call it conspiracy?) that I offer a challenge up to the setter: let's see just how difficult it is to put BACKSTOP and TRADE AGREEMENT together.

28 minutes for this nice offering, which is certainly not deficient in the double definition department, but expecting much faster from many others, including the New Galspray down under.


1 Floor, from which relation picked up? (6)
STOREY - sounds like 'story'
5 Fair Isle's fool returns (8)
PASSABLE - reversal of ELBA'S SAP (fool)
9 Cold and windy, anything in desert (8)
10 Many East German leaders caught by hero (6)
11 Exciting thing a chore? That's not right — very exciting! (4-6)
HIGH-OCTANE - anagram* of THING A CHO[r]E (no R for right)
13 A bit of skirt? Excuse me! (4)
AHEM - A HEM (the hem or hemline of a skirt is its lower edge)
14 Aware of batting side in cricket (2,2)
IN ON - IN (batting in cricket) ON (side in cricket, also called leg, and the opposite of off)
15 Zero in store after a reverse, marks for bridge game? (10)
POOHSTICKS - O in SHOP reversed TICKS (marks); game involving stream, sticks and simple people described by AA Milne
18 Convoluted clue I saw, explained (10)
20 Resist young man (4)
First of a fistful of double definitions (DDs); BUCK - as in 'buck the trend' and as in 'that Verlaine is a young buck'
21 Rodent killer pumped with hydrogen gas (4)
23 Small-timer working as wheel turner? (10)
MILLSTREAM - SMALLTIMER* for this most crosswordy of crosswordy words
25 Asian elephant originally in sacred text (6)
KOREAN - E[lephant] in KORAN
26 God, I sat on nails! (8)
POSEIDON - I inside (nails) POSED ON
28 Hairy what comes before x-ray, with radius breaking (8)
WHISKERY - R (radius) in WHISKEY (phonetic alphabet stuff)
29 Figure very important to dismiss Head (6)


2 Dancing sailor not twisting (9)
3 Render coarse gallows humour initially in French city (7)
ROUGHEN - G[allows] H[umour] in ROUEN
4 Hard, always, to upset toff (3)
YAH - reversal of H AY for a sense I've never come across. Okay, yah?
5 Classes immediately below those in geography, lacking (5)
PHYLA - this is a hidden (geograPHY, LAcking) but I don't get the wordplay; in that rather quaint old classification system we learned at school a phylum is below a kingdom, but kingdom is not referenced in the clue, so either my lack of sciency knowledge is blinding me to the obvious or it's not a very good clue. Thanks to the New Galspray for the explanation, though I have to say I’m still not overly enamoured of the clue, which reads about as naturally as an MBA thesis.
6 Cuts fish (11)
SILVERSIDES - the first of a veritable plethora of double definitions
7 A foursome of neighbouring characters welcoming an Asian (7)
AFGHANI - A (from the clue) followed by AN (from the clue) in (being welcomed by) FGHI (consecutive letters in Afghani). As is pointed out in the comments, though, afghani is the monetary unit of the country, while the national is an Afghan.
8 Hanging Gardens ultimately seen in Cornish town (5)
LOOSE - final letter of [garden]S in the marvellously named LOOE
12 China vague on visiting US author (4,2,5)
CAPO DI MONTE - sounds like an author but is actually a type of china that had its albeit brief day in the 18th century: DIM ON inside [Truman] CAPOTE
16 Not fashionable — but striking? (3)
OUT - DD (striking as in having downed tools)
17 Friendly football game? There’s a fight after knock on the head (9)
KICKABOUT - KICK (knock on the head in the sense of quit something) followed by A BOUT (boxing match)
19 Boatsthose docking? (7)
CUTTERS - DD, the second one vaguely whimsical
20 Don't allow man up the pole (7)
BARKING - BAR (don't allow) KING (chess piece or man); 'up the pole', which, I'd never heard of, means only 'slightly mad', which perhaps explains why
22 Well up above church, moonshine (5)
HOOCH - OOH reversed (as in 'Ooh, you are awful, but I like you' [SHOVE] [LOOK OVER SHOULDER WHILE STUMBLING ON HIGH HEELS]) over CH for the dodgy liquor
24 Fresh item in handbag? (5)
LIPPY - DD (both of a slang persuasion)
27 Get to make out (3)
SEE - DD (both of a not especially tricky persuasion)