Pip Kirby (pipkirby) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Pip Kirby
pipkirby
times_xwd_times

Times 27195 - TCC Heat 1 puzzle 1 or 3 (not sure which).

Last week I assumed the first puzzle from the TCC offered in the paper would have been the first one of the three presented to contenders. Apparently it wasnt, it was the second one in the booklet. So I know this must be the first or the third. No doubt someone with a booklet will advise. Not that it made a difference.
It took me 19 minutes, around half as long as last week's, so either it was easier or I was feeling brighter. It was more or less a top down solve except for 11a, my LOI, where I had to run though all the possible countries of either 4 letters or five beginning with A, before seeing the answer.
I also had 24d wrong early on; but Snowy Owl's First Rule says if you can't parse it, it's wrong. Then the checker at 28a put me right. See below.
I thought it was a very fair puzzle with enough interesting words to make it a pleasure.
I now have about six minutes left in the hour to do next week's and achieve my 90 points! Fat chance.

Across
1 Competent secretary gets in line (7)
CAPABLE - CABLE = line, insert PA = secretary. My FOI no problem.
5 Old man’s wise quotation? (7)
PASSAGE - PA'S SAGE = old man's, wise.
9 Wife having years in depression — Edward is sort of company (6-5)
WHOLLY-OWNED - W = wide, HOLLOW = depression, insert Y = years, add NED = Edward.
10 Fool with brain, not large (3)
OAF - LOAF = head, brain, delete the L.
11 Illuminating comment from a country about carbon (6)
APERCU (APERÇU else it would sound like aperku) - A PERU around C for carbon. Not a common word, a direct use from French meaning insight, overview.
12 Military kit needs protective cover with line crossing lake (8)
MATERIEL - For once, lake doesn't signify L, here it wants you to think of ERIE, after MAT = cover and before L = line. This military spelling of materia/el is a frequent source of slip-ups in crosswordland.
14 Vigorously stir potato, unusually dense for fritter time? (2,2,1,5,3)
BE AT A LOOSE END - BEAT = vigorously stir, ALOO = potato (in Indian restaurant menu speak), (DENSE)*.
17 Dull university wise men, simplistic about time (13)
UNIMAGINATIVE - UNI = university, MAGI = wise men, NAIVE = simplistic, insert a T.
21 Rude captain of a Henry VIII warship ended up here? (8)
INSOLENT - Well, the Captain of the Mary Rose ended up just outside Portsmouth harbour, sunk during the battle with the French fleet in 1545. An eyewitness said she had fired all her guns on one side, hence was less stable, and was turning to shoot from the other when a big gust blew her over. Henry VIII was doubtless not impressed. The Mary Rose rose again in 1971; she's worth a visit if you're down that way.
23 Shocked at being opened up by terrible gash (6)
AGHAST - insert (GASH)* into AT.
25 Wood abandoned by black bird (3)
OWL - A bowl is also called a wood, in lawn bowls, delete the B.
26 Who will assemble things? Worker and clockmaker, not soldiers (11)
ANTHOLOGIST - ANT = worker, a HOROLOGIST would be a clockmaker, delete the OR from that where OR = ordinary ranks, soldiers.
27 Following religious education that’s genuine (7)
SINCERE - SINCE = following, as in since / following yesterday's match; RE = religious education.
28 Lifting instrument adapted to mushrooms (7)
FORCEPS - FOR CEPS = adapted to mushrooms. There was a chap in our local market last Monday with a huge crate of perfect fresh ceps, something like 15 euros a kilo; I was tempted to buy them and take them to London where I saw recently they were selling for about £60 a kilo.

Down
1 Cover clothes with phosphorus, a hazard in the field (6)
COWPAT - COAT = cover, insert W for with and P for phosphorus.
2 Put lead around dog? Let sleeping dogs lie, perhaps (7)
PROVERB - ROVER the dog goes inside PB = Pb, chemical symbol for lead. Clever surface, I thought.
3 Cold volcanic rock underlying Welsh lake becomes warmer? (9)
BALACLAVA - BALA lake is a large reservoir in mid Wales, add C for cold and LAVA for volcanic rock.
4 Where one’s isolated? That’s up to you (4)
EYOT - TO YE = to you, up = reversed. EYOT is a posh word for island, a variant on AIT.
5 As US DoD HQ is very severe about monitoring device working (10)
PENTAGONAL - Bit of a clumsy surface for a fairly obvious answer. The Pentagon is indeed that shape. PENAL = very severe, insert  (ON TAG)* where ON = about and TAG = monitoring device.
6 Small border plant (5)
SEDGE - S for small, EDGE for border. A chestnut methinks.
7 Poisonous plant, one featuring in a short story (7)
ACONITE - Insert I into A CONTE, a conte is a short story. Aconite is also known as monkshood, wolf's bane, leopard's bane, mousebane, women's bane, devil's helmet, queen of poisons or blue rocket, is a genus of over 250 species of flowering plants belonging to the family Ranunculaceae, like buttercups. It's deadly poisonous. Wonder why it's called women's bane? Mother-in-law bane perhaps?
8 Adeline’s upset without fine suite of rooms (8)
ENFILADE - insert F into (ADELINE)*. Enfilade is another word directly from French where it means a string of rooms joined together, amongst other things stringy.
13 Right about one single kept by friend: Puppet on a String (10)
MARIONETTE - Oh dear, I now have an earworm, here's barefoot Sandie Shaw from 1967. Insert ONE into RT (right) to get RIONET, then insert that into MATE = friend.
15 Perhaps way out jazz party as an alternative (5,4)
SWING DOOR - SWING = jazz, DO = party, OR = as an alternative. Nice work.
16 Worked out minus is likely to bring things down? (8)
MUTINOUS - (OUT MINUS)*
18 Hormone abuse, endlessly popular (7)
INSULIN - INSUL(T) = abuse endlessly, IN = popular.
19 Devious girl conceals endorsement that’s turned up (7)
EVASIVE - Our girl EVE conceals VISA reversed.
20 Standing with suspect carrying cheap stuff (6)
STATUS - TAT = cheap stuff, inside SUS = suspect.
22 Rent pasture and vacant storehouse (5)
LEASE - LEA = pasture, S E = storehouse with inner letters removed.
24 Storey gets left out before raising top of house (4)
ROOF - Well I had *O** and bunged in LOFT as it was a storey at the top of house. But I couldn't see the wordplay. Then I had the F from 28a so realised it was indeed not loft. Think again. FLOOR = storey, take the L out then reverse it.
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