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

Times 27237 - TCC Final, puzzle 2. Whoever set this should take a bow.

I had picked up the vibe from comments after the Competition that two of the three Final offerings were 'a bit hard'. Well, this is one of them, because it sure was harder than last week's. So I approached it once more with trepidation, knowing solving at all would be a challenge, let alone inside twenty minutes, or indeed an hour. After fifteen minutes or so, I was feeling a lot more chirpy; I had over half the grid done, checkers all over the place, and I paused for a cup of tea. But the last few had me struggling to finish at all. There are two words which were new to me, (3d, 28a) if plausible guesses without much certainty, and an expression I'd never heard at 17a. I don't have a final time, but think it's just about correct and parsed. My favourite clue was 7d, as old Sergei's harmonies are magic.
Congratulations to all 11 who finished it on the day.
Across
1 After payment, back versatile public transport (7)
POSTBUS - POST = after, SUB = payment, reversed = back, I think this is implying a postbus is versatile because you can catch a ride as well as have your letters delivered? Anyway I'd never seen it as one word.
5 Feeble desire to accommodate mischievous child (7)
WIMPISH - My FOI. WISH = desire has IMP inserted.
9 To increase demands at college, you must devour a lot of books (2,3,4)
UP THE ANTE - UP = at college, THEE = you, insert A, NT.
10 Games host recently in Germany agreed to supply wine (5)
RIOJA - RIO = games host recently, JA = yes in German.
11 What are the odds of criminal receiving fifty lashes? (5)
CILIA - C r I m I n A l odd letters = CI IA. Isert L = fifty.
12 Nice way to do the part of King Edward? (6,3)
FRENCH FRY - Potato cooked as in a French place (in Nice), where they are frites not French fries.
13 I duck three times eg prior to blow in the kisser (7,6)
GEORGIE PORGIE - It took me ages to see that 'the kisser' was a bloke who kissed, not slang for mouth. Then the checkers gave me an answer, parsed afterwards. It's an anagram of I, O, EG, EG, EG, PRIOR.
17 Old refuse heap to burn in range in centre of study (7,6)
KITCHEN MIDDEN - Well, I think here, KEN = range (of knowledge perhaps), insert ITCH = burn. Then MID = in centre of, DEN = study. A kitchen midden is an archaeological term for an ancient food waste dump. I wasn't helped by the usual poor typography where burn looked like bum when printed out.
21 Woman putting on black while husband’s putting on green? (4,5)
GOLF WIDOW - Cryptic definition. Mrs K has been one for many years but not recently. High hopes for my new hip being fixed by May, consigning her once again to the golf-widow status (and will probably glad to see me elsewhere).
24 How Persian might go without train to the west (5)
MIAOW - to the west = reverse all of: W/O = without, AIM = train. Aren't Persians one of those cats that don't make the usual noise?
25 One visiting writer at ode? (5)
ERATO - The muse is hidden in WRIT(ER AT O)DE.
26 Victor and I felt that Peter should provide grant (9)
VOUCHSAFE - V for Victor, OUCH = I felt that, SAFE = Peter (allegedly criminal slang).
27 Eccentric whose line is far from fine (7)
SHOWERY - Too long was spent thinking of words for eccentrics. But it's (WHOSE)*, RY = line.
28 Play with funny bits of dull packaging poorly made (7)
DRAMEDY - I put this in having got D-A-E-Y and thinking it might be a made-up portmanteau word from DRAMA and COMEDY (which ideed it is). It does parse, too: DRY has (MADE)* inserted.

Down
1 Gut feeling about West Ham after a year (6)
PAUNCH - PA = a year, per annum; I don't think this is H being the 'west' i.e. left hand letter of HAM, I think it is a Londoner from said area dropping his H from the word HUNCH = feeling to give UNCH.
2 Surpass what singers do in TV land (3,6)
SET ALIGHT - Well, I can see SET = TV and ALIGHT = land (on). And singers, people who singe things, could perhaps be setting them alight. And does setting something alight mean to surpass something, so it's a double def? EDIT as someone anon. person way below suggests, if you surpass what a singer does, i.e. singe things, then you could be setting something alight. A bit convoluted but plausible.
3 Work meeting getting Swede upset and cross (7)
BEEFALO - Another hybrid word I didn't know but thought plausible. I see it as BEE = work meeting, as in a sewing bee perhaps; and OLAF the Swede reversed. Presumably half cow half buffalo, if the two can be persuaded to have hanky panky.
4 Rogue whose dad’s loaded? (3,2,1,3)
SON OF A GUN - Dad has a gun so he's loaded. Wiki doesn't seem to support the 'rogue' idea very well, but the phrase's origins are interesting if uncertain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_a_gun
5 In place of whiskey, accept this (5)
WHERE - W = whiskey, HERE ! = accept this. Why Irish whiskey not whisky?
6 Coming in low, over cape, enormous bird. Hide! (7)
MOROCCO - Morocco a form of leather = hide. MOO = low, as in a cow. Insert variously, the ROC an enormous fabulous bird and C(ape).
7 Shot of Russian composer dismissing notorious landlord (2-3)
IN-OFF - A shot in snooker or billiards, or indeed I've seen it in golf. The aristo Russian scorer is RACHMANINOFF, so dismiss Peter RACHMAN the notorious Polish-born London 1960s landlord. If he'd kept the original RACHMANINOV the clue wouldn't have worked so well.
8 They save buckles for strapping (5-3)
HEAVY-SET - (THEY SAVE)*.
14 Doctor in tuxedo heading for wedding ball’s leaving mark (4,5)
EXIT WOUND - (IN TUXEDO W)*. Once I had the W-U__ I thought of wound and then saw the anagram.
15 Dope about to cut tree close to house? That’s rich! (5,4)
GENOA CAKE - Of all the things that are rich, Genoa Cake was hardly an early spring-to-mind candidate, so biffing wasn't likely. Rely on the word play. GEN = dope, OAK is the tree, insert CA = about, add E as 'close' of house.
16 Let’s chuck the bag on the bus: it’s always the last resort (8)
SKEGNESS - After pondering old Billy Butlin slogans for a while, the penny dropped; the last letters of the first 8 words of the clue spell the answer. No need to visit Lincolnshire again. Doh!
18 Explain why old ladies perhaps should stop in (3,4)
HOW COME - HOME = in; Insert O, WC which could be the Ladies (or Gents). Explain why? as a question.
19 Irish girl packing make-up with variable speed (7)
DYMPHNA -  Well, thankfully, when we first moved to Co. Tipperary in 1974, my new boss's nymph-like wife was called Dymphna, so the name came easily to mind. DNA is your "make-up", insert Y = variable, MPH = speed.
20 Frail, after time dressing for the outdoor life? (6)
TWEEDY - T, WEEDY = frail.
22 Plain to see on reflection where general obligation falls? (5)
LLANO - Reversed, ON ALL = where general obligation falls. LLANO Spanish word for a plain, often visited in these pages.
23 Whack idiot (5)
DIVVY - Double definition. A good one, too.
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