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After last week's toughie with the SNITCH at a high of 178, I was expecting even more pain with this. Maybe I was just lucky to be on a wavelength, because only 7 of 24 had it correct on the day, perhaps time was a factor and it was able to receive less attention coming third in the booklet at the end. I found it easier than 27237. Had it been in exam conditions, there was only one clue (11a) I'd have been unsure I'd entered correctly, and it took me around half an hour. There are three straightforward anagrams, a couple of messed-around ones, and the two long down clues are eminently biffable. You have to know a literary family. The rest is standard fare, as I see it.

1 Close to nothing in charity that’s opening (6)
ALMOST - ALMS has O inserted, then T = that's opening. Took a while to reverse my thinking from looking for a word meaning opening.
4 Jazzy music involving musical sense is promising (8)
SWEARING - SWING is that music, insert EAR = musical sense.
10 Trivial problem to fall between aristocrat and monarch (2-7)
NO-BRAINER - RAIN = fall, goes between NOB and ER. My FOI.
11 Crack from unknown imbecile (5)
GOOFY - Not sure I quite get this. GOOF to me means to make a mistake, or a person who makes one. Y for the unknown. I presume there is a sense in which CRACK can be a synonym for goof, as in crack under pressure, or goof can mean a joke perhaps. I was tempted by GOON-Y, goon being an imbecile, but couldn't make that crack either. EDIT see ulaca's proposal below.
12 Desirable quality in grand name of literary siblings (7)
SITWELL - IT is the desirable quality; enter IT into SWELL for grand. The Sitwells, I recalled, were a family of three siblings from up't Yorkshire who were all rather arty; Edith, Osbert and the one beginning with S who's hard to spell. Edith being the one who wrote Facade for Mr Walton to score.
13 Oppressive old tyrant leading America (7)
ONEROUS - O for old, NERO your tyrant, US.
14 Marshal calm when changing side repeatedly (5)
ARRAY - To calm would be to ALLAY; swap the LL for RR.
15 A diet not designed as a remedy (8)
18 Line that stops tongue moving, twisted in knots? (8)
SHOELACE - Cryptic definition, easy once you're tuned in.
20 Cold dish using incomplete vessels (below and above water) (5)
SUSHI - SU(B) and SHI(P) being the incomplete vessels referred to.
23 Something ideal for jamming broadcast, in short (7)
CURRANT - Well, I know of blackcurrant jam, and possibly redcurrant jelly, but I can't imagine currant jam being very edible. Currants are chewy dried small grapes. Currant here presumably is used as a sort of generic for jam made from any type of that fruit or a mix. CURT = short, has RAN = broadcast inserted.
25 Men concerned with later life backing part of Mediterranean diet? (7)
OREGANO - OR = men, ON AGE = concerned with later life, reverse that. Oregano, which i pronounce oree-GAR-no, per Italian, is one of my favourite herbs, but I squirm when a transatlantic person says o-REGG-ano. Perhaps I shouldn't, as in the original Greek word the accent is on the I, ρίγανη.
26 Trader’s tip diluted small change (5)
TWEAK - T = trader's tip, WEAK = diluted. A nice change for small change not being currency.
27 Watched and heard the writer with no hair (9)
EYEBALLED - EYE sounds like I, BALLED sounds like BALD.
28 Theatrical set, scary in play (8)
ACTRESSY -  (SET SCARY)*. Not a pretty word, but it'll do.
29 Short cannon’s middle-of-the-road rating (6)
MORTAR - MOR = middle of the road, TAR = rating, sailor.

1 Unaware of past uprising as some of America is, en masse (8)
AMNESIAC - nicely hidden reversed in AMERI(CA IS EN MA)SSE.
2 Principal substituting old boy for a family man (7)
MOBSTER - MASTER = principal; swap the A for OB. Family man as in Mafioso.
3 Rolling fat? (5,4)
SPARE TYRE - Crptic definition. Mine needs deflating after the festivities.
5 Gentle champion’s stopping stock conflicts (4,2,3,5)
WARS OF THE ROSES - I biffed this then sorted it out. WARES is or are the stock, insert SOFT HERO'S for gentle champion's.
6 Reason males are excluded from rummage around (5)
ARGUE - Remove males from rummage gives RU AGE, then (RUAGE)*.
7 Man in promise to pay on time shows resolve (4,3)
IRON OUT - IOU = promise to pay, insert RON the man and add T for time.
8 Most like The Merry Widow being terribly stagey (6)
9 Peace group requests soldiers possibly to protect brief retreat in quarrel (14)
UNPLEASANTNESS - UN = peace group, PLEAS = requests, ANTS = soldiers possibly, insert NES(T) = brief retreat. Or biff it.
16 Outlaw’s unfeeling ring captures northbound travellers (9)
DESPERADO - DEAD = unfeeling, O = ring, insert REPS reversed = northbound travellers.
17 Complaint caused by command from detective? (8)
DISORDER - Well, a DI's ORDER would be a command from the detective.
19 Crop top with short dart in front (7)
HARVEST - VEST = top (not crop top this time) preceded by HAR(E) = short dart.
21 Vegetable: wrap up portion (7)
SHALLOT - SH ! = wrap up, be quiet; ALLOT = portion as a verb.
22 I caught summer in Paris on a refresher (3,3)
ICE TEA - I, C = caught, ÉTÉ = French for summer, A.
24 Heel’s neighbour caused anger after undressing (5)
ANKLE - RANKLED = caused anger, loses its 'dressing' i.e. front and back.


( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 9th, 2019 05:43 am (UTC)
For this one I needed most of the hour allotted to solve three puzzles but I was very pleased to get through it without resorting to aids, which I so nearly towards the end when left with only 11ac, 18ac and 23ac outstanding. I had a sudden 'doh' moment re SHOELACE but coming up with CURRANT was less satisfying as I had the same misgivings about the jam element as our blogger. At 11ac I plumped for GOOFY over GOONY but still don't fully understand it.

Edited at 2019-01-09 05:43 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2019 06:58 am (UTC)
Crack (GO) from (OF) unknown (Y) imbecile
Jan. 9th, 2019 07:25 am (UTC)
RE: 11a
How does CRACK = GO?
Re: 11a - jackkt - Jan. 9th, 2019 07:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 11a - jackkt - Jan. 9th, 2019 07:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Michael Osborne
Jan. 9th, 2019 07:58 am (UTC)
19 mins for this - I suspect that Pip’s theory about 3rd-in-book is correct, as there wasn’t any serious horse scaring going on.

Having said that, it took an age for SHOELACE to manifest itself even with all checkers, and it may well have ended up blank had I been talented enough to have made it to the GF.

But here’s the main news - having had a couple of slips already, I invoked my New Years resolution to proof read before submitting and Actually found and corrected a typo. So not all bad.
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:01 am (UTC)
I agree with Pip - a bit of an anti-climax. A steady solve of a MOR puzzle

GOOFY took a bit of understanding and got CURRANT from the cryptic - weak definition in my view. I suspect time pressure on the day was a big factor in stopping so many from solving it
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:01 am (UTC)
Why don't you come to your senses ?
DESPERADO fell in easily on the day, otherwise it was more a case of desperation !

At the 45 minute stage, I had an ALMOST empty NW corner, and not much else on the left of the puzzle. I spent the last 15 minutes practically becalmed. There was already one unsolved clue in Puzzle 1, and five in Puzzle 2. The effect of having then hit Puzzle 3 was akin to be being mugged.

Apart from that half of the puzzle, I didn't solve MORTAR, and had an incorrect "goony". That one was still unparsed until I arrived here (it's a horrible clue, but it's fair once you see it), and also I hadn't parsed CURRANT fully (not struck with the "jamming" element there I'm afraid). Obviously it wasn't spotted on the day, and left poor old me in a jam - or more accurately in the soup.

As the not very proud owner of a SPARE TYRE, I really should have got that one, but it was my failure to solve ALMOST that probably contributed more than anything to my chronic case of "left-bank stasis".


FOI NO-BRAINER (very ironic !)
COD SHOELACE (with hindsight)
TIME felt like an eternity - even given an hour or more, I would still be left feeling GOOFY.

So....was it just me, or was this as horrendous as I thought at the time ?

Jan. 9th, 2019 10:32 am (UTC)
Re: Why don't you come to your senses ?
For me words like SHOELACE are often hard to get, particularly when you have all the checkers. My mind seems to have very strong ideas on what letters can go where - vowels, consonants, specific letters. Even trying to be as open-minded as possible it was hard to get the O between H and E. And yes, I ended up searching for a word that fit rather than solve the cryptic, and luckily lit on the one that was correct (the only possibility, as per my Chambers/Oxford).
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:01 am (UTC)
My time of 53 mins didn't seem so bad when I realised, after solving, that this was one of the grand final puzzles. LOI was SHOELACE which I thought was a pretty terrible clue, even for a cryptic def. But I liked MOBSTER clued as family man.
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:32 am (UTC)
So we beat on, boats against the Currant...
55 mins with yoghurt etc.
Pah - lots of time was taken on justifying Goony, which still seems better than Goofy to me. Collins has Goony as a foolish person. And 'go on' could be 'crack from'.
And time spent justifying Currant which is not something ever used in Jam.
Not great clues for a final IMHO.
Thanks setter and Pip.
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:37 am (UTC)
Spent an hour and a half on this, and gave up with a GOONY and quite a few on the left-hand side unfinished. Although I started well with 5d WARS OF THE ROSES, I didn't get the other long answer, nor the unknown SITWELLs, nor about five more.

Ah well, it was fun until I stalled. Thanks for the explanations!

Edited at 2019-01-09 08:51 am (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2019 08:53 am (UTC)
I was well into this puzzle by the time I got ARRAY and thought to myself that sounded similar to the clue that Magoo got wrong at the championships. Shortly thereafter I remembered this was a championship puzzle and was surprised how quickly I was getting through it. I wonder if not initially realising it was a championship puzzle helped?

I only struggled on my last three, CURRANT, HARVEST and my LOI SHOELACE. I'm not good at spotting a cryptic definition and this was no exception.
Jan. 9th, 2019 09:50 am (UTC)
I was at 20 minutes with two to go, then total collapse. Purely psychological, because they weren't the hardest clues! Spare Tyre and Shoelace. For some reason, rolling led to dice which led to snake eyes - which fitted damn it! And I couldn't get it out of my head. Sacherevell was the other Sitwell, wasn't he? I can't remember what he did, though I do have somewhere a book about their odd family.
Jan. 9th, 2019 10:41 am (UTC)
Re: 32'55"
I'm glad I wasn't the only one trying to get SNAKE EYES out of my head.
Re: 32'55" - topicaltim - Jan. 9th, 2019 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 9th, 2019 09:54 am (UTC)
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know
65 minutes with LOI SHOELACE, which I still don't quite get. Since infant school, I've done my best to tie mine with bows rather than knots, admittedly not always successfully, and I guess the mathematician in me sees a string or a rope having too much thickness to be considered a line. CURRANT also seemed a weak clue and was an unconvinced biff from crossers. I didn't parse GOOFY, nor to my shame SUSHI. Wilth a Lancastrian upbringing and Yorkie ancestors, I'll give COD to WARS OF THE ROSES, the Cousins' War. Thank you Pip for the explanations, and setter(s) for the tough puzzle.
Jan. 9th, 2019 10:32 am (UTC)
Almost swearing
DNF after 30 minutes with SHOELACE and MORTAR. I felt some of the clues were a bit slack. Cannot say I enjoyed this.
Jan. 9th, 2019 10:49 am (UTC)
The upper half went in fairly smoothly but I stalled in the lower regions, even with the two long down clues in place. I certainly didn't parse GOOFY - just had a vague idea of goofball=drug=crack - or something. Well, no, after all not. The much-photographed SITWELLs seem to have mostly been famous for being famous. Which was the clue that caused Magoo to stumble? Or it may have been in one of the other 2 puzzles. 26.26 so definitely not as hard as last week's.
Jan. 9th, 2019 11:02 am (UTC)
I seem to remember that he entered "Arroy" under the impression that he had heard of a Napoleonic Marshal of that name. I suspect that it will be another 10 years before our equivalent of Homer nods again.
(no subject) - oliviarhinebeck - Jan. 9th, 2019 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 9th, 2019 11:06 am (UTC)
Was my brain frazzled on the day....
....by Puzzle 2 ?

Maybe it was a wavelength problem. I've reviewed all three puzzles again this morning, and I must concur with Olivia that Puzzle 2 was actually trickier than this one.

Ah well, at least I don't have to pay for next year's ritual humiliation.
Jan. 9th, 2019 11:25 am (UTC)
There seemed to me a wide range in the level of challenge among these clues: the anagram ones were no trouble, one long down was easily biffed, the other long down was a simple Ikea clue, as was ICE TEA -- but commenters here have highlighted the thornier clues. I couldn't parse GOOFY, and tried GOONY for a while. Now I see the parsed solution I give this my COD nomination. Of course, blackcurrants are often made into jam; I tried this once about 40 years ago and discovered that the natural pectin content of the berries is so high that my resulting confection -- all 36 jars of it -- had the texture of tarmacadam and had to be binned. 56 mins.
Thanks for explaining it all, Pip.
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