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Times 27,269: The Punt Is To Change It

There are a lot of witty things in this puzzle, a *lot*, but the whole experience was sadly soured for me, and to judge by the state of the leaderboard at least a few others, by 6dn, where I took a punt on PUNT, which I maintain is an adequate alternative answer. "take a punt at" - British and Australian informal for "have an attempt or try at", which is just the same as "have a stab at"; and my Collins app goes so far as to give "knock" as a direct definition of punt, alongside the kick one. Whereas "pink" as in the knocking of an engine and stabbing someone with a rapier (!) are, in my personal opinions, obscurer words in less common usage. None of this does anything to dissuade me from my firmly held belief that the double definition of a 4 letter word, requiring a long alphabet trawl to locate candidate options, is the worst kind of clue. Boo and indeed hiss!

7.5 minutes but a DNF then. Elsewhere than 6dn there was as I say an awful lot of colour and things to like. I'll give COD to 13dn for its sauce and audacity. Thanks setter! But once again, 6dn... bah humbug!

1 Mechanic making a terrific mess (9)

6 Not such a fair job for host (3,2)
PUT UP - a PUT-UP job being a dishonest scheme

9 Take course of treatment to overcome fit (7)
CAPTURE - CURE [course of treatment] to "overcome" APT [fit]

10 New injection I must follow up, turning back tongue (7)
PUNJABI - N JAB I [new | injection | I] must follow reversed UP

11 Secret informer has serious love for European in danger (4,6)
DEEP THROAT - DEEP [serious] + THR{e->O}AT [danger, E for European becoming O = love]

12 Doctor comes to a halt (4)
WHOA - WHO [Doctor] comes to A

14 A feature on Cromwell rejected as corny stuff (5)
STRAW - reversed WARTS [a feature on Cromwell]. My ability to solve this clue was not helped by reading Cromwell as "Cornwall" for quite some time. Eye test required...

15 Exclude from hotel — I’m in a tent (9)
ELIMINATE - hidden in {hot}EL I'M IN A TE{nt}

16 Take too much in benefit, computer error offering a bomb (9)
DOODLEBUG - O.D. [take too much] in DOLE [benefit] + BUG [computer error]

18 Like a nail, perhaps, not quite dried? (5)
TACKY - or TACK-Y, as in a bit like a tack.

20 Cut access to computer, not good (4)
LOIN - LO{g}IN [access to computer, minus G for good]

21 Call regularly to keep order before old kingdom becomes profitable (10)
COMMERCIAL - C{a}L{l}, to keep O.M. [order] before MERCIA [old kingdom]

25 Checked both ends of bar were unoccupied (7)
BRIDLED - B{a}R at both ends, + IDLED [were unoccupied]

26 Smirk, as I’m in a sin-free state (7)
GRIMACE - I'M in GRACE [a sin-free state]

27 Cop rejecting a tedious occupation (5)
GARDA - A DRAG [a | tedious occupation] reversed

28 Rings ground, postponing a series of games in turn (9)
RESONATES - take REASON [ground], "postpone" its A till the end of the word, then add a reversed SET [series of games]

1 Lead lost in amusing play, departs discharged (5)
ARCED - {f}ARCE [amusing play, with its first letter lost] + D for departs

2 Perhaps fourth best outfit? (3,4)
TOP GEAR - or your top gear could indeed be your best outfit.

3 Artful howl breaking through — this to the house? (6,4)
FOURTH WALL - (ARTFUL HOWL*) ["breaking"], semi-&lit

4 Charlie king next, that’s obvious (5)
CLEAR - C [Charlie], LEAR [king] next

5 Traveller at table, maybe, having the usual? (9)
REPEATING - REP EATING [traveller | at table, maybe], semi-&lit

6 Knock or stab (4)
PINK - double def, but grr, see above.

7 Hydrogen in tiny amount over area where air passes (7)
TRACHEA - H [hydrogen] in TRACE [tiny amount] over A [area]

8 Collecting little stickers from Italy, help with sorting (9)
PHILATELY - (ITALY HELP*) ["with sorting"]. "Little stickers" here being stamps.

13 Monk having nun (so to speak) — one imprisoned? (10)
CISTERCIAN - homophone of SISTER [nun] + I [one] in the CAN [imprisoned?]

14 Doctor pulled up murder victim in slump, one lying over the wheel? (9)
SADDLEBAG - DD [Doctor] + reversed ABEL [murder victim] in SAG [slump]. Does the definition refer to a pannier on a bike?

15 Elaborately sew Christian up during his fast day (9)
EMBROIDER - reversed DIOR [Christian] during EMBER [an Ember-day being a Christian fast day]

17 Nothing disturbed virile actor (7)
OLIVIER - O [nothing] + (VIRILE*) ["disturbed"]

19 Graphics files stack up endlessly among pending purchases (4,3)
CLIP ART - reversed PIL{e} [stack "endlessly"] "among" CART [pending purchases]

22 Wizard comic no good (5)
MAGUS - MAG U/S [comic | no good]. The not uncommon (in crosswords) abbreviation of unserviceable; nothing to do with, as most people will probably initially have considered, subtracting a G.

23 In city needs bandage perhaps having cut head (5)
LEEDS - {b}LEEDS [needs bandage perhaps, with its head cut off]

24 Not quite epic bones (4)
ILIA - ILIA{d} ["not quite" epic]


( 77 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 8th, 2019 07:23 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this but, as so often these days, I fell at the last hurdle with ILIA. Having looked that up I was then able to write GARDA at 27ac, I had considered it earlier but thought it referred only to the force (or is it service?) as a whole and therefore should have been clued as 'cops'. Live and learn! 35 minutes for a tech DNF.

Edited at 2019-02-08 07:24 am (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2019 12:07 pm (UTC)
Garda is The Irish singular for guard. The plural is gardaí.
Garda - (Anonymous) - Mar. 6th, 2019 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2019 07:56 am (UTC)
Looks like I picked the wrong day to uncloak following an extended sabbatical. I do vaguely remember my dad talking about the engine 'pinking' on his Wolseley 18/85, but it’s even longer since I stabbed anyone with a rapier (the previous life for which I’m now being punished) so that was completely forgotten. Come on, Ed., enough with the antediluvian defs.

So, 19 minutes or so before giving up trying to find anything 'better' than PUNT and correctly deciding there wasn’t anything.

The rest of the puzzle is indeed terrific, my favourite of course CISTERCIAN.

Nice to see our resident stamp man Horryd getting a clue all to himself at 8d, but if the setter’s trying to soften the old so-and-so up it won’t work — we all know where PHILATELY will get you.
Feb. 8th, 2019 09:06 am (UTC)
This time be different, please stay, don't go.
(no subject) - sotira - Feb. 8th, 2019 09:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vinyl1 - Feb. 8th, 2019 02:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - philjordan - Feb. 8th, 2019 11:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - boltonwanderer - Feb. 8th, 2019 11:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorsetjimbo - Feb. 8th, 2019 10:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sotira - Feb. 8th, 2019 10:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oliviarhinebeck - Feb. 8th, 2019 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sotira - Feb. 8th, 2019 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vinyl1 - Feb. 8th, 2019 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2019 07:57 am (UTC)
Hello from stormy mid Channel.. No immigrants in sight though.
Liked this one, and all the more for having thought of pink before punt...
Not many cars around these days where 4th would be top.

Edited at 2019-02-08 07:59 am (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2019 05:24 pm (UTC)
Perhaps only the cars that used to pink would have 4 gears:-)
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:24 am (UTC)
Welcome back, sotira!
2d reminded me of a clue from almost exactly 4 years ago and which I made a note of:
"Where to expect fourth queue for "Spellbound"" (9): ENTRANCED. That had me looking for a solution which ended in a D. Once I sussed out that wasn't going to happen, I tried TOP DECK on the basis that if you deck something out you can be said to outfit it.

Thank you, Verlaine, for MAGUS. On the basis of "no good" in the clue, I initially put MAGOG.

Like everyone I chose to PUNT, so my near two hours of slog was all for nought.
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:42 am (UTC)
Glad to see I was not alone with PUNT after my 75 minutes. I liked the challenge of the rest of the grid.

It’s always a good sign of contention when the SNITCH details show a large number of reference solvers with errors. These currently outnumber the correct solvers 10 to 9.

Thanks, V, for the blog and to the setter for a mostly excellent puzzle.
Feb. 12th, 2019 02:04 am (UTC)
Love the snitch but don't understand how the number of reference solvers sometimes decreases with time. Would love to know.
Re: SNITCH - starstruck_au - Feb. 12th, 2019 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:54 am (UTC)
Not in the pink
25:27 but... As I solve on paper only find out I've got one wrong when I read the blog. Another who found PUNT as the (perfectly reasonable!) answer to 6d. LOI ILEA. NHO FOURTH WALL so that went in on wordplay. Likewise DEEP THROAT, but now I've looked it up I remember the name in connection with Watergate. Otherwise lots of fun. I wondered if MAGOG was also a wizard as well as a giant - I ought to know as I drive over him on my way to work on working days, but 28A set me straight. 7 clues got an approving tick on my paper copy. I enjoyed the DD doctor at 14D and the quaint word for a mechanic at 1A and WHOA, but COD to CISTERCIAN. Thanks V and Setter.
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:55 am (UTC)
I'm another PUNT. I also punted on ILIA since I'd not heard of them and ULNA seemed too...singular. I think the plural is ULNAE not ULNI. But ILIA turned out to be good and PUNT not so much. I even know the word :pinking' for pre-fuel-injection cars detonating their fule before the spark plug (diesling is another word) but not for the sword stuff. I took half the time on the top NE anyway, the rest having gone in fairly easily (althogh ILIA put up a fight).
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:57 am (UTC)
An hour and four minutes to come up with the same DNF as others! I found this very hard, but generally very fair, and just felt off the wavelength all the way through. Not knowing that Cromwell was famously warty, nor having heard of an Ember day, among a few other things, didn't help.

What's worst is that I considered PINK for 6d first, but foolishly carried on looking for something better, not knowing the piercing definition, and decided "punt" was a better bet, as it were.
Feb. 8th, 2019 08:59 am (UTC)
It is not unknown for the same answer to turn up in both the Quick Cryptic and the 15x15 on the same day, but for it also to be the identically numbered clue? That must be a first.
Feb. 8th, 2019 02:28 pm (UTC)
You're right! I'll bet the editor was thinking we'd never notice...
Feb. 8th, 2019 09:02 am (UTC)
I read and posted in haste earlier so missed that I had also had PUNT for PINK at 6dn. I fully endorse V's assertion that PUNT is valid as an alternative answer for the reasons given in his intro, which the SOED also supports.
Feb. 8th, 2019 09:05 am (UTC)
Bouncing Briggs
26 minutes with of course the one wrong. I put in PANG, as in hunger pangs, which are sort of stabs, with PANG perhaps coming after Kerpow in Batman. I knew PINK as an engine tapping but I'd forgotten about anti-knock agents in petrol. It was a fair clue though. COD to the wonderful CISTERCIAN. The MAGUS clue took me back to my favourite comic. The Wizard was a comic full of words and not pictures. and in the mid fifties I loved it. Who could forget Bouncing Briggs, the scrap metal merchant goalie who went through a season without letting in a goal, or Wilson the wonder athlete who ran a mile in three minutes because he lived on a diet of herbs? I can't remember the names of the main characters in the novel I read last week though! A good puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

Edited at 2019-02-08 09:22 am (UTC)
Feb. 8th, 2019 09:22 am (UTC)
The left-hand side far flew but I was well stuffed by the right-hand side, with 6d the least of my problems.

You know it's not your day when you cheat on one to get you kick-started, and end up cheating on ten!
Feb. 8th, 2019 09:58 am (UTC)
In the pink.
I was wondering why I was so far up the leaderboard with a stately 21.35: I would venture there may be an editorial revision to allow our punters a measure of relief.
I (obviously) enjoyed the Uxbridge TACKY, the little Italian stickers and the monk, but found my grid littered with short entries unfilled towards the end, trying with SET UP (and why not?) at 6a before realising it was a put-up job and (being old and grey, if not an artificer) thinking pinking before punting. One of these days I'll see "cut" and think joint of meat, but LOIN was another late entry, where at least this time "not good" meant scratch the G.
Feb. 8th, 2019 10:15 am (UTC)
In the PINK but slow
A struggle today, around 50 minutes but got there in the end. Took a long time with RHS, had Capucchino in mind for a while. Did get PINK though and ILIA was an early one in. Am always happy to see another Uxbridge dictionary clue so TACKY my COD.
I think PINK is a much better answer than punt, which is ok for stab but a long stretch for knock IMO.
Feb. 8th, 2019 10:16 am (UTC)
RE: In the PINK like Z8
Sorry Z was composing my comment before yours appeared
punt for knock - keriothe - Feb. 8th, 2019 11:39 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: punt for knock - pipkirby - Feb. 8th, 2019 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: punt for knock - keriothe - Feb. 8th, 2019 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 8th, 2019 10:25 am (UTC)
Spies in the tank
Oddly perhaps, PINK went straight in once I'd thought of it, seemed too good a double definition to be anything else. Really liked CISTERCIAN.

24', and a small moan because this excellent time for me on a Friday still scores fewer than my average number of points....

Thanks verlaine and setter.
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