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Times 27487 - A Picasso in the works!

Time: 66 minutes
Music: Oliver Nelson, Blues and the Abstract Truth

I don't know about you, but I found this very clever and very tough.   If you don't pay careful attention to the cryptics, you won't get anywhere, because the literals are pretty well concealed.   I might have been a little tired from today's golf, but even if I were fresh and rested I don't think I would have done very well.   The SNITCH shows that most solvers found this pretty difficult.   My main problem was getting started, and after twenty minutes I had only a few answers.   Once you have a few crossers, then you may be able to pick up steam - which I did, only to get stuck again in all four corners.    In the end, I had only one answer I couldn't parse, and I may discover how that one works as I write the blog.

1 Spring tax returns for Picasso? (8)
SPANIARD - SPA + DRAIN backwards.
5 Reproductive organ of fish feels oddly deficient (6)
CARPEL - CARP + [f]E[e]L[s], not to be confused with carpal.
9 Small ducks ruined patch of ground (3)
LOT - LO[s]T, as a building lot.
10 Splendidly accoutred drunk embracing mean one thus (11)
CAPARISONED - CA(PAR I SO)NED.  'Caned' is evidently an obscure UK slang expression, as I had supposed.
12 Ultimately frantic perhaps as jockeys refuse to go on these (10)
SCRAPHEAPS - Anagram of [franti]C PERHAPS AS.   I spotted the defintion early on, but had a hard time finding the cryptic.
13 Master mariner wearing breeches inside out (4)
BOSS - B(O.S)S, where the inside of breeches is 'out', so don't use it!
15 Leaders of party salute your revolutionary spirit (6)
PSYCHE - P[arty] S[alute] Y[our] + CHE, a straight translation of Latin into Greek.
16 Drop unbounded passion for EU nation (7)
ROMANIA - [d]RO[p] + MANIA.  I was afraid 'EU' was part of the cryptic, and it would turn out to be a country from some other continent.
18 One's favourite American drive (7)
20 Without a pair of spectacles, kiss and cuddle something wicked! (6)
CANDLE - CAN[oo]DLE, a simple letter-removal clue for a literal using a chestnutty concealment technique.
23 Complaint coming from Isaac Newton (4)
ACNE - hidden in [Isa]AC NE[wton].
24 Jumping beans, a meal for Jack (4,6)
ABLE SEAMAN - anagram of BEANS, A MEAL to give us the full version of AB!
26 Treated Uncle Tom, being doctor (5,6)
LOCUM TENENS - anagram of UNCLE TOM + ENS, a Latin word meaning 'being', widely used in philosophy.   A 'locum tenens' just means a substitute, but has come to be associated with the medical profession, since doctors can't very well go on vacation and tell their patients to wait until they return.
27 Join old man, heading some way back (3)
ADD - DAD, with the initial letter moved to the middle, as it would be 'all the way back' if the end was meant.
28 Fury engulfing English crown (6)
29 Lug instrument and books round room (8)
OTOSCOPE - OT + O + SCOPE.  I suspected early that 'lug' would turn out to be 'ear', but not in so literal a sense.
1 Climbing southern mountains with husband in plaster (6)
SPLASH - S ALPS upside-down + H.
2 Star of panto was leaving wings with resolution (7)
ANTARES - [p]ANT[o] [w]A[s] + RES.   I saw early on that Antares would fit, but only discovered it was in fact the answer much later.
3 Weakness of urban housing control (10)
INCAPACITY - IN (CAPA) CITY.   I'm not sure of this one, but CAPA is a control point in QMS.    I'm sure glad I'm retired and don't have to go to management training seminars any more.
4 Deplorable fellow stops fermenting Pilsner beer (13)
REPREHENSIBLE - HE inside an anagram of PILSNER BEER.
6 Too early? Stop regularly (4)
ALSO - [e]A[r]L[y] S[t]O[p].
7 Buccaneer less angry aboard working barge (7)
PONTOON - P[irate] + ONTO + ON.
8 Albatross heard above head of superstitious sailor and his guide (8)
LODESTAR - sounds like LOAD + S[uperstitious] TAR.
11 Criminal charge for tough guys in court is getting closer (13)
14 Supply insane sum to retain a literary assistant (10)
AMANUENSIS - Anagram of INSANE SUM, the closest we're going to get to a chestnut today.
17 Refuse to sanction pallid policeman at first (8)
DISALLOW - D.I. + SALLOW, our old friend the Detective Inspector.
19 Flamboyant style long crushed by censure (7)
21 Delay arresting university doctor over complaint (7)
LUMBAGO - L(U M.B.)AG + O, one I biffed and then analyzed.
22 Third of troopers, say, retreat, upset and nervous (2,4)
ON EDGE - [tr]O[opers] + E.G. DEN upside down.
25 Belch while keeling over (4)
EMIT - TIME upside down, where belch has a metaphorical sense, as in 'belching smoke'. 


( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 21st, 2019 03:17 am (UTC)
For 3 down, it's better to parse as 'cap' (control) inside 'in a city'
Oct. 21st, 2019 03:19 am (UTC)
And while I'm here, 14 down is an anagram of 'insane sum' and 'a' (retain 'a')
Oct. 21st, 2019 04:55 am (UTC)
I agree this was hard. I gave up overnight after 50 minutes struggle with about a quarter of the clues unsolved and scattered evenly around the grid. On resumption this morning I gained confidence with a couple of immediate successes before continuing the struggle with the remainder. I'd estimate about 70 minutes in all but it was worth all the effort and rewarding so I'm pleased I didn't give up and resort to aids as had seemed likely at one point.

My only failure was in parsing the ENS of LOCUM TENENS. I didn't know it could mean 'being' so my best guess had it as an alternative to EPNS (electroplated nickel silver) which added to the rest of the answer might be interpreted as having been 'treated'. But it wasn't to be, even though ENS would be a more logical abbreviation of the 3-word process than EPNS which includes a letter from the middle of the first word.
Oct. 21st, 2019 08:42 am (UTC)
I can't think of EPNS without thinking of Peter Sellers' "Any Old Iron"
(no subject) - jerrywh - Oct. 21st, 2019 09:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - martinp1 - Oct. 21st, 2019 09:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2019 04:56 am (UTC)
I never know if the country is spelt with a O or a U, so had to attend to the wordplay at 16. Trickier than your average Monday. 47’
Oct. 21st, 2019 05:47 am (UTC)
I really liked this as a “tough but fair” crossword except for LOCUM TENENS where I was left with LOCUM TENE_S and knowing neither “ens” nor the proper spelling of the full LOCUM doctor. So I had to resort to an aid to finish in an hour and a bit.

Realising that “buccaneer less angry” was just P and “urban” was “in a city” were a couple of great penny-drop moments.
Oct. 21st, 2019 06:12 am (UTC)
Went offline at 31:36, with 5ac and 7d to do, and stared at those two for a while while eating a sandwich. Finally got the buccaneer--as Starstruck says, a great PDM-- and the P led to CARP, and I guessed E to get the unknown word. Thanks, V, for 9 and 10ac, neither of which I could work out, while being convinced they were correct. Got the ENS post-submission. Definitely not your typical Monday fare.

Edited at 2019-10-21 06:13 am (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2019 06:54 am (UTC)
I didn’t know LOCUM TENENS and I didn’t know ENS so I was left to guessing the missing letter. N was in the running but I went for A at random.
Oct. 21st, 2019 08:53 am (UTC)
Yes, I had N, S and T on my short list for that letter, the S from a vague recollection that ESSE had something to do with “being”. I doubted I would guess correctly, so looked it up.
Oct. 21st, 2019 06:56 am (UTC)
LOI for me was boss. Just couldn't understand the word play, so thank you for that.
Oct. 21st, 2019 06:59 am (UTC)
usual time
Tricky stuff. Never parsed BOSS or the ENS bit. Enjoyable.
RIP Joyce Cansfield Times obit today.
Oct. 21st, 2019 07:09 am (UTC)
I knew that at 2dn the hero of the pantomime was not ALLADIN as he only has one L (ALADIN) but was mislead by the IKEAN - ANTARES. Boo, hiss, behind you! etc.

9ac LOT was further beyond me at the check-out. What a horridly deceptive clue.

13as BOSS was equally annoying

At 26ac ENS was not in my Latin Primer but fotunately LOCUM TENENS was.

FOI 18ac IMPETUS modernised to IMPOTUS

COD 20ac CANOODLE - wicked!


I notice yesterday there were just eleven entries for the Sunday Times 15x15. Is this a record? And was it anything to do with the BREXIT Pantomime!? Not behind you Boris!

Edited at 2019-10-21 07:31 am (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2019 07:41 am (UTC)
An hour and thirteen here, despairing of ever finishing a few times along the way.

FOI 27a ADD (you can tell I'm off to a bad start if I start picking off the little ones rather than cracking something in the NW corner) LOI 25d EMIT, very soon after finally figuring out 17d DISALLOW, which let me get 26a LOCUM TENENS and 28a WREATH.

I will shamefacedly admit that I didn't know (or had forgotten) that Picasso was Spanish, among other gaps in my knowledge, but it was mostly the cunning definitions like "something wicked" (my favourite) that had me struggling. Thank you, setter!

Edited at 2019-10-21 07:43 am (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2019 07:59 am (UTC)
The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?
45 mins left three to do. Another 5 mins for Rapprochement, then Caparisoned.
But Otoscope escaped me. Doh!
And NHO 'ens'.
Thanks setter and Vinyl.
Oct. 21st, 2019 08:05 am (UTC)
Two wrong
32 mins - but two pink squares. Antaris and Emanuensis.


Oct. 21st, 2019 08:25 am (UTC)
Greetings from the shadowy corners of TftT. Like (I fondly imagine) many others I lurk here daily, reading the exploits of my heroes and heroines. I feel I know you all after years of learning from this wonderful blog. Now I see I have become a reference solver in the extraordinarily brilliant Snitch I feel it’s time to come into the light.

I thought this was a wonderful piece with some of the best surfaces and CDs for ages. My enjoyment undoubtedly helped by being on the wavelength today. COD to the weak urban development.

Thank you all for your time and skill. You are helping many you may never know.


PS does anyone know how to remove the irritating Russian ads from this platform?
Oct. 21st, 2019 08:44 am (UTC)
Welcome to the conversation and thanks for the kind comments! It’s always good to know that my Reference solvers are real people. And you should be able to see your individual NITCH results from next month onwards.

You might like to create a Live Journal account and comment under that name, as it will let us know who you are more readily (and correlate your comments to the results).

I’m sorry I can’t help with the Russian ads. After many years in Internet tech, I have my own mental ad filter that means I rarely perceive any ad on a web page.

We look forward to hearing more from you.
(no subject) - jerrywh - Oct. 21st, 2019 09:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Irritating ads - jackkt - Oct. 21st, 2019 09:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2019 08:28 am (UTC)
Sans panache...
...was I today. 64 minutes. LOI OTOSCOPE despite deciding that ‘lug’ would be as in ‘lughole’ early on. I just couldn’t get going. Mrs BW says that I’ve always stopped listening by the fourth item if she gives me a list. She’s wrong, it’s the third item if not the second. So long constructed clues like CAPARISONED and RAPPROCHEMENT are not my bag. I think this may be a defining characteristic between the physicist and biologist. Even so, COD to LOCUM TENENS, because I had vaguely heard of ENS. Thank you V and setter.
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( 49 comments — Leave a comment )

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