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A mostly QC-level Friday puzzle, stuffed with chestnuts and sitters, presumably to give people the necessary confidence to sign up for the Champs next month. Which, to be fair, you all should.

Still suffering from post-flu exhaustion I lost a minute or two at the end starting at U_O_I_I_E unable to see the only possible word staring me in the face, but even for a sick man this was largely without speedbumps. COD to 4dn for the clever play on various types of Mass. Thanks setter!

ACROSS
1 Expert about to break best form of digital security (6)
TOECAP - reversed ACE [expert] "to break" TOP [best]

5 Home Office fight to keep Queen's English trailer (8)
HORSEBOX - H.O. BOX [Home Office | fight] "to keep" R'S E [Queen's | English]

9 Refuse vessel originally donated in settlement (4,4)
TURN DOWN - URN [vessel] + D{onated}, in TOWN [settlement]

10 Computer fit to be installed in Times (6)
TABLET - ABLE [fit] "to be installed in" T T [(two) times]

11 Berlin agreement to protect tailless wild cat (6)
JAGUAR - JA [Berlin agreement] + GUAR{d} [to protect, "tailless"]

12 Like a hair shirt? Remove yours at the outset (8)
SCRATCHY - SCRATCH [remove] + Y{ours}

14 Old figure? MCC has a few! (5,7)
ROMAN NUMERAL - cryptic def, MCC being a collection of three Roman numerals

17 In which Thor must rend ground? (12)
THUNDERSTORM - (THOR MUST REND*) ["ground"], semi-&lit

20 About to furnish Arab table full of dates (8)
CALENDAR - CA LEND AR [about | to furnish | Arab]

22 Wall in green, at shed (6)
IMMURE - IMM{at}URE [green, "shedding" AT]

23 Graduates gather round old British tree (6)
BAOBAB - BA BA [(two) graduates] "gather round" O [old], + B [British]

25 Show ID to protect old solicitor (5,3)
POINT OUT - PIN [ID] "to protect" O [old], + TOUT [solicitor]

26 Tiny tree, gnarled for yonks (8)
ETERNITY - (TINY TREE*) ["gnarled"]

27 Trainee's heading off for a profitable job (6)
EARNER - {l}EARNER [trainee, with "heading off"]

DOWN
2 Funny (not the first) thing astronomer looks into (6)
OCULAR - {j}OCULAR [funny, "not the first (letter)"]

3 Church carries on with limited money agreement (11)
CONCURRENCE - CE [church] "carries" ON + CURRENC{y} ["limited" money]

4 Broadcast quiet Mass in appropriate city? (9)
PROGRAMME - P [quiet] + GRAM [mass] in ROME [appropriate city for holding a Mass]

5 Help boy, offering practical experience (5-2)
HANDS-ON - or HAND SON [help | boy]

6 Revolver to go off above soldiers (5)
ROTOR - ROT [to go off] above O.R. [soldiers]

7 Withdraw European books (3)
EBB - E [European] + B B [(two) books]

8 Catch bird interrupting deliveries (8)
OVERHEAR - RHEA [bird] "interrupting" OVER [deliveries]

13 The right doctor assembled emergency room gauge (11)
THERMOMETER - THE R MO MET E.R. [the | right | doctor | assembled | emergency room]

15 Ten men with current force in Brussels turned up, to find eg Henry? (9)
UXORICIDE - X O.R. + I C.I.D. [ten | men (with) current | force] in reversed EU [Brussels]

16 Hotel contributed to rustic game (8)
PHEASANT - H [hotel] "contributed to" PEASANT [rustic]

18 Difficult spot in which to turn left (7)
STROPPY - SPY [spot], in which reversed PORT [left]

19 Actors on tour platoon picked up (6)
TROUPE - homophone of TROOP [platoon]

21 A pal in New York tipping one crude source (5)
DUBAI - reversed A BUD [a | pal in New York] + I [one]. Crude as in oil

24 Drill to polish up (3)
BUR - reversed RUB [polish]

Comments

( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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guy_du_sable
Nov. 8th, 2019 06:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, pretty easy. We even had UXORICIDE not so long ago, if memory serves. My LOI was HORSEBOX. Haven’t seen one lately…
starstruck_au
Nov. 8th, 2019 06:58 am (UTC)
27:29
Yes, I found this straightforward, coming in ahead of HKM, my personal benchmark (and a rare event).

I was very glad we had UXORICIDE as part of the clue on 30 October, so it came pretty quickly to mind. My COD was 18d for the nice surface reading. LOI was OCULAR, which conjures up a very old-fashioned telescope (as the normal word these days is eyepiece).

Thanks, V, for the blog and continued best wishes for your health. Thanks also to the setter.
ulaca
Nov. 8th, 2019 11:28 am (UTC)
Re: 27:29
I noticed that you were on fire today. The mantle hath verily passed from Gallers unto thee, mate.
jackkt
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:01 am (UTC)
I didn't find this easy at all and resorted to aids for the last three by which time I had run out of steam.

At 15dn I got as far as UXORI?I?E from wordplay and checkers but wasn't able to fill in the missing bit possibly because I have unconsciously succumbed to the jargon of modern policing in which the boys in blue (or in this instance plain clothes) are no longer allowed to be called a 'force' but a 'service'. This itself may need to be changed (if it hasn't already) in order to avoid prosecution under the Trades Description Act. Guy is right that UXORICIDE came up recently, but it was in the wording of a clue about Bluebeard and was not itself an answer, so I'd be less likely to remember it.

I also missed out on BAOBAB. This was last seen in a QC about a year ago when it was constructed from the first letters of words in the clue, so again very easy to forget.

Finally HORSEBOX where I was convinced Queen's English was going to be RP. Should have got that one.
kevingregg
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:29 am (UTC)
28+ but
I see I still have the highest NITCH of the day, which is how it felt. Feeling under the weather, tonsillitis or somesuch, didn't help, nor being late for work. But being slow was the main problem. My LOI was 5ac, where, once I got the O from POI 8d, I came up with HORSEROW, which would have worked fine if it had been a word. But I didn't like it, and finally went to my dictionary, where I found the right word. Oddly enough, where Verlaine had all the checkers and still stalled, I biffed from U_O_I and forgot to go back and parse it.
pootle73
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:49 am (UTC)
RE: 28+ but
Indeed you have a WITCH of 1.4 (see below) ;-)
Re: 28+ but - gothick_matt - Nov. 8th, 2019 08:08 am (UTC) - Expand
pootle73
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:48 am (UTC)
Wavelength Indicator of Times Crossword Hardness
With people often referring to being “on the wavelength” or “off the wavelength” it occurred to me that we can use starstruck’s marvellous SNITCH to see our own wavelength indicators (or WITCH = Wavelength Indicator of Times Crossword Hardness). This is obtained by dividing one’s personal NITCH by that day’s SNITCH. The further below 1, the more the solver was “on the wavelength”, the higher above 1, the more the solver was “off the wavelength”.

Today this gives me a boringly average 0.98. Yesterday’s gives a better illustration, where my WITCH was 1.5, indicating I found it 50% harder than the average.

Hopefully some of you fellow stats geeks will find this of interest (normal, well adjusted people please ignore me).
sotira
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:54 am (UTC)
Re: Wavelength Indicator of Times Crossword Hardness
WITCH is genius :-)
Re: Wavelength Indicator of Times Crossword Hardness - (Anonymous) - Nov. 9th, 2019 01:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
sotira
Nov. 8th, 2019 07:49 am (UTC)
20:11 … easy, apart from the bits that weren’t. I was very close to giving up altogether on one of them, IMMURE, when the figurative meaning of 'green' finally crossed my mind. CONCURRENCE, STROPPY and POINT OUT gave me some trouble, too.

The 'old figures' of MCC got a chuckle, so COD to that.
gothick_matt
Nov. 8th, 2019 08:07 am (UTC)
DNF
Oddly, I found this one impossibly difficult, and had several answers left over at the end of my hour, at which point I'd been rather looking forward to my bell going off for some time. By far the hardest of the week for me, though I can't see why in hindsight.
jackkt
Nov. 8th, 2019 08:44 am (UTC)
Re: DNF
Following on from my comment above I'm relieved to find that at least I wasn't alone!
johninterred
Nov. 8th, 2019 08:19 am (UTC)
17:15. Held up in the end by the SE corner, taking a while to crack it until I finally spotted POINT OUT. Then it was a case of resisting SCRAPPY for 18D and staring for a while at UXORI_I_E before coming up with the required force remembering the fate of some of the 6. Nice puzzle. I liked THUNDERSTORM and PROGRAMME but COD to THERMOMETER. Thanks V and setter.

Edited at 2019-11-08 08:22 am (UTC)
myrtilus000
Nov. 8th, 2019 08:21 am (UTC)
...toecapping gently over the stairs, Turn Down the...
...gas in the hall.
30 mins with yoghurt, granola, etc.
Only eyebrow flicker was force (on its own) as CID.
I liked it a lot, mostly Stroppy.
Thanks setter and V.
keriothe
Nov. 8th, 2019 09:21 am (UTC)
16:42, but with a particularly irritating typo. Particularly irritating in that it was glaringly obvious but I still somehow managed to miss it when I checked my answers. I sometimes wonder why I bother.
Count me in the ‘this was quite tricky’ camp. I only had three or four answers after my first pass through the acrosses, which is always a sign of trouble.
DUBAI is not really known as an oil producer: its reserves and output are actually pretty small. Almost all of the reserves in the UAE are in Abu Dhabi: if you count it on its own Dubai ranks somewhere below Angola and Azerbaijan in the world oil league table.

Edited at 2019-11-08 09:22 am (UTC)
boltonwanderer
Nov. 8th, 2019 09:34 am (UTC)
Yonder pheasant who is he?
Christmas has started at our M & S. 39 minutes, not an ETERNITY, but I found this harder than most who’ve posted to date. I didn’t parse CALENDAR either. LOI was CONCURRENCE. COD TO ROMAN NUMERAL if it’s not a hoary and old clue. It was a good job we’d had UXORICIDE or similar recently, as it had a convoluted construction where I needed the answer first. A steady puzzle and solve otherwise. Thank you V and setter.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 8th, 2019 10:04 am (UTC)
Ran through most very easily and quickly
... but became absurdly held up by NW corner. 'Ocular' had me baffled for ages, even when I had two letters. The brain is a strange thing. COD 15 dn
astonvilla1
Nov. 8th, 2019 10:19 am (UTC)
Dnf in 25 mins
Defeated by BAOBAB and IMMURE.

COD: TOECAP. Nice cryptic definition.
z8b8d8k
Nov. 8th, 2019 10:25 am (UTC)
No roads led to Rome
I think I might have been quicker than my 20.26 had I not "rested my eyes" occasionally during solving. Reading V's analysis revealed I had no idea how PROGRAMME was parsed, surprised by Rome turning up. One of those clues both cleverer and more elegant than my cursory attention allowed. I also missed the MCC japery. Perhaps hearing the bizarre theories about the pagan origins of the EU - did you know the original treaty was signed in the Temple of Jupiter? - has blinded me to all things Roman.
PHEASANT my last in, inevitably looking for the wrong kind of game.
Best wishes for speedy return to full health, V.
mcchoc
Nov. 8th, 2019 10:36 am (UTC)
Henry
15 D - as an A level Physics student (in 1973), I was looking for 'inductance' -- not a bloke who snuffed his missus.

Edited at 2019-11-08 10:39 am (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Nov. 8th, 2019 10:12 pm (UTC)
RE: Henry
Made me chuckle, Al BScEng
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