johninterred (johninterred) wrote in times_xwd_times,

Times Quick Cryptic No 1549 by Pedro

A nice quick crossword to end the week from Pedro. One or two tricky bits of wordplay, I think, but I readily got several answers from the definitions first and then worked out the wordplay. All done and dusted for me in under 5 minutes. We've got a few examples of the need to "lift and separate" today (23A, 7D and 14D), where you need to avoid the misdirection to find the definition by splitting a combination of words. As someone said in a comment on one of the 15x15 blogs earlier in the week where they were bamboozled by the setter like this, "Redoubling my resolve to read each clue as a succession of single words as a result." My LOI was 14D, which was one of them. The clues I liked most were 23A  and 4D. Lovely-jubbly stuff. Thanks Pedro. How did everyone else like it?

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Article amongst electrics is going into decline (9)
WITHERING - THE (article) [amongst] WIRING (electrics).
6 Fool girl, losing pound (3)
ASS - lASS (girl) [losing] the L (pound).
8 Smallest musical note presented with hesitation (7)
MINIMUM - MINIM (musical note = 2 crotchets or half a semi-breve) [presented with] UM (hesitation).
9 Guide our group, leading that woman (5)
USHER - US (our group) in front of [leading] HER (that woman).
10 Elated with care, in a bed, though not thinking clearly (6-6)
ABSENT-MINDED - SENT (elated) [with] MIND (care) [in] A BED.
12 Celebration if taken over by French is awesome at the outset (6)
FIESTA - IF reversed [taken over] -> FI [by] EST (French is) and first letter of Awesome [at the outset].
13 Turn up with line about power or force (6)
COMPEL - COME (turn up) [with] L (line) outside [about] P (power).
16 Break that’s rough on ministries (12)
INTERMISSION - [rough] (on ministeries)*.
19 A scoundrel returned to snatch one crown (5)
TIARA - A RAT (scoundrel) [returned] -> TARA outside [to snatch] I (one).
20 I see GB in disarray and English beset with hostile forces (7)
BESIEGE - (I see GB)* [in disarray] [and] E (English).
22 Amount of light ready on odd occasions (3)
RAY - Alternate letters of ReAdY [on odd occasions].
23 Susan cries out, dropping end of blue flower (9)
NARCISSUS - Not a blue flower, ha ha. Were you thinking "Nile" too? Anagram of  (Susan cries)* [out] after removing [dropping] the last letter [end of] bluE.
1 Women’s group taking on politician, a weak fellow (4)
WIMP - W.I. (Women's Institute; women's group) [taking on] MP (politician).
2 A number competent? That’s credible (7)
TENABLE - TEN (a number) ABLE (competent).
3 Man upset after chopping a tree (3)
ELM - MaLE (man) [chopping] the "a" -> MLE. Reverse from down to up [upset] -> ELM.
4 I’m at rear of Barlinnie, welcoming new prisoner (6)
INMATE - IM AT [rear of] BarlinniE [welcoming] N (new). HMP Barlinnie is the largest prison in Scotland. Nice surface.
5 A lot of stuff, I sense, can be sticky (9)
GLUTINOUS - GLUT (A lot of stuff) I NOUS (sense).
6 A plant initially concealed a plant pest (5)
APHID - A Plant [initially] HID (concealed).
7 Good man with rustic source of lemon dessert (7)
STRUDEL - Not a lemon dessert. Ha ha again. ST (saint; good man) [with] RUDE (rustic) and first letter of [source of] Lemon.
11 Please record “thank you” at home (9)
ENTERTAIN - ENTER (record, as in a journal) TA (thank you) IN (at home).
12 Waste fried food (7)
FRITTER - Double definition.
14 In favour of saints supporting church operation (7)
PROCESS - Not "church operation". PRO (in favour of) SS (saints) after [supporting] C.E. (Church of England; church). My last one in.
15 Row involving Dr Wood (6)
TIMBER - TIER (row) outside [involving] MB (bachelor of medicine; doctor).
17 Sycophant now putting article higher (5)
TOADY - Take TODAY (now) and move the A up one letter [putting article higher] -> TOADY.
18 Confusion where soldiers eat (4)
MESS - Double definition..
21 Go downhill: avoid losing pressure (3)
SKI - SKIp (avoid) without the [losing] P (pressure).
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No real problem with the lift & separates, as I wouldn't have come up with a lemon dessert, a church process, or a blue flower anyway. I biffed 10ac (with APHID in, I almost biffed -HEADED, but fortunately waited), 12ac (saw the EST), and 7d; RUDE was a long time in coming. 6:36.
...excellent time for me. I was on the wavelength, and took advantage of some of the chestnuts to speed things up. Only 'glutinous' really held things up, an excellent clue that may trip up the lesser solvers.

Verlaine's time of 2:19 is pretty remarkable - I think he beat out one of the neutrinos!
just wanted to ask how one check’s others times? and what exactly is a neutrino in this context?


February 14 2020, 06:09:58 UTC 3 months ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 06:12:40 UTC

Started apace but slowed towards the end and came home in 11 minutes to miss my target by 1 minute for the second consecutive day. The main problem was needing several shots at 10ac before finally unravelling it, ABSENT MINDED not being directly equivalent to 'not thinking clearly' in my view as one can be thinking perfectly clearly about something whilst absent-mindedly forgetting to do something else.

13ac was my LOI.

Toyed with GLUEINESS at 5dn but apparently it can only be spelt with a Y.
I caught the stopping train today after a quick start with ASS.I thought the second half of 10a must be HEADED (biffing at this point) which got me stuck on GLUTINOUS until the end. I had the wrong anagram fodder at 16a thinking the definition was Ministries, and so on.
My big breakthrough was getting FRITTER and then I was able to finish after corrections with COMPEL. Time 21:29.
An excellent puzzle which contained many challenges for me. COD to GLUTINOUS.


February 14 2020, 08:14:16 UTC 3 months ago

Nice puzzle to end the week at 8.22, with GLUTINOUS being the last to fall in.

... was an omission from the TfTT Glossary, now corrected, thank you John
Sorry. I meant to send you a message suggesting you add it and forgot.


February 14 2020, 08:40:34 UTC 3 months ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 08:41:20 UTC

29 minutes, well over my target for what I thought was a tricky but enjoyable puzzle. I didn't fall for the lemon dessert or the blue flower, but I hit a roadblock half way through until I saw WITHERING, and then the rest fell into place.
Thanks to Pedro for another of his challenging QCs, and to John for the blog.

25:37 sailed through the top half then got slower and slower, struggling with INTERMISSION and LOI TOADY which I stared at for ages knowing I'd seen it before. COD 15d
Really good puzzle, occupying me for a very enjoyable 2 Kevins. I started with the downs so by the time I got to 23ac I was looking at N_R_I_S_S ... the blue flower never got a look in! My hold ups were GLUTINOUS, STRUDEL and ABSENT-MINDED (which only took one visit, but it was quite a long visit). Lots of great surfaces, 15dn among them.

FOI WIMP, LOI GLUTINOUS, COD INMATE (brilliant surface!).

Thanks Pedro and John (what a time, John!).

Another one minute over target here. It was the SW wot done it, being held up by ENTERTAIN, TOADY and FRITTER (LOI). No regrets though, enjoyable and satisfying. My usual search for a NINA or theme turned up HISSER in the fourth column, but I can make nothing of it, and my Chambers doesn’t list it as a word in any case.
Enjoyed this thanks johninterred and Pedro. Is S on its own a common abbreviation for Saint?
Yes, if I recall correctly; and SS in any case = Saints.


February 14 2020, 09:46:29 UTC 3 months ago Edited:  February 14 2020, 09:48:33 UTC

A nice end to the week, as John says. I whizzed through the early part before I slowed and I almost came to a halt with COMPEL and PROCESS although they were perfectly reasonable clues. In the end I finished off a pretty good week with 2.2K. I liked FIESTA, INMATE, GLUTINOUS, TOADY, and ENTERTAIN but confess to biffing ABSENT-MINDED and then relying on John for the parsing. Thanks to both. John M.
By which I mean a nice quick start, a sticky middle (including 5D Glutinous, my COD) and then a quick finish for the last few clues. 11 minutes for another sub 2K and a Good Week.

Is there a rule for how much French the setters are allowed to use? I'm used to French articles, French from but I've not met "French is" before.

Really enjoyed the blog today; thank you John. A good weekend to all.

Be ready for 'French art'=ES as in 'tu es'=thou art.
Congrats to all today. My spare 20m has come and gone with clues remaining. Well off the pace today - more than a couple were biffed but nit parsed until the blog. Telegraph prize puzzle tomorrow to give my brain a rest.
Whilst I thought this was very enjoyable, I didn't think this was an easy solve at all (for the QC) and overall it took over an hour.

The top half went in fairly ok, even if I initially put "Minimer" in for 8ac, but I did get hung up on 10ac "Absent Minded" - for some reason thinking it was "Absent Headed". I also nearly put in "Propel" for 13ac until I realised it wouldn't work with 5dn.

FOI - 1dn "Wimp"
LOI - 13ac "Compel"
COD - 5dn "Glutinous" - very much how my brain felt.

Thanks as usual.
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