23,435 – where did they go wrong?

Solving time 7:41

This is the middle one of the three puzzles from the second preliminary session of the championship. It’s fairly easy for a championship puzzle – 64% solved it within the time limit – so I’m rather surprised to see that four of the fastest five people with one mistake in the prelim made their mistake on this puzzle. Then again, a bit of pressure can do funny things to the brain! (Ask J M Scott, who stuck his hand up in third place in this prelim, but had somehow failed to realise the idea was to solve three puzzles, not one!) Possible stumbling-blocks: ICE at 25 took me a while to see, though it seems the most plausible I?E guess if you have to guess. Billy Budd in 16 might cause trouble, and those not used to Azed/Listener puzzles might not have known good old ETUI at 4. Beginner’s word of the day: TENT = (red) wine – from “vino tinto”, and note a well-worn path at 13.


5 RE-TIRED – ref. US/UK tire/tyre difference
17 UNDER S, T AND I,N.G.=no good
25 1 (degree) C,E=”freezE ultimately”
26 PRE,TENT,I.O.U.’s
27 MY,St.(v)ERY


1 B(YPAS=pays outrageously)S
3 CHEVALIER – anag. of c., her alive
4 ETUI = rev. of I,UTE = utility vehicle = pickup
6 TANGO – from NATO ‘phonetic’ alphabet
13 STATIONERY=”stationary”
16 (Billy) BUDD,HIS,M – BB is the title role in a Britten opera, based on a naval novel by Herman Melville.
20 PER(S)ON – Evita Peron
22 A(P(i)P)LE

Indie 6254 (Dac) – 8:56
About 3 mins at the end on two clues: 18A Undermine Arab leader in speech – S?A?E. SHAKE should have taken a few seconds, so I hang my head in shame. 17D End of the line for computer operator in equatorial region? (3,4) H?T / ?O?E – first word pretty well must be HOT, but agonised over the second, not understanding one of the two definitions. Eventually plumped for HOT ZONE as slightly more convincing than HOT HOME for ‘tropical region’. Turns out that a ‘hot zone’ is some kind of flashing area at the end of a line of text in computing, indicating a need to make a hyphenation decision. News to me!

11 comments on “23,435 – where did they go wrong?”

  1. I was in preliminary B, and solved this puzzle fairly quickly (I’d guess around 10-12 mins). This morning I printed it out and solved it in 10:33 with absolutely no sense of déjà vu!

    I know I was pretty spaced out on the day, having partied all night and got no sleep the night before, but I think I should have recognised a couple of clues at least…

  2. Like the other prelim puzzle they printed recently, I found this noticably easier than a standard daily with most of clues done by 12 minutes – very quick for me.

    Only putting WATERSTONE in 5 down slowed me up, and that (plus ETUI) made getting the cleverly-defined PROSECUTION and other clues in the top-right corner more difficult. However, I persevered and got it all right in under 30 mins.

    6 Down was the only one I didn’t fully understand. I think it would be better gramatically to say “This signals…”

    The only place I can imagine people made mistakes is in their spelling of DEMERARA or YUCATAN.

  3. My harsh conclusion is that there’s no excuse for getting either of YUCATAN or DEMERARA wrong. I meant to include 28A YUCATAN – YoUr ChArTs,AN. Slightly obscure name but the wordplay can only lead to one thing. With DEMERARA = rev. of “a rare med.”, the wordplay again gives the exact spelling, unless perhaps you think ra-ra or Latin “rara” is “unusually good”. As long as you think of “rare”, it’s much more convincing, so anyone torn between DEMARARA and the right spelling should get it right. If there are solvers whose kitchen/shopping experience is so limited that they’ve never learnt the word demerara from a bag of sugar, that’s hard cheese!

    WATERSTONE? Not in my memory, but it is in the Concise Oxford as a type of whetstone using water rather than oil so you might have seen it somewhere, though I doubt they’d call a whetstone a “rock”. Like the Chambers-only spelling “AIA” for a red herring answer in Prelim A, this may be a case of knowing too much.

  4. I’m still a beginner at the Times crossword, but today was a rare occasion that I managed to complete it. Very happy 🙂

    I particularly liked the clue for 14ac.

  5. Spent a long time also before getting this. It is in Collins. Not in Concise OED (or, indeed, Chambers).


  6. Solving time: Just over an hour.
    It should have been just under an hour but I was a bit slow at the end. It took me five minutes to figure out my last answer, 20D: I was looking for a character in the musical/film Evita – and I couldn’t think of any apart from Eva Peron!
    I hoped for an easy one as I was in an hotel with no internet/dictionary to help me out.
    I hadn’t come across YUCATAN before, but it couldn’t really be anything else. I wasn’t too sure if I knew the word ETUI – but I definitely knew UTE (from over half a lifetime of watching Neighbours).
  7. Hi Peter,

    I’ve reached puzzle 74 – this one – in the Times 14 book. I don’t understand why DICTATOR is the answer to clue 21 (One ordering Chaplin film showed a great one (8)). Is it a cryptic definition? (I couldn’t name a single Chaplin film!)



    1. It’s a double definition – “One ordering” is one def., and the rest is an allusion to The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s most successful movie (says Wiki) and one of the very few I could name – the others worth remembering for xwd purposes are probably The Gold Rush and Modern Times.

      Surely, at some point, you must have seen this clip?

      1. Thanks Peter for the explanation and the film clip link. I’d never seen it before !!
  8. These days (mid 2016) the complete puzzle is blogged with no omissions. In the old days of TftT (starting with this puzzle) answers deemed to be obvious or “chestnuts” to the experienced solvers producing the blogs were omitted. I found – when improving my daily solving by completing back numbers – that it was often the ones that were omitted that I was stuck on.
    In order to make the early blogs more helpful to beginners I plan to complete the blogs (slowly) as I solve the back numbers starting with this one.

    10a Activate warhead in nucleAR Missile … Hidden answer = ARM
    11a Watches a weight go up and down = SEES AW
    12a Concerned with first of two articles for Luther? = RE FORMER
    21a One ordering Chaplin film showed a great one
    … Double Def (DD) = DICTATOR
    28a YoUr ChArTs reglarly omitted AN area of Mexico = YUCATAN

    2d What shutter does for detailed photo DD = CLOSE UP
    5d Rock responsible for river’s hue = RHINE’S TONE
    7d What may help one get around twitchy (MoD Para)* anag = ROAD MAP
    8d An unusually good medical brought up sugar – and alcohol A RARE MED rev = DEMERARA – (sugar & rum)
    19d Broadcast to stop functioning DD = GIVE OUT
    24 Refuse access to sudy with Yale’s foremost = DENY DEN(study) & Y(ale’s foremost)

    1. A noble enterprise. FWIW, the earliest days of TftT were at http://petebiddlecombe.livejournal.com/ but the reports there were sometimes very brief indeed.

      The coverage gradually increased, so after a while you’ll probably find yourself explaining just one or two clues.

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