23,440 – Beginner’s luck

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 5:06

Tuesdays have been tricky recently, but fortunately this run has seemingly come to an end for my first posting. Particularly helpful were the four long answers, three consisting of multiple or hyphenated words and three of them anagrams. A rare chance to dip under 5 mins ruined by 3d, 9ac and 1d.

9 BYPASSING – Double definition, ‘like this you fail to bid’ referring to the card game bridge
11 CHE + SS – Classic beginner’s clue, ‘ship’ = SS (steamship) and ‘revolutionary’ = CHE (Guevara) both crop up regularly
12 SUN(DEC)K – As well as indicating DEC (or OCT for a November crossword), ‘last month’ can also be ULT(imo), as opposed to ‘this month’ which can be INST(ant)
20 A(CRONY)M – RADAR stands for ‘radio detection and ranging’. The term was apparently coined in 1941, though the first integrated radar systems such as the UK’s Chain Home had been around for a few years by then
21 HOS + ANNA – ‘Biblical book’ for HOS(ea) is kinder than ‘book’ but there are still lots of possibilities, including HEB(rews), HAB(bakuk) and HAG(gai)
23 IN[J]URE – ‘temper’ and inure’ can both mean ‘to accustom’ or ‘to adjust’ in a transitive sense
25 NUDITY – Homophone for ‘new ditty’, ‘in the altogether’ means nude
1 W(AB)ASH – The Wabash drains into the Ohio River. I didn’t know this river but the wordplay was helpful, though perhaps not for overseas solvers (The Wash is the big inlet on England’s east coast)
2 RI + PEN – Note for beginners: RI (Rhode Island) and CA or CAL (California) seem to be the most common ‘states’ referred to in wordplay, but others do crop up, such as ME (Maine) or GA (Georgia)
3 N + ASCENT – NASCENT is from the same root as ‘natal’ and ‘nativity’
15 [M]OCCASI(O)N – ‘Do’ is the definition, ‘fit’ needs to be read in the past tense for the wordplay. ‘Maiden’ = M is today’s cricket reference
17 RAN(KES)T – The 1969 film Kes was based on the novel ‘Kestrel for a Knave’. I am weak on films, especially older ones, and was lucky to have heard of this
14 IN(SPEC)T – ‘vet’ in the sense of ‘check’ or ‘examine’
19 M(ADC)AP – ADC for aide-de-camp is a difficult military term / abbreviation, and one I don’t think I have seen in a crossword previously

11 comments on “23,440 – Beginner’s luck”

  1. I thought I was on for a repeat of yesterday until hitting 15 & 17d and 25a. I had a complete blindspot about RANKEST for some reason.
    WABASH a bit like LIFAR yesterday, although not as confident about the wordplay.
  2. Just over 10m here. WABASH filled in its own solution, but I hadn’t heard of it.
    If I’d missed today’s but bought tomorrow’s Times and looked at the solution grid I’d have been intrigued to see the clue used at 4d. Some years ago I discovered (to me, writing a good clue is a case of discovering a particular arrangement rather than inventing it) a real corker for this. As yet it appears to remain unexploited elsewhere.
  3. Finished two seconds short of 4m, which is a pretty rare bird. Still room for improvement especially with RIPEN at 2d.
    1. Not tedious, Magoo, and not considered a boast either (by me anyway). Now that I follow the blog religiously I feel deprived if I do not see the regular solvers’ times every day – so as to monitor my own progress!

      I managed 9:19 today, but I am now experimenting with different approaches. For example, I am following your (and Peter’s) tip of going straight for the long answers (as seemed to help Talbinho today). I got all four pretty much straight away on this puzzle, but then the trouble was I felt like a kid in a sweet shop – I did not know which way to turn! I was flitting madly around the four corners of the grid! I am starting to find it is a fine line between spending a bit more time on each clue so as to try and crack it first time, or moving on and coming back to it later.

      1. My current plan is to give all my times in my Wednesday post, and try to shut up about quick/slow times the rest of the week. I’ve experimented with “long answers first” but haven’t adopted it permanently – my usual method is still across clues in order, switching to the downs when I get a first checking letter in a down answer, so that getting a few each of the top acrosses and the intersecting downs gives checking letters to help with both sets. Any choice of order is a hostage to fortune – if you happen to find the easy clues early on, you do better. If only one could easily identify the easy clues! Similar problem with spending a bit more time – sometimes an extra 10-20 seconds will make the difference, sometimes not. I do seem to “change gear” – adjusting the average thinking time depending on how the first few clues went, and sometimes revising this speed again if a few initial toughies are followed by several doddles. Enough rambling – time to cook some supper, which takes a bit more than 5 mins …
  4. American Folk/Country music fans would know Wabash from the famous old song The Wabash Cannonball.
      1. Even more famous? Maybe, though I’m something of a jazz fan and I’ve not heard of it (ignorant me, of course), and Wabash Blues doesn’t (like Wbash Cannonball) have its own page on Wikepedia.
  5. In Australian puzzles, this is often seen with a reference to the (cricketing) Chappell brothers, which can be quite neat.


  6. 1a Conflict I head, exhibiting caution = WAR I NESS
    5a Shoe’s tongue = BROGUE
    13a Hear about one record in a series = TR ILOG Y
    16a Grasp loosely – (no more piches)* = COMPREHENSION
    24a (Am I direct)*, if misguided? Quite the opposite = DIAMETRIC
    26a Mend frame = STITCH UP
    4d (Methinks I’d cut)* out being unadventurous = STICK-IN-THE-MUD
    6d Item written up in right voucher = RECEIPT (piece backwards inside r t)
    8d Writer (says “I set)* out … = ESSAYIST (this goes to show that setter can use any spurious punctuation marks to deceive as he or she likes)
    10d ” … to join in profitable activity, (once that gent)* and (I)* reach an arrangement = GET IN ON THE ACT
    14d Be persuaded to visit = COME ROUND (to our way of thinking or our house – possibly both?)
    22d Pole playing a part in miNOR THeatricals

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