23,453 – Six games all …

Solving time 11:13

In some haste as doing the other blog today too …

This was a tie-breaker puzzle held in readiness at the Times Championship in case two people’s (all-correct) hands went up simultaneously in a preliminary or the final. Very unlikely this time, fortunately. With the old-style “nearest minute” timing, there were a few tie-breakers for national final places in the past. Suddenly the focus changed from hundreds of solvers in happy anonymity to two people with the rest watching them fight it out. Very tense indeed if you’re one of the two.

This was a pretty tricky puzzle for me – didn’t crack either long answer until I had plenty of checking letters, and took much too long over the simple anag. at 14. Someone getting two of these three early on would probably have stopped the clock at about 7:30.


1 FI(V)E – ref. Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five”. Time wasted considering NA(V)Y
3 F(EAT,HERB)ED – time wasted here on the stupid idea “BRI(…)BED”, reading clue hastily as “Provided incentive…”
10 RED CARPET – note the pun on “pile” which makes it less vague than it looks
13 A(TOD)DS – “Tod” = a name for a fox.
15 BRI(N)GAND,BUYS ALE – annoying to take time over this – I’ve seen the phrase used before.
18 AHEAD,F(ORHE=hero’s remarkable)IGHTS
23 LAME,LLA=”the lot rejected”
27 CHERUB,IN,I – yet another composer


1 FOR TIN BRAS – name of a Shakespearean soldier, I think.
4 E.S.P.,ERA(N)TO – should have been quicker with this – Erato is nearly always worth a punt for “muse”
5 TETRA – fish and “four somethings” prefix
8 DO(n)NE – John D of “No man is an island”
14 PERSUASION – too well-disguised for me
16 (w)INE,B,RIANT=laughing
17 BE HOLDERS – “defend title” just might have been very apposite indeed. Remember folks, these puzzles are just randomly selected.
22 L(OC=zero cntigrade)UM – lum = a chimney (Scottish) – a bit Listenerish.

My times for puzzles since my last posting
23,448 – 6:59
23,449 – 9:11
23,450 – 15:45
23,451 – 7:58
23,452 – 10:39

Other stuff
A curious bit of research: “Cryptic crosswords impair face recognition” (or better, “Eye-witnesses should not do cryptic crosswords prior to identity parades”) http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2006/11/cryptic-crosswords-impair-face.html

13 comments on “23,453 – Six games all …”

  1. I found this hard. Took an hour and didn’t finish (LAMELLA). Also, I’ve stared at 12A: ITCHIER for 5 minutes and I don’t understand the seven years allusion (7D is “bloodbath”… but…).
  2. I’m somewhat relieved that Peter found this puzzle tricky. I took an hour, but that’s par for me with the Times. I was very slow to get 3, 15 and 18 across and also slow to see PERSUASION in 14 down’s anagram material. Guessed at LAMELLA early on, but CHERUBINI came late. I thought I was OK on composers, but he’s new to me. Perhaps I should listen to more church music.
    I don’t really wish to be anon, but I haven’t got round to registering.
    Andy Stewart
  3. Must confess that I can’t think of a single work by Cherubini – but you probably guessed that as I didn’t say “best-remembered for …”. When solving I think I said to myself “ah, that Ladykillers quintet”, but of course that’s Boccherini.
  4. Two Scottish chimneys in two days.

    [I tried to post this using my LJ ID but it claims I can’t post comments as I’m not a member of the community. Yet I can post anonymously. Is this normal behaviour?]


    1. Colin,

      You should be able to click on “Leave a comment” links or the “Reply” ones under comments. “fgbp” for example, is not a member of the community. It’s only creating new posts that you should be prevented from doing – that needs both membership and posting permission. I’ve just checked our comment settings to confirm this. If anyone else is having trouble commenting with a non-member ID, speak up!

  5. I clocked 7m22s and thought it was pretty good. I didn’t actually get either long answer till I had about 5 checks in either, but in some fashion I attacked each corner separately making decent progress, so that when the long answers came, I was nearly there. I got the anag at 14 quite fast, though I needed to get one checking letter first (N). Was very worried about the composer (my Achilles heel) but was one of those I have vaguely heard mentioned in the end.
  6. Solving time 22:32

    I laboured with this one – I had a good excuse though! I was out and about all day, and I attempted the puzzle in the paper (as opposed to my normal A4 printout) sat in a Tesco’s car park – not the right ambience!

    Always interesting to compare notes with those that are faster than me – for instance, I got 15A (BRING AND BUY SALE) just with the checking G quite early on. I got really stuck with some of the perimeter answers; 1A, 3A, 1D and yes, that PERSUASION anagram. I blame 14D on the paper, being one of the many clues that stretch to at least two lines! Having spotted that it was an anagram, I then just kept studying the second line, reading the definition as “translating book” forgetting about the anagram indicator!

    Enjoyed the puzzle though, would have been a worthy tie-breaker.

  7. 11a Prickly old character = THORN (middle english Th – perhaps like Theta in Greek?)
    21a (Ribald)* review of The Woman in White = BRIDAL (nothing to do with the book!)
    26a An aircraft boarding area is marble = A GATE (As in Heathrow announcement “please make your way to Gate 22”. However – agate the stone is banded cryptocrystalline silica and NOT marble which is crystalline calcite and/or dolomite – completely different mineral(s). Not equivalent at all)
    28a Haphazard, but I hadn’t failed with girl = HIT AND MISS (odd wordplay – wishful thinking?)
    29a Chap keeping candle-end, like Scrooge = M E AN

    2d HaVE DICtionary to cover religious language = VEDIC
    6d Admission about work being in state of disorder = ENTR OP Y
    7d (Old abbot)* whisked to (h)*ospital in which many die = BLOODBATH
    19d Resentment that’s always high = DUDGEON (presumably one can only be in a “high dudgeon” rather than a level or low one?)
    20d Either I am on vehicle, or foot = I AM BUS ( a foot = an iambus = a measure in poetry as in “iambic pentameter” which is presumably five feet in metric??!)
    24d Traditional knowledge about one flower found amid vineyards = LOIRE (lore about 1 = i – flower is x-word for river. Mrs NPBull is called Laura – god help you if you call her Lore!!)
    25d Millions like hot potatoes = M AS H (as = like in x-word land)

    1. Thorn =?= theta (ie th as in ‘thin’) – roughly right for thorn as now used in Icelandic. Apparently it has also matched the Icelandic version of “eth” (curly d / th in ‘the’) at some point in the past.

      Agate =?= marble – it does when “agate” means a type of (game-playing) marble.

      as =?= like: grim example in Collins, for their “in the same way that” def: “he died of cancer, as his father had done” or “… like his father had done”

  8. Thorn, Theta and Eth – I take your point that there are subtle differences. I am but a humble hewer of rocks.

    Agate CAN be marble – thanks Peter – it’s a fair cop I hadn’t considered the use of marble as the plaything. It is over 50 years since I pinged one. Not sure I had any made of agate though?

    As =? like – the example is rather grim. It demonstrates the equivalence though, as our setter did in his clue.


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