23,464 – Not caught out; if only Flintoff, Jones et al could say the same…

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 8:46

A mixed bag today, including a few old chestnuts, but I seemed to look at the harder clues first – on two or three occasions I spent 10-15 secs on a clue, failed to get it, changed to a crossing answer and got both clues straight away. 8d and 10ac were my last two entries, though 26dn and 23dn/24ac also caused a bit of trouble.

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘agent’ = REP, ‘entertaining X’ = ‘with X inside’, control = REIN.

1 ME (this writer) + RIT[ardando] – though rit. can also mean ritenuto (literally ‘held back’) which means a more sudden slowing down.
4 TEST P(I)LOT – a pun on ‘highly’.
9 NEW + YORKER – a yorker is a delivery in cricket which pitches at or just in front of the batsman’s feet. But enough about cricket (sob sob)…
10 GRASS – pun on ‘meadow’, though ‘sing’ = ‘grass’ (i.e. inform on someone) is standard cryptic fare and I shouldn’t have taken so long over this.
11 CALENDAR MONTH (anag. of MOTHER AND CLAN) – tip for beginners: whenever ‘perhaps’ appears near the beginning of the clue, ask yourself if the clue’s first word(s) is/are an exemplary proper noun with a disguised initial capital (as ‘May’ here).
15 DAMP COURSE (anag. of AS CURED and MOP) – ‘a layer of moisture-proof material in a masonry wall’, apparently.
19 [g]ET ON – I wrote this in from _T_N without understanding it, and didn’t twig until after stopping the clock and looking up ‘geton’, ‘egton’, ‘etong’ etc. Very clever.
24 CASCA[ding] – Casca (new to me) was one of Caesar’s assassins; ‘noiselessly’ is used to mean ‘remove DING’. I wasn’t totally confident about this and would have struggled to get it had I not also suspected a crossing ‘C’ from 23dn.
25 SPA + REP + ART
1 MONOCHROME (anag. of COMMON HERO) – I didn’t spot straight away that ‘in action’ was an anagram indicator, probably partly because the letters of ‘common hero’ looked unlikely for an anagram.
3 THOR + NY (New York) – Thor, the Norse God of thunder, is one of the most common crossword Gods. Thursday is named after him (c.f. Donnerstag in German, as in Donner und Blitzen, thunder and lightning).
5 SCRIM[p]
6 PAGANDOM (PA + anag. of DOGMA around N) – I’ve not seen this word before and nearly wrote in ‘paganism’ but checked the wordplay.
8 TOSS – I think this clue (“Pitch on pitch?” (4)) is a cryptic definition referring to the coin toss at the beginning of e.g. a football or cricket (further sobbing…) match.
13 STATED below REIN
16 PROP + A + GATE
17 RIB BAG inside CE – Cribbage is a card game for 2 (or more) players.
22 A TSAR reversed – a variant of this came up recently. The ‘of’ in the clue (my pet hate ‘link word’) is not superfluous: the definition is ‘of religious group’, as Rasta can be an adjective as well as a noun.
23 S(C)AD – the wordplay is helpfully transparent but I didn’t know this fish so I wasted time checking for other possibilities like ‘shad’, especially since I didn’t know the across answer crossing the ‘C’.
26 [h]ARM – ‘authority’ as in ‘(branch of an) organisation’, but again I wasn’t sufficiently confident to write this in without checking all other possibilities and ruling out ‘aim’.

4 comments on “23,464 – Not caught out; if only Flintoff, Jones et al could say the same…”

  1. Stupidly rushed into writing TEST – thought of pitching people against each other as testing them, and that cricket/rigby tests take place on pitches. Should have noticed that having TEST and TEST PILOT in the same puzzle would be unlikely.
  2. I think TOSS is angling towards a pitching of the ball by the bowler at height, as in “full toss”.

    Much grumbling of CASCA – didn’t get that one, making this another yet-so-close Times effort.

  3. I thought DING to indicate a noise was stretching things a bit but it’s in Chambers so musn’t grumble. Also, CASCA looked like it really should be a word so blithely filled it in. Agree about 1D too – a most unlikely anagram.
  4. 14a Way to avoid ending in defeat = ROUT (e)
    18a System with fixed amount that avoids extremes = MODE RATION – this was the one I had in wrong. Did not get the wordplay and had bunged in MEDITATION as it fitted the crossing letters I had. It was only when I cracked 17d CRIBBAGE – having played a game the previous evening – that I eventually got MODERATION as the 5th letter was changed from a T to an R. Wrt cribbage it is not just a game for 2 people – you can play in pairs and even have 3 hands if you have a suitable peg board and deal one card into the dealers “box”.
    21a (A member’s rants)* may produce discomfiture = EMBARRASSMENT
    28a No daughter should hang around mum – one must move on = NO MA D

    2d Fall out from line = ROW – DD
    4d Severely criticise what actot may do after successful audition = TAKE A PART
    7d (Let theatre) put out (E)*liots earliest material = LEATHERETTE
    12d The Parisian female removes clothes – they go off to the washroom? = LA UNDRESSES
    20d Like bird’s back = AS TERN

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