23466: no cricket, no queue

Solving time : 11:27

Lots of interesting words in an almost pangrammatic grid. I suppose “bicycle quip” is not a common phrase.

I am not very good at sporting references, but for some reason there seem to be rugby and football allusions today, and no cricket.

I filled OXYMORONS in quickly on the basis of the initial O and the definition “apparent contradictions”, deciding that I could leave the wordplay until after I had finished. And now I haven’t been able to work it out. It will be such sweet sorrow when a comment appears explaining it, and I shall edit it in then.


1 JAM + BORE + E(xtremist) – took some time to accept that “carried” defined an element in the wordplay rather than being part of the mechanics
9 POCKET (=appropriate (v)) B(OR)OUGH – Just managed to stop myself filling in ROTTEN BOROUGH while wondering whether to bother with the full wordplay. OR for Other Ranks for men or soldiers has become very popular in the last couple of years. I am not sure if it is now safe to assume that two-lettered “gold” will be AU.
10 TOUCH + Y – I didn’t put TOUCHY in on my first run through because I could not see that “part that’s out of play” is a rugby rather than a dramatic reference
11 L (YR + ICI) ST – Nice to see ICI clued by reference to the paint company, rather than “here in France”
16 U(A)SE (rev) – “brother done in the Bible” is a good definition for Esau
18 YA(C)K + ETY (=YET*) + YAK – The old Chambers I have to hand gives a few spellings, not including this one. But nor does it include a version starting YAKKETY, which is what I first wrote. Fortunately I decided to check the wordplay before moving on.
21 DROP + G(O)AL – Another rugby reference. It seems a long time since I saw “empty” used to mean “with nothing (=O) inside”
23 PIGEON F(AN)CIER – ie AN in (epic foreign)* – The convention is that it is legitimate to deceive by capitalising a lower case letter (as “Homer” here), but not to switch in the opposite direction. A rule that can lead to some contortions to get a key word at the beginning of a clue. As with many conventions, there is no overwhelming logic, but it is useful to have a shared rule. I am also happy to drive on the left hand side of the road in Britain.
25 BY + PASS – I think “4 times 5” can just about mean the same as “4 by 5”
26 RIOT GIRL (hidden rev) – It seems the echt spelling has more Rs and fewer Is. It always takes me longer than I think it should to spot the more outrageous hiddens.


3 BI (=”buy”) CYCLE + PUMP – that is “pump” (and “grill”) in the sense of “quiz” or “interrogate”.
6 PART + RIDGE – reference to the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
7 YOU (=”U”) – I can’t find a way of reading this that persuades me. Surely U stands for “uniform” rather than vice versa
8 EPHESUS = (Pushes E)* – I visited Ephesus in 1981, and they seemed hell-bent on reconstructing it. I think they stopped, so that it is still a “ruined city”.
14 O + XY + MO(R)ONS – ie last letter of who = O; axes, as in graphs = XY; shows behind = MOONS; last letter of director (=R) inserted. (This was added on edit. Thanks to Harry Shipley for the explanation.)
19 C + (ALL FOR)
20 AD + MI (=”my!” = “coo!”) + RE + R – the last one I solved.
22 C AND O – “c” and “o” being the second and fourth letters of “actor”
24 (A OG) (rev) – OG for own goal is a football reference. I don’t know if an own goal is theoretically possible in rugby, but they do happen in soccer

10 comments on “23466: no cricket, no queue”

  1. Last letter of WHO; axes, as in graphs – XY; shows behind – MOONS; last letter of director inserted.

    Took me a long time to get the word play, though!

    Harry Shipley

    1. Well done Harry. I missed OXYMORONS and a couple of other wordplays while solving – concluded that Touch might be some character from Shakespeare (confusion with Touchstone), and only found the bill in ADMIRER.
  2. 7 Down – Uniform is in the Nato alphabet (since when did we stop calling it the ‘phonetic’?). If a policeman says: the registration was “Alpha Bravo Delta 1 2 3 Uniform”, surely he is using Uniform to stand for U to prevent confusion.

    Unfortunately I went astray early, writing FASCISTS for 1 Across – which strangely works if you know how the word came about, if only in a somewhat non-cryptic way.

    1. “Phonetic” is strictly a misnomer in this context so those with “stickler” tendencies may not like it. Can’t see that FASCISTS works – “extremist party” yes, but “Stick carried by head of” doesn’t fit. The “fasces” was a bundle of sticks – plural – the whole point apparently being greater strength from bundling the sticks together. I don’t think leaders carried them either. All petty points but the Times xwd would normally get this right!
  3. Good work on spotting the authentic spelling(s) here – having seen that before in the dictionary, I have been waiting for a chance to flourish my knowledge; and was frustrated by the fact that the wordplay of 26 gave the tame version. Imagine the arguments if only one spelling was allowed in a competition with a cryptic definition clue. Instead, of course, I didn’t know the relatively obvious PAY BED and had to assume it from the (cryptic definition of course!) clue to complete the puzzle.

    The best way to make this grid pangrammatic, I reckon, would be AGRIPPA at 17 and JAQUES (or MAQUIS) at 25. Complete 16 and 24 with BAKU/BABU etc and GNU/GAU according to taste.

  4. I thought that were some nicely deceptive clues here (well, they fooled me for a while). 9,10, 23 across, 4 down, for example. In fact, although I entered REEDY for 4 down I was very uncertain because I couldn’t clear my brain of the notion that “hog’s head” indicated H. I’m not convinced by the homophone in 20 down. For a long time I thought “coo audibly” was probably a homophone of MY, but having finally twigged the answer I don’t find it very satisfactory. You’ve got to pronounce ADMIRER in a particular (dare I say unusual) way to get the MI to sound like MY.
  5. Quite a few here where answer was clear enough from definition but wordplay hard to work out. Eventually understood all except CAN-DO and ADMIRER so thanks for explaining those. 29 mins, about average for Times for me.


  6. Fasces were the bundles of rods carried by the Roman Lictors as a synbol of authority.

    This has no bearing on the clues/answers but there seems to be some misunderstanding of the fasces in the discussion of the wrong answer “fascists”.

    John M

    1. Assuming Wikipedia is right, here’s what it says, for the benefit of folk like me who can’t remember or never knew who lictors were:

      A corps of apparitores (subordinate officials) called lictors each carried fasces as a sort of staff of office before a magistrate, in a number corresponding to his rank, in public ceremonies and inspections, and bearers of fasces preceded praetors, propraetors, consuls, proconsuls, Masters of the Horse, dictators, and Caesars.

      So except in the sense that the bearer of the fasces “led” the magistrate/consul/whatever, the leader didn’t do the carrying. Apart from failing to think of the lictor’s kind of “leading”, that’s what I meant to convey. (And in the days when the facsists used the symbol, I don’t think they used real bundles of sticks at all.)

  7. Re 11a – I wonder if this was the last time that ICI was clued as “company” rather than “former company”? According to Wiki ICI was taken over by Dutch firm AzkoNobel in January 2008 and the name ceased to be.

    6a No free space on the ward = PAY BED – the commercial wing of the NHS??
    13a (A shower due)* to be re-fitted and stored = WAREHOUSED
    15a Primate assumes second place in church = AP S E
    22a Like shellfish, perhaps, to be moist = CLAMMY

    5d Preserves drug doctor’s giving to the poor = E MB ALMS – doctor can be represented by MB, MO, DR and probably some others?
    12d Cracked surface on pathway = CRAZY PAVING

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