23,471 – a few tricky bits

Solving time 8:00

One or two clues here could have people struggling.

1 HEAD,STREAM – tempted by MAINSTREAM, with “current school” as iffy def, but M??? for 1D looked unpromising so the “main” bit was always in doubt. Not desperately keen on (current = stream) when the stream is as specific as this, but I guess it can be justified.
12 SHORT(DIVISION)S – shorts = short-term bonds (watch out for longs too – same clue could be used for a (4,9)!). Long and short division were two arithmetical calculation methods used by those who did sums before the days of button-pressing. Now probably shown to kids as hilarious example of how primitive life used to be back in the 1960s.
14 TOUR,NEY=yen<=
15 SNAPPER = (rep.,pans)<= – but “at” doesn’t work for me as a link between def and wordplay. The fairly common “in” would have suited the surface.
19 CHE,MIST – (film => mist) is nearly as routine in the Times puzzle as (revolutionary = red/Che)
23 E,M(PENN)AGE – the back end of a plane, with mage = “wise guy”. Commiserations to anyone who wrote “espennage”, useing “sage” instead. If you don’t know the answer word (I may have come across it before but wasn’t sure), your only guide is instinct about French word structure.
24 RELA(y),X
26 WAR,SAW,PACT=”packed”. (Saw = considered) takes a little thinking about before you see/consider that it’s fair.
1 HAS,H – a leftovers dish for about Tuesday, traditionally
4 ROUNDLY – cryptic def using shape of zero.
5 AL (Capone),COVES – cove = chap/man is splendidly old-fashioned slang
9 RAISE AN EYEBROW = “Ray’s an ‘ighbrow”. It’s MAN Ray again – he did some film-making as well as snapping.
19 CO(QUE)TS – coquet = flirt (verb) – not the “male flirt” which was my first guess
21 APPAL = “A Paul”. As St Paul was not one of the twelve disciples, “disciple” seems a bit iffy as a def – it could arguably mean any Christian or indeed any follower of any religious leader. A case of crossword convention, maybe.
22 EX=no longer,IT=the bee’s knees

The last weeks’s puzzles
Times: 23,470 – 7:06, 23,469 – 7:26, 23,468 – 4:57, 23,467 – 10:26, 23,466 – 11:56

Guardian 23,945 – Araucaria Alphabetical Jigsaw – 21:35 when last answer was looked up.
Indie 6287 (Scorpion) 27:30
Times Jumbo 672: Some disctractions – call it 26 mins.
Azed 1802 32:55 – no books

Magpie puzzle
The Magpie is a magazine for fans of advanced cryptics, produced by Mr Magoo and Pieman. At the annual party, their solvers were given an easy puzzle by Magpie standards, which you can try out here. You should only need Chambers to check a couple of things at the end. The geometric bit isn’t as hard as it may seem at first, but the “who wrote which clues?” bit is tricky.

Man v. machine
Some readers may remember me being fairly vicious about some research involving a (non-cryptic) puzzle-solving program called WebCrow. It’s taking on the human race again in January, and there are prizes for the top 10 humans. Here’s a slightly tweaked snippet from an e-mail I received the other day:

The IJCAI-07 conference and the WebCrow project have organized a crossword man-machine competition. The competition will take place on the internet, from January the 6th to January the 10th. The contest will be based on 4 American crossword puzzles with different time limits (around one hour, all together).

The participation is OPEN to anyone who wants to test their skills against other crossword lovers and againts the crossword solving machine WebCrow. To participate you will have to register in the WebCrow site

The winners of the competition, which is sponsored by Google Inc, will receive nice awards that can be received by ordinary mail. For more details about the crossword competition you can visit the web page or send an email to webcrow(AT)dii.unisi.it .

14 comments on “23,471 – a few tricky bits”

  1. Certainly tricky for me – I wrote SHARE DIVISIONS and ESPENNAGE, but there was no excuse for either. I was rather surprised to see Quaker used to mean a real Quaker, for a change !!
  2. St Paul wasn’t one of the twelve apostles, but there’s nothing iffy about cluing him as a disciple. And there’s a pretty good argument for cluing him as an apostle (but not one of the twelve) as well. I thought Penn=Quaker was much more iffy.
    It’s interesting that SHARE DIVISIONS fits in 12a.
    1. OTOH, Paul was the “Apostle Paul”, so “apostle” seems a tighter definition, as there were loads of disciples.
      But why is “Quaker” iffy for Penn??
      And does anyone know where I can get a dunce’s hat the size of a bus 🙂
      1. > Why is “Quaker” iffy for “Penn”?

        Only because I didn’t know it. Google seems to think that Penn is the most famous Quaker there is, so I’ll concede this one. I was struggling to think of any Quakers, but Fox and Fell might have come to mind.

  3. I didn’t get this either. For once the Jumble & Crossword solver site didn’t come to my rescue either. For some reason I was expecting the Quaker to have the E in front and the “wise guy” after it, not split. Very evocative word – conjures up visions of economy class passengers crammed into the back of the plane like sheep. Not what it means, of course.
  4. Oh curses. I wrote SHARE DIVISIONS too which rather spoils a time of 6m10s. Reasonably common jargon in my business (though in hindsight obviously unlikely to be in the dictionary), and my excuse on the definition is that such stock splits always do ‘create problems’ for accountants etc!
  5. I also put in espennage without a second thought once I clicked on ‘penn’ as quaker.
    Also ‘share divisions’ went in as soon as divisions became apparent.
    I must admit to no second thoughts about either. I wonder how many people have made at least one of these mistakes today. Must be a fair number if the comments posted here are any indication
  6. I’m in that part of the company that optioned SHARE DIVISIONS.

    I knew about EMPENNAGE (since a century ago I got a pilot’s license and discovered that plane parts are all French).

  7. Put me down for SHARE DIVISIONS too. Didn’t even come close with 23A as I completely forgot about William Penn.
  8. 7:30 for me. I wrote SHORT DIVISIONS (admittedly without understanding why ‘stocks’ were ‘shorts’) and curiously knew EMPENNAGE but not STRONG MEAT so wasted at least a minute deciding that ‘offal’ couldn’t really be anything else.
    1. Well done – that’s a loss to you today and Richard last Thursday. At this rate I’ll be expecting at least four TTFT contributors in next year’s Times final, compared to three of us this year.
  9. Well now, I took “Ray” the film maker to be Satyajit Ray, and though it a bit obscure. Come to think of it, it could also be Nicholas Ray. Either of these is slightly likelier than Man Ray, who was primarily an artist rather than a film maker, I’d have said. Though really, I think “film maker”, like “novelist” is really too open-ended to use in wordplay — after all, take just about any name and chances are someone of that name, somewhere along the way, wrote novels or made movies.

    As for 12 across, I wrote in “share divisions” too. Stupidly enough I did think of long division but never made the leap from there to short.

    Peter you didn’t say anything about 13D. I had “strong meat”, rather uncertainly, but am I missing something way more obvious?


    1. Ray: You’ve found one of my weak spots – I just went for the Ray I knew and checked info about him afterwards. I’m happy with this kind of stuff when I can recognise the name, but I know there are names like composer=Parry that aren’t familiar unless you know the right kind of music. As a trade-off for all those useful composers I know, I don’t mind dealing with a few unknown people in other fields.

      I should probably have listed STRONG MEAT – 2 meanings. Ironic example from Collins: “some scenes in the film were strong meat”. Those who fuss about using meanings with different etymologies in 2-meaning clues probably won’t like this. I don’t worry about the etymology, just whether there’s any deception in the final clue. In this case there seems to be enough.

  10. Ha – managed to get Short Division where some x-word glitterati did not! Not wishing to enter into Grandiloquence here are the “easies”.
    6a Son joined with Roman low life = S CUM – s’pose cum = “joined with” in Latin. Never did it at skool.
    10a Spare millions kept in large container = SKI M P – m can mean million or millions apparently
    11a Not stopping (in case gun)* goes off = UNCEASING
    17a Singular state of (one seen)* in distress = ONENESS
    20a Pompous speech disconcerted (clique? No danger)* = GRANDILOQUENCE – the ? is setter’s privelege for the clue’s surface and can be conveniently ignored.
    25a Ring road charge = TOLL – DD of ring as in bell and road charge as in toll for the M6 toll

    3d Police chief with brilliant plan to case thieves’ hideway = SUPER INTEN DEN T – where the super intent cases the den (of thieves).
    7d Cotton fabric from KaraCHI NOtably = CHINO – HA
    8d Terrible (stigma)* brought on charge – before me? = MAGIST RATE
    13d For instance offal is something to arouse repulsion = STRONG MEAT – I did not ever hear this saying before but the crossers and the offal made it pretty clear.
    16d Woman’s cold and ailing in (Paris)* needing treatment = PRIS C ILL A
    18d Royal lady, a bit of a fruit cake = SULTANA – I baked a fruit cake this arvo so would have been double idiot not to twig this one

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