23,477 – one for old hands?

Solving time 7:15

A fairly good time for this, but there was lots of “instinctive solving” going on, with plenty of def-guessing and a few lucky spottings of probable wordplay material that helped. I got at least one answer (12) by a completely wrong route and various bits of wordplay only revealed themselves when writing these notes. Some very smooth clue-writing here.

1 A,B,B,E – Abbé is a French clerical title held by (among others) Franz Liszt
9 TURN-UPS – “bags” = antiquated slang for trousers which lives on in “debagging”
11 RHOMBIC – mob* in rich*
12 BRIE,F,CASE – got mixed up with my legal references here and had “brief” as the legal action. A fruitless Google search for “Case” as a region of France put me on the self-kicking right track.
13 NYLON – though I first pondered TIGHT. Watch out for run=ladder one day
14 HA(R)D,SHOULD,E.R. “situation” as in “a place to be”
18 MIXED ECONOMY – wordplay in the answer again – economy* = (co. money)
22 TRUE,NORTH – it’s that favourite xwd PM again
24 JUKE=”duke”(=fist),BOX – questionable homophone but fun
26 B(ART)ENDERS clued in the canonical way – “He serves little Arthur in drinking session” is a good clue I’ve seen at least once for the singular
27 FRAY – 2 mngs, exploiting that weirdness by which ravel = unravel
1 AUTOBAHN – looks a rather feeble cryptic def., but remember that a Land is a part of Germany. A pity for setters that the names aren’t as useful as the French departements, but watch out for land = Hesse one day. You read it here first ..
2 B(AR(e))RIERS – so neat that it makes you think it must have been done before
5 CORNE(I)LL,E – managed to spot Cornell (makes a change from MIT and Yale) and vaguely remembered Corneille from somewhere – I guess they mean Pierre rather than his brother Thomas (he said, trying to sound cultured). In theory, “US university” is even less helpful than “US state”, but in practice knowing the Ivy League and a few others is enough.
6 B,ROWNIE POINTS = (in power is not)*
7 COBBLE – it’s that old trick with cobblers’ lasts again
10 UN(FASH)ION,ABLE – yes, “fash” is a Scots word for trouble. And a happy Hogmanay to them for their services to setters everywhere. Spelling corrected post-comment
19 ODD JOB – ref. the Biblical “patience of Job”
20 SMOKER – a smoking compartment on a train, once upon a time

Christmas Holidays
At the moment we seem to be ready to write about every puzzle during the Christmas break – I’ve only heard about a couple of definite absences and these are covered by the subs’ bench, so by the end of 2006 everyone on our team will have his name on a Times 15×15 puzzle report. (Why always “his”? A topic for another day…). But if someone has a bit too much port or gets snowed in (some hope these days) and doesn’t put up a review bang on time, please be patient. Have a great Christmas – always a good time for some tough puzzles – the Spectator double looks worth a few hours for a start.

8 comments on “23,477 – one for old hands?”

  1. Thanks for your note on cobblers’ lasts, I’d not come across that before – the clue is quite neat now I understand it. I also wasn’t too sure about FRAY. I wrote in BARTENDERS without understanding the wordplay – trying a few permutations before I got it!
    By the way, I think you meant UNFASHIONABLE for 10D.
  2. Wow! Top time, Peter, I was happy with just over 10m. And had given up trying to understand ABBE and MIXED ECONOMY at that point (was praying not to work out TIGER ECONOMY after time).
    1. 15 mins for me, which I was quite pleased with. I got “MIXED ECONOMY” OK as I’ve been looking out for “wordplay in the answer” clues recently – since Neil made the comment that we hardly ever see them in daily cryptics there’s been one nearly every day! Proof that the Times crossword editor reads this blog, I suppose…

      1. I’m not sure that “wordplay in the answer” clues are as uncommon as we think. I can certainly remember seeing them in the Times reqularly, if infrequently, going way back.
        1. I’m pretty sure you’re right. If Christmas gets really dull, perhaps I’ll flick through the Times 75th anniversary puzzle book and count them …
  3. Solved in 21 mins – good for me for the Times – ABBE, AUTOBAHN being the trickiest part. Last, bags and the smoker I twigged quickly enough and of course, Job, so you’re right, Peter, about the old hands, I guess.


  4. ABBE was a mystery to until I saw what I think is Peter’s progressive decline — E isn’t used in the American grading system (A, B, C, D, F) since E can be construed as Excellent.
  5. I agree with PB about the too much variety with US Universities and States. I plumped for Carmell instead of Cornell and ended up with Carmeille. This IS a french surname but sadly does not appear to include any writers of note. Also Carmel has one L and is a small town on the California coast once Mayor-ed by Clint Eastwood but also sadly lacking a University. Darn it. Let’s hope I got the “easies” right?

    3a After release of clutch, reverses vehicles = HATCH BACKS
    21a Bad spirit revealed by protest note = DEMO N
    25a To deny support for West (avoids)* trouble up front = DISAVO W

    4d The men in the dock are not so confused = AT SEA – I spent ages looking for a court room term – no doubt exactly as our esteemed setter had planned.
    8d Back after one = SECOND – short clue usually a DD
    15a Worked too hard – it’s clear cut = OVERT AXED
    16d Colleague in vehicle taking fish to wrong habitat = COD RIVER – the cod being a marine species – geddit?
    17d Where 14’s situated, incidentally = BY THE WAY – 14 being Hard Shoulder
    23d Covered by ThUNDERer’s central section = UNDER – HA

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