23488 – not a 12 in the park

Solving time 13:33

I found this an entertaining but quite difficult puzzle, with some of that “tough puzzle makes easy clues harder than they should be” effect that one or two others have mentioned. I was stuck at the end on 1D and 9 which shouldn’t have been difficult but eluded me for a few minutes. Likewise, 13D took far longer than it should have done. There are various fairly rare words so I don’t expect any really quick solutions – I’d say anything under 10 minutes is very good going. Which means someone will be along soon to say that they did it in 6. I have an idea about who might have written it, but I’ll keep it under my hat this time.

1 CHARRED = “chard
9 PAR(t) – par (adj.) = “as expected in score”
11 COVE,RING = band as in wedding band
12 S,TROLL = “imagined being” – good deception here
15 T(he) IDE – ide being a classic xwd fish
19 CROW – ref. “murder of crows” – know your nouns of assemblage from Brewer. Can’t find a reliable list on the web – the ones I did find include entries of doubtful validity.
22 (f)UN IS EX – fiendish wording – “no longer excluding female” works quite well as a definition, though actually wordplay.
25 BAR(SIN IS)TER – same thing as bend sinister in heraldry – a diagonal band running SW-NE rather than SE-NW, which would presumably be a “bend/bar dexter”. Indicates illegitimacy somewhere in a family’s line.
27 (m)UTE
28 END-USER – reverse last three “bits” of “endures”
29 RESIDED – “abode” is the past tense of “abide” in the cryptic reading, not a house. Very cunning. Corrected after Harry’s comment
2 ARRIVE,DERCI = cried* – Italian for “goodbye”
4 DEFENDABLE – musical notation letter swap in ‘dependable’
7 (r)OUT
8 S(CH)OLAR – solar = “upper chamber in medieval house” – Concise Oxford but not Collins
17 ANNE,LID = covering = 11A,S
21 DERRIS – hidden – an “E. Indian woody leguminous climber” – Collins but not Concise Oxford, where it’s an insecticide obtained from plant roots
24 PIER = “peer” – the “in” link-word resolves any ambiguity between PEER and PIER as possible answers.

Crossword blogosphere news
I’ll add links to these new or relocated blogs on our right-hand panel fairly soon.

  • My old Times championship rival Tony Sever has started one about the Times 2 Race the Clock puzzle, with entries posted just after midnight about the previous day’s puzzle.
  • Chris Lancaster is relaunching his Listener solving blog with help from some other Listener solvers – first 2007 posting should be up by the end of 28 Jan.
  • If you’ve ever tried the New York Times puzzle, Rex Parker writes very well about it. I’m quite tempted to steal his “Pantheon” idea – a list of words commonly used to fill awkward spots in grids.

Times Vintage puzzles
I’ve finished trying to solve these – ended up with 5 errors between the 76/56/36 puzzles. Will write up one or more blog entries for them when I’ve understood all the literary and other obscurities – probably by e-mailing some reliable sources.

10 comments on “23488 – not a 12 in the park”

  1. I was surprised to see this clue idea for the same word re-used so shortly after it appeared in a Saturday puzzle (on 16th Dec). Then, the clue was “Consumer bears last three back”. A case of “great minds think alike” or maybe the same setter re-wording the original clue perhaps?
    1. GMTA I think. END-USER looks a useful word – all the letters are convenient checking letters, esp. as the last letter of a word, and if you take the E?D?S?R pattern, there are few other choices, even if you’re happy to scrap one of these four checking letters and use something else.
  2. Funnily enough I found this far easier than usual. That’s not to say I came anywhere near Peter’s time, but I did have a lot of the grid filled in fifteen minutes, unusual for me. I thought 12 across, which had me foxed for a long time, was very clever, and it took a while to see “abode” as the past tense of “abide”.
  3. This was the final step in a Listener puzzle by Lato earlier this year based on winners of the Grand National. Crows was in the grid and you had to reverse it and write under the grid RED RUM.


  4. Harder than usual. COuldn’t finish: the root of all evil for me was 3D: I had RESOLE (I ordered SOLE v. recently at a good seafood restaurant) which meant I couldn’t get COVERING and ANNELIDS.
  5. I got lucky on this one, knowing all the rarer words for once and finishing in 5:26. I started in the top right with 5ac (TEDIOUS) which looks like it was a fortunate path. Like Peter I struggled on 1dn and 9ac, until I got 11ac (COVERING), which I solved from the cross-reference in 17dn (anneLIDs).
    1. Well done! I hope you can find your way past the “utherpen dragons” into the Times final soon. One or two puzzles like this at the right time can make all the difference.
  6. Our illustrious founder PB tells that an “easy” took far longer than it should have (13d) but then does not include it in the blog. This is why I am doing these completions for those of us for whom a Saturday crossword might well last until Tuesday. By virtue of my Time(s) Travel I encountered this answer a couple of days ago in the Times Saturday 26478 of July 30 2016 where it had a very similar clue, the same literal, and took me “longer than it should have” to see it. It went in straightway in this one.

    Here are the omissions:

    5a Dull man promises to pay = TED IOUS
    10a Home striker needs protection from injury before game = SAFETY MATCH
    16a Club member’s answer to Christmas display problem = CARDHOLDER – the “‘s” denotes “is” and not “belonging to the club member” in this double definition.
    23a Guns (are)* naughtily smuggled into businesses = FI REA RMS

    5d Carry toddler having little energy = TOT E
    6d Departs with feeling being put down = D EMOTION
    13d Bully to be generous in the pub? = ORDER A ROUND
    14d Notice senior MP’s conduct = AD MINISTER – where the “‘s” in the clue denotes “is” and not “belonging to the MP”. It’s the same in 16a.
    18d Sound in stomach maybe after cold dish = C RUMBLE
    20d United keeping scores up – lots of entertainment here = WE STEN D – where united = WED and scores = NETS and up = backwards in a down clue. Nothing to do with WEST HAM UNITED which, confusingly, is in the East End.
    26d Perch is something fisherman brings home = ROD – could have been POLE if a 4 letter answer.

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