23,511 – The name game

Solving time: 5’04”

I had a bad start, making a pig’s ear of the top left and working ‘up and left’ through the grid which is always much slower, so I expect others to have recorded some very quick times today. Lots of old chestnuts and no fewer than 5 first names appearing as answers or in clues or wordplay.

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘publicity’ = PR (Public Relations) (or AD[vert]), ‘jolly’ = RM (Royal Marine), ‘companion’ = CH (Companion of Honour).

* = anagram.

1 PR + IN + TABLE – really should have got this straight away, but I thought ‘AD’ instead of ‘PR’ for publicity and had to leave it, costing me a rare sub-5 minute time.
6 RECAP; rev. of PACER – remember this reversal, it comes up regularly.
10 ROULEAU; “RUE LO” – the one answer I wasn’t sure of: it means ‘a roll or coil of ribbon’.
12 A + RM (= Royal Marine = jolly) + STRONG
13 SHA(R)D
14 NOURISHED; (HOURS ENID)* – ‘to get one X’ in the sense of ‘to give the solver the answer X’ is rather inelegant. Enid is the first of several arbitrary first names today, a bugbear of many solvers.
17 I + NE(BRIAN)T – a curiously worded clue (“I will get man into my clutches? Intoxicating!”). Brian is our first man.
18 DI + VAN – ‘girl’ = DI is probably the most used name in crosswords; ‘store’s vehicle?’ for VAN is quite verbose.
19 SO(A POPE)R[e] + A – a rare care of ‘bishop’ not indicating B or RR.
22 CH + ILL – CH stands for Companion of Honour.
26 [m]EN + SUE – another addition to today’s harem.
27 TINSMITHS (cryptic definition)
1 PE[s]TER – held up here by trying [s]TIR. At least this name is given a bit of qualification.
2 INTRICATE; (NICE ART IT)* – early morning anagramitis cost me dearly here.
5 EARL MOUNTBATTEN; (A LOT AT NUMBER TEN)* – having speculated ‘-TABLE’ at 1 across I wrote in EARL straightaway but had to come back for the second word. Lord Mountbatten was uncle to Prince Philip and Admiral of the Fleet.
6 [p]ROUST – refers to Marcel.
13 SH(I + P (= quiet))SH + APE – ‘the brute’ seems a little overspecific, though it’s a good surface.
20 ARRAS (hidden) – meaning a tapestry, as originally made at Arras in French.
23 LOT + US – I didn’t know the river Lot, or indeed the Garonne of which it is a tributary, but the answer was clear.

15 comments on “23,511 – The name game”

  1. I was pleased to get PRINTABLE, PETER and PACER/RECAP immediately, giving me a flying start, but annoyed that I couldn’ enter 6 across until I had a letter other than C confirmed; “about” can work in both directions so the clue is ambiguous.
    Can someome clarify “creates” in 1 down. “Saint is trouble….” or “Saint’s trouble…” makes sense. “Creates” doesn’t make cryptic sense to me.
    I do agree about the inelegance of “one” in 14 across. It’s becoming a common Times device, used purely to mislead. The surface reading would not suffer at all without it; in fact it rather spoils the surface.
  2. Does anyone agree that “will” in 17A is downright misleading? It’s certainly superfluous.
    1. Ximenes wrote disapprovingly ‘Many clue writers make no distinction between the pronoun “I” and the letter “I”…In nearly every case the trouble can be got over by saying “I must be”, “I can be” etc., or by using “one”.’

      Presumably the setter had something like this in mind and wanted to avoid any “I get man” / “I gets man” argument, but the result is rather inelegant.
      Richard S

  3. Well done, Neil. Should maybe have been quicker here but wasn’t – 5:41. Didn’t spot the right Earl straightaway (some time on the anag. might have paid off), took a while over rouleau, started off guessing Loire for the Fr. river, and took 20 secs or so to see the tinsmiths from all the checking letters. Over to Magoo for the sub-5 on this one?
  4. This ambiguity is becoming increasingly common. It was also in The Independent the other day. A past crossword editor of The Times says quite clearly in his book (How to do The Times Crossword, Brian Greer) “The setter may need to be careful not to break the principle that a clue should not have more than one valid answer, which can happen if the indication of reversal is placed in the middle.” In his day 6A would not have got through.

    Wil Ransome

    1. Ah, but Brian is editor of the Independent crossword these days so, unless the ambiguous clue was in the magazine crossword (edited by Mike Laws), the clue you’re talking about got past him.

      Dafydd Price Jones.

  5. In reply to dyste, isn’t this “pesters” (i.e. creates trouble) without “s”?

    Wil Ransome

    1. Sorry, I don’t follow. “Pesters” without S gives “Peters” or “pester”, not “Peter”.
      1. A moot point: does “without S” mean “without one S” or “without any S?”. In xwds, usually the first, but I’m equally happy with the second.
        1. I would interpret “ignoring society leader” as an instruction to remove an S; I find it difficult to accept it as an instruction to remove all cases of S, and I can think of at least two editors who would find fault with it.
  6. Anyone who follows the Ximenean code ( not everyone admittedly) should know that ‘X about Y’ must mean that X is to be reversed – by convention, ‘about’ is not generally regarded as an acceptable prenominal adverb
  7. Yes, I did manage 3m14s, one of my fastest times ever (this message will almost certainly take longer to write!), despite spending what felt like 30s before entering a single letter. On some of the technical points, my 2p-worth: (1) I have no trouble with “PETER creates PESTER ignoring S”, (2) I agree that “will” is misleading in 17a, (3) I have no problem with “one” in 14a, and feel it slightly improves the surface, (4) I did not know that ‘the Ximenean code’ disallowed ‘about’ as a prenominal adverb, even though I try to follow its strictures, (5) I don’t really mind ambiguous clues if they’re resolved by checking, (6) I believe Mike Hutchinson is the editor of the Independent crossword, not Brian Greer.
    1. Indeed Mike Hutchinson is the man. I really must keep up. Apologies all round, and to Brian Greer in particular.

      Dafydd Price Jones

  8. Disconcerting to think that 3m 14s is only one of Magoo’s fastest times, and that he might have been 30 seconds faster! I was a very slow 6m 19s, but I was trying to solve each clue in turn (but choosing the order) before going on to the next. I actually chickened out after about 15 or 20 seconds faced with –U-T for 6d (ROUST) – annoyingly easy once I’d eventually solved it – but was otherwise OK. I occasionally manage to achieve this in a moderate time (around 6 minutes) and wonder if anyone else tries the same thing. (Is there a word or phrase for it? A “clean sweep” perhaps?)
  9. All this talk of 3 – 5 minutes after “slow” starts and a “very slow” 6m 19s! I particularly enjoy a daily x-word if I don’t finish it until the next morning – because it was challenging. Anyway – the “easies”:

    9a Like certain churches taking minimal time with strange ritual (7)
    T ITULAR. Like some churches apparently? Is this that easy??

    11a Beast foreign character keeps at home (5)
    RH IN O

    25a Expel number of people coming to meeting (7)

    4d Must one sink to this to get a good deal? (7,8)

    7d Firm embracing left-wing set of beliefs (5)
    C RED O

    16d Argue aggressively? Sufferer with a rotten tooth might do that (4,2,3)

    21d Ready to skate but held back? (2,3)
    ON ICE

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