23,518 – tip-top trap for the over-hasty!

Solving time 9:25

The last two minutes or so were spent making sure of the answer for 11. A nice mixture of material, and some very smooth clue-writing. I see with some relief that the Merriam-Webster online dictionary has ‘ducks and drakes’, but note that the rather lovely word ‘gormless’ is described as “Chiefly British”, so that might cause a bit of trouble.

4 GORMLESS – Jolly = Royal Marine = RM, in (legs so)*
10 LIGHT = window, FOOTED = paid = settled – simple charade of synonyms, but well-chosen ones
11 TUP – with TAP, TIP, TOP and TUP all fitting, time to take care. I suspect that “tip” can be stretched to mean ‘replace the tip of (a snooker cue or similar)’, and a tip is a pile, so I was sorely tempted, but then saw replace = “put back”, so TUP it had to be – the dictionary confirms that it means the head of a pile-driver, as well as a ram (the animal, that is, and the whole thing, not just its head …)
12 RE,S.,POND – a pond being the best place for a game of ducks and drakes
21 REG,AT,T.A. – I didn’t know that Inspector Wexford was a Reg, but the rest of the wordplay was easy enough.
26 CASSE-(noise)TTE – knowing that a casse-noisette is a nutcracker is MUCH more difficult French than usual (though the def. should be enough to get the answer with checking letters if you don’t know it). I remember it well, as I used to do some score-reading in my youth and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite was in my parents’ fairly small collection of recordings. Casse-Noisette was on the cover of the score borrowed from the library. German: Nußnacker, should you ever need it.
27 SLA(LO)M – slam = attack (verbally)
3 F.A.,T(U)OUS
6 MADE,IRA – the lyricist, George’s brother and the usual xwd Gershwin
7 EX,T,ROVER,TED. Any chance of Ted being clued by Father? Just a thought …
8 SAPPER – 2 defs. When I started cryptic xwds, Sappers = R.E. was one of the first things I learned – in easy 70s puzzles, it seemed to be used nearly every day. I didn’t understand properly until I looked up sap and sapper in a dictionary years later.
9 GOLDEN (as in “silence is golden”),P(H)EASANT. More than you ever wanted to know about the bird here
18 NET=final,S(UK)E
19 ADMIRA(b)L(e) – recalling the misprint in the first print-run of Chambers 2003, crediting J M Barrie with a play called The Admiral Crichton
25 (b)ILL

14 comments on “23,518 – tip-top trap for the over-hasty!”

  1. Nasty, nasty. I thought TUP could only mean the sheep, so discounted it. I eventually went for TIP (for the same reasons as you outlined above). Other than that I finished in about 10 mins while explaining the workings of the clues to a dumbfounded colleague (except for 26ac, where I just said “don’t know but it’s the right answer”).
  2. I went for TIP as well, despite trying to take care. I even thought of PUT BACK, but didn’t equate it with ‘Replace’ (which I was stupidly only interpreting as ‘Substitute’). I was also wondering about STOP striking its head, and TO=striking + P (head of pile-driver). A door that’s ‘to’ is touching, no? In the end I went with one of your maxims, PB, ‘when there’s a choice, never go for something you don’t know’ and decided I did know that TIP could mean to replace the tip of your cue. Darn
  3. And I was feeling so pleased with myself for having a faster time than you for once, Peter. I didn’t really consider TUP at all. TIP just seemed more justifiable than TAP or TOP.
  4. Apart from 11, with which I struggled for ages, eventually settling for TOP (not even considering TUP)I found this fairly easy, but many of the clues were delightful. This is just the sort of Times puzzle I like. 1,4,14 ,26 across all gave particular pleasure, while 5 down took some teasing out once I’d got the answer from the letters I had in place.
  5. “Ornaments” is plural. Chambers only gives the singular. Is this just Chambers?
      1. If you remember that Japanese doesn’t distinguish between singular and plural (bar a few exceptional cases), then NETSUKE for “ornaments” seems OK. (10:25 – like Peter B I spent the last couple of minutes mulling over 11a, eventually plumping for TUP after cottoning onto “put back” and thinking about rams)
  6. I knew that definition of TUP so was able to help a friend who phoned me. But Replace=PUT BACK= REPLACE is a clue to a clue in my book and distinctly non-Ximenean. Unless he was overruled by the editor, I’d put my shirt on this not being a Manley puzzle! LMR
    1. I fully agree with the comment about TUP. REPLACE = PUT BACK + TUP is a clue to a clue, and somewhat unfair. I suppose it won’t be long before we see in a down clue ACCOMMODATE = PUT UP = TUP etc.
      1. I have a sneaking suspicion that your prediction has already been fulfilled in some Times puzzle. I don’t mind a bit of this indirect stuff in a daily paper puzzle, especially once I know that it’s on the cards. For those who did know, I think the obscurity of the “head of a pile-driver” meaning was the main problem.

        As I’ve probably said before, if you want 100% Ximenean purity every day, the current Times is not for you. Neither, as far as I know, is any other daily paper puzzle. I think the Times was more strictly Ximenean in the days of Brian Greer and Mike Laws, but I don’t know whether this kind of stuff was completely excluded. My knowledge of the editing process is very sketchy, but I don’t think Richard Browne would deliberately put non-Ximenean clues into puzzles from X’ean setters.

        1. I realize that many solvers are perfectly happy with these non-Ximenean clues, and perhaps I shouldn’t be so critical, but if I want non-Ximenean clues I go to the Guardian. The beauty of the Times puzzles used to be that Ximenean principles were strictly observed, yet very elegant clues were produced within that discipline. Now there isn’t a daily cryptic that observes Ximenean clueing, except by the self-imposed discipline of individual setters. Actually, I’m less concerned about the clue for TUP than about inappropriate use of past tenses and nounal anagrinds.
          1. I think you must have started Times solving with Brian or Mike as editor. I’m pretty sure that Edmund Akenhead (65-83 – only experienced by me in books, not daily solving) and John Grant (83-95) allowed ‘indirect’ clues and some other non-Ximenean methods. Some of the non-Ximenean stuff bothered me a bit when it first started to come back, but now that quotation clues are dead and other literary/schoolroom stuff is much less important, I don’t mind the occasional one – I don’t think we get more than a couple in the same puzzle. Tenses and noun AIs I can’t get that excited about – stretching word order or meaning too far is what tends to wind me up. And if you thnk it’s un-Ximenean now, just take a look at some of the pre-Akenhead puzzles!

            Some nice stuff from the LJ spell-checker:
            Akenhead Skinhead, Axehead, Agenda, Egghead […]

            1. Correction: I had a year or so of Akenhead when I rashly chose the Times as my first daily paper cryptic. I came back in about 1983 after a spell doing the Guardian.
  7. Pass the Carafe, I scream.

    I did not get 2 in the top right – the crossing pair of 11a TUP and 8d SAPPER. I’d have possibly got 8d if I’d had 11a but this was a literal beyond my ken. If the literal had been something to do with sheep then replace = put back would have been OK I reckon. But having a really obscure definition AS WELL was a step too far. At least I was not alone – see comments above. The DD of 8 down did not yield to much thought when faced with S***E* either.

    There were some un-blogged “easies” that I did get. Thanks to PB for at least blogging TUP & SAPPER.

    1a Vessel used in a service in church (6)
    C A RAF E

    15a Game birds? (5,3,6)
    DUCKS AND DRAKES. Heard of it – probably in x-word land – but no idea what this game involves.

    17a Not keen to alter (nice sunsuit) and (hat)* (14)

    22a Wandering distortion of (coda in M)*ahler’s first (7)

    23a Film backed by European supporter on course (3)
    TE E. ET backed then European.

    24a Retiring union leader ingenuous about replacing of lock(11)
    U NA SSERT IVE. U nion leader then ingenuous = naive about (surrounding) replacement of lock = Tress backwards. Simple. NOT!

    2d Second rate newspaper’s charity event (3)

    16d They say yours truly cries out for frozen food (3,5)
    ICE CREAM (you scream etc)

    20d Lorry touring cold area up north (6)
    AR C TIC

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