23522 – Obs and Sols

Solving time : about 90 minutes – in three sittings

Some nice symmetry with the first and last answers being Indian cities – one that I’ve seen before in crosswords and one that I haven’t. I started pretty well, completing most of the left-hand-side, although I was held up by the anagram at 23a. I didn’t get very far with the RHS, so had a bit of a break.
I am not sure I entirely understand every clue – so any comments are most welcome…


1 AMRI(=Irma<=)TSAR – the first of our Indian cities
9 ESOTERIC – anagram of ER=monarch and societ[y] – we have an indirect anagram here, which some people don’t like to see. I don’t mind so much if it is a well-known substitution such as ER=monarchy
13 RATION,ALLY – nice verb/noun possibility at the beginning
20 HOBBY(=bird),HORSE(anag of shore)
22 HEIR – I think the ‘repeatedly’ refers to the two homonyms “Ayr” and “air”
23 MONTMARTRE – anagram of ‘Art M. Monet’ outside R=right. I don’t know why this took me so long – I know Montmartre well enough, perhaps I forgot how to spell it!
26 A,V,E,M,ARIA – I thought this was a nice, simple clue
27 WILD,CARD – I don’t think these two phrases mean the same thing, but I guess they’re close enough


2 MEA,CULPA – anagram of Ma+Pa+clue
4 SEE-THROUGH – anagram of ‘sheer ought’ &lit.
5 RE(=note)QUITE(=fairly) – I wasn’t immediately sure why ‘Appropriately’ was there – I guess that requiting isn’t any old giving back, it has to be appropriate…
6 DO,SH – I’ve seen ready=money quite a few times now – I liked the surface reading of this clue
8 A,CRONY,MS(=manuscript) – the ‘one can say’ refers to the fact that most acronyms are created to be easily pronounceable
14 OUTGENERAL – not sure what’s going on with the wordplay here
15 ARITHMETIC – I got this originally from the checked letters – the clue refers to the third of the Three Rs. I found this amusing photo on my travels in hyperspace.
16 BO(=ob<=),HEM(I)AN – I think this is right – can ob mean objection? Just looked it up: Ob – An objection made in scholastic disputation. Chiefly in ob and sol (also obs and sols). Well I never! Next time I play OB in Scrabble, I can sound knowledgeable…
19 FRET,SAW – I hadn’t heard of sea fret before
24 AG[o]RA – I have recently seen a very similar clue for this word. This brings us to the second Indian city of the day.

12 comments on “23522 – Obs and Sols”

  1. ‘twice reversing’ -> reversing the meaning of what follows, twice, so that
    in -> out
    particular -> general

    A cute idea, but I don’t see it catching on.

    Adam S.

  2. Found this a bit harder than the usual Monday week-welcomer.
    Wild Card isn’t two defs. The wild is from unbroken, nicely, as in a horse…
    1. I think he meant that “wild card” and “dark horse” don’t mean quite the same. In terms of the “competitor added by competition organiser’s discretion” meaning of “wild card”, that’s true. But Collins also has “an unexpected element in a situation” or similar, which seems close enough to “dark horse”.

      My own picky point: 22A: homophone is the usual term in the xwd world – homonym (pronounced or spelled the same but with different meaning) is correct but less specific.

      Also found it a bit tricky for a Monday at 8:59, with the last minute or two finding the right word for 8D.

  3. The “One can say” may be essential to the clue since purists claim that only those initializations which are pronounceable are acronyms (e.g. NATO since it can be pronounced “nay-to”) whereas those that cannot be pronounced (e.g. BBC)do not qualify for the name acronym.

    John M

  4. I don’t think the clue for “esoteric” is an indirect anagram. The letters ER for monarch have not been split up, and do, indeed, join the jumbled letters of SOCIET.
    1. If we are to read “joining” as a containment indicator, presumably because it joins “ESOT” and “IC”, I think this is stretching things further than an anagram where part of the fodder is clued by a well-known abbreviation.
  5. I found myself filling in PASSE,D for 25A which I thought fit the wordplay and definition quite nicely thank-you-very-much. I finally got RETROD when I got totally hung-up on the rest of the corner as a result and had to back-out.
  6. I think the “repeatedly” refers to the homophones of Ayr (Scottish town), atmosphere (air) and say (air); if so, then this is rather clever.
  7. I thought this might be a quadruple homophone, i.e. heir, e’er (repeatedly??), Ayr and air.

    Richard Saunders

  8. where is the answer to 7 down. also my 23 year old girlfriend had no problem soving or understanding outgeneral, so i guess its pone for the younger generation.
    1. I turned 31 on Sunday and I didn’t think it was that old – til your comment!
      Like the other contributors on the site, I don’t comment on all the clues. But as you’ve made me feel so good: 7D is BRIDLE – homophone of bridal.
  9. Some discussion of “sound-likes” or homophones here. The one request for an extra “easy” was given the wrong homophone in reply! Here they are my bunnies:

    10a It is offered and left in church (6)
    C AND L E

    11a What swimmers do between laps is critical (5-3-2)

    12a Lake, in general, is found in valley (4)
    G L EN

    17a Present for your paper, occasionally (2,5)

    3d Exercise equipment for team in 1 or 24, say (6,4)
    INDIAN CLUB. This is made a lot easier if you first solve 1a and 24d – AMRITSAR and AGRA – particularly as the I for Indian is given by 1a.

    7d Said to show indignation as new partner in union (6)
    BRIDAL. Not BRIDLE as stated above. Bridle is the “showing indignation” that the “as new partner in union” = BRIDAL sounds like.

    18d Always protecting one old-fashioned sinner (8)
    EV I LDO ER. One = I and old-fashioned is an anagram of old = LDO. Both are contained by aka “protected” by EVER = always.

    21d Shelter from hazard (6)
    BUNKER. A golfy DD.

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