23,526 – Maybe together the total group can advance afar

Solving time : 7m15s – At first I thought this was really hard – but then a minute later one or two answers came and I calmed down, and proceeded OK. I think it may be a case of expecting that when my blog turn comes up I’ll struggle! Some nicely phrased clues yet again, and misleading traps – all in all, I liked this one a lot.


1 HIGH + TABLE – HIGH meaning “rotten” and TABLE meaning “food”
6 G(o)R(d)O(n) + UP
9 V in A DANCE – I’m not a fan of V = Venezuelan capital, but it’s straightforward
11 TO + TAL(k) – as in ‘grand total’; nicely worded clue, though there may be an argument that literally it doesn’t interpret correctly.
13 AVER + I in SON – the first “To” is interpreted as “next to”, which may be a little artificial.
17 SLAM, 2 meanings – I like the “tricky” pun in the second definition.
18 o.g. in TETHER – This ‘own goal’ abbreviation isn’t in Chambers, but is certainly well known amongst football fans.
21 EVEN in ELSE + (scheme)S – Lovely use of “Break even”
22 LOWER, 2 meanings – one definition is the (Jersey) cow, which lows; the other is where trousers are in relation to a jersey. A splendid idea.
25 TORT + GOD (all rev) – Brilliant misleading use of “being above all”
26 BY A.M. (rev) + E – My last one entered, thanks to the combining of “by a.m.” – again a gorgeous idea and realisation.


2 GIVE THE GAME AWAY, pun – I liked this most because it reminded me of Shane Warne’s dropped slip catch that lost the Ashes for Australia in 2005. A recent article of his almost acknowledged this finally.
3 (for)TUNELESS – Significant subtractions are always hard.
4 ”Beat route” – Hilary Seidman recently commented on the cryptic helping with T2; this is the other way round as yesterday’s T2 had BEETROOT, raising it higher up my list of expected vegetables.
7 ON TOP OF THE WORLD, pun – because penguins come from the Antarctic not the Arctic. Popular schoolboy joke: Why don’t polar bears eat penguins? Because they can’t get the wrappers off. Modern maudlin answer: Because they’re too weak these days…
8 PLASTERER, anag REP(air)S LATER – didn’t work this out during solving…
13 A + M(otorway) + RD in STEAM – … or this.
15 ONSIDE in CR – “footballer’s legal position” = ONSIDE, wonderful.
16 RE + D(e)LIGHT – clever, but the definition and letter count is a giveaway.
20 ME + AGRE(e) – thoroughly misleading again. Bravo!

8 comments on “23,526 – Maybe together the total group can advance afar”

  1. I found this very tough and I didn’t have to blog it.

    I got all the answers but didn’t understand some of the wordplay until I read this: specifically, didn’t realize that HIGH was rotten just assumed this was some Cambridge allusion to terrible institutional food. Guessed TUNELESS but on the other hand saw PLASTERER immediately (bizarre since “for” was in the first clue and “air” was a synonym of draught).

    Nice to see ROTOR not clued as a palindrome.

  2. When I first looked at this I was totally stumped, only getting a couple on the first run through the clues, but then I concentrated on the two 15-letter answers, got them both, and the rest of the puzzle opened up. It’s amazing sometimes how much difference a single letter in an answer makes! Finished in about 15 mins in the end.
    1. I meant to add that in 2dn I was thinking of Glenn McGrath’s more recent drop of Paul Collingwood in the ODI, but of course he wasn’t in the slips.
  3. Took longer to calm down and had a tough fight with this clever puzzle – 12:50. Must stop putting jogtrot for dogtrot – I’m sure I’ve been delayed by this before, but luckily ?????J?R was obviously unlikely. Last 8 for me, in order solved after correcting the J: 15, 21, 13D, 26, 13A, 4, 3, 9
  4. I found this the hardest of the week. I filled the right-hand side fairly quickly, but had little on the left and took ages to complete the SW corner even though I couldn’t point to any clue as particularly hard.
  5. MEAGRE is 19D. No comment on 20D, even though it seems that “ringleader” gives “r”. I thought The Times’s view on the Gateshead argument was that such shouldn’t be allowed? Have I got it right – a, + r in sham?
  6. This caught my eye too, but it is perhaps not quite as indirect as Gateshead. Like Mark (and speaking as a football fan) thought that “footballer’s legal position” in CONSIDER was really special.
  7. There seems to be some dissent in the ranks about using wordplay like Ringleader = R. The other example given is Gateshead = G. Can’t see what the fuss is about myself.
    Here are the “easies” deemed to simple for comment in the blog:

    10a Garment protecting king, one leading a country (7)
    C R OAT I A

    12a Lecture given by communist which is laid down for the elite (3,6)
    RED CARPET. Where to give a “carpeting” is to talk to sternly.

    14a A service back in the Antipodes (4)
    AFAR. The service is not ANZAC – too many letters – but RAF backwards – thus a long way away.

    24a Dignified woman having to carry out venture (7)
    DO WAGER. Where the venture is a wager.

    27a (U)niversal (martyrdo)*m virtually destroyed Catholic monarch (4,5)
    Mary Tudor. Catholic not meaning C or RC but part of the literal. Our last one of such description?

    1d Courage demonstrated by resistance in passion (5)
    HEA R T

    5d European has to move swiftly over old currency (6)
    E SCUD O. Where the old is the final O and part of the literal if Escudo is what the Portuguese used to spend before the Euro?

    6d Girl admitting tennis shot’s all over the place (6)
    G LOB AL. Who would think that GB would have a female tennis player in the top 10 within 10 years of this puzzle. Look out for Joanna Konta.

    20d A ringleader involved in fraud seeks religious retreat (6)
    A SH R AM. I did not know a SHAM was a fraud as well as a SCAM but there don’t appear to be many ASCRAMs around. There’s the infamous Ringleader.

    23d Device turning run out to runs (5)
    R OT OR. Not clued as a palindrome for once as mentioned above but a neat &lit definition and some Cricket.

Comments are closed.