23537 – CORNERED

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time : 12:16 – with one wrong

A really good crossword with interesting words and approaches to cluing. And I was feeling quite pleased when I had only three to go after less than eight minutes. I then took ages to get 14A and 3D. Finally, mind blank faced with S_O_N_R for 9A, I guessed SPOONER, hoping there was some spoonerism I couldn’t see involving a nickname for Spurs I didn’t know. After I had stopped the clock and searched for words that fit the pattern, SCORNER seemed so obvious.

Plenty clues expecting some literary or artistic knowledge with references to Bosch, Hesse, Chekhov, Cervantes, Lyly and Dickens. This last one should have had a spoiler warning. I started reading Dickens at about the same age I started solving the Times Crossword, and I would have been annoyed to find out about Estella’s parentage from a crossword rather than the book. Why not “Pip’s tormentor” or “Miss Havisham’s ward”? Those are things you find out early in the book, rather than a late plot twist.


1 BLACK SPOT – two meanings, one gardening, one snooker
6 TABES, being BEAST* – I was pleased to get this unfamiliar word on a first look
9 S + CORNER – and not SPOONER as I wrote in
10 E, S + TELL + A – reference to a relationship in Great Expectations that one does not discover till late on in the book
11 HOTEL, being T(wist) in HOLE* – “sleeper” is an imaginative definition
12 OTHERWISE, being W in O THE RISE!
14 A(WEST)RUCK – This took me far too long, even though I guessed RUCK fairly early. It was only when I considered that the answer might break 3&6 rather than 4&5 that I saw the answer straight away
17 VENDETTAS, being END in VET, + SAT(rev) – using “relaxed” for “sat back” for TAS is mildly outrageous, and fun
18 RICIN (= “rice in”) – ho-ho
22 W + INCH – I don’t know why it still surprises me to see the Times including words (“to spare” here) whose only purpose is to enhance the surface reading
24 INSUL(t) + IN
26 S+LYLY – I will confess to never having heard of John Lyly, but by the time I reached this clue I had S_Y_Y and just filled in the answer
27 RO(SIN)AN + TE – I am not sure why this horse is so popular with setters


1 BOSCH (=”Boche”)
2 A BOUT + TURN – that’s as in “a bout of illness”, and “the milk has turned”
3 KENT LEDGE – It took me a while to see this. I had a misspelling of KINTLEDGE in my head. But once spotted it was clearly right
4 PERSONAL TRAINER – two meanings, the straighter one being “He makes you fit”
5 THE THREE SISTERS – seemed an unusually straightforward clue for this crossword, but an opportunity to vary my picture
6 TATAR, being TA in RAT (all rev)
7 BALTI(c)
16 UNCO + N + CERN – “unco” is such a useful Scottish word for setters. In the real world I have only heard it used as an adverb (as in “unco guid”)
20 AS + SAY
21 TALLY – two meanings, though I think the normal adverbial form of “tall” is “tall”
23 HE’S S(impl)E

8 comments on “23537 – CORNERED”

  1. I made a real hash of this… mainly because I jumped at the anagram of beast and decided on BATES… which is pretty close in meaning to “wasting away” and I wasn’t familiar with TABES until I read this.
    1. BATES/TABES is one of those times to stop and ponder whether the clue is the best for your possible answer. For BATES, “Beast suffers and wastes away” seems much better – I wouldn’t expect the Times to equate “wasting away” with “is wasting away”. I can’t claim to have used this logic – I just left this one until checking letters were in place and then somehow remembered that TABES is a word.
      1. Luckily TABES went straight in (the first clue I solved), so I didn’t consider BATES. I thought of ESTELLA as soon as I saw “daughter of Abel”, but didn’t put it straight in since I had R—— from having mistyped THR THREE SISTERS. A bit slow (9:26) for the sort of puzzle that should have been an absolute doddle for anyone who’s been doing the Times crossword as long as I have.
  2. I had to resort to reference books for several clues and still failed to solve 27A, never having heard of Rosinante. I’m afraid I can’t get my brain round 9A: how does “scorner” = “he’s not taken advantage of”? Must be missing something.

    Some nice clues, though.

    1. You’ll see the horse again – a handy word for the bottom row. Scorner = “he’s not taken advantage” – some who scorns something doesn’t use it. “of” is permitted as a link word in the Times as long as the order is {definition} of {wordplay}.
      1. Thanks for the explanation. Having left the “of” out it makes perfect sense. I was unaware of that convention.
  3. 10:16 here – delayed by SLOTH as a careless red herring at 11. “sleeper” as def. and SLOT = “prepared hole” make some kind of sense, but equating “start to twist” with H doesn’t!
  4. I am writing this from the future where the Great British public have undone all of Ted Heath’s work getting us into the EU. Despite this – should we really be having these historical, quite offensive, terms for Mrs Merkel’s people in the Times? Just askin’.

    Our esteemed blogger included most of the rest of the non-offensive clues – all except four and here they are:

    13a Ignore fractions in regular series (5)
    ROUND. Down or up I want to know?

    25a Squeeze out of train (7)

    8d Leather to be had in Slough (9)
    SNAKESKIN. So there’s a reptilarium somewhere near Heathrow?

    15d (Troop, when)* ordered, made house available for inspection (5,4)
    THROW OPEN. What to do with your house if you really want to get burgled later.

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