23542 – Swift? Yes and No – I took a knock

Solving time 11:08 – with one crass error

I started out with hopes of a third sub-5 on the trot, but these soon evaporated. Eventually I was left with 2 and 9. I gradually found parts of the epic charade for 9, such as DAL = “youth back” and desire = ITCH, and was briefly tempted by DOURDALCLITCH and ANDORRA. Then managed to spot {trickster = liar} to get the right answers for these two. Just over 11 minutes didn’t seem so bad, until I started picking out clues to comment on and found my careless slip-up at 7D. I can see Tony Sever shaking his head at my youthful haste when he reads this. Although I have a couple of quibbles, there’s some good stuff in here, and 9A was fairly clued, as was 22D. Kudos to anyone under ten minutes who doesn’t know 9 from reading the right book.

1 WAR(D)ROOM – a naval mess, “war room” being the control centre that I can’t think of without remembering Dr Strangelove – “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here – this is a war-room.” I’m not a great fan of introductory words like “make” here – “Mess made by having died …” seems a fairer way of putting it.
6 GO BLIN(d)
9 GLUM=sad,DAL=youth back,CL=class,ITCH=desire. She’s a Brobdingnagian farmer’s daughter in Gulliver’s Travels
11 CAPITALS – a fairly easy typographical riddle
15 WORM(s) – ref. the diet of Worms, and worm = despicable person.
16 S,HOE – ref. “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe”.
18 FILE=life*,SERVER=waiter
22 H(OLD)IT – pensioners = OLD via “The old”, I guess.
2 A L(GER.)IA(r) – I was struck by a fear that this would be some German Land like Hesse or Bayern that I’d forgotten about.
4 O,L,DIE – name of a UK magazine for “mature” folk – with a decent crossword, I think. [Amended post-comment.]
5 MALA = (a lam)<=,CHI – I’m still waiting to be convinced that “good book” is used outside cryptic crosswords for a single book of the Bible.
6 GALA=charity performance,PAG = opera,O.S. = outsize = giant. The old standard double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (a couple of Italian spellings to remember?) is known as “Cav and Pag”.
7 BAT – 2 mngs – “take a knock” = play a cricket innings, flutter as in “bat an eyelid”. Mr Chump here went for BET=flutter, thinking there must be some appropriate slang meaning of ‘take a knock’. My turn to mess up a three-letter word, for those who remember TUP from a few weeks ago.
12 TOWER BLOCKS – ref Tower of London, site of executions when still carried out with a sword/hatchet and wooden block.
22 HAUL,M – plant stems used as thatch or bedding
24 BAA – BroAdcaAst “regularly”.

17 comments on “23542 – Swift? Yes and No – I took a knock”

  1. probably worth mentioning that in 24D a “Jacob” is a kind of sheep (a wild guess for me that I had to confirm offline).

    I am a fully-paid up member of the BET chump club as well.

  2. Is Eve = our mother standard crossword fare? Seems a bit dubious to me if it’s a reference to Adam and Eve.

    The Oldie is not just for retired folk, btw. I have been a subscriber since its first issue in 1992 and I’m still some way off retiring. But you are correct about their (Genius) crossword; it is usually very rewarding.

    1. I don’t remember seeing {Eve = our mother} before but understood it by analogy with things like {first person = Adam}. Potentially dubious yes – I think the Times uses this kind of stuff more often than other papers, but I may be wrong.

      Oldie description above tweaked a little…

  3. Although it took me 28:45, I was delighted to find that Glumdalclitch existed. And I had never heard of “haulm”, or “Pag”. So I was pretty pleased with myslef.

    But I also had BET.

  4. I wasn’t sure about the diet reference in 15a, so thanks for your comment on that. There’s an error in your link, though.
    I had no idea about 9a, so had to look that up – sorted out the wordplay afterwards.
    In my spare time I’m working through old puzzles in a couple of Times Crosswords books and had seen flutter=bat very recently, so no youthful haste from me.
    With the exception of 9a, I completed this in 35 minutes. I’m having a pretty good week – I also completed Monday’s Independent in 16 minutes, halving my previous best time.
    1. Link fixed. If you’re looking at some old puzzles and Indies, I’m sure your times will continue to improve.
  5. Is the capital “L” in “Land” fair? Even having got “Algeria”, I still wasn’t sure I was right..


    1. Must one day get round to putting up a page of Times xwd house rules, which include: “It’s OK to use a capital letter that’s not required, but if a capitalised meaning is required, the capital letter(s) must be present.” Even Azed says “I regard [this] as acceptable, just.” Not everyone agrees, but my guess is that other daily paper editors would also allow this.
    2. Possibly I’m reading too much into it but I wondered if this might be making double use of “German” in teh clue. Apart from the “GER” in Algeria, the German for country (the definition) is Land spelt with a capital. Rather a nice touch I thought.
  6. I was a little surprised by the use of the hyphen in 26, although I wouldn’t bat an eyelid (at least I got that) if I saw it in the Guardian. Got as far as GLUMDAL-L-T-H for 9 before giving up, missing ITCH.
    Richard Saunders
  7. 8’39″… with ‘bet’. And I’d even ringed it, intending to go back to check it at the end. The setter must be laughing his socks off.
  8. The wordplay given seems the best, but I had opera=SOAP, giant=G, sorted to give PAGOS, which fits as well.

    Harry Shipley

  9. This was my sort of puzzle so I should have been faster than 9:22, but at least I was all correct (fortunately I didn’t even think of BET). It’s a relief to do better than some of the speed kings occasionally!
  10. At 18A I was unhappy with “needs”. If linkwords at all are controversial this one seems especially egregious. I could just about see {definition} needs {wordplay}, interpreted as {this answer} needs {these elements} (to derive it), but I can’t see any reading of {wordplay} needs {definition} that makes any sense.

    Nitpick corner: I think the opera is actually called in full “I Pagliacci”.


    1. Point taken on “needs, but I’m sticking to my guns on Pagliacci – that’s how it’s listed on my CD copy of the EMI/Caruso version of “Vesti la giubba” (“On with the motley”) – recorded in 1907, so they had about 90 years to get it right!
  11. Thanks for the explanation of Pag = (Il) Pagliacci. The answer was clearly GALA PAG OS at 6d but I did not know the opera abbreviation. Amazing what you can learn at TfTT – especially from its most esteemed founder.

    A small matter of 8 “easies” omitted by PB:

    10a It affords ventilation in restaurant, say (6)
    GRILLE. A homophone – or a “sounds like” indicated by the “say”.

    13a “Tom here!” (jeers) (10)

    23a Rob one of the family? No problem (4,4,5)
    BOBS YOUR UNCLE. Was it just me that tried to get KIN into this for too long? One of the few times we get YOUR and not ONES in a Times answer.

    25a Turn with extremely giddy speed (6)

    8d It helps asthmatic get home less unwell (7)

    14d A healthy one could get (Lesley fit)* (4-5)

    17d Most advanced pupil:(he) has (a) sick (body)* (4,3)

    19d MiLAN GUIDe a bit lacking in energy (7)

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