23549 – symptom of daftness

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time : 8:26

This started well, with no real hold-ups in the top half. Bottom half took a bit longer, with the linked 17D and 24A going in last. Rather than blaming my stupidity for taking so long to spot SYMPTOM, I shall choose to regard it as brilliant on the part of the setter to construct such a well concealed hidden clue.

The surfaces seem especially good today. They all read more or less naturally. And many are clever or witty, including the last six across clues.


1 D(r)AFT – “conscription” in place of “complusory recruitment” would have made it a sharper political comment, but perhaps too easy a clue
9 CHIFFON, being OFF(rev) in CHIN(a) – not clear what the first word, “such”, is for
11 NOMINEE, being (O(ld) MINE) in North East
14 T (I PT HE’S C)ALES – it’s not normal to have the same word in clue and answer, but I’d have to be an extreme pedant to object to this re-use of “the”
18 T(ime) + RIGGER + HAPPY
21 A + DIE + U – I am sure I have seen this construction before, but it is nicely phrased here, as a suicide note I think
22 AS TO UNDE(a)D – brilliant
24 SYMPTOM (hidden) – I tried hard to interpret “concealing” as a containment or subtraction indicator, only seeing the answer after I had solved 17D which cross-refers
25 THE ORB + O(thello) – with this and “ophicleide” in 23531, my knowledge of obscure instruments is almost exhausted. I predict that “rebec” will be an answer in 23567


4 ENNUI, being {(g)ENUIN(e)}*
6 SOMERSET HOUSE – which used to contain English and Welsh public records, including wills. And the town of Wells is in Somerset
10 FEAT + HERD + U(l)STER – in some contexts equating Ulster (nine counties) and Northern Ireland (six counties) could be a political statement. But it is a useful crossword convention
15 SIGNAL + MAN(y)
17 SYND (=”sinned”) + ROME – I keep forgetting that “church” is not always CE or CH
19 M(ay) + ASS + IF – a reasonably smooth surface for a busy construction
20 D IS MAL – ie “Ford” becomes “formal” only if “MAL” is substituted for “D”
23 TITHE – initial letters, &lit

Times Crossword Championships

If, like me, you rely on the online Times Crossword Club, you may want to know that today’s paper copy of the Times contains the first qualifying puzzle for the 2007 Times Crossword Championships as well as the puzzle above.

14 comments on “23549 – symptom of daftness”

  1. As so often the only clue I can’t explain to myself is not mentioned in the blog, suggesting it’s so obvious to everyone that it doesn’t require comment.

    Can someone please explain the relevance of “to shoot” in 26A. I am assuming my answer Fell Ranger is correct.

    1. Sorry for not covering it. The answer is FELL-RUNNER, a “runner” being something like a “shoot” in a botanical way
      1. I ended up staring at FELL RANGER too.

        I also managed to construct 14A as TIP T(HE’S C)ALES – but I agree that yours was the intended construction.

        1. Actually on reflection and after a little research I don’t feel such a dunce after all as “Fell Ranger” appears to be a job title and there are several references on Google to people who are called this. So it might be considered a valid answer to the definition part of the clue, but scuppered by the cryptic bit.

          Just realised there was another answer I wanted to check that has not been blogged – 27A. After some consideration I decided on BLUE rather than GLUE as that seemed a better fit. Was I right?

          1. I certainly put in BLUE without agonising. I think A with substitution = B is a much more natural reading than A = with substitution B.
            1. There’s also the statement of the substitution – I think you can be sure that “B for G” means “B replaces G” rather than the alternative.
  2. 8:12 here – none of the long answers fell quickly, and at 9A I got the wrong side of the kind of hazy knowledge that found AIGRETTE yesterday. I remembered the word CHIGNON, which fits the CHIN(a) part of the wordplay, and the reversal of NG = “no good” was tempting for “unsatisfactory when spun”. But fortunately didn’t write it in the grid, as chignon is not fabric, but an arrangement of hair.
  3. I agree with the comments about Ulster and Northern Ireland. But I was also trying to get my head round the idea of cattle in the “Northern Ireland brush”. That image doesn’t conjure up a realistic image of the farmland of North Antrim in my mind 🙂
  4. Isn’t it rather a poor show that these reminders are necessary for those of us who are paid up members of the Times Crossword Club? Unless I’ve missed it there is absolutely nothing about the competition on the Club pages and I also couldn’t find the article that PB refers to in the on-line paper; when I searched, all the hits referred to last year’s competition.

    They go to the trouble of setting up a target interest group, gather all our names and e-mail addresses etc and then don’t use the information to spark our interest in the proceedings!

    1. For what it’s worth, I’m told that the club site was supposed to have the details today. I hope they’ll be there soon.
  5. Scuppered by a fell-ranger and a theorbo! Think I’ll postpone my championship entry till next year. 17 down inevitably brings to mind the oft-repeated story of Sir Charles Napier’s apocryphal Latin telegram after annexing the Indian town of Sind/Sindh in 1843: “Peccavi”. (I have sinned)
    R. Saunders
  6. I made the mistake of doing this when I was very tired, otherwise it would probably have been a clean sweep in a good time. As it was I baulked on ASTOUNDED, and then on THEORBO but only because I’d typed in EPIDRUAL. I’d assumed the likes of Peter B were going to solve this in about four minutes flat, so my 9:13 actually doesn’t seem too bad considering that I nearly nodded off at one point!
  7. Cricket, Rugby and Cross-Country Colours on offer today in the “easies”:

    3a (Settle area) after re-building property (4,6)

    12a Branch of applied science that’s changed (since Mach)*

    13a Bowler’s approach brought back humour to game (3-2)
    RU NUP. Humour = PUN backwards after Rugby Union.

    26a One roaming moors gave into temptation to shoot (4-6)
    FELL RUNNER. Chance for our Oxbridge althletes to get their colours. If there is one, I guess the Varsity Fell Race would not be held very near Cambridge? Might get some up-n-down in the Cotswolds I suppose?

    27a Stick with black for good colour (4)
    (G) B lue

    1d Kill a proportion of rodents turning up in tree (8)
    D ECIM ATE. Upside-down Mice appearing in a Date Palm.

    5d Painting (places and)* characters in a new setting (9)

    8d Invest millions in river port free from tax, say (6)
    EXE M PT. Here we appear to have port = PT. Presumably a standard x-word approved abbreviation?

    16d Painkiller I had injected into traumatised (pleura)*
    EP ID URAL. Commonly administered in childbirth as far as I understand it. The mem-sahib stoically went without, seemingly preferring to shout curses at me for causing her predicament. Now the children are 24 and 21 I am starting to detect some traces of forgiveness.

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