23,554 – quite tricky

Solving time 7:00

Quite a few unusual words and meanings here. Satisfied with the time considering a poor start – neither of 1 or 6 across fell on first look, and a slight delay for a fairly convincing red herring at 27.

6 DASH – 2 defs, one being “-“.
10 COCK,A,D,E – cock as in ‘cock an ear’
12 TOP AND TAIL – 2 def’s – “to clean a baby in a lazy way” is the rarer
16 BOTTOMRY – (t,by motor)* – old-fashioned marine insurance
18 AP(P)R,OVAL – 30 days = April rather than June this time
20 L,AND Au – L = “new driver” – thankyou, setter! No “pupil” or “student” nonsense.
24 NOT=”knot”,CRICKET – knot = sandpiper – not a Cockney version of ‘sandpaper’ for a change
27 SQUASH,Y – I first tried RUBBER,Y – but more frequent bridge players will probably remind me that rubber = games, plural.
2 TED=(de(b)t)<=,IOU’S
3 HOLE AND CORNER – (reach Londoner)* – made a fairly rare (but this time worthwhile) choice to jumble the potential anag fodder on paper when I couldn’t see it in my head.
5 CACH,A LOT – another name for the sperm whale
8 H,IERONYMUS=(yours,mine)* – ref. H Bosch, he of the Garden of Earthly Delights.
11 CALL TO ACCOUNT – U in (contact,local)*
14 BREADBOARD – 2 defs – the trickier one being “experimental arrangement of electronic circuits”. “doorstep” = UK colloquial for a clumsily thick hand-cut slice of bread
17 B(ACT)ERIA – Lavrenty Beria is quite often “police chief”. Those not up on their Soviet Union history might read the article to pick up a few pre-KGB names for his outfit, though NKVD can probably be ignored for xwd purposes.
19 PYR(e),AMID
21 DRESS UP – (E in DR’S), SUP
22 PRI(S)ON – apparently prion is a kind of petrel, as well as a protein particle associated with scrapie, BSE and the like.

8 comments on “23,554 – quite tricky”

  1. I decided to throw caution to the wind today in an attempt to improve my solving time, usually around 30-50 minutes, so I wrote in answers as they came to me and moved on without always knowing the precise reason.

    It worked well, as I was finished within 20 minutes (my train journey + 5 minutes waiting time) and I was 100% correct for once. But I later had to spend another 10 minutes working out the missing reasons and checking guessed words, the main culprits being 10A, 24A, 14D (didn’t know the electronic circuit), 17D and 22D (I guessed PRION). 16A and 5D were also words I didn’t know but were easy enough to work out.

    I’m quite encouraged by this so I shall work along similar lines in future though it goes against my over-cautious nature.


    1. Acting as a “less common word for skimp“, (Collins), to indicate that to “top and tail” is to do the bare minimum in baby-washing.
  2. Another carriage today then! Last week there was a casual helpful list offered by bloggers and commenters. Here in Nottingham there’s a must learn solvers assistant in the form of a sign on the old toll bridge that reads:
    “For every horse or other beast drawing any coach, stage coach, omnibus, van, caravan, sociable, berlin, landau, chariot, vis-a-vis, barouche, phaeton, chaise-marine, caleche, curricle, chair, gig, dog cart, irish car, whisky, hearse, litter, chais, or any other like carriage – 6d.”
    I used to chuckle , thinking the last 5 words redundant, but crosswording has since proved their necessity…
  3. “For every horse”…does that mean a four-horse carriage costs a florin? Sheer extortion!
  4. Enjoyable puzzle, this one, although it took me a while – around the 30 minute mark I think. The inclusions of COCKADE and BOTTOMRY raised a smile; compiler in a moderately naughty mood eh?
  5. I made very heavy weather of this one (15:31) – if I’ve come across those meanings of TOP AND TAIL and PRION before, then I’ve forgotten them, and (unlike Buzzword today) I was perhaps over-cautious. Like you I fell for RUBBERY.
  6. A DNF for me with 5d Whale, 10a Decoration and 16a Marine insurance qualifying for NIAMY status.

    Otherwise OK for us bunnies of little brain I think. Even some “easies”:

    15a Occupy chair, but not quietly (6)
    (P) RESIDE

    23a Save some superB ARchitecture (3)

    26a Suitor when (married)* changes (7)

    28a Queen killed herself – oh, I say! (4)
    DIDO. She did though! That rotter Anaeas. Not sure exactly how the wordplay works here?

    1d Advertise pastry dessert (4)
    PUFF. Que?

    4d Pretentious boy and girl (2-2-2)

    7d New arrangement bringing together a pair of animals (7)

    25d Sort letters (4)
    TYPE. Not a seasonal job at the Post Office.

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