23,560 Party time again

Solving time 7:22

Trickiest part of this for me was the SW corner. With a fair number of moderately exotic words, this felt like quite a good solving time. Possibly a shame that this puzzle came after the one with CEILIDHING in it.

10 M(AS)AI – as = since (both meaning “because”) is one for beginners to note.
12 SARABANDE – (a band) in eras<=
13 HYDRA – tough = hardy, “all after first round” = instruction to reverse ARDY, giving (H)YDRA. “persistent trouble” is from the mythological meaning of Hydra
14 LUCERNE – 2 meanings. Beginners: names for fodder plants are worth remembering. Anyone else look for ???ERIE ?
18 (so)UN(WIN)D
22 ORIBI – rib = tease = kid, in Oi!
23 D,(s)WINDLING – do = swindle is one for beginners to remember
25 GA(RIBALD)I(n) – seems like the canonical clue-writer’s route for this word
26 A,RE,N.A. = not available
28 CHENILLE – he in (cell in)*
1 C(AMIS=aims*)OLE – Old King = “Cole”, which makes a pair with King Cole = “Nat”, also seen recently I think.
3 F(L)IBBER,TI(GIB=big<=)BET corrrected post-comment
6 LAUGH LIKE A DRAIN – nice example of a high-quality cryptic def. – we get “react to joke” and “gutter” as connections to the answer.
7 GRANDIOSE – (rise and go)* – simple but good.
8 TO(ECA=ace rev.)P – ace = expert = master, and ‘Oxford’ = shoe this time.
15 C,ONC(I,ERG)E – beginners: meet the erg, a unit of work in outdated scientific argot (a ten-millionth of a joule, if you care)
17 ST.,AG(N)ATE – def. is “do nothing”, though “do nothing new” seems just as good.
19 DODDLE – (funny=ODD,line = L) in ed.<=
20 CEI=ice*,LID,H
21 FORGE,T – another in the “simple but good” category.

13 comments on “23,560 Party time again”

  1. Yes, I considered ERIE in 14A – I didn’t actually know either of the meanings of LUCERNE (I knew the plant by the name of alfalfa though – thanks to WC Fields). I also had to look up ORIBI. I remembered CEILIDH from last time!
    I spent far too long on 27A at the end.

    You seemed to have dropped a B from TIBET in 3D.

  2. 6D was the only answer today consisting of more than a single word. I always look at such clues first as they are often the easiest to solve, so I felt at a bit of a disadvantage. I got there in a little under an hour in the end though I had to look up HYDRA.


  3. Hi my name is Charles I live in the states. I will try to tell my story quick. I have been doing American cw’s for about 15 years and I have grown bored with them. I stumbled across the cyrptics in the New York Post which republishes the times cw. At first I was baffled. Took a bunch of research and reading but I now understand how the puzzle works. I am now fascinated .I am at a point where I can get up to a maximum of ten clues (mostly I get 2-5. My problems are twofold. First I don’t get many of the British references (i.e. cricket) and second I find that these seem on a very difficult level (correct me if I am wrong but I would think that the times cryptic is an advanced one). Sooo… I was wondering if anyone has any tips or tricks learned from experience to help solve cryptics or of a place where I can get either more “American” cryptics or easier British ones. Thank you for reading my ramble and I hope for some responses. Thank You.


    P.S If you would like to respond via email my address is RCOTC@YAHOO.COM

    1. Charles, I’ll try to keep this short too.

      I have a website about cryptic xwds at http://www.biddlecombe.demon.co.uk/puzzles.html – this includes a section on British vocab, including cricket, and other advice that may help. Another web site that may help: the “(US) cryptic solving tips..” blog linked on the right-hand side of this page has a small but growing audience and will put you in touch with another American cryptic solver in a similar position. The rec.puzzles.crosswords newsgroup mostly discusses cryptics and has questions from beginners from time to time – if you’re into Google Groups, you can find some good advice in old postings.

      The Times puzzle does take some getting used to, and you will find that your level of success varies a lot. I’d recommend persevering with the Times, but also trying other puzzles. Unfortunately there’s no daily cryptic series written in the US. There are some US magazines with ‘daily paper’ level cryptics but I’ve seen very few of these puzzles so don’t know how hard they are. The Sunday NYT ‘variety’ puzzle is a cryptic 2 weeks out of every 18 – these are fairly easy puzzles by good setters, so worth a go when they appear.

      There are some much easier cryptics than the Times, in the ‘coffee break cryptic’ section on http://www.crossword-crazy.co.uk/ – a site run by a long-serving Guardian crossword setter.

      The Financial Times is fairly easy to get in the US and has a good puzzle, so that may be worth a look.

      If you’re solving in the NY Post, I’d recommend bookmarking the “Latest Month” view of this blog – if you’ve got the puzzle number, you can use the posting subject lines to locate the report about the puzzle you’re solving (NY Post syndicated puzzles are 2 or 3 weeks behind).

    2. As per usual, Peter’s comments are spot on (right on in american 🙂 — anyway, I too am American and I find that once you’ve absorbed the cricket stuff (on, leg, off, r, w, ro, b etc.) which is pretty straightforward and remember your basic Kings and Queens (ER, GR, VR and ilk) and some geography (especially three-letter rivers and cathedral cities: e.g. Ely, Wells, Ripon…) it’s plainer sailing. Practice is the key as with everything and you’ll find that many idioms will become familiar — that’s why they are idioms. The main thing that slows me down (other than lack of brainpower) is latter-day (or for that matter ancient) Brit slang. E.g. yesterday’s had LAUGH LIKE A DRAIN. Never heard of it. Actually none of my English relatives (all under age 13) had either.
  4. A very clever puzzle where I was led astray on several clues and ended up taking 15:57. Unfortunately I think it’s the sort of thing that we’re likely to meet in the Crossword Championship these days, with no arcane knowledge needed that might give me a chance. (Sigh!)
  5. You didn’t parse 27ac in Times 23,560 for us. It held me up for a long time. Even after it had become clear that the answer had to be “treaty”, the cryptic explanation still eluded me for quite a while. Presumably the explanation is compact = treaty, which is composed of try = sample which contains (bottles) eat = put away. I don’t think I have ever come across the verb bottle used as an indicator of inclusion before.
    1. You’ve passed the parsing test with flying colours.
      I must add “exotic indicator words” to my mental list of reasons for including clues. I suspect when solving I just saw compact = treaty and enough wordplay to think “EAT in TRY”, so thought it was a simple one.
      1. Thanks for that. On reflection, one reason why I was slow to spot “bottles” as indicator, exotic or not, was because it was a particularly nice example of the third person singular of the present tense of a verb being disguised as the plural of the related noun. At any rate, the disguise was good enough to have this dumbo barking up the wrong tree.
    1. To answer my own question, I guess it’s ASCENT (scent = trail?) and TAILOR (=cut, with stalk = tail in the sense of follow, I now realise – nothing to do with vegetables)
  6. Aha – here they are all together:

    1a Not worried about judge lacking heart (8)
    CA REF (E) REE

    5a Jam soft and easily digested (6)

    16a Cut stalk, gold (6)

    27a Compact sample bottles put away (6)
    TR EAT Y

    2d Vertical pipe in middle of cellaR IS Erected

    4d Charge former partner composes with energy (7)

    9d What can be made from start of Alpine trail (6)

    24d Assertion by person in charge of deck, for example (5)
    I DEAL. Presumably the literal is example = IDEAL?

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