23,566 – as hard as it looks post-solve?

Solving time 6:58

Despite a fairly long day travelling to the office and back, and not solving until after supper, including a couple of glasses of red, I go through this in fairly quick time. The fact that I only left three clues unexplained suggests that I should maybe try a pre-solving glass more often.

5 SHEPHERD – Cheviots are sheep
9 PINNAC(L)E – crown as in “crowning chivement” and the like.
10 GROOVY – a groove (sense 4) is a furrow.
11 AUTUMNAL – TU = “Trade Unions” = “unions”, in anag. of “manual” indicated by “trades” – thin ice for some, I suspect.
12 R.E.,CAN’T
13 KEENNESS – K=thousand, all the remaining letters are directions (compass points).
17 (s)HAKE
19 S.E.,MIT(ON)E – on = just after, as in “on finishing the puzzle, I started typing up the report”.
20 THIN,G(u)Y
22 A-Z,A LEA – “meadow plant” must be treated as two separate things here.
23 NEWCOME,R – it seems that Thackeray wrote a book called The Newcomes – new fact for today.
24 T(WENT)IES = a decade, hence “ten years”
25 REMEDY – ME replacing A in READY
2 EPI=pie*,CURES
3 KENT,(l)UCKY – ref. the Kentucky Derby, one of the best known US horse races.
4 RE,C.(ON VEN.)E. – I assume that Ven. (=Venerable), the title for an archdeacon, also applies to a temporary priest.
5 SHETLAND ISLANDS – (it’s sand and shells)* – getting this quickly probably made a big difference.
6 PERSEUS = (sues rep)<=
8 DRYSTONE = (tory’s den)*- a drystone wall is built just by piling stone on stone in a careful way. I believe Monk does this as a hobby, but what this says about the origin of the puzzle, I dare not predict – any puzzle I say must be Monk turns out to be someone else…
14 SH(O.T.T.)OWER – another outing for {shower = disorganised group}. A shot-tower is a place where droplets of molten lead are dropped from a great height into cold water to make shot.
17 HEIR=”air”,LOOM
18 K(NOT WEE)D – “outskirts of Kirovograd” is a bit of a giveaway here – never heard of the place, so it must be providing ‘wordplay fodder’ of some kind.

13 comments on “23,566 – as hard as it looks post-solve?”

  1. I’m with you on “trades” – slightly shaky ground perhaps but, if passed by the editor, must have been deemed fit. It was one of the last answers for me, the last one being the needlessly time-consuming HERMITAGE. Used up around 20 minutes of the lunch break all told – for me (for a Friday) about average.
  2. Unless I’ve missed something (quite likely) I’m not very happy with this clue. “Put a first letter on then take the first letter off”, so to speak. The clue might just as well have been “Fish”.

    Even then, and given that I already had KE as the third and fourth letters, the answer could have been (S)PIKE instead of (S)HAKE.


    1. You have missed something – second = moment = shake as in “I’ll be with you in two shakes”.
      1. Thanks,PB, I was almost sure there must be more to it. I couldn’t see past second = s.


  3. Gave up after 1-1/2 hours.
    Stuck on three entries.
    Shot tower – one to file away in the arsenal.
    Groovy – not convinced that fluted = groovy.
    Hermitage – could someone please expound on Peters explanation, I get heritage for legacy, does M = monsieur and does hermitage = Russian gallery, Nothing in Chambers that I can find.
    1. I had to Google for this after solving. The clue refers to The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. And, yes, M = Monsieur = Frenchman.
    2. groovy and fluted: this is the same kind of whimsical cryptic xwd logic behind {flower = river} – if a hairy person has lots of hairs, a groovy person or thing … (you can do the rest).
  4. I don’t know who today’s setter is, but they’re to be congratulated for managing to get yet another Ukrainian town into a Times puzzle. We’ve had Kiev, Lvov, Dneprpetrovsk, Donetsk, Odessa in the fairly recent past…!
  5. Only just done this – feeling too tired yesterday when I’d have been even slower than my 8:54 today, though I wasn’t too displeased with that time. I hadn’t heard of Kirovograd before, but Sergei Kirov, after whom it’s named, also gave his name to the Kirov Ballet (who’ve happily now reverted to being the Mariinsky Ballet). Older solvers (from the days when Thackeray was required knowledge for solving the Times puzzle) will have had no problem with NEWCOMER.
  6. There were only 3 “easies” omitted from PB’s blog but one of them was my LOI. Something that seems easy or obvious to one solver may not be to another:

    15a Always quiet inside, showing evidence of recent fire (4)
    A SH Y. AY = always and SH – Sh!

    21a Scholars (retail it)* in translation (8)
    LITERATI. A more traditional anagram indicator but I quite liked “trades” at 11a.

    15d Half-inch painting by Kandinsky, perhaps (8)
    ABSTRACT. My LOI. I don’t have a problem with the CRS “half-inch” for pinch (i.e. steal) but I had difficulty in equating abstraction with stealing. I know it is in the dictionaries and thesauri but I don’t think it is very common usage.

    There always seems to be ONE obvious answer that takes me ages. Ho hum.

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