23,570 – He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare…

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : 54 mins
I felt pretty pleased with this time – there were a few words I didn’t know. A couple of times I got the definition, but couldn’t see the wordplay for ages.

I don’t believe that Monday’s crossword is necessarily the easiest of the week!

Across

1 IN(SEMI)NATE – one of the last to go in with certainty, didn’t get the wordplay at first. I liked this one.
6 BAR,B
9 CONS(TRAIN)T; CONST= half of constables – good, confusing clue.
10 MILL – one of the better known economists.
12 RE,CAPITULATE
15 MINUS,CULE(anagram of clue)
17 R,OVER – not sure I’d seen ROVER=pirate before.
15 MINUS,CULE(anagram of clue)
18 A,LIEN – I’ve come across LIEN a couple of times recently, but if you don’t know it, you can have a pretty good guess.
19 BUSH(FIR)ES – I left this for a while, thinking of too many trees, but it was quite straightforward – I don’t know too many words for masses of flames.
20 IONA – hidden word.
25 ADMINISTER; ‘1 MD’ in RETSINA, all reversed. I thought of ADMINISTER early on, but waited to put it in – I didn’t know retsina, a Greek wine.
26 LIED – I remembered, from my GCSE days, that LIED is German for song – I checked that it was also in Collins.
27 ADRIANOPLE; anagram of ‘Alpine road’

Down

1 ITCH = hitch, as Mr Doolittle would say it
3 MOTHERS-IN-LAW; anagram of ‘relations whom’ minus O(nothing) – perhaps the whole thing is supposed to be a funny definition – I don’t have one, so can’t really comment.
4 NYALA – wordplay in the answer: hibernated=’lay up’ i.e. YAL in NA.
5 TIN(NINES)S – I guess this is TINS covering NINES – nine is a square (number).
7 A,NIM,ADVERT – this gave me some trouble – I didn’t know NIM=’National Intelligence Machinery’ and I probably didn’t need to! It is MIN reveresed as pointed out in the comments.
8 BELLE,TRIST=’tryst on radio’ – I guessed early on that it would end in -trist, but belletrist was a new word to me.
11 PUT,REF,ACTION
13 I’M,MATERIAL
14 INSISTENCE; SISTE[r] in INN=pub,CE=church
16 UPBRAIDED, anagram of pub + RAIDED
22 AT,OP
23 CREE[l] – I came across creel=’fish basket’ at the weekend, so this was quicker to get than it might have been.

9 comments on “23,570 – He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare…”

  1. Interesting you haven’t included 2D as it’s the only one I have doubts about. I can’t decide between SUNG or SANG and whether there’s a reason it should be one rather than the other.

    Buzzword

    1. I put in SANG, as the past tense of sing. I guess some people use SUNG in this way too – but isn’t it more correctly used as past particple e.g. with ‘have’ – as in ‘he has squealed’=’he sung’?
      1. I fully expect SANG to be the published solution, but several dictionaries list SUNG as a past tense of SING though Chambers qualifies it by adding “now rarely”.

        If this were a Times competition are there any established rules on ambiguities such as this appears to be for deciding whether an entry should be eligible for the prize?

        1. For postal comp clues, I think you have to match the official solution. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the person who checks the solutions worries about issues like this. In the championship, you can appeal to the crossword editor, whose decision is final. In this case, I suspect both past tenses would be accepted.

          10:55 here, so not an easy puzzle for me. Also took a while over 25, also guessing the right answer soon enough but stupidly going for one = A (not done in the Times), and more convincingly, wine = red.

  2. I think this is MIN reversed as in Min of AG & Fish rather than your abbreviation.
  3. I too didn’t immediately hit on “rover” as the answer to 17 ac. My first thought was “roger” from the Jolly Roger, the pirate’s flag, which had me toying (only briefly, you’ll be relieved to hear) with the notion of a highly improper double definition along the lines of roger=pirate=(in vulgar slang)to penetrate a woman sexually=to run through! A bit too racy perhaps even for The Times de nos jours (quite apart from the questionable roger/pirate identification).
  4. I think you’re right about Monday’s puzzle not necessarily being the easiest of the week. I found this one quite tough (taking 13:39), perhaps because of the large number of long answers: 16 of at least 9 letters! I thought of RETSINA reasonably quickly as an element of 25a, having seen it used before in a similar way – like EVITA, it crops up from time to time, though perhaps not quite so often.
  5. 4m30s here which I felt was quite good, the more so now as I see Tony and Peter’s times. I quite fancied (Edward) TEACH for ‘Run through pirate’, enough to doubt my initial R for a few seconds. Happily only one ‘word was new to me – ADRIANOPLE.
  6. I had to resort to all available aids to get this one finished and then I still could not see all the wordplay. For example, in 25a, I have not only heard of retsina but have even tasted it (yuk) and still did not spot it backwards in administer.

    Time-wise probably at least 30 x Magoo.

    Well done to the blogger and all who managed to finish this one at all.

    The upshot of a toughie like this is that are very few “easies” left out of the blog – three to be exact:

    20a (Car gave Texan)* unusually high consumption (12)
    EXTRAVAGANCE. Reference to the gas-guzzlers of Houston?

    2d Warbled and squealed (4)
    SANG. Or SUNG? See discussion above.

    21d Breaking (bail)*, one has a defence (5)
    ALIB 1

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