23,596 – three faults?

Solving time 8:06

Some good stuff here but rather spoiled for me by three clues that seem not quite precise enough – unless Collins or COD (not available to me today) include stuff I don’t remember. Post-comment: number of faults reduced to three – I was being over-hasty about 27D

6 SHAN’T,Y – number = song
10 K,E.R.,CHIEF – but is this necessarily “over crown” (where crown = head)? Yes, says the Compact Oxford at http://www.askoxford.com/?view=uk – the best option while the Collins Word Exchange site is down (temporarily, they say). So the setter wins the dictionary argument this time.
12 MAIN COURSE – two defs, at least one cryptic
16 (d)AIRY
21 HAIR,STREAK – a new kind of butterfly for me, but shock=hair is fairly routine in the Times puzzle so I found it that way
26 AU,BURN – Au = Golden is maybe a bit of a stretch, but just the right side of the line for me
27 FOR(MA)T – is a keep a fort, or part of a fort? The latter in my head and the Compact Oxford. First imprecision.
2 LATHE – hidden – second imprecision – you do turning on a lathe, and a lathe has a turning component, but does this mean a lathe is turned? No! In particular, it’s the piece of wood in the lathe that’s turned – and that ain’t the lathe or even part of it. (Wood-turning was a hobby of my father’s, so I’ve seen a fair few lathes and their products.)
3 CHAIN SMOKER – best clue in the puzzle. ‘heroin (smack)’ is an apposite anagram from the same “top drawer” as starting price / racing tipster
4 ORNAMENT – 2 defs – a turn is a musical ornament – a rapid sequence of four notes around the main note (a.k.a. gruppetto)
5 TAKE IT ON THE CHIN – cryptic def
6 SPRUCE – 2 defs, but does it mean ‘in perfect condition’, or just ‘well dressed’? Compact Oxford (‘neat and smart’) seems to agree with me that it’s just the latter. Imprecision no. 3
7 (c)ASH
13 UNA,VA(I)L,(c)ABLE – confusing Val and Vi held me up a bit here
15 L(H,AS A)APS,O – nearly as good as 3D
17 DECK,HAND – first of a pair of clues using classic Times xwd material – puns for the beginner to remember
20 AT LAST (see 17)
23 MORE,L Post-comment: unjustified moaning about {student = L} deleted – {plate of student = L} is fine.

9 comments on “23,596 – three faults?”

  1. I thought the same as you on LATHE and FORT. I am used to seeing L=student now; I thought the ‘plate of student’ made it more acceptable. At first I thought the answer was MO=second,RE=on,L=plate of student!

    By the way, you can still get to Collins Word Exchange at

    1. You’re right about “plate of” – my gripe’s so old that the red mist comes down as soon as I see “student”, which is careless on my part.
  2. Am I the only one to fall for 1A = OUTBREAK (anagram of ‘to break up’ – p)?

    Seemed too easy; although I thought the fit was perfect with ‘fight’ indicating both the anagram and the def (in hindsight ‘want’ would have been superflous).


    1. Except for &lit clues, I’m pretty sure that “double duty”, such as “fight” being both def. and anag indicator, is outlawed in Times xwds – as in most others, these days. In my book, that would be a stronger reason for rejecting this answer than a surplus word, given the range of linking words/phrases used in the Times xwd.
  3. I mean.. what are the two meanings – “get to” and “attitude” ?

    I am a beginner. Any explanation for stream=BURN ?

    1. I thought the two definitions of APPROACH were ‘get to work on’ (I’m going to approach this crossword after tea) and ‘attitude.’
      A BURN is a Northern word for stream – you’ll see it used in some English/Scottish placenames, e.g. Blackburn and Bannockburn.
      1. I had 24A as a triple def: get to/work on/attitude. Don’t know if that’s sustainable.
        R. Saunders
  4. Thanks for explaining TURN in 4D – the only thing that puzzled me. In 23D wouldn’t “student’s plate” do just as well and sound more natural? I was misled by (C)REAM for 16A, as in ream out, but that would be milk product rather than products, I guess.

  5. This was an enjoyable steady evening’s solve until 2 left. These remained overnight until an early morning unjumbled brain could unravel them – the butterfly at 21 and the head covering at 10a. The kerchief head covering summoned up images of Mr Gumby’s knotted hanky and his painful brain. Doctor!?

    Some “easies” left out of the blog. A couple are covered above but here they are in full:

    9a Noted injury ?(6)

    11a Tend to be skinny (4)

    14a Bird, damn old (8)

    18a Second ago (4)

    19a References (are thus)* confusing one (8)

    22a Acidic fruit which is alkaline (4)

    24a Get to work on attitude (8)
    APPROACH. Probably a triple definition as proposed above.

    28a Outlaw journalist, hack finally trapped by girl (3,5)
    N ED K ELLY. Harbour the press? Not on your Nelly!

    8d Fixed (rate)* more stable for fund manager (9)
    TREA SURER. Nice Financial surface.

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