23602 – we’re in the wordplay

Solving time 12:25

Seems like quite a tricky puzzle judging from the number of clues I decided to write about, though two blind alleys followed at 14 and 17 made it slower than it should have been.

1 CLAP,HA(M)J,UNCTION – solving the puzzle and writing this on the train, so a nice apposite starter. Fairly rare Times outing for the Haj = pilgrimage to Mecca – more common in advanced cryptics. As with many transliterated Arabic words, watch out for other spellings.
9 CLARE,T(J)UG – not the last French wine in this puzzle
11 O,BLO(N)G – books are mostly oblong (much nicer word than ‘rectangular’) in shape. Nice of the setter to think of us …
12 DOORKNOB – cryptic def with misleading cricket surface. I guess the “rude oral pervy bonk” route has already been used in the Private Eye puzzle.
13 DE(D)UCE – deuce and dickens are both euphemisms for ‘devil’ – c.f. cripes, jiminy cricket, jeepers creepers, etc.
15 S,TR(ACHE)Y – the only Lytton I can think of – author of Eminent Victorians, from memory.
18 BALLY,H,OO=loves. Bally = wretched goes back to the days of Three Men in a Boat – “Harris, being Harris, couldn’t get the bally supper cooked before George and I got back from the pub” (not a real quote).
19 STEP UP = pup(p)ets<=
21 GREY AREA – rev. of RAY in EAGER* with ‘beavers’ as a novel anagrind.
26 AD,L,A1 – just as there’s only one Lytton, there’s only one Adlai. US politician if I remember right, probably someone’s Vice-President.
27 CORK’S,CREW – using the old {Graves = wine} trick. Beginners: if you learn one thing from this puzzle, this should be it.
28 YOU MUST BE JOKING – (jumbo kites)* in YOUNG
3 HUE=dye,AND=with,CRY=blubber
4 MO=flash=short time,JO
5 U,PG,ROWTH=worth* – “shooting” is another novel anagrind
6 CHARR = “char”
7 I’S(LAND)HOP – “do keys quickly” is a well-hidden def., using ‘do’ in the tourism sense.
8 NEW,(a)SBO,Y
14 D(OLG=log*)ELL,AU=”to the” in French – time wasted here on a silly mispelling of LLANGOLLEN, seeing log*, GLEN and LA=the French. When I saw that this placename wouldn’t fit, I should have remembered that Welsh spelling is consistent (unlike Arabic, whoever did the first job of representing Welsh sounds with our alphabet persuaded everyone else to use his system), so my ‘LANGOLLEN’ was impossible given the sound of the word. Can’t tell you any more about Dolgellau than “somewhere in Wales”.
16 ANTI-PAST=for the present,O=none
17 POWERCUT – reverse hidden in “imprompTU CREW OPerate”. More time wasted, this time on CREW* in B,OUT giving the initially plausible ‘bower cut’, but then saw that my high-speed wordplay-element-spotting was leading to a dud.
20 P(ERIW=wire<=)IG – pig = eat enthusiastically = gorge
24 CARP,I – remember your metacarpals and metatarsals? There are tarsi and carpi from which their names come. Curious that an anagram of Capri should appear below ISLAND-HOP

11 comments on “23602 – we’re in the wordplay”

  1. The one you’re thinking of is no doubt the Democratic Presidential candidate vs. Eisenhower in the 50’s — never a VP but oddly enough his grandather (also Adlai) was Cleveland’s VP. But no one has heard of him.


  2. Not especially happy about today’s puzzle. Not hard to ditch is an awkward way to say CHUCK dropping an H, Run with speed – after second didn’t really suggest that the ordering was second, speed and then run, beavers and shooting were strange choices to clue anagrams and for the present to clue ANTI-PAST (which may have amused on a different day) just grated.

    Ah well. Can’t be satisfied every day.

  3. I spent a while with ‘sprint’ in 23a, which didn’t help – in the end got all but three; 14d (Dolgellau is completely new to me), 26a (likewise Adlai) and 25d. What’s the answer for the latter of those? (Apparently, it’s now acceptable to use ‘latter’ in a list of more than two. But I don’t like it.)
    1. 25D is BRA,E (Scots hillside, as in “Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon” (Burns)). On the basis of easier typing, I’d favour “last” of two items ahead of “latter” of three…
  4. 17A just defeated me. With all crossing letters, I went through the alphabet more than once trying to find an answer that would fit and somehow missed GREY AREA. I blame the beavers.

    And congratulations, Peter, on your appearance in Times2. What an honour.

    1. Thanks for the information – I’ve been too busy today to look at the RTC blog or to Nina-hunt in the T2 puzzle. (Explanation in the comments on today’s RTC blog entry for the baffled, but look after solving today’s Times2 crossword if you’re going to try.)
  5. Perhaps another one for beginners to remember is LOCKS in 20D – one of the many ways of indicating hair (bangs, distressed, shock…) I think the question mark in “for the present?” just about excuses it, if it needs any excuse. One thing I really dislike is 1 = I, as in 26A (ADLAI). Is it just me?
    1. Another one for beginners to note is that the Roman numeral I is often used to indicate the Arabic numeral 1, and you’ll often see AI where strictly it should be A1. Not uncommon is IST for 1ST. You’ll even see the letter O used to represent zero on occasions, and even IO for 10. I don’t know how they get away with it 🙂
  6. Adlai Stevenson ran unsuccessfully against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. We’d be better off if he’d won.

    Having said that, how does the clue work?

  7. I refer to Anon’s comment about Adlai Stevenson (ref 26a). If you can’t tell how the cryptic at 26a works – even after Peter B’s blog has summarised it – how on earth can you tell us categorically that Adlai would have been better than Dwight?

    Not many “easies” for the bunnies in this one. I’ll include 26a for Anon of Adlai fame:

    10a Gleaming precious metal – blue (5)
    AG LOW. Symbol for Silver = Ag (aka argent) and low = sad = blue.

    26a Pound fine imposed on Bill Stevenson (5)
    AD L A1. Where Bill = AD(vertisement) L = £ = Pound and fine = A1. Never heard of the fella before doing this puzzle and reading this blog but the wordplay is clear, at least with all the checkers.

    2d Phenomena ultimately hard to believe in any way (2,3)
    A TALL. A = end of phenomenA and TALL = hard to believe as in tall story. It’s hard to believe that our beloved setter had the nerve to clue a single A with “phenomena ultimately” where the single word is longer than the answer.

    22d Cheers AnD rIlEs Us alternately (5)

    25d One holding up English bank on Clydeside (4)
    BRA E. Some people don’t like BRA for supporter or the like in clues. I can’t see what the fuss is about myself.

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