23,618 – pretty tough overall

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : 1h 20
I did just over half of it on a 45 min train journey, finished off at lunch and checked the ‘guesses’ as I wrote this.

I’d say this was harder than average (for me) – it will be interesting to see how others have got on.
Words I didn’t know: LISLE, HABENERA, SOLON, OLID, THROSTLE and the poet DRINKWATER. I think OLID is my favourite of these.

I notice the fourth qualifying puzzle for the The Times Crossword Championship appears this Friday – I think I’ll wait a couple of years before I have a go!


6 [Car]LISLE – I hadn’t heard of this fine fabric before, but was fairly sure it was right given the wordplay.
9 PIPPED(=seeded) AT THE POST(=working on deliveries?) – this took me quite a while – I couldn’t get the phrase ‘in the nets’ out of my mind and couldn’t see where to go with this.
10 T(R)OPIC – hadn’t thought of Cancer or Capricorn in the singular before.
11 H(A BAN[d])ERA – last one to go in for me. I hadn’t come across this Cuban dance before. Hera is a handy goddess to know.
14 KNOT=tonk reversed
16 NEAR – Haven’t checked this but I think NEAR can mean tight as in mean with money.
17 UNF(=anag of fun),AT HOME,D(=deceased)
19 RAINBOWS – young girls can go to Rainbows before Brownies and then Girl Guides.
20 CONRAD; hidden in ‘epic on radio’
24 SO LON[g] – got this from the wordplay but looked up to check the word SOLON – a wise lawgiver.
25 REDRESSED – came after a while – a priest might change habits between services.


1 HO,P IT – house=HO quite a lot when it appears in crosswords.
2 IM,PROVIS(AT)IONAL; I’M + TA(=army) reversed in PROVISIONAL(=temporary). This took a while to get and then longer to suss out the wordplay – I thought at first that soldiers=provisional.
3 SHERIDAN – refers to The School For Scandal, a play by RB Sheridan.
4 [t]OKAY – Tokay is a wine from Hungary (that I know thanks to crosswords).
5 EXTRA-MURAL – extra-mural courses are for those other than full-time members of a university – not sure if they have they their own department.
6 LEE,WAY – General Lee is first try when Lee comes up.
7 SMOKE,AND,MIRRORS – anag of ‘masks error in mod’ – took me quite a while to spot this one.
8 EXTRA,CT,ED – thought of CT=court and ED=journalist and the rest came pretty quickly.
12 DRINK WATER – I hadn’t heard of John Drinkwater – other Dymock poets are much more familiar.
13 CO,N T,RICKS – a rick is a stack of hay.
15 THROSTLE (anag of ‘short let)- both THROSTLE and mavis are names for the song thrush (I knew neither) – just put in the letters in the most sensible way and hoped for the best.
22 OLID – LIDO with O moved to the top. Something is olid if it has a strong, disagreeable smell.

13 comments on “23,618 – pretty tough overall”

  1. I thought this was a pretty good puzzle. As is my wont, I made rapid headway (for me) to begin with, then slowed down, so it was almost an hour before the last cell was filled. I got SOLON immediately, knowing he was one of the Seven Sages, but I wasn’t familiar with KNOT as a bird nor HABANERA nor Mavis as a name for the song thrush. The clue for CONRAD was wonderfully misleading, leading this solver to look for a homophone for a synonym of “epic”. For some time I rejected the idea of an anagram in 23 across because of “very” in the clue, making 16, not 15 letters. Since “funny” on its own is perfectly adequate as an anagrind, “very” seems superfluous to the wordplay.
  2. I thought it was okay though I had to look up several meanings having worked out the words from the clues.

    14A was particularly difficult because I didn’t know KNOT as a bird nor its reverse meaning to strike. But in checking the latter I have at least increased my knowledge of Australian slang – one word with two offensive meanings – which may come in handy someday given the way the Times crossword seems to be going. And there’s always the PE puzzle of course.


  3. I’ve seen (and remembered that I had done so) both HABANERA and OLID in Times puzzles of the relatively recent past but I was stymied by KNOT.

    I was a little surprised that both 5D and 5D were EXTRA+something — surprised enough at first to try and make RETRACTED work.


  4. Strange, I found this the easiest one for ages, and finished it just over 7 minutes (about half my average time). The only clue I hesitated on was 3D – I didn’t think of the play until I had all the crossing letters, and that was the last one I put in.
  5. I didn’t know any of the words of which you were ignorant – but most of them were clear from the wordplay, the exception (for me) being olid. I also messed up by having ‘pipped to the post’ rather than ‘pipped at the post’ – but my main quibble with today’s puzzle was 16a, as I hate it when the clue comprises of two synonymous words. Basically it means we have to find a third synonymous word, of which there are many.
    1. I loved 16A, though I expect I’ve seen it before. My reading of it is clearly different from yours, as I found two quite different meanings: “close” = “not far” = “near”, and (as foggyweb suggests) “tight” = “mean with money” = “near”.
      1. But don’t all three (tight, close and near) mean ‘mean with money’? In which case any four-letter word (eg ‘mean’) would have been acceptable.
        1. I take your point. However, the fact that the first definition of “close” in Chambers (2003) is “near, in time or place”, and in Collins (1986) is “near in space or time”, whereas the “mean with money” definition is some way down in both dictionaries, leads one naturally to my reading rather than yours – and I’d be fairly confident that that was the reading the setter intended.
  6. I agree with linxit – I finished it in 7:13, but felt I was desperately slow, and expect the likes of Magoo will have polished it off in no time. (No problem with 3D though – one of the first answers to go in.)
  7. Managed to get within 7 answers of finishing. All the hard words mentioned above stymied me as well, although I guessed throstle and Solon. I managed to put “retracted” for 8dn, without thinking it strange that I´d parsed “special edition” as “retra” instead of “extra”. Hmmm.

    Nice puzzle overall though.

  8. I found this fairly easy except for 11A. Once “Macarena” was in my head I couldn’t think of anything else, and now that tune is stuck in there as well. He Macarena!
    R. Saunders
  9. 8:10 for this on post-hol catch-up. Made heavy weather of 9 and 13A, partly because of ‘LEWAAY’ at 6D.
  10. I didn’t know either that Mavis and Throstle were other names for the Song Thrush. They are derived from German Drossel and French Mauvis respectively according to Wiki. But, like our esteemed blogmeister, I managed to put in the unchecked letters from the anagrist correctly – hurrah.

    This must have been deemed quite a tricky one as there are only four omissions for the bunnies:

    1a Welcomes colouring in a drop of ice (9)

    23a (Saluting cartoon)*, very funny, that’s well done (15)
    CONGRATULATIONS. On solving a 15 letter anagram.

    18d (Borneo)*’s new king (6)
    OBERON. Of the fairies that is – Consort to Queen Titania in a Midsuumer Night’s Dream.

    21 Initially Doled Out Some Experimental Drug (5)

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