23633 – 4D and not at all 22D

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 8:40

As Peter says, a relatively easy puzzle. That is a pretty good time for me. I had a good start, getting the first nine clues I looked at (which in this grid meant those numbered 1 to 9), and most others at first look, and ending with the last down clue. For some reason it took me what seemed like ages to get FROG – even resorting to going through the alphabet for the first letter.

Although it is easy, it is not at all a dull puzzle: it has lots of interesting and clever clues, including several that I had to work at for some time after finishing to be able to explain them here.

There were also quite a few words used that might have held up less experienced solvers. “Ling”, “firman” and “ka” are words that I have met more often in crosswords than elsewhere, and “ka” in particular I think I have only previously seen in barred cryptics.


3 HANKY-PANKY, being two HANKYs, with one of them having the wrong first letter
9 C(RANI)U + M
11 FIR(E)MAN – nearly put in FOREMAN, based on the checking letters
12 INDUS + TRIAL IS + (up)T(on)
15 B(lack) AND WA(GO)N – GO for green took me a few seconds to work out
17 ROAST BEEF, being (BASTE FOR E)* – neat &lit
19 REITH – hidden, semi-&lit
24 PALER(rev) + S(pac)E
25 INK + LING – nice to see “ling” making a comeback. It used to be such a staple as fish or heather.
26 GRA(V)Y TRAIN, GRAY being US for “grey” = “dull” – This was entered quickly, but took me a long time to work out after stopping the clock. I wanted “gravy” to be a US variant of “grave” meaning serious, or an adjective formed from “grave” = “tomb”
27 STET(son)


1 DICTIONARY, being (ON CIA DIRTY)* – I do like “ordered book” as a definition
4 ADMIRA(B)L(E) – very neat surface
5 K(A F(ine) K(ing))A
6 PERK IN WAR BECK – fortunately, I knew this pretender
7 MAN(rev) + GATE(rev) – neat & lit
8 NAY(rev) + G(ood) – I was worried about this one, though it didn’t hold me up. I was convinced that NG was “no good”, and couldn’t see how YA could be “turned up”
13 IN THE RIGHT, being (THEIR THING)* – couldn’t be more economical
16 I TIT RE (= on) FEN (all rev)
18 (f)AL FAL FA(l) – couldn’t think of the river at the time, but there is surely only one 7-lettered fodder plant, at least in the world of crosswords
20 I + N.B. + (g)UILT
23 D + REAR – wasted a few seconds looking for a 4-lettered word for “dull” to add to D and reverse
24 F(R)OG

9 comments on “23633 – 4D and not at all 22D”

  1. Nice straightforward puzzle, or I’m regaining some form – 6:57.
  2. Nine minutes for me, which is one of my better times recently. FIREMAN/FOREMAN was a potential trap, given the obscurity of FIRMAN (although the definition does of course push one in the right direction). I also was a bit slow on FROG, having considered GRIG. Luckily I was not at all convinced that GIG could mean confusion. I also have only seen KA in barred cryptics I think. I thought the clue for DICTIONARY was clever, and it took me some time for the penny to drop. Jason J
  3. Think I’m being a bit dim today! Got them both, but:

    19A – is this actually cryptic? I can’t see any other surface or “garden path”.

    13D – is “just” the definition? Seems a bit approximate to me.


    1. 19A – the answer is hidden in befoRE IT Had, indicated by “shows”

      13A – Yes, “just” is the definition. And I fear you may be in the right in saying that it is a bit approximate. The meanings are in the same sort of area, but I can’t think of any context in which they are easily interchangeable.

    2. Quite a few &lits can be solved without understanding the wordplay. Example: the old chestnuts “This can give bang out at sea” (GUNBOAT) and “I’m one involved with cost” (ECONOMIST) can both be solved without noticing the anagram.

      I enjoy the switch from admiring clever disguise to admiring the occasional clue like this that seems totally transparent but has something else going on if you look.

  4. I felt I was horribly slow (9:32) with this one, given that there were no words that weren’t thoroughly familiar from years of crossword solving. I made particularly heavy weather of DICTIONARY, but also spent too much time trying to work something to do with dark blue into 10D. No problem with FROG, though (I’ve a feeling I’ve seen the clue before).
  5. [This query was posted anonymously in the blog for Jumbo 703.]

    Clue “Get down! Get down here”
    Apologies for posting my query today. I had tentatively put in DOCK here and the answer turned out to be DUCK. Would be great if someone could explain the two definitions.

    They are:
    1: a duck (especially an Eider duck) provides ‘down’.
    2: to duck is to ‘get down’ to avoid a low obstacle or hazard.

  6. A very entertaining puzzle that beat me twice. I thought I’d got it but DECK at 1a and FOREMAN at 11a did for me!

    The three omitted “easies” include my first mistake:

    1a Get down! Get down here (4)
    DUCK. As in duck your head and here’s an Eider Duck to Pluck. I thought a boxer could DECK his opponent (get down) and the bloke in the crows nest could be told to get down here? Not!

    14a Beginnings of New Growth Around Infected Oak tree (5)
    NGAIO. The NZ tree made famous by the NZ author Ngaio Marsh.

    21 a One starting organisation as a result of unruly (mob referendum)* (7,6)
    FOUNDER MEMBER. As if such a thing could undo our membership of the European Community!?

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