23651 – Look sharp and blurred

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 10:33

Quick start with 1A and the two long down ones going in straight away (even if I only worked out why it was SQUARE THE CIRCLE afterwards). Then quite a lot of good tough clues, finishing with 17 and 19.

I didn’t fill in 1D for some time even though it seemed obvious because I couldn’t make sense of the clue, and I still feel it could be two words shorter (even if that would make it an even more brutal definition).

(This entry replaced the placeholder at about 09:45, and so followed one comment below.)


1 BY (DEGRE)ES, DEGRE being GREED*, and byes being something in cricket
9 BLU(e/R) RED – clever surface, using Centre for the E as central letter, rather than eg Europe or East
10 (t)UNAWARE – I like the idea that one could have specific crockery just for tuna
11 (E)THOS(e), ie THOSE with the last letter moved to the front. “Society values” is an interesting definition I found difficult to spot
12 CHROMATIC – a good cryptic def.
13 C + REDO – Neat, but I have the feeling I have seen something rather similar not too long ago
14 INTER ALIA – I do like long hiddens
17 TOT (=sum up) + HEB(rews) ONE – I wasted some time wondering what the first chapter of the Epistle was about
18 A(DO)PT, that is DO(=make) clothed in APT(=fitting)
19 (I LOB MORT(ar)S)(all rev), ar being (R(oyal) A(rtillery))(rev) – complicated and clever &lit. But do volcanoes throw bombs? (On edit. Yes, they do. See comments.)
26 E(ART)H, “come again” being “eh?”


1 BI(B)LE – not such a successful &lit for me. It is not clear what the last two words in the clue are for in the cryptic reading
2 DO + UGH + I EST.
3 G + YR + OS + COPE – the definition is the first four words
5 SQUARE THE CIRCLE – SQUARE = “quits” in the sense of “even”
7 EXA + C(utle)T, EXA being AXE(rev)
13 CITY STATE, being (ATTIC STYLE)* minus L(eft)
15 READ(YM AD)E(r)
16 LOO(K SHAR)P, KSHAR being an anagram of SHARK, just. I was looking to involve LAP instead of LOOP for circuit to start with
21 M + EA(r)TH – apparently Ireland once had five provinces but the smallest one disappeared. I sort of knew this after taking ages to finish a Listener based around the (four) provinces some months ago.
23 S.I. + TON

22 comments on “23651 – Look sharp and blurred”

  1. 8 minutes for me again. There were a couple I put in without quite knowing why, having to work them out later. STROMBOLI was particularly complicated. I am unsure about the definition of 21D, since MEATH seems to be a perfectly good Irish county – why is it a “lost province”? Jason J
  2. thanks for that. I was being lazy.

    Now I find that Chambers includes the following under “bomb”: “a rounded mass of lava thrown out by a volcano”.

  3. 8:15 for this one. More on bombs at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_bomb – I solved this one as one of my last answers reading it as just a cryptic def, not noticing the wordplay.

    With 1D I guess you could read the clue as “Book at centre of rancour or book at centre of fundamentalism”, which would make it work.

  4. Good try on 1D, but however distasteful I find fundamentalism, I don’t think it is anything like synonymous with bile.
  5. For at least the last 2,000 years, the same pattern of eruption has been maintained, in which explosions occur at the summit craters with mild to moderate eruptions of incandescent volcanic bombs at intervals ranging from minutes to hours. This characteristic Strombolian eruption, as it is known, is also observed at other volcanoes worldwide. (source Wiki)
  6. Surely, Peter B is right. Rancour is synonomous with bile, not with fundamentalism. The basic definition is book=bible, the latter cryptically being “bile” (=rancour) with a “b” (short for book)at its centre. And this particular book(the bible)could also be taken as a source of fundamentalism.
    1. I think you are right. I misread Peter’s suggestion. As I understand it now, the definition would be “Book at centre of fundamentalism”, and the wordplay would be “Book (=b) at centre of rancour (=bile)”.

      I guess that works, though it is unusual to have the words “Book at centre of” being part of both definition and wordplay.

      1. Yes, this second interpretation is what I meant. (And yes, it’s all a bit unusual!)
  7. I threw in a few answers without fully understanding why – ‘to the bone’ and ‘roger’ particularly – but there was nothing too demanding here. I did think that some clues weren’t very artful; as pointed out above, 16d required very little rearranging of ‘shark’, and the surface for 12a made me think of musical scales immediately: hence I thought that the cryptic definition would refer to accommodation.
    1. 12A: I don’t think a CD about accommodation would be fair – {accommodation => flats => notes in a chromatic scale} seems like too many steps.
      1. Sorry, didn’t explain myself properly there I don’t think – what I’d thought was that the surface was a reference to music, and that the solution would be a reference to accommodation.
  8. 5:24, but ‘to the core’ for TO THE BONE.

    I must have been told “watch the ball” upwards of a thousand times in the last 20 years or so, to little avail. The same, it would appear, applies to “check your answers”.

  9. I did this one when I was feeling very tired and made appalling heavy weather of it, finishing in 15:16 (I had a rest later in the day before tackling Wednesday’s puzzle (ESTOPPEL) rather more successfully). I spent a long time trying to justify TO THE CORE, before finally settling on TO THE BONE (and even that took me a long time to work out).
    1. “Common knowledge” is maybe an exaggeration, but he’s the only person with the surname Casement I’ve ever heard of.

      All clues: we don’t have the time! Comments like this help us to choose the right clues to write about.

    2. Thanks for the link. I put a question mark next to this ; I presumed roger was something to do with windows – didn’t consider it was someone’s name!
  10. This happens in the modern era of 2017 as I write but I am filling in all the earlier blogs where “easies” have been omitted. Why? Because I can.

    I biffed RIGOR at 20d because I had never heard of Roger Casement. I have now and have read up on the early Irish Nationalist on Wiki. This is one of the delights of the Times Cryptic – you come across things you did not know before. I am not complaining AT ALL that the setter assumed some GK that I did not have. I am ready for next time!

    Nine “easies” for the bunnies:

    6a Fish were high (5)

    22a They provide answers, positive ones, ultimately (5)
    YESES. I don’t fully understand the clue for this?

    24a (Ah, Fagin)* converted foreign money (7)

    25a Shell-maker, perhaps a soldier demanding urgent attention (7)
    CLAM ANT. Not a word I knew previously but the wordplay is generous.

    27a (Ee, up north)’s grim at that point (9)

    4d Hormone expert trained in (doctoring lesion)* (15)
    ENDOCRINOLOGIST. Top rate anagram.

    6d Contraction of springs on mass (5)
    SPAS M

    8d Incisive talker’s tips are fascinating (9)

    20d Casement, say, that’s clear (5)
    ROGER. “I got that” on the radio. If you don’t know your Anglo-Irish history from the early 20th century you may not have heard of Roger Casement. I had not so got this wrong.

      1. Thanks Richard – I am duly self-kicked.
        Even at my slow pace I am still guilty of not reading the clue properly sometimes!

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