23,669 – semiprecious haggis

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time : 10:50

Fairly striaghtforward for the most part, but I got a bit stuck at the end on 25A and 22D. For 22D I was unable to think of the courtier and worried about SOLO as a game. In the end, I decided that “up” had to be part of the definition, and so POLO won. About 10 seconds after stopping the clock, I remembered Polonius.

Pleased to see that the numerals are working in online clues again at 4d, which would have looked very odd with “one dns”


5 GLAM(organ) + IS
12 SCHOLAR’S MATE – my first reaction was that scholars and dons are two groups who normally eat at separate tables, but obviously in less specialised language a don is a scholar.
15 (AD + NIL)(all rev)
24 ALLEGE – (=”a ledge”)
25 JUNK (=boat) + BOND (=spy)
26 E(ngin)E + YORE
27 F + EAR + SOME – I forgot to be misled by the possibility of a homophone.


1 SOCK – means “thump” and there is such a thing as a “wind-sock”. Is that it?
2 (d)RANK
3 POOR CLARE – wordplay in the answer, “clear” being (CLARE)*
8 SUSPENSION, two meanings, the first one musical
11 FATHER FIGURE – good cryptic definition
13 C(LOSES H)AVE – very clever, especially “underground” for in CAVE
21 PAGER, being (RE GAP)(all rev) – surprised by seeing this in the Times. Break-up for PAG is fair enough, but the hypenated -UP reversing also RE could upset a purist
22 POLO(nius)
23 ADZE (=”ads”) and not “adds” for “plugs in” as I had originally thought

19 comments on “23,669 – semiprecious haggis”

  1. Should have taken about 13 minutes, but I stopped the clock after 32. Reason: solving hazard no. 27 – the garbled or misremembered phrase. With everything else filled in, at 9A I searched high and low for words to fit C?N?O?E?. When 2 or 3 minutes of thought yields nothing, you should check at the answers providing the checking letters. I think I did, but not carefully enough. Much later, after considering exotic possibilities like CON being in the middle instead of at the beginning, I realised that my FEEL ONE’S FEET should have been FIND ONE’S FEET, and then CON/FOUND for 9A came out in no time.
  2. I fell at 12 across. I was looking for either an academic or a Spaniard to give me a series of chess moves, but nothing familiar came to mind. I’ve never heard of “scholar’s mate” Is this the same as what I used to know as “fool’s mate”?
    1. Fool’s mate is the shortest possible game of chess – at two moves per player. Scholar’s mate is four moves per player (involving both Queen and Bishop), but is probably the more familiar of the two to any casual chess player.


  3. After a good start, this had me worrying for a while whether I would manage it at all. I was pleased to see GLAMIS straight away; it was the first to go in. I typed in XXXXXNESS for the anagram at 16A, and then filled in HAPPINESS, which slowed me down quite a bit in that area. Oddly enough, I have seen the clue “pop idol” (actually I think it was “pop star”) before, with the answer “FAMILY MAN”. It took me a long time to see JUNK BOND (not helped by the fact that I was wondering whether OLIO might be a game as well as a stew, since I was thinking of MALVOLIO not POLONIUS). The other problem area was SCHOLARS MATE and POOR CLARE, although once I realised the possibility of MATE it all fell into place fairly quickly. Took me 16:10, although again the time is a little approximate, mainly because I found I couldn’t type into the grid at all until I had re-launched my browser. Jason J
  4. in 12A what is the “She’s married” all about?… i might have got it without that part of the clue…

    or is it somthing to do with mate being a way of saying wife?…

    1. Mate = wife it is – though one shouldn’t of course assume that an academic ‘don’ is male – “he married ….” would work just as well.
  5. No doubt I shall be shot down in flames, but I would have expected a word to qualify “county” here, “former”, “ancient”, “old” for example. I understand that Glamorgan ceased to exist in 1974 or thereabouts. But then I come from Middlesex so I might sympathise with those who disapprove of Mr Heath’s activities in this respect.

    1. I guess the setter’s defence is that Glam, like Middx, lives on in that vitally important sphere for xwds – cricket.
      1. I’m afraid you are right, PB. I am starting to hate cricket more by the day because of this assumption by xwd setters that we all know about it and give a damn!
      2. In my mind counties are those that have existed for hundreds of years (I had a long discussion about this yesterday), so I have no problem with Glamorgan or Middlesex. I also look forward to the 2012 Olympics being held in my home town of Essex.

        22D – “The game is up (4)” was a clue I couldn’t explain for ages before I realised that up means on horseback. Now ‘game up’ immediately suggests polo.

        23d – I may have struggled with remembering ADZE if I hadn’t come across it a few hours earlier in the Indy concise crossword.

  6. 15:34 – an easier puzzle which took me longer than yesterday’s harder one – go figure. It was the little answers that held me up, especially 22D as I couldn’t get DAMOCLES out of my head for the courtier even though neither half of it makes a game. 1D took a stupid amount of time to get too.
  7. I did this more or less straight after yesterday’s, and so was perhaps slower than I ought to have been at 11:50, with JUNK BOND taking me a minute or two at the end. And I spent far too much time thinking of various operatic Dons: Giovanni, Pasquale, Carlo(s), …

  8. Like always, the ones I don’t get are the ones not covered in the solution 🙂 Please explain the wordplay for STRIP OFF and PATIO.
    1. 1A STRIP OFF – 2 meanings, the second as in the phrase “to tear a strip off someone”

      19A PATIO – hidden in occuPATIOn

  9. A nice mix of the Bard, Bible and AA Milne with a spot of ornithology thrown in.

    There are 9 “easies” omitted from the blog. Some are discussed above but here they are together – including 4d that even caused our Founder some problems:

    1a Reveal body, one torn angrily (5,3)
    STRIP OFF. A double def – the second one alluding to “tear a strip off” someone. Sounds nasty.

    9a Mix up, but prisoner recaptured (8)

    10a Witch is eating good national dish (6)
    HAG G IS. Common fare at 5a GLAMIS – for Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon when she was a lass but not for Macbeth as he only ever lived there in the Bard’s play.

    16a (Sine shape)* is wavy – you find this in a good book (9)
    EPHESIANS. The book being the NT not a textbook on signal processing.

    19a Courtyard is in occuPATIOn (5)

    20a Sort of stone house, much loved (12)

    4d Settle in, as one might do in 1 dns? (4,4,4)

    6d Boys accept love in quantity (5)
    L 0 ADS

    17d Two fools go for woodpecker (9)
    SAP SUCKER. A North American woodpecker. Perhaps a freebie to all the Times X-word fans across the pond who put up with all the cricket?

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