23681 – comparisons are odo(rife)rous

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 12:53

No show-stoppers but a lot of clues that needed thinking about, and a fair number that I filled in without understanding the wordplay at the time. I think there are only five that I have not commented on below. All very fair and enjoyable.

There’s a symmetrical pair of old instruments – 1D and 20. And I didn’t really know the word STENOTIC at 9D, but there really isn’t another plausible anagram that fits. The cricket reference at 25A was easy enough, though the cricket clue in the quick crossword today floored me.

I don’t know if the paper version had words or digits for 1598 in 26D, but having it in words in the online version misled me into suspecting that part of it could be a cross-reference to another answer.


1 SANT(I)A + GO – I kicked myself when I found this, having considered inserting ONE into SANTA at first look
5 C + A(JO)LE – another early miss as I considered inserting DI into C+ALE
10 CAP (better(v)) + ABILITY + BROWN (ale) – Guessed from crossing letters and wordplay. I had no idea his first name was Lancelot
11 BEEKEEPING – cryptic def. I spent some time trying to fit HEEPS into a word for colonies
13 LIMB(o)
17 T(R + I + R)EME – I am not sure if I knew there was a River Teme, but there clearly had to be one
18 S(O)IGN + E E
19 CUT WO R.M. – I didn’t know the word, so I filled in WORM straight away and CUT once I had a crossing letter
21 (d)OVER
27 PAST + RY
28 GLADS(OM)E, with OM replacing TON in Gladstone


2 NAP(e)
3 IN BREEDING – except that I don’t think that FBRs can breed without generating energy, so I don’t think they ever would be described “occupied in breeding”
4 GALO(re) + (cam)P
6 A, B, B, E all being notes – I think I have seen something similar before where it was even specified that the notes were in a rising sequence
8 E + N(N)OBLE
14 DISTRESSED – two meanings, the Samson ref making it more interesting for those of us who have seen the hair pun before
16 E + VER + MORE, VER being REV(rev), and MORE being Sir (or Saint) Thomas
18 SNOWCAP – cryptic def, though not very cryptic if the mountaineering meaning is the first one you think of for Munro
23 NA + SAL
24 TSAR, being STAR with the first two letters reversed
26 ADO – 1598 being in the estimated range of when Much Ado About Nothing was first performed

14 comments on “23681 – comparisons are odo(rife)rous”

  1. 6:27 for this, and wish it had been a championship puzzle! For an occasional trombonist, SACKBUT and the mute in the opposite corner were easy and the former helped with 1 and 10. Prediction: some fairly tricky wordplay will mean that long experience makes big difference to solving time.
    1. Over 18 mins here – I sincerely hope we don’t get one like this at Cheltenham! No problems with SACKBUT or MUSETTE, but I had trouble with SOIGNEE and it took me ages to figure out the wordplay of 4d. I could have saved time by just sticking it in – nothing else fits! 9 was unfamiliar and had to wait for all the crossing letters.
  2. A somewhat disastrous 23:41 here. There were a few clues that I sort of half knew but didn’t want to commit to them in case they were wrong. But after about 10 mins the grid was lookingly distressingly blank in places so I took a chance and started filling them in.

    Who’s bright idea was it to have 1598 printed in words in the online version?

    1. There’s apparently some bug that means a number in digits at the beginning of a clue messes up the software’s ability to distinguish clue text and clue numbers. This might also be true for a number at the end of a clue, though I’ve certainly seen clues with proper numbers somewhere in them on the online version. The real answer is “fix the ****** software to do it right, and while you’re at it, restore the ability to have formatting like bold and italics in the clues”. But that seems too much trouble for someone. Enough before I turn into Victor Meldrew himself.
  3. I don’t think much of this clue. Are we supposed to carry the estimated date of first performance of all Shakespeare’s plays in our heads?
    1. It’s a wonderfully humbling experience isn’t it? Thank the Gods that the answers are, usually, guessable without knowing all of the esoterica.


      1. I don’t find it humbling actually as I’m sure I know plenty of obscure facts that would baffle the setter, but if I were compiling a crossword I would try to write clues that didn’t leave good solvers guessing the reasoning having found the answer.
        1. Have think from the setter’s point of view: with GLADSOME and CREASE-RESISTANT in place, it’s A?O to fill in, and therefore your umpteenth clue to ADO. So you try to do something new….

          Given “fuss” (3) as a possible def., and a connection with “nothing”, the play title seemed pretty obvious. The year of first performance is just a bit of extra stuff – the fact that it matched my rough guess at Shakespeare’s life-span (1565-1623 – actually 1564-1616), 1598 seemed plausible enough.

          If someone really was left in doubt as to whether ADO was right, there’s something for the setter to worry about, but it seems we all got there.

          1. Thanks for your thoughts on my posting, PB. I always start with any 3-letter clues so it was the second one I looked at. Even with no checking letters I immediately thought of ADO but didn’t write it in because I couldn’t explain it. Eventually the checking letters confirmed I must be right but I still couldn’t explain it all. I looked up events of 1598 on Wiki and got into the realms of the Common Year (AD?). Date of first performance of a play never occurred to me – nor was it even listed amongst events because it’s not a known fact anyway. When I saw the explanation here I felt dissatisfied with the clue, and still do.
            1. I think Peter sums up the thinking behind the ADO clue pretty accurately (although it wasn’t mine!).
              I detest 3-letter words but it’s hard to avoid them. I particularly hate them because often I think of 2 nice cross-checking entries and realise my “3-letter light blindness” has either left me with something like E-A (not AGAIN!) or the impossible G-K and I have to start again!
  4. There was a time when I would probably have rattled this off in a similar time to Peter’s, but today I could feel my brain turning to suet and I took a miserable 9:36. (Deep sigh!)

    I thought 26D was perfectly reasonable (for the reasons that Peter gives) though I didn’t work it out until after I’d finished; and, like others, I was put off by having 1598 in words – and wrongly punctuated at that!

  5. I have found the earlier clue, in puzzle 23,477. It was

    1 Cleric’s marks not getting better? (4)

    So it was declining marks rather than rising notes.

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