23,688 – Deliver me from slow times

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A dose of Fridayitis for me today – my slowest Friday solve in ages, at 22 minutes and a few seconds.

I’m not quite sure why it took so long, but once I had worked out the two long answers across the way, and put DELIVER in instead of UNBOUND (still don’t know what possible wordplay would have given UNBOUND), I finished the rest of the puzzle quite smartly.



5 hidden in “streAM A DOUbt” – AMADOU is a spongy substance, made from fungus and used as tinder, once it has been soaked in a nitrous solution.


12 SECULAR – (as cruel)*

13 CARY-A(T)ID – Cary as in Cary Grant; a CARYATID is a supporting pillar in the shape of a person

18 H-YEN-A


23 DELIVER – I instantly put in UNBOUND without really thinking about it, and this held me up for a good 5 minutes, before I remembered that an eagle gnawed on Prometheus’s liver (in ancient mythology), a punishment for giving fire to humanity.

26 WORD(SWORD-SWORD)S – Hamlet’s informative response to Polonius’s question – “What do you read, my lord?”


1 CA(S(ugar))-TER



6 MOHICAN – as in “The Last of the Mohicans”

7 (man)DRILL

8 UNEARNED – (near nude)*

9 CRUS-A-(<=RED)

14 TOM-(s)ORR(y)-OW



19 A-D(i)VISOR – toyed with ADVISER, but I’m pretty sure that DIVISOR is the more common spelling.

22 (<=NO SIR-P)

24 LORDS – House of Lords and Lords cricket ground

25 SE(D)ER – in Judaism, a ceremonial dinner on the first night of Passover

20 comments on “23,688 – Deliver me from slow times”

  1. 9:48 for this. I probably lost two or three minutes from writing in UNBOUND at 23, based on remembering Prometheus Unbound and knowing practically nothing of the actual story. Confident of this, I then started to doubt the first word(!) of the Hamlet answer as 17, 24 and 19 looked more & more implausible (?H?B?W?D, e.g.). Eventually ignored some checked letters in 17, saw SHADOWED and then got DELIVER. Also held up by Grant = Cary at 13 though I’m sure we’ve had it before.
    1. Well forget all the hopes of storming to my first sub-50 total for 6 correct puzzles in the unofficial contest, or of beating Mark Goodliffe this week. After finding DELIVER, I fell headlong into the ADVISER trap at 19D. DIVISOR is the only spelling, not just a more common one. Moral: when you think you’ve found the crucial right answer, there may be another one coming.
  2. about less able “solvers” in an earlier post. I’m still struggling with today’s puzzle.

    Across: 1, 11, 18, 26, 27

    Down: 1, 2, 3, 4, 19, 24

    Feeling dim today, as I do on days when I only get this far, which is most days! When I complete the puzzle usually in 45-50 mins, I look here and see everyone saying how easy it is!

    I’ll wait for today’s blog and no doubt slap my forehead at what I missed..

    1. D’oh! Sound of palm meeting forehead…

      And evictor, wafer and desire.

      Why are e & s “neighbours at table”?

  3. east and south sit next to each other at the bridge table, I was glad to get through a week with no mistakes and some relatively quick times (for me) JohnPM
  4. OK Peter. I’ve just celebrated the 50th anniversary of my first all correct Times puzzle solved. I can now tackle the puzzle in one sitting rather 10 seessions of 3 minutes each! My solve times are typically 20 to 30 minutes. I thought today’s was easy, particularly 10ac and 26ac, which gets one off to a good start. I was a great Ximenes fan and by his standards I find some of the Times clues a little sloppy, which is a shame. Jimbo
    1. Jimbo, thanks for the concise summary of 50+ years of solving. From what I’ve seen of 1950s puzzles, I hope you find the Times clues now a lot less sloppy than they were then!
      1. Yes, indeed. The puzzles have improved greatly since the 1950’s. The overall standard of the clues is much higher whilst the worlds of the esoteric sciences now appear alongside the obscure literary references! But guys like you must keep setters up to scratch. Some of the homophones used lately have been weak to say the least. Jimbo.
  5. Nearly made up some ground today, until HYENA, CARYATID and finally PROXIMATE took nearly 20 mins between them. 25’57” total, but at least mistake-free for only the third time this week.
  6. And I’ve not been keeping times unfortunately – most puzzles this week/last have been tackled over several sittings (we live in a world of interruption).
    NW corner was my sticking point today; will have accounted for about 15 minutes of head-scratching. Last to go in were PROXIMATE and CARYATID, the latter because, early on, I had just the Y placed and (even though it wouldn’t fit) the word AMETHYST entered my head and refused to leave.
    Good puzzle all round, my only question the reference to FOR CHOICE at 10Ac – BY CHOICE seems more accurate for the context.
  7. I’m new to this, and having completed yesterday’s crossword, only the second time for a Times puzzle, I am feeling very thick today, only four answers. I even missed the obvious anagrams (secular, unearned).

    By the way, isn’t it time that grant=cary is retired as an indicator, us (relative)youngsters don’t have a hope with this.

    1. Unfortunately one of the conventions of The Times is that reference cannot be made to any living person other than the reigning monarch. Funnily enough, even as a (relatively) old hand, I can’t remember seeing the Cary = Grant reference before although I’ve no doubt it’s been used. On this occasion it took me a while to spot it.
      1. On behalf of the (relative) oldsters, I’d like to see Cary = Grant around for a little while longer – I feel I need all the help I can get from such references to keep you young folk at bay!
    2. I think Grant=Cary is fairly harmless compared to a couple of old horrors: {Little by Little=Eric} (Victorian improving book title), and Birkenhead=FES (via F E Smith, Lord B.). I think both of these have now been retired. I haven’t seen Ben=Battle or vice versa for a while, but the chance of discovering the Hood poem makes it worth keeping.
  8. ..about 35 minutes today.

    SE corner gave me the most trouble. And, being a cricket fanatic. LORD(‘)S should have been a no-brainer!


  9. 13:07 for me, but I would have been significantly faster if I hadn’t stupidly put in STACKED for 21D!

    I’d really have liked to have left this puzzle until tomorrow when I was feeling a little less drained, but I wanted to get hold of the URL for Peter B’s unofficial cryptic RTC so felt I had to attempt it and hope to avoid a disaster. Fortunately I was fairly sure of DIVISOR, so although ADVISOR didn’t look all that familiar, I felt it was a better bet than ADVISER.

  10. I take issue with the clue for 15a, “half-heartedly try to influence peer.”
    Apparently “try to influence” is “nobble,” but you nobble a horse if you’re trying to influence a race. I can’t make a sentence where both words would work.


  11. That’s what it is all about my dear Hamlet.

    A few “easies” omitted from the blog. Some are mentioned in the comments above but here they are in full:

    11a One turns out champion at end of game (7)

    15a Half heartedly try to influence peer (5)
    NOB (B) LE

    25a Footballer refusing to play? (7)
    STRIKER. What happens when the manager “loses the dressing room”?

    27a Neighbours at table in dreadful want (6)
    D ES IRE. East and South sitting adjacent at the Bridge Table.

    28a Exchanges horribly (strained)* (6,2)

    4d Host’s method for specking (5)
    WAFER. Sounds like “way for” – spoken by some perhaps. The HOST is the body of Christ in Communion symbolised by the Wafer?

    21d Son worked on yacht, secured into position (7)

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