23,704 – pairs?

Solving time 6:52

Fairly easy for me after some slow puzzles in the last few days. One of those puzzles where the grid contains words that make me wonder whether there’s some overall theme that I’m not quite spotting. The shady OMBRE and UMBRAGE, and similar word-structures of CABBAGE and CASSATA, and possibly ST DAVIDS and DECADENT with their D,vowel,consonant,vowel,D sequences. Probably all just coincidence. Another Times xwd where quick solvers should look back at the clues for some very good phrasing.

1 StEaDy UnClE
4 STOCK=hackneyed,TON=not rev. – refers to the Stockton and Darlington railway, the first passenger line if I remember right. I’m pretty sure I saw stock=trite or similar a few days ago, which helped with this one. “Hackneyed” is ‘carried in a hackney coach’, so the surface meaning is stronger than you might think at first.
10 DONATE=freely hand,LL=pounds,O=round. Chipper = sculptor. Not terribly convinced by {round => O}.
12 V.,A,LANCE(t)
15 INSECURE – move the S in ‘sinecure’=easy job
18 BUST A GUT = “tug at sub”, rev.
20 OMBRE – 2 defs – (with acute accent) a French word for “shaded”, and a card game (very big about 300 years ago – I think it features in Pope’s Rape of the Lock, and some of its terminology still lives on – e.g. “matadors” in skat)
23 CAB,BAG,(driv)E – Savoy is a type of cabbage, so this is one of those modern-day Times xwd uses of def by example with no indication.
28 DUELLIST = “dual list”. To “call out” is to challenge to a duel.
1 ST. DAVIDS = (Dad sits V(ery))*. If you’re wondering “Why not St Mark’s or St Peter’s?”, St Davids is a Welsh cathedral city. (More like a cathedral village really, if you’ve ever been.)
2 DAN(i)EL,A,W
3 COTANGENT = (cannot get)* – the link with “triangular relationship” is good stuff.
8 NUDIST = (in dust)*
9 BLEEDING HEARTS – from vague memories of TV documentaries, I think this is about the gory details of human sacrifice in Central America.
16 CROSS=trial,OVER=bowling. {Cross = trial} is cross=ordeal as in “bear one’s cross”. Crossover = mixing musical styles, like those records that Pavarotti made with various pop artistes.
19 (d)UMB,RAG,E – etmologically linked to 20A.
21 B(RAIN)ED – “laid to rest?” = inside ‘bed’, with the question mark indicating that the usual “bury / inter” meaning of the phrase is NOT what you need.
24 AVAIL = A,”vale”

15 comments on “23,704 – pairs?”

  1. Brilliant clue! The road in front of the Savoy Hotel where the cab’s drive up is the only road in London where one drives on the right.
    1. For this old quiz night favourite, you can replace “London” with “the UK”. Savoy Court is the street name, and one story about the reason concerns cabbies.
  2. This week’s turning out a lot harder than last — at least if my times are anything to go by. Barely sub-50′ on this one. The NE corner held me up for a long time… a CUBAN heel was a guess, “some gold” as def for BRAID was vagueish and I had check with dictionary.com re LINCTUS — which is actually a good clue for a hard word.
  3. I hadn’t appreciated just how good 23A was until pointed out. Several others required me to go back and work them out afterwards – for instance UMBRAGE came immediately to mind (I had the ‘U’), but I couldn’t see how it worked, and had to leave it to fill in later. I was interrupted, but what really held me up was 8D, where I was thinking in terms of EMOTED (with MOTE in it, and meaning “has been moving”), but couldn’t make it work, and 11A, where I found myself going laboriously through the alphabet more than once before I saw it. So it took me 11.38 in total. A very enjoyable puzzle, though, and I particularly liked “Chipper” as the definition for a sculptor in 10A. Jason J
  4. 14:11 here, although should have been a bit quicker – I took ages to get BLEEDING HEARTS, as I put SLEEPING lightly into the top half at first. It finally clicked when I read the clue to 26a. I also didn’t connect Savoy with CABBAGE straight away, and wasted some time trying to get CABARET to fit!
  5. Had I not confidently, firmly, foolishly entered OCHRE this could have been polished off in sub 10 minutes. Needless to say, after 20 minutes of staring blankly at H-A-N-D I sheepishly drained the last of my coffee and skulked to the bus stop.
    Not a great week so far.
  6. 23A?
    Fascinating quiz night fact about the Savoy, which I’m grateful for, but surely that’s just a coincidence in this clue? Drive on the right is simply the RHS of “drive”, = “e”.
  7. A simple and straightforward 20 minutes over lunch. My father was a cabby so I knew about The Savoy as he used to use it as a trick question on my girlfriends. Some chipper clues but I was disappointed by 9 down which I thought deserved a better clue than all that obscure bloodthirsty Aztec stuff. Jimbo
  8. I thought that O = round was an established crossword thing. All right, one doesn’t use “round” as a noun in this sense every day, but it’s there: in Chambers as a noun it’s “a round thing …”.
  9. Yes, which I think gives compilers some pretty awesome latitude, which thank goodness thy don’t generally seem to exploit. We could have, I don’t know, “ball” or “orange” or any number of more or less spherical objects used to indicate “O”.


    1. Round, ball, oval (seen recently), disc, (plus myriad ways of expressing “zero”.)
      I think “orange” would be pushing it. Ball and disc can be used generally to describe circular things (I admit disc is more questionable) but I guess everyone has their limits 🙂
      1. Only just spotted this, so my reply is destined to disappear off the foot of the page in no time…
        The official list of permissible abbreviations to represent O consists of only four – nought, blood group, oxygen, old. That’s it. Of course, there are a huge number of manufactured indicators; first of October, who’s closer, second in command etc etc.
        No doubt there will be some latitude when it comes to indicating “a round shape”, but perhaps “orange” is pushing it!
  10. My personal view is that round = O at 10a is OK? Calling Donatello a “Chipper” is far more contentious I would have thought!

    A footer XI of “easies” left out:

    11a Some gold: opening for bank robbery? (5)
    B RAID

    13a Soothing drink brought us together, we say (7)

    14a With a quantity of pills around, look for water (5)
    DO W SE

    26a Liberal priest, one that ruminates (5)
    L LAMA

    27a Connection is (clear, even)* if broken (9)

    29a Court has arrested revolutionary, I believe (6)
    C RED I T

    5d Not far enough away for a visit? Marginal (3,5,2,4)

    6d Youngster on a new sort of heel (5)
    CUB A N

    7d Health-promoting kitchen appliance? (7)
    TOASTER. Even with ham & cheese toasties?

    17d Self-indulgent month leads to a depression (8)

    22d Got up like a fish? (6)

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