23,706 – shortest blog ever?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Fairly straightforward puzzle that I probably would have solved a minute quicker had I not been thinking about how I’d blog some of the clues as I went along.

No difficult words, or complicated wordplay so a short blog.

Time taken – 7m30s






15 RED-HOT – (the rod)* – don’t remember seeing “spare” as an anagrind before


20 (<=A(WATT)O)


26 SHAKESPEARE – because I am Scottish, I always think of BURNS first when I see “bard” in a clue – must stop doing that, as it hardly ever relates to the great man

28 (GAIN)SAYING – “saw” is the definition




2 RESOLVE – (lovers)*-E


4 GENERATION GAP – (a parent going)* about (juvenil)E

6 ARNE – odd letters of ArRaNgEd

8 MISS-OUR-I – clever clue, as the Americans do indeed spell the metal as “aluminum”, therefore missing our I




21 W-EIGHTY – 80 being a score (20) less than 100

25 HEWN – (when)*

21 comments on “23,706 – shortest blog ever?”

  1. After a week of frustration, a complete solution in just under 10 minutes. Most clues pretty straightforward for a Friday, helped by a couple of old chestnuts. Despite being easy, I thought 27A was nicely observed.
  2. Managed to polish this one off on the 15-min Heathrow Express trip at 6.30am after a 24-hour flight from Sydney, so it can’t have been too bad. Probably helped that I spent most of the flight catching up on the past 3 weeks’ worth of puzzles though!

    The NE corner caused a few issues here and I’m still not sure how MISSOURI at 8D works


  3. Thanks for explaining MISSOURI! The combination of that and BALSAM, which I wasn’t too sure was a tree, caused me some nerves as I pressed the figurative button at the end. I thought 10A was a bit of a weak clue, and 26A was perhaps too easy. I didn’t immediately see how 22D worked, but the answer was obvious. Time: 5.20 Jason J
    1. had the same response as Jason — 22D is v. well hidden and i didn’t understand MISSOURI either and was nervous about BALSA,M. ALSO, is that right?
  4. Fairly dense with the top half, then got shifting at the bottom for 6:01. Ilan, you’re right about ALSO – I think this is “item”, as used in Shakespeare – e.g. “item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth” – Olivia in Twelfth Night, which Google found first.
  5. Not a tricky one today – the last to go in was agrologist, which was really a guess. I also thought 10a was a bit weak, but enjoyed 21d and particularly 8d – I’ve never come across the idea before, but something tells me it’s not uncommon. Am I right?
      1. AGROLOGIST certainly does exist (see Chambers), but it’s not in COD. I went for AGRONOMIST because I was unfamiliar with AGROLOGIST, but if you know both words I cannot see why one is preferable to the other. It seems to me to be an ambiguous clue.
        1. Apologies, I was looking in an online version of Chambers. I’m sure the answer is meant to be AGRONOMIST, but providing AGROLOGIST means what you’d expect it to then yes, it’s certainly ambiguous. The perils of the cryptic def. I have to say I don’t think AGRONOMIST/OLOGIST is a very suitable word for such a clue.
  6. As for spare, I actually thought the setter was being clever since only one letter is left standing in the same place (redhOt/therOd) but maybe I’m being over-imaginative.
    1. I don’t think that’s significant. I had to think about this quite a bit to realise that “spare” is being used in the sense of out-of-control or furious. My old Chambers doesn’t give this meaning.
      R. Saunders
  7. Completed this in 7.10 (a record under timed conditions). Saved time by entering Shakespeare and Missouri (nice clue!) without working out the wordplay.
    I put in agronomist automatically. I think this must be right although I see that agrologist is a term used in Canada.Is it possible that both are acceptable? I don’t know if agrologist is in th usual dictionaries but if not it is surely still acceptable if it is a standard term used in an |English speaking country??
    JohnP Marshall
    1. Collins (one of the two main reference dictionaries for the Times, along with the Concise Oxford) has agrology – the study of soils and their relative productivity. This is close enough even though very unlikely to be the intended answer, and for the purpose of the weekly unofficial contest, both answers are OK – that’s the decision I would expect if this situation arose in the championship.
      1. I’m grateful to Richard Browne, the Times Crossword Editor, for confirming that if this situation had arisen in the Times Championship, he would have accepted AGROLOGIST in his role as arbiter. The word itself is in Chambers (under ‘agri- or agro-‘), and both Collins and COD have agrology (which must have been added to COD since my edition appeared). He also mentioned that for the Championship puzzles, he does everything he can to avoid this kind of problem, especially in cryptic def clues with no wordplay. Each case is judged on its merits, so don’t take this as an indication that, for example, any -ology can have an -ologist.
        1. My first guess was agricolist, amended to agrologist with the help of Chambers after getting 11D.
          R. Saunders
  8. Found this pretty straightforward today, with a PB time of under an hour, with several distractions.

    Wikipedia has this quote:

    agrology is defined as the sub discipline of agronomy that considers the influence of soil

  9. Found it reasonably easy, though am out of practice. Did not time but took around 30 minutes give or take. Have struggled recently to finish regularly – possibly due to lack of time or a diminishing of whatever it is that I need in order to complete crosswords. Enjoying the blog.
  10. Count me in as an AGRONOMIST at 24a. They call them FARMERS round here. A crew of eight “easies” today:

    9a Transport 75% occupied (3)
    BUS (Y)

    13a Moreover, item’s rarely used now for this (4)
    ALSO. Did ilanc ask about this above and not get an answer?

    18a Charlie’s predecessor holding notice in front (7)
    BRAV AD O. Think radio alphabet.

    23a It’s needed for a bottle of wine or port (4)

    27a Male ‘n’ female (3)
    HE N

    7d (Claret’s)* drunk – or another kind of red (7)

    17d Maltreats about a hundred old computing devices (8)

    22d Imprisoned in boAT ON A Lake, with no key (6)
    ATONAL. Don’t get stuck with Gin and no Tonic.

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