23,742 – slow starter

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Good, fair puzzle today with some excellent surfaces, I thought. Took me a while to get started, but the whole thing was complete in less than 11 minutes, OSAGE being the last light to go in (had to look it up to check it was right, tho’)

ACROSS

4 TEST TUBE – (<=BUTTS) in TEE

8 S(TIN-GIN-G(ree)N)ETTLE – convoluted, but very good

10 POLO SHIRT – (<=TRI(H(ero)-SOLO)P

11 E(d)GY-PT

12 NAP-KIN – nice

14 COPPELIA – OP in (I place)* – a French comic ballet. If you are not an opera or ballet buff, it is always helpful to at least learn a list of likely suspects, like CARMEN, TOSCA etc.

17 MO-LASSES – the pedant in me wonders if “after a short time” may have been better?

22 C(REAMS)ODA

24 DISCO-(e)M(BOB)ULATE – what a wonderful word that is!

25 SE(NT)INE-L – where NT = National Trust

DOWN

1 POST-P(ONE-MEN)T – obvious now, but I was looking for a word that meant “stay upright”, rather than just “stay”

2 TRIAL – TRAIL with the I “promoted”

5 S-A(N)CTION

6 TI(T)LE – bit of a chestnut, this one

7 BELLY FLOP – (folly)* in (<=PLEB) – not much that you can do with the letters of FOLLY, so fairly straightforward, I thought

9 UTTAR PRADESH – (stare hard put)* – state of northern India, bordering on Nepal, whose capital often appears in puzzles (LUCKNOW)

13 PULVERISE – (evil super)*

15 P(A(llied)-RAM-O)UNT

16 H-ENCH(M)AN(t) – I was just discussing with my wife last night where all these movie superbaddies get their henchmen from – is there a recruitment agency called “The Dispensibles” or “Baddies ‘R’ Us”?

19 REC-OIL – REC being short for Recreation (ground)

23 OS-AGE – a native North American tribe of the east-central United States.

17 comments on “23,742 – slow starter”

  1. Yesterday’s 6 minute completion was a blip and today was a thoroughly normal (and enjoyable) 16 minutes. Could have been around 11-12 were it not for a frustrating delay at 10A / 2D, the wordplay for both being thoroughly accurate and well hidden. Very well crafted puzzle.
  2. 9:18 for this one. Poor start with only four acrosses on first look, but then things got moving, though slightly held up by finding the wrong anag (repulsive) at 13D and wondering whether repulse=?=defeat would somehow justify it. Also wondered about Pepsi Cola at 22A even though trade names don’t get used. An Indian holiday paid off nicely to make U.P. easy at 9D.
  3. Too good for me, I was floored by OSAGE. But very enjoyable, with intricate wordplay and some cunning definitions (‘Stay’, ‘What refinement can bring’…).
    1. Yes it beat me too. I had only about 6 words after 30 minutes when I resorted to various reference books and even then it took me another 30 minutes and the use of the Chambers solver finally to get 10A. I had thought of POLO much earlier. I was also confused by thinking of REPULSIVE for 13D

      As others have commented it was completely fair and I have no excuse for doing so badly other than I just couldn’t get onto the setter’s wavelength today.

      Just remembered I don’t fully understand 25A and 7D so perhaps I should reserve my judgement on fairness until I see the reasoning in the blog later.

  4. 25A: The conservationists are the NT, inside SEINE and L (lake)

    7D: anag. of FOLLY inside PLEB upwards (‘from south’)

    1. Many thanks. Hmmmm….not sure I like NT. Presumably that’s the National Trust; has it come up before?
  5. Yes, I’m afraid the National Trust make fairly regular appearances in Crosswordland. This one took me about 11 minutes, and I too found 10A and 2D cleverly hidden and last to go in. I also liked the construction of 1D. Jason J
  6. 10:13 for me. I find this sort of crossword, with such a lot of involved wordplay, less to my taste than some other Times cryptics – which is perhaps why I liked 12A, with its concise wordplay and extended definition, even though its surface reading was a bit tortuous.

    18A (Support for new setter (4,2)) is becoming something of a cliche:
    23680 (15 Aug.), 19A: Support for young boxer, say (4,2)
    23653 (14 July), 25A: Support for youngster (4,2)

  7. I found this a good test with some well constructed clues and took about 40 minutes to solve it. Sorry to have missed the retired colonel yesterday. I’ve been solving the Times for 50 years and the clues today are infinitely better than they were in the 1950s, thanks mainly to the adoption of the rules espoused by Ximenes. I don’t recall the 1980s being particularly special and whilst some things today irritate me it’s still good value for my money. Jimbo (relaxed and retired)
    1. In some ways I prefer the puzzles from the 1950s – they had a certain charm whereas today’s puzzles can sometimes seem a bit antiseptic. However, some of the current Times setters are wonderfully original, and I think on the whole the standard is probably as high as it’s ever been. Tony (also retired, but possibly not quite as relaxed)
      1. Tony, I bet you make psychic bids at bridge! We mathematicians need our rules. However, do you have any reason to believe that clues in the 1980s were somehow better than today? I don’t. I think the overall standard has been excellent during our solving lifetimes. Jimbo.
        1. I suppose I might have just have claimed to be a mathematician at one time (I did maths up to first degree level), but that was long ago.

          The main thing about 1950s puzzles is that solvers were assumed to be moderately well-read (which included being familiar with the main stream of English poetry), and later editors came to regard this as elitist. The real turning point was one of the puzzles in the 1975 Championship final, which Brian Greer apparently managed to solve only about half of, and he seems to have resolved then and there that if he ever gained control, he would change all that. And he did. (Sigh!) Of course wordplay was less precise than it is in these post-Ximenean days, but, judging by the 1950s puzzles I’ve done recently, you soon get into the swing of it.

          There were some very good setters around in the 1980s, but I’m not sure that they were any better overall than today’s bunch. Brian Greer was first rate, and so was Joyce Cansfield, who I believe is still going strong, and I always used to enjoy Edmund Akenhead’s puzzles very much. Nowadays I rate Richard Rogan’s puzzles extremely highly, and there are certainly other current setters I’d place in the first rank if I only knew (or could remember) their names.

  8. Happy to have beaten 14 minutes today. I liked the deceptive ‘top hero’s’ and ‘stay upright’.Apologies to the colonel , but I think the Times x-words are thoroughly entertaining (as they no doubt were always designed to be).But then I am not over fussy and probably a bit too liberal in my outlook.
    Anyway I look forward to more of the same – livens things up a bit!
    JohnPMarshall
  9. Another day, another word to be done in by and kick myself for. Started after midnight last night and didn’t get very far, came back at coffee break this morning and had a lot of fun working out clues from wordplay, there was some novel wordplay in this one that let me get polo shirt and sentinel. After staring at -e-oil for a long time trying to get 19d, I had a brain lapse and wrote in befoul knowing it to be wrong. So two days in a row missing a word, hopefully not a bad omen for the weekend.
    1. Tony knows his stuff very well indeed. Times Crossword Champion in 1981 and a finalist most years since, including a run of 12 in a row; and top Listener solver one year.
  10. Nothing to enrage the good Col (Rtd) today?

    Just the 7 dwarves:

    1a Putting nearly everything on favourite is a bit of a bloomer (5)
    PET AL (L)

    18a Support for new setter? (4,2)
    PRO PUP

    20a Enormously revolutionary element beginning to dominate (2,3)
    NO EN D. Or NEON backwards then D(ominate).

    26a In dispuTE, ETHic’s effectiveness (5)
    TEETH

    3d Journal is going over habitual movements in organisation (9)
    LOG IS TICS

    4d Wrong score put up for game (6)
    TEN NIS. SIN NET upside down.

    21d Pipe inlaid with a piece of gold (5)
    DUC A T

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