23,753 – better than never

Solving time: 16:06

I don’t know whether to blame my cold for my slow time, or to accept that it was a difficult puzzle for me.

I found lots of the clues quite hard to work out, even after I had the answer, and so I think I have included more than usual in the analysis below. Lots of interesting constructions and witty surfaces. I was surprised by the surplus words (“Having” and “As”) at the beginnings of 27 and 22. They help the surfaces and obscure the definitions which is good, but I am in two minds about whether I like them.


1 OR + CHI(l)D
4 M + OCCASI(o)N
10 FIT TO BUST – ho-ho
12 NORTHUMBRIA – (BIRTH OUR MAN)* – for the cryptic reading, that “of” should be an “in”
14 ETA = ATE(rev)
17 O.C. LOCK
21 B (O’ER W)AR
23 AID – a sort of cryptic def that makes my brain hurt


1 OFF A + (lo)ND ON
2 CUT + E.R. – I was slowed up by expecting the monarch to be simply the R
3 IBO – OBI(rev) – OBI is one of those words I have met only in crosswords
5 O(NTARI)O, NTARI being TRAIN* and OO (or double-O) being a model train gauge
6 CUR(e) + T + AILMENT
7 S(ACRED) COW – I like this one, though it took me ages. Especially acred for landed
9 SUM(M)ER – for some reason I had never thought of the word Sumer as the civilisation of the Sumerians
13 HU(CKLEBE)RRY, CKLEBE being (KEBLE C(ollege))*
16 FIELDSMAN, being (S(ore) INFLAMED)* – cricket ref slowed me up of course
18 B(lack) RIND LED – not clear why Black has an initial capital
20 H(ard) + OL(d)STER – liked armrest as the def
21 BREWER – two meanings, the book I imagine being his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
22 PAVLOV(A) – haven’t we had something with a very similar cryptic construction recently?
25 A(S)IDE
28 DAI(l) – apparently David LG was known by the short form Dai

24 comments on “23,753 – better than never”

  1. I thought this would be a quick one for me judging by the speed I completed more than three quarters of it, but then I spent as long again if not longer on 6 clues in the NE corner.

    The first of these to fall was 7D which appears to be SACRED COW though I don’t know why. I can see SCOW = dinghy but not where ACRED comes from, nor any definition either direct or cryptic. This may well be a candidate for COD when it’s explained later if I’m not too busy with the self-kicking boot.

    I was tempted to nominate 4A, another that gave me a lot of trouble, but my favourite is definitely 2D though I don’t hold with its sentiment.

    On 17A – yet another toughie – I suppose there is a convention that apostrophes don’t have to be indicated in the clue?

    1. 9:04 – had most of the left-hand side done quickly, but big gaps on the right and took a minute or two to make any more progress. 7D’s parsing is pretty fiendish – ACRED = landed, leaving “facing this, carp not” as the def. I liked 21A and 24A but there are lots of good clues.

      17A: most puzzles don’t indicate apostrophes these days. My stock example when this is comes up: L’ELISIR D’AMORE (Donizetti Opera) was “(7,6)” as an answer in the Grauniad, probably about 15 years ago now.

      1. Thanks for this, PB.

        I don’t think I need the self-kicking boot today. I meant to say I had spotted ACRE as a possible reference to “landed” but I didn’t really know ACRED as the legitimate word which Collins confirms it is.

        As for the definition, that was too cryptic for me on the day and I solved the clue correctly which is the most important thing.

        Now that I understand it fully I wouldn’t nominate 7D as COD as it’s bit too contrived for its own good. I prefer something short, simple and if possible amusing so I’ll stick with 2D.

  2. The answer to this clue is apparently brewer. But I don’t understand the connection to bookmaker. Can someone please explain this?
    I loved 7D, once I had solved it and understood the wordplay and def. My favorite was 20D.
  3. Lots to admire here, several candidates for COD. I’ll plump for 21A, also liked 5D, 28D…

    Strange to see the Pavlov(a) pair come up again so soon.

  4. I liked 10A — especially since bras seem to be a consistent subtheme which by all means should be kept up.

    is RE the school lesson of 11A (as in religious education)? is that a std term?

    1. Yes. R.E. is pretty common, though at my school it was R.K., probably on the grounds that Catholic schools impart knowledge about the one true religion rather than educate anyone about it.
  5. 14 minutes, finishing with BRINDLED. I don’t really get 27a. Does MILL=fight? Am I being a bit dim again? Didn’t understand 2d or 7d until they were explained here, and I now like both. 6d gets my vote today – using both AILMENT and CURE was cleverly done. Yesterday we had DENTAL and INCISOR. Is a theme developing?
    1. mill = a fist fight, in Collins but not Concise Oxford. I have a vague memory of reading about ‘milling’ as a system of character-building fights in some school or other institution.

      (Just discovered that paid account owners on LiveJournal can now edit their comments – if you get in before any reply). Money well spent for some of us…

      Edited at 2007-11-08 01:21 pm (UTC)

  6. Yes, MILL = fight. This one took me 10:35, with MOCCASIN, SACRED COW and O’CLOCK being the main problem area. The straightforward anagram at 12A took me a long time to spot as well. Surely the DAI at 28D is just a general term for a Welshman rather than anything to do with Lloyd George specifically? I agree that 7D is too contrived, and am going to give COD to 26A. Jason J
  7. I thought the definition slightly misleading — YOUR instead of ONE’S would have improved it, I think. Quite tricky overall.
    1. Yes, you are right. The definition at 4A doesn’t work perfectly for a noun. But it all makes for a very good surface.
  8. So far, six people have expressed a preference for COD and each has chosen a different clue, 2d,20d,21a,10a,6d and 26a.
  9. surprised no one’s mentioned the rather clever cryptic def of BULLET TRAIN as sluggish transport at 24A — not obvious at first glance to me at all.
  10. Started bightly with 1d, 12, 15 and 13 in about 5 mins but then put ‘beetle along’ in for 24. I know, I know, no excuses. Normal brain service was not resumed for some time and it took me four gos, three nibbles and one big bite to finish. 1hr 8 mins overall. I ascribe this partly to the effects of a hangover which makes the length of time I spent staring at 29 rather ironic. COD would be 4 FWIW. Intrigued that now consensus on COD seems elusive.
    1. Agreement about COD is very elusive today, but I’m with 7dpenguin on the reason – that’s why I added ‘puzzle of the week’ to the first poll for clue of the week.
  11. Had to guess at a few short words, but looks like I got them all in. Two sittings for this one, probably 25 minutes total. 19d was the last to fall, but 27ac was the real sticking point (thanks for the explanation, Peter!).

    One day a clue of “Part of N America” will refer to a place in the US and we’ll all be stumped.

  12. Quite enjoyed this puzzle, with plenty to kickstart my brain this morning. Favourite clue was 24a with 20d a close second.
  13. 10:49 for me. I felt 7D was a bit too contrived to be my COD, but I liked 24A (the last answer to go in, taking me ages to solve, even though I’ve travelled on the Japanese one) and 21A and 2D. In the end, though, I’m opting for 10A.
  14. That’s me and my entourage – heh!

    Seven “easies” not in the blog. Some have been mentioned above but here they are together:

    11a School lesson given by scoundrel. Come again? (5)
    R.E. CUR

    19a State of luxury was common under Cromwell (6)

    24a Sluggish transport? On the contrary (6,5)

    27a Having exercise machine, fight against bit of spare tyre (9)
    TREAD MILL. A “mill” is a term for a fist fight evidently – see Peter B’s comment above.

    29a (Any verdi)* production may have intoxicating results (8)

    30a Piece of engine favoured by Lilliputian rebels (3,3)

    8d (Roman)* fails Latin at first – is that expected? (6)

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