23,771 – well beaten

Solving time: 21 minutes with six missing; 24 minutes with aids

A slow start going through the across clues. Nothing until 23A. Then steady progress from the bottom up, helped by the two, straightforward, long central downs. Except that I came to a dead halt on the North West corner. After a few minutes pondering, I decided to give up and use the pattern-matcher on my PDA. Kicking of self for 1D (where I had put in WAR early on) and 9A. But some of the others I think really are hard without crossing letters.

All perfectly sound and fair, though, and so I consider myself well beaten by the setter.

On top of that, there are two other clues that I filled in quickly which I cannot entirely explain, namely 16A and 8D. Help welcome.


1 T(ime) + ITCH + Y(ear)
4 A(KINE)SIA – not a word I knew exactly, but the meaning seems obvious. “India, say” is a strange way of indicating ASIA
9 OVER + LAP, LAP being PAL(rev) – China as friend crops up so often that I should think of it faster, or even eventually
11 TAPE(RE)R – that is “taper” and “spill” in the sense of something for lighting candles
12 A HEAD – in a sour grapes way, I wonder if the clue should have indicated we were looking for a suffix. Or can HEAD be used on its own in this sense?
14 WELLS + P + RING(road) – delayed by looking for something ending -ELY
16 ZERO – I think, because it means “nonentity” and “nothing”. But, if so, I can’t see how the clue works.
20 REL(INQU(ests)ISH – “late investigations” for “inquests” is clever. I was looking to use LA or TE somehow
23 (North)ANGER (Abbey) – the fourth Austen novel I thought of gave me the answer
25 P + RUDE + N.T
26 N + AIR + OBI
28 MY + SORE – I can remember “heaven” and “goodness” being used for MY. I like “holy cow” and look forward to “fiddlesticks” and beyond


1 TROJAN WAR, WAR being RAW(rev)
3 HE + L.P. + DESK, HE being EH?(rev), and DESK being “bureau”
7 SERE + N + GET + I(rrigation)
8 A + GREE(k) – I think. Though why a Greek should be abroad I don’t really know. I was thinking more of “homme” or “Mann”. But then I suppose the setter had used “foreigner” in 6. Any improved explanations welcome.
17 O.T. + HER + WISE
21 ANGELS, being ANGLES (=crooks) with the E moved north (ie up)
22 HOP (h)IT(s)
24 GOOD-O – O being indicated by “egg”. And why not?

27 comments on “23,771 – well beaten”

  1. A good solid puzzle with plenty of interesting ideas and amusing touches which came as something of a relief after yesterday’s ordeal, rewarding as that was.

    I’m spoiled for choice for my COD but I’m going for 25A as I actually laughed out loud when I cracked “dirty books”.

    Rather neatly we also had the Old Testament at 17D and I liked the double-helping of Indian cows at 4 and 28.

    My only concern is the definition at 11 which seems a bit dodgy to me but I have limited access to reference sources at the moment.

  2. 10:11 for this – and another COD vote for 25. Paused over the double def at 19A but concluded that RUSH was the best choice. Googling for ‘taperer candle’ (no quotes) supports the def. at 11 (‘spill’ = an alternative for that kind of taper).
  3. Well we are all different. I found this one as difficult, if not more so and lacking the finesse – as yesterday.
    Both, however, came as a pleasure, especially compared to the Graun’s current pap. (Have’nt seen today’s Guardian yet)
  4. Yes, I don’t know why but I’ve found the last few tricker than normal. I’d need to be better than I am though to analyse the reasons.
    Enjoyed this one anyway , esp. Holy cow.
    Not at all happy with taperer either,

    and ps the reasoning for 8d is “Greek” is “person abroad” rather than just abroad.

    1. Thanks. But it is “person abroad” for Greek that is puzzling me. I think that a Greek is a foreign person (as we have to allow UK-centrism in the London Times), but we know nothing about his or her location. A Greek could just as well be at home or abroad?

      (This may be just a daft idea that has got stuck in my brain, and perhaps tomorrow I will wonder why I thought there was a problem.)

      1. This could go on and on!
        You could be Greek and never have left the UK depending on your parents I suppose. And what about people with dual nationality??

        Not a problem for me, though I see what you mean.
        Maybe it should have referred to Zorba (joke).

  5. 12 I took the definition as “up” and apparently a “head” is an LSD user.

    3 Is HELP a reference to the Beatles record here? I couldn’t see where the HE came from if record is cluing LP.

    11 I still don’t like this one. Spill = Taper = Taperer seems very odd.

    1. 3 – HE is EH(rev), EH? means “What?”

      11 – it is a bit strained, but the definition is not “spill”, but “one having a spill”

      1. Thank’s, Richard. I must be having a bad day as you had already explained EH? (rev)inthe main blog but it didn’t register.

        And I’m still trying to get my head round “taperer” meaning “one having a spill”. Is this in the sense that a taperer is a maker of tapers? And therefore presumably has one?

        1. I should have done it earlier, but I have now looked up “taperer” in the Chambers I have here in the office. It says “one who carries a taper”. Which makes “one having a spill” pretty close.
          1. Thanks again. All is now clear as its meaning is not what I had expected.

            I was going to look in Chambers at home tonight. I have on-line access to the complete unabridged CED and that doesn’t list “taperer”. It’s at dictionary.com but with no definition.

            1. I tend to use onelook, which gives the unhelpful dictionary.com reference, but also more a more helpful definition in Merriam-Webster and the Phronistry.
  6. 16A: I think “ending as nothing” refers to the final O in zero, though this is a bit like the old-fashioned “partial wordplay” clues which are hardly ever used these days.

    4A: my reading was that if the cows are “in India say”, they’re “in Asia”.

    1. Yes, I was reluctant to believe 16A had only partial wordplay, but I think you are probably right.

      And on 4A that makes a sort of sense. I would be entirely happy if “in India, say” indicated INASIA to appear somewhere in a word. But to read it as “in” (as containment indicator) ASIA (as container) makes my brain hurt. But then my brain is not having a very good day.

  7. Just finished before my lunch break ended – 25 minutes in total. At one point I thought I was going to have a disaster like yesterday, but eventually managed to get them all. I semi-guessed AHEAD, reasoning that SMACKHEAD might just be able to be termed as HEAD. Never heard of MYSORE but was pleased that my “guess” turned out to be a good one. Nothing really stood out for me as COD today, but I’ll stick with 25
  8. Couldn’t start this one until after lunch and took around 40 minutes to complete. I should then have logged on here and saved myself 30 minutes investigation trying to justify “zero” and “greek” with no success. I did find HEAD=”LSD taker” buried deep in Collins. I’ll also go for the dirty books at 25 across as COD. Jimbo.
  9. 29 minutes (nice quiet time while proctoring an exam), probably 8 or so on 12ac, 3d, and 21d (took a while for the penny to drop there).
    25ac is going to win COD by a landslide, I expect. I laughed out loud, and it was sweet timing with a very Jesus-related political debate on US TV last night.
    As for head being a drug user, I think it’s a lot more common in the US. Stores that sell drug paraphernalia (with big signs up saying “For use with tobacco products only” are called “Head Shops”, “Dead Heads” for substance-loving fans of the annoying Grateful Dead, and the Monkees movie “Head” all come to mind.
    1. Ooops – that last comment was me – I’m not set to log in automatically from this computer.
  10. I dismissed “zero” as the answer to 16ac and wrote in “Nemo” instead.
    The definition of nemo is: Not any person, nobody, no one.
    1. Nemo is the other word I have pencilled becide my grid. I thought it has slightly less justification, because “nothing” means “zero” but does not mean “nemo”. On the other hand, if Peter is right that the “nothing” in the clue merely tells us that the last letter is O, then there is little to choose between the two answers.
  11. Found this pretty hard… didn’t get anything until appropriate the SE corner, namely NAIROBI. To be slightly off-message, I’ll COD vote for 12A: A HEAD is v. familiar term in the US and defining AHEAD as just “up” is nicely concise.
  12. 12:21 here, for another most enjoyable puzzle. Was I the only person who wasted time trying to find an anagram of “I stop you” for 4A? 🙂 I’m intrigued that 25ac is so popular: I thought it was a good clue but not exceptional, and I liked 12A, 13A and 28A more, the last of these being my COD.
    1. I’m very surprised the clue’s been appreciated so much, since I barely noticed it among the rest – certainly didn’t stand out.
      It took me far too long to work out that 10d was an anagram, but got there in the end… in fact, that might be my favourite clue from the puzzle.
  13. Any hint of scatology always seems to cause crossword solvers unbridled enthusiasm. I agree with Tony, it’s a good clue but nothing special, unless you let your mind run away with the surface.


  14. This was a good ‘un. My LOI was 12a A HEAD meaning UP. Doh!

    Just the half dozen “easies”:

    19a Race attack (4)
    RUSH. A double definition put into R?S? with a shrug.

    2d It’s said to convey sympathy on that issue (5)
    THERE. As in There, There? Don’t get the “on that issue” bit?

    5d Refuse to locate this prehistoric site, (kind cement hid)* after rebuilding (7,6)
    KITCHEN MIDDEN. What is so easy about this unless you are an archaeologist?

    6d Foreigner in (Alpine)* resort (6)
    NEPALI. A clue not likely to be found in the Kathmandu Times.

    10d Form of (respiratory)* covering that is a hangover cure? (7,6)
    PRAIR I.E. OYSTER. Not so easy if you solve whilst needing one.

    15d Forgotten reason for write-off (4,5)

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