23,774 – not quite an easy Monday

Solving time: 8:05

I should have clocked a time more like 5:05, but I failed to spot magistrate = doge in 17D, so couldn’t justify PREJUDGE. Far more stupidly, I wrote CR instead of CH for ‘crush extremely’ in my anag fodder for 21A’s MAJOR MITCHELL, a bird of which I haven’t heard – but a much more convincing one than anything available from MAJOR (millet,ch)* and the checkers. I wrote this (and chose 5D as my COD) before reading comments except jackkt’s early one. I can understand the fairly lukewarm reaction given a few clues that seemed to give the game away (e.g. 28 and the sorethumbish anag in 7), but beginners need encouragement, and I’m sure there’ll be some tougher puzzles soon.

4 CHRONIC,LE – ‘chronic’ in the informal sense deriving from the medical usage that really means “long-term”.
9 C,ANDLELIT=(let lad in)*
10 V,OUCH = warrant (vb.)
15 MI(DD=Doc. of Divinity)LEAGES – way back = “a long time ago”, though this feels a bit iffy as what’s needed here is “a period of time long ago”
21 MAJOR,MITCHELL = (millet,c(rus)h)*
24 R.A.,BID
25 IN,TRU(DIN)G – a trug is one a wooden basket
27 STEVEDORE – (vet = surgeon, in erodes = ‘eats out’) rev.
28 FA(K)IR – a bed of nails dweller
1 JACK(STRAW=yellow)S – jacks is the playground game with a bouncing ball and things to pick up, jackstraws is spillikins, “pick-up sticks”, etc.
2 CAN – 2 defs, one of which should be familiar from BILLYCAN which we had in a recent puzzle
3 BELIKE – 2 defs – one being favour = resemble = be like
4 C.E.=Civil Engineer,LAND-(m)INE
5 RETCH = “wretch” – my COD for the change of meaning in “try to being up”
6 N,OVE(M.B.E.)R – I share jackkt’s quibble about the def. “several days”, though more over vagueness than whether ‘several’ = 30.
7 COUP DE GRACE = (cage rude cop)*
8 ECHO – a nymph who was punished by Hera for talking too much, the punishment being restricted to silence except for repetition of what someone else said. She loved Narcissus, who was punished for a similar visual problem.
12 I,NEST,I’M ABLE – another COD contender
16 DO,O,LITTLE – do = ‘stage / present’ = put on, I think.
17 PRE-,JU(mp),D(o)GE. Doge = chief magistrate of Venice or Genoa – Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra was the first Doge of Genoa.
20 SC((jar)R)UFF
22 RHINO – 2 defs, inc. money (slang).
23 K,R=two kings,IS – it’s a Malay dagger, old hat for barred-grid solvers though not necessarily for others. That said, I can’t see a plural or third person singular to make 7dpenguin’s IRKS work well enough to write in.
26 INK = first letters of “I’ve never known” – not really convinced that “its origins” works as a “first letters” indicator, though I appreciate the effort not to use an obvious one like “initially”.

18 comments on “23,774 – not quite an easy Monday”

  1. I also failed to spot DOGE and wasn’t able to explain PREJUDGE. There were several new words for me here including MAJOR MITCHELL, but also JACKSTRAWS meaning a game and BELIKE. I think I have met KRIS before but didn’t know it is a dagger.

    For all that, it was quite easy to solve though nothing stands out as an obvious COD. The clue I didn’t like much was 6D NOVEMBER defined, if I have understood it correctly, as “several days”. Several doesn’t equate with 30 in my book. Or am I missing something?

  2. Well(!) I solved it all in about ten minutes with no aids, so it can’t have been hard. Never heard of Major Mitchell and it smacks of desperation for the setter to put it in. Couldn’t explain prejudge either, so thanks for that.
    Can’t find a COD though.
  3. A gentle start to the week, but I’d never heard of ‘Major Mitchell’ or ‘Jackstraws’, though I was in no doubt about about the former because of the anagram fodder and the latter seemed a pretty sure guess since I am familiar with ‘Jacks’ as a game. I rather liked 5d; it’s probably an old chestnut, but it was fresh to me and I liked the convincing surface.
  4. Polished most of this off in about 10 minutes but suffered total word blindness at 4A/D, eventually donning the SK boots for deserved treatment.
    Like dyste I’ll go for 5D as COD but I’m struggling to get “favour” at 3D. Can anyone explain?
    Interesting to note the recent thread on the Crossword Centre forum re linked clues, which alludes to today’s trio. My belief is that if linked clues provide a level of smooth reading they’re fair enough. And, while they can be useful where answers are directly linked (either in wordplay or answers) I’m more inclined to use them where a complete clue can only read as a part sentence – linking it to the next clue can offer an escape route.
    1. Favour, especially in the north of England can mean to look like eg “He favours his dad”
      1. Aha – understood; thank you.
        And I must now phone my old friend Nigel and apologise. I now know what he meant and I shouldn’t have decked him after all.
  5. Got one wrong again. I put IRKS in 23 dn, reasoning that IS is bearing (ie holding) two kings. I Couldn’t justify the definition though, but having never heard of KRIS, I couldn’t justify that either. Obscure word choices like KRIS spoil things for me, especialy when there are plenty of alternatives – BRAS would have set it up as a contender for COD (we had dirty books last week and another BRA the week before 😉 Not sure whether INTRUDING is right at 25a since that’s another I can’t justify.
    All in all, a pretty unremarkable crossword. With hindsight, I would have preferred to have spent the time enjoying my lunch.
    1. I also nearly settled for IRKS. I was considering it long and hard when KRIS appeared from the depths of memory, but I had to look it up to check it.
  6. I’m still making a wretched attempt to justify MIDDLE AGES (“way back”?). Someone care to put me out of my wretchedness. I had the same doubts about NOVEMBER as ‘several days’ as well.

    I too liked 5D as the COD.

    1. DD inside MILEAGES, as it says in the blog entry. I didn’t have a problem with “way back” meaning “a long time ago”, which is a fair enough description.

      I struggled a bit with the same two as a lot of people, 1d and 21a, and took a while to see how 27a worked too. 16:48 in the end.

  7. Struggled home in 46 mins. Didn’t know ‘trug’ or ‘jackstraws’ or ‘major mitchell’. But put in ‘arms’ for 23, thinking that ‘AR’ could be ‘Arthur Rex’, ‘M’ could be ‘majesty’ and ‘arms’ could mean ‘a single weapon’. Cos I didn’t know ‘kris’ either!
  8. I caved and looked up 4d after 13 minutes, the last 3 of which were staring at 4d. I had not made the landmine connection for explosive, and was working on c-l-n- as being the engineer part of the wordplay. I think I put in my bio that if you want to stump me, head straight to botany.

    Wonder if the setter has some antipodean roots – jackstraws and major mitchell went in quickly (my late uncle had an illegal pet major mitchell for a long time).

    1. Why are crossword setters obsessed with plants? Every time I see ‘blooming’ and similar cliches I groan… Not ANOTHER plant!
      1. We’ve all got strong points and weak points, I’m fine with unknown plants if I can figure it out from the wordplay. And I would have today if the penny had dropped on “landmine”, rather than just “mine”. Apart from the botanical, I had some major advantages with the Australian references and an elemental symbol.
  9. Nothing new to add to what has already been said. I knew KRIS from a previous encounter somewhere and guessed the Aussie bird. A reasonably straightforward 35 minutes to solve. Jimbo
  10. I found the entire puzzle just plain scruffy. Agree entirely with “November’s” criticisms, didn’t like the laziness of 7, 16 and especially 28, and thought many of the clues poorly worded.

    No COD.

  11. 9:37 for me, spending far too long trying to justify IRKS, despite knowing KRIS perfectly well. I’ve a vague recollection of coming across MAJOR MITCHELL before, but in its verbal sense (“to follow a zigzag route; to become lost”, according to Chambers). If I ever knew it could mean a bird, I’d forgotten it.

    I found this a rather uninspired puzzle, and I don’t think there’s anything worth nominating as a COD, but on the other hand I don’t find anything I really object to.

  12. This one was not universally popular. My personal gripe was equating a GRIN with a LEER in 14a. There are 6 “easies”:

    1a Sheep Bill’s got into position (5)
    J AC OB. Come by Bill – now you’ve rounded up those sheep.

    11a Reactionary in charge of family leading them into breeding establishment (5-2-3-3)

    14a Whirl round and grin back (4)
    REEL. LEER backwards – hardly a grin?

    18a Fruit (women alter)* drastically (10)
    WATERMELON. I have to admit to trying to find an anagram of FRUIT WOMEN meaning drastically for far longer than I should have.

    19a Just fine (4)

    13d (Roger’s a lot)* to chew over – he’s a stargazer (10)

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