23,776 – easy peasy – for a current Wednesday anyway

Solving time: 8:47

After some tough puzzles for this weekly spot, this one was much easier – though I was still held up for a while in the NE corner, where 9, 6, 7 and 5 went in last, in roughly that order. This after I’d hastily tried PIRATES for 5, even with the checking T from 11A in place. I’ll leave commenters to choose a COD for the moment – I liked the two-word homophones and the ones with phrases in the answer – 0 M.P.H. and T BAG O – but I haven’t had time yet to reread the lot.

This puzzle deserves more credit than it may get if there’s a “brat-pack setter stinker” tomorrow or Friday (a comment that practically guarantees an e-mail from one of these setters claiming this puzzle). No obscure knowledge is needed, and only two difficult answers, so difficulty achieved the best way – by well-disguised clues, with convincing surface meanings. And for the second day in a row, no clues relying on cricket or other British sports.

A couple of points for newcomers: If you’re baffled by the notation or anything else in these reports, check out the ‘About this blog’ link above. And if you’re about to ask ‘why is this the answer?’, try looking up the answer and every word in the clue in a good dictionary. Most baffling answers are down to unknown or forgotten word-meanings.

9 R(0 M.P.H.)OME
11 INTIM(I.D.)ATE – one of those ‘wordplay with big pieces’ constructions that’s worth remembering – with alternatives to bully, identity and friend, this can probably be used to produce several different good clues.
12 GRAN(t)
13 EVENING OUT – 2 defs
16 HAS,I,DIM – very pious jews. For some reason we never seem to see the singular, hasid. Maybe one of those plurals like phenomena and criteria that people don’t notice is a plural, because it’s irregular.
17 A,D,OPTER=toper*
20 ROUGH STUFF – (four thugs)*,F
22 EDEN – hidden word
23 C.(OPEN,HAG)E.,N – re “Northern city”: same comment as for 5D.
26 PACKED IN = “pack,tin”
27 T,READLES=dealers*
3 WEAK ENDING = “weekending” – ‘weak ending’ isn’t in my Chambers CD Rom but I’m pretty sure it’s a technical term in poetry – possibly exactly the same as “feminine ending” which I’m fairly sure came up somewhere recently
4 DELI,VERIES=(I serve)*
5 PRAT(I)ES – pratie = potato in Anglo-Irish. One of those cases where the clue’s definition (“crop”) is enhanced by word’s (“Ireland’s principal”) which are part of the wordplay. To prate is to talk fairly pointlessly. I think I first came across it when score-reading Wagner’s Siegfried in my youth – Mime gets some berating for prating from Siegfried.
6 1 M(A)M. – a grid-filler word which I should have solved much faster.
7 “TO BAG 0=nothing” is the hunter’s unlikely aim
8 RE,PE(A)TER – had {safe = peter (underworld slang)} as an idea from the start, but took much too long to see how ‘concerned over’ fitted in.
15 GOPHER WOOD = “gofer would”. The stuff used to make Noah’s ark, and usually understood to mean cypress wood. I’m a bit surprised not to remember a “more than two of these in the ark?” clue for gopher.
16 HARD(C,OP)Y – “introductory chapter” = C – most likely contender for a visit from the “let’s be picky brigade”, but the only one in the whole puzzle for me, and I did solve the clue without trouble, so barely worth mentioning. My botched interpretation of ‘introductory’ has now been corrected in the comments. Appropriately, this was done by Tiburon who was a prefect at my school, mumble-mumble years ago.
18 EVEN TIDE = calm sea, plus a more obvious def.
24 (c)HIDE – wig = tell off

18 comments on “23,776 – easy peasy – for a current Wednesday anyway”

  1. One of the brats certainly enjoyed this. Not a classic but some very good highlights – 9A (my COD), 13A & 7D stood out, but hadn’t understood 26A until Pete’s explanation. I too spotted the “introductory chapter” incident at 16D but the answer is a pretty awful selection of letters, so credit to the setter for getting something readable out of them.
  2. Quite easy here too.
    Didn’t twig “wig” = “tell off” (thanks Peter) but got Hide anyway.
    Loved seeing “Praties” – I remember Prate from Hamlet (Polonius did a lot of it) and then there’s the famous air “I met her in the garden where the praties grow”.
    First time in xx years that knowing that song has come in useful!

  3. An enjoyable 25 minute canter with no major issues and only one guess HASIDIM, which with IMAM continues the religious theme from yesterday. Thankfully the Trivial Pursuits exercise didn’t carry on – once in a while is enough for me. My COD is 8 down because the structure is so well disguised. “safe” = “peter” is a relex but I still struggled to see that “firearm” is the definition. Jimbo.
  4. …..until I looked here and found I had HASIDIC instead of HASIDIM. I knew I couldn’t justify it with “unenlightened” so I am not surprised. I didn’t know HASIDIM and had nothing to look it up in at the time.

    Maybe 7D for my COD

    1. I have to admit I made the same mistake with ‘hasidic’, which I justified as ‘drunk in charge’ – but, of course, it’s not a noun so I should have seen it was wrong.
      I enjoyed 7d but probably preferred 9a – my COD.
  5. I was going quite fast, in which conditions it’s quite hard to stop at HA-I-I- and -O-A-O and slowly work out exactly what the right answer is. I only ‘knew’ HASSID and HASSIDIC in my mind, but finally penetrated the wordplay, and am familiar enough with the -IM plural (cherubim, seraphim, Urim & Thummim) to get comfortable with that answer, but I was very tempted by POT AT 0 from the 7d wordplay. Making POTATO = ‘island’ wasn’t nice but I was almost going for it, when I stopped to consider ‘island’ = -O-A-O instead, and happily finished off. I’m glad PRATIES was there to warn me off a potato repeat too. Finished in 4m 53s eventually.
  6. 16 minutes here, glad to see I wasn’t the only one held up by the pretty straightforward imam. I’d go for 9ac as COD.
  7. A most pleasing 12 minutes. I too thought hasidim had a double s. Double defs don’t usually get much attention, but I really liked both 1a and 13a today. I_am_magoo always makes me smile with his analysis. Having been bogged down here and slowed up there, he then posts a time of 4m 53s. I’m surprised that, with all that delay, his ink didn’t dry up in his pen. Although quite easy, this was nevertheless very enjoyable. 7d just shades 9a as my COD.
  8. I enjoyed this also. Quite straightforward, but some great clues.

    In the setter’s defence, I don’t think “introductory chapter” was a clueing ‘solecism’ for the letter C. The abbreviation for chapter is C, and it introduced, i.e., ‘went before’ OP (work) ‘penned’ by Hardy. A wonderfully smooth surface for a tricky word to clue.

    1. Mea culpa! My solving memory hasn’t yet learned that C = chapter is on the list of accepted one-letter abbrev’s for Times puzzles. A Google search shows that it was also used in 23,725 (1A) on Sat 6th October – the day before the championship, so I should really have been paying attention!
  9. SHOWED UP a bit by this puzzle but loved the clue, I didn’t romp home taking about 45′. I was held up by PACKED IN and IMAM but being Jewish, HASIDIM came as no surprise and thought the surface quite elegant. I really wasn’t happy with cryptically defining “unlikely aim” as TO BAG O (having tried Borneo first).
    1. Interesting that the PACKED IN homophone hasn’t been picked on so far. Pronouncing the D as T would offend purists I’m sure, although it’s actually more difficult to pronounce it properly.
      1. If the purists are just worried about the sounds, “pack tin” should not be “pict on”. This is a matter of voiced and unvoiced consonants – when two consonants follow each other immediately to make a “{consonant}-ed” ending, the sound of the written D is voiced (i.e. D rather than T) if and only if the previous consonant is also voiced. AFAIK this applies in all varieties of English except possibly some Indian ones – many languages of India support the concept of an unvoiced B or a voiced P, both of which are impossibilities for most English speakers.

        Edited at 2007-12-05 08:16 pm (UTC)

        1. Thankfully I’m not with the purists although there’s an interesting aside; not that I’m an expert on regional accents, but am I right in thinking that the Liverpudlian accent would tend to pronounce a D rather than T? And would the “CK” segment sound a bit like a dodgy starter motor? ;o)
  10. I got through this in under half an hour – a good time for me.

    Years of linguistics classes and endless hours of transcription confirms Peter’s explanation of the [t] and [d] phonemes. (Still doesn’t explain why I have trouble with the -er homophones!)

    9a 9a’s for clue of day.

    1. Those pesky post-vocalic -R’s! My father, a Scot and life-long crossword enthusiast, could never quite come to terms with, for example, ROAR as a homophone for RAW.

      P/B confusions are quite common – some Indian languages lack a phonological distinction between voiced and unvoiced consonants.

  11. I was hot on Pete’s heels for a change, finishing in 9:14. No problems with IMAM or HASIDIM, just a maybe 30-second holdup at the end with HIDE and PACKED IN, while I was wondering where wig fit in and whether packed in could mean broken (still not keen – broken up maybe). No quibble with the homophone – I can’t pronounce it any other way.

  12. DNK PRATIES with my LOI at 5d. I even was tempted by a misspelt PROTIEN until I saw the principal (I)reland inside PRATES. I’m glad that I stuck to my cryptic guns.

    Six “easies” omitted from the blog:

    1a Appeared embarrassed (6,2)

    10a Extremely anxious, put to sea in storm (6)

    25a Single party member in charge is much revered (6)
    1 CON I.C.

    2d (Sari they)* stitched together creating frenzied excitement (8)

    14d Vague sort of article (10)

    21d Analyse new film showing in this country (6)
    U N PIC K

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