I found this quite an easy puzzle – Solving time 16 mins (very fast for me for the Times).

* = anagram < = reversed

1 KA PUT – Ka, slightly obscure, Egyptian vital force, but it’s in Collins.
4 BRA IN WASH – Many setters regard a clue to this word as one of the best ever written – by a competitor in an Azed competition “Bust down reason?”. Others complained there was no definition.
11 T (AS) SEL – Lest<, As = chemical symbol for arsenic as seasoned solvers will know.
19 UNDAMAGE D (gun made a)* primarily deafening = D. Excellent misleading surface.
21 ENTRANCE Double definition
22 I SO (B) AR
27 SATUR(n) A TED unnamed = take away the n

4 BEE F stingy = it stings
6 NEP OT I C (to pen)<
8 HANSEL AND GRETEL – (England’s the real)* This blogger was glad that it is not just an opera and, even more surprised when verifying, that it was written by Engelbert Humperdinck of whom I’d heard only of the much more recent version (heart-throb singer of the 60s and beyond)
13 MANUSCRIPT “Man U’s crypt” Manchester United. Have they a vault? Perhaps
18 SC AMPER (e) Sc = scilicet = namely, not as common as i.e.
23 BREAK – four def’s – better (vb.) as in “break 5 minutes for the Times xwd”, opportunity as in “Michael Caine‚Äôs big break was as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in Zulu”, disclose – as in “break the news gently”, damage
24 A CID

32 comments on “23,800”

  1. 5:35 for this but had one careless mistake – SCARPER at 18D instead of SC.,AMPER(e). Plenty of good clues but maybe 13D with football club = “Man U” as COD.
  2. I didn’t mind seeing the moderately chestnutty 15D or even the 100% Chesnut Concentrate at 12A; some excellent clues in here. A couple I’m not sure about re wordplay, hopefully to be blogged clean shortly.
    COD will survive, and my choice today is 19A where all the parts fit together even more smoothly than chestnut juice.
  3. Thought I’d done well at 40 mins in one sitting, then saw Pete’s comment above and realised I’d got Scarper instead of Scamper too. Wondered why I couldn’t work it out.

    Enjoyed it though, and liked 19A or 13D as COD

  4. Much the same as yesterday for me. I completed it on the train with three or four unexplained clues and one wrong answer discovered later (SCARPER for SCAMPER).

    I feel I should have met the following before today but I have no recollection of doing so: KA in 1A, SC in 18, and (o)YSTER meaning a secretive person at 20.

    But this was full of really good clues and I enjoyed solving them immensely. I’m tempted to pick 4A as my COD but I’m going for 4D just because it’s so silly that it raised a smile on a grim January morning.

  5. A pleasant 18 mins or so. I was lucky to have put in SCAMPER, only figuring out the word-play afterwards. I also took a while afterwards to figure out the first of the multiple definitions in 23D – ‘break’ as in ‘break 80’ (golf) or ‘break the 4-minute barrier’, I suppose? I’d choose 2D as COD, a nice reference to the press-gang. I’m surprised the setter chose ‘covering’ rather than ‘crossing’ in 22A – I think of ‘crossing’ contour lines in the context of climbing.
  6. I had this finished in under 20 minutes except for two clues, 11 across and 18 down. I guessed TASSEL from the word play but didn’t know it was part of a plant, which left 18 down. After looking at S?A?P?R for a couple of head scratching minutes I saw AMPER(e) and then the answer was obvious. I think 18 down must surely be COD as it caused so much trouble but is entirely fair with a good construction. Jimbo.
  7. 11:48 for me. Should have been faster but I got bogged down in the top left corner for a while. I also put SCARPER at first before changing it to SCAMPER when I worked out the wordplay. My COD is 13D.
  8. 30 minutes for me, which is my equivalent of 5:35 for Peter B – i.e. damn fast! Like Peter,however, I too had SCARPER instead of SCAMPER for 18 dn, even though I knew it could not be made to fit any cryptic explanation of the clue. SC as an abbreviation for scilicet (namely, to wit, in other words) was a new one to me, as was TASSEL, at least in the sense used in 11 ac, but I was able to deduce it from the cryptic clues. 4 dn quite took my fancy as COD – the sting well disguised.
  9. I thought that clue was bound to get a mention. Perhaps it’s one of the chestnuts. 22 minutes for me including explaining to my wife why ‘Bust down reason’ could be a good clue. She gave me a wry look. Rather a good time for me though. I too look forward to an explanation of ‘ka’.
    1. “Ka” is one of those ancient Egyptian words and means the soul. The sort of trivial pursuits knowledge you acquire from doing too many crosswords. Jimbo.
  10. Not as quick as yesterday, but still found this fairly easy. SCAMPER was the last to go in. I toyed with SCARPER for a while, but could not make the wordplay fit, then saw SC AMPER(E). It’s nice to be faced with a slight teaser at the end of an otherwise straightforward puzzle. I liked the deceptive definition in 7d.
  11. Although relatively easy (11:15), there were some nice clues, 19a,27a and 28a. My COD goes to Man U’s crypt. I narrowly escaped the SCARPER pitfall, originally entering R but realising just in time that M would be better. Haven’t we had similar to BRA IN WASH recently?

    A belated Happy New Year to you all

    1. BRA IN … – we had BRAINBOX in 23751, and BRAINPOWER in 23783. A look at BRAIN… words in Collins suggests some more possibilities before this seam runs out.
      1. I suppose a BRAINWASH followed by a BRAINSTORM might lead to a BRAINDRAIN.
        And for those tho remember the Pink Floyd Classic, convicted washing line thief Arnold Layne may well have ended up hiding his last BRAINCELL.
        1. Maybe we should all jump in and have an open contest; submit cryptic clues for any word/phrase beginning with BRAIN.

          Cerebral supporter and violent tribesman (9)

          (Thought I’d open with the easy one!)

  12. … and we had MAN,U,MISSION in yesterday’s Paul in The Guardian.

    I fell into the SCARPER trap and never got out and also wildguessed at TASTER instead of TASSEL. The rest was fun and doable.

    Just out of curiosity… how is the wordplay indicated in CHINA?

    1. China wordplay: you’re probably looking for something subtle, but it’s under your nose. Clue: Church in a foreign country
      Church => CH.
      in a => IN A
      (foreign country = the def.)
      1. yes NMS dropped me a note offline… I was misled by the hidden “churCH IN A” hidden string… and then thought the indicator overlapped the fodder.
  13. 6:51 for me. I got SCAMPER from the wordplay so didn’t have any problem with SCARPER. (I was rattling along at that point after another slow start, and then finished slowly with MYSTERY, taking a long time to see OYSTER.)

    I’ll go for 19A with its neatly concealed definition as my COD.

  14. Quickest Times ever for me … finished, except for 1a & 11a, in about 25 minutes. I would welcome an explanation of 1d. I understand NEEDLES(S) = almost superfluous, and “tools for craftspeople” is the definition. So where does knitting come from?
  15. Took about 30 minutes, but I also fell for SCARPER.

    To ‘torre-canyon’: I’d say contracting = knitting, as in when knitting one’s brow, one’s skin is drawn together into visible ridges, i.e., it contracts. At least, that’s my version.

  16. Ooops. Hadn’t seen that nmacsweeney explained already, much more succinctly than me, thanks.
  17. Reasonably quick for me, and thanks to Tony for explaining ‘mystery’, tho I’m going to have to go look up oyster now! I’m sure it’s not Canadian or Australian slang!

    19a for COD.

  18. A footer XI of “easies” in this blog after yesterday’s singleton:

    9a I get closer to home – I’m not joking (2,7)

    10a Groom about to enter enclosure (5)
    P RE EN

    12a Match-box – it sets a precedent (4,4)

    14a (The margin)*’s been altered – it’s a dreadful experience (9)

    16a ChurCH IN A foreign country (5)
    CHINA. A linear list of components and also a hidden answer but without a containment indicator.

    17a What is required when daughter’s born first, followed by sun (5)
    NEE D S

    25a Eagerly accept backing of an insect (3,2)
    LAP UP. PUPAL backwards.

    26a (Client)* upset about people being severe (9)

    5d Prepared for instant action, (they’re a tad)* unsettled (2,3,5)

    15d Prepares to follow snooker player – and cracks up (4,2,3)

    20d Secretive person decapitated and buried in my tale of suspense (7)
    M (O) YSTER Y. The secretive person is an oyster apparently.

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