23,843 – floundered

Solving time – 16:35 (with one answer missing). 

Well, I managed to fill the grid reasonably quickly (except for 27a) but a lot of answers went in as semi-confident guesses as I didn’t understand some of the wordplay.

10 AT THE DOUBLE – is “Where the arrow is aimed, initially” a reference to darts and starting a game by hitting a double? If so, then this is wrong. In a standard darts game you don’t have to hit a double to start but you do to finish. Or am I missing the point somewhere?
12 FOREMEN – don’t understand “pronounced just group”.
14 ROSE-RED – this must be a reference to Petra but I don’t know what “starting after half-time” means.
17 CARBON MONOXIDE – which has the chemical formula CO and which, when breathed in (“inspired”) can kill you.
21 OHMS,W,A,L< – for non-Brit solvers, OHMS is “On Her (or His) Majesty’s Service”.
24 EATING APPLE – don’t get this one either; what’s “falling” got to do with it?
26 MULBERRY – I think this is something to do with this .
27 BET,ON,Y – I was all set to write up this post with this answer left blank as I couldn’t get it. Then Peter came to the rescue with his comment (see below).
1 IF,T (going up) in FLASH
3 T in SEA,MED
5 ROBERT BROWNING – “March past” is, I think, a reference to Browning’s poem “Home Thoughts from Abroad” which begins: “Oh to be in England Now that April’s there”
6 ELSE in CHA – I did wonder what “that’s flat” was doing in the clue but I guess it’s just part of the definition. If so, it seems a bit unnecessary.
8 NOBODY – there isn’t actually a definition of NOBODY in the clue as both parts lead to NO BODY.

24 comments on “23,843 – floundered”

  1. … well easier than most lately, and until the sting in the tail. About eight minutes with 27 clues solved, then three plus on 27A, a new or forgotten plant for me. Eventually found {back = BET ON} to make BETONY, stopping the clock at 11:22. Tony Sever should do well on this as the two central poets will doubtless go in without a moment’s hesitation instead of waiting for some checking letters.
  2. Yes, I agree it was mostly easier than of late. After my gaffe yesterday I’m reluctant to ask, but I don’t really understand 14. I assume it’s a reference to Petra but why “starting after half-time”?

    BETONY and MULBERRY also caused problems.

    My COD is 2 though 12 gives it a close run.

    1. ‘A rose-red city, half as old as time’ wrote Dean Burgen of Petra in the C19th – as I just found by Googling! I wonder how many will get this reference.
  3. Poll for yesterday’s puzzle: http://www.bestfreeforums.com/forums/timescod.html

    Looks like I may struggle to get required info for tomorrow as our local shops (for local people) seem to have been dropped from the Times delivery list this morning. If by some miracle I manage to access the online version at some point all well and good, but I may need some pointers from y’all for today’s COD noms, just in case.

  4. I think 24A refers to the fall of Man, biting into the apple in the Garden of Eden. I agree with Neil on 10A, I can’t see a reference other than darts – or is there a darts game where one starts with a double?
    1. 24a – yep, makes sense.

      10a – there is a variation of darts where you start with a double but that’s not the game played by the PDC and BDO, or indeed, the version played by pub teams across the land. I know, because I used to play for one.

  5. yikes — rose-red allusion beyond me as was the Robert Browning poem — though I guessed him.

    Not sure what ‘so-called’ is doing in MULBERRY — I mean it was indeed a port substitute so…???

    I thought 17 was nicely misleading and deserves a COD commendation.

  6. 12: I think this alludes to “Four just men” – a novel by Edgar Wallace and later a film. (None of which I knew when solving).

    10A: As you say, there are some games or variants requiring a double to start. But “eventually” rather than “initially” seems to work OK in the surface and avoid the whole problem.

    6D: I think the ‘flat’ bit (with flat = boring in the surface) is needed to make the clue make sense. – “Kind of bun if not dunked in tea” doesn’t quite fit.

    26: Maybe the point is that Mulberry harbours had a name whereas the real harbours were just plain harbours.

  7. As for 12A, I think the reference is to ‘foremen of the jury’. Is it ‘pronounced’ in the sense of ’eminent’, ‘notable’, ie nothing to do with homophones? BETONY was a bit of botany too far for me, otherwise I’d have been fairly quick. I’ll also go for 17A as COD.

    BTW, shouldn’t the indication for 8D have been (2,4)? As Neil points out, there’s no definition for NOBODY as one word.

  8. I found this far easier than the last three, but I failed at 27. I thought I was pretty good on plants, but I’ve not come across BETONY before. I agree that there’s no definition in 8; it’s just double wordplay. I also agree with Peter that 12 refers to Edgar Wallace’s The Four Just Men. It was my immediate thought when I got the answer, the book being about the only one by Edgar Wallace that I read in my youth.
  9. This really was “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”. About 20 minutes to solve thanks to knowing BETONY. I have a set of clues marked with question marks rather than ticks. Most of my cribs have already been mentioned (10A is just wrong, 24A is a nonsense, and so on). I’ll add two more. At 16D modern footballs are’nt leathery, they’re more like plastic and 5 down is a pure guess if you don’t know the quotation. You can’t derive the answer from the wordplay. I agree the only clue worth mentioning otherwise is 17A. Jimbo.
  10. Had to look up 27a, nothing would come after 25 minutes. Originally annoyed at two poets, but some generous checking letters (the W in 9d and two B’s in 5d) helped get them in a timely fashion.

    Quick plug – I’m going to post in my regular journal a year of “George vs the Listener Crossword”. I’m a big fan of the “Listen with Others” blog, and it’s inspired me to try harder at the Listener, but I’m still a pretty average solver, so if you enjoy reading about near-competency, check in tomorrow!

  11. I should be delighted with my time of 12:48, but I had all but 27a in 9 minutes and was hoping for a sub 10 minute. However seeing that I was only 1 and a bit minutes behind PB cheered me up. If only back=BET ON came to me that little bit earlier! All the literature clues were rubbish – give us some proper word play, not some smart alec reference to a poem/book that somebody wrote. I shouldn’t complain too much hough, none of them held me up. I thought I’d be the only one to nominate 2d as COD today, but it looks like Jackkt and I are one the same wavelength today. Not many to choose from, though.
  12. 14ac is another example of having to know the quotation or guess – either way it’s not very satisfying.
  13. I was blissfully unaware of just about all the literary etc refs in this puzzle yet managed my fastest time in ages – the last time I played darts I seem to remember needing to start with a double, which probably not only explains why 10ac is my COD, but also why I never got on with the game! Personally I think it might make it a bit more interesting of they changed the rules for the professionals …
  14. This is the sort of puzzle that I pray for in the Times Crossword Championship, but am sadly not very likely to encounter these days. If I had to make a guess at the setter, than Roy Dean must surely be a likely candidate. My thanks to whoever it was for a most enjoyable puzzle.

    7:58 (though it should have been faster). As Peter B. surmised I had no real problems with the poets (I got ROBERT BROWNING more or less instantaneously, though with only -O-N in place (making JOHN a pretty obvious first name) I had to think for 5 or 10 seconds before coming up with DRINKWATER.

    In fact as an old-fashioned Times solver I had no problem with any of the literary clues, or indeed with any other clues really.

    I can’t think what Jimbo’s bleating about with LEATHERY – footballs were made of leather the last time I played ;-). “It were a man’s game in them days.”

    I’ve certainly played the variant of darts where you start with a double.

    I’ll go for 24A (EATING APPLE) as my COD: very neat.

  15. I meant to ask in my original message what “enough” is doing in 25a apart from decorating the surface. I don’t mind surface decorators if they don’t interfere with the cryptic reading, but “enough” does in this case. Cryptically, the clue is nonsense.
    1. I guess the idea is that the odd letters are enough to give the answer. Rather flowery language, but ‘nonsense’ seems a bit harsh.
      1. You’re quite right, Peter; “nonsense” was too harsh. In fact I immediately regretted it and was going to amend it in the preview box, but discovered that I’d hit the “post” button instead.
        I think your explanation’s probably the right one, but I’m still not happy with the wording of the clue. If “enough” had been followed by “to” or “for”, the clue would have worked for me. E.g. “Person oddly enough to see (get,etc)….”. As it is, one has to strain to make cryptic sense of it.
  16. A fairly fast 24½ minutes for me, but had to use a solver to get betony. Reading Neil W’s blog I was nodding sagely at every query as I had exactly the same issues with double, foremen, half-time, nobody etc.

    Too late I know, but my COD nomination would have been 21.

  17. Add me to list who did not know BET ON Y at 27a. I do now though so hurrah!

    There are 2 poets in this one and the more obscure of these is in the “easies” and the better known one is included in the blog. The reason for this, I suppose, is that the clue for ROBERT BROWNING at 5d relies on knowing a quotation but the less well known JOHN DRINKWATER had a purely wordplay type clue. I did not know the quote but RB was easy once there were a few checkers.

    The 10 “easies”:

    4a Fragment group breaking off around king (8)
    F R ACTION. R = Rex.

    11a As it turns over, save boat (3)
    TUB. But = save capsizes.

    15a Leading figure who tolerates popular song? (8-6)

    22a New as penny being coined (7)

    23a Disturbing effect of beer (3)

    2d On which cat or mouse may be found (3)

    9d Poet and king go on the wagon? (4,10)

    18d Have confidence in protective cover held up by worker (7)
    BE LIEV E. Where the protective cover is a VEIL upside down and the worker is a BEE not an ANT.

    19a Acting wike passengers in Wild West (2,5)

    25d Person, oddly enough, who gets paid to play? (3)
    PeRsOn = PRO

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