23,865 – on the edge

Solving time 27:40

Struggled with this, and was going to say that 9, 10, 18, 3 and 4 were the last answers to go in. But the reason for that was an unfortunate plump for FRINGE CAPITAL (ref. Edinburgh festival) at 1A which took a long time to identify and correct. This should give some of you a chance to beat me again.

COD nomination: 18A.

1 FLIGHT,CAPITAL – money moved out of an economically unstable region.
8 K,NOB = slang for aristocrat
9 POMERANIAN – ref. “No work of art is worth the bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier.” “Not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian Grenadier.” – referring to possible German involvement in the Balkans. (Corrected from ODQ after reading the comments.) Didn’t know the quote but remembered the dog breed and where Pomerania is. (The Baltic coast area of Poland and the former DDR.)
10 J,AN,EEY(o)RE
11 LIE,LOW = “wait for opportunity”
16 EVEN(t)
17 cAnT gO uP – even letters
30 FLO(u)R,IN – a florin was a two shilling coin – 10p in “new money”.
22 SMALL,FRY – Christopher Fry, who died in 2005, wrote ‘The Lady’s Not for Burning’
24 CROWN COURT – nicely punning CD – or def plus pun if you read a bit more carefully – see I_am_Magoo’s comment.
27 GORDON = some riots,BEN(NET)T. The Gordon Riots were anti-Catholic riots in London in 1780 in which Newgate prison was mostly destroyed.
1 FUN DAME,N,TAL(k) – ‘key’ is the def.
2 1,M.B.,U(ncl)E
3 HAPPY,HOUR = “our”
5 PERI,L(and)
6 TEND,EREST=trees*
7 LEA – L.E.A. = Local Education Authority
19 DISTURB = b(ruts)id rev.
21 NACHO – can rev., Oh! rev,.
25 RUG(by) – Rugby school is the one in Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

25 comments on “23,865 – on the edge”

  1. This was a tougher than of late but I made steady progress and never felt stuck. Several answers such as 1A and 9 went in without really understanding why and at 5 I got the wordplay but not the definition – how does PERIL = In danger, please?

    My COD has to be 10 though 12 runs it close.

    1. Jackkt, I think you need to read the clue as: In “danger” and (is) thrown out of fairy land. So “danger” is the definition. Jimbo.
  2. I thought this had some very tough clues in it which took me about 50 minutes to solve. The NW corner in particular where 1D and 10A are very clever whilst 3D and 4D are both well constructed. The reference to Bismark was also completely lost on me but luckily there aren’t many 10 letter dogs starting with a P. Will the overseas solvers understand 27A or is it a purely UK expression? I think both 1D and 18A are worthy of a COD nomination. Jimbo.
    1. This overseas solver has never heard the expression nor can recall having heard of the riots.
      (A desperate attempt at linking this somehow to ‘Pride and Prejudice’ also failed rather badly…)

      0 / 2 and feeling very ignorant today…

      1. Don’t beat yourself up. I’d be amazed if 90% of the UK population had heard of the Gordon Riots. A survey released today shows that 30% of youngsters think Churchill was the first man on the moon! Jimbo.
        1. I’m always suspicious of these “surveys”. I suspect many use multiple choice questions to tempt – admittedly ignorant – participants into amusing answers.
          I’d wager that if you asked a fair sample of young people the straight question “Who was the first man on the moon” a lot less than 30% would say “Churchill”
          Similarly if you asked “What is Churchill famous for” 30% wouldn’t say “for being first man on the moon”
  3. 21:25 here, but with quite a few guesses when solving that I justified later. Apart from the guesses I spent far too long trying to make 27A (some riots)* inside something, thought “bottles” in 18A was a containment indicator, and thought 4D was going to be some sort of babywear from C + a word for a married couple reversed.

    Luckily I got HAPPY HOUR fairly early (a subject close to my heart) so didn’t fall into the FRINGE trap, although I’d never heard of FLIGHT CAPITAL and put it in very tentatively.

  4. I lacked plenty of knowledge (Flight capital, Pomeranian bones, Gordon riots, penniless orphan) , but was able to use the wordplay or definition in each case without fear. 9.08, and I didn’t think that was much good.
    1. …and I wouldn’t have called 24 a cryptic definition – I think it’s a definition (This should be just) plus pun.
  5. I made just the same error as Peter, and entered FRINGE CAPITAL, thinking of “The Edinburgh Fringe”. This held me up for ages as I pondered 3 down (GYPSY HOUR?), especially as I wasn’t certain of POMERANIAN, the wordplay to which was lost on me also. So my time was very slow, just over an hour.
    My nomination for COD is 18 – tricky wordplay and and a wonderful contrast between the very neat surface and the answer. My only reservation concerns 6; I’ve seen “very” used before to indicate a superlative, but I’m not keen on it.
  6. The quote I have starts with “The entire Balkans is not worth the bones..”.

    It’s attributed to Bismark in several sources so appears to be correct.

  7. Yes, I fell into the trap too and, since only GYPSY MOTH looked possible at 3 but impossible to match to the clue, ended up going away for 15 minutes for a think. Having thunk, HAPPY HOUR went in and FLIGHT CAPITAL only because it seemed the only reasonably fit.
    Good clues all round although nothing stood out – I’ll go for 19 which held me up using simple but well-worded treatment.
  8. About an hour I’d say. Agree with anax that there were plenty of good clues but no real belters. If pressed I’d nominate 13 for COD, although being a laddish lout I should probably have said knob or Gordon Bennett*.

    *Graeme Garden uses this to good effect in the “late arrivals” round in I’m Sorry I haven’t a clue
    For instance, in announcing the late arrivals at the gardeners’ ball…
    Please welcome, Mr & Mrs Bennett-look-at-the-size-of-those-cucumbers and their son Gordon Bennett-look-at-the-size-of-those-cucumbers

  9. I feel a little better in seeing that I have company in dyste and (temporarily) Peter for thinking Fringe Capital. I don’t think I would ever had gotten flight from the clue, possibly from thinking hard about the wordplay, but I’m having wordplay writers block these days. I had written gypsy hour at 3 in faint hope.
  10. On dorsetjimbo’s point about whether overseas solvers could be expected to have heard of the phrase “Gordon Bennett”: Americans, at least, might know of the person of that name – an Englishman who went to the US as a young man, became a journalist and founded the New York Herald. It was he who sent Henry Morton Stanley to Africa to look for Dr Livingstone. He was famous for his flamboyant and extravagant lifestyle, and relished causing a sensation,from which derives, presumably, the use of his name (in Britain but probably not alsoin America) as an exclamation of surprise. Lexicographers attribute the phrase to the British fondness for “minced oaths” – euphemisms for something stronger, in this case a euphemism for Gor Blimey, which is itself a euphemism (apparently) for God Blind Me.

    I was helped on this clue by having a vague memory of the Gordon Riots, though I erroneously thought they had something to do with public anger after the death of General Gordon in Khartoum in 1885 at the hands of the Mahdi’s followers(Gladstone was accused of being too slow to send in a relief force). However, that did not matter in the context of the clue.

    A difficult one, getting on for 2 hrs in total for me. It’s some consolation to know that even Peter B had to struggle a bit. Like him, I missed the significance of “just” in 24 ac and for a long time struggled in vain to make “royal court” fit.

    I would also go for 18 ac as my COD nomination: lots going on here – plausible surface meaning, cunningly disguised definition, two possible containment indicators in “bottles” and “collected” of which only one was, and what looked suspiciously like an anagrind indicator in “recycled” (which wasn’t). I also liked 8 ac, for the laddish reasons mentioned above and also for its simplicity (at least once you’d sussed it).

    Michael H

    1. As a quick aside, last year I paid a fleeting visit to the Roland Garos complex, site of the French Open (tennis), and was delighted to find that it’s on Avenue Gordon Bennett. He lived in Paris towards the end of his life and I believe is buried there.
  11. While not beginning to compete with the Biddlecombes etc of this world, I usually take around the same time as several of the people who post here. Yet yesterday I was rather ashamed of myself, having taken significantly longer than them, whereas today I was significantly faster than them – for the first time I can remember within Biddlecombe x 1.5.

    Why is it that sometimes things go smoothly and sometimes there are blocks, and different people experience crosswords so differently? It makes one see why so many people enter The Times Championship – they all hope that it will be their day.

    1. Getting a good start can make a huge difference. So can knowing the right difficult words that slow others down.

      I suspect no more than 50 people enter the championship with any expectation of a win – and the chance of a winner from outside a list of about a dozen serious contenders is probably less than 20%. Another 50 might hope to make the final. Quite a few go just for the chance to meet other solvers and compete against the setters rather than other solvers.

      Edited at 2008-03-20 06:09 am (UTC)

  12. Blimey indeed. Took all day returning to this puzzle on and off, but never knew Gordon Bennett was a euphemism for any expression. A real toughie for me. I knew the Pomeranian reference, but the half-American Bennett was lost on me, I feel pleased to have gotten the rest. Regards to all.
  13. It all depends not only on the knowledge that one has but also how the brain cells work, fast or slow.

    Now I am able to complete most standard UK cryptics but there was a time decades ago when there would be some gaps in crosswords in paperback collections. I would never look up the solutions at the end. Some years later when I take up the book idly and look at the unfinished crosswords, I could wrap them up in no time. The same brain but works differently at different times! So, for me, speed is not of the essence (I may be pardoned for making this observation on this board). I want to solve and I want to savour the experience. That’s all.

    Secondly, assiduous analysis of solved clues is necessary before speed can be improved. Even while halfway through reading a clue we might solve it but we must stop and get full justification for it before we put it down.

    Many members of the Orkut community of which I am a co-owner and moderator have admitted that their solving skills have improved since joining us because for the past three years members have been breaking down every clue that is solved. My suggestion to a local newspaper that it publish annotated solutions has been to no avail.

    1. There’s no requirement to care about speed here. I encourage people to say how they got on with puzzles so that the editor and any setters passing by can see how difficult the puzzle was. That could be “n minutes to finish” or “n clues finished today”.

      Good analysis is very valuable but many speed solvers will admit to writing some answers without complete analysis. Choosing the right times to do this can make a difference in the championship, especially if the winning margin is as narrow as last time (9 secs.).

  14. Just the 3 “easies in this blog:

    13a (Told toffee)* is chewed better on one side (4-6)
    LEFT FOOTED. Becks was mediocre with his left ‘un apparently so many left-footers could be superior in that department.

    26a Welshman’s stepping up here (4)
    DAI ‘ S

    23d Deposit for house (5)

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