23901 – getting a bit more tricky

Solving time 8:54

Slower than the last couple, though I missed out on one trick for quick solving. After guessing SWEEPSTAKE from the def at 1A but not seeing the wordplay, I should have written it over the top of the grid and tested the checking letters on other clues. SIGMA and KNESSET would probably have helped to confirm it. 4 and 12 went in last, but weren’t slow enough to make ‘T93’ worth noting.

1 S(WEEP)S,TAKE – shoud have remembered keen=weep quicker
10 G(R)OWN,UP=at university, esp. Oxbridge in old-fashioned usage
11 E,RUD(IT)E – our old friend Italian vermouth again
12 A,NO M.A.,LOUS=soul* – ‘atypical’ seems a weakish def, though not to the point of unfairness. A few others probably contribute to the difficulty of this puzzle.
13 BAL(S)A – Lake Bala is a useful body of water in Wales, and balsa = a light raft as well as the light wood doubtless used to make it
14 AL,IKE (Capone and Eisenhower for any complete beginners)- simple but feels new, so my COD
15 ARTH(u)R,O,POD – another weakish def here, as ‘worker’ = ant or bee is a possible arthropod = crustacean, insect, arachnid, centipede etc., but so are many other things
17 C.A.(THARSI=(his art)*)’S
20 RU(P.E.)E – which = 100 paise. Though as a rupee is worth roughly 1p, I don’t think you often need to deal in paise. Best tip for a trip to India: take a staple-removing ‘crocodile’ to deal with the industrial staples used to hold bunches of 100 Rupee notes together at the airport exchange counter.
21 ILIAD – daili(e,s) rev. – ‘work’ = another weak def.
23 PLAIN(NES=S.E.N. rev.)S (‘State Enrolled Nurse’ – no longer employed except in xwds)
25 IN,GEN,UsEd
26 A(TH(is))LONE
27 TAT,I
1 S(t)IGMA
2 ECONOMIST – CON,O in Times*
3 PANCAKE LANDING – an aeronautical belly flop – CD punning on pancakes being tossed.
4 T.A.,PI,O.C.,A – pi = a jumbled pile of printer’s type, says Collins – I’d thought pi = mongrel as in pi-dog
5 K(NESS(i)E)T.
7 PHIAL = “file”
8 SKED=desk*,ADDLE=”go off” in the ‘rot’ sense
14 ARCHIVIST = (this vicar)*
16 PEPPER=’musical Sergeant’,ON=addicted to,I
18 SUPREMO – UP=’in rebellion’ replaces AN in ‘San Remo’
24 S.(WED)E. – slightly dull to see both Kent and Home Counties for S.E. in close succession. Strindberg was a writer – plays mostly. The three works mentioned in his Collins biographical entry are The Father, Miss Julie, and The Ghost Sonata.

40 comments on “23901 – getting a bit more tricky”

  1. Had to sneak a look here first for similar comments (I’m actually only half-way through the puzzle) but at 7D am I right in thinking the correct pronunciation of PHIAL is with a V sound? Or are there varieties?
    PS: I can’t check at the moment – temporarily seated at a somewhat rudimentary PC while our company accountant borrows my desk and my computer so he can access the Sage software. Thus I haven’t got rapid access to dictionaries.
    1. According to both COD and Collins, if you want to say it with a V, you use the variant ‘vial’ rather than ‘phial’.

      Edited at 2008-04-30 08:02 am (UTC)

      1. That’s what I suspected but, without benefit of reference material, I simply thought VIAL was the equivalent US spelling rather than an accepted alternative Brit one.
  2. Co-members in an Orkut community solved most of these clues successfully.

    Nowadays a rupee might fetch a single peppermint.

    One-, five-, ten-, twenty-paise coins have disappeared. Twenty-five paise coins too are on the way out!

    BTW, staples are no longer used for currency note bundles following an order from the Reserve Bank of India.

  3. I found this fairly straightforward and a lot easier than yesterday’s with only 29 putting up any major resistance as the last one to go in. I thought the definition was “marginal note” so spent a long time looking for an alternative to my original thought “annotation” which had been ruled out by the checking letters.

    I needed to look up a few things afterwards to fully explain the reasoning: “pi” in 4 is apparently a printing term and “balsa” at 13 is a raft. Both were new to me as was Lake Bala.

    I rather liked 5 so it’s my COD.

  4. After a week in the Highlands hunting haggis and quality testing the malts, it’s good to be back and once again have access to this blog. One truely only really appreciates something when one has to do without it. I amused myself making a list of what I thought might cause comment and have just spent an amusing 45 minutes looking back over the last week. My successes include: Standard Lamp (easy for old stagers);Jean Arp (who?) and the double anagram (not see for years).

    Nice of the setter to include NESSIE today (The Loch Ness Monster for overseas solvers) so soon after I waved to her(?). This was a reasonably quick solve at about 25 minutes. Had to guess SWEDE. My last two were 4D and 15A. I’m kicking myself for not spotting PI much quicker, it’s such a xwd favourite and “worker”, which I agree is weak. Jimbo.

  5. I assumed that “showing a” in 7d was a vague way of saying that A was to be included in the sound of FILE. Neither Chambers nor I think that PHIAL and FILE are homophones.
    Dafydd Price Jones
    1. I guess the setter and I both indulge in that sloppy practice of pronouncing the I in file as a diphthong.
  6. Suffered from interruptions, but let’s say 13-14 mins. Completely agree on the weak definitions in 15A and 21A, and I’d add 4D to the charge sheet. course = pudding would be OK for me, as would pudding = tapioca, but course = tapioca is a bit stretched, I think.

    Tom B.

  7. So now I’m supposed to know where a writer I’ve never heard of comes from. I stuck in SIEGE – the clue had “for example” and “one” in “home counties” so I thought why not. Why choose STRINDBERG? Why not Abba? Why not just European? It’s just smart-arsedness, that’s why!
    Apart from that, a really good crossword with some really good clues. I thought I was on for a quickie but slowed down after a while and forced the last 10 or so in.
    8d gets my COD nom just for being a great word.
    1. I guess they reckoned Strindberg was fair game. He gets about as much coverage in Chambers Biog Dict. as Poe or Einstein, so I don’t think he’s that obscure. I could have given you ‘late 19C & possibly early 20C Swedish writer’ and probably ‘Miss Julie’ too. SIEGE was too optimistic – the necessary components are in there, but there’s nothing in the clue to indicate that the I precedes the EG. And the “made” doing nothing in the wordplay should be a danger sign too.
      1. I wouldn’t mind having Strindberg as an answer but I draw the line at needing to know anything else about him, unless he wrote anything famous. Will we need to know Shakespeare’s favourite sandwich ingredient next? Or in which supermarket Dickens did his weekly shop?
        I agree SIEGE was too optimistic, but I was getting desperate. I don’t know about anyone else but when I got wed there were still two of us 😉
        1. Shakespeare’s favourite sandwich? Ham(let) and Cress(ida)?

          Dickens bought his groceries at the Old Curiosity Shop.

        1. wed = “made one” – either because a married couple are “made one” or because one mening of “wed” is “to unite”.
  8. Hm. I’m with Penfold on this and I went for a more primitive examination courtesy of Google maps. San Remo clearly has a lot of very expensive boats, but satellite imagery gives the impression it’s just a big, very rich harbour. And I thought the convoluted demands of the wordplay were a tad excessive.
    I don’t know anything about Strindberg beyond recognising the name but, fortunately, it’s a Swedish-sounding name so I didn’t get too held up there.
    Quite a satisfying solve eventually although nothing in particular stood out.
    1. I was grateful for the indication that it was on the coast, but perhaps “resort” would have done the job better. No too worried by the wordplay -‘leader’ as a possible def with S?P?E?? is pretty straightforward.
      1. I think what happens with this type of clue – sometimes, I must stress – is that it can start to bear a resemblance to that great no-no the implied anagram;
        Welcomed to get clean out (7)
        Answer GREETED, anagram of DETERGE (clean).
        We all know this to be grossly unfair, but when a clue asks you to think a word meaning X and replace an element of it defined by def Y with another defined by def Z to eventually satisfy def A, the demand on the solver is starting to become a little harsh.
        Or something like that. I think.
        1. I guess it all depends on the difficulty of finding the elements concerned. SUPREMO for leader and the A/AN/THE trio of possibilities for ‘article’ seem easy enough. Then we know that the ‘in rebellion’ bit is in SUPREMO. If we can find it, we just have to recognise which of SAREMO / SANREMO / STHEREMO is the starting point. Subtraction clues, where there are just three elements, tend to give me more trouble than replacements.
  9. I was making steady progress until I got to the last four – 4, 15, 18 and 28. I had already thought of TAPIOCA, SUPREMO and BORDERLINE but rejected all because I couldn’t see the wordplay immediately, but eventually settled on them. I don’t like “amenity for shoppers” for “order line” – a pretty vague indication to my mind, and I don’t see that the cryptic grammar in 19 works: either “in” has to be removed or “replaces” should be “replacing”. Try reading the clue in it’s decoded form: Leader in ‘UP’ replaces ‘AN’ in San Remo. It’s a fairly weak surface anyway.
    These, coupled with the weak definitions noted by others were enough to spoil things overall for me, but there were a number of clues that I did like (e.g.1ac & 1dn)
    1. With you on the surface side of 18 and have a 28 preference for ‘replacing’ rather than ‘replaces’, but I think UP = “in rebellion” – AFAIK the single word ‘up’ does not mean ‘rebellion’. “order line” is backed up by a Google search with results for British shops, though it was new to me.
      1. Absolutely right about ‘up’, Peter. I should have given it more thought before putting cyber pen to cyber paper. Sackcloth and ashes for me.
  10. 28 minutes, for a while I didn’t think I was going to finish, the whole top half was almost blank. Guessed SWEEPSTAKE from the definition, SWEDE, KNESSET, BALSA and PANCAKE LANDING (the last to go in) from the wordplay. So I wasn’t too confident at the end. Nice puzzle, though. 21 for the construction would be my COD, though it’s more a Mephisto-like piece of wordplay.
  11. Don’t have a time because the vital business of solving the crossword was repeatedly interrupted by trivial callers – work, that sort of nonsense.

    I had a few grumbles about this but they’ve mostly been addressed above. 15 provoked some vague memory of a fallacy of the undistributed middle (or something like that), though I suppose the ‘perhaps’ was a get-out clause. It didn’t feel like a very satisfactory solve, but I’m not sure if that was the puzzle or those men from Porlock. I agree that 14, though easy, is elegant and witty (and possibly a rather astute observation).

  12. Got most of the SW corner quickly but found the rest a bit of a slog. Was therefore pleasantly surprised to stop the clock at 26 minutes.

    Quite a lot of general knowledge seemed to be needed today. Knew Tati and Knesset but not Paise, Strindberg, pi and pancake landing. I’m not at all sure that San Remo is a port as such, either. This site Italian Ports puports to list them all but San Remo isn’t there.

    No COD nom from me today.

    Hope the hyperlink works…

    1. Oops. Almost forgot. A belated “Happy Birthday” to Penfold who hit the big – er, something or other – on Sunday. Hope you had a good one mate.
  13. In order for Strindberg to make sort of occupational sense I decided on S(CEN)E — hoping that CEN meant something like “made one”. Oh well.
  14. I lived near Nice which is about 20 miles from San Remo for years. And yes, it is a marina and not a port. I wouldn’t want to bet that there is no ferry to somewhere but it certainly doesn’t have any cargo. Genoa (Genova) and La Spezia are the two main ports on that part of the coast.

    It does have a good market which conveniently (when you have a full-time job and are not on holiday) is on a Saturday morning.

    I did everything in about 15 minutes and then ground to a halt for ages on tapioca. I don’t think course is that unfair, it had me racking my brain for obscure race courses until I kicked myself once I realized what was going on.

  15. About 30 minutes, with 4 and 12 the last to go in. I agree with comments by others about some pretty hazy definitions today, esp. 4, 12 and 15. I didn’t mind 24, since the only thing I know about Strindberg is that he was Swedish. My favorite today: 1D. Regards.
  16. Re 19D,I would have thought that seaward was going AWAY from the coast rather than heading for it. Or have I missed something?


    1. If you’re in a boat, yes! Looks like the setter and I thought of ourselves as being on land to start with. Bizarrely, Collins has “from the sea” if we’re talkking about a wind. Take your pick…
  17. Am amazed at the skills on show here…as a beginner to the Times crossword, I am content to just answer a few and exit stage left thereafter. Some day I hope to complete one…(!)
    1. Thanks – if you can answer a few but, with the help of the blogs, understand the lot, you’ll make good progress – though no promises about when that first complete crossword will get filled in. Check out ‘About this blog’ in the ‘blue sky’ bit at the top for some background, and let us know how you get on. If something’s not clear, ask away – it’s nice to natter about the fine detail with Anax and the others, but if we can convert someone from beginner to finisher or near-finisher that’s more important to me.
  18. As a slow solver who has benefited a great deal from this blog I will echo the last comments. Many thanks to our SUPREMO – PB – for starting this site. I am now a slow but mostly successful solver.

    Just the 3 “easies” in this one:

    6a Knocked back drink after start of office work (4)
    O PUS

    9d Less sensitive eater’s computer (6,8)

    22d In stag ING OT hello this must be cast (5)

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