23905 – Placeholder

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This one took just over an hour. I found it a bit difficult to get into, but very enjoyable – some very good (and misleading) surface readings. I found the NE corner the most difficult – 11A being the last to go in.


4 B,RON,C,HUS[h] – this took a while because I initially thought British=BR – I also considered the spelling BRONCHOS before I spotted the wordplay.
10 APPLET,ART – Java applets are programs that can be run in your web browser, such as the Times interactive crossword.
11 TEMP’S – I think this is TEMP=temperate – I didn’t know this abbreviation and thought for a while before writing it in.
12 SC(OUT,M)ASTER – anagram of ACTRESS.
15 PO(M)P,OUS[t]
23 L[ik]E,A
26 W[h]AT,[h]ER – horses (h,h) taken out of the phrase.


1 [pries]T,RAN,SEPT=step*
3 TO,E – Calabria is a region of Italy forming the ‘toe’ of the ‘boot’ – I guessed this but looked up to check.
6 NO,TOR(1,OUSL)Y – ‘NO TORY’=Labour – OUSL=soul*
7 HU(MDI)NGER – MDI=mid*
8 S[ociet]Y,STEM
9 P,A,GANS – ‘hitch a lift’=SNAG,A reversed
13 TWO-PENN’ORTH – I think a bit refers to a threepenny bit
25 A,ROMA[n]
28 BOO[r]

26 comments on “23905 – Placeholder”

  1. 8:47 for this one – pretty much average difficulty.

    I wonder whether the need to know about ‘Java applets’ at 10 will cause as much trouble as Strindberg’s nationality? In principle, it probably should!

    I liked 2D (though probably done before), 3, the removal of H’s in 26, and the apparent joke about Bank Holiday weather in 11.

    13 may cause some trouble with no indication that we’re talking ‘old money’, referring to the ‘threepenny bit’.

  2. About 40 minutes for this one. Mostly enjoyable. I liked 10ac and 3dn but using “confiscating” to indicate an enclosure at 21ac and “suspect” to indicate an anagram at 24ac seems a bit dodgy to me, assuming I have read them correctly, of course.
    1. Some excellent clues, but a toughie.

      The containment indicator I objected to was catches in 7D – the inverted word order needed to make sense of the word-play is extremely ugly.

  3. I thought this a really good puzzle with some excellent clues. I love 10A and support Peter’s sentiments. I have no problem with “suspect” as an anagrind. I laughed at NO TORY = Labour and “quietly hitch a lift” for PAGANS. 30A has an excellent surface reading as do 23A, 20D, and 21D. My one quibble (well, you have to have one) is the padding of 26A with “she” and “them”. Jimbo.
  4. I found this really difficult and just squeaked home inside 30 minutes. Tricky clues in every quadrant made it hard to get going. 4, 10 , 5, 8, 24, 27 all made me think (and they weren’t the only ones).

    No issues with ‘suspect’ in 24 for me; in fact, I think its use here is apt and deliciously Machiavellian. I love it when setters make such good use of the grammatical ambiguities of certain English words. I’m giving my COD vote to 19 because it’s simple but took me ages to see – ‘Doh!’ rating of 92.3%.

  5. A tricky one for Monday, I thought, taking me around fifty minutes to finish. Only 3 acrosses solved on the first quick run through, but the downs helped me get going properly. Lots of interesting clues, though one or two that I found suspect, but I was happy with ‘suspect’ as an anagrind. Like ‘jackkt’ I have had doubts in the past about ‘confiscating’ as a container indicator, but it does mean ‘seizing’ so I think it’s perfectly ok. I liked 10ac, 24ac 9dn, 21dn and 22dn, particularly. Initially I had doubts about 17ac until I checked ‘opera’ in Chambers and found it meant an opera company as well as an operatic work. I don’t like ‘Nice’ as an adjective meaning ‘in or from Nice’; it’s commonly found in crosswords and I’m used to it, so got the answer immediately, but it strikes me as a dubious device, the adjective from Nice being ‘Nicoise’. I also didn’t think 18dn worked very well. Apart from these reservations, this was a very engaging puzzle with some innovations. I’ll pick 10ac as COD.
    Oh, and what’s the answer to 19ac? This was the last to go in. I’m guessing it’s KNEELS, but wasn’t happy with it. If it’s based on Niall where does the the S come from? If it’s based on NIELS the S is sounded rather differently.
    1. “Neil’s” and “kneels” are usually homophonic for me. Maybe I’m just a sloppy speaker.
      1. Apologies dyste. I misread your comment initially and didn’t realise you meant Neils as in Bohr. But I’m with jackkt – “of Neil”.
    2. Of a man = Neil’s (belonging to Neil), sounds like “kneels”

      That’s how I read it.

      Thanks for “seizing”; that makes the thinking clear.

  6. I wasn’t quite sure about the wordplay at 11. “Temps” is French for “weather”, hence the reference to Nice, but why “seasonal” apart from the the obvious (that weather is seasonal)? PB’s comment about Bank Holiday weather makes me wonder if I am missing something here.

    Jimbo, could you explain how “suspect” might serve as an anagrind, please? Again I feel I am missing something.

      1. I’m with sotira on the meaning of ‘temps’. “suspect”: for some setters, the merest suggeston of doubtfulness or strangeness is enough. It tends not to bother me, but I can see why some find these AIs puzzling. All I meant about Bank Holidays was that the reference to ‘nice weather’ might be an ironic one.
    1. Hi Jack. You’ve made me think about this – am I happy with it simply because I’ve seen it before or can I truely justify it? I think if something is “suspect” you don’t don’t completely trust what you see and believe it could be something else, something hidden. It’s not as easy to justify as I first thought so I suspect there’s an element of “seen it before” as well. Jimbo.
  7. I think “Nice weather” means the French for weather, ie in the city of Nice, ie “temps” – and temps (temporary staff) are seasonal. John D.
    1. think “Nice weather” means the French for weather, ie in the city of Nice, ie “temps” –
      Yes, I know that’s the intention. So can I clue ‘wetter’ as Berlin weather?
  8. Afer 31 minutes, and about 10 of them staring at 13, I resorted to Chambers word wizards. Would never have gotten that, before NURSERYMAID (a cunningly-concealed anagram) went in I was thinking the last part of 13 was WORTH. Rest of it I liked.
  9. I found this puzzle to be very devilish, and tricky. My time? Who knows, I’m pleased to have gotten through it at all, with problems caused by originally entering ‘harbinger’ where ‘humdinger’ belongs. Many clever clues here, esp. 6, 24, 10, 26, 7, 8, 29, 30. A great outing from the setter, congrats to him/her. Quite a start to the week. Had to look up 13, it and 21 being apparent UK-isms unfamiliar to me, but offset by the Manhattan, an easy one for the Yanks. Regards all.
  10. Average difficulty for me! As ever, one person’s average difficulty puzzle can be another’s stinker, just from different experiences on a few clues. I did think that 13 and 21 could cause trouble across the pond. (Ditto the English National Opera!). Enjoyed MANHATTAN as an answer after failing to get it in a recent occasional stab at an NYT puzzle, where it was “cousin of a Rob Roy” (turns out that a Rob Roy is a Manhattan with Irish instead of Scotch).
    1. Perhaps at the risk of seeming to know too much of cocktails, methinks the perfect Rob Roy is in fact a mix of Scotch and vermouth, dry and sweet, and the Manhattan entails (in the US, at least) blended whiskey, probably Canadian, and sweet vermouth only, plus a dash of cherry juice. Thanks much for explaining ENO, I figured it was something like that, but unsure. BTW, is the ‘teacher’ in 20D simply ‘sir’? The L,O was clear, and I thought ‘having been chosen’ = ‘in’.
      1. “Sir” it is. I think we’ve had “Miss” as an alternative.
    2. I love “the unfortunate circumstance of my birth”. We’ll try not to hold it against you. Personally, I was born on a Wednesday, and we all know what that means. It’s worth noting that in a number of British schools the traditional ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’ have been giving way to new forms of address, many of which have no place on a nicely brought-up website.
        1. Sir and Miss were also common, if not mandatory in Australian schools in the 70s and 80s.
  11. Is ‘No Tory’ = ‘Labour’ good enough? If you’re not a Tory it doesn’t mean you’re Labour.
    1. I had also flagged this as a query but thought better of it when the time came. Try thinking of it the other way round i.e. Labour = No Tory and it makes sense (to me anyway).

  12. Thank goodness there are sufficient commentators on this one as I was completely done in by one of the “easies”. There are 10 of these and here we go:

    14a Rocks evenly spread in c I r C l E (3)
    ICE. Rocks and Ice being slang words for diamonds.

    19a Awaits blessing of a man in broadcasting (6)

    KNEELS. Sound like Neil’s. Faced with ?N?E?S I bifd ENTERS which sounds like ENT ‘ERS and is therefore more likely ‘IS. ENTERS is not really awaiting blessing I know. Clearly, being of heathen persuasion, I have not spent sufficient time in church on my knees awaiting blessing. Thank you TfTT regulars for preventing my shame.

    21a Courts confiscating American land in Europe (6)
    A U.S. TRIA. I really like courts = ATRIA. I was a bit doubtful about “confiscating” as a containment indicator but arguments above have persuaded me that it is OK and I like the idea.

    24a Childminder, suspect (in murder, say)* (11)
    NURSERYMAID. No problem at all for me to have suspect as an anagrind.

    3d Animal in river (5)
    HIP PO. Thanks to PB for getting me to re-look at this. My ancient greek is a bit dodgy at the best of times but I do know that the Hippo bit in Hippopotamus means Horse. The potamus probably means “of the river” I am guessing? My re-look at PB’s listing it as a good ‘un led me to see HIP = in and PO = river. Neat.

    5d Forged (letter)* containing one’s name differently (7)
    RET 1 TLE

    16d Chap that mixed a new cocktail (9)
    MAN HATT A N. I have never had one with Scotch nor Irish. It does not sound like a drink for thirsty bunnies.

    20d Teacher left with nothing, having been chosen for cut (7)
    SIR L 0 IN

    21d A pair of learners cramming the day before exam (1-5)
    A- L EVE L

    22d Set off to see film by Antonioni (4,2)
    BLOW UP. A film I had not seen nor heard about (1967 apparently) but I have at least heard of it now and it was gettable without knowledge from “set off” once the checkers were there.

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