23,907 – time for our Pantheon?

Solving time 7:50

Made a slow start with this, failing to notice that “forgotten wreaths” is one letter too long and considering it as the fodder, and not seeing GAME POINT or WOMEN as soon as I should have done. But two letters above the grid remind me that I did use one old hand’s ploy for 1A: if the enumeration is (X,2,Y) and the anag fodder contains O and F, have a look at words crossing the possible OF in the middle – in this case, the F made FAIR an instant write-in. ERATO at 6D reminds me that one day I must do a Times version of Rex Parker’s Pantheon of words that crop up again and again in the grid.

1 TOWER OF STRENGTH – (forgotten wre(a)ths) – the “not a” was well-hidden, getting me to look for a phrase like ‘man of straw’
9 GAME POINT – which could be ‘advantage Federer’. I took a while to see that ‘heart’ = the vital part, or POINT, as in ‘heart of the matter’
11 TENACE – having (in one hand) the cards immediately above and below the opposition’s best cards in a suit – e.g. AQ when they have the King. Etymology corner: this is from the Spanish for ‘pincers’ – the ten and ace in the word are just a fluke, though I guess if you have A,10, they have K, and J & Q have both been played, you would have a tenace). Now a bridge term, though the notion is there in any trick-taking game. So busy banging on about cards that he forgets the wordplay – cane rev. in TE = middle of ‘contests’.
12 SCROUNGE = (c, surgeon)*. bum=scrounge – same origins as bum=tramp, though I suspect this meaning is more British.
13 N=new,ARROW=bolt – I’m pretty sure that splits like “Newbolt” in this clue always have something like ‘could one say’ in Times puzzles
15 S(CAFF)OLD – caff = café
18 S(PARSI)TY – though for Chambers at least, a parsee is strictly speaking a descendant of Zoroastrians, not necessarily a Zoroastrian.
19 TURNUP – (R.U. in punt) all rev.
23 B(ASK)ET Clue number restored courtesy of dorsetjimbo
26 (b)LOTTO
27 OR(I,GIN)ATE – looks like a stock wordplay
28 HUCKLEBERRY,FINN – I assume the full title has ‘Adventures of’. The huckleberry is one of many improbable-sounding berries – my CD-Rom Chambers also has boysen, buffalo, candle, hack, poke and salmon berries among many others.
1 TIGHTEN = “titan”
3 RAPACIOUS – initial letter change in capacious
5 TIT,ICACA = acaci(a) rev. – Famously the highest navigable lake on earth, and has some kind of floating islands I seem to recall from a (Michael Palin?) TV documentary – or am I mixing it up with Mexico in Monty Don’s trip round the world in 80 gardens?
7 GREEN=colour of sea,HORN=stormy cape
8 HOTHEAD – anag &lit.
18 S(e)QUEL,CH.
24 KHAKI = “car key” (for non-rhotic speakers at least)
25 LIAR = rail rev. For rail=barrier, I first thought of the rail in the arena at the Proms, but Chambers suggests ‘racecourse barrier’ as a more obvious possibility.

24 comments on “23,907 – time for our Pantheon?”

  1. Peter, you have a typo at 23A BASKET. As I know only too well one scans these things for errors but somehow one misses them!

    This was very easy for me at sub 20 minutes. I was lucky enought to read 1A and write the answer straight in and then followed that with 1D though 8D. I suspect we may have some personal best times today. I have no ticks and no question marks against the clues but take Peter’s point about “parsi”. Jimbo.

  2. Very nearly completed in less than 30 minutes.

    I did not get 11ac and 5dn.

    2dn WOMEN was among the early entries.

    The deletion in 1ac is very cleverly done; the phrase popped in my head when I decided that the second word must be OF and peered at the anag fodder.

    I got 17dn ATOM BOMB from the components but did not see the anno immediately. I now think it is an anagram of ‘a t o o mb mb’ (two old doctors), ‘can be’ being the anag signal. Is this right?

    I liked the refreshingly new clue for 6dn ERATO, avoiding era,to wordplay.

    1. I read it as A + T(emperature) + O M.B. + O M.B. where O=Old and M.B. = Bachelor of Medicine
    2. I don’t think it’s intended as an anagram – A + T + OMB OMB. “Two old doctors” just means “‘O MB’ twice”.

      I objected to 13A, even with the question mark and “could one say” – beyond the pale for what I expect in The Times. I also quibble about “on” going the wrong way round in 10A – it’s actually time on books.

      1. The Times has recently started to reintroduce a number of devices that were used years ago but have not been seen for a while. We’ve had real linked clues, a double anagram (with a definition as well – so far!), some surface padding and now this construction of Newbolt for New+bolt. Once you become used to it you’ll see through it very quickly.

        Chambers defines “on” as “in contact with”, which seems OK to me at 10A. Jimbo.

        1. Richard Browne has now been in charge for six years, and certainly allows a few things that his predecessors Brian Greer (1995-2000) and Mike Laws (2000-2002) did not allow – unindicated def by example being the most obvious to me. The result for me is that my idea of ‘par’ for a Times crossword is now 9-10 minutes rather than 7-8. But there are still a fair number of straightforward puzzles and the key point in each case is that as Jimbo says, “once you get used to it, you’ll see through it”. And if you try some 1970s and earlier puzzles, you’ll meet devices that have not returned and I’m sure never will.

          I’m not convinced that double anagrams or other double wordplay, or splits like Newbolt (with indication) have ever been ruled out – I’m sure Brian Greer’s book gives examples of double wordplay including anagrams, and there was a “double subtraction” clue in last year’s championship final.

          1. Our anonymous contributor knows not how lucky he is. In the 1950s 13A might have been clued as: “Newbolt?” or even “Was the author of Vitai Lampada prejudiced?”. When they resurrect those constructions I’m going “play up and play the game” some other way! Jimbo.
      2. I can’t see a problem with this one. Surely “on” can mean at either end here? But if it was a Down clue I think you would be on stronger ground.
        1. I’m pretty sure the current rule is that ‘A on B’ can go either way for acrosses, but is ‘A,B’ for downs.
          1. I seem to remember reading last year that in The Times cryptic “A on B” always indicated B followed by A in an across clue. This was confirmed by Roger Phillips in his guidelines for entrants to The Times Clue Competition.
      3. Thank you. I nearly called it ‘Raise the Tightenic!’, which looks rather scary. And I totally agree about the two movies. The Cameron one was pure goo, and I break out in a rash when I hear ‘that’ song.
  3. I found this one quite straightforward and had it finished well under the half hour but with a couple to check on arrival at work (11 and 18) because I wasn’t sure why.
  4. I was sailing along merrily in this until I struck an iceberg in the Northwest Passage. It took me forever to see ‘TIGHTEN’, despite the nudge towards it in 26, and I found myself icebound (okay, overdoing it) with 9 and 11. My ship finally limped into port (really overdoing it now – I promise not to sing ‘My (brave) Heart Will Go On’) in about 28 minutes.

    Not really my cup of bohea, this puzzle. Some very clever clues and a lot of crafty wordplay, but strained surfaces. Matter of taste, I know, but I’m one of those who will accept slightly iffy substance for the sake of some style. I should probably go into politics.

  5. 9:37. A bit of a relief because I failed to finish Saturday’s, Monday’s and Tuesday’s – no problems with them, my heart just wasn’t in it. Quite enjoyed today’s although nothing jumped out as being really good. I’ll skirt around the old “khaki=car key” issue. I’ve done it to death before and I don’t think I’m going to change anything with my moaning.
  6. I romped through half of the puzzle (mostly the lower half), thinking this should have been Monday’s puzzle, then came to a grinding halt, moving on again at a slower pace when I got 15. Raised eyebrows at 13, but I am getting used to clues of this sort not to make a big fuss. 1ac is COD for me because of the clever deception in the function of ‘a’.
  7. 13 minutes, only one guess (TENACE, the last to go in). Helped to get TOWER OF STRENGTH straight off. PARSEE popped up recently, but didn’t stop me from confidently writing SCARCITY at 18a until 3d corrected that. KHAKI is a funny one – I grew up in Melbourne where it is pronounced exactly that way, car-key. When I moved to the US it is one of the words that locals (who say kakky) take great delight in hearing me “butcher”.

    Despite the quibbles on here, I think the split in 13 was indicated and a nice twist on the word so I’ll go for it as COD. 19 was a nifty construction of a simple clue, and if I had to clue 5d it could only appear in anax’s Clues in Blue.

  8. I was surprised to time myself at 7.12 for this. A lot of the answers came immediately and I guessed at a few but there were a few awkward ones.11a was last to go in and would have been stuck on that for a while if I hadn’t been a bridge player
    Can Khaki be justified as car key?? Is it not ca’ kay?
  9. A poor 45 minutes, of which the last 35 was spent struggling with the top half. I didn’t like 13, found 8 a weak &Lit (why did he HAVE to act wildly exactly?) don’t know a tenace from a fourjack and thought heart=point was stretching things a bit.

    I clearly need to bone up on my Zoroastrians and muses too.

    1. Zoroastrians and Muses: don’t learn too much. Browsing the wikipedia article on Zoroastrianism, the only other word I recognised was Avesta = their main collection of sacred texts. For the Muses, Clio and Erato are the two you most need to know. It’s maybe worth remembering the oddity that all seven others end -e like Calliope and Euterpe, or -ia like Polyhymnia and Uralia.
  10. Today I remembered my Dad who used to read poems to me and my sisters when I was some 11 years old. One of them was Newbolt’s “Vïtai Lampada”.
    1. I’d say he did well by you. Thanks for the reference. I’d quite forgotten that poem.
  11. I found today’s the least complicated of the week so far; completed in something less than 20 minutes last night. 1A is my choice as the best clue today. In the US only New Englanders pronounce ‘khaki’ that way but I don’t think it held anybody up in solving. I didn’t mind the new+bolt construction either, perhaps because I don’t know the slightest thing about the actual Mr. Newbolt.
    1. Holding/tenacity is a weird coincidence – tenacity and those Spanish pincers both come from the same Latin word – tenere, to hold. Easy meat for me even without a year or two of school Latin, as “Tenaciter” was our school motto.

      I didn’t know until looking that Vitai Lampada is the poem I think of as “straight bat & stiff upper lip”. I was also ignorant about “Dulce et Decorum Est” – all the Owen I can remember comes from Britten’s War Requiem, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t use it.

  12. 8d (He had to)* act wildly because HAD was part of the anagrist in this anagram & lit that PB has identified.

    That was not one of the “easies”. Here they are:

    10a Rep supplying books on time (5)
    AGE NT. No problem with books (NT) being “on” time (AGE).

    21a Suffering (rum pains)*, protesting strongly (2,2,4)

    4d Just passable (4)

    6d One of nine thrown into incin ERATO r (5)
    ERATO. You have to know your 9 Muses. To be fair, our beloved Erato (Muse of Love Poetry) gets a bit more X-word mileage than, say, Terpsichore (Muse of Dance) but lovely T has probably featured once or twice?

    14d Down to earth (articles I )* edited (9)

    17d A temperature, two old doctors, can be a big killer (4,4)
    A T OMB OMB. Neat clue but awful subject.

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