23909 – Able was I…. to solve it again

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
 A very lively puzzle that took me the best part of an hour to complete. I found it quirky but highly enjoyable and satisfying because everything seemed fair. I have (for once) no real quibbles with any of it. .

1 ABERDEEN ANGUS – (EU ban’s enraged)* – a well-known breed of cattle
9 PRUDE – P,RUDE – I like the definition here, “blusher”. My candidate for COD.
10 SLOGANEER – SLOG,A,NEER (“near”) This was my last in as I needed all the checking letters to spot it.
11 EASY DOES IT – And this was my first. Mr Easy from the novel by Frederick Marryat is the only famous Midshipman I can think of so getting the first word was..er..easy.
12 ATOM – A,TO,M – the second address book being L to Z. I can’t make up my mind whether this clue is very clever or a bit clumsy.
16 GNOCCHI – G(ree)N,O(rgani)C,CH,1 – This one had me scurrying to the dictionary in case there was an alternative spelling “gnoccti” but the setter had cleverly changed horses in midstream here and dropped the first/last letters pattern in favour of the abbreviation CH for “chestnut”.
17 DRIBLET – BIRD (rev) + LET
20 ELBA – ABLE (rev) – “up to it” – a cleverly hidden definition of the word that needed to be reversed. This one came up last time I blogged. Edit: 26A at http://community.livejournal.com/times_xwd_times/2008/04/25/
21 GET-UP-AND-GO – GET-UP,AND,GO – “split” is slang for “go”.
24 RHEUMATIC – “Room, Attic”
1 APPLES AND PEARS – APP(PLANES,D)*EARS – D=Diamonds here. Oh, and this is Cockney rhyming slang for “stairs”.
2 EQUUS – SUE (rev) around QU
5 ADORING – ADO,RING – I couldn’t see how “cycle” = “ring” then I thought of Wagner. There may be an alternative explanation too, perhaps in bell-ringing.
8 KREMLINOLOGIST – (GIRL IN OMSK LET + 0)* – This anagram had me baffled for a while but once I had spotted “-ologist” the rest was easy, though I didn’t know the word.
13 OOJAMAFLIP – O,O,JAM,A,FLIP – Collins and Chambers don’t list this but it’s in the COED defined as something one cannot or does not want to name. “Flip” = “eggnog” , rum or some other spirit mixed with egg-yolk and other ingredients
15 JAILBREAK – A good cryptic definition with “bird” standing for a prison sentence.
23 OMAN – O(MA)N – “On” for “leg” is today’s almost obligatory reference to cricket.

32 comments on “23909 – Able was I…. to solve it again”

  1. 17 mins – but I’m claiming a few back from the people who do the typing for the online version. 19D had a bad case of those extra spaces that sometimes creep into clues in the online version – “W as jumping …” for “Was jumping …”. With OUNCE in PD the only apparent wordplay for something to fit, I was left wondering why ounce needed to be “jumping cat” (or what other cat might fit ?C?U? and be reversed=’jumping’), and of course what “W” could possibly mean. An annoying end to an interesting puzzle. Ironically, the fact that this was today’s only ‘extra space’ typo probably made it worse – another one elsewhere might have helped me to see what was going on.

    At 16A I must check the dictionaries when I get home as {Ch.=Chestnut} is news to me (if anyone else has access to paper Collins or COD during the day and can give us chapter and verse, go right ahead). I concluded that the third hollow thing was “Chestnut witH”.

    COD 1A for a witty anagram, (though 8D was fun too), but there are many subtleties to admire. 23D is a bit odd as the answer coincidentally appears in the clue’s “Old woMAN”.

    1. Peter, CH is in the COED as an abreviation for a chestnut horse – hence my feeble attempt at humour. I assume it’s used in racing or breeding circles.
      1. Thanks – proves my lack of any connection with Terry Biddlecombe!
    2. One of my things to check after finishing. Chambers gives ch.=chestnut but with no mention of horses. Jimbo.
  2. What an excellent puzzle, difficult but always fair, 45 minutes of real enjoyment only slightly spoiled by the jumping W which left POUNCED as my last to go in.

    I have lots of ticks by clues. 14A, 20A (agreed Jack, brilliant definition), 21A, 26A KINDRED,SPIRIT 1D for the brilliant use of “flight”, 13D and the excellent cryptic definition at 15D with more cockney slang in “bird”. My COD goes to 1A which stirred memories of the awful Gummer and his hapless child. Jimbo.

  3. Eisenstein’s maid’s out, Einstein’s in’s out and Epstein’s in. Thank heavens the cow wasn’t a holstein.

    Around 25 minutes for this, and thoroughly enjoyable, too. This puzzle was full of good things, including some really elegant surfaces (always does it for me). I’m not sure I’d ever have got 1dn ‘APPLES AND PEARS’ without crossing letters, but it’s beautifully done. As is 21ac ‘GET-UP-AND-GO’. I’m a sucker for clues which, if printed out of context, wouldn’t be readily identifiable as crossword clues.

    I didn’t know ‘OOJAMAFLIP’ (I use a ‘who..’ variant) but the wordplay was solid enough to feel confident about it.

    And I love the delightfully corny 24ac ‘RHEUMATIC’. Which is probably why, jackkt, I thoroughly enjoyed your “changed horse in midstream”. Thanks to you and the to the setter.

  4. Beaten fairly and squarely by 12a. I reckoned it had to be one of atom,stem and item. Couldn’t justify any so plumped for item – pass the self-kickers please. A mighty fine crossword, my only complaint is that there wasn’t an oblique reference to a minor character in a 17th century work of fiction by a writer I haven’t heard of. Standards are slipping. Lots of belters today but my favourite was 1ac, a mighty fine, seamless surface. I also like 26a.

    My favourite puzzle of the week.

    1. And I think you may have missed the clear allusion to the poetry of L.Pirandello at 25a, so all is well.
      1. Surely “alluring air” is a rather obvious, nay clumsy, hint at Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini (February 19, 1743 – May 28, 1805 IIRC).
        1. I can’t believe I missed that. It’s a good thing you’re here, is all I can say.
        2. More tunes that everyone knows:

          diddle diddle dee daah daah da da da da, diddle diddle dee daah daah da da da da, …

          here you go

  5. Great, two in a row. Started this last night, but it was not a one for tired brain. Tried again in the morning, getting the anagram at 1 got me going, and I was down to three stubborn ones like yesterday (10, 12, 13). SLOGANEER came eventually, ATOM went in as a hopeful guess from definition. And then, there was somethingAFLIP. I even rejected oojamaflip from the list of possibilities because it didn’t sound like a word. Gave up using just brain and went to dictionaries, no luck. So an unfilled grid for me, first one in a while.

    Apart from DOURAMAFLIP, there were plenty of great clues here. 14a was a nice construction of an odd word, and 15d has a great surface. Some more cricket for dorosatt at 22, but for misleading goodness, I’ve got to go with 6d as COD.

  6. Just under 30 minutes – had never heard of oojamaflip but seemed obvious from the wordplay.I put in prawn for 9a at first thinking unrefined = raw , in = n.
    I liked 15d and 12a. A very enjoyable puzzle
  7. 26:04, by far the most enjoyable puzzle of the week. I’ve got so used to the rogue spaces in the online edition that I immediately took W as to be Was anyway.

    As has been said, many worthy candidates for COD and to those already mentioned I’d add 6d (clever use of nan as the def). I’m struggling to choose the best of that one, 14a and 13 and 15d but I’ll plump for, um, 13

  8. I forgot to mention (didn’t have my anorak on before), at a loose end the other day I pulled a puzzle from the archive which included:

    3. Bird soars up over obstructions and drops (8)

    (from January 03, 2001)

    Guess there’s not much new under the sun.

    1. We did strangely similar… I think SLOGANEER is SLOG,A,NEAR(=approach) homophone
    2. {On = leg} is the single piece of cricket jargon you absolutely must remember. For this and a bit more, see the guide to UK references from my YAGCC (Yet Another Guide to Cryptic Crosswords) pages.
  9. About 1 hour for me. Lots of good clues,but for sheer ingenuity and unusualness 13 dn (OOJAMAFLIP) is my COD.

    Like jackkt, I spent some time wondering at 16 ac whether “gnoccti” was an alternative spelling of “gnocchi” that I ought to know about, before eventually concluding that CH had to be taken as an abbreviation for “chestnut”, though I’ve not come across it before, and I can’t imagine that many other people have either. A tad obscure, albeit that the Oxford English Reference Dictionary does offer CH/ch as abbreviations for Companion of Honour, church, chapter and chestnut, in that order. No mention of any horsey connections however.

    Michael H

    1. I must admit that if I had seen CH solely as an abbreviation for “chestnut” as given in Chambers I would have been really puzzled by it, but the reference to the colour of a horse in the Concise Oxford puts it in a context in which it seems to make sense. But surely there is a horse expert out there who can confirm where one might expect to see the abbreviation used?
  10. Yes, I was planning to query this too but my objection was immediately scuppered upon reference to the COED where the first meaning is given as: a medicine or regime prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect.
    1. And “placebo” is traced by Collins and Chambers to “Placebo Domino” = “I shall please the Lord”, from the beginning of the office for the dead – which warms us up for discussion about the end of the Te Deum in tomorrow’s report on last Saturday’s puzzle.
  11. Thought this was a brilliant crossword – harder than normal and I don’t think you’d have time for them every single day of the week but there were several gems to appreciate when the various pennies dropped.

    My favourite among many excellent clues was JAILBREAK which, at least to me, was cunningly disguised as a normal definition/wordplay clue whereas it was a cryptic definition.

    As some other comment has said, I was surprised SLOGANEER was a verb but looking in COED, that is the first meaning given.

    Re the rhyming slang, I did not know that either but when I worked it out from the wordplay felt I had learned something! The phrase was familiar to me but not what it meant.

  12. Just wondered if the CH could be the head i.e.nut of chest. Good puzzle but took us ages to get started. Still cant understand 18 d which we assume is tweeter – where does the ter come from?
    Mike and Fay

    1. Sorry for not blogging this one. It’s TWEE,TER(m) where TER is the “short period of time”.
    2. Ingenious thinking on CH but I don’t think the Times setters would do this to you. See the comments about Newbolt in Wednesday’s puzzle.
  13. I agree with the general opinion (as I read the comments above) that this crossword was (a) difficult, and (b) clever.
    However, I thought that several clues were too devious as to be unacceptable to ordinary solvers like me.

    I include 13D (OOJAMAFLIP is not in my dictionary and I have never heard of it), 10A (the wordplay is trivial but how is “Use catchphrases” a definition of SLOGANEER?), 5D (likewise, is “Really getting (into)” a definition of ADORING?), and 12A (how is “Bit of make-up” an acceptable definition of ATOM?).

    Can I also protest about the use, once again, of Cockney rhyming slang? Most people don’t live in the East End of London! If this is acceptable, then so should be words from dialects from all other major English-speaking centres, e.g. New York, Merseyside,…

    I almost wrote in protest yesterday, where there were so many obscure literary references, especially BUBBLE for the clue “Shakespeare’s all-round reputation”. I think this should have been ruled unacceptable.

    I cannot escape the feeling that the crosswords from yesterday and today were aimed at an exclusive coterie.

    1. OOJAMAFLIP is in the Concise Oxford, one of the two dictionaries used as standard references for the Times cryptic, the other being Collins.

      SLOGANEER is defined as “to employ or invent slogans”, “slogan” as “a memorable phrase…” and “catchphrase” as “a well-known sentence or phrase”.

      “Is “Really getting (into)” a definition of ADORING?” How about “really getting into” a book, film, etc?

      I don’t have a problem with either of these.

      Collins uses the term “building block “ in defining ATOM so I think it is fair to clue it as “bit of make up”.

      Knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang is not confined to people living in the East End of London and I suspect that the examples that turn up in Times crosswords are probably limited to no more than a dozen very commonly used expressions.

      1. The key with the rhyming slang is that it’s in one (almost certainly both) of the dictionaries jack mentioned. Any other slang in those dictionaries is of course fair game too, whether from Bethnal Green, Brooklyn or Bangalore. Cockney Rhyming slang is more pervasive than most people realise, so I suspect there are two or three dozen examples in Times xwd use. ‘Bird’ for time in prison, for example is from “birdlime = time”. Likewise “raspberry” = the US “Bronx cheer”, from “raspberry tart = fart”, and “cobblers” from “cobblers’ awls = balls”. “berk” is one you can look up for yourselves.

        Edited at 2008-05-09 08:43 pm (UTC)

  14. Ch is the standard abbreviation for chestnut, describing the horse’s colour in a racecard or sales catalogue. The others are b for bay, br for brown, gr for grey, and unusually ro for roan. Likewise you will see c for colt, f for filly, g for gelding, m for mare (a female aged five or above) and h – oddly, to the uninitiated – for horse (indicating a male aged five or above which has not been gelded).

    Probably too late to be of any use, but for the record!

  15. 1a Aberdeen Angus is the other side of the Beef Breeding fence. Once, whilst wearing my Hereford Rugby Club tie which features numerous miniature Hereford Bulls, I was accosted by a Texan who exclaimed “My God! You have Herfurds in England too”? Oddly, I think that was in Kathmandu.

    This was really good crossword – I agree with all the positive comments above and not really at all with the few whinges.

    There are six “easies”:

    19a (Lab cope)* somehow, producing medicine (7)
    PLACEBO. As I understand it a PLACEBO is NOT medicine. It is an inactive substance given in medical trials to a control group along side the test group who receive the medicine being trialled. The PLACEBO effect is where positive results are experienced in the control group – presumably because the subject believes they are getting medicine and “cure” themselves through that belief?

    25a Italian’s regularly giving out a L l U r I n G a I r (5)

    26a Close friend generous with cherry brandy? (7,6)

    6d Ultimately optin G fo R samos A, plai N nan (4)
    G R A N

    18d Pretty short period of time for speaker (7)
    TWEE TER(m)

    19d Was jumping cat seen in Palladium? (7)
    P OUNCE D. Palladium Pd is one of the Platinum Group Elements (PGE). An Ounce is a Snow Leopard. Nothing to do with the Royal Variety Performance.

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