23931 – Gateway and cocker shocker

Solving time 9:43, two mistakes

I got to the end of this with 21D left to solve. ?O?K?R for “Fishing boat, one that heels”. I inked in an E to make ?O?KER and then, lacking much inspiration, worked my way throught the alphabet for the other two slots and came up with COCKER, DOCKER, FORKER, HOOKER as my short list of vaguely plausible answers. I plumped for COCKER (Spaniel) as it can “Heel!” when its master tells it to. I didn’t know any fishing boats to fit. This answer was wrong, but in the end it didn’t matter as I’d carelessly put GATEWAY rather than GETAWAY at 20 – just the sort of slip that I quietly shake my head about if others make it at crossword championships, so on with the cap. COD nominations: 14, followed closely by 13 and 22 – all very smooth wordings.

1 VINEGAR = (in grave)* – ‘trouble’ is one of those noun anagram indicators that strict Ximeneans don’t like.
5 MAR(I)NER – ref. Silas Marner, novel by George Eliot. Chestnut clue, so only half a lit. point and almost left it uncounted.
9 TIE – 2 defs – it’s an accessory in the fashion sense
15 uNcOuPlE
18 CHIC,K(E)NOUT – wordplay not analysed when solving. A knout is a whip.
19 STAG = gats rev. gat = short for Gatling Gun, which is not the Chicago gangster type of machine gun as I thought, but an early type used in the American Civil War. The slang abbreviation means a handgun, confusingly. “Stag party” is possibly UK slang for a men-only social event, normally just before a wedding.
22 E,STOPS – clever wording here. Bars (vb.) is the legal definition, and to “stop” is to stay somewhere later than others.
23 BE SOUGHT – 2 defs
25 NECK AND NECK – def and cryptic def
27 N,E,W
28 RAM=drive,EKIN=rev. of Nike, goddess of victory, after whom the shoes were named.
29 DOROTHY = (to hydro)* – the main character in The Wizard of Oz. Counted as pop culture as most will know her from the film rather than the book.
1 V.A.T,I,CAN.
2 NEEDLEPOINT = (inlet opened)*
3 GROUND – 3 defs
5 MEAN – 2 defs – “he plays a mean trombone” suggests Collins for the less obvious one
6 RYDE,R,CUP – Geog. points only as it’s a very well-known event
7 NUN – 2 defs, one Biblical “Joshua, son of Nun”, cause for mild schoolboy sniggering
13 PLANT,AGEN(E)T – names of monarchical ‘houses’ are to easy for any history points, I reckon
14 FIGUREHEAD = (if he argued)*
17 SKIP,JACK = a type of Tuna – ref. Jack Sprat who could eat no fat. Only half a Nat. World point as I’m pretty sure you can see it on tins of tuna in your local supermarket. Jack Sprat too well known for pop culture scoring.
18 C,LEANER – “daily” = old-fashioned upper class slang for a visiting cleaner
20 GETA = (a teg rev.),WAY – teg scored under ‘other’ rather than Nat. World as it’s a name for a perfectly ordinary sheep – one in its second year, apparently.
21 HOOKER – 2 defs – a single masted boat, esp. as used in Ireland for fishing, and the Rugby hooker who heels=hooks the ball out of the scrum. All in the Concise Oxford so fair game for use, but I’ll place a small bet that this will trip up more people than Kipps or Trilby.
26 C,A,M – first letters. In contrast to Oxford, which was a ford for oxen, Cambridge = bridge over the Cam. Or not – Adrian Room’s Dict. of British place names reveals that the river’s current name was made by back-formation (nice pun if you know about the Backs!) from the name of the town, which changed from Grontabricc via Cantebrigie (Domesday) to Cambridge. And the bridge half didn’t originally mean ‘bridge’ either. Half a Geog point as not one of the really popular 3-letter Brit rivers – which might have their own museum, he says, evening things up with an Oxford pun.

Pie chart amended to include stuff from 21D

Category Score Clues
Religion 1 (28) Nike, (7) ‘Son of Nun’
Literature .5 (5) Silas Marner
Visual Arts
Popular Culture .5 (29) Dorothy
Sport & Games 1 21 hook=heel (Rugby)
Natural World .5 (17) Skipjack
Science & Tech
Geography 1.5 6 Ryde, IOW (26) Cam
Other 4 16 – ute = vehicle, 18 knout=whip, 20 teg=sheep, 21 hooker = fishing boat
Total 9

20 comments on “23931 – Gateway and cocker shocker”

  1. Off to a cracking start in the top half with only 5dn putting up resistance – as things turned out I had spotted the correct answer at first glance but not how to justify it so I left it blank to come back to later.

    The bottom half gave me all sorts of problems and even having completed it (with one error at 21 – couldn’t see how hook = list and I plumped for “rocker”), I was left with two or three that needed further thought and looking up to fully explain them. It took me ages to spot the oblique reference to The Wizard Of Oz at 29(never seen it, never want to – I’ve heard of Dorothy in this context but why would I know she came from Kansas?), and I was further hampered here by the superfluous and misleading “in”.

    I didn’t find this puzzle at all enjoyable or interesting (cf yesterday’s) and I have no nominations for COD. They were all either dead easy or obscure in some way.

  2. I was headed for a sub 20 minute time here until I put “banker” into 21D (A banker is a fishing boat and to bank is to heel over). That made 23A impossible to solve. From the wordplay I knew that 14D, 13D and 20D were correct so eventually concluded 21D had to be wrong. Had another cup of coffee and suddenly thought of the rugby connection for “heel” and the hooker in the scrum. It meant nothing to me in terms of boats but an “O” rather than an “A” in 23A and I saw BESOUGHT, put that in and guessed HOOKER had to be right. About 30 minutes in the end!

    I didn’t enjoy this puzzle I’m sorry to say. Most of it was far too easy. We must have the occassional easy puzzle to encourage new solvers but this went too far I thought. Then the mix was levened with some obscurities and weak clueing already mentioned by Peter and Jack. Jimbo.

  3. 14:19 for me after midnight last night (after 3 bottles of wine). All but the SW corner went in after 4 minutes, then I ground to a halt. Also see I put in GATEWAY for 20D – knew it was a bit dodgy at the time, but couldn’t think of anything else that would fit. No problem with HOOKER, although I thought the first half of the clue was a poor cryptic definition – fishing boat = something that hooks.
  4. Blimey almighty, this 5-minute romp must be a personal best. For most of it (sadly, I think) it was a case of entering answers on autopilot because no others would fit, so – once I’d established I might be on for a quick time – I just ploughed on without digging too far into the clues. I got HOOKER right but only because it seemed the likeliest answer (without knowing about the boat).
    I agree with comments above. A good introduction for less experienced solvers but perhaps not exciting enough to grab and maintain interest.
    That said, I enjoyed the almost-Max-Mosley feel of 14, good surface at 13, and my COD goes to 5D; unexpectedly perhaps, but I don’t recall seeing those defs used before.
    1. Congratulations, Smarty-Pants. Have a cigar. When you mentioned Max Mosley, I assumed you were referring to to 18a and his very English enthusiasm.
      1. 18A: You mean swishing the whip? Or getting the chicken out?
        …which reminds me of when I first learned how to cook a chicken.
        “OK, dad, I’ve plucked it and stuffed it. What next?”
        “For pity’s sake, lad, kill the damn thing”
  5. I found this easy until it came to 21, when I was faced with the same dilemma as Peter. In the end I chickened out of any choice, though toyed with COCKER and ROOKER, and waited until I got home to check the various possibilities in a dictionary.
    I thought 16 was a poor clue, having ‘artic’ as part of the wordplay. An ‘artic’ is an articulated lorry, so the clue is indirectly using a derivative of the answer in the wordplay.
  6. I didn’t time myself today. I can only repeat what others have said, mostly easy with some pretty hard ones. Couldn’t find an adequate word to fit in 21d and wrote GATEWAY at 20. I’m annoyed with myself because I thought of TEG on my first reading. Probably also thrown by the surface as a sheep is more likely to block a gateway than a getaway. I’ll give it my COD nom. To be consistent I should probably complain about 29, but I won’t – even I got that one!
    1. I didn’t think the “Girl from Kansas” def was obscure; The Wizard of Oz is, I’d guess, familiar to most. I did have a niggle about the clue’s wording, though, as the necessary separation of “in to” makes for a clue that doesn’t seem to read correctly – the image it’s trying to portray suggests “into” would be grammatically correct. “He moved into the flat above” – “he moved in to the flat above” – is the latter version right?
      1. Non-crossword niggle – the person who chooses the argot of Chiltern line train drivers has invented a new use for “into”, as in “we will shortly be arriving into Denham Golf Club” (yes, there really is a station called that). Filed with the more widespread idiocy of “inconvenience to your journey”.

        Back to the point: I agree twice over. Although this interpretation of “in” causes me no grief as it’s routine in the Times puzzle, the surface only works if you read it really quickly, which I’m sure isn’t what the xwd ed really wants us to do.

        1. Note from America: the Gatling Gun was an American Civil War invention, the first machine gun. Invented by a Yank named Gatling, no surprise, and ‘gat’ thus became a short term for an automatic weapon, and later I think for any gun in general. BTW, ‘stag’ is also standard American slang for a male-only event, so no problem there. Regards.
      2. I have since learned that “We’re not in Kansas now!” is a very famous line from the film, The Wizard of Oz which anyone who had seen it (i.e. all the world but me) would be likely to remember, so I withdraw my objection.

  7. 18 minutes with one misdemeanour.

    I gave myself the appropriate kicking yesterday for missing Kipps, but today I feel it’s the setter who has sinned. If you didn’t know that a hooker was a fishing boat (and you probably didn’t) then you had to have a relatively keen interest in rugby to have a chance even of guessing the answer. Being neither trawlerman nor rugger fan, I was floundering, nay beached. Like Peter, I plumped for ‘cocker’, which seemed an entirely reasonable guess. Given the inconclusive checking letters for this one, I’m crying foul.

    Otherwise, a mixed bag of chestnuts, gifts (is it nearly Christmas?) and a couple of nice surprises. I liked MEAN and GETAWAY and RAMEKIN.

    Looking at 29, is dorosatt away? I’ve missed her contributions.

  8. I made the same mistakes as Peter for the same reasons but then, horror of horrors, discovered as I was working through the blog that I’d left 5d unfilled.

    25:30 then with 3 errors.

    My COD nom goes to 17

  9. Well, as someone fairly new to this game I liked the fact that the top half was easy enough. Came to a grinding halt, though, below. Couldn’t get ‘chicken run’ out of my head for 18ac, even though I knew it couldn’t be right, and even having worked out the obscure ESTOPS couldn’t get 18d. 25ac I couldn’t get for no good reason, really, and like most 21d defeated me (I went for COCKER as well…)
  10. I found this on the easy side for the Times, but, looking at the above see I was lucky in knowing the boat HOOKER (I think it’s more than a cryptic defn, Linxit) and helped by having gone to a rugby-playing school. My biggest doubts were TIE and MEAN (which I never knew meant skilful – would have thought the opposite) but dicts confirm.
  11. Beaten today as Jimbo was by entering ‘banker’ at 21D, and then being unable to deal with 23A, a very uncommon usage over here. Only worked at it for about 25 min.’s, short for me, due to the need to actually work for a living. See you tomorrow, maybe. Schedule is real tough this week.
  12. I fell into both traps with ROCKER at 21d (my LOI) and GATEWAY at 20d. Despite being a former country type and a Prop Forward for 5 years I missed HOOKER and the GETAWAY TEG. I guess my geological leanings heeled towards ROCKER – surely a boat that fishes amongst the rocks? Alright – no then.

    There are a mere 4 “easies”:

    10a (Dad sends Don)* out for some remnants (4,3,4)

    11a It’s less heated, carrying an implement that’s full of holes (8)

    8d Book store (8)

    24d Garden weED, ENcroaching to some extent (4)

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