23937 – hard work

Solving time 17:12

Not a good choice for a late night solve but wanted to get this out of the way. Got very stuck on the left side, with the last answers in order being 2, 14, 3, 22, 23, 29, 19, 18, 9. I noticed that the grid was pangrammatic, but only when it was too late for this to help – from memory it’s a pangram without those 9 answers.

Overall, a tough but fair puzzle with some ingenious clues and good wordplays. With a few mentions of football teams, SWISS and a waltz for Austria, I wondered whether this is a little commemoration of the European Championship currently taking place.

6 A(L,MO)ND – twinkling = a short period = mo
9 G(L)UT – gut = instinctive as in “gut feeling”. Hadn’t realised that glut = to gorge as well as a surplus, but this seemed more plausible than PLAT, from the only other ‘instinctive’ I could find.
10 THAI BOXING – XI in (gain both)* – team = eleven = XI from soccer, cricket or (field) hockey
11 SWISS(ROLL),S – (William) Tell for example = Swiss, roll = list – nautical
13 CO.,S,T – last letters of ‘this report’
16 AG(N)ATE – a relative on the father’s side
18 DRAW ON = tap = (NOW A RD) rev., with now=present
20 THE RAVEN – hidden word – poem by Poe
22 PAIL = “pale” = pasty
26 FUZZ,Y(L)OGI,C(omplaints)
29 SEND UP – surface explanation: Highers are exams taken by Scottish schoolchildren – similar to A-levels. Mocks are practice versions of public exams, usually taken a few months before to stir the candidates into action
30 VISITANT = (via tints)* – a supernatural visitor or ‘shade’
2 (g)ULLS,W(AT)ER – a lake or mere in the Lake District
3 NATASHA = (Ah!,Satan) rev.
4 INTER – 2 defs, one Inter Milan, famous Italian soccer club.
5 YE,(c)A(d) – “I’m pro” is the def.
6 AMBUSCADE = (bud came as)* – an ambush
8 NONES – if there’s “No N,E,S” = “No North, South, East” then West is what’s left.
12 LUN=”loon”,AT(t)IC – ‘bats’ is the def
15 MINT JULEP – N in (Let I jump)*
17 TH.,EREUPO=Europe*,N
19 WALT,ZED = ‘character after rest’
21 ALIMENT – the I=one in AILMENT drops down.
27 G,U.V. – guv = “guv’nor” = Sir.
Category Score Clues
Literature .5 (20) The Raven
Visual Arts
Popular Culture
Sport & Games 1.5 (10) Thai Boxing, 4 Inter Milan
Natural World
Science & Tech 1 26 Fuzzy Logic
Geography 1 2 Ullswater
Other 2.5 9 Glut = gorge, (6) Ambuscade, 30 visitant
Total 6.5

18 comments on “23937 – hard work”

  1. I think I took longer than PB’s total time to put in my first answer today at 11ac and I ran out of solving time with only about half of it completed. Too difficult for the daily commute, I think, though I’m sure I would have fared better with a dictionary to hand to check my guesses as I thought of them, either to confirm them or rule them out. Of the ones I solved I nominate 26 as COD.
  2. A beautiful puzzle full of superb wordplay and misleading definitions in virtually every clue. I was pleased to have worked my way steadily down the grid from 1A (first in) to 27D (last in) but nothing went in quickly except the hidden word and JACK KNIFED. About 45 minutes to solve. If I had to pick a favourite I’d go for FUZZY LOGIC because the “penny drop” moment of bear=Yogi made me laugh out loud.

    Good to see Science & Technology score it’s second point in 9 puzzles leaving it still firmly locked into last place in the cumulative pie chart. Jimbo.

  3. I kept going because of the many wonderful clues and got through it in about 30 mins. My COD from a very strong field is 13A – one of several very cunningly concealed definitions.

    Tom B.

  4. I found this very tough (clues in The Listener are often easier). I filled most of the bottom half and a few other clues in about 45 minutes, but then got really stuck, making a bit more progress when I had 10, but still ended up using an electronic aid to get 6a, like someone else) to complete the NE corner. Well over an hour in all. I agree with others that the clues were very well crafted. The only bit I didn’t like was ‘send to ground’ for ‘inter’.
  5. Brilliant. I didn’t manage to finish this one and needed the blog to fill half a dozen or so blanks in the NE corner, but no complaints – all were fair, solvable clues that beat me without resorting to dirty tricks.
    A puzzle filled with excellent devious defs and too many clues worthy of ticks, and I feel almost guilty of throwing a wild fishing line to hook my COD at 10; worth it, though, for great surface reading to treat a pretty grotty set of letters.
    Top stuff.
  6. It’s nice to come here and find that it wasn’t just you!

    I invoked my 30 minute guillotine on this and so stopped with little more than half the grid complete. Looking through Peter’s explanations, I can see that all was fair here. It’s just very, very, very difficult.

    In truth, I don’t really enjoy wordplay this intricate, but I know others do. So I’ll just bow to those who managed to complete this in a respectable time. Or at all.

  7. Given the excellent clueing of this puzzle, the setter deserves additional kudos for managing pangrammaticality/ness/tude (help!).
    On a personal note, I’d just like to mention how tough this is. Filling a grid pangrammatitudinously is a challenge in itself, but the setter has to be very careful about which answers he chooses because those awkward letters can be little sods to fit into wordplay. A forthcoming one of mine is pangrammaticized (I can say that – by the time it appears you’ll have forgotten my mention of it) and, believe me, it was difficult to complete.
  8. Ran out of time at 45 minutes with cost and nones missing.

    I think everything has already been said – tough but very fair and full of ingenious clues.

    I’ll agree with Anax on THAI BOXING as the cream of the crop, Boo-Boo.

  9. Quite the best Times cryptic for weeks, this one, imo. No cheap slang, everything elegant and fair. No difficult words except (for me, anyway) agnate. Also struggled a bit to find nones because I thought it only meant an hour of the day, not dates as well.. Well done Mr (mrs/ms) setter!

    I found it medium tough but not really all that severe; but I have previously noted that opinions often differ and I occasionally end up struggling when others apparently haven’t..

  10. Some real crackers and a lot of originality. I am amazed at the inventiveness of some setters – I thought the ah! satan reversed at 3d was brilliant.
    When flying I always try to finish between bosrding and take-off (with suitable deference to the safety briefing of course).Can usually manage but even on a full easyjet from Edinburgh this morning couldn’t manage. Eventually finished in 25 minutes – Fuzz=police was last penny to drop.
  11. Another one soundly beaten. After my 30 minute lunchbreak I still had four to fill in (all in the top left) Both Natasha and “Ah Satan” were unknowns to me so I had no chance of getting that one, especially considering I was also missing GLUT and STRAWMAN. Big kick of the day was ULLSWATER. We were considering a camping trip there only last night!
    Full marks to the setter. Utterly brilliant throughout (what’s a Natasha between friends)
    1. >”Both Natasha and “Ah Satan” were unknowns to me”


      I don’t think it’s a specific Natasha, just any old Natasha. I can forgive you for not having heard of, say, Natasha Zlobina or Natasha Yi but Natashas Bedingfield and Kaplinsky must be familiar to you?

      My understanding of the clue (Upset that’s surprising Dickens girl) is that girl is the def, and the SI is a rev of that’s surprising (ah) and Dickens being satan as in “what the Dickens/”I had a Dickens of a job…” where Dickens is a more polite form of Devil. A bit convoluted but I think that’s right.

      1. Another familiar Natasha might the one in War and Peace (he said provocatively) – I think she’s the original reason that Natasha entered West European consciousness and is a more common name than other Russian ones like Olga.

        I should have put Satan = Devil = Dickens in my explanation.

  12. Bashed away on this during odd breaks during the day, and ended up with empty cells at 2d, 6a, and 8d. Kicking myself for not getting ULLSWATER (I had U-L-WATER and was trying to find a good word for fools). Might have gotten ALMOND if I could see NONES, but I was sure that twinkling was the definition. Well played, setter.

    Many of the clues I got were terrific. Laughed out loud at WALTZED and JACK-KNIFED.

  13. A real toughie for me. Stumped by ‘draw on’, nones, and certainly ‘Ullswater’. I’ll try again tomorrow, reagrds to all.
  14. I finally threw the towel in on this one this afternoon, with 9a (I too was looking for ‘plat’) and 16a left blank. There were also a few guesses, with ‘ambuscade’, ‘aliment’ and ‘visitant’ all unknown to me. I wouldn’t have bet my house on ‘fuzzy logic’ being a phrase, either.
    COD would have to be 20a, the best hidden word I can remember seeing – though I very much enjoyed 19d, with ‘character after rest’ a piece of art. Oh, and ‘it could go down well’ was excellent too.
  15. My last week has been almost totally devoid of Internet access and crosswords but I did manage to get my hands on this one & thought it was outstanding. Many thanks to the setter.
  16. Ha! Managed to recognise the Mere of Ullswater and unravel the Fuzzy Logic. However, I am afraid that I was beaten by the shade at 30a because I was looking for a colour, not remembering the ghost meaning, and the relative at 16a because I did not know the word. As the stone in the clue is agate and I am a geologist I hang my head in shame. Thanks to PB for enlightenment on both words – shall try to remember for next time.

    Suitably for such a finely crafted piece there are merely 2 “easies”:

    28a Notice makes uncommon sense only at the end (4)
    E.S.P. Y

    25d Penalties for Spurs? (5)
    KICKS. England will eventually win a penalty shoot-out in a major competition led by their captain – from Spurs – in the 1/4 final of the World Cup in Russia 2018. How much money could I have made on that if I had bet on it in 2008?

Comments are closed.