23,949 – the easy one you hoped for …

Solving time 7:38

Well, easier than the last couple of days for this solver at least. I got off to a reasonable start, not getting 1A immediately, but deciding to look at the downs for it, and then making smooth though not very quick progress through the rest from top to bottom, except for needing to come back for 8 and 12 at the end. My COD nomination is 16D as I think some of the other gems have appeared before.

1 CANDID – The works are Candide (Voltaire) and Candida (Shaw). I knew the first from the Leonard Bernstein version (well worth a go for some entertaining lyrics from Sondheim and others) and the second seemed plausible.
5 PAWNS = people used, HOP = dance. “Uncle” is a slang pawnbrowker
9 HOUSESIT – arguably hyphenated. Hidden word
12 R.E.,DEEM=judge (vb.). R.E. = Religious Education, which I think was the term used when I was at school. Watch out for R.I. (Instruction) too.
13 GRA(DIE)NT – ref. Ulysses S. Grant, Union general in the Civil War and later President.
17 WASH – 2 defs, inc. the colloquial “bear investigation”
19 FOLLOWER – 2 defs
20 H,(I.D.)DEN
21 NEPOTIST – anag & lit.
22 VAN,I,SH!
24 NORM,ANDY – ref. William the Conqueror
25 RUFF(L)E – the ruff(e) is the fish that’s also “pope”
2 A,DOR(A.B.,L)Y – a dory is a kind of boat as well as a fish
3 D(1’S,L)ODGE
4 DE(SPER=reps rev.),AD,O = band, as on a cigar
5 POTENTIAL ENERGY – a nicely done clue for the interesting kind of scientific term, exploiting the strict meaning of “work” in physics. Possibly a bit too soon after a clue for KINETIC ENERGY along very similar lines, unless someone’s going to tell me that was in a different paper.
7 (w)HY,(i)S,(i)T,(h)ER,(c)IA – this kind of trick with a phrase is a Times xwd classic, though the surface here wasn’t terribly convincing (“her CIA”?) so it fell straightaway.
8 P(OLYM(pics))ATH – ‘not half!’ is another standard Times trick, but the “in a way” part was nicely disguised so it took at least two looks.
14 N,E,W,S,P.(APE)R. – if the Cardinal / primate link is original, very well done!
15 TAX HAVEN – def. and cryptic def.
16 PARDONER – one of Chaucer’s pilgrims. To pardon a criminal is to go further than commuting their sentence.
17 WRITE OFF = “right off”
18 SEASHELL – ref. the tongue-twister
19 FREE=familiar=bold,S.(I)A. Semi-&lit – see Jimbo’s comment & my response

32 comments on “23,949 – the easy one you hoped for …”

  1. Much easier than yesterday’s – about half an hour for me.

    I saw the “Cardinal” in the clue for 14d, and the checked letters for “NEW”, and spent quite a while trying to fit NEWMAN into it, being firmly convinced that all Cardinals in Crosswords must be NEWMAN! A good clue though when I finally sorted it out.

    Nice to see General Grant as a change from Lee.

  2. I thought this was very good. I did find it easy – for once I was marginally faster than Peter. But it was also full of interesting clues – I would have made the same call as Peter that all but two clues needed some sort of explanation. Also agree on 16D as COD, though I liked 13A (GRADIENT) as well, probably because I had to work from the general backwards, and the definition came as a surprise.
  3. 8:37 here, steady progress throughout although I left the top left till last. I actually filled it in circularly after getting 5D first, then doing top right, bottom right, bottom left and finally the top left. Last one in was 2D, and my mind went blank for maybe 20 seconds trying to think of a word that would fit.

    I nominate 14D as COD, and I think that may have been the one Peter meant to pick too?

    1. Then again, maybe not considering the other comments (which weren’t there when I was writing mine). Just going by the comment in the blog entry…
  4. Can it be a coincidence that in a desert of scientific entries PE turns up just over a week after KE and with virtually the same clue? All very odd.

    I agree a much easier puzzle – about 25 minutes to solve working steadily down from top to bottom – but great fun. I’m putting in a bid for 19D to be &lit because the freesia is a South African flower. 16D was my last to go in. I thought I remembered PARDONER from Chaucer and was about to guess that as my answer when the different meaning of commute hit me. Very clever.

    1. 19D can’t count as a pure &lit, as the wordplay is not the entire clue. In Don Manley’s book, this kind of clue, where there’s a definition plus wordplay, but the whole clue also reads as an alternative definition (probably more precise), is called a “semi & lit.”.
  5. After 5 minutes I concluded I was in for another tough day as no answers leapt out at me until I reached 6dn, but having written that in, most of the RH side fell into place quite smoothly.

    I took a little time getting started on the LH side, not helped by the literary reference at 1ac for which I needed the checking letters in place, but again, once I had a foothold, it gradually came together and I finished in about 40 minutes with several outstanding queries which I have since resolved.

    Thinking of different types of energy the other day when “kinetic” came up was time well spent as I was able to solve the long answer at 5dn as soon as the checking letter ‘P’ was in place.

    I had noted 17ac as my COD but having worked out the logic in 16dn I’m going for that instead.

    [I wrote the above before the blog was available for comment and I now see Peter has gone for the same one. It’s very clever, I think]

  6. A relatively easy one after Monday’s and Tuesday’s toughies. Just on 45 mins for me. I felt that it should have been quite a lot quicker. Most of the grid fell into place swiftly but I then got bogged down in the SW corner and the minutes ticked away.

    For COD I was torn between Peter B’s 16 dn and the witty anagram at 21 ac. I had P, the first letter of 16 dn, so it became a matter of dredging up all the names of Chaucerian pilgrims that I could remember until I found one that fitted. Only then did the beautifully disguised alternative definition of “commuter” break through the mental cobwebs. (Grumpy old man “Harrumph!” moment: The Pardoner’s Tale, I seem to recall, was a set book in my O Level English exam back in the 1950s when we still had English exams and set books.) The surface reading at 21 ac was very nice, and a neat description of the answer, but in the end, I felt, the anagram was a shade too easy to spot for a COD. So my nomination goes to 16 dn.

    Michael H

  7. I also choose 16D, ‘commuter’ is lovely and Canterbury probably is beyond the main Kent commuter belt. I enjoyed this one and got through in about 12 mins, could perhaps have broken 10 if I hadn’t dithered over whether ‘ruffe’ could really be a fish.

    Tom B.

  8. 15 minutes, pretty smooth solve. No new words today, though I didn’t know both meanings of PARDONER.
  9. 7:18 but with what seemed like a huge delay getting 15d, 16d and 24a. I was a bit diappointed when I realised how easy 24a was, I thought 15d was a cracker of a clue (my COD nom). I seem to remember Pilgrim’s Progress being serialised on tv with a modern adaptation – “A Pardoner’s Tale” and “A Summoner’s Tale” (I think) ring a tiny bell – great definition.
    1. Six of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales were given an updated rerun about five years ago. Older viewers might remember “Trinity Tales”, written by Alan Plater in the mid-70s, which made the pilgrims into supporters of Wakefield Trinity on their way to Wembley.

      [Pilgrim’s Progress is the later (1678) work by John Bunyan, from which we get “the Slough of Despond”.]

      1. “[Pilgrim’s Progress is the later (1678) work by John Bunyan, from which we get “the Slough of Despond”.]”

        I knew that, honestly, my brain wasn’t engaged. My credentials as a leading literary authority have been blown out of the water

        1. Not sure how serious your question is, but no – their destination was the Celestial City. The Wiki article includes a link to a map with the varioous locations, reminding me that “Vanity Fair” also comes from Pilgrim’s Progress.
  10. 25 minutes, feeling much relieved today, helped at the start by the familiar 5d! COD for me 5ac.
  11. Looks like I’ll be one of very few to have struggled with this one, finally throwing in the biro at about 25 minutes – no quicker than the past few days.
    Yet, on reflection, I should have been quicker – challenged fairly and squarely and made to work hard to complete it. First answer in was the very easy 15A, a blank until 21 which I knew was an &lit anagram but just couldn’t do the 8-letter shuffle for a long time. Next on the list was 5D which at least offered ENERGY as a very familiar starting point. 6D, nice and easy. 18D almost too easy.
    So with only a handful (excluding a finger or two) filled in it was time to concentrate on the open letters, and it all turned into a bit of a slog, enjoyable nonetheless.
    In the end there were several ticks, the biggest being next to 11 which I think is terrific – COD for me.
  12. 25 minutes for this one, which seems about par ignoring the speed merchants. Being very familiar with Voltaire’s classic work I got off to a flying start with 1. Some nice clues, only let down by the clue for NORMANDY. Breaking the whole of a word into a couple of random names seems poor practice to me, especially as there’s a conductor who could be indicated in this case.
    I liked ‘people used’ to indicate ‘pawns’ in 5a, and the clues for 4, 14 an 16. I think I’ll settle for 5 across as COD – nice surface and deceptive wordplay.
    1. Assuming you mean Eugene Ormandy, I can imagine a few protests from those less keen on “old music”. I don’t mind adding to the set of “two little boys” words – there must be others to go with NORM/AL, REG/AL and ROY/AL.
  13. 12:30. I really should have danced under the ten-minute limbo bar with this one, but was effectively misled by the setter (how dare they!) on both 10 (looking for ‘al’ in some scripture and meaning ‘omit’) and 12 (looking for REF_E_), so the Geordie corner took a while (would the four corners of a Times crossword be Geordie, Scouse, West Country and Posh?).

    A few clues that were almost too easy, and had me looking for some fiendish trick that wasn’t there, but some witty stuff, too, all mentioned above by others. Worth the solving for PARDONER alone. And I really enjoyed the TAX HAVEN (who wouldn’t) and NEWSPAPER.

    Well done to 7dp and JPM for engaging warp drive.

    1. I like that idea, I’m going to refer to my corners as New England, The South, Scorching Heat and Hippydom.
      1. Like it. In fact, the Hippy Corner would work for the SW of England – full of surfers living in VW campers and people who don’t know it’s not 1968, lucky devils.
  14. Can’t really explain it but, despite writing in tax exile instead of haven at first, I was not,as is usual, held up by any clue. The ones which might have given trouble (e.g. 8d,16d) were eased by getting the easier checking answers first and I put a few in on the strength of the definition only without working out wordplay.I knew it was a fast time but at 5.35 this was a pb by a mile (well about 1.25 actually).
    I, too, liked 5a and 16d
  15. Yes, I also felt this was a pretty easy version. I printed it last night, to do in the AM, as is my habit, but when I took a look I started writing in answers and finished in about 12 minutes. Had to look up ‘freesia’, though, since my flower knowledge is sketchy. Quite a break from yesterday’s. BTW, Re: KE vs. PE, I recall when doing the puzzle containing KE- which I think was a Jumbo- that I thought the definition of KE wasn’t quite right. Could this be the setter’s, or the editor’s, way of printing a correction?
    1. In a word, no. The KE puzzle was 23942 on Tues 17 June. The clues are
      KE: Capacity for work masses still don’t have (7,6)
      PE: Capacity for work masses still have (9,6)

      So the difference between the clues is precisely the difference between the terms. Here’s an explanation based on a roller coaster. The only possible issue I can see is with the poetic word order in “masses still”, but that’s common to both.

      It was only when writing this that I saw how close the clues are. This suggests that the two puzzles are from the same setter, though it’s the editor’s choice to print them just eight days apart. (And it seems that unless some news story suddenly makes a clue or answer inappropriate, the date of publication is decided several weeks in advance.)

      1. Thanks for putting the two clues right next to each other. Upon review this is all correct. When remembering (or, misremembering) the wording of the earlier clue, my faulty recall was that it was close to identical to today’s, but the critical ‘don’t’ is clearly in the earlier clue, and makes all the difference. Thanks Peter. Regards.
  16. Rather frustratingly, I was called away from this after about seven minutes with only four to go. Those four didn’t slip in easily, but it could have been a PB (best time currently standing at 10 mins).
    I thought Napoleon and pawnshop were both very good.
  17. Did this in 3 short bursts on the East Coast mainline today so didn’t time it accurately but it was around the 15 minute mark.

    I slowed myself up on 9 by having unaccountably entered ADMIRABLY for 2d. This took an extraordinary level of numptiness to achieve given that 1) it doesn’t fit the definition, 2) it doesn’t fit the wordplay and 3) it doesn’t even fit the light having one too many letters. I’d cleverly side-stepped this last problem by omitting the ‘i’. All I’ll say in my defence (or defense for Dorosatt) is that the train was pulling into Kings Cross as I wrote so I was rushed.

    1a went in quickly as Candide was one of the set texts when I did French A level (when we still had French exams and set books). “Si c’est le meilleur des mondes possible, que sont donc les autres?”, as my old nan used to say when she was putting her smalls through the mangle.

    Well done to John M on the PB and 7dP for beating Peter (for the first time?)

    1. Great work. I often misspell answers as I’m writing them, but squeezing a 9-letter word into an 8-letter space is something I hadn’t really considered. Something to aspire to. Well done.
    2. Not that I’m counting or anything, but second. It’s becoming a bit of a habit :op~

  18. Quite an easy one this yet only 3 omissions from the blog:

    10a Omit a line in religious book (6)
    MISS A L

    15a Produce characters of a certain kind (4)

    6d Least sophisticated (natives)* transformed (7)

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