Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time – 11:38 

This should have been about 3 minutes quicker but I dithered over 26 and 23. Good puzzle though, with some very good clues. I’ll go for 1a as my COD. 

1 (RARING BATTLES)* – SABRE-RATTLING. Excellent &lit to start us off.
8 OOZE – I think this is right as I can’t see what else it might be. “Oohs” would be the “sounds of delight” I guess.
9 E,TATI,PACED (all reversed)
10 BOAT RACE – seems like every Times puzzle I blog about has at least one clue that could trip up solvers who don’t happen to be British. BOAT RACE is Cockney rhyming slang for “face” and the Oxford and Cambridge race is always shown on TV.
11 C,(AMYBE)* – CAME BY. Looks like the definition is “managed to get”.
27 ONE FOR T(HER)OAD – nicely done but”terrible driver” for TOAD will mean nothing to you if you haven’t read “The Wind in the Willows”.
2 L in BEAT – deceptive use of “buffet”.
12 (BIRDS OF OMEN)* – BOSOM FRIEND. Should have got this much quicker but I assumed that the definition referred back to the wordplay so I thought I was looking for a type of bird.
21 YAHOO – which comes from the name given to the loutish characters that look like humans in the last part of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
23 RUT (going up),CO – very nearly gave up on this (and 26). I was very tempted by STEP for 26 which would have left T?S?O but I eventually realised that RUT was the only convincing option for “routine” so TURCO went in closely followed by REED for 26.

31 comments on “23951”

  1. 7:30 for this. One for the “quite easy but still very good” category. None of the clues felt like re-runs, all of the surface readings were convincing, and there was a nicely cheeky bit of fake sexism at 27A which I’ll propose for COD.
  2. Another lively puzzle but not as much fun as yesterday’s and there’s nothing that stands out as COD. I quite liked 27 when I eventually worked out the wordplay but the “terrible driver” reference might be a bit obscure for anyone who wasn’t brought up on Kenneth Grahame so that spoils it a little. I completed it in 45 minutes with one guess, TURCO, which I have never heard of.
  3. Another enjoyable puzzle that I made difficult for myself by entering “step” at 26A. This left me looking at T?S?O for 23D. I nearly convinced myself that “tesco” was some long forgotten soldier but eventually reason returned and I found REED to replace “step”. A TURCO is an Algerian in the French army I learn from Chambers, so a bit obscure!

    I liked the construction of SABRE-RATTLING at 1A and the hidden EGO at 25D but my preference is always for clues that make me laugh and the use of Toad at 27A is very good. Jimbo.

  4. 15:51 here – once again I was held up at the end of an otherwise straightforward puzzle. TURCO/REED in the bottom right (I wanted to put in STEP too for a while), and lastly 8A OOZE, where I had to resort to running through the alphabet to get it.
  5. 27A is my COD as well. My kids know all about Toad, so I think he’s an evergreen. I was cruising on this but became gridlocked in the Home Counties (TURCO…). Enjoyed it, however – and 26A is very neat.

    Tom B.

  6. At long last a quick time, very surprised to have completed in just over 6 minutes which suggests either a) I was right on the setter’s wavelength, or b) It’s one of mine.
    Thinks. Nope, not one of mine.
    Usually, if I finish a puzzle this quickly I feel a little deprived, but as PB mentioned there din’t appear to be any regurgitated material here so there was never a sense of entering answers on autopilot.
    COD for me is 10A.
  7. Too bad that TURBO is not a soldier. Well anyway, could someone explain 17a (SNAP) for me?


      1. Perhaps even three meanings – “quickly” referring to, say, a snap decision.
  8. Add me to the (growing) list of people who put in STEP for 26ac! 35 minutes here, which is about average for me, and a lot better that some of this week’s disasters. Didn’t get the wordplay for 27ac, and now that I know it, it seems a tad obscure. Not many really leap out as COD, but I’m quite fond of 1d.
  9. Despite a number of straightforward clues I took a long time again, but at least I finished this time. The three that held me up for a long time were CHARIOTEER, RUNNYMEDE and SUSPECT, that last being the last to go in. For 13 I was too hooked on HOOT for ‘amusing person’. Both 13 and 19 are candidates for COD in my view, 13 for the surface, 19 for its deceptive definition. I’ll go for 13, but there’s little to choose between them.
  10. Just under 14 minutes.

    I agree with everything above. And below.

    Have a lovely Canada Day weekend, all.

  11. Even after running through the alphabet I couldn’t come up with anything for 8 so stopped at 25 mins with that one missing. What has radio got to do with it or is on radio the homocator?

    I can’t see what by jingo is doing in 1a either and the whole clue would have made a superb &Lit without it.

    Assuming that 19 is SUSPECT I don’t see where the SPECT bit comes from. Anyone?

    COD 9a.

    1. 8: “on (the) radio” is a fairly common ‘homocator’

      1A: The cryptic reading of “By jingo!” refers to an aggressive approach to foreign policy = jingoism – a ‘jingo’ is someone with this approach. All makes sense when you look up “jingo” in a dictionary.

      At 19 you’ve been conned by “pressure group” – you need “American pressure” = U.S. P, inside group = SECT.

      1. Peter,

        Thanks for the heads up on radio & pressure.

        I obviously didn’t articulate my bleat on by jingo that well. I’m quite au fait with jingoism but sabre rattling isn’t necessarily a jingoistic act. The clue would have worked perfectly well without it and all it served to do for me was add unfair confusion as the structure of the clue led me to believe that ‘by jingo’ could easily be the definition, leading to something like ‘golly-gosh’.

  12. It mustn’t be my day today. I struggled with this one. After about 26 minutes I still had about half still to go. However I got REPORTAGE and the rest followed one after the other and I came in eventually at just a tad below 30 minutes.
    Anax – I was going to comment on Wednesday about our respective times. It seems that whenever I struggle you race throught it and when you struggle I find it easy, but most of the time we post times that are pretty similar. Mighty odd.
    BOAT RACE gets my COD nom
    1. Although not directly related, your point about our different solving times makes me wonder about the general subject of which clue types solvers feel they’re strongest/weakest at working through.
      It would be easy to say “Ah, well – anagrams; I can fly through those” but in reality I’ll bet there are some to whom anagrams are just a jumble of letters no easier to decipher than a charade/container/cryptic def.
      Any offerings on favourite / most dreaded clue types?
      1. I always seem to get the anagrams / cryptic definitions / hidden words first (though I do have a bit of a blindspot for the reversed hidden word). My success in anything but the easier crosswords usually depends on how many useful checking letters I’ve got from the above.
      2. I have difficulty with homophones and for that reason don’t like them. I have such a dog’s breakfast of an accent myself (Canadian father, cockney mother, grew up in London but have lived for more than 30 years in Dorset!) that I find it difficult to relate to some of them. I also mistrust 2 definition clues because there is often more than one potential answer and I have to stop myself putting the first answer that enters my head into the grid.

        My favourite crosswords are the bar crosswords so not surprisingly my favourite clues are difficult wordplays that have to be “forensically” picked apart and misleading definitions – which is why I like your crosswords so much. I’m good at anagrams because 40 years ago I trained myself to use a knowledge of English constructions to help with bar crosswords (see “tips and tricks” for more info)

        On the whole question, Anax, have you noticed if the voting for COD reveal any particular pattern? Jimbo.

        1. On COD voting patterns what comes across more than anything is that technical brilliance – while certainly appreciated – will always be runner-up to a clue that paints an amusing picture.
          I can’t comment about whether it’s a good or bad thing, but clues that introduce just a smidgen of naughtiness tend to go down (as it were) very well.
          There are exceptions. The one a few months ago for PROKOFIEV:

          Composer of lines for Soviet city

          …was an example of absolute genius that rightly deserved to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

        2. Jimbo,

          judging by comments it’s often the trickiest clues that get COD nominations (or at least those that deceive and then have a satisfying penny-drop moment) so I doubt that the polls will give any hint as to solvers’ strengths and weaknesses.

          1. Good point Penfold. I’m supposed to be getting ready to go on holiday (she who must will go potty if she catches me doing this) and am not thinking logically. Jimbo.
      3. Considering clue type alone, for ease of solving anagrams are probably close to the top. Containers, hiddens and most of all acronyms are easy too, as the indicators are usually hard to hide (reverse hiddens or reverse acronyms are possibly easiest of all because there are two indicators to conceal). The potentially hard ones are those where you can’t see all the wordplay in the clue or answer (as you can with charades, hiddens and so on). This means four types – cryptic defs, multiple defs, subtractions and homophones (counting today’s ‘oohs’ for OOZE as homophone wordplay for example). But there are some easy clues for all types – cryptic defs in particular seem to be either a doddle or very tricky.

        For me, “most dreaded” is more to do with areas of knowledge/vocab. and word-length. A pattern like ?O?E for your last clue to solve is not nice if you don’t spot the answer quickly. Likewise something that seems to be an unknown plant or star/constellation, or a bit of lit from the wrong place.

        1. Another factor to consider is the pattern of the words. Answers containing a number of words are usually a well-known phrase or saying, and many is the time I have solved a clue very easily from seeing the length of words e.g. 1,4,2,1,6 plus the odd checking letter. My favourite (i.e. most easily solved) puzzles often have an abundance of these.
          1. For me the frighteners go on when I see long clues to long answers and it’s obvious there are several components to unravel. If it’s the case that I have enough checkers to place the answer without parsing wordplay, on completion of the puzzle I will sometimes go back and work it through, but not always.
            Am I right in saying it was George who mentioned some time ago that the long intricate clues are the type he enjoys most?
  13. Another good puzzle. Like most I puzzled over turco and deer for a while. Funny=suspect was nicely misleading.I have 1a as my COD. 10.20 today. Glad to see normality restored with a respectable distance behind Peter.
    I tend to find anagrams easier and get my best times when getting the difficult clues by virtue of checking letters and definition only.
    Often the cleverness of the best clues is over my head until I see the blog. The most difficult clues for me are very often the “?” ones (can’t remember how you describe these? Anybody?)
    1. John, you might be thinking of cryptic definition or possibly what Don Manley the author of Chambers Crossword Manual calls zany clues like “014?” for “Double Agent” (twice 007 – geddit). Jimbo
  14. I think I choose CODs on the basis of convincing surface, conciseness (lack of link-words, ideally) and, perhaps, a flash of wit or notable image. Yesterday’s clue to CYPRESS is a good example of the last. One of my favourites is (Anax’?) ‘Beer bottles on hold’ for ALLEGE; only four words, but the last three have a completely different function in the surface and wordplay/definition. Not a bad image, either! I can’t remember whether I solved it quickly or not.

    Tom B.

  15. Most of this went in straightforwardly, but I got held up on the rhyming slang and the rising damp at the end, having to resort to Googling. My favorite today is ‘Runnymede’, which seems cleverly put together. Overall, my reaction to clue types revolves more around subject matter. Whenever I see a composer, opera or ballet themed clue, I inwardly moan and start looking for checking letters. Have a great weekend all. And yes, Happy Canada Day to the northerners.
  16. I really enjoyed this one. Probably because I am British enough to know sufficient CRS and to have read Wind in the Willows. I am not French enough to know what on earth a TURCO is but I know what a RUT and Commanding Officer are enough to work it out. Yay!

    There are a footer XI of “easies” on the bench:

    16a Hard drinker habitually knocked back moonshine (4)
    TOS H. SOT backwards then H(ard).

    17a Go to pieces, it’s said, quickly in the game (4)
    SNAP. Children’s card game where you have to say SNAP quickly on turning up a matching card. I was never very good at it.

    20a Missing a chance (6)
    A STRAY. Stray = Chance can probably be justified in a dictionary somewhere. Meh.

    22a Unscrupulous people frightened horses crossing street (8)

    26a Stalk animals heading west (4)
    REED. Backwards DEER.

    1d Manual voting system (4,2,5)
    SHOW OF HANDS. I like that one.

    5d Leading conservative covers one subject (5)
    TOP 1 C

    6d Let it be known twelve died (9)
    INTIMATE D. ALWAYS look for the answer to the clue indicated when there is a number in the clue. Sometimes – if you have not got that yet it can help you to get that too. 12d (in this case) was BOSOM FRIEND = INTIMATE. Sometimes the number is nothing to do with another clue.

    7d Pick up label for revolver (3)
    GAT. Tag upside down. The crossword gun – GAT is short for Gattling Gun?
    Not a revolver as we think of it now (are you feeling lucky punk?) as it was a big wheel mounted hand-cranked rapid fire field gun. It did involve revolving though – so technically a revolver. Recognised as the fore-runner of the machine gun. First used by Union Forces in the American Civil War – invented by Richard Gattling – apparently.

    19d Funny American pressure group is entertaining (7)
    S US P ECT. A good example of “lift and separate” which has nothing to do with the Bosom Friend at 12d. It means FUNNY (the literal) with American (US) and Pressure (P) contained in group (SECT).

    25d I make good houses (3)
    EGO. I = literal. Hidden in mak E GO od – indicated by “make good houses”.

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