Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 12:41

I took far too long to solve the lovely climate change clue at 5D, and so I was working in from the corners. I finished with a number I still needed to work out, two of which I wasn’t entirely sure of. But ASHER turned out to be a tribe of Israel. And CONTE, which I entered because conte is French for story, turned out to be something that had lost NT rather than something that had gained it.


1 PANDIT (=”panned it”
10 SEPT – two meanings
12 FIR + KIN(d)
13 STUD(y)
15 LAID BACK – the answer is a clue for DIAL (= LAID(rev)) = face
18 M + ANNE + RED
19 TROY, being TORY with inside twisted
21 DEMONS(trated)
23 S + ALIEN + C.E.
25 BRA(v)E
27 RE + PAR + TEE, RE being ER(rev) – Would also work without the word “Hesitation”, but it improves surface


2 (r)ASHER – put this in in hope, and then afterwards checked. Asher is one of the 12 tribes of Israel
3 D(RAGGED) ON – I should have abandoned L for lecturer faster
4 T(OWN)IE – entered on definition. “Individual” meaning “own” hadn’t occurred to me
7 T.A. + SER(vice)
8 CAPRI + C + C + I + O
16 BUTTERCUP – Little Buttercup is the bumboat woman in G&S’s HMS Pinafore
17 CR(y) + A SHOUT
20 ‘ALBERT, halbert being a variant spelling of halberd. And an albert being a watch-chain
22 OMEGA – reversed hidden
24 CONTE(n.t.)

26 comments on “23,962”

  1. I found this tough (15:00), only getting 28 on my first look through acrosses. I then got 5D, 14 22 and 25 and gradually worked my way up from the bottom. TOWNIE didn’t get written in until nearly the end as I’d seen ‘individual’ as ‘one’ = the I in TOWN(I)E, and didn’t fancy gambling on TOWNE=lace. Big self-kick on that one when the true wordplay dawned on me. Also found PANDIT and ASHER tricky, though vague memories of ‘Pandit Nehru’ as a name for India’s first PM helped. Ironically after coping with the 5-letter Med. island in the Times 2 puzzle yesterday, I couldn’t see CAPRI in 8 until the very end, despite having ____CCIO jotted down from my first look at the clue. This was one of the last pair solved, along with SEPT which I should have remembered, esp. from barred grid puzzles.
  2. Less time to try today and for the first time this week I couldn’t complete it after about 90 minutes. I failed only on 20D; Coming from the North, I abhor these Cockney clues, although that was balanced a little by the appearance of WACK in a clue last week or the week before.

    But my real gripe is about 16D. It had to be BUTTERCUP, but I didn’t understand why until I read richardvg’s explanation. Having read it, I just think the clue is so obscure as to be grossly unfair!

    1. Buttercup is a bit obscure but G&S references are not common these days. Sad bunny Google searching for “G&S” and “Gilbert and Sullivan” on this blog found 6 hits in about 20 months – two titles of works as answers to clues, two as wordplay components, and two character/content references – this one and the likening of CURLICUE to the “twisted cue” in the Mikado’s song about punishments to fit the crime.

      I think this one’s forgiveable as the intersecting answers are not similarly knowledge-reliant. I can imagine a Times puzzle 30 years ago using a similar reference to Hardy’s Sergeant Troy at 19A.

  3. I need to borrow Peter’s dunce’s cap and the self-kicking boot. This was a disaster only partially redeemed by the fact that I got there eventually and without looking anything up along the way.

    Off to a flying start with DUTCH ELM DISEASE going in straight away and then the SW corner almost filled itself in. Apart from OPALESCENT which I spotted at once, the SE was much more difficult and took me around 20 minutes to struggle through. When that was done I soon started to think the top 5 rows would defeat me. For ages I had only DIPSTICK and DUTCH in place and eventually I spotted DRAGGED as the first word at 3dn but the rest of it was a nightmare. I got there in the end but I reckon the whole puzzle took about 90 minutes.

    I didn’t know SEPT = clan so that was a pure guess bunged in in desperation. I may have met ASHER before but it hadn’t stuck, and TASER wasn’t a weapon that came easily to mind, not as easily as (h)ALBERT at 20dn anyway. But my most stupid mistake was not thinking sooner of CAPRI at 8dn and wasting time considering whether there might an obscure stylee of music called CORFUCCIO!

  4. 16:40. One of those where nothing particular held me up and I made steady progress from beginning to end. I questioned CONTE in my blog last Saturday for Jumbo 763, but Tony Sever showed it was fair. Although I got TASER I couldn’t for the life of me see why (pass the dunce’s cap). 5d, although I got it immediately, is brilliant and deserves my COD nom
  5. 13:55 for me, with MANNERED and CRASH OUT being the last two to go in. No problems today with the more obscure words, as I just happened to know all of them.

    A bit slower than I thought it was going to be after the first half though, as I got 5D straight away and the right hand side went in very quickly from that, but unlike jackkt I struggled a bit with the SW corner.

  6. Like others I thought 5D excellent, my COD, but I ticked 10,2,4,20 & 24 as “problem” clues demanding more knowledge than that required my “the man on the Clapham omnibus” who should, apparently, be able to solve the Times puzzle without undue difficulty. Fair enough, most were gettable with checkers, but part of the joy of good cryptic writing is the discovery of clever clue treatments – this fivesome required specific knowledge; a case of you either know it or you don’t. Getting (part guessing) the answers ultimately brought the satisfaction of a full solve but detracted from many of the puzzle’s very good moments.
    1. I think 16 belongs on the list too, Anax. There’s nothing to indicate that it refers to a character in an operetta and one only finds that it does by working backwards, and only then if one happens to know the character’s occupation. It turned out that I knew the references in this case but I had no idea what the answer was until I had all the checking letters in place and found the name of a weed that fitted. A bad clue in my book.

        1. I’d add 1 too – I don’t think I ever knew pandit = teacher. I wouldn’t include 4 but maybe “townie” isn’t used up North?

          Back at 16, watch out for her as “Mrs Cripps” – her official name in Pinafore.

          1. I’d exclude 4 as well and I’m up North. I think it’s one of those that’s “just you”, Anax. I’d probably add CAPRICCIO to the list too
            1. Sorry – I didn’t explain the inclusion of 4. It was the TOWNE element that got me; never heard of it. Never been much of a lace person to be honest. Just silk, whips and Nazi symbolism.
              1. I’m pretty sure TOWNE doesn’t exist, anax, as I spent a long time looking it up earlier today before coming here and finding the proper explanation.
                1. Self-braining moment. Pass me the shovel. And apologies to the setter.
  7. 17 minutes, couple of guesses, SEPT and BUTTERCUP from one of the definitions, and ALBERT, PANDIT from the wordplay. Wouldn’t have gotten CONTE so quickly if it wasn’t for that recent Jumbo, and eventually remembered how to spell PARAFFIN.

    I liked the long anagaram at 5 and the musical construction at 8.

  8. 13.46 here, with answers going in prettily steadily and all around the grid throughout. TASER and SEPT were the last two. For some reason both my mental jogs through the names of the months aborted when I got to April, found the P I needed and saw I could do nothing with it. Found myself trying somewhat desperately to recall Jewish months. Have these ever cropped up in the Times? They do from time to time in Listener-type puzzles, but even so I’ve never managed to remember a single one.

    I also made heavy weather of PARAFFIN due to a fixation with the idea that the wordplay would involve paratroopers or the Parachute Regiment or something of the kind.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the Times puzzle. Searches here for Elul, Tishri and Nisan (the three I dragged up from my memory) only found Mephisto reports.
  9. I was pretty pleased with 23 minutes. It felt like running the 400 hurdles, with a little something to knock you out of your stride every time you thought you were off and running.

    A few, notably BUTTERCUP, that I had to check afterwards (but checking letters for that one seemed pretty definitive). Did OPALESCENT, or something similar, crop up recently? Seems familiar. The ALBERT / SALIENCE pair were my last two, and cost me about five minutes.

    A lot of nice clues. I’d single out LAID BACK and TROY, and TO A DEGREE (probably not wholly original, but very neat). Good tricksier puzzle.

  10. Just under 30 mins. For some reason, I thought TASER was spelt TASAR (like quasar – that’s my only excuse) and that held me up for ages. 5D’s COD for me as well.

    Tom B.

  11. Although this was tough I never had to spend too long on any clue. Asher was a guess which was made easier by 9.Had never heard of Little Buttercup or conte but there were no alternatives.Good puzzle and happy with
  12. … a record, I think. And that’s without magoo quoting any of his times these days.

    Gritted-teeth congratulations to John, richard, Sabine, and linxit

  13. I agree it was a very tough outing today, took about an hour to get everything but 20. There I had no idea of the answer, even thinking ‘alieut’ as though ‘chain’ meant an island chain. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life, or I have no appreciation for jewellery, or maybe it’s a peculiarly British term, but albert=watch chain is new to me. From reading the comments here it seems I wasn’t the only one entering answers (i.e. 1, 10, 2, 25, 24 16) on a ‘by guess and by golly’ basis, but a stiff challenge every now and again is no cause for complaint. Agreed, with all those who feel 5D is the best clue today, elegantly styled. Runners-up were 19A and 13A. Better luck tomorrow to me, regards to all of you.
  14. Unusual for me esp after reading the comments. I did not solve a single across clue on first reading and thought I was going to miss all the downs too until I got TO A DEGREE. After that, I made progress all the way and finished it more quickly for me than an average Times. Not faster than you of course, Peter.

  15. I was kind of beaten by 20d. ALBERT fitted the checkers for my LOI but I had forgotten about ALBERT = Watch Chain. I must have learned about it from doing the crossword – possibly even this very one 10 years ago – but it had just slipped out of my word list. I did see old weapon = HALBERD that the Cockneys would have as ‘ALBERD but I did not know about the variant spelling. However – no problem with the T OWN IE at 4d where lace = TIE about individual = OWN was OK for me.

    Just the 2 left out today:

    26a (Cleanse pot)* – somehow make it shimmering (10)
    OPALESCENT. An easy one for me as Mrs Npbull wears the opal I brought back from Coober Pedy on a regular basis. It catches the light beautifully.

    14d Where undergraduate is heading? Rather! (2,1,6)
    TO A DEGREE. You would hope so – especially with £9K per year tuition fees these days.

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