Solving time 21:19

Got quite badly stuck after 7 mins or so with about half this puzzle left to do, but kept on chipping away. The last two groups to succumb were 10/3/5 and 23/21.

1 DEBRIEF – Brie in rev. of fed
5 TWIN TUB – same treatment for win and butt
10 CRICKET,BALL – held me up much too long because I failed to link “test” and “essential”
12 ORCHID – orchard with I replacing (a,r)
18 PERSUASION – 2 defs, one from Jane Austen
23 SANCTION – well-hidden anag. of contains
25 CHAT,T.A.,NOOGA = (a goon) rev. Saved by my fondness for Glenn Miller here “Pardon me boy, …”. Bet the trombonists loved all that horsing around with the slides – the part of the instrument where you don’t want any dents.
27 IN N=north
1 DO(P,P)LE,R – the Doppler effect is the change in pitch of e.g. a passing siren
5 TO(K)E – to/a drag on a cigarette. Toe = poker – hmmm.
7 TEA = “tee” = T
8 BU(L,LDO=old*)UG
18 POLECAT – (ace lop) rev., T
21 SCRAPE – 2 defs, fix = tricky situation
24 (c)ANON
26 ATE – hidden – G. goddess of mischief, well-used in xwds.

34 comments on “23,966”

  1. This was just my sort of puzzle. Although I didn’t find it particularly easy – about 45 minutes with one not solved – I never at any time before the final clue found myself stuck and out of ideas. The one I didn’t get was TOKE as I’ve led such an innocent and blameless life I didn’t know the word and TOE clued by “poker” didn’t occur to me so I could find no other route to the answer.

    But what a feast of excellent and amusing clues elsewhere. I have marked at least six of them as possible CODs but will stick with my original choice at 29.

    1. According to Collins and dictionary.com we’re in drugs territory with TOKE. I’ve no access to COD or Chambers at the moment.

      Can someone please explain “party” or “for party” in 18ac? I just can’t see it. I thought I had asked this in my earlier comment but must have somehow deleted the query before posting.

      1. Political party or school of thought – i.e “of a different persausion”
        1. Thanks. I was thinking along those lines but decided it was too vague an association. Is there anything in the dictionaries to support it?
          1. Now home and looked it up in Collins and it’s even in their pocket thesaurus so I stand corrected and apologise to the settter
    2. Off the top of my head I can think of two songs (admittedly American) that contain reference to toking: The Joker by Steve Miller and That Smell by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  2. What a cracker. 18:35 of pure joy. I didn’t understand 4d until coming here, and what a pearler it is! Sat waiting = Fri endless – brilliant. I’ll nominate it as COD, although there are many today that could wear the crown.
    The best crossword for an age. Well done setter!
  3. I’m afraid I didn’t share Jackkt’s enthusiasm for this puzzle, and almost gave up very early because I was not enjoying it, but I did press on and finish, though it took me a bit over an hour. I found the bias towards puns, cryptic references and double definitions made it difficult to get entries quickly into the grid.
    There were some nice clues, but there were some awful ones as well. The first clue I solved was 15 and I didn’t write it in for some time because it struck as such a weak double definition that I didn’t think it could be right. Others that I thought poor were 7, 26 and 27 and I didn’t like the noun anagram indicator in 23. I can forgive the lack of a full stop after ‘Sat’ in 4 since it’s a witty clue, but it’s pushing the limits for me. I do have some ticks on my sheet, so praise for 2, 6, 12 and 18d. Perhaps, on reflection, better than a puzzle that’s totally bland.
  4. Around an average half hour for me. Would have been quicker but got held up in the South-east. A long time seeing the sanction anagram.
  5. 10.38 here. I originally had INLAWS at 3d – it seemed to make a kind of sense – but the W in 11 ac was such a horrible prospect that I reconsidered almost at once.

    I was left at the end with the 23/21 duo and a sense of doom, because the letters in place were so unhelpful. But luckily SCRAPE popped into my head almost at once.

    I realised a while ago that I’m missing the gene for clue appreciation. I had no idea these clues were any better than usual. This is why my blogs will be unlikely to nominate a COD – it would be like a colour-blind person choosing paint.

    1. Congratulations on an amazingly fast time for a very difficult one. Nothing wrong with your solving genes…

      Tom B.

    2. Sabine – is there a chance of your competing at Cheltenham? Your solving times are extraordinary. You must be a serious contender, should you choose to go up against Peter and the others. On my day, with a following wind, I might have a faint chance, but no more than that. You, on the other hand, seem to be a serious prospect. Will we see you competing?
      1. Sabine showed good speed a while back when we had some contests based on solving times for a week of puzzles. But if I’m right in thinking that she’s never entered the Championship before, doing so incognito is perfectly OK. Once people know you’ve got a chance of doing well, the pressure racks up considerably.
      2. So sorry to be slow responding to this but I only just saw your post. No, I’m not going to Cheltenham, and Peter’s right that I never have – the finals sound like fun, and I’m sure I’d have had a go if they were held somewhere more local, but I can’t quite face the journey. I don’t think I’d be a contender at all – despite the odd surprisingly good time when a puzzle like today’s seems to suit me for some reason, I’m far too inconsistent overall. I do have a vague offer of a lift to Cheltenham next year, but since that’s more than a year away I’m not really calling it a serious plan just yet.
  6. I too thought this was a good puzzle.

    My COD, for originality-at least in my limited experience-, is 3D. (I’m assuming the answer is INCEST!)

    But I haven’t understood why 5A is TWIN TUB; I can’t understand what Peter has written.

    1. It’s win (bag, as in to bag a prize or whatever) in a reversal (put back) of butt (end as in rifle or cigarette). Peter was just indicating that it was the same sort of construction as 1ac.

      In case you’re too young to remember, before automatic washing machines came along there were machines called twin tubs, with two vertically mounted tubs, as it were, one to wash, the other to spin dry. Our mums all had big wooden tongs to pull the wet washing out of tub 1, and a heavy circular rubber mesh thing to put on top of the clothes in the spin-dryer to weigh them down.

  7. I’m in the Jack/7dP camp on this one. Ken has already used joy so I’ll say this was 27 minutes and 41 seconds of pure, um, delight. I can’t believe my time was relatively close to Peter’s – it must be a wavelength thing.

    I’ve got 6 big ticks. In addition to those mentioned I loved Land’s End, freight and stroganoff but I’ll plump for Chattanooga as COD – goon=thug is superb.

    This puzzle had the scent of Anax about it but his are normally tougher nuts (fnaar) to crack (fnaar).

    1. Alas not one of mine Penfold. Wish it was.
      I have got one coming up soon but my comparative absence from the blog is down to working frantically to replace a lost crossword – somehow managed to either a) overwrite one I meant to submit or b) deleted it. So every spare minute is being spent trying to re-build, mostly from (dodgy) memory.

      I thought this was a cracker, though, and join others in nominating for COD the excellent 4D, my first (and biggest – fnaar) tick.

  8. I really enjoyed this. 4d is my COD – would never have worked out the wordplay. Absolutely superb – as were a few others. Was going well until the 18a/d pairing. Put in polecat eventually then spent about 5 minutes staring at 18a and trying to see something other than percussion which kept blotting everything else out.
    21.12 today.
  9. Thank you Penfold 61. I now understand what Peter was getting at, but I’m not too happy with “bag”=”win”.

    My limited experience is of the Times Crossword but not, I’m afraid, because of age. In fact, I have done the Times Crossword every day since I started drawing my old age pension to prove (to myself at least) that my brain is still functioning. I well remember real twin tubs. My mother had one of the first automatic washing machines to be sold. I think the makers were called Thor, and we must have got it in about 1950.

    I have another question: what is fnaar?

  10. Two interruptions made me a few minutes slow of a PB (Peter Beater). 24 minutes with the interruptions, this was a nice little challenge. A few things on my side, I’m only a few hours from CHATTANOOGA (even without the wordplay, a city in Tennessee with 11 letters leapt out), my grandmother had a TWIN TUB, and I did a science comedy and magic show last week with some HAIR-RAISING.

    Oh, and I’m 4d.

  11. 19:47 for me, a lot slower than the last few days so I’m glad to see others struggled too (except sabine_tk). Last two for me were 23A/21D – didn’t spot the anagram of “contains” and was thinking rake as in the debauched person rather than the garden tool!

    The top right caused me trouble as well, as I wanted 8D to be BULLDOG but couldn’t get past “fifty on board” = BULL so where do the old fools come into it?

    I’ll go along with 4D as COD – I got it from crossing letters a long time before I saw how it worked.

  12. I’m not really in favour of proscribing words in crosswords, but I can see Dorosatt’s point about the clue for ‘incest’ (and possibly even the inclusion of the word in the grid). It may be a subject for jokes, but in my teaching career I had to counsel more than one pupil who was traumatised by the attentions of a relative.

    Linxit queries the clue for BULLDOG. I also had problems with this, though I’ve made parsing errors in the past, so I’m open to correction. To my mind there is a problem with the present participle as a link word. The wordplay is: [(L)(OLD fools, i.e is jumbled)] all inside BUG. The present participle can be followed by a sequence of nouns, or nounal phrases, but “old fools” is a main clause because “fools” is a finite verb in the cryptic reading. I’ve got no problem with ‘fools’ as an intransitive verbal anagram indicator, but surely there is a problem when the the clue is constructed in such a way preclude a verb.

    1. I agree, dyste, on your parsing of 8D. ‘Giving’ is used as a two-way link word by the setter; in 8D the answer is ‘giving’ the wordplay, while in 9A the wordplay is ‘giving’ the answer. Ximeneans would only accept the latter, I believe.

      Tom B.

    2. I think it’s truly frightening if we are seriously considering the proscription of certain words in crosswords unless they are listed in dictionaries as obscene.

      I can see that in this case the exclamation mark may be adding a “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” element that may be more suited to Private Eye than the Times but other than that “Relations with relations” is a perfectly valid clue to the word and should not suggest any degree of approval of the practice in any of its manifestations.

      1. Yes, I went too far with the words in parenthesis in my comment, and I wouldn’t want words excluded on any grounds other than extreme offensiveness, but I agree with everything that dorosatt says in the comment below.
        This puzzle clearly has many admirers, and I can see why because the setter’s shown some wit and innovation. But there are enough lame or questionable clues in it to get the thumbs down from me.
  13. Also about 30 mins, and also with 5D wrong. I thought this was a very mixed bag, cluewise. Pace dorosatt, I thought 14D was very poor, and like someone else I wasn’t impressed by the use of ‘error’ in 23A. My favourite was 29A.

    Tom B.

  14. Sorry to post so late, but working too hard apparently. Here I agree this was a very enjoyable puzzlew, which I did in about 45 minutes except for ‘twin tub’, so I’m stumped today on that one. I see PB’s explanation of the wordplay and I venture to ssay I would never have gotten it. COD is ‘friendless’. Regards.
  15. Too many clues that used this as a link-word, I felt, although some people don’t dislike it as much as I do. 1dn (probably), 6dn, 7dn, 17dn all use it. It’s particularly unpleasant when the clue is of the form [wordplay] with [definition], as in 17.
  16. INCEST at 3D: on reflection, a bad choice I think – I suspect any ‘witty’ clue could be seen as tasteless.
    I’m with wil on disliking ‘with’ as a link, though I din’t mind “with tuppence in” for the insertion at 1D.
  17. 90 minutes, the majority of that in a very noisy children’s disco! COD 25ac.
  18. An excellent puzzle except for the inclusion of the word at 3d which probably is no fun at all for one of the participants in the majority of cases? It is one of the “easies” omitted from the blog. If you are stuck with it – please see comments above.

    The other 3 are:

    15a Raise the back (4)

    19a Tie, or pull out (4)

    13d Scary use of static electricity? (4-7)
    HAIR RAISING. The most fun you can have with a strip of polythene and a duster.

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