Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 21 minutes
This was my quickest solve for some time.
I think it was easy because I’d seen lots of the clues and devices before.


5 WASH UP – this is what you do after a meal. I wasn’t sure about the ‘debriefing’ bit but a quick check in Collins suggests WASHUP as an Australian word meaning ‘the end or outcome of a process’ – is this what the setter’s getting at?
11 F,RIG,I’D
17 OCCIDENTAL – ACCIDENTAL with 0 for the first A. I’ve seen this clue or similar a few times before.
20 SC[hol]AR
24 THEOLOGY = anagram of GOT+HOLY+E[xegesis]. I’m reminded of a moment in Inspector Morse, where Strange wonders what sort of texts are being sold in a specialist bookshop – Morse looks amazed when Lewis suggests “Oh, exegeses on ancient grimoires, I should think, sir.”
26 TWO – from the phrase “two’s company…” Two is II in Roman Numerals – found at the end of Hawaii.
28 FEEDBAC,K – the first six letters with the E repeated. I really didn’t think much of this clue.


1 M(AN)IFESTO – anagram of ‘OF TIMES’ outside AN.
2 NIGERIA – AIR,EG,IN reversed
3 RE,WOR[l]D
6 SET PIECES – rooks are PIECES of a chess SET; a corner is a ‘set piece’ in e.g. football.
13 MA,IN,FRAME – I’ve seen this a few times now – last time was just a week or so ago.
15 T(EACH)ABLE – ‘a head’=EACH as in ‘tickets cost £12 a head’ – I’m used to seeing ‘a head’ and ‘education’ leading to TEACH.
18 CURACAO – is pronounced, by some at least, as ‘cure a sow’.
19 EL(E,CT)OR – ROLE reversed over E(European) CT(court).
21 CROATIA – Split is a city in Croatia. Anyone seen this clue before?

22 comments on “23977”

    1. That was exactly what I thought, but forgot to mention. I suppose if you cure a sow, that is helpful to the farmer – but it seems a bit indirect.
      1. Thanks, Foggy. Of course it’s so simple I couldn’t see it after spending ages thinking it was a reference to some obscure swineherd in literature. It also wasn’t helped by the fact that I apparently pronounce the island incorrectly, at least according to the setter’s ideas.
  1. Yes, a moderately easy puzzle which took me 45 minutes with a few lapses of concentration. I was left with two unexplained clues, one mentioned above which I still can’t see, and 26 which Foggy has now explained – I didn’t get the Hawaii reference. 21 is my COD.
  2. About 20 mins. I can’t find dictionary support for wash-up = debriefing, but I’ve verified it via Google. Military slang, perhaps?

    Tom B.

    1. Just checked OED online. Listed under ADDITIONS SERIES 1993:
      “A follow-up discussion or debriefing; also, an outcome. colloq. (orig. Naval).”
  3. Another easy one – about 15 mins. Felt that several clues were less than satisfactory.
  4. hmm, people seem a little negative about today’s puzzle. a number of clues seemed fresh and surprising: 28, 12, 6 and others besides. having said that, there are a few too many chestnuts and there may be a feeling that the setter is playing somewhat fast and loose at times.

    it’s interesting because i thought this was a good puzzle whilst solving it; but looking it back over, it strikes me as less than satisfying. something seems to be missing from its ‘DNA’.

    ANYWAY. i got all but one clue in around 18 minutes, which is very good for me. i missed ‘curacao’. ho hum.

  5. As someone observed of a puzzle last week, this fell into two halves for me. I filled the upper half apart from 6d in under ten minutes, then spent 25 minutes completing the lower half. Reflecting on it, I don’t know why I took so long to get THEOLOGY, SCAR and COAXED. I also thought some of the clues were quite refreshing, but like foggyweb I didn’t think much of 28. And I don’t think much of any eating establishment that has spam on the menu.

  6. Didn’t get uninterrupted time to finish this, but found it pretty straightforward. Place-name guessing, didn’t quite understand CURACAO or CROATIA but they were the only possibilities for the checking letters (is there some sort of Nina with the four symmetrically placed places?).

    Loved the clue for 27

        1. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading that old blog. Great fun, and fascinating. I’ve learned something (as usual).
  7. Around 14:30. Easy enough and, yes, a few chestnuts. A couple of clues did feel a bit airy, but nothing to frighten the horses.
  8. 17 minutes. I was going to pick Whistler’s Ma for COD but as it has been done before I retract my nomination and can’t be bothered to look for an alternative – there were some neat constructions but the surfaces were a tad clumsy.
  9. I completed this in 7.52 but like some previous posters had problems understanding the wordplay in a few places, including 26a which seems not to have troubled anybody else. My strongest reservation was over 6a – it was so impossible to justify “wash-up” as “debriefing”. I wondered if “debriefing” was actually one of those words like “decrease” (iron) or “distress” (cut hair) – with “debrief” meaning any one of: to extend, to remove underwear, or to fire one’s lawyer.
  10. Cure a sow? I don’t believe it. That’s worse than sandpiper sounds like sandpaper! Funny old puzzle with a mix of the good the bad and the ugly as described by previous bloggers. No problems for me but left feeling oddly unsatisfied by the whole thing. Jimbo.
  11. About 20 minutes, nothing too exciting, although I’m not as dissatisfied as some others seem to be. I don’t think 26A is very good, where ‘two = ‘ii’ somewhere in a word, but it’s certainly not unfair. The 28A anagram doesn’t seem much different than any other anagram. I don’t think the surface is very smooth, however. By the way, over here Curacao is pronounced ‘kerr-a-sow’, which seems tolerably close to ‘cure a sow’. Regards.
  12. Is 16 down DIRTY WORK rather than DIRTY POOL then?
    No wonder I couldn’t figure out 28 across!
  13. This one appears to have quite a few “old chestnuts” – cryptic clues that have been used before several times? I expect those will be included in these “easies” that were left out of the blog:

    1a British people, but not Americans, have it, as a rule (8)

    8a Constant worrier as middle manager (3)

    10a Place that’s secure since having lock (8)

    12a Possible item from menu one doesn’t want on computer (4)

    23a Mess about with end of elephant gun (6)

    27a Person who’s affected by tough problem engulfing university (6)
    POSE U R

    4d Passes to lower place with no difficulty (5,4)

    5d Punishment that may be given – it’s a question of purpose (4,3)

    16d Dishonest practice in operation of sweep, say (5,4)

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