Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 56 minutes

Took me quite a while to get going on this. I got the long answer at 1D straight away, but none of the across answers from this came at first go.
Last to go in was 2D, but as I wrote this up I noticed I had put NOTIN rather than NITON (an alternative name for radon).
There was quite a bit of fiddling about to do with some well-constructed and misleading clues. I was held up by the ‘capital city’ in 11A, the ‘US state capital’ in 12A and the ‘East Ender’ in 10A. I am not so keen on the ‘oil-change’ in 13D – I’d have been happier without the hyphen.

All in all a good, fun puzzle to get the brain in gear on a Monday morning. I’m off to the beach now!


4 COST,A[f]RICA – F is the beginning to flow.
9 ANT,IN,OVEL(anagram of love)
10 TAC,1,T – TAC is CAT (as in cat-o’-nine-tails) reversed, T is the end of East. The decoding of this held me up as I failed to separate the phrase ‘East Ender’.
11 LON[don],ELY – so London is the capital, not the ‘capital city’.
12 MO,S,QUITO – MO=Missouri (I think), S=’swindled at first’, QUITO is the capital of Ecuador. Again held up by not separating ‘state capital’ – I think I now all the US state capitals and couldn’t think of one containing a Q.
17 E(QUI)P
19 TOTALISER – anagram of ‘is a lotter’ – this word was vaguely familiar, I guess it is where we get ‘the tote’ from.
21 RED,STAR,T(rot ultimately)
22 ANNE,A[wfu]L
25 NON-CE – i.e. not Church of England. I didn’t remember the ‘present’ meaning of nonce.
26 CABAL,LERO(anagram of ROLE) – I needed all the checking letters for this one.
27 E,TERN,ALLY – TERN sounds like turn.
28 NA[t]IVE


1 CHARLOTTE BRONTE – a charlotte is some kind of apple dessert. This is quite easy if you know that Currer Bell is the pen name of Charlotte Bronte – luckily I did and this was the first one in today.
2 NITON, ‘NOT IN’ reversed. Oops, I’ve just noticed that I wrote in ‘NOTIN’ – what a lummox. After coming across ‘lummox’ in a puzzle a couple of weeks ago, I was most pleased to see W.C. Fields use it in ‘Never Give a Sucker an Even Break’ last night.
3 NO(N,PL)US. When I first read this, I thought NOUS and N,PL but failed to put them together before coming back to this later!
4 COVE – I remembered COVE=bloke from a few weeks ago and I visited Lulworth Cove a few times in my childhood – if you don’t know it, search for a picture – it’s quite impressive.
6 A[u]NTI(QU)E – BBC=Auntie – not sure why it says BB C online!
7 I,T(CHIN)ESS – Durbeyfield sounded like it was something to with the d’Urbervilles – but I haven’t read any of Hardy’s books so had to look up to be sure. Actually I have a copy of Far From the Madding Crowd, but it’s one of the few books I have given up after 50-or-so pages. Can anyone convince me it’s worth revisiting?
8 ANTHONY,TROLLOPE – a ‘trollop’ is a loose woman.
15 AB,UND,AN,CE – A,B,C,E are notes, UND is German ‘and’, AN is English article. I think!
20 LANOLIN – hidden word.
23 EL(E)M,I
24 OBE,Y(leader of Youth)

24 comments on “23983”

  1. A gentle 20 minute stroll to start the week, even though I hadn’t heard of niton – and why Durbeyfield?
    1. I Tess (Durbeyfield) of “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” contains “Chin” – outstanding feature.
  2. 23 minutes for this one which is probably a PB since I started timing myself, but it was not without a few problems and the following were guesses derived from the wordplay: NITON, ELEMI, ANNEAL.

    I deduced 7dn from the definition but failed to explain the wordplay before looking up the literary reference; I had taken “outstanding feature” as NESS meaning a headland.

    12 also came from the definition and the wordplay remained a mystery long after completion of the puzzle until eventually I separated the “US” and “state” elements of the clue; I’m ashamed to admit I did not know the capital of Ecuador otherwise I may have got there sooner.

    I rather fancy 6 as my COD.

  3. Aah. Never having read the book I assumed Tess was Tess d’Urbeville not Derbyfield. You live and learn!
  4. A light start to the week, finishing in about 30 minutes ( I count anything under 35 as a light start with my leisurely pace). But too many dubious clues for my liking: ‘whip-round’ rather than ‘whip round’ for TAC; ‘set-up’ rather than ‘set up’ for reversal in a down clue; A,B,C,E clued as just ‘notes'(how many quartets can you get from ABCDEFG and N?); and worst of all 13d, where the anagram indicator is tied to the anagram fodder with a hyphen, unless ‘offering’ is supposed to be one anagrind governing ‘this car’ and ‘change’ affects just ‘car’.
  5. Back in the flow with a time of just under 10 minutes, although a frustrating delay in spotting 1D (despite several checkers) and similar brain weakness at 14 & 15 could easily have led to 20 minutes or more.
    This was an odd mix; some really great clues (22 and my COD 1A), the odd uber-chestnut (the anag at 5D) and the occasional unconvincing surface (13).
    Dyste’s concerns would be shared by many pure Ximeneans, but The Times allows a level of what you might call “generous” punctuation in the same way it allows capital letters where they aren’t really applicable. I don’t have a problem with it but I can understand that a puzzle with three examples might set on edge the teeth of those who aren’t too keen on such practices.
  6. 50 minutes here, with the most problems in the NE corner, where 7d / 10ac / 12ac held me up for a bit. Thought 4d a bit obscure, but Chambers and Google saved me. COD 1d.
  7. Not my cup of tea this one. Far too many guesses and question marks next to clues. Currer Bell – who? NITON – never heard of it. Miss Durbeyfield – who? “Plenty of notes”, “whip-round”, “oil-change”, far too loose for me. Glad I didn’t have to blog it, well done foggyweb!
  8. A litany of terms I’ve no recollection of coming across before: Currer Bell, Breton variety, Lulworth, Durbeyfield… I’d switched off by the time I got to another two (Bala/Linlithgow) so that I missed an easy one.
    Disheartened when I couldn’t get 2D (one I expected to know offhand – but have also never heard of). And curiously I only know Trollope as Trollope. So gave up despondantly with a mere 6 answers after 20 minutes.

    Well done to all those that cruised through. Time for me to take up tiddly-winks.

    1. For this setter, the answer has to be yes. As dyste says, how many combinations of a to f can you think of? I’m sad rather than sore. Some of the clues were clever and it’s a pity to see the good being spolied by the arcane and indifferent.
      1. Foggyweb’s write-up is the one to refer to here – “plenty” = “ABUNDANCE”
        “Plenty of notes” is the less than totally explicit reference to A, B, C and E which are placed around UND (German and) and AN (English article). Despite adding to the surface I think “English” is entirely redundant here. On a personal level I’d only use selections of musical notes where they really create something. In that regard, the only clue of mine I was genuinely happy with was:

        A mixture of notes – like stone? (4)

        …which only worked because it seemed to do no more than describe an anagram.

        1. Oops – sorry, meant to say “notes” above, not “plenty of notes”
  9. With 1,5,8 and 13 all going in quickly it helped to ease some of the more difficult clues.The NW corner took a minute as 2d and 9a were new words and had to convince myself how ‘lonely’ worked at 9.
    However everything else pretty quick (7.44 today)
    On holiday last week and couldn’t post comments but really enjoyed Thursdays ‘jamjar’ puzzle which took about an hour more than this one!
    1. Around 20 mins which is fast for me, helped by getting 1 down immediately. Niton and elemi were new to me, but I got them from the wordplay. Tess Durbeyfield’s surname is thought to be a bastardised form of D’Urberville, pointing to aristocratic, Norman ancestry: hence the name of the novel.
  10. This was a mixed bag for me. Started very late (but surprisingly sober), and staggered across the finish line in 17 minutes.

    Lots of ones that were guesses or figured from wordplay – CHARLOTTE BRONTE was guessed at from the anagram of the surname, NONCE from wordplay (am I spacing or was that same clue in another crossword in the last few weeks?). I knew NITON, but was wondering what it was doing in a crossword, and I had the TROLLOPE part of 8 but took a stab at the first name.

    Since I like neo-classical writing, I’ll plump for 9. If you have a few months of bed-rest and want to destroy your mind trying to make sense of a book, try “Infinite Jest” by David Wallace.

  11. Managed 11:22 for this – there were one or two that should have been quicker, but no really agonising delays. Surprised by “Currer Bell – who?” from Jimbo – the Bronte pseudonyms are one of the things I think of as classic Times xwd material.
  12. Didn’t know Charlotte Bronte’s pen name, so that held me up for a bit, eventually realizing the ‘Breton variety’=’Bronte’, but I still got done in 20-25 minutes or so. I liked the clues at 1A, 4A and 28A today. Had to google Lulworth to confirm ‘cove’, and saw impressive photos; clearly a lovely setting for those lucky enough to see it in person. Regards.
  13. Like others, I knew Currer Bell so 1d went immediately – but perhaps knowledge shouldn’t be rewarded this quickly? Anyone who’s heard of Currer Bell would get it without any real thought.
    My COD must be nonplus.
    1. Re: Charlotte Bronte
      I managed to live 60 years without ever hearing of Currer Bell, but I knew of Acton Bell, spotted the Breton anagram, got the Apple Charlotte reference and put it all together so I should have included 1dn in my list of informed guesses.

      I’ve been rather surprised by some of the criticism of this puzzle, especially about hyphens. One of the early tips I took from this forum was not to pay too much attention to them.

  14. Pretty clear run – 25 minutes standing up in a crowded morning train. Anything I can finish during my commute ranks as easy!

    Like other solvers, I had to guess ELEMI and NITON from the wordplay. I liked the vertical pillars of novelists – I knew Currer Bell was CB’s pen name so that was easy, and for 8DN any clue rferring to novelist and loose woman has to be Trollope!

    Not often you see a triple definition like 4D.

  15. I did not get 1d Charlotte Bronte as first in because I started in the opposite corner , somewhat randomly, at 20d LANOLIN. I did get it immediately I saw the clue though. I learned about the Bronte pen names in a previous Times Crossword.

    There are 5 “easies” left out here:

    1a Article embodied in criminal law (5)
    C AN ON

    14a Turn out coach I abandoned by part of church (9)

    15a Time to identify the opposition (5)
    ENEMY. DD of Time = ENEMY and Opposition = ENEMY.

    5d Shadowy outline representing (hotel suite)* (10)
    SILHOUETTE. An old chestnut apparently – new to me though.

    13d Based on records, offering (this car oil)*-change (10)
    HISTORICAL. Needless hyphen there – it is just an oil change surely?

Comments are closed.