24662 – a pre-emptive strike

Placeholder post – I got a last-minute gig tonight and may not be able to blog the crossword until the morning. If anyone can get in through the new system and complete the crossword, feel free to leave comments. I’ll get the blog up as soon as I can.

Solving time : Well after putting the placeholder up, and going to do a show, I found this extremely difficult and it appears 35 minutes have passed, but not all of them on the crossword. I think if I was sober I’d do it a lot faster, but on the other hand, I had an excellent and amusing night, and I think I’ve got this all out. Oh, and I managed to log on to the new crossword club and this printed out just fine, so the panic attacks of earlier are alleviated.

And away we go!

5 sounds like an answer I’ve seen elsewhere this week, so let’s omit it
9 HORSE: ummm, double definition if you call “in need of” as a homophone indicator, or am I missing something? Edit: Of course I am – HOARSE minus A – see comments
11 MILLION: one of my last in and a crafty little clue – MILL(spinner),I(one),ON(leg – ref cricket)
12 ON PAPER: PAP in ONE then R
15 ARID: R in AID, and not R in SEE as I wrote initially
18 L,ASH
20 PRO,MEN,AD,ER: liked this charade, but didn’t see it until several looks at the clue
23 CENTAVO: anagram of VOTE,CAN
26 IDAHO: hidden
27 EAGRE: a tidal bore – sounds like EAGER
28 GENOESE: ON reversed surrounded by GEESE
1 MARBLES: BR reversed in MALES
2 SPECIFIC: C(cold) in (SPICE,IF)
3 (m)ADMAN
6 let’s cut this one out
7 EGGAR: EG then RAG reversed – a moth with cocoon-shaped eggs
17 ANDESITE: SITE(scene) with AND,E at the front
19 S,INNING: though the components of a baseball game are usually called INNINGS rather than INNING. And a tie-in to the start of the Major League Baseball playoffs that started yesterday
21 DEGRADE: that would be a Daughter with an E GRADE
22 RAF,FLE(w)
24 SA,TIN: SA being the Salvation Army, of whom I have little good to say, so I’ll leave it up to The Goodies

64 comments on “24662 – a pre-emptive strike”

  1. Won’t comment on the puzzle yet; just on the new site.

    1. No problem with access — my old password was accepted.
    2. Note the option to print in black has gone.
    3. The header no longer shows the date of the puzzle.
    4. Hyphens have appeared after clue numbers.
    5. There are no spaces between clues and enumerations.
    6. For the interactive puzzle: the “Submit” button doesn’t work; at least in terms of registering games played (bottom left). However it does show up on the right of the screen under “My recent games”

    1. 6. Bizarrely, the Submit button does work, but only if you haven’t completed the puzzle.
      1. I prefer the slightly darker grey when printing (no regrets over loss of black); points 3, 4 and 5 in mctext’s comments are all negatives as far as I’m concerned.
    2. I noted all these except 6 too. I’m not bothered about the option to print black (why would anyone want to?)but the grey we have now is a shade or two darker than previously which means those who always print grey will now use more ink.
      1. Meant to add that I find the hyphens both intrusive and distracting. What was wrong with using a full-stop? If this is an intentional change it’s a bad one.
    3. The preview does not reflect what is actually in your comment – look at Nod’s attempt to make points 4 and 5 here.

      There is no option to delete your own comment.

  2. I used to have separate desktop links to all the Times puzzles I do (daily cryptics, Sat plus jumbo and Times2, Sunday cryptic and concise. I could get to any one with a brief stop at the logon page. This seems no longer possible. 🙁
  3. … is blocked out from the free subscription alas. There might have at least been a user-friendly question such as ‘Are you an existing subscriber?’ to welcome in old friends, but I guess the robotic minds behind the ‘improvements’ would never think of that!
    1. Perhaps one of the older techies took exception to your cluing “aging” as “approaching senility”!
      1. … is simply the counter to “juvenile”. So “aging” is fine. Its connotations of incapacity are very recent and equally unfortunate.
        1. True. It wasn’t really a serious comment, though the word carries such strong implications of age-related degeneration that I think you’d struggle to find many current examples of it being used in its original sense.
  4. well as to the new site-i too prefer the black squares and found the grey ones offputting..
    as to the puzzle…very tricky…dont think much of Million as a clue…but i thought Satin was neat and sleight too!
    i must be more eager!
  5. Pretty much as per yesterday, most of it OK, but this time hitting wall with 2 to go. Stuck in MILLION (right) and EIGER (wrong)just to complete grid but had SINKING for SINNING (stupidly). ANDESITE and EAGRE from wordplay. Thought this might be harder than it was, or themed in some way, to mark the new site.
  6. Puzzle solved in 9:05. Slightly puzzled by mill=spinner, but happy with million=square.

    If folks could comment on the new site in the posting on that topic (available by pressing the “Previous Entry” button at top of this page), it would be much easier to feed back your comments to the people at The Times.

    1. Sorry, my fault for starting this today.
      I didn’t see yesterday’s specific posting.
    2. If million, then why not four, eight, nine, hundred, etc. all defined by square plus a bit of appropriate wordplay? Just doesn’t work for me.
      1. Most of the why nots are dealt with by the need to fit the answer into a seven-letter slot. By my reckoning that means the choices are SIXTEEN, HUNDRED, MILLION and BILLION (the old-style British type). Compared with three-letter rivers and so on, that’s a very short list.
      2. There’s no denying this is a little fuzzy: after all 9 is no more a square than 2.1025, or indeed eight.
        However I must say I don’t mind it one bit. In combination with the wordplay and a checking letter or two it seems perfectly fair and produced a nice little “aha!” moment for me.
  7. 55 minutes with 2 wrong: ‘mullion’ for MILLION and ‘clasps’ for CLAMPS (ugh!). I think the former is a bit ropey, if, as I suppose, we’re meant to think of 1,000 x 1,000. I like spinner for mill, though, and will endeavour to remember that one. Quite a few unknown words that had to winkled from the wordplay: EAGRE, EGGAR (which sound like some of Brian Blessed’s attempts at deliberately getting his son’s name wrong!) and ANDESITE. Enjoyable stuff; COD to MASSAGING.

    BTW, George, isn’t it cricket which has an innings and baseball that has an inning?

    1. 36 minutes, stuck like b*****y in the NW and chucked in MULLION with no understanding whatsoever. So a DNF. Though (churlishly) I’m with ulaca on the ropishness of the whole 11ac shebang. The rest is pretty darned good, but.
  8. I was a bit surprised others found this difficult. A leisurely 12:16 here without even trying to solve fast. Most of the wordplay seemed very easy, although I was also initially puzzled by MILL=spinner, but thought it just about OK in the end.
  9. Beaten again as I needed to cheat to get CASSIOPEIA, CENTAVO and ANDESITE. Never got MILLION. Although I considered it I couldn’t see the wordplay. I got’1′ and ‘leg’ = ON, but ‘spinner’ = MILL? Not sure about that.The rest of it went in correctly but it was a very slow business. EGGAR was a guess from wordplay.
  10. Took an hour and got a couple wrong. A bit Mephisto-ish for my liking: ANDESITE? (In fairness, if you can assume literary and classical general knowledge, why not geological? It’s just that I had invented a rock called (ENG)ELITE.) Began badly by putting in MUGWEED, which seemed to fit ((G)ET + stunted = WEE); shame it was mugwort that I had half remembered! The sun is shining, however, and the garden calls: I’ve spent too much time on the crossword this morning.
  11. I guessed EGGAR and EAGRE correctly, spelled CASSIOPEIA wrongly at first attempt and MILLION was my last in; a fairly typical performance for today, it seems. It was easier than yesterday, but not easy. COD to MUGWEED, no that was the best incorrect entry. COD to PROMANADER, having dismissed any criticism of d by e in the “she”.
  12. 30m. A real mixed bag today. I had most of it done in 10m, then needed the next 10 to get another four or five, leaving 17dn, which took another 10 on its own. I was pleased to get it eventually by just grinding through options, and although I didn’t know ANDESITE I was pretty confident of the answer. The same goes for the other obscurities (EAGRE, CENTAVO, EGGAR) which to my mind makes them all perfectly fair.
    I slowed myself down by misspelling CASSIOPEIA, which was careless and made a number of easy clues impossible until I spotted the mistake.
    I must say I rather liked 11ac, which I thought was craftily clued. I have no problem with either mill = spinner or million = square.
    1. You noted in the comments about the new site that you couldn’t log in. Did you manage it eventually? Any tips?
      1. I didn’t, although I haven’t tried again today. I sent them an email but have had no reply.
  13. I liked 11a because I could solve a cricket clue at long last.

    Put in egger for 7dn, not understanding what a reg could be, but I looked up egger and it was a moth so it had to be right.
    Didn’t understand wordplay for satin either, and have now learned SA for salvation army.
    Thanks for the blog.

  14. Needed to cheat for spelling of CASSIOPEIA; ANDESITE unknown to me; and, carelessly, ‘mounting’ in 7 led me to hastily enter ‘EIGER’ without stopping to think/check the wordplay!
  15. Am I the only one unable to get the crossword. As so often happens when there’s a site re-vamp, my former username/pw doesn’t work and the link I was given to reset the password doesn’t work either.
  16. Struggled with MILLION and ANDESITE but got there in the end in about an hour. I grew up with The Observer’s Book of Larger British Moths so didn’t have any trouble with EGGAR, although my Concise Oxford Dictionary spells it ‘egger’.

    Btw George you’ve got your eggs and your cocoons the wrong way round. It’s the cocoon that’s shaped like an egg.

  17. Got the lot really quickly for me, not much over ten minutes … and dnf on andesite. Which should’ve got from the clue but often forget ‘with’ can = ‘and’. Frustrating. Not happy with the ‘aging’ reference: yet again, the dictionary cover exists technically but has little to say against the onset of normal usage (thinking of ‘contravene’ as ‘dispute with’ yesterday).
  18. 28:29 .. I found all of this difficult but I’m blaming it on the distracting washed out greyness where the black squares used to be.

    MILLION – so the definition is… it’s a square of another number? Is that it? Could someone spell this out for me, please? I feel like I’m missing something and need an idiot’s guide.

    1. A million is a square number (1,000 * 1,000) so I’m assuming the definition is “square.” Whether that’s a fair definition for a square number I leave for others to judge.
      1. Thanks, heyesey. That’s what I was assuming from the comments above but couldn’t quite believe. I’ll file it under “Huh” and leave it there.
  19. No time today, as I was interrupted a couple of times by phone calls and the chaos of the office move, but seemed just above average difficulty to me.

    I still don’t understand 9ac, and for the life of me couldn’t think of what welfare organisation might be SA, but couldn’t think of any other material to fit!

    Quite a few odd / new / unknown words in there – EGGAR, EAGRE, GENOESE (if I’d had to guess, I would have said that he was a GENOAN instead).

    COD 4d.

      1. Thanks! I think I was looking too hard for something like the usual HOARSE / HORSE homophone…
  20. About 45mins to get all but 17d. Spent another 10mins on this before resorting to aids. I don’t think I would have got it without them.

    A real mixed bag today, with a lot going in quite quickly, but then several obscurities – EGGAR, EAGRE, ANDESITE, although CENTAVO was familiar to me.

    I don’t mind the hyphens, don’t care about the colour of the black squares, don’t like the lack of a space before the enumerations, and REALLY don’t like the lack of a date at the top.

  21. 16:15 but with mullion in for million (mullioned windows may be square for all I know and a mull could be a spider).

    Took a few goes to spell cassiopeia correctly. I could draw it in a trice ( // ) there look. I assumed eagre was a bore of the woodwork tool variety (not a mullion miles away from auger I’m sure you’ll agree).

    COD to sleight – very aptly I spent far too long trying to find a three-letter word for snow into which I could insert a three-letter word for vehicle.

  22. 15:20 . Similar to yesterday in that breezed through the bulk and left with MILLION and ANDESITE for about 5 minutes. Eventually got the square reference so better look out for one,two,four etc in this context in future. Had —ELITE in my mind and couldn’t dredge up the right answer for ages even though I vaguely know the word.
    1. >Eventually got the square reference so better look out for one,two,four etc…

      Probably not two, to be fair.

  23. Hmph. One of the things I normally like about this crossword is that, whilst it’s difficult (as they go), you don’t need a dictionary to solve it. This and yesterday’s were DNF for me because of that. Liked 10ac, though.
  24. I don’t think that anyone has yet pointed out that on 9a HOARSE lacking A gives HORSE<->HEROIN
  25. Life seems full of irritations at present, and neither The Times nor Livejournal are helping. I will comment elsewhere about the crossword site, but why does livejournal truncate threads and make it nearly impossible to expand them? Is there something I can do that makes all the comments easily visible?

    The actual crossword, which I finally wrested from The Times grasp about 4pm, is a pussycat by comparison. Less than 15mins though I checked EGGAR and EAGRE afterwards to see if they were real. I too thought the wordplay for 11ac was fine but the def. (by example?) a bit ropy. don’t know why.. it is technically accurate I suppose.

    1. I don’t think it’s a definition by example (it would be if it were the other way around: “million, say” as a clue for the answer “square”).
      You could argue that it’s a bit ropy because of the infinite number of possible answers, which technically could include any number at all.
      However I think if you asked most people to list square numbers they would give you 1, 4, 9, 16, 25 etc, i.e. a list of the squares of integers. So in common parlance “square” and “square of an integer” sort of mean the same thing.
      Combine that with the fact that you are looking for a single 7-letter word (which cuts out, for example, four, thirty-six, and 631.0144) and I think it’s OK.
      1. As a retired mathematician I can confirm that in English, at least, no one who needs to talk about numbers a lot would bother to say “square number”; “square”, if you are talking about numbers and not about geometry, means exactly (and not just sort of) the same thing. And of course a million is the square of one thousand (and not its “square number” or anything else like that).
        1. My “sort of” referred to the equivalence of “square” with “square of an integer”, which is less accurate mathematically but fine for the purposes of a crossword, I think.
  26. DNF, and I thought the hard bits were quite hard (but the rest was not too bad and would have been easier if I hadn’t misspelt CASSIOPEIA). The problem clues were of course ANDESITE (whose correctness is easy to check from wordplay if you can find it in the first place, but I didn’t manage that, so I found it a bit unfair) and MILLION — although it was staring me in the face I refused to believe that “square” could be an adequate definition for one particular square number (especially one whose squareness is not really the property which first comes to mind). But on second thought why shouldn’t it be OK, if “moth” is an adequate definition for EGGAR, “flyer” would be an adequate definition for any bird, and so on. No chance to understand at least part of the wordplay for MILLION though, as I am of the wrong nationality to know anything about cricket.
    1. Just remember ‘leg’ = ‘on’ and ‘extra’ is often ‘w’ (for Wide) and you’re half way there.
  27. An “inning” is part of a baseball game (there are 9 “innings” in the usual game), so 19 is clued properly as far as this baseball fan is concerned.
    But I know very little about cricket – does “on” mean the same thing as “square leg?” I had “mullion” as the answer for 11, thinking that “spinner” perhaps meant “muon” (a subatomic particle which may spin, for all I know).
    Also had “angelite” instead of “andesite” for 17. Angelite is indeed a rock, but admittedly it does not fit the rest of the clue.

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