Direction required?

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I got off to a great start today, but got stuck on the two long lights
at 1ac and 1dn. Even after I had worked out 1ac, it still took me a
while to see 1dn, probably because it was a new word to me.

I eventually worked it out from the wordplay, and then a quick online
search confirmed the answer. Total time – 14:12

1 CHICKEN (<=RAM)ENGO – ENGO being (gone)* -braised chicken with mushrooms (optional) and onions in a tomato and wine sauce, supposedly the last meal that Napoleon had before the Battle of Marengo in 1800.
9 M(A-D-H)ATTER or possibly MA(D-H-A)TTER – I don’t think the wordplay is right here. “Duke on a horse” implies DAH or AHD, not ADH or DHA
11 L-ILL-E – city in Northern France, which was once the capital of Flanders.
15 GAZE-BO(y)
17 R-UDDER – “a little cow” for UDDER, as in “a little bit of a cow”, I suppose
19 RODENTIA – (noted)* in (air)*
22 ABOUT FACE – “order” as in military order
23 V(A)LID – I’m not keen on clues where a load of letters are just lumped together like this. “Old cardinals” (ie Roman numerals) makes sense, but is not terribly speicific. It’s fine to use “old cardinal” for one letter or two in a combination, such as LI. What do others think?
25 V((Clar)A-LENT)INO – as in Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), probably the first male heart-throb in the movies.
26 WE ARE NOT AMUSED – (a tremendous awe)* – attributed to Queen
Victoria, and the subject of a side-bet between Doctor Who and Rose Tyler in an episode of the sci-fi TV series when, on meeting the great lady, played by Pauline Collins, Rose bets the Doctor that she can get her to say the famous words.
1 CAMELO(t)-PAR(t)(DALI)S – also called The Giraffe, a constellation between Ursa Major and Perseus. Camelopard is an old name for a giraffe.
2 INDU(s)-L-G(arbag)E
3 (<=E-VAN-K)
5 (<=STIR-FA) – not sure that I have come across FA defined as “nothing at all” in a crossword before. I will assume that it is the “fanny Adams” version, although I have never come across that without “sweet” in front. The other possibility is of course “f*** all*?? Afrits were spirits, genies or demons in Arabic mythology.
6 EXTI-R-PATE – the I of EXIT has been moved. Although ultimately fair, I find this clue a bit clumsy.
7 G(RAN(i))ITE – like “French let” for GITE
18 D(I)OC-ESE – like 23 ac, three letters pushed togethr and defined as “directions”. ESE is a valid direction, so would “direction” not have sufficed?
21 CA(teL aviV)IN – John Calvin, French leader of the Protestant Reformation. I like “first-born” for CAIN.
23 V-(<=MONE(y))

11 comments on “Direction required?”

  1. Thought I was doing quite well to finish in this time, but messed up 21D with a rather desperate SILVON, getting the wrong definition and wrong variant spelling (cion is right) of ‘scion’ as well as hoping for the non-person SILVON to exist. Should have both got Calvin and understood about Cain, so no excuses.

    I don’t mind directions or Roman numerals in bunches as long as the bunch is three or more.

    9A – I guess it’s Duke on A = AD (‘on’ being ambivalent about the order), then H=horse.

    5D FA = Fanny Adams is in Collins (alas, the free Word Exchange site seems to be gone for good).

    25A Surprised to see “Clara’s bottom” for A in an across clue.

    1. Peter, you must – like me at first – have put in ABOUT TIME – for 22A. I also considered various possible theologians for 21D before I thought of Cain and worked out that 22A made no sense and the answer was ABOUT FACE.
      1. Dead right – make that 2 mistakes then. I remember thinking that ‘in order’ was a bit of a vague def. A classic illustration of the rule: if you can’t make the last answer fit, look back at the ones that gave you the checking letters. And also of the rule: practice what you preach….

        At this rate, success at Cheltenham will remain the preserve of another Biddlecombe.

  2. I thought some of the clues were a touch dubious. I certainly didn’t think much of the clue for VALID – far too much imprecision in the wordplay. I thought “French let” for “gite” was more than a touch liberal, as was “a little cow” to indicate UDDER (can “a little human” indicate ARM for example?). Originally I thought “Clara’s bottom” to indicate the last letter in an across clue was unsound, but on reflection “bottom” can indicate the end of something as in “the bottom of the garden”, so I think it’s OK, if unusual.

    Peter, I am still able to get the Collins Word Exchange site at the following URL:

    1. Bottom of the garden: you’re quite right. French let”: the right kind of liberal for me – it made me laugh. And suggests some possible def’s for FRENCH LETTER should it ever be permissible as a Times xwd answer.

  3. Is the use use of V for essential common? Is the reasoning that V can indicate vital?

    From Berny

  4. On glancing at the very first clue before I got my brain into gear I immediately thought of COWARDY CUSTARD. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t make it work despite its going rather well with the first and last words of the clue both separately and together.
  5. 14:12 for me – I see I wasn’t the only one with that time. I was expecting to find that Peter B had finished in well under 10 minutes, and was startled to see that this wasn’t the case at all. I guess I was lucky to reach 21D before 22A, since without any crossing letters to lead me astray I was able to put CALVIN straight in. On the other hand I made incredibly heavy weather of CAMELOPARDALIS (which annoyingly sounded faintly familiar once I’d cracked it) – even going so far as to put in PARDALIS for the second part of it, but then, when I was unable to think of a suitable musical (I was pretty sure CHICAGPARDALIS wasn’t really a goer), deleting the unchecked letters again!

    I should just add that I thought this a very good puzzle, and that all the clues seemed perfectly sound to me and not the least bit dubious.

  6. Took me 15 minutes. I too was distracted by the possibility of COWARDY CUSTARD at 1A. Camelopardalis wasn’t familiar, so I had to put it together from the wordplay and the crossing letters. I don’t recall seeing it before in a crossword, which isn’t surprising given its length. (And Camelot wasn’t that familiar as a musical either). I had to solve RODENTIA in the same way for the same reason. 23A was a nice clever clue. I thought 16D was a bit weak clue, with the definition too vague to allow solution without several letters, even once you got past the surface reading. 6D was very fiddly – one of those where you fill it in and work it out afterwards. Similarly with 7D, where I thought of granite, couldn’t see why, and only put it in once I had all the letters (and then thought of why several minutes after finishing). But apart from 16D, I thought it was a good puzzle. I don’t have a problem with “French let” for GITE, or with the wordplay for 9A (can be read as “Duke on A, horse”) Jason J
  7. Lots of minor quibbles plus double figure times for the quick brigade. Magic!

    Just the half dozen “easies” for the bunnies:

    10a Catch sharp tool on sides of timber (5)
    TR AWL

    12a Bury opinion in an examination (9)

    13a Nice excuses offered by worker (8)

    24a That is a fish, by the way (2,3)
    IDE ST

    14d Police officer not in hiding volunteers to be a witness (9)
    (in) SPEC TA TOR. I don’t think that was so easy?

    20d Sums up time with friends (7)

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