Monday 18 August – 23995

Solving time: 32 minutes
A fairly quick one for me. I found it quite enjoyable. I got the two long ones straightaway and then fiddled my way around. Last to go in were WOOLSACK and HANDS ON (for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of ‘hangs on’).


1 EASTWARDS – STEWARDS with the E moved to the front.
9 CUR(SO)RY – SO=’like this’.
11 DRAWS=SWARD reversed.
12 LOOK SHARP – looked up Becky Sharp afterwards – a character in Vanity Fair.
13 BOO(KCAS)E[d] – KCAS=SACK reversed.
17 O,PEN – I really liked this; it made me smile.
18 SOR(CERE)R[y] – couldn’t see how this could be CONJURER (because it wasn’t). I didn’t know CERE.
22 RUF,U/S – RUF=FUR reversed and U/S=unserviceable – hadn’t seen U/S for a while so this took a little bit of thinking.
27 ALLIGATOR – anagram of gaol+trial.


6 TY,PI,ST – TY sounds like Thai.
8 PIE,DPIPER – DPIPER=anagram of dipper.
13 BLOOD’S HOT – can’t remember coming acrossing BLOOD=dandy before so this took a while.
19 CRUSOE – anagram of COURSE – I thought I might have to anagram COURSE and then change the first letter (or vice versa) to get an island; turns out it was a bit easier.
20 A,GEN,D.A. – liked how this one read!
23 STEER – could mean to cox, or it could be an ox.

29 comments on “Monday 18 August – 23995”

  1. Sorry – very O/T. Is anyone here having problems accessing the Crossord Centre Message Board? I just tried logging in and got a message telling me I’m banned. I’d always made the assumption that to get banned you had to actually post a message of some kind.

    Only got a brief look at the puzzle this morning and agree it looks challenging, but I look forward to making a start on it; 23D is one of those clues that piques the interest.

    1. Anax – I assume it means that “user=dharrison” is banned. Isn’t it a shame that the providers of the board can’t spell. “privilages” ???!!!
      1. Thanks; glad to know it may not be a “me” problem! – Although it’s worth pointing out that the board provider’s inability to spell privileges is matched (above) by my inability to spell crossword. Doh!
          1. It looks possible that it has indeed been hacked. It’s rare – but not unknown – for those responsible for designing messageboard/forum software to disable it if the end user makes unauthorised changes to the code, but I really can’t think of anything Derek might have done in that regard.
            1. There have been comments from regulars there in the past about the “Banned” message. It happened to me today too. Can’t remember what causes it though.
  2. Tougher than usual for a Monday. Took ages for the wordplay of 22ac to strike home. FUR = coat reversed + UnServicable. Led away by the nose because of the use of “use”. Has to be COD.
  3. I shall be interested to know if others found this hard, particularly for a Monday. I certainly made heavy weather of it with little more than half completed after an hour.

    At that stage I resorted to books and eventually to the solver but I still have one answer (9) that’s in doubt because I can only justify the definition and not the wordplay. I also have question marks over several others which I know I have solved correctly but I wonder if the cluing is a bit dodgy. However, after Friday’s set-to I am not going to pick over these until I have read other comments as I expect the problems are all mine.

    1. I found it a little difficult to get going on this one with the top left corner looking sadly empty until the end.

      9 is CURSORY = CURRY (meal) brought round SO (like this)

      Mike O, Skiathos

      1. Thanks, Mike. I definitely require the boot for this as I had spotted “curry” earlier but then forgot about it.

        I thought 23 might be another of the printing errors we often see in the on-line puzzle but it turned out not to be so. It might get my nomination for COD though I also enjoyed 6D as it got me thinking of other possibilities for homophonous clues to the same answer.

        1. I’m with you Jack, I got the answer and my mind went “surely not” before rereading the clue to match the tail of the answer to the wordplay.

          Mike, Skiathos

  4. Nothing for anyone to get their nickers in a twist about today. A pleasant start for the week, not too demanding I found – 21 minutes.
  5. I did find this harder than the usual week’s opener, but not especially hard, finishing in 35 minutes. My main hold-ups were the NW sector (1a, 3 and 13a) and 13d. I was particularly annoyed at my slowness with 1a, since I thought of STEWARD for ‘attendant’ early on.
    I liked the clue for ‘agenda’. I was less keen on ‘please’ for O in 17. It seems a bit loose. It’s certainly not justified by COD (which merely says a vocative form of address before a name); Chambers give a wider range of contexts, though even there nothing stands out as being obviously appropriate. I suppose if I trawled through The Bard’s works I might find a parallel example, so I won’t make an issue of it.
    As jackkt noted, 23 was innovative.
  6. As it turned out, a 10 minute solve that looked like it had the potential to be double that after a quick glance through the clues this morning. Mind you, that process alone probably registered a handful of clues in my subconscious so I doubt the 10 minute performance is anything like what a truly cold solve would have been.

    18 was my only real hold-up, preventing as it did 16 from going in. I kept seeing CONJURER, kept knowing that couldn’t possibly be right. What didn’t help was CERE, which I hadn’t heard of. U/S at 22 also felt new to me although a tiny voice says I might have seen it used before without it really registering with me.

    Top clues 25 with 19 a close second.

    Q-1 E-7 D-6

    The quibble, for what it’s worth, is not for the fairly obscure bits of 18/22; rather, that they are in very close proximity, making that corner perhaps tougher to crack than it should have been.

  7. Well, I’ve finished in 40 minutes – about average for me – but I’ve still got quite a few question marks here and there, so I’ll be interested to see the blog, and other people’s posts, to see if I got them all right. Perhaps a little harder than usual for a Monday, but nothing too difficult. The long anagrams especially gave a few easy routes into the crossword.
  8. 11:30. Only real hold-ups were the 1s – both challenging clues, and 18ac where I tried to do the same conjuring trick as Anax.

    I really liked 23d – it’s an oddity, but the checking letters were there to seal the deal. Nice to see something different. Some entertaining surfaces, especially with the gorilla, the lawyer, the dandy and the cavalier (is that a Peter Greenaway film?).

    Thoroughly enjoyable.

  9. No great problems here – about 35 minutes to solve. Nothing really held me up for long and I worked steadily down the grid. The two long anagrams helped, of course.

    “cere” for wax is well known to me, possibly from bar crosswords (isn’t it from the Latin with “sincere” originating from the phrase “without wax” and having something to do with not counterfeiting something using wax?). Also “blood” = dandy and Ruy Diaz = Charlton Heston.

    1. I thought I didn’t know ‘cere’ but it just dawned on me that ‘cerecloth’ cropped up recently – a wax-impregnated burial shroud.
  10. 12.17, with half an eye on the Olympics as has become my habit. I’m really going to miss them when they finish. Did the right half very quickly, then the lower left, and finally the top left which I made very hard work of. I had it in my head that Ruy Diaz was something to do with chess, but that turned out to be Ruy Lopez.

    “cere” cropped up in the last puzzle I blogged about ten days ago, in “cerecloth” (cloth dipped in melted wax) though I don’t think wax was specifically mentioned in the clue.

  11. Kick my shins. Quite right, CERE did have very recent use and I’m amazed I didn’t remember it.
    Pay attention Mr Anax or you’re out.
  12. Didn’t find this too difficult for a Monday.Checking letters were a big help with a lot of clues. I still don’t see why 19d should not just be – ‘change course for island’ – ‘and head for’ seems to be redundant. Maybe the experts can tell me if they have any quibbles about this clue
    10.28 today
    1. Alright, I’ll join in the quibble. I don’t really understand “head for” and I have this feeling that the name of the island is Robinson Crusoe Island (South America somewhere?)
    2. I’m only an expert on procrastination and prawn vindaloos, but I’ll join in anyway. The OED Shorter gives ‘crusoe’ as a verb, meaning to live as a castaway, which might just about explain it. I had read the clue originally as indicating that Crusoe was the head of the island. But you’re right, John. It’s a bit ropey, and the ‘head for’ looks a lot like padding.
  13. Took about 45 minutes for me, and I agree it was tougher than the usual Monday. Like Sotira, I also read into 19 that Crusoe was head of the island, and that the character is the answer, not an actual island. Don’t know if that’s right, though. Didn’t know Ruy Diaz was El Cid, until today. Question, though: why does PI=good? I think I’ve seen that in some previous puzzle, but evidently I’ve forgotten. My favorites are 3 and 17. Regards.
    1. My thinking for Crusoe was the same as yours and sotira’s.

      I think pi is short for pious.

  14. About 16 mins for this. Quick right side but got rather stuck on the left – I seem to have lost some of my “anagrams in your head” powers so didn’t get 2D quickly despite guessing ONES in the middle.
  15. Not Real Madrid’s goalie but 1d apparently. There are XI “easies” in this blog with Ruy Diaz, apparently, in goal at No 1:

    6a Steamer providing transport with power (5)
    TRAM P

    10a Satisfy gorilla, feeding it vegetables (7)
    AP PEAS E. Gorilla = ape by example.

    14a Close bar (4)

    21a Two blues, to be blunt (9)

    24a Passes in succession involving practical experience (5,2)

    25a Face determined champion (7)

    26a Sample some meat – a steak (5)
    TASTE. Hidden in meaT – A STEak.

    1d Ruy Diaz starts on elaborate lies to police (2,3)
    EL C.I.D. Never knew that.

    2d Try something new – grow seeds in pans for a change (6,4,5)
    SPREAD ONES WINGS. Anagram of (grow seeds in pans).

    5d Dog, a Doberman’s first in competition (6)
    SH A D OW

    7d Actually, rat-a-tats came off badly (2,1,6,2,4)
    AS A MATTER OF FACT. Anagram of (rat-a-tats came off) minus the hyphens of course.

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