Saturday 23910 – One definite chestnut and maybe one or two others

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic

Solving time: 21:52
I have always considered Saturday crosswords as being a bit trickier than average but always very fair. The last few weeks offerings have, I think, crossed the fairness line and require what I consider to be specialist rather than general knowledge. This one, however, puts us back on track. I thought it was an absolute pleasure to solve and offer my thanks to the setter.

This is my maiden blog so I hope I can keep up the excellent standards. Hold tight, here we go.

1 DEFINITE being DEFT around IN I +(hop)E
5 COBWEB – a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Some may be surprised that my only problem with this is whether ‘dust collector’ is a fair definition? I have no problem with the literary reference because it was defined as ‘creation of Shakespeare’, which is fair enough in my book. I would have complained if it was clued as ‘fairy’
10 THROW IN THE TOWEL – clever merging of definition and wordplay. Answer corrected thanks to PB in comment
11 S US SOUT(h) – Texas being South US. I seem to remember this treatment being used recently
13 MAS,TOD,ON – ‘one building’ used cleverly for ‘mason’. More cockney rhyming slang for our overseas friends. On your tod (sloan) = on your own. Not to be confused with ‘On your Jack Jones’ or ‘On your Pat Malone’
18 O(pen) + DELI reversed
23 EX MOUTH – I wanted to put Devizes at first.
25 GA,SOHO,L –  I think this was given the same treatment very recently. If I could work out how to search this site I’d tell you when and where.
27 T (WENT) Y – ‘tragedy outraged’ = take ‘raged’ out of ‘tragedy’. Fantastic!
28 STREAKER – cracking cryptic definition
2 FORESTALL – F(O REST)ALL. Thankfully the setter resisted the FOREST approach.
3 NEWPORT – WEN(t) rev, PORT
6 OSTRICH – (p)OST,RICH. I had to go through the alphabet to realise that the pale required was part of a fence
8 BALL GAME – do people still ‘go to the hop’? I’ve always used the phrase GAMMY leg which is apparently a dialect variant of GAME.
9 CHESTNUT – but I don’t think this clue was
14 DAB,CHIC,(duc)K – rebranded itself and now likes to be known as Little Grebe. Like most rebrands, I think I prefer the original.
17 SOMERSET – SOME R(us)SET &lit. This took an absolute age to work out. Somerset is an English county famous, among other things, for its cider production. This is what I call a tune ! My COD nomination
19 DOUBLET – The word BUTTON has DOUBLE T in its centre. This took even longer to work out.
22 C(itrus),LOSER – Very clever use of CITRUS and LEMON. This looks as if it may be a chestnut, but I can’t remember ever seeing it before.
24 MARGE – GRAM rev, E. Short form of MARGARINE. I don’t think I would have been able to resist a Simpsons reference.
25 G,RUNT – another which may be chestnutty, but I can’t remember seeing it before. An excellent end to a very good crossword.

13 comments on “Saturday 23910 – One definite chestnut and maybe one or two others”

  1. Well done Ken – the first is the most nerve racking. I agree with you on COBWEB – how can “collecting dust” be a definition? And 17D is a cracker, although I suspect even harder for overseas solvers with it’s indirect allusion to cider than 22D and lemon=loser. Jimbo.
  2. Thanks for this 7d, a very interesting blog to a very interesting puzzle.

    I couldn’t quite grasp 11 when solving and even looking at your perfectly clear explanation I had to read the clue a couple more times for it to sink in; must have had a blind spot on this one.

    I’m not sure I can agree about 22 which I admit is very clever but I think is possibly a little unfair to those without local knowledge, so to speak.

  3. Congratulations on turning gamekeeper!

    Really good Saturday puzzle for me – took about 40 minutes which is about where I like them pitched. 17dn SOMERSET is just brilliant. I don’t think it’s unfair, really (though admittedly my roots are there), since the county is pretty reknowned for its cider. Kind of like knowing that Idaho is big on potatoes.

    I’m okay with 5ac COBWEB as a cryptic allusion, though it might have got a boo from me on a weekday. 26ac SIR ALEC took me ages, but had (talking of the Simpsons) a huge Doh! factor. And I agree that 27ac is out of the top drawer.

    Good puzzle, good blog. Thanks to the crafters of both.

  4. Jimbo, I think the COED definition covers it: COBWEB – a spider’s web, especially an old and dusty one.
  5. I had no problem with the definition of COBWEB. But I am not so sure about the definition of HAREM at 15A, which seems to be “Where many wives want”. I had always pictured harems as places where many wives were well provided for. Or am I misreading the clue?

    And I liked the fact that Somerset and Exmouth appeared in the South West corner of the puzzle.

    1. Well spotted on the SW thing – how cute!

      Seems to me that neither 5 COBWEB nor 15 HAREM have a definition as such, more a sort of oblique, whole clue description (with the one for HAREM being a bit misanthropic as well as oblique).

      1. In 15, I thought “Where many wives” was being used as the def, with “want” being the link that says you need/want “hare, m” to make the answer. But strictly, you would need “wants” for this purpose.

        5 I read as just one of those old-fashioned allusive clues that implies a second def rather than giving it explicitly.

        Picky correction: 10A is THROW IN THE TOWEL

        1. Thanks Peter. As someone recently said, it doesn’t matter how much you proof read, check and double check, there’s always one that sneaks through.
  6. I agree that the SOMERSET & lit. is superb, but I’m afraid I can’t agree with the praise heaped on 27 Ac (TWENTY). Even if one allows that ‘outraged’ can be interpreted as ‘out raged’, how on earth can ‘when out raged’ mean ‘when raged is taken out’, grammatically speaking? Frankly, I’m surprised this clue got past the crossword editor.

  7. I thought that tragedy “outraged” to get ty was excellent but then maybe my grammar is no better than my spelin.

    There are seven “easies”:

    12a Second language good for a celebration (7)

    15a Where many wives want to shoot male (5)
    HARE M

    20a Work on mountain goat? (6,2)

    1d Loathe getting lower grades with inferior exam (6)
    D E TEST. The exam is inferior because it is below.

    4d Rule which maybe taken up (5)
    TENET. A palindrome almost exactly unlike NOTLOB.

    7d Wife expecting money back, so thrilled (5)
    W OWED

    21d German city overlooks church spirit (7)
    ESSEN C.E. BERLINCH is too many letters and MUNCHENCH is just silly.

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