ST 4215 – Stretchered-owski

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Solving time: 4:33

Generally straightforward, largely because of the transparency of the definitions. A couple of quibbles (19ac, 23ac, 22dn), one editing error (I think – 3dn) and one explanation I’m unsure about (25ac) but most clues were fairly sound, superfluous words aside.

* = anagram, “X” = ‘sounds like X’.

10 AU + STERE (= TREES*)
11 SPECTACLE; (SELECT CAP)* – ‘wear’ in the sense of ‘become worn’, I suppose.
13 DORM + OUSE – a reference to Alice in Wonderland.
17 EP + ISTLE (= (I’S LET)*)
19 GREASE; (AGREES)* – ‘X to see new’ meaning ‘anagram of X’?
23 VAGARIES; “VAGUE ARIES” – I don’t think this homophone works: the wordplay is ‘confused ram, say‘, but the stress on the first syllable of ‘Aries’ is not matched in ‘vagaries’.
25 STRETCHER – the only explanation I can provide for ‘Polish device’ is that you are somehow supposed to interpret this as meaning ‘with poles’. Is there something better?
27 ANGOLAN; rev. of LOG inside (AN + AN)
3 DOVECOTES; (SO COVETED)* – ‘shelter for birds’ is the definition given, but it should surely be plural.
4 OGRESS; rev. of ERGO + S[tep]S – very strained cryptic grammar.
5 C + H + AR + CO + AL – easy but clever.
15 RELAY-RACE (cryptic definition)
20 R(E + TIN)UE
21 ACE + TON + E – I stumbled across this via ‘one hundred euros’ = ACE which is not what’s going on at all.
22 MIN(A + RE)T – the Sappers are the Royal Engineers. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, but I don’t think ‘sapper’ is accurate for ‘RE’, as this abbreviation can’t indicate the singular ‘Royal Engineer’, unlike CE which does mean ‘civil engineer’.
24 A + R + CAD + E – nothing to do with Cade, as I originally thought, who was a rebel rather than a rascal.

6 comments on “ST 4215 – Stretchered-owski”

  1. 25A: I can’t think of anything better than your explanation. If that’s what the compiler had in mind I think it’s stretching things a bit far.

    3D: If I’ve understood your point correctly I don’t think it’s valid as a single dovecote can house more than one bird.

    23A: Having got the right answer I wasn’t able to make sense of the VAG and I agree that unless there is an explanation other than an attempt at a homophone it’s a poor clue.

    22D: You make an interesting point but I think RE for SAPPER is standard stuff and it’s only made awkward here by the inclusion of the superfluous indefinite article at the beginning.


    1. Having re-read it I withdraw my comment on 3D however DOVECOTES do provide shelter for birds so I’m not convinced the clue was unfair.


      1. 3d: I see what you mean, but I can’t see why ‘shelter’ was preferred to ‘shelters’. Maybe it was a deliberate attempt to make the answer’s final ‘S’ less obvious.

        22dn: Certainly ‘sapper’ = RE is not uncommon but I don’t think it’s justifiable. I guess it’s one of those things like ‘charge’ = ION which you just come to accept as crosswordese.

        1. I suspect ‘shelter’ was a simple misprint of the setter’s ‘shelters’. I’m not sure I can recall meeting ‘sapper’=RE before (though I expect I must have if it’s not uncommon), but I’ve certainly met ‘charge’=ION and it’s a pet hate of mine! As regards VAGARIES, this can be pronounced with the accent on the 2nd syllable (I think this may be an old-fashioned usage), but the clue still isn’t very satisfactory.
          1. Your experience is far greater than mine so perhaps it is uncommon, after all! I just thought I could remember seeing RE clued in this, or a similar way (‘engineer’ maybe?), before (not necessarily in The Times), and thinking ‘that’s not quite right’.

            In reply to Buzzword, I meant to add that the indefinite article in the clue is not superfluous – it gives the ‘A’ in the answer!

  2. Bit of a cock-up on the grid front with this one. The on-line grid for 27a – blogged correctly as ANGOLAN by O senhor Talbinho – has 9 spaces and is therefore NOT symmetrical with 9a (HANGMAN – see “easies”) and the grid is NOT a standard symmetrical Times Grid. To be fair the clue does give (7) for the answer but I was mis-led by the spaces in the grid and came up with the unlikely ANGOLANDA for probably an Angolan lady? This DOES fit in with the cryptic but it is a made-up word. The fairer Angolan is of course una Angolana and this longer word does NOT exist. Worst of all, on the Times X-word site, the answer is given as ANGOLIANA which means that 18d is PENCHINT. Not a triumph for the online editors there.

    That aside there are some “easies” in the rest of the grid that seem correct:

    4a Remote possibility given by rotten card in Monopoly (3-6)

    8a There’e some cockEREL ON Grill soon (7)

    9a He suspends word game (7)
    HANGMAN. The symmetrical partner of ANGOLANDAS?

    14a Up on the rocks, (a Siren)* can make it (6)

    26a Shorten dog at the front and back (7)

    28a Noble lady starts to Dust Uncle’s board game (7)

    29a Small meeting of heads in Paris about opening of academy (4,1,4)
    TETE A TETE. Interestingly a double dose of a place in Mocambique – another Portuguese speaking African country.

    6d It’s as (if Ghana)* made new language (6)
    AFGHANI. More Africa? No – not Ashanti at all.

    7d Fib after cleaner finds cocaine (7)
    CHAR LIE. I learned all I know about drugs slang from these esteemed pages.

    12d Being thoughtful I have swans at the front (7)

    16d Bridge players take an instant to read bulletin (9)
    N E W S FLASH. Don’t deal in that order if you don’t want to be ostracised at your Bridge Club.

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