Times 23,034

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 14:15

Lots of interesting clues. In fact I could only identify one that didn’t seem to need including in the analysis. So apologies to anyone puzzled by 15A.

I got a bit stuck in the top right corner. I was convinced that the German cycle-maker was going to be a scientist, and thought only of E for English instead of Eng. And I tried various staffs for the college (DOWNHER?) before arriving at the right one.

I liked most of these clues, and my clue of the day is probably 14 (GANG OF FOUR), with 1 (CROSSEST) a close second


1 CROSSES T – Brilliant. If only “dotsi” was a word.
5 WA(GNE)R, being ENG(lish) in RAW, all reversed.
9 (l)EFT
10 H + AVE ON(E(asterly)’S(ure)) WAY – “hail” for AVE makes a pair with “vale” for TARA yesterday
12 GET ROUND TO (=”two”)
13 DHAL – first letters
16 ER(A)SMUS – A(nswer) in RE and SUMS, both reversed
18 MAN-HO(U)R, MAN-HOR being (NO HARM)*
20 A(NGOL)A, NGOL being LONG*
23 CITY – hidden reversed. “Important to see” because one of the several definitions of when a town is a city is based on whether it has a cathedral
24 STEER FORTH – from David Copperfield
26 BOBBY SHAFT+O – The gratuitous “Chasing” does make the surface much more fun
27 MO+B – “Flash” means “mo” as in “in a flash”. And not as I first thought, a sort of mob. Which leaves “bringing” as a rather odd link word
28 EX + T(OR)T – that’s OR for “ranks” (odd but not inaccurate) in two Ts for “times” after EX for “past”
29 STAR(K)ERS – hmmm


1 C + LE + R(u)G(b)Y – this time the superfluous “used” is there only to improve the surface
3 SCHOOL + BOOK – “work” often means some sort of book in the Times. And “killers” here means whales
6 A.(BE)D.
7 N(EWNH)AM – EWNH being WHEN*, and NAM being MAN(rev)
11 O(N.T. HE)F ACE OF I.T.
14 GANG OFF OUR – ho-ho – as usual the Chairman is Mao.
19 NOT A B + IT, NOTAB being BATON(rev)
22 PHOBOS, being (SOB OH P)(all rev)
25 DYER (=”DIRE”)

54 comments on “Times 23,034”

  1. Quite a tough one, this, but got there after 12 minutes despite not really understanding wordplay for 27.

    Some very good deception at work, in particular the wickedly tough 28 which gets my COD nom.

    Q-0 E-8 D-8 COD 28

    1. I think the wordplay in 27 is “mo” = “flash” (as in “in a mo(ment)” + B (bachelor), to “mob” being to “press round”.
  2. I thought this was right up there with yesterday’s, and looked to me like the same setter.

    It has some lovely anagram indicators (I especially liked “rights” at 17 and “rambling” in 20), some very smooth surfaces (I took ages to see the initials of DHAL in 13) and intricate wordplay (11 took a bit of unravelling to see “of ace of IT”!)

    A good mixture of literature, history and slang in the answers.

    I liked 26 (though it might be a problem for non-English solvers) but my COD would be 23 for the well-hidden word and the ambiguity of “see”.

    Just one thing – can someone explain the wordplay in 5 which I assume is WAGNER? (Early on I got fixated on “otto” which was the first German cycle that came to mind!)

    1. 5: Not done = RAW (done = cooked), ‘without’ = outside (English = ENG), all ‘backing’ = reversed.

      Same setter? I’m pretty sure we never get the same setter two days in a row.

      Edited at 2008-10-02 08:15 am (UTC)

      1. Thank you Peter – that is probably the simplest wordplay in the whole puzzle! A blonde moment.
  3. 11:12 for this one – seem to be stuck on 11-something as my solving time at present. Very good stuff among the wordplay that I’ve worked out in full. Saw EXTORT as a possible for 28 but it took another couple of minutes to understand. Slowed down by not seeing the meaning-change on ‘Civil’ for AMICABLE or getting the anagram from ?M???B??, which should have been enough.
  4. More like a blonde hour in my case. Wrote in BYE BYE and LARAMIE straight away and then sat staring at it blankly. Admittedly I was not solving under ideal conditions today but it was ages before I got properly under way. But at least I eventually finished it and without assistance. I still have two or three not fully explained but I’ll wait for the main blog for these.
  5. Whichever setter produced it, I thought this was one of the most enjoyable puzzles for some time. So many clues were wittily deceptive – 17D would be my COD. After an embarrassing 22 mins for yesterday’s puzzle, which everyone else found so easy, I was pleased with 10 mins on this one.
  6. Bang goes my run of fast times, 23 minutes for this, fun to bash out, but I was wondering if this was going to be a “sleep on it” puzzle.

    Guessed from wordplay: NEWNHAM, BOBBY SHAFTO (I think I remember a song, but thought it was “Shaftoe”?), EFT, STEERFORTH. Guessed from definition or incomplete wordplay: GANG OF FOUR, WAGNER (now I see the wordplay is easy, but it wasn’t at midnight).

    Laramie is a bit of an obscure town to put in a crossword, isn’t it?

    Lots of fun clues, but I like 19 for deceptiveness.

  7. 37 minutes. Surely that setter I’ve come to think of as the Zoltan Kaparthy of the Times crossword, the blaggard!

    Anything more that two elements of wordplay in a clue and fuses start popping so I should hate this setter, but flashes of genius like CROSSEST (which I’ll nominate for Hall of Fame entry) and AMICABLE (that ‘rights’ is brilliant) make it impossible.

    Nice to see an ‘Ooo, Matron’ moment in 4d, and to be reminded of Jimmy Stewart and The Man from Laramie:

    Will Lockhart: Where’d an Indian get a rifle like that?
    Frank Darrah: He don’t say. I don’t ask.

    They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    Q-0, E9, D-9

  8. I’m confused about the wordplay here. What is the function of ‘caution’ in the clue? And isn’t calling a group of killers(whales) a ‘school’ stretching things a bit?
    1. Chambers has “school” applying to fish, whales and other swimming animals. I assumed that “caution” = “book” (in the sense of what the police may do to you) but come to think of it they are different – if you are booked you pay a fine, but not if you are just cautioned.
      1. You are right that “book” for “caution” is a bit approximate. I had thought of a football referee doing the booking, but a policeman is probably better. I think the police use two sorts of cautions. One is the warning that anything you say can be used in evidence when they arrest you, the other is a formal warning as an alternative to prosecution. I guess the first of these is within spitting distance of “book” meaning “arrest”?
        1. Checking the Concise Oxford, I think you’re there on the caution half – with the second kind. For book it has “make an official note of the details of (someone who has broken a law or rule)”. Whether this is accompanied by a fine or any other punishment is unstated, so that book can match the ‘formal warning’ version of caution. (COD also has “fish or sea mammals” for school)
          1. The simplest book = caution example I can think of is the yellow card in football (soccer).
  9. 13.37. Tricky but fun. I didn’t get the wordplay for WAGNER or EXTORT until afterwards – the problem with EXTORT being that I assumed “times” would be the X, not a couple of T’s, and it was hard to unthink that. But both these clues have such neatly disguised definitions that when you see it you know it has to be right from the def alone.
  10. Query: Did the Saturday puzzle 24,024 from September 20th ever get blogged? I still have the grid sitting on my desk – it was an unusually difficult one (well, it beat me, which isn’t quite the same thing).
      1. ….and I’ve been waiting to quote Hilaire Belloc on CHAMBERTIN and to admire the double clueing of MACE….
        1. I think it was linxit’s turn? It was a good puzzle – anyone want to put up a late blog, I think I’ve recycled my copy already.
          1. As I raised it, Peter asked if I’d do the report, assuming linxit doesn’t pop up soon. Will be there in a while (just a bare bones report).
  11. The best of the week so far. I was untimed but it took me over 20 minutes. Almost every clue was so craftily worded there were more Aha moments than a 1980s Norwegian Pop Music convention.
    Top marks to the setter. COD = all of it
  12. Laramie should be no problem to anyone (like me) who was around in the 60s when the TV Western of that name was shown every week on the BBC.

    PS to Richard: You have DAHL at 13.

    1. Thanks. Just because Ro(n)ald’s parents couldn’t spell is no reason for me not to. I will edit quietly.
    2. Didn’t know it was a Western, only old westerns I remember were Rawhide (which came up in a Mephisto recently), Bonanza and Gunsmoke.
      1. It was the same era. Laramie ran on NBC 1959-1963 starring John Smith, Robert Fuller, Hoagy Carmichael (!), Bobby Crawford Jr and Spring Byington. I think the BBC showed every episode here.
  13. A pretty tough one this, taking a smidge under 40 minutes.

    Highlights were the German cycle maker (immediate panic, not helped by wondering if Raleigh were German and therefore trying to manufacture some complex subtraction), abuse in 2d as a noun in the surface and a verb in the answer, “peer group” for starers and my COD crossest. Should we look out for dotsi in a future puzzle?

    Q-0, E-8.5, D-8.5

  14. Completely off-topic (and probably a deletable comment), but today’s Guardian is worth peeking at – particularly for 1ac.
  15. Nothing to add to what has already been said. An excellent puzzle with some beautifully crafted clues. It took me forever to work out the parsing of SCHOOL BOOK, just couldn’t see it. CROSSEST and EXTORT are brilliant in a whole collection of excellence. 35 minutes to solve.
  16. I’m surprised you haven’t come across eft before George – I’d regard it as a cryptic crossword staple.
  17. Extort did for me. I was sure it was the answer, but did not think to unhook “threatening” and “times” because of that damned comma, so couldn’t make it work for the life of me. Talk about hiding in plain sight!

    On the flip side, I had Wagner on paper after reading only the first two words of the clue: “German cycle…
    ” CLANG!!!

    A great puzzle. Devious as they come, but all fair and above board.

    1. The “German cycle-maker” was pretty obvious to me too, but then I do like listening to Wagner. So do various crossword setters it seems – he or his works come up quite a bit.

      Edited at 2008-10-02 05:31 pm (UTC)

  18. Some fantastic clues today, too many to single out any. 5:57, aided by fortunate guesses of STEERFORTH and LARAMIE. Very careless really, I ought to be saving up my luck for the weekend.
  19. “Some fantastic clues today, too many to single out any”. Absolutely agree – and nice to be able to work out some, which were unknown or forgotten, from the wordplay e.g. STEERFORTH, BOBBY SHAFTO, NEWNHAM.
      1. Ummm … Given the problems with global warming, and the unreliability of Chinese made tomtoms, particularly from here in New Zealand, one has to get the message in early, just in case.
  20. Sorry for the late entry, but I’m chiming in to say how much I enjoyed this entirely. WEll, almost entirely, because I don’t know the meaning of ‘Bobby Shafto’, although the wordplay led straight to it. Solved during the day while driving around on work assignments, probably in the 45 minute range altogether, so relatively difficult in my view, but almost every clue yielded a reward. Regards.
  21. I was struggling enough trying to get a handle on wordplay going forwards, and today after very little success and resorting to this source of enlightenment I discover that most of it is going backwards! (like me…) ARGHHH!! But now I know lots of reversing signs, so I’ll try to do better next time.
  22. Couldn’t comment yesterday and usually wouldn’t bother now, but……….. this was a brilliant puzzle.
    Really original cluing – 1,4,28 etc etc etc – too many to mention. 14 minutes
    Thanks to the setter
  23. An excellent puzzle. Only one left out of the blog:

    15a A couple of runs are so long! (3-3)
    BYE – BYE. Poor wicket keeping?

    My FOI was ABED at 6d and my LOI was OUTSTAY at 2d.

    A real DOH! moment when the German cycle-maker revealed himself. I have just checked and there really IS a Wiki page of German Cycle manufacturers. Sadly, there is not a single WAGNER among them.

Comments are closed.