Times 23,586 – too many mistakes!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This was the most difficult of the Friday puzzles I have blogged since I joined the Times team.

I started off well enough, but the right-hand side of the grid just wouldn’t come for me. I eventually struggled over the line after about 30 minutes of brow-furrowing.


1 REVILE – (<=elver) about I – I wanted to put in REVIEW, but WEVER isn’t a fish, then I had to change my mind about what “run down” meant, and eventually it came to me.

4 OF(f) COURSE – the first clue I solved, and probably the easiest in the puzzle.

11 SENSE – I quickly put in RANGE and no matter how much I failed to get a word to fit in 6dn using the R, my brain refused to come up with another possibility, unitl 6dn revealed itself to me in a flash of inspiration.

13 RENAISSANCE – (an increase’s)*

14 BOO-BOO(k) – A boobook is a small Antipodean owl.

16 GR(I’M)ACE – as in Princess Grace of Monaco

19 INS(HOR)T – outbreaks to mean “initials of” – I can see what the setter is getting at, so I suppose it’s fine.

22 GO TO THE DOGS – nice, slightly misleading surface.

27 AUGUST(IN)E – Auguste is a type of clown, IN = home

28 MISCHIEF – (mice fish)* – “snake” is the anagrind, so “monkey” must be the definition. Chambers says that a mischief is a mischievous person, but I’ve never come across that use of it before.

29 CYGNET – homophone of SIGNET


2 VI-CARIOUS – I can see CARIOUS = decayed, as in dental caries, and the VI is the V1 flying bomb.



9 ICING ON THE CAKE – took me an inordinate amount of time to get this – my brain must be frazzled!

17 AMAZ(e)-ON-IAN – Ian with no reference to Scotland? That threw me, I have to admit.

18 RINGWORM – RI(grown)*M

23 TIT-US as in Titus Andronicus

24 SISSY – (<=Y-SS-IS) – the “in” in the clue is superfluous, and just there to make the surface read better.

13 comments on “Times 23,586 – too many mistakes!”

  1. My experience with this puzzle was very similar to yours. Initially I thought I was going to solve it fairly quickly, with about a quarter to a third of the clues solved in 5 minutes, then I came to an abrupt halt and stared at it for twenty minutes before I got any further. I could feel my brain seizing up, so had a short break, then got “icing on the cake”, which until then I was sure was going to be X in the Y; I was able to finish fairly quickly after that. Augustine was the last for me, though I didn’t understand it at the time.
  2. 15:02 here – with the last four minutes or so on AUGUSTINE, worrying about whether anything else might fit, and not knowing the clown or Augustine=an Augustinian monk. Had already gone for BOO-BOO on wordplay, not knowing about the owl.
    1. Not my fav puzzle though I got there after about 40′ — too many answers with vaguish defs coupled with simple ignorance (didn’t know about boobook nor auguste the clown either). I thought that BLOWTORCH as “paint remover” was vague, likewise OBSESSION as “the thing!”, I don’t see how “snake” can be an anagrind (I decided that “monkey” was and somehow MISCHIEF was “snake”!), and NOR as “a link” is weak.


  3. I found this one annoying. So many definitions seemed slack, like “transitional period” for renaissance. (Every historical period is transitional, in that it’s preceded by one and followed by another.) The Renaissance was less transitional than most–no hint of the interim, or interregnum about it. Revile/run down and dust-up/run-in both seem weak to me. Plus, the ghosts of my Shetland ancestors rise in wrath at seeing Yell described as a “Scottish island,” but I suppose they’re wrong…
  4. I have to agree, quite a few dodgy clues here (and a fair few I couldn’t get at all). I didn’t much like 5D (‘failing’ is too similar to ‘falling’ and the cryptic part was a little vague), and thought 7D was a little clumsy. 1D and 22A were my favourites today.
  5. 16:30 for me. I thought at one point it was going to be longer, but the last few clues came in a rush once I’d got ICING ON THE CAKE, which took me a ridiculous amount of time.

    Unlike earlier commentators, I thought this was an excellent puzzle, and I had no objections to any of the clues – but I was helped by knowing all the references (owl, clown, monk, etc – though I’ve only ever come across the owl in crosswords).

  6. Just over an hour for me. Although hard going, I did enjoy this and don’t have as many complaints as some.
    Last to go in were AUGUSTINE and ATTEST – don’t know why the latter took so long especially as I am the resident cricket expert, according to Ilan!
    I didn’t know boobook, but I am familiar with the ‘Boo Boo Bird’ as sung by Ivor Cutler. I think he probably invented that bird though.

    On the online version, I notice that we had the number ’19’ rather than ‘nineteen’ in 12A – so perhaps they have finally sorted out this particular problem.

  7. I too enjoyed this puzzle, probably because I managed to finish it without Googling or Chambers. Although there were a few half educated guesses. Mischief was last to in right around the 2hr mark.
  8. Coming late to this discussion, but I enjoyed this too, like Tony, tho I too found it very difficult (not so unhappy now with my 14:11 having seen some other times).
    I think SENSE was the last I got – took ages! Not keen on this sort of clue: that’s my excuse, anyway!
  9. This was quite tough – even bringing some of the usual sub-10 minute-ers into the teens and other contributors into the 1 and even 2 hour + realms. For me it was chance to do some Googling and to increase on GK with a new bird or two and a check on what words like VICARIOUS (2d) really mean!

    Despite the difficulty there were enough to be deemed “easies” and left out of the blog:

    10a Using specialised skill, (catch line)* when it’s thrown (9)

    12a Subtract this as ordered from 19 – it’ll form a link (3)
    NOR. 19 a is INSHORT – take away THIS and you get NOR left. The literal of “a link” is a bit vague?

    20a In a large building exhibit pictures by artist the wrong way round (6)
    HANG AR. Exhibit ’em by Hanging ’em next to a backwards Royal Academician.

    25a Plump, Overly Plump, Truthfully when first seen (3)

    26a Cockney more passionate where this carnivore is concerned (6)
    (H) OTTER

    1d Full eighteen holes consumes some time (6)
    RO T UND. Rotund = full – stretching the point a bit?

    3d Vessel needing reinforcement (5)
    LINER. Liner = reinforcement?

    5d Failing? You wouldn’t want it to happen on ice (7,7)

    7d Dust-up resulting in arrest (3,2)
    RUN IN. A DD.

    15d Paint remover – brand appears on bottom of box (9)
    BLOW TORCH. I thought paint remover was OK?

    21d Engaged in cricket, declare (6)

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