Times 23607/wizardry

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 55’

The last 7 or 8 clues (2 in each quadrant basically) slowed me down considerably: in particular, RECLAME, POTTER (oddly enough), HIERATIC (quite hard), CASINO, DISMAY, AIT. I did spot a slight themette with Harry POTTER, DRACO and ENCHANTRESS (though since it’s Circe, I suppose more likely to be associated with ODYSSEAN). Maybe there’s more here than meets my eye.

Lots of clever clues to write about.


1 DIS=rev(Sid),MAY – Having to find two TLNs (three-letter names) is a bit much frankly – given that there was no other wordplay.
4 HIER=”hire”,ATIC=”attic” – quite a hard clue and one of my last: it’s priestly hieroglyphic script. I had to check.
10 G,RE,A,T AUNT – She’s a relative. I think the word play is G=”good” and rev(ER=”king”).
11 MEAN,S – There was quite a bit of fuss in America a couple of years ago due to the homophonic nature of “niggardly”…
12 BANNOCK,BU(R)N – without checking I’m going to assume that a BANNOCK is something you can get at your bakery. Having seen (some of) “Braveheart” helped here.
14 IN,N – ref. Jamaica Inn by Du Maurier.
15 DESCENT=”dissent”
17 ENSIGN – cryptic def I suppose for a flag (quite misleading of course since it’s pilots you fixate on)
19 P(OTT)ER – OTT (over the top) in rev(rep=”agent”). And it’s Harry POTTER.
21 PIE(EYE)D – you’d think that London would have to more offer in the way of tourist attractions!
24 ENCHANT,RE,SS – a cryptic def using Circe as an example: she lay in wait for Odysseus’s ships and presumably was delighted to see them. Unless there’s some actual wordplay going on here that escapes me… Post-comment wordplay fix: I should have seen this since “ship” and SS is a cryptic cliche: it’s a case of “X with Y” indicating Y,X. Must be a good clue since the wordplay was so apposite it bamboozled me into thinking the whole thing was a CD.
26 DRAC,O=rev(O=”old”, card=”king”) – another Potter reference and it’s a constellation.
27 AQUAPLANE – a rather misleading and convoluted cryptic def for what happens when you drive too fast in the rain.
29 AR(DEN)NE’S – ARNE’S our composer and ARDENNES is also in France (though I always associate it with Belgium given the Battle of the Bulge).
30 HEAD ON – double/cryptic def: it’s a kind of crash and Charles I was beheaded so…


1 DOGSBODY – sometimes a cryptic setter is a dog and, groan, a dog’s body is what a setter has…
3 A,IT – one of my last: it’s an island and IT=Italian=vermouth=sweet flavoured wine
8 C(A,SIN)O – my last clue: not that hard but I was obviously misled by “betters”. Anyway, “envy” is an example of a sin.
9 BUCK,ET – not sure about this: it’s a container but the dandy film? Ref. Charlie BUCKET character in the Dahl film?Another wordplay fix: BUCK=”dandy” and ET’s our perennial film”.
16 SHORTHAND[ed] – clever subtraction clue
18 ODYSSEAN – (one’s days)*
20 R,EC,LAME – the most recherché word for me in this puzzle. Never heard of it (in English) – and I wonder about C=abbrev(“City”) assuming I’ve parsed the wordplay correctly. Oh, it means “hunger for publicity” — from the French. Final fix: EC is “city” actually — I knew this and considered it briefly but for some reason discarded it. And “initially rather”=R.
21 PLAQUE – amusing cryptic def for what a dentist doesn’t want to be remembered for.
22 TUN,DRA[h] – rev([h]ard nut)
28 POE[try]

14 comments on “Times 23607/wizardry”

  1. Thanks for explaining 22D. I was convinced that “East Ender” here was T, and so I could make no sense of it.

    A few suggestions:

    24A – RE SS (= regarding ship) after (=with) ENCHANT (= delight)
    9D – BUCK (= dandy) + ET (=film)
    20D – EC (for City) in (R(ather) + LAME (=weak))

  2. 9:05 for me – RECLAME was the last. BUCKET: a buck is a dandy, then it’s corny old {film = ET}. Bannock: some kind of teacakey thing from (appropriately) Scotland. 20D: I had wordplay as R = “initially rather”, EC = City (that old postcode reference), LAME = rather weak. As far as I know, C=City is not a sanctioned one-letter abbrev. in Times puzzles (or elsewhere as far as I recall).
    1. Presumably this is a slip, Peter. Isn’t it EC in R [initially rather] LAME [weak, not rather weak, surely]?
  3. Trying to work out how where why i should know the word reclame.
    Thought i would bring forward my comment to qualifier 3 as most readers of this blog would have moved on by now methinks.

    I did qualifier 3 in a genuine 16 minutes which for me is good especially as in the last few months i am rarely finishing the crypics unassisted . Anyway i sent it off and i have not heard either; yes i was able to trust myself on DONGA; vaguely recall it mentioned in Zulu ; maybe. My motivation is at the lowest it’s been in years; relegated to the third division in metaphoric terms. As a someone who has not knowingly finished a xcrypticxword in less than 10 mins what incentive could there be. If this year’s championship is going to be more or less like last years then it won’t be worth my while going; i would be far too grumpy and resentful for it be a pleasant social experience. AlanJC

    1. The snippets of grapevine information I’m getting about championship entries suggest that there are more people interested in competing than there were last year, when in theory there were 250 places available but (from memory) only about 200 were taken up and about 180 people turned up on the day. Back in 1970 the first championships apparently attracted 20,000 (yes, twenty thousand) entries for the first postal stage, so there are lots of solvers out there and quite possibly 200 people who can do one of the qualifiers in under 10 minutes in addition to last year’s top 50 who are ‘pre-qualified’. But if the keen folk have entered first, it may still be possible to get in with times around 20 minutes for the 4th qualifier.

      Incentive? Depends on what you want out of a crossword championship. If it’s a reasonable chance of finishing the 3 puzzles in the time limit, you’ll need a best-ever time under 10 minutes if the difficulty level is like last year. If you’re not too worried about your finishing position and would like to meet some solvers or buttonhole the xwd ed, I’d say “go anyway”.

  4. Bucket: dandy = buck, ET = film…

    I really liked this crossword though only one or two clues caused me difficulty. Some really witty things like plaque,inn, head on. I don’t agree with “sweet” as part of a definition of “it” since most vermouth is dry

      1. It is more specific than that. Although messrs Martini, Cinzano and others produced both dry and sweet vermouths in Italy, Noilly Prat in France produced only dry vermouth. And so there was a time when in England vermouths were distinguished as “Italian” meaning sweet, or “French” meaning dry. The leading drinks they appeared in were Gin and It, and Gin and French. I am not sure if the setter is showing his learning or his age by using this old slang.
  5. I tried to look at this blog over the weekend when I was in China. You can feel proud that it is considered sufficiently subversive that it is blocked by the great firewall of China! Actually, I think everything on livejournal is, although I didn’t bother to check.


  6. 7-something for most of this, another 5+ for RECLAME and AQUAPLANE. Not too bad, perhaps, except that I’ve spent the afternoon being lectured / watching videos on aquaplaning. There’s no hope.
  7. 10:33 for me. I spent a ridiculously long time on DESCENT, thinking of DISSENT almost immediately but for some reason (advancing senility?) not managing to equate it with “objection”. Doh!
  8. I should have added that despite my hang-up on DESCENT, I found this an enjoyable puzzle, and was suitably fooled (though not for too long) by AQUAPLANE and BUCKET.
  9. Only 5 “easies” omitted from the blog – an indication of the quality of this one.

    23a Posh officer in business during previous month (3)
    ULT. U = posh and LT = officer. This is short for ultimo which is, apparently, Latin for last month. Not sure what the purpose of “in business” in the clue is? Too long a clue for a 3 letter answer anyway – as is this comment.

    2d Polish ambassador kept in Asian money (5)
    S HE EN

    5d Come uninvited? One’s not heartless and discourteous (7)
    I N(o)T RUDE

    6d Stirring memories of newish skirts taken in (11)

    25d The Spanish duke capturing an African mammal (5)
    EL AN D. A majestic antelope revered by the San people.

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