Times 23,616 – one for the polymath

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This felt more like a test of general knowledge than of wordmanship, but I didn’t find it terribly difficult. There were a couple of more obscure answers, but the wordplay was generally straightforward enough to allow me to have a guess. Spent more time checking references to write up this blog than I did solving the puzzle in the first place. Time taken – app. 14 mins.


1 B(lo)ODY

3 FREELOADER – a poorly disguised cryptic definition

10 PODSNAP (<=PANS-D(ickens)-OP) – a character in Our Mutual Friend

11 ELE((ph)G)ant

12 DICK WHITTINGTON – the pantomime character who, about to leave London to return to Gloucester, imagines that the bells of London are asking him to turn back.

18 BOWMAN – good double definition – archer and the lead rower in an eight

21 SAINT PETERSBURG – (Russian GP better)*

24 P(ANN)IER – haven’t come across this kind of wordplay, but assume it is instructing us to place “girl” (ANN) near the head of the “jetty” (PIER), so nearer the P of PIER than the R?



1 BI(P.E.)D-AL(l)

2 DODECAGON – 12 sides to a dodecagon, and 12 aposles, hence one line per apostle

6 ONE IN A THOUSAND – tried to fit in ONE IN A MILLION because that is a more common phrase as far as I am aware, and the reverse cryptic wordplay would indicate both (A in I M), but of course MILLION has seven letters and we needed eight.

8 RETINUE – (<=UNITE in E(aste)R)

9 SNOWY MOUNTAINS – (NSW too sunny aim)* – the highest mountain range in Australia, in New South Wales, therefore the surface is excellent.

15 L(I’M-O-US)INE – another excellent surface

16 TOGETHER – T(<=GO)ETHER took me a while to see the wordplay; the pedant in me may not like the “a” in the clue.

17 C-AS-H (C)OW

20 WEAPON – (<=NO P(A)EW)

11 comments on “Times 23,616 – one for the polymath”

  1. Oh so that’s the explanation! Having got the right answer I was at a loss to explain “the first of eight”. I thought it might be a reference to 8D – RETINUE – so I did some Googling and came up with “retinue archer” a single archer in, and possibly leading (hence first), the retinue of a nobleman. It seemed pretty good, if a bit obscure.

    On 3A, can FREELOADER mean the present itself? I thought it meant the person who received it, so I couldn’t make sense of the clue. Or have I missed something?


  2. 18A
    Actually not a bad clue – “A person who is present who has taken and not returned” – if slightly stretched by including the “not returned” bit!
    Having the full list of Times rules in my possession I’m quite surprised this passed editing. Answers should appear as dictionary entries in bold type and I can’t find this in my admittedly modest collection; perhaps the nicely spotted A(I)M was sufficiently persuasive.
    1. The phrase is in Chambers 2003, but not in Collins (which is what I thought they always use). It was fair though, and is a phrase everyone’s heard of. I don’t see a problem with it.
      1. Phrases used in the Times puzzle should ideally be bold entries in Chambers, Collins or COD but it’s not set in stone, depending on the familiarity of the phrase. It’s surprising the every day phrases missing from these esteemed works.
        COD tends to be pretty rubbish for phrases I find, and Collins scarcely better. In fact I think of COD as the single word reference, Chambers as the phrase reference and Collins as the place name/proper name reference, as a broad and unfair generalisation…

        But I love all 3 dictionaries, of course 🙂

  3. 3A

    But a freeloader doesn’t have to be present, in the vicinity, surely? Am I still missing something?


  4. Sorry to post here, but I can’t see where else to go: Was there ever a blog for Mephisto 2438 (May 20)? No doubt it’s somewhere, but I can’t find it.
    1. I think someone might have volunteered to do it, but I can’t remember who. If it’s not up by the time I get home from work tonight I’ll do it.
      1. However, I’ve been trying unsuccessfully all day to post my (belated) entry for last Saturday’s crossword, so maybe there’s a problem with the site preventing everyone from posting new entries.
    2. I believe I’m doing Mephisto 2438 – hopefully solving later today and blogging today/tomorrow. (I should solved it before going on hols but the website didn’t have it and I only get the Observer on a Sunday.)
  5. Solved during post-hol catch-up in 6:47, and should have been quicker, but I fancied going for the ‘clean sweep’, which lasted for the top half of the grid but then fell apart.
  6. Two hands full of omitted answers today, the first two involving sweeties:

    13a Shelter needed round sweet pea (6)
    LE GUM E

    14a Sweet’s gone bad by end of heatwave (8)
    PAST ILL E. Fruit Gums & Pastilles. Once Rowntrees – now Nestle? Yum.

    17a One who might put woman in box to persuade member of panel (8)

    23a Love of that woman is entering cold hearts (7)
    C HER IS H

    26a High land in ThaMES Area (4)
    MESA. Spanish for table so a flat topped hill or mountain.

    4d Make good traveller’s song (6)

    5d Newly realised (net value)* coming after some time (8)

    7d Queen featured in silly sketch (5)
    D R AFT. Not Queenie with Nursie, Melchett & Blackadder.

    19d Possible home for African river spirit is erected (7)
    NIGERIA. River AIRE and spirit GIN “erected” or upside-down. Home for more Africans than any other country on the continent.

    22d Desirable fish got with a line (5)
    IDE A L. The crossword fish IDE not caught in a net apparently.

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