Times 23643/tangled mop

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 35’

Had to use Chambers to work out 19D (ELF-LOCKS) and for 11A (CHASUBLE) – I’ve already mentioned that ecclesiastical clues aren’t my forte. No long multi-word phrases this time which is usually my way in (no clean sweeps for me!). The SE corner (not Kent) held me up at the end for several minutes. A couple of wordplays needing your interpretation…


1 W(HIP,L)ASH – “breaks round” is the containment indicator chosen carefully to be consistent with the bony surface.
9 A BIT (MU)CH – MU is our foreign (Greek) character.
10 PLAY BALL – two meanings: one of which is a bit stereotypical but no doubt (like most stereotypes) quite true.
11 CHASUBLE – (a club he’s)* — the anagram was clear but I didn’t know that CHASUBLE is what priests wear when celebrating mass.
12 BLOOD,S,PORT – I think I’ve encountered BLOOD for “claret” in The Times before.
15 R(EVEN)UE – def is “stream, perhaps” (as in, cash flow). I now need to work out the wordplay… OK, EVEN must be “smooth” and I guess “banks” is the containment indicator and RUE is “herb” somehow? But how? OK – RUE indeed is a type of “herb”. I guess I don’t really like the construct: “With X banks Y” to indicate X contains Y. ”With herb banks, smooth stream, perhaps”.
21 CAGY – two meanings: I suppose “like bars” can be CAGY in The Times if APPLY can be “like apple” (seen here recently).
23 S,CREAMER – Is this supposed to be an example of a SCREAMER headline or a description of a person who encounters powdered milk in his coffee in the morning (for instance, me)? Chris and Jason expalin that the exclamation mark “!” is literally the definition: ref. printing slang. Nice!
27 D,IS,CLOSE – my last clue for no obvious reason.


2 HALF-BLUE – HALF is a small beer (presumably half a pint) and BLUE is down. That much I know. Someone who played sports at Cambridge will have to tell us why HALF-BLUE is “rider”.
4 AWAY – well-hidden in “lAW A Year”
5 HALCYON – alt. letters of “heal: lucky wound”. Def is “undisturbed”.
6 MIDAS TOUCH – a fine cryptic def: “Lucky art of making valuable contacts” (ref. King MIDAS who could turn things to gold just by touching them).
7 S,UNBLOCK – S for “succeeded” and saving your skin is literal here.
8 THE ENEMY – two meanings &lit: ref. “time is THE ENEMY”.
13 SQUARE MILE – (equaliser, M)* – ref. London financial district also referred to as the City (analogous to Wall Street).
16 V,A,G,ARIES – our (astrological) sign is ARIES.
18 N[r]ATIONAL – replace R for “river” with N for “name” in RATIONAL (“using logic”).
19 EL(FLOCK)S[e] – ah, well, this had me struggling. It’s a Shakespearean term for a “tangled mop (of hair)” indeed (of course I looked for an anagram at first).
24 A(MO)S – another book of the Bible. MO is “doctor” (along with DR, MD, MB).

10 comments on “Times 23643/tangled mop”

  1. I think in 23a the definition is the “!” at the end, which is otherwise redundant.
    Half-blues at both Oxford and Cambridge (and probably elsewhere) are given for the “lesser” sports, such as synchronised swimming and ultimate frisbee. I suspect that equestrian activities fall into that category. Wikipedia tells us that “In spite of claims by the Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club, there is officially no such thing as a ‘quarter blue'”, which is disappointing.
    1. Yes, “Screamer” is defined in Chambers as “an exclamation mark (printing sl.) I didn’t time myself properly on this one, because my wife kept coming in and interrupting, but including down-time for that reason it was 12 mins, so I guess it was about 9 in reality. Jason J
    2. As a former tiddlywinks international (for England against Wales) and captain (aka Master of the Winks) of the Oxford team, I was a bit miffed that we weren’t awarded any kind of blue either, being thwarted by the then President of the Blues Committee, one Jeffrey Archer – a toad even in those days!
  2. Chasuble and its ecclesiastical associations have only stuck in my brain over the years because of Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest.
  3. I don’t understand why RUCK should mean fight. Is this connected to some sport (boxing)?!
    1. RUCK is derive from ruckus (which is further derived from ruction). see ruck(3) in Chambers.
  4. I felt totally zonked after a disastrous RTC today, and got only a handful of clues at a first read-through, leading me to fear a disaster with this puzzle as well. But its configuration was very generous, allowing me to crack a good number of the remaining clues at a second go. Last to go in was SCREAMER, since I only vaguely recalled the “powdered milk” meaning of “creamer”, but I was reasonably happy that I’d got the right answer as I’ve seen similar clues before. A slow 12:29, but in the circumstances I don’t feel too disappointed!
  5. 13:02 for this in my post-holiday sweep. 11A is easiest to remember from the Rev./Ven./something similar Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest.
  6. Is Dominica a country ? I thought it was the island that the Dominican Republic was on.
  7. I did not know the printing jargon for SCREAMER=! but the word-play allowed its derivation and the ! was the only bit of the clue left for the literal.

    Seven little “easies” not in this blog including a query in the comments above:

    14a Look intently in small opening (4)
    PORE. As in pore over some documents.

    17a Plan finally to partition country found in old locker (7)

    22a In (furs fought)* violently – the result? (5,5)
    ROUGH STUFF. What you can get in the first half of 15d.

    26a (Hellenic)* woven cloth (8)
    CHENILLE. A bumpy soft fabric not necessarily from Greece.

    3d Deleriously (happy)* person offering coins for a ring here (3-5)

    15d Fight and plunder carrier (8)
    RUCK SACK. The anon contributor above does not appear to have any knowledge of Rugby Union? A RUCK is not exactly a fight but fighting in it is only disallowed if the Referee spots it.

    20d Reticent with escort (7)

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