Times 23657 – Fairly disastrous

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 23:02

My first thought for 1A was that “quite” means FAIRLY, and there is AIR which means “dry”, and so I entered it, resolving to work out how “quarry” could possibly mean FLY later on. That sort of made the North-West corner difficult.

Two characters from the first family appear, Eve (2D) and Abel (20A). And is there another theme running across crosswords? In the last three we have had Monroe (turned into Monrovia), de Havilland (clued as an aviator), and Dietrich today. Surely Bette Davis must be round the corner?


1 PRE(TT)Y – I cannot explain why it took me so long to think of TT for dry.
4 END + ANGER – after I had given up the idea of an anagram (knapstor?), I still expected nark to mean grass and compromise to mean deal.
10 LE(VIA)THA(l) + N
12 HO(LBEI)N, LBEI being BILE* – like Peter, I was tempted by BEL(LIN)I
13 (t)EMPER + O.R.
14 REP + R. + O.
15 A(SSEM)BLY, SSEM being MESS(rev)
18 AC(AD)E + MIC(rophone) – baffling but fair wordplay that I had to work out after finishing
29 REGA(l) + IN


1 PILC + HARD, PILC being CLIP(rev)
2 E(N)VE + LOP – I thought of Eve early on, but couldn’t get further for a long time because I didn’t separate “cut swathe”
3 TRAP + E(ZO)ID, EZOID being (OZ in DIE)(all rev) – took me a long time to work out that that is what the “all” in the clue was for
6 A(E)S + OP
8 RE + SORT, RE being the next thing to do in sol-fa
9 P(HAN + TASMA(n) + GO + R)IC
17 S(LEE + V)EEN – not a word I really knew, but the wordplay was straightforward (once I had all the crossing letters)
21 BI(O)D + A TA
22 E(RR)AND – I am almost getting used to “with” meaning AND
24 (w)INNER

12 comments on “Times 23657 – Fairly disastrous”

  1. Must be using up all my solver’s luck on Times 2 RTC – I continued a week of poor form with 16:50 for this. 1A and 28 should both have gone in quickly but didn’t, and I wasted a while trying to make bile* + nil into BELLINI at 12. My only hope for the first set of rankings is that others struggle more with 17 – sleeveen was a new word for me.
    1. I thought this was a lot harder than yesterday’s, and really struggled with it. After 10 minutes I only had 6 answers in, and eventually finished it in 32 mins. I’d heard of the word SLEEVEEN, thinking of a species of aliens in last year’s Dr Who, but they turned out to be the Slitheen! I also wanted 12 to be BELLINI, and in fact HOLBEIN was the last answer I put in.
      1. tough puzzle which i abandoned after 27′ without filling in 28A (even with D?E?R?A?). Had to look up the defintion of SLEEVEEN and no doubt the setter is such.
          1. oh. whoops. so much for carefully checking wordplay. so it’s dietrich — and i understand your note above now.
            1. If it’s any consolation, I wasted ages by putting in PHANTASMAGORIA as well, but I did eventually tumble to the fact that I had the wrong ending and was annoyed at how easy DIETRICH was, as I’d been trying to think of an answer starting with DIET. I found this generally very tough (23:21 – ugh! 3rd slowest this year)
  2. I continued searching for a word to fill 17d, after my Chambers didn’t have ‘sleeveen’ – and when I Googled th term, there were only 60 English pages mentioning it! A very obscure word for the regular Times crossword.
    Elsewhere, I thought 4a was brilliantly misleading, but there were a few clumsy surfaces.
    1. Oops… on checking, I see that sleeveen actually is in my Chambers. That could have saved me some time – and confusion.
  3. This took me 17 minutes. It was really slow to get going, but once the crossing letters started to help it gradually accelerated. I worked for a long time on the assumption that 4A was going to be XXXXSING, which didn’t help. And like Peter, I was trying BELLINI at 12A, although it didn’t really convince. (Too many crosswords in which NIL is a three-letter word for love, I suppose). I was also trying to work on AD in an anagram of “DEVICE” for 18A, and had VIDEXXXX for a while there. 20A was particularly well-hidden, and although I thought of LABEL immediately, I rejected it until later because I couldn’t see how it worked. (Are the references to both EVE and ABEL a Nina of sorts? LEVIATHAN is another old testament reference – I well remember “There is that Leviathan” cropping up in the Psalms). I am not sure if I’ve seen SLEEVEEN before, but only really got it from the wordplay. Jason J
  4. The main problem for me was having no words with fewer than five letters and no answers containing more than one word. These are the clues I always look for to get myself started.

    It probably took me 45 minutes in 3 sessions over the day but I was encouraged that I got there in the end without cheating apart from checking that SLEVEEN exists once I had worked out the wordplay. I don’t fancy anything harder than this for a while now.

    PS I think somebody said the S word is not in Chambers but it’s in my ninth edition. Also my Google spell-checker doesn’t query it.

    1. Sleeveen is in both Collins and COD – yet another demonstration that there’s plenty of obscurity to be had without reaching for Chambers.
  5. Quite a tricky one this but the one unknown word (17d) was clued quite generously. The “Easy XI” have a German striker:

    11a Hollow act regarded as wrong by our team (5)
    SIN US

    20a Tag line first to get done to death (5)
    L ABEL

    23a Published piece in position (7)
    RAN KING. Piece in Chess.

    25a Graceful plant turning into whopper (7)

    26a Improve appearance of service after fuss (5)
    ADO RN

    27a (Late on air)*, broadcast explanation (9)

    28a Film star having selection of food loaded (8)
    DIET RICH. The German striker.

    5d (Tiny one in class)* gets in trouble for silliness (14)

    7d Set clothes (near)* rumpled blanket (7)

    16d Responsibility, being married, troubles character (9)

    19d Deception over sanction (7)

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