Times 23685/mercy!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 37:50

Pretty straightforward pour moi – though had to defer to refs for a couple (couldn’t place the two Dickens refs: Jarndyce and Miss Pecksniff). Other than STOT, vocab was all pretty familiar – which is always a relief when doing The Times.


1 CHE,S(A)PEAK,E,BAY – it’s an American inlet which helped: CHE’s our hackneyed revolutionary. (Using “online auction house” is probably next for this answer).
8 BARB[er] – my son made me see Sweeney Todd on Broadway recently. Rather dark frankly.
10 M,[w]INDLESS – M’s the Brit motorway designator (A in France etc.) — “still” is just windless which remained hidden from me for a bit.
13 IMPRES[s],A,RIO – didn’t realize that IMPRESARIO is “opera manager” per se, I thought just a generic manager in the performing arts in the general sense.
16 IRON – def is “smooth” with rather slick wordplay: first two letters of “Federation” yield the chemical symbol thereof, Fe (appropriately capitalized).
17 STOT=rev(tots) – wordplay was clear but had to check that these are (Scots) bullocks.
20 ACT,I,ON – recognized J&J as Dickensian but couldn’t remember the context: it’s an endless lawsuit (ACTION) in “Bleak House”.
22 E,N,[d]ORMOUS[e] – ref. the Dormouse in A. in Wonderland.
26 D,AIL – Irish parliament
27 FOR MERCY’S SAKE – ref. Miss MERCY Pecksniff (“Martin Chuzzlewit”). Again I recognized her as Dickensian but had to look up the ref to find MERCY – I couldn’t get FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE out of my mind.


1 CH,AR(IS)M,A,TIC – my only question here is whether “unconsciously moving” really produce A TIC? Shouldn’t it be “unconscious movement”?
2 E(MBE)D – MBE is Member of the British Empire (the Brits love awards – there’s also OBE and CBE) – I think this is the one The Beatles got.
3 ADDRESSEE – a little mystified by the wordplay here: cryptic def is “one should get the post” and there are many directions at the end of ADDR,E,S,S,E,E – not sure how “having skill” works though?
4 EX,POS=rev(sop),ER – Edward R’s our king.
5 K,NELL – another King: this time one of the Charles whose girlfriend was NELL Gwynn who probably had to sell oranges before she made the A-list. I’m sort of making this up – it might be right though.
6 B(RIG,A,DIE)R – BR for “brother”, and I guess DIE is a game – though I would have said that DICE is the name of the game.
7 Y,ET=and in French – X, Y, and Z are common variables (in cryptic and math).
14 RETRIEVER – cryptic def for what Labradors are good at.
15 OUTGOING,S[quadron]
19 E,LEG,I,AC – I for (electrical) current is a common cryptic abbrev
23 MEDI[n]A – N for “knight” is a std chess abbrev.
25 OFF – two meanings: the second as in “… and they’re OFF…”.

12 comments on “Times 23685/mercy!”

  1. 7:39 is pretty fast for me, but I was left with a lot of question marks next to clues I hadn’t quite justified. I think I have now made sense of them all (and I particularly liked 22A), but I am stumped by 16A. I assume I am right that the answer is IRON, meaning “smooth”, but I have no idea how the rest of the clue works.
    1. 16A: Periodic table time – “couple introducing Federation” = Fe.

      Quite chuffed with 5:01, with 1A spotted straight off for a good start, though only three downs (5,6,7) came from it immediately. Should have been quicker with the anag. at 12D though – needed all but one checking letter to get it. And took a def-only gamble on 3D, not knowing address = “skilfulness or tact” – Collins. Also bluffed a bit on 27A, never having read Martin Chuzzlewit.

  2. 25D “off” = the start of a race, not just part of “they’re off”.
    6D is quite subtle and had me pondering a bit. “Try to cheat in game” as a phrase = “rig a die” (as long as your’e playing backgammon rather than cribbage).
    3D – see prev. comment for ‘skill’
    13A: don’t update your mental dictionary – an impresario isn’t necessarily involved with opera – they just could be.
    Link | Reply | Delete | Screen | Freeze | Track This Select:
  3. Most of these came without too much difficulty, but I have to admit to educated guesses for 1a, 17a, 26a, 27a, 5d, 14d… and probably a couple more. Of these, only 27a (for peace’s sake) was wrong.
    I’m confused by 18a – can ‘elate’ mean ‘exultant’? And for 1d, my copy of the Times has ‘movement unconciously’ rather than ‘unconciously moving’ as mentioned above, which seems accurate enough.
    1. Oxford identifies ‘elate’ as an adjective, meaning ‘exultant’. I was also puzzled until I checked.
    2. must be an online vs. Paper diff. You’d think it’d be easier to update the soft version.
      1. The version I printed out from the website at 7:43 this morning has “movement unconsciously”.

        I can see that it may be a bit of a stretch from this to A TIC; but this was the second clue I solved after 1A, and I got there by looking for a word beginning with C and ending with TIC.

    3. I guessed Peace Pecksniff as well – it looked marginally better than Percy. Two mistakes already (didn’t know ‘The Bowery’ yesterday) and it’s only Tuesday. Sigh.
  4. A knowledge of Dickens saved a couple of minutes at least for me .Happy with 10.02. Mercy Pecksniff has a sister called Charity (worth remembering) and a right pair of horrors they are
  5. 7:23 for me, which included more time than was really sensible trying to justify CHARISMATIC (I’m not entirely happy with it even now) and BRIGADIER (which I did twig eventually, after I’d finished).
  6. Not being a great fan of Charles Dickens I was not familiar with either the Jarndyces in 20a nor Miss Pecksniff in 27a but both answers were gettable from the clues and wordplay.

    Just the 5 “easies” left out:

    9a Express disapproval of one held to lose value (10)

    11a Alliance giving the French the shivers (6)
    LE AGUE. Le ancien mot pour malarial fever.

    24a Firm belief in being found guilty (10)

    12d … (over in US, but)* curiously low-key (11)

    21d Hospital in attractive position (5)
    NIC H E

Comments are closed.