Times 23691/mixed results

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 41:30

I was doing quite well on this for the NE, SE, SW quadrants only to spend 20 minutes on the NW. And I’m from the Pacific NW – very embarrassing. Some fix-ups from comments…


1 REDSTAR,T[ransfer] – it’s a bird – it was going to be Partizan or RED STAR (I bet even NeilT couldn’t name another Serbian soccer team).
5 CO(R,R)AL – I like “radii” producing R and R.
10 SUNSET BOULEVARD – not sure why SUNSETs are any more delightful than sunrises frankly? (even Jimi thinks so: “We’ll hold hands and then we’ll watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea”). Pointed out below that de-lightful is a cryptic way to define sunset!”
15 LIVE,N UP – rev(pun, evil)
19 SO,LO(IS)T – at first I thought this was just a cryptic def until I saw the wordplay which must mean it’s an &lit.
20 LAYS=”laze” – turns out that LAY is a kind of a narrative song.
22 MACHINE GUN – slightly indirect anagram: (min, change, U)* and slightly cryptic def for a MACHINE GUN (“dispatches many slugs”).
25 VERBAL DIARRHOEA – amusing and slightly scatological cryptic definition describing graphically what happens when gas starts to slightly solidify.
27 RIP OFF – not convinced by this: “Do dead letters get cancelled?”. R.I.P. for “dead” but only sense of RIP OFF that I know is “swindle”. Something else? “Do” is the very well-hidden definition after all — with R.I.P. being “dead letters” and OFF “cancelled” — so quite good after all.
28 S[econdar]Y,NDROME=modern* – nice clue with disorder being part of the def and not an anagrind.


1 R,O,S,WELL – if you’ve seen ‘The X Files’ you’ll know what this is about. Just a cryptic def or is there some wordplay? Which is… R[umours] O[f] S[ightings], WELL=right. So a good &lit.
2 D,IN – is there a snooker term here I’m unaware of as well? DUN is yellowish-greenish-brown. And it means to harass (row?) too. Got this completely wrong: the YBG balls start on the D in snooker — didn’t know this. And DIN=row.
3 T(HE BRON)TES – HEBRON in test*
7 ROADHOLDING – (long hair – odd)*. Driving term for “grip”.
8 LA,DETTE=”debt” – the US, being so refined, doesn’t have these.
9 HU[g],STING,S – STING (ref. RIP OFF) in HUS[k] I think, assuming that HUSK can mean “grasp” (almost!). More incorrect wordplay: the trailing S come’s from twenty seven’S and HUG is a far better way to define “grasp” than HUSK!
12 POVERTY TRAP – a way to keep people poor by giving them more money but taking away benefits.
14 ST,ALINGRAD=(and a girl)*
18 PAL,AVER – China’s invariably a Cockney rhyming PAL in cryptics.
20 TINWA=(I want)*,RE – it’s “can matter”, i.e. what tins are made from.
23 [t]HE,[n]AVY – I saw the definition for “villain” long before I understood the wordplay – nice.
26 OHO – remove all the directional letters (n,e,w,s) from snowshoes.

19 comments on “Times 23691/mixed results”

  1. Nice puzzle with some very tricky clues. A few observations on clues:

    10a I think delightful was supposed to be read as a cryptic rendition of de-lightful (i.e., removing of light)

    27 R.I.P. (dead letters) + OFF (cancelled); Do = swindle

    1d R(umours) O(f) S(ightings) + WELL (right), so clue was a clever &lit

    2d D (in snooker is where YBG start) + IN; DIN = a row (rhyming with how)

    9d HU(g) + STING (= RIP OFF) + ‘S (from “27’s”)


  2. I agree with your misgivings about 27A RIP OFF. I wasn’t sure I had it right until I got the cross-reference to STING in 9D

    On 16D: Isn’t there a problem with the tense here? “To get trees cut back” doesn’t fit with “pollards” does it? But maybe there’s another way of reading it.

    1. I think the intention is that “pollard” is a noun here (a pollarded tree), and that “trees cut back” = “trees that have been cut back”. With a comma (“trees, cut back”) this seems bulletproof but spoils the surface a bit. Without, a bit of a stretch.
      1. I was the poster who queried the grammar in this clue. Now that PB has explained it, it’s time for my “Doh!” moment.

        Back in the distant days when telephone exchanges had names, my aunt, who lived in Streatham, had the telephone number Pollards xxxx, the exchange having been named after Pollards Hill, an area of pollarded lime trees. From this I should have known that the word is a noun as well as a verb and so the clue makes perfect sense.

  3. I found this really hard today and it took me well over an hour to complete using dictionaries to check words and meanings but no on-line solvers. I normally finish with 30 minutes often without looking anything up.
  4. Also found this quite tough at 15:25 – partly because both the long answers took me ages.

    19A: I don’t think this is an &lit: I can’t make “Only one playing thus is in a group” into a def for SOLOIST, though I think it would work for SOLO (adj.) or SOLOISTICALLY. I think the intention is that “only one playing” is the def., then the rest gives the wordplay. But probably a def. not to think too hard about – a soloist isn’t necessarily the only person playing, rather the only person playing a particular line in music.

    There is some really clever stuff in this puzzle – I thought 18A was very clever, and in 2D there’s the fact that the balls mentioned do start “in a row” on the edge of the D.

  5. I really enjoyed this quite difficult puzzle. I think 12 down is an excellent clue. It took me ages to grasp that “little” is what poor people have in common. Solving time about 45 minutes. Jimbo
  6. I found this tough, but much enjoyed the clues. 25 across was delightfully witty and 28 across wonderfully devious. I missed the simple wordplay to OMEN and was about to ask why O MEN constituted an engineering section, but I’ve just seen it.
  7. Red Star are now officially called Crvena Zvezda (honest) – try cluing that! They are playing Glasgow Rangers tonight.
    The NW section slowed me down as well.
    I thought 11a was a really nice clue and a good puzzle in all.
  8. I’m also baffled by ‘boys in blue’=navy. Also by the use of ‘tips’ to refer to just the first letters. I’ve only come across tip=the last letter and tips=the first and last letters before.
    1. I was perfectly happy with the boys in blue being in The Navy, given the color royal navy.
  9. Ilan: I’m afraid you’re right about my ignorance of Serbian football teams. I wrote in REDSTART straight away and thought it might be a springboard to a fast time, but I found the rest really tricky (though very good) – nearly 25 mins total. Would have been quite a bit quicker if when looking at 20dn early on I’d thought of ‘tinware’ instead of ‘tanwire’ – it turned out to be my last entry.

    JohnPM: How about “Serbian players arrange cadenza with endless verve and bit of zip”?

    1. Just in case anyone’s still reading …
      I shouldn’t have tackled this just before bed after a long day. 30 mins plus! The CDs for EXPORT DUTY and VERBAL DIARRHOUEA were classics.
      RED STAR haven’t exactly changed their name – as we all know, CRVENA ZVEZDA is red star in Serbian.
      As for other Serbian teams, surely we all remember VOJVODINA NOVI SAD 🙂
  10. It can now be revealed that this was the first puzzle by Anax to appear in the Times. More details here.
  11. A welcome first visit by Anax – plenty more trickery to come from this setter.

    Seven omissions from the blog:

    13a Injection of crack (4)

    17a Corruption of (a Latin)* and (E)*nglish female name (7)

    18a Almost perfect chamber music composer (7)
    PUR (E) CELL

    4d Wild boar’s head in sack (5)
    RA B ID

    6d Warning frOM ENgineering section (4)

    16d Surveys about a way to get trees cut back (8)
    POLL A RD S. POLLS (surveys) about A RD (a way) and the definition is “trees cut back”.

    24d Homeless child with a condition (4)
    W(ith) A IF

Comments are closed.