Times 23708 – some easy, some hard, all good

Solving time: 1h 1m 46s

I had a bad day at work today and looked forward to a relaxing solve to unwind. Always nice to get off to a flyer – and I got 1A,1D,9A,12A at first look. I then got a few bits and pieces at steady pace – held up by 7D, 16D and 27A. Last to go in 7D, after I’d corrected 13A.
Mitre box was my new term of the day – I don’t think it’s all that easy to drop into conversation, though.

I really enjoyed this today. In fact, I think the puzzles have been great for the last few weeks. Thanks, setters.


1 B(US)Y – the opposite of BY in US.
3 URBAN MYTHS – nice cryptic definition.
11 GATEMAN – revese of ‘name tag’ – this took me a while to spot as I initially read ID as 1D!
12 BADMINTON – a sport and the town where Horse Trials are held for Europe’s top riders.
13 LENT,0 – I originally put in LARGO as I had seen this somewhere recently – didn’t understand the wordplay though and only corrected when (on the hour mark) nothing would fit T?M?R? and I was fairly sure it should end -ING.
14 OPENING TIMES – when you can access your local stores and how to get the inside story in the Times – does this work if you do the crossword online?
18 SOUTH AMERICA; anagram of ‘so much area it’ – I got this early on and spotted the cross reference in 5D – first thought was Nicaragua (but that’s not S America is it? watching too much family Guy?) – then I saw that ARGENTINA had GEN in it!
24 RETSINA hidden word – seen this a fair few times in crosswords now.
25 PAR(A,B)LE[y]
26 SWEATSHIRT – anagram of ‘what sister’
27 AXE,L – why did this take me almost an hour to get? I think I wanted 16D to end BIT.


4 REBUT – reverse of TUBER; King Edward is a variety of potato: “Will you take King Edwards?” “No – he can come and get his own”
6 MET,ALDETEC,TOR – MET=assembled, ALDETEC=anagram of ‘lead etc’,TOR=’rocky peak’ – really enjoyed this clue!
7 TA(a couple of tantrums),MING – took me ages because I had T?M?R? and couldn’t think of anything relevant! As soon as I thought of -ING, MING came and it the whole puzzle fell into place.
10 CRIMINOLOGIST – anagram of ‘soliciting mor’
16 MITRE,BOX – got very late on and the only term I didn’t know. MITRE BOX could be a case in which a bishop stores his mitre (ha ha) – or its a carpentry tool.
23 U,P[a]PER – nice confusing wordplay here – Oxford refers to the shoe, of which upper is a part.

18 comments on “Times 23708 – some easy, some hard, all good”

  1. I reached 21A before writing in my first word so I thought I was in for a tough time, but after that most of it fell into place quite quickly (for me).

    I say mostly because in the last to be solved, 16d, the first word stumped me and I had to resort to on-line help, but then carpentry was never my strongest subject!

  2. 7:56, which I suspect will be beaten – strolled through most of it, but then spent what felt like 3 or 4 mins on the NE corner, initially trying to make 5D into {skill synonym = GEN inside a S American country}, and struggled with ?R?A? M?T?S and the well-disguised CD clue at 4A.
    1. …held me up too, for over a minute at the end. I remember this phrase causing trouble in a previous puzzle when I initially wrote in ‘urban hymn’ instead. 5:50 in the end, but the week already ruined by an error in Saturday’s puzzle.
  3. A leisurely 12 minutes or so to complete a rather nice puzzle. Favourite was 11A, principally because it uses exactly the same device I chose when setting a puzzle some time ago, but this version is smoother than mine. However, it does open up the debate about whether an indicator like “turns over” can be used for an Across clue – I’m guessing that my weaker version came about because it was for an Across clue and I used something along the lines of “back” rather than “over”.
    1. I’m happy to read ‘turn over’ as ‘rotate 180 degrees’ – equally applicable to across and down clues.
    2. I thought we had a GATE theme going on for a while after solving these two consecutively, but it wasn’t to be.
  4. Also found 3A and 16D the toughest ones, spent 3 or 4 minutes looking for alternative for 16D – time 17.35.
    6D is a nice clue which I didn’t appreciate until after solving
  5. This clue has me baffled. I see the 9-letter answer as a sport, but don’t understand the rest of the clue. Top location? Is this a place?
  6. An easy 25 minute canter over the fences to start the week. I liked 23 down and took a while to separate Oxford = shoe from University = U Jimbo
  7. “when you can access your local stores”

    Local is surely a reference to pub opening hours rather than shops? Or does this just show the way my mind works!

  8. on my first left-right, top-down scan, the first clue I answered was 21A too. After that things were more or less reasonable though I didn’t understand the wordplay for BADMINTON until explained here.
  9. Seems that everyone else knows their Thomas Hood better than I do. The answer was obviously BATTLE, but “Ben’s engagement” had me baffled. Only just discovered via Google the Hood lines:
  10. Sorry, posted accidentally. The Hood lines (which you all evidently know) are:
    “Ben Battle was a soldier bold, / And used to war’s alarms: / But a cannon-ball took off his legs, / So he laid down his arms.”
  11. The on-line version of the clue begins “When there’s local access, going….” This fits fine with the answer for me.
    Is the paper version therefore differently worded?
  12. Quite a tricky one this …

    There are 9 “easies” not in this blog:

    9a Transport left from St Andrews, say, for Paddington, perhaps (4,3)
    BEAR CUB. Sorry – this clue is far too long and has too many commas. Transport = BEAR and left from St Andrews = C (L) UB. The home of golf at NOEL.

    21a Pressure artist to swindle foreign gallery (5)
    P RA DO

    1d Small report showing post-war increase in deliveries (4,4)

    2d Tightly wrapped up, son walked clumsily (8)

    6d Device assembled on rocky peak, showing lead etc. scattered inside? (5,8)
    MET ALDETEC TOR. An anagram of LEAD ETC inside MET TOR.

    8d (One is)* oddly placed above king in higher rank (6)
    SENIO R. You know that King can be K (chess) or R (short for Rex in Latin)

    17d Corruptly (shared)* pounds in ruthless dealing (4,4)

    19d Musical works, in historical times, introduced by old piano (6)
    O P ERAS

    20d Ben’s engagement in Sussex town (6)
    BATTLE. A triple definition solved (by me) with two of the three – that is the engagement and the Sussex Town. Ben Battle continues to be a mystery – maybe I do not read enough poetry?

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