Times 23709/only one trouble spot

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 35’

I think the Tuesday curse has been lifted. I got about half of the clues in my first “cold solve” sweep which is a very high percentage for me. Heraldry not being a strong suit of any sort, the only TROUBLE SPOT was ANNULET. An out-of-character Grauniadism in 3D.


1 SWANSON[g] – Ref. Gloria. Seen this several times before.
5 ANN,ULET=lute* – rather mysterious until rather late: an ANNULET is a heraldic “charge” (I don’t really know what a charge is in this sense – I feel I’ve said this before in another blog once upon a time).
11 MEN,ACE – I think that “facing great” is a kind of a cryptic def of (the card) ACE.
12 FIRED,A,MP – Nice surface – couldn’t make SWAMP GAS work.
14 MANS,FIELD,PAR,K – Jane Austen’s novel with a rather contrived surface to make the wordplay work.
17 SCARLET LETTER – (cell, steer tart)* – another novel, this time Hawthorne’s (it was an A for adulteress).
21 ACH(ILL)ES – “to nurse” is the nice apposite containment indicator here.
23 GRILLE=”grill” – but isn’t the restaurant often spelt GRILLE as well?
26 TROUBLES,POT – cannabis is almost always POT in The Times it seems.


1 SE(SAM)E – ref. Uncle SAM
2 A(CRONY)M – two American clues in a row: UNICEF is just an example of an ACRONYM.
3 SHIPCANAL – (chaplains)* — should have been “chaplain’s”. Def is a bit sly: “Manchester has one” (as do other cities by the way, like Seattle).
4 [juve]NILE
5 A,R(CHIMED)ES[t] – Probably the most famous Syracusan (which means he was Sicilian and not Greek actually I suppose).
8 TURN,PIKE – I took I-95 yesterday to IKEA in Newark, NJ which is the canonic American TURNPIKE.
15 DETER,GENT – a cryptic idiom
16 AS,SASS,IN – kept thinking of ‘The Rolling Stones’ lyric: “The gangster looks so frightening, With his luger in his hand, When he gets home to his children, He’s a family man”
24 ABE,L – ref. Cain and ABEL and Abraham Lincoln.

25 comments on “Times 23709/only one trouble spot”

  1. 8:24 here – should have been quicker but at 27 I couldn’t justify model = work, forgetting the “to fashion or shape” meaning of each. So spent a while pondering whether any other NET?O?K could fit ‘maze’. Also initially fell for BARGE at 6D, but was saved by 9A. ANNULET was new to me.
  2. I made steady progress and came in under 30 minutes which is about average for me. I can’t justify the definition in 5a assuming ANNULET is the answer. In what sense does this mean a charge, small or otherwise? No other queries, though I didn’t know the expression SCARLET LETTER.
  3. Breezed through this satisfying puzzle, about 15 minutes over the morning fry-up. Seems to be a week of “Hey – that’s one of mine!” (almost, anyway). 1A very similar to an old one of mine but, like GATEMAN yesterday, better. I was slowed up for a while by the SE corner because I kept trying to justify the potential REVERSE at 19D.
  4. For ANNULET, Chambers gives “a little circle borne as a charge (heraldry)”

    I was well and truly stuffed by writing in BARGE for 6 down. i.e G in BARE.

    Mike O

  5. Easier than yesterday at about 20 minutes and no mistakes luckily. I think Scarlet Letter was literally a red letter A put on adulterous women by the Puritans and hence a scarlet woman. I see Gloria Swanson has now joined Cary Grant et al. Jimbo
  6. Anax: Swanson(g) is one of those well-worn subtractions like imp(r)udent. I think I’d have been more shocked if you said you hadn’t used it!

    Jimbo: right about the symbol – probably best known from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. But I don’t think ‘scarlet letter’ has ever meant ‘scarlet woman’.

    1. I think my choice of words was slightly misleading – heaven forbid I’d ever claim to be an inventor (in my opinion good clues are discoveries, not inventions). I just meant to say that, coincidentally, the SWANSON and GATEMAN clues were very similarly to ones I remember using in fairly rapid succession.
  7. Assuming 4 D is Nile, then it is half of what?
    Infantile is not eight letters.
    Or – quite possible – my logic is wrong.
  8. 11A: I think this is “facing” = next to, and great = ace (slang)

    23A: Grille =?= grill as in restaurant: in the dictionary no, but in lots of restaurant names, yes. Maybe this is “make it look French and therefore chic” commercial spelling.

  9. There was also a British actress called Maureen Swanson. I believe she is still alive but does not act anymore.

    Carole H. Fermo, Italy.

  10. Pace ilanc, but I can find nothing wrong with 3dn. The definition seems to me perfectly straightforward, the fact that other cities also have such canals being neither here not there. Nor do I see any necessity for “chaplain’s” instead of “chaplains”, though both would work equally well. As given, I take the surface meaning to be “Manchester has one [which] chaplains [more than one]condemned”.


    1. Indeed you’re right — I was so eager to find fault that I didn’t see your plausible reading. The ship canal comment wasn’t meant to imply that the clue was bad… just an observation.
  11. I’m pleased to see I’m in good company, putting BARGE instead of NUDGE, which held me up with 6 and 9, but while pondering A_B LUTE* I saw my error fairly quickly. I thought this was a pretty easy puzzle, enabling me to complete Monday’s and today’s in one relatively brief session (too busy yesterday recovering from a computer crash to tackle the Monday puzzle on Monday).
  12. 5:22 for me. Like Peter, I spent a little time at the end puzzling over whether NETWORK could be justified (and does it mean “maze”?). “Grill” is sort of in Chambers, being defined as “a grill room”, which is in turn defined as “a part of a restaurant where beefsteaks, etc are served grilled to order”. Although a part of a restaurant isn’t quite the same as a restaurant, I’m happy with it. ANNULET I didn’t know was anything to do with heraldry, but it certainly seemed likely. Jason J
    1. Two cases here of Collins / COD beating Chambers in their role as official references for this puzzle.

      grill: Collins refers you to grillroom, defined as “restaurant or room in a restaurant …”. COD has “a restaurant …” in the defs for grill

      network: both their def’s for maze include “network of paths”.

  13. I was another victim of BARGE, and wasn’t too sure about NETWORK, and didn’t know that meaning of ANNULET. In the end I wasn’t too disappointed with my 10:10, coming as it did straight after an annoying RTC (T2) containing a duff answer, and Saturday’s and Monday’s puzzles (I found Saturday’s fairly tough, but at least I was quicker than last week).
  14. Ilanc, why is 2D an “American clue”? If crony is an Americanism, it seems to have been well absorbed.
  15. I-95 used to be the Connecticut Turnpike until it became an Interstate. I think a turnpike by definition is one that charges a toll — the Maine or New Jersey Turnpikes, for instance.

    I had to look it up, even though I live in Connecticut — I knew I’d heard of a Connecticut Turnpike, but where was it? I knew you don’t pay on _-95. Turns out you used to.


  16. I-95 used to be the Connecticut Turnpike until it became an Interstate. I think a turnpike by definition is one that charges a toll — the Maine or New Jersey Turnpikes, for instance.

    I had to look it up, even though I live in Connecticut — I knew I’d heard of a Connecticut Turnpike, but where was it? I knew you don’t pay on _-95. Turns out you used to.


  17. A good educational one – I did not know that Archimedes was from Sicily.

    A total of 10 answers left out of the blog:

    9a (Radical test)*, improper or proper? (6-5)

    10a Damage sign, knocking end off (3)
    MAR (K)

    25a Spring in Regent’S PArk (3)

    28a Draw left good swimmer last in relay (7)

    6d Glass initially embedded in exposed elbow (5)
    NUD G E. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.

    7d Article held by Greek character suggesting a dance (7)

    18d Basically, (a) nasty (threat)* (2,5)

    19d Setback as runs slip away (7)

    20d Watch son coming on to the stage (6)

    22d Permit to travel free (3,2)
    LET GO

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