Times 23721 – it was a near thing

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: untimed but pretty rapid (with one undone clue).

Not a hard puzzle – I went through it at a clip last night after a long hard day at work while eating Thai food in one hand and talking on my iPhone to my sister. The naval ref at 20A wasn’t all that hard since I’ve done my fair share of WWI and WWII reading. That said, 11A has me completely befuddled and not filled in. So after all, a near thing.


1 GANG,LION – it’s a “swelling” (mass) of nerves.
10 DEAD AS A DOOR-NAIL – (Island area a dodo)*. Amusing clue (wonder what the etymology of the phrase is though).
11 WETS,=rev(stew)U,IT – (I typoed GODWON for 1D so couldn’t solve this!)
12 SKI(MM)ER – a MM (millimeter) is our minute distance – or I suppose M could be “minute”, and the other M a meter (“distance”).
15 H(OK)UM – “bunk” is the def and HUM is Brit slang for BO I think.
20 JELL,I(CO)E – he was a Brit admiral in WWI and/or WWII (Jutland springs to mind).
23 CERAMIC – hidden in “sauCER – AM I Certain?”
25 CA(PULE)T – PULE means to cry weakly and ref. Will’s Romeo and Juliet.
26 BLOOD AND THUNDER – (north double – and)*. Slightly misleading Bridge surface.
27 EMBRYO – (by Rome)* – a fine anag &lit-ish clue that slyly alludes to the Catholic position on abortion.
28 D(RUDGE)RY – ref. Barnaby RUDGE who actually is a pretty regular cryptic visitor.


1 GO,DOWN – needed to look this up: guess what? it’s an “Eastern warehouse”.
3 LEAGUES – two meanings
8 D(OLD)RUMS – ref. trade winds (well, lack thereof I guess) in the vicinity of the equator.
14 A,D(JAC[k])ENT – in a down clue, “losing his footing” indicates that the bottom letter is removed.
16 KNOW=rev(wonk),LEDGE – if you’re reading this in Britain then you’re probably an anorak otherwise a nerd (says this nerd).
19 TIM,IDLY – ref. Tiny TIM. The Times house guide for setters no doubt states that “terms that are normally capitalized must remain capitalized even if clue surface would be improved otherwise”.
24 RHO,MB – recall that Brit docs are MD, MO, MB, BM
25 CATER[pillar]

18 comments on “Times 23721 – it was a near thing”

  1. 5:25 for a pretty straightforward puzzle. Predicted troublesome clues for Ilan: 1D and 20A.
  2. 10A: see this note on Michael Quinion’s site. For queries like this, the phrase plus ‘Quinion’ is usually a good Google search. Unusual surnames are so useful …

    11A: WET SUIT – STEW rev., U=university, IT=it. Possibly a phrase you’d expect to be hyphenated or one word…

    15A In the dictionary HUM = the verb to pong, not a noun. In real life, I daresay the noun would be understood.

  3. I found it quite difficult to get going on this one but once I’d got a few in, the rest seemed to follow pretty quickly. I eventually completed it in about 17 minutes. I always solve on my lunch break, so allowance needs to be made for peeling oranges, changing eating hands etc.


  4. 6:44 for me. Funnily enough, GODOWN went straight in (too much time spent “out east” I suspect). DRUDGERY has occurred rather recently, hasn’t it? I’m beginning to regard this one as an old chestnut. I was annoyingly slow on TIPSTAFF, which ought to be familiar to regulars. It was therefore the middle which was the main problem with JELLICOE only vaguely familiar, although the J was a great help. LEAGUES and GANGLION were last to go in. Jason J
    1. 6:50 here (but it was the 3rd puzzle in quick succession). GODOWN went straight in for me as well – too much time spent doing crosswords I suspect!
      1. Tony,
        My thoughts the same as yours when I put in GODOWN, which I always suspected was one of those words specifically desined for puzzles. However, Jason’s comments prove me wrong!
  5. Just under 40 minutes here. GODOWN and GANGLIONS were last to go in – both new words to me. It’s always nice when new words go in last – I don’t then feel I have to kick myself.
    I’ve been doing some past puzzles recently – CRUCIBLE, DRUDGERY and TIPSTAFF have appeared a fair few times.
  6. What’s 9D? BOASTFUL is the only thing I can think of that fits, but I can’t see that makes any sense…
    1. Having accidentally seen ‘ganglion’ on this page – I would never have got it, not knowing the word – I managed to fill out everything except 9d and 20a. But I think that 9d is ‘houseful’.
      Some very easy clues dotting around, none more so than 22d, but I didn’t find this puzzle as easy as some people seemed to.
  7. Yeah, fairly easy for me and like the others, godown and ganglion were the last to fall.
  8. Yeah, fairly easy for me and like the others, godown and ganglion were the last to fall.


  9. Recently discovered this community, and enjoying reading about the solvings. I don’t usually time myself, since I usually do it in short bursts during the day. Took a while on this one, I had mistakenly entered “LEGIT” for 18ac, once I’d righted that the rest fell into place. I thought the anagrams were particularly well concealed, 26ac and 27d made me smile.
  10. Nine not in the blog although a few crop up in the comments. Here they are in full:

    5a Frightened by note about assault (6)
    AF RAID. Note about = FA backwards. That is a long, long way to run.

    13a Court official gives helpful information to man (8)
    TIP STAFF. Where man and staff are verbs.

    18a Valid licence (5)
    RIGHT. DD.

    6d Provide food overflowing container (7)
    F URN ISH. FISH = food – even when raw in these Gollum-like Sushi Days.

    7d Burglar deterrent relating to wings and front of mansion (5)
    ALAR M. ALAR = to do with wings and flight.

    9d Semi-detached home handy for large family (8)

    17d Trial held in cubicle, right? Wrong! (8)
    C R UCIBLE. The literal is trial, cubicle and r(ight) are the anagrist and wrong! is the anagrind.

    21d I am supplied with money as appropriate (7)
    IM POUND. Appropriate as a verb.

    22d (Oyster)* falls to floor (6)

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