Times 23727/almost completely die

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 40:10

A bit of a challenge that had me looking a thing or two up – note that my time for this is more than Peter’s cumulative time at the recent championship. I haven’t worked out the wordplay for everything: e.g. 26D, 22A, 16A… but maybe I will have by the time I’ve finished these notes. Inevitable corrections below…


5 BERLI,OZ=”barely owes”. To be honest I would normally incorrectly pronounce said composer to rhyme with “burly owes”.
9 A,RM – recall a “jolly” is a Brit Royal Marine.
10 PRO,DIG,AL SO,N – def is “wanderer returning”, I spent some time wondering myself if returning wasn’t part of the cryptic grammar.
11 C(HER,OK)E,E – somewhat awkward surface – the “point” is E[ast].
15 Y(E)AH – E in rev(hay), I’m assuming there’s a hay dance of some sort.
16 ASSEVERATE – means “declare” but haven’t decoded the wordplay (another rather awkward surface): “Declare, since quite a few short of length trap everyone in front”. Pointed out below that it’s AS,SEVERA[l],T.E.
18 LEAD AS[h]TRAY – LEAD is our “metal”. not a bad clue.
22 NEEDLE – two meanings I suppose but not sure about the ‘sledge’ ref: “Syringe found in sledge?”. The other one is a cricketing term it turns out…
23 MA(LAYS)IA – I had to look up Atlas’s offspring in wikipedia. MAIA is one of the Pleiades.
28 G,ALLOWS – ref. GALLOWS humor.


2 FEM(ME[n],FAT)ALE – def must be “woman ensnaring” but I don’t see the rest: “Woman ensnaring endless chaps with lots of dough”. Very good &lit it transpires…
4 PR(OPEN,SIT)Y – where “lie” as in golf, where your ball SITS.
6 REALISED – (desira[b]le)*
7 I.N.S. – first letters of “introduce National Service”.
8 Z,INCITE – yes it’s a yellowish mineral (probably mined in Zambia for all I know).
13 CH(ARLES)IVES – ref. ARLES in the S. of France.
14 SEPARATION – nice anag &lit: (one is apart)*.
17 CALLISTO – nice hidden clue: would have been an &lit had I found it quickly indeed in “alphabetiCAL LIST Of stars”, ref. planet of Jupiter.
18 LANDING – stairs and planes are very different!
20 PLAUTUS – with P?A?T?S I could only think of the Roman playwright… but the wordplay: “Usual small part revised by playwright”? Embarrassed to say I didn’t see the anag fodder: (usual, pt.)*
21 BAR,NUM – ref. BARNUM & Bailey and National Union of Miners.
26 FAL[l] – ref. River FAL and I suppose FALL could be “die” but I’m not happy…

20 comments on “Times 23727/almost completely die”

  1. 8:10 for this – pausing at the end to see the point of 18D, which should have been much more obvious. Curious whether two composer clues will slow down Magoo at all.
  2. 11 minutes for all but one. And gave up after a further 10 without getting MA(LAYS)IA for 23A.
  3. Fluffed it. 20 minutes, and left with five empty slots – feel sure the reveal will expose this as nothing more than a rubbish effort on my part.
  4. I wonder if the setter intended the elephant trap I fell into at 5A.

    Having got the letters B-R—- I confidently wrote BORODIN and then spent ages trying to justify IN following the wordplay on “borrowed”.

    It was only when I couldn’t solve D-S at 7D and N-N-I-E at 8D that I eventually decided to look at 5A again and spotted BERLIOZ “barely owes”.

  5. 15A yes, a hay or hey is a dance. You might recognise the tune of Percy Grainger’s “Shepherd’s Hey”.

    2D is (ME(n),FAT=”with lots of dough”) all inside FEMALE – and it’s an &lit., whith the idea that she only bothers ensnaring the blokes with lots of dough = cash.

    20D anag. of usual, pt. = small part

    26D the key meaning here is: fall = die in battle

    4D: being stricyt here, lie in golf is a noun, so can’t indicate the verb ‘sit’. But both ‘sit’ and ‘lie’ can mean “be positioned/located”.

  6. After 18 minutes, I needed help to solve my final two. I should have got ZINCITE, eventhough I’ve never heard of it. I suppose MALAYSIA may also have occurred to me, given more thought.
    I wasn’t too impressed by having another “obscure” mythology reference, Maia, after yesterday’s Tyr, but I thoroughly enjoyed 18a and 25a.
    My long run (one day) of beating the current Times Crossword Champion is finally over 🙂
    Since = AS
    Quite a few = SEVERA(L)
    Trap Everyone “in front” i.e. inital letters TE

    Sledging is a cricketing term for needling the opposition

    R. Saunders

  8. PLAUTUS is just an anagram of USUAL and PT

    Chambers definitions for FALL include die away (e.g. music) or simply die(e.g. the fallen in battle) so the clue seems reasonable

    R. Saunders

  9. It helps to be a chemist – getting Berlioz and Zincite straight off speeds up the top right. I was up late last night and managed to snare this one before bed, took about 15 minutes starting at 12:30am (US Eastern Daylight savings time).
  10. Took 19.30 for this one with about 5 minutes trying to work on an eastern US state and a mineral starting Za…., I had vaguely hear of Maia but I have to admit I am still not seeing lays as situations,anyway some more good guesses
  11. In support of Peter B, I can confirm that “sit” in the solution to 4dn has nothing to do with golf. At any rate, I can say, as one who has wasted as many hours playing golf as doing crosswords, that I have never encountered “sit” as a synonym for “lie” (the spot where your ball ends up after being struck). But, unusually, PB is wrong to say that “lie” can only ever be used as a noun in golfing parlance. We sad addicts of the links might, for example, enquire of an opponent in tones of feigned solicitousness “How does your ball lie?” (while secretly hoping for the answer “in unplayable long grass”), though, I agree, it would be more common to say “how is your ball lying?” I think that PB’s interpretation of lie = sit in the sense of “be sited/located” must be right.

  12. I enjoyed this puzzle, which took me 8:11. The composers were grist to my mill, and although I had never heard of ZINCITE, the clue allowed it to be worked out without trouble. Last to go in was CALLISTO, which is one of the most effective “hidden” clues I have seen recently. Jason J
    1. I gave up with a few still remaining, and one of them was CALLISTO, despite the fact I had all the checking letters – brilliantly hidden word. At least that makes me feel better about an unimpressive performance on my part.
  13. A most enjoyable puzzle. CALLISTO came to mind reasonably quickly, but I then must have spent over a minute trying to think how on earth it could be justified by the wordplay, before the penny dropped.
    I thought of MALAYSIA quite early on, but wasn’t sure about either LAYS or MAIA, so spent about five minutes at the end trying to think of an alternative. A slow (but accurate) 15:27.
  14. Once again, over an hour for me. Callisto beat me, too, but glad to see I was not alone.

    I’m going to have to head into the Times archives for some practice speed-solving before I attempt the competition puzzles!


  15. Callisto was my last clue too – it’s amazing how often I miss the hidden clue, of which there is almost always exactly one in every Times.

    Isn’t Callisto a moon rather than a star, though?

    Angus Walker

    1. It is indeed. And I reckon a similar clue referring to “heavenly bodies” would have been possible, for example.
  16. According to Wikipedia – Callisto was a nymph and follower of Artemis (Diana) the goddess of hunting. Zeus (Jupiter) fancied Callisto and transformed himself into Artemis in order to seduce her. Callisto got pregnant as a result of this (not sure on the mechanics of that one) and gave birth to Arcas. This sort of behavious did not go down well with Artemis and she was chucked out of Artemis’s hunting fan group. To make matters worse, Hera (Juno – wife of Jupiter) was furious about her husband’s infidelity but took it out on poor Callisto – turning the nymph into a bear. Her son Arcas – who had presumably followed on the family hunting habit – was about to kill his mother on a bear hunt when “she was set among the stars as Ursa Major”. (Source Wikipedia). Not sure who did the “setting” – perhaps Juno feeling sorry for her as a fellow mother?

    So the upshot of that is that Callisto IS a moon of Jupiter but ALSO is Ursa Major – the Great Bear and therefore a group of stars.

    However – the clue still doesn’t quite work as Ursa Major is still NOT going to be found very quickly in an alphabetical list of stars unless you start at the back.

    Eight “easies” not in the blog:

    1a Convertible frequently involved in finish (4,3)

    12a Left one holding pine tree (6)
    L ITCH 1. Pine = itch is a bit tortuous for my liking.

    19a Black rim often seen on radar screen (4)
    B LIP. I still write RADAR in caps as it is an acronym. As it has entered the lexicon as a normal word it appears to be used in lower case these days.

    25a (A nit is often)* the product of this (11)

    27a Scrutinise old soldier (3)

    1d Gateway set in small farm building is very stiff (7)

    5d Vessel with second-class set of sails (4)
    B RIG

    24d One wearing blue is climbing platform (4)
    DA 1 S

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