Times 23777 – Someone alert the Marquis of Queensbury

Solving time : 9 minutes. Gosh, I need to solve these late at night more often!

Fun, seemed pretty straightforward, bit of a breather after the last three days. There were a lot of clues I didn’t get straight away, but once a checking letter or two was present, the answer seemed obvious. I had more trouble with some of the wordplay (and will probably have to go edit this entry after the race to explain 26ac is won). COD nod to one of the last to go in, 9ac.

5 CHANCE(=opening),L – first of the tricky wordplay, since I’m programmed to try to put some word in ch or ce whenever I see “in church”. A chancel is a part of aforementioned church
9 DOWN(=put on canvas),RIGHT – A southpaw (lefthander) would lead with the right to follow up with the devastating left. Fisticuffs!
11 GHANA – hidden, easy to find, but clue reads well
13 ORDINARY LEVEL – (I LEARN VERY OLD)*. May be a stretch for those not familiar with British education.
21 ME,MO(=doctor),R AND A – The Royal and Ancient being the golf club. Cute.
24 PL(IN)Y – take your pick of the elder or younger Roman.
26 BRIGADIER – I am unsure of the wordplay, is it because the abbreviation BR refers to an old abbreviation for a navy? Edit: see comments, BRIG is a type of old ship.
27 DO(YEN)NE – The senior lady in a group
1 BODEGA – AGED OB all reversed
3 FOR WAR(=hawkish),D – Dispatch here meaning a message.
6 ALCOHOL – COHO(=salmon) in ALL
7 C,RUM,B – oh looky, another chapter
14 R(U,IN)ATION – I liked this one too, RATION being helping
15 VESTIGAL – (I GAVE LIST)* – today’s anagrams were rather gentle
20 CYPRUS – P in CYRUS. Wasn’t familiar with Cyrus the Great, but straightforward definition
22 MISTY – I’M reversed + STY(=pen)
23 NOB(b)LE – getting better at spotting the wordplay where there’s a double letter with one missing in the middle.

26 comments on “Times 23777 – Someone alert the Marquis of Queensbury”

  1. 5:34 here and suspect Magoo may beat 4. 26A: A brig is a sailing ship , and an abbreviation for a brigadier.

    2D is my COD for a bit of political comment. Also liked 11A as a nicely done hidden word.

    Edited at 2007-12-06 08:08 am (UTC)

    1. Your predictions of my abilities are remarkable, Peter. I didn’t quite beat 4, clocking 4:06, but a tiny bit more thought on AIRWORTHINESS at first reading would have done it. Like Anax and yourself, I loved 11a – so elegant.

      Now if I can just knock out tomorrow’s in 1:10, I’ll achieve Tony Sever’s challenge of a half-hour for the week!

      1. The formula for estimating Magoo times is pretty simple: Make a ‘finger in the wind’ adjustment to PB time for moments of poor or good solving – today, slowness with CHANCEL and a few others in the NE corner. Watch out for any musical mafia specials or obscurities you might not know. If none spotted, take off about 20%. Most important, only make predictions for puzzles with a PB time of about 7 mins or less.

        Edited at 2007-12-06 12:49 pm (UTC)

  2. I got off to a nervous start on this. I was half expecting a beast as we haven’t had one so far this week, but once I had solved a couple of clues it all gradually fell into place.

    Only 21A gave me a problem understanding the wordplay. Although I have heard of Royal and Ancient in connection with golf, it’s not something that leapt to mind and I didn’t get it until I read glh’s explanation. I had even researched the possiblity of a famous golf club in the Swiss resort of Randa! Unlikely, but what do I know about golf?

    I would agree with Peter on the COD – 2D. It was my first entry today too, so I owe it a vote of gratitude.

  3. Well the third in a row that I’ve solved at one sitting – though if I’d been timing my egg by it, the water would have boiled dry. (Who was it that reputedly timed his soft-boiled egg by the Times crossword?)

    I liked 9Ac, though a bit laboured I suppose. Pliny as COD for bringing in a bit of Latin.

    1. The reputed egg boiler was M. R. James, Provost of Eton College from 1918 to 1936. The legend goes back to a 1934 letter to the Times from Sir Austen Chamberlain, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. But it’s complete fiction, I’m afraid – debunked in Brian Greer’s ‘How to solve the Times Crossword’ (2001, out of print, alas), with the help of Roddy Forman, former teacher at Eton who’s been in the last two Times finals. Apparently the provost was actually “a keen but inexpert solver, often still baffled by a clue or two at dinner-time”.

      For me, repetition of this tale is a dead giveaway indication that a journalist has simply looked up previous stories about crosswords and borrowed material. A couple of Times articles in the last few years have a new piece of tosh – something like “Crosswords were invented by the Ancient Egyptians.”

      1. This reminded me of the story told by Leo Marks of how as a young man he used to impress his colleagues at SOE by solving Times crosswords within a minute or two, when in fact he had actually set the puzzles himself. It always seemed to me to be a rather sad thing to do, especially as he and some of his colleagues were working as code-breakers at the time, but maybe the puzzles were harder in those days.
      2. I have one of those books. I confess I wasn’t that impressed with it – surely, “Ximenes on the art of the crossword” is the one to go for? – but I just looked at Amazon and Abebooks and find that you can’t buy “How to solve the times crossword” now for under £20 – some want up to £100!! Amazing.
  4. I’ll buck the trend and nom 11A as COD. Even with two letters placed the hidden device didn’t jump out & this standard of disguise will always get a thumbs-up from me. 2D was a worthy contender of course and 28A (while marginally eau de chestnut) is one of those double-take moments where the novice solver wouldn’t know where to start. Perhaps an opportunity was missed at 8D where “worried” instead of “disturbed” might have created a more convincing environmental reference.
  5. I might actually have beaten him then!

    Thanks Peter. Given the speeds that even you and your like are recording on here, it had to be tosh, didn’t it? 😀

  6. OT I know, but anax, your smiley avatar was much more congenial than the severe James Bond one. Unless of course you’re now licensed to kill!
          1. Not a conscious one, but for some reason I thought I looked vaguely intelligent in that photo, and in the other I just looked cheesed off (my regular expression). Once I get a good shot of the back of my head I’ll add it and rotate during the week.
  7. Sorry, I’m the last two anonymous comments.
    Keep forgetting to tick the box on the form.
  8. At 26 across BRIG is short for BRIGADIER but also for BRIGANTINE which was an old naval ship. Hence “shortly becoming”. Pliny is rightly called “old” but what about ORDINARY LEVEL as an exam? Somebody in education will know when it disappeared but it must be 25 years ago. An “old” exam?

    A very easy puzzle that I finished in under 25 minutes – very quick for me. I’ll go for 11 across as COD. Jimbo.

    1. Ships aren’t my speciality, despite a posible distant relative being Captain George Biddlecombe whose book about rigging is apparently popular with model makers. But it looks from Wikipedia as if brig and brigantine can be different.

      O-levels – the last in Britain were apparently sat in 1987. I must admit I’d have guessed about 1982. A punny clue based on passed/”past” might be able to exploit this point.

      1. This is as much fun as the puzzle! You know when something in the back of your mind bugs you and you just have to find out – that’s me and brig today. I’ve dug out Collins and brig can mean: a two masted square rigger; a US prison ship being a contraction of brigantine; a contraction of brigadier; and in case you need it one day a Scots bridge. So I think we’re all right in parts! Jimbo.
        1. Not to mention you’re all making me feel much better about not being able to identify the wordplay straight away.
        2. In days gone by, The Yarn of the “Nancy Bell” from The Bab Ballads used to turn up occasionally in the Times cryptic. It has the refrain

          Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
          And the mate of the Nancy brig,
          And a bo’sun tight, and a midshipmite,
          And the crew of the captain’s gig.

          (Those who want the explanation can find it here.)

  9. About 14 minutes here. I thought an error had been made with 16d. I’d entered MAID as the last word (help supporting male) and , when I got the FARM bit, wondered where the second M was clued. Fortunately the penny dropped. I really enjoyed this. I spotted 11a was a hidden word immediately and started to write NATAL, which isn’t quite in there. I didn’t understand BRIGADIER, so thanks for the explanation. I was glad that CYRUS was a Persian king at 20d. For me, the only COD today is my first one in – 2d. Reminded me of the anagram when TONY BLAIR MP first came became leader (I’M TORY PLAN B)
    Another very enjoyable one.
  10. Quite an enjoyable puzzle, once I got going at 24a.

    Got a blank stare from my golf mad husband when I asked, “Is there a golf course called Randa?”
    Him: “Randa?? Let me see that.” (Snatches puzzle out of my hand.)
    Me: “It’s definitely right…”
    Him: “Randa. It’s Scottish. They play a randa golf.”
    Me: “Give me that BACK!” (Snatches puzzle out of his hand.)

    So I guess I have to give 21a my COD.

    1. Brilliant! I have to congratulate your husband on that one.
      28a was probably my favourite today, although it’s one of those that’s either brilliant or poor, and I’m never quite sure which. NW corner went last, with 3d the final clue.
  11. 6:28 for me for a pleasant, straightforward puzzle. (I’d have been rather faster if I hadn’t stupidly stuck in AIRWORTHYNESS!) I’ll go for 11A as my COD for its elegance.
  12. You haven’t played GOLF until you’ve been RANDA course at St Andrews. My own experience was into a howling gale on the outbound 9 of the Eden Course. Not to mention the darned pot bunkers.

    An XI of “easies” on the bench in this blog:

    1a Profit from opponents at bridge being in suit (7)

    10a Have significance as 23 from abroad (5)
    COUNT. As in “of Monte Cristo” or Dracula. 23d is NOBLE.

    17a Condition for getting something off the ground (13)
    AIRWORTHINESS. Not so easy with no checkers but starting A*R made it a lot easier.

    25a A state in America briefly backed one in India (5)
    A SSAM. I won’t attempt to spell MASS. in full.

    28a Puzzle that’s nothing if not negative? (7)

    2d (Now bluer)*, a reformed party (3,6)
    NEW LABOUR. Nice component of &lit there!

    4d Thrifty king raised money, showing strong sense of community (5,4)

    5d Cape’s excessive over a surplice (5)
    C OTT A

    8d (Really)* disturbed about temperatures in recent period (8)
    LA TT ERLY. Climate change surface?

    18d Arranged (a ransom)* for galley salve, say (7)

    19d Justify one’s inclusion in abandoned scheme? (7)
    EX PLA 1 N

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