Times 23,794

Solving time: 20:02

I found this tough, though all entirely fair. Lots of interestingly constructed clues and witty surfaces. For COD, I’d probably go for the long hidden at 17A.

I finished the right hand side fairly quickly and then gradually worked leftwards. Not helped by putting in the wrong answer at 1A.

An interesting pair of people who died in the 1990s at 11 and 1D. At least Ralph Waldo at 18D has been dead for more than a century.


1 HIT + THE HAY – “crash” being the definition. I was very misled by this, entering HIT AND RUN at one stage, which did not help.
6 (c)AMBER
9 HUM + DRUM – I think it was here that I discovered that drums form a kitchen
10 M(I)D + RIFF – RIFF for repeating notes is clever. I was expecting something like RE twice
11 MALL(e)(On edit: Thanks to mikethebutcher for pointing out that this should be MALLE(t))
12 IRON CROSS – clever cluing with “bridge” as a verb
14 BAG – two meanings in rather different idioms
17 (cre)W HERE WITH AL(arm) – hidden
20 TH((d)EM AND) US
22 WEALD (=”wield”)
24 ELSP(ET)H – ie ET in HELPS* – took me a long time. Both “stranger” for ET and “foreign” as an anagram indicator seem a bit of a stretch
26 ELITISM, being M(SIT)ILE(all rev) – this misleading definition is also a bit strained, but funny
27 T(ONE)D – An abbreviation (for Teachta_Dรกla) that doesn’t appear often in crosswords
28 RI(FLESH)OT – fanciful &lit


1 H(O H)UM(e)
2 TIME LAG, being (GAL + EMIT)(all rev)
3 HORSESHOE, being (SOHO + HE + HER)*, and HER being 27D
4 HUMMING BIRD – ho-ho-ho
5 YAM being a reversal of MAY (part of spring)
6 AS + DIC, DIC being CID(rev)
13 OFF THE SHELF – two meanings, the first punning
14 BOWS (TREE) T – BOWS being “caves in”
18 EMER(ald) + SON
19 O + BAD + I A H(ard)
23 DE + M.I.T. – not a very familiar word, but clearly indicated
25 HER(b)

19 comments on “Times 23,794”

  1. An excellent one, I thought, with some very inventive clues. 14A, 25D and 5D are all well above average for their length. I also liked 10A, 11A, 8D among others but choose 28A as COD. 26A held me up at the end, ‘lapping’ sent me in all the wrong directions.
  2. Hugely enjoyable! Methinks the setter was ‘aving a laff today with all the hi, ho, he, ha, hums scattered throughout the puzzle.

    My brain was running on empty for most of this and I struggled to complete it in less than an hour. COD goes to 17 which had me stumped for ages until I spotted the obvious.

  3. This was my first crossword since Friday, and what a belter! Amongst my favourites were 14d,12a and 28a, but most were excellent. I agree with Jackkt that 17a should be COD. I got the answer from the checkers and “means”, then it dawned on me that the answer was hidden. Superb! My only grouse would be in 24a where I don’t think that ET can really be defined as “stranger”, although I accept that strange=alien etc etc. Let’s not nitpick though.

    Hope you all had a great Christmas (whether you celebrate it or not)

    1. Forgot to mention, for those who care about these things, my time was 20:35 (I got a watch with a second hand for Christmas) ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. I agree a good puzzle that represented 40 enjoyable minutes to solve. A lot of good clues and as nobody has mentioned it so far I’ll add 1 across to the list with its clever use of “crash” as the definition. Jimbo.
  5. Well, I finished this in 1:15 today which is a good time for me (1 hour 15 minutes, that is!). Last one in was 14a and I don’t yet understand the wordplay.
  6. Yes, fairly easy today – about 20 minutes – including using the eraser on Hit and Run which didn’t make sense as an answer anyway.
    The “Bag” reminded me of Dudley Moore in the old days doing a take on Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag!

    And I didn’t understand why Toned – thanks for that.

    But certainly a fun one.

  7. A camber isn’t a bend in a road. It could (just) be argued to be a bend on a road, but I can find no sense other than the expected one. In Chambers, anyway.
    1. Collins defines “camber” as “a slight upward curve to the centre of the surface of a road…” and curve = bend, surely? Chambers says much the same but uses “convexity” instead of curve.

      I might argue with “slight” in the CED definition as I remember back-streets in London where the camber actually prevented opening the car door if one parked too near the kerb.

      1. Can’t see the problem: “bend in a road” can equally apply to a bend in the surface, as well as the direction of, a road. I think its called misdirection – bit like a bend in a road in fact ๐Ÿ™‚
        1. Ah good point. I should have said “even characters”. But the clue is accurate, because you need to read the clue as:

          Odd characters from [MASH met and] taken away

  8. I was feeling very tired when I started this one, and made very heavy weather of it until I suddenly seemed to wake up and went through about the last third of it quite briskly, finishing in 14:47. Some clever clues, with 8D as my COD.
  9. Yes, this was a cracking puzzle, with definitions cunningly concealed in many places and great skill in wordplay. A great pleasure to solve. Like others, my favourite was 17 across.
  10. Did this a day late, as I’m still unable to access the Times website. Took me about 45 minutes, with some uncertainties en route – TONED, ASDIC, for example. Enjoyable and inventive clues, as others have observed. 17a, certainly had me fooled for ages. Probably my COD, but I also liked the deception in 1a and the surface of 20a.
    1. 21D is AHEAD, being the odd characters of mAsH mEt AnD

      And your friendly question is spot on. I must have remembered that I had to remove the last letter but forgotten that I should have started with the six-lettered word. I will edit.

  11. This was a little cracker as detailed in the comments above. There are just the 3 omissions from the blog and one has been dissected already:

    19a Yob one encountered in fair (3)
    O 1 K

    7d Rescue from trouble in fight (4-3)

    21d Odd characters from MASH met and taken away in van (5)
    (M) A (S) H (m) E (t) A (n) D = AHEAD. In which the odd characters are taken away to leave the even ones. The van is simply the advanced section of the host and not the padded wagon with Hawkeye and Chief Nurse Houlihan in the back.

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