Times 23,818

Solving time: 13:30

Solved the bottom half first and worked up, partly through getting the wrong answer into my head for 1A. The short cryptic definitions at 1D and 5 also held me up.

There are lots of good surfaces. I liked the cricket surface for the rugby clue at 15, and the short story at 13, but most of them are very good.


1 UNRESTFUL – I kept wanting to put STRESSFUL in here, until I had the sense to work through the anagram
6 SEPIA (=”seepier”)
11 GAMER – two meanings, one old and one new
15 CALCUTTA CUP – “Here lots of Indians” is an interesting way of indicating CALCUTTA
17 MOUNTAIN DEW – (OUT DAMN WINE)* – I have never tasted this caffeinated, citrus-flavoured soft drink. (Though I have tasted a lot of whisky, for which “mountain dew” is apparently also a colloquialism.)
19 BOD – (D(ate) O(f) B(irth))(rev)
20 P(H)AL + ANGER – the wordplay leads fairly directly to this unfamiliar animal. Apparently it’s a possum.
22 R + AZOR(es)
24 O LIV(IN)E – I guess the O is justified because “Don’t die” can be read as an imperative


1 UNPEG – cryptic definition (only just, and it was some time before I dared write it in)
3 SQUARE CUT – 4 being the square
4 FELL WALKING – ho-ho
5 LED – cryptic definition
6 S(ex) A(ppeal) + UNA – When did anyone last use S.A. in this sense outside a crossword?
7 POL(IT)IC(e)
13 BLUNDER + BUSS (=”bus”)
14 DAM + PP + ROOF – if DAM is indicated by “barrier”, then the definition is just the adjective “Impervious”, which doesn’t look like the right part of speech for DAMP-PROOF. Perhaps it is adjectival in the phrase “damp-proof course”?
16 T(OWER + H(appy))ILL
19 B(A, Z)OOK A
21 AR(I)ES
23 RA(N)GE
25 EID – DIE(rev) – Would it be too picky to observe that “be very keen” takes “on”, while “die” (in this sense) takes “for”?

33 comments on “Times 23,818”

  1. About 10:30, adjusting for a short interruption. Bad thinking at 1A, where the anag. fodder left after taking out the -ful suffix should have suggested the un- prefix. That might have led to a sub-10 time. Liked good clues for the three-letter words and the sporting stuff. 15A is my COD for some good deception, but there’s lots of other good stuff.
  2. Slow but steady progress through this one with the NE and SW corners giving most trouble.

    I was somewhat thrown by solving only one of the four 3-letter words at first glance, and indeed I needed all the checked letters to get the others and they were amongst the last to go in.

    I have a few queries and possible quibbles but I shall wait for more comments to go up first in case they are answered by these. No COD from me until all have been resolved.

  3. My last two to go in were 5 down and 25 down. I think 5 down is LED, which makes for an excellent cryptic definition and 25 down I think is EID, also an interesting wording. I was making good time until these two slowed me up for a 35 minute finish. There are lots of other good clues including the bridge reference at 10 across DOUBLET and I like UNICORN at 26 across, which gets my COD. Jimbo.
    1. Am I being nit-picky or simply demonstrating my non-Englishness when I question the clue for 26A?

      I don’t have the Times-references to hand, but took the following from _Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition_ online: “The word college comes from Latin collegium, ‘association, partnership,’ from collega, ‘partner in office.’ The word university is from Latin universitas, ‘the whole,’ from universus, ‘combined into one.'”

      But my critical point is:

      “The difference between a college and a university is that a college offers degrees in one or a few specific areas, while a university is a collection of colleges.”

      So how does college imply “Uni”? Isn’t that the same as trying to use classroom to imply school?

      Thanks in advance,

      1. I’d suggest that in ordinary speech college and university are used somewhat interchangeably, though technically you have a point. But it is (at Oxford and Cambridge at least) the university that ofers the degrees and the non-collegiate universities, such as East Anglia, have no colleges within them.

        Harry Shipley

      2. I think you make an interesting point. It is right to say that in common speech we use the words as virtually interchangeable unless the context demands it. “I’m at London” “Really, which college?” I’ve looked at both Collins and Chambers 2000. They both define college as part of a university and not as the university itself, so I agree that technically you are correct. I don’t think that will stop compilers using this device, however! Jimbo.
      3. With Harry on the colloquial bit. “He’s gone to college” and “He’s gone to uni” can both just mean “He’s in further education”.

        Another water-muddying point is that various Universities including Oxford and London have a “University College”. So ‘College’ could certainly be used in a Times puzzle as a clue for ‘University’ (the names of the Oxford & Cambridge ones all seem to be fair game). However, as far as I know, the well-known such colleges aren’t called “Uni” – Oxford’s is “Univ.”

  4. About 45 minutes here, better than yesterday but still rather slow. I couldn’t think of anything other than SQUARE CUT to enter for 3, but if it’s right I cannot see why. I didn’t like 24 (“don’t” indicating O strikes me as dubious), but 12, 15, 22, 5,7 were all neat. I think 5 would be my nomination for COD for the twist given to the surface to get the cryptic.
      1. I understood the wordplay; it was the definition that I didn’t get. I note anonymous’s explanation further down the thread, but it’s not in COD or Chambers.
  5. Very imaginative and good fun. 11A and 12A give it a modern feel. I liked 3D most of all, but lots of entertaining surfaces.
  6. For me, the use of “O” suggested an exclamation mark was going to be needed, and I’m struggling to get the wordplay at 18D.
    28A felt very new because I honestly can’t remember seeing the simple PL = PLACE used before; seems to be the only thoroughfare abbreviation that’s passed under my radar. It’s my COD but I agree the CD at 5D is excellent.
    1. On 24, as I say, I think the O is justified by reading “don’t die” as an imperative.

      In 28D, I think the wordplay is simply that U (university briefly) is also the symbol for Uranium

  7. No, indeed. It was on my list of quibbles. And like Anax below I am struggling to understand 18D. Can someone please explain it?

    I must have lived a shelterd life because I have never even heard of MOUNTAIN DEW let alone tasted it. And are brand names allowed as definitions?

    1. “mountain dew” is a euphamism for whisky. I didn’t know it as a brand name! Jimbo.
      1. Thanks for that. I should pick up a dictionary occasionally instead of relying on Wikipedia. I will edit.
    2. Someone commented to me that it was a sorry thing to see product placement in a Times crossword, but I wasn’t actually aware of the brand name. “The Rare Old Mountain Dew” is a traditional Irish song, and is mentioned in “Fairytale of New York” (perhaps the clue was written after around Christmas time, when that song is hard to avoid…)
  8. 25D: I think you can be dying to meet someone = very keen to meet them, so I didn’t mind die = ‘be very keen’ [with ‘to get up’ as the reversal indicator.]
    1. LED means “got all behind” in the sense that if you are leading, you have everyone else behind you.
  9. About 19 minutes. I enjoyed this so much, I’ll even forgive the non-homophone at 6a and the weak 1d. I hindered myself by putting in FELL RUNNING at 6d, which left the NE corner a bit difficult. BLUNDERBUSS made me smile as it reminded me of the old days of the Three Bears in the Beano (or Dandy). COD is my last to go in, 6d – an extremely good, misleading cryptic def.

    Full marks to today’s setter.

  10. Thanks for the two replies about LED. However I already understood the reason given, the same from each responder. But what I am looking for please is the second reason; am I missing a wordplay or a second definition or…? NB This was my last clue to go in, and, I guessed correctly since there is no other possible response to L?D that connects with the clue in the way each responder wrote.
    1. Good point, in fairness. “Got all behind” is a superb CD but only if you can identify what the phrase might otherwise mean. “Get behind” is the same as “fall behind”, as you would if you had tasks to complete but hadn’t progressed as far as you should. “All” is perhaps a slightly weak link, but you would use it in phrases like “I’m all confused”.
      And that’s just one reading. It could also be interpreted as “got everybody supporting…”
      To be honest, not absolutely sure which of these was intended but I’d probably plump for the first.
      1. Just to go back one step, in case Anon is not familiar with the cryptic definition as a clue type, there is no second indication of the answer, just a single definition that is expressed in a way that makes you think of a different meaning, as Anax explains.

        Two favourites that clearly mislead (highlight after clues for answers) are:

        Dies of cold (3,5) ICE CUBES

        Jammed cylinder (5,4) SWISS ROLL

  11. A little nit-picking: In the game of bridge, pass, double and redouble are not, strictly speaking, bids. They are termed ‘calls’. A bid is an offer to play a contract in a particular suit or no-trump.
  12. Yikes, I’m having a bad brain day. I needed three sittings to get through this, but finally a few pennies dropped. I fell into the “stressful” trap, have never heard of the Calcutta Cup (but like the definition), haven’t heard phalanger in years and remain unenlightened on what fell walking is. Hopefully a better brain day tomorrow (and a better performance by Australia).
  13. This should satisfy the first part of the clue:
    According to Encarta:
    Square cut: In cricket, a right-angled SHOT played with the bat roughly parallel to the ground and little follow-through that sends the ball away at right angles to the wicket on the off side.
  14. A bit slower than normal. I’d decided about half way through I was dealing with a setter I’d never met before (and a few terms – 4d for eg) so had to really dismantle each clue. Plenty of candidates for COD but have gone with 18d for making me work at its reasoning.
  15. This was a good one with a mythical beast I have heard of, a real Ozzy beast I had never heard of before, a mineral that I have studied in great detail, an element clued craftily and a word seemingly from the card game Bridge that I can find no reference to.

    There are 7 answers omitted including the “not a bid at all” at 10a:

    9a Dog’s mine? Rubbish! (3,4)
    PIT BULL. As M Clouseau would say – “That’s not my deug”.

    10a Pairing takes time to bid (7)
    DOUBLE T. As one correspondent above has said, to double in Bridge is not a bid it is a call and the call is DOUBLE not DOUBLET. Furthermore I cannot find any reference equating bid to doublet. It seems that DOUBLET can be a lot of things from an old fashioned jacket to a derivative of the Dirac Delta Function but not a BID?

    14a Acted, but DrIeD regularly (3)
    DID. Familiar with this concept from Am-Dram days.

    26a College meal that’s fabulous (7)
    UNI CORN. One correspondent asked whether they were being too picky in objecting to UNI = COLLEGE. The objection is well reasoned but the answer is probably YES.

    27a Smoke gets me into no end of trouble (5)
    FU ME S (S)

    2d Embarrassed about raising issue moved in schedule (7)
    RE TIME D. Issue = EMIT is raised inside RED.

    18d Source of power university briefly expanded (7)
    URANIUM. University = U = Uranium (chemical symbol) – thus briefly expanded. This is explained above – I did not see it immediately myself. Crafty. An occasion where Uni definitely does NOT = College.

Comments are closed.