Times 23,854

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 24:08

I steamed through the top half of this (except for 5, which took me ages to justify) and thought I might be heading for a record time for me. Then the bottom half took forever. Part of this was because I made a mistake, putting in STAY ON instead of STAY UP at 21. And partly it was because I had never heard of the philosopher at 13. But mainly it was because I was effectively misled by a lot of clever clues.


10 DE + VON – I liked this one, as I occasionally affect an unjustified “von” in my Germanic name myself
11 D + ANGLE
12 DEL + AWARE, DEL being LED(rev) – lovely clue with smooth surface and well-concealed definition
14 BREAK SEVEN – I think that is a golfing reference
19 WICK(ed)
20 MONEY TALKS – I was sure that the last two words would be the definition, whereas they turned out to be the wordplay
22 SLAT + TERN – delayed by taking “drab” to be an adjective
23 PUTS + C, H – clever &lit
26 SH (I) N.Y.
27 TRUMPED UP – ho-ho
28 ANTI-PAST + O – if only I hadn’t made a mistake at 21, this was the (relatively) straightforward one that might have speeded up solving the bottom half
29 TIMON, being (N + OMIT)(rev)


2 A + PRON(to)
3 SWAN (LA)K + E
4 FLEW (=”flu”)
5 O (NTH + E) LEVEL – the answer was obvious, but I didn’t dare fill it in until I could justify it, which took far too long. If only I were young enough to complain that the exam should have been flagged as “old”
6 R(ight) (ADIA) L(eft) – ADIA being AIDA(rev)
7 HAVE A BALL – nice clue, with split between wordplay and definition well concealed at “will/enjoy”
13 DEMO + CRIT + US – I am afraid I had not heard of this philosopher, and having the link word (“In”) at the beginning did not make it easy to build it up from the wordplay
15 EUCHARIST, being (HIS CURATE)* – a familiar anagram, and I enjoy it every time
17 MISSHAPE + N, MISSHAPE being EMPHASIS* – took a long time. I assumed that “Wrong emphasis” would indicate a word beginning MIS. And so I didn’t think about anagrams until well after the answer was obvious
18 ST(RUMP)ET – ho-ho
21 S(mar)T + A(rea) + YUP – and of course, YON does not mean “yes”
22 SAS + HA(ve)
24 SO + DO(o)M

31 comments on “Times 23,854”

  1. How can 18D NOT be COD? Brilliant image, marvellous clue, and just my type – obviously. I also ticked 10, 12, 14 & 22d but in truth there was never any competition.
    Refreshingly, this one kept me going for a while, finally putting the biro down after about 40 minutes.
  2. I enjoyed this. 18D is entertaining, but 12A is a very neat clue with an immaculate surface, so it’s my COD.

    Not one for the purists, however. ‘enjoy himself’ can’t define ‘HAVE A BALL’ in my book (7D), and I would question the ?s in 4A, 10A, 23A, 21D.

  3. I agree, harder today and about 40 minutes for me too. One or two queries. Why the “in” at 13D and at 22D why is SASHA particularly Russian? I liked 23A but also think 18D STRUMPET is the best of them today. Jimbo.
    1. Agree that “in” in 13d looks superfluous (I’d underlined it) and have the same issue with “in” in 28 & 29.

      Any defenders?

      Also in 29, why is Knight “n”? Is it a chess notation to avoid confusion with K for king?

      1. K, Kt, and N are all standard abbreviations for Knight. Thanks for the support on the apparently superflous “in”. Jimbo.
      2. I generally support the use of “in” where the setter is saying “the letters of the answer can be seen in…” None of its uses in this puzzle caused the Anax eyebrows to elevate but I can understand solvers being disappointed when they try to work “in” into the wordplay when it isn’t needed. In the case of 28A (because “in” is used in the same way in 29) maybe “from” might have worked better?
    2. I think the ‘In’ serves the same function as a link word such as ‘giving’. So In (wordplay)(definition) = (wordplay) giving (definition).
  4. 8:20 for this – which felt like a chance for someone to beat me – initially had STAY ON at 21, didn’t get 4A on first look and probably should have, and missed out 15D on my first go through the downs.

    Can’t see the problem with 7D: “Did he enjoy himself?” = “Did he have a ball?”. Substitution test passed …

    Richard will enjoy 10A if I’m right in remembering that the ‘v’ in richardvg stands for an unofficial ‘von’.

    Sasha is a diminutive of Alexander or Alexandra which is marked “Russ.” in the Chambers first names list, and the only Sasha I can recall meeting was Russian.

    1. I think the more usual contraction of Alexandra is Sandra, which leads to Sandy. The Oxford Names Companion confirms Sasha as also being a contraction of Alexandra but says it has been used in the English speaking world as an independent name since the 20th century. Sorry, but for me Russian=Sasha is another loose definition step too far. Jimbo.
  5. I took a long time with this, nearer 50 minutes than the 40 that some others have mentioned. I liked 12, which I struggled with until the end, 22a and 18 (which I found highly amusing; I agree with Anax’s choice of it as COD), but I’ve written “groan” several times om my sheet in protest at some awful puns, the “loudest” one being for 10.
  6. Enjoyed this one too, started very late, after 1am and breezed through until being inexplicably stuck on 12a. Within a minute of waking up, I’d picked up the puzzle, gone “you idiot” and penned it in. Liked 18d, fun to see both it and 22a in the same puzzle. I also like 4a, despite initially getting it wrong by having FREAKS,HOW
  7. I was on a flier again today, only to come crashing back down to earth with my final 3 – SASHA, SLATTERN, PUTSCH and HUGO. 6 minutes for all but these plus another 7 to complete. Last in was HUGO. I think I’ll need the self kickers because I can’t see for the life of me why 27a is TRUMPED UP, if indeed it is. I put ticks next to 12a and 28a, but I’ll stick with my STRUMPET for COD.
    1. Likewise puzzled by TRUMPED-UP. I’d suspected it for a while but had doubts, with 25 not placed. Finding the answer to that made TRUMPED-UP inevitable but I’m struggling to understand “How the dead will finally be” = TRUMPED. I’ll share the boots with you when they arrive.
      1. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
          1. Possibly better known from Handel’s Messiah than the bible passage. Except for some laggy video, this YouTube performance is excellent. As a brass player myself I’m just a tad biased, but if you’ve got Crispian Steele-Perkins playing the trumpet as in this case, this is the best number in the whole piece. I guess Anax and 7dp don’t listen to many requiem masses – the ‘tuba mirum’ is the same trump(et).
  8. My fellow cruciverbalists seem to be in a particularly pernickety mood today. Like Peter B, I can see no objection to “enjoy himself” = “have a ball” in 7 dn. Pace dyste, I can see no pun (awful or otherwise)intended in 10 ac. It is surely one of those clues that require you to extract a quirkily different meaning from the letters of the answer – in this case the county of “Devon”, which we are invited to read alternatively as a verb “de-von”, meaning to remove the “von” from German titles. Amusing and, for me, a contender for COD, though I agree with anax that 18 dn has the superior claim. Finally, I cannot vouch for there being no examples of, say, Polish or Czech “Sashas”, but Sasha is such a stereotypically Russian name that “sasha” = “russian” seems to me perfectly acceptable.

    Michael H

  9. Fairly trouble-free top half, very tricky bottom half, all leading to a lengthy 45 minutes or so. Liked BREAKS EVEN but agree that you can’t fail to pick 18 as COD. It was the last answer filled and it was only about 5 minutes later that I finally saw STET and RUMP.

    I have a couple of quibbles which I’ve added above in reply to Jimbo.

  10. I’m 30 now, O levels had been long superseded by the time I was 16, and whilst arcane terms have their place in crosswords, arbitrarily named exams that have long since passed into history are, I believe, a bit much.
  11. About 40-50 minutes for me, held up by mindlessly misspelling ‘misshapen’ at first which delayed me in the lower half. The unknown philosopher was last to fall, and I had to look him up afterwards. Can someone assist me with how ‘drab’=’slattern’? I see richardvg’s note above that it isn’t an adjective as used, but I cannot see what other part of speech it would be. I suspect some devious British slang here.
    1. The second meaning (after dull) at dictionary.com is:
      1. a dirty, untidy woman; slattern.
      2. a prostitute.
      1. Well then. Thank you richard, I never heard that definition, or the usage, before now. Appreciate it.
  12. I really messed up the bottom, making the STAYON mistake and then compounding it by deciding that 28 must thus be ANTIPATHY. I couldn’t see why but I could stretch “hating” to a definition and “path” was “course”. Then I came to my senses when I couldn’t get the last couple in, and found antipasto. But HUGO still took ages.


  13. As a native Delawarean, I can’t tell you how delighted I am to find DELAWARE in a Times crossword. I’m even more pleased to see that nobody made a comment like, “Delaware? What’s Delaware? Never heard of it!” — especially since there are plenty of Americans who don’t know what it is. About 40 years ago, a friend of my sister’s met a couple of guys who asked her where she was from. When she said, “Oh, I’m from Delaware,” they were mystified. “Delaware? What state is that in?” They happened to be in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, at the time. dorosatt
    1. But your state has been celebrated in song, dorosatt, by none other than Perry Como. “What did Della wear, boy, what did Della wear…..?” Once heard, never forgotten.
      1. IIRC she wore a brand new Jersey.

        Next question: Where has Ore gone boy, where has Ore gone?

  14. I have learned that the capital of Alaska is Juneau and not Anchorage. Thanks for the geography lesson peeps!

    There are 6 “easies” not in the blog for this rather fine one:

    1a High quality pupils (5)

    9a This secretary is no temp (9)

    16a Tree may need greasing (4)
    PALM. Lubrication with silver is the usual? Moly would be better for greasing but it is not used for coinage.

    1d God is getting gesture of respect, but giving curl of lip (6,3)
    CUPID’S BOW. Not the sneer implied.

    8d Triumph over establishment but look pained (5)
    WIN C.E.

    25d Get good grasp of old author (4)
    HUG O

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