Times 23,855

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time:

Well there you go.  You wait for one Theod blog to come along (probably not!) and two arrive together…

…after a prolonged spell on the subs bench with little practice on the daily Times puzzle I expected to suffer from a little rustiness with this, so I surprised myself with a respectable effort.  Seemed a straightforward puzzle, so I am sure it’s a sub-five or –six minute day for the speed merchants.  There were a couple of decent & lits., but my COD would be 21D just for the conjunction of “cheat”, “swindle” and “rook”.



VERIFY (VERsIFY) – I first expected something ending in P(oetr)Y – good job the Y was not checked!


TEENAGER (TEE + ANGER*) – “Youngster” + an angram of “anger” gave the answer without even considering the golfing reference for “tee”.


GEN (i.e. abbreviation for GENESIS)


GOING STEADY (GO + DATING YES*) – nice & lit., although the “it” is a bit awkward.


KITSCH (KIT + SCH) – the abbreviation for SCHOOL is indicated (by “cut”) – I found the need for “used by” in the surface a bit cumbersome.


MEISSEN (M + I in ESSEN) – incredibly although I thought “Essen” immediately, I missed this one on the first read through.


ALSO-RAN (ROAN LASt*) – nice & lit..


EGO (i.e. EG and GO overlapping)


MONARCHY (cryptic def.) – a bit tame for a cryptic definition, although I was nearly fooled into MINORITY (rule) with M?N?R??? in the grid, but obviously that made no sense.


SHOWER (2 defs.) – I liked this use of the “right shower” meaning.






ROMANTICS (MINORS ACT*) – I was disgusted with myself that I was unable to solve this anagram without assistance from checking letters!




ENGAGEMENT RING (ENGAGEMENT + RING) – I started to write in ETERNITY before I realized it was not going to fit!


NIGHTBIRD (“KNIGHT” + DRIB rev.) – although the NIGHT part was obvious I blanked on this word and had to work out DRIB rev..




SURRENDER (R + END in SURER) – one of those clues that seems very easy to solve cold.


CAPSICUM (CAPS + I + CUM) – dangerously close to CEPS (which always springs to mind with mushrooms).


CONDOR (CON + DO + R) – how nice that these three synonyms were able to be slotted together.


ONION (I in ON + ON) – nice surface.





29 comments on “Times 23,855”

  1. I too guessed that the speed merchants must have snapped this up in under five minutes. Well, my own time was much less than 30 minutes. More than half the number I got even as I read the clues.
  2. .. (except for Monday, maybe). Very encouraging for someone who averages one completed crossword a week!
  3. There were no major problems so it’s disappointing it took me more than 30 minutes to complete.

    I’d agree with 21 as COD especially as it took me a couple of minutes to work it out even having considered all three DO CON and R elements. With the first O in place I was convinced it started with DO.

    I don’t agree that “it” is awkward in 13. Surely it refers back to “dating” and is just part of the &lit?

    It’s 10 that seems a bit feeble to me in an otherwise excellent puzzle.

  4. Ultimate – FINISHING
    stroke – TOUCH
    that secures win for swimmer – definition; ref. is prob. to the fact that when swimmers finish the required number of laps in a race they touch the edge of the swimming pool


  5. I think I just dipped under 10 mins., which would be the first time for ages. I rather liked 27A – flawless surface and every word counts. I agree that 28A is a little weak, as well as Brit-centric.
  6. By the way, I can’t remember who the regular Friday blogger is, but I was half-expecting to find a reference in the grid after what I assume were allusions to DorsetJimbo and rvg on Wednesday and yesterday (DORSET and DEVON).
  7. The easiest cryptic for a while. I took well under the half hour, so PB will no doubt do it in soft-boiled-egg time!

    Nothing remarkable in it for me though, and not a lot of fun.

  8. Please explain the double def. of ‘shower’.
    OK for quick fall (rainfall) but I don’t get the incompetent group’s part.
    1. ‘What a shower!’ is one of the more polite ways of saying ‘What a bunch of incompetents!’
  9. One of the easiest this week, I agree. I share jackkt’s view that 10 is pretty feeble. The neatest clue for me was 24, so that’s my choice for COD.
  10. Raced through this and expected to get at least close to my new PB – very surprised to find it took around 15 minutes, mostly because I spent some time parsing 6 despite having the answer placed.
    A mix of chestnuts and very imaginative clues. 21 stood out but I’ll COD 18; very nice surface and “combined with” was a misleading piece of wordplay.
  11. Definitely rather than proabably – in commentaries on swimming, “beaten on the touch” is the same as “outdipped” for running races.
  12. 4:40 for this – I had a tip-off that it was easy, but sometimes tip-offs put too much pressure on if you fail to solve 1A instantly, as here. Also paused a bit over the ‘drib’ in 6D. ENGAGEMENT RING must belong with MIDDLE OF THE ROAD in the pantheon of long phrases with helpful letters for setters and multiple clue-writing possibilities. (10,4) plus any mention of action or battle, and in it goes.

    PB material for someone today, I’m sure. Possibly penfold’s sub-15?

    In answer to the Q above about the usual Friday blogger – dorsetjimbo every other week, but this week the_od replaced neildubya.

  13. A disappointing 31 minutes, mainly due to problems in the SW corner. I know capiscum but not capsicum, monarchy was hard to get without the m, it being a bit of a woolly clue, whilst kitsch, surrender and also-ran also took their time to come to me. Last one in was child at 26, as I never knew that chid was an acceptable alternative to chided.

    In 6 I don’t think that “man reported” is a strong enough indicator for “night”. Surely a knight is more than just a man?

    My COD nom goes to 5 – I like the use of “in place of fighting” for ring (after yesterday’s rant for once I think “in” serves its purpose as a link between def and si)

    1. I think that “man” refers to chess. The name for a piece or a pawn is man. Pawns are not pieces in chess terminology. A Knight is a piece and therefore also a man.
  14. I has mis-entered engagement ring meaning I was looking for an e rather than n beginning for the ‘no dice’ entry , so e- d-c- – mmmm? would it be en doci or en dico – some Latin phrase I was unaware of.
    Probably one of the easiest clues possible but just shows what a transcription error can do.In the end I plumped for one of the above. Honorary dunce’s cap for me today
    JohnP Marshall
  15. 8:23 here. Nothing really held me up today, but I had to keep coming back to several clues as I got more checking letters. I usually solve whilst eating lunch but today, because it was fish & chips, I decided to properly enjoy my meal then tackle the crossword without being encumbered by fork/pen swappage. I’m pretty pleased with myself to have done 2 sub-10s in a week.
    My COD vote goes to 21d for reasons metioned above.

    In response to Penfold, above, the knight in this case is a man at chess, rather than a knight of the realm.

  16. 15 mins approx for me (I was boiling a breakfast egg at the same time)- lightning fast by my plodder’s standards, so it must have been an easy one. No stand-out COD for me, but I would nominate 1 ac for its elegant(but not obvious)simplicity and because it was a nice example of how to get solvers barking up the wrong tree, in this case by leading the unwary (including me) to look initially for a word ending in PY. Peter B’s 4.40 comes close to the feat of the legendary Provost of Eton who claimed to do the Times xword every morning in the time it took him to boil an egg – but I’ve always suspected he cheated by eating his eggs hard-boiled.

    Michael H

    1. You’re very kind, but I suspect talbinho or Magoo might have beaten 4 minutes for this puzzle – real soft-boiled territory. I hope to do so again some day – I don’t think I’ve beaten 4 for an unseen Times puzzle since starting the single-handed version of this blog in December 2005.

      For the complete debunking response to the P of E story, see the comments in this entry from December last year.

  17. 10 minutes, probably two or so staring at 6d wondering if MIESSEN was right. Haven’t heard of NIGHTBIRD (the wonderful American spellchecker rejects both words), but it turned out to be a lucky guess (drib reversed, hmmm). I liked the construction at 15d
  18. Agree that monarchy is woolly, put in ‘standard’ whilst running through the across clues quickly and only changed to monarchy when checked. Still think that standard would fit and is arguably almost as as valid.
  19. I’m having a good day, won my golf game and then sailed through this in about 25 minutes. Whilst it was easy it was also enjoyable. I’ll go for 18D as COD. Jimbo.
  20. I agree, an easy outing. I actually printed this last night, and completed it in about 15 minutes, leaving me nothing to do this morning. I liked ‘sacred cow’ juxtaposed with ‘papal bull’; that raised a smile.
  21. 9:20 beats my best by a good two minutes.
    I shall ignore the fact that it may have been an easy puzzle. I find crosswording much like golf: somehow I manage to convince myself that the one decent shot in the round is my natural game and the other 95 were a mere aberration. Philip S.
  22. 6:15 for me – I’m afraid my sub-4 days are a thing of the past, and I was slow with VERIFY and hesitated over NIGHTBIRD.

    An enjoyable puzzle with some nice clues, from which I’ll pick 13A (GOING STEADY) as my COD.

  23. Use of one well-known German city to clue another one more obscure but famous for porcelain and a discussion of men, pawns and pieces for our edification.

    There are 9 “easies” not on the blog:

    10a Left, or still here (9)
    REMAINING. A double def – not that bad?

    11a Unappetising food taken back from tabLE Urgently (5)

    20a Emphatic refusal represented (in code)* (2,4)

    22a Short distance between David and his enemy? (6,5)
    STONES THROW. Ah but he did not throw it – he used a sling. Picky picky.

    26a Youngster scolded, left in detention (5)
    CHI L D

    27a (Continued)* misbehaving, without attracting attention (9)

    8d Joining forces with king and staging recovery (8)
    R(ex) ALLYING

    9d Ultimate stroke that secures win for swimmer (9,5)
    FINISHING TOUCH. Make sure it is with both hands in breast stroke.

    17d It’s above criticism, as counterpart of papal bull? (6,3)

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