Times 23,866

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 11:17

Good puzzle. Again I found it a struggle to choose a couple of token clues not to include in the analysis. I am sure no-one needs to be told there is a Holst reference in 19D. It was a fast start for me, but then slowing up on the North-East corner, where I didn’t get any of the acrosses first time through.

The way the clues for 3 and 4 are run together was a new one on me. The “he” at the beginning of 4 refers to PARA which is the answer to part of the wordplay in 3. I wonder if the initial dash (rather than the more normal ellipsis) was meant to point us in that direction.

Slightly odd to find the word “old” three times in the clues, and in two of those it indicates O.


1 U + TOPI + A(ssociated)
5 CO(LES)LA + W(ith) – having “the French” in the plural is sneaky
9 I’M PROP + E.R.
10 G + ENTRY – “show” as a link word would be unremarkable if the clue had it in the middle. At the end it misled me very effectively
11 DO(R.M.)ER
12 ILL US(I + V(ide))E
14 DO THE HONOURS – two meanings
17 ALICE’S P.(RING)S. – I wrote this in on the basis of “Aussie town” without reading to the end of the clue to see the Lewis Carroll reference
22 PO(O(ld) D(uke))LE
23 PAMPAS, being (SAP MAP)(rev)
27 ER(RAT)A, RAT being TAR(rev)


2 T(O(ld) M.B.)OY
3 PARA + MEDICAL, the latter being CLAIMED*
4 AP(PARA)T + U.S.
5 COR, NICE! – ho ho
6 L + EGAL, EGAL being (LAGE(r))(rev)
7 SIN – reversed hidden
8 A (A.(RD)V.) ARK
13 SHOWS TOP + PER, PER being REP(rev) – not quite sure how to read the hyphenated “set-up” as a reversal indicator
15 OENOPHILE, being (IN POOLE HE)* – “port authority” is a great definition
18 REAL + GAR(b) – not sure why this word was lurking at the back of my head. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to define it
21 GUS + TO(o) – I really do not like TS Eliot’s cat poems, but I should force myself to read them to fix the names in my head.

21 comments on “Times 23,866”

  1. Another puzzle of two halves for me. I completed the top half barely stopping for breath but then ground to a halt and was decidedly stuck with only ALICE SPRINGS and PEA in the lower half. Eventually I got going again but it was still slow progress.

    I think the one that ruined my confidence was the anagram at 15 which I didn’t solve until I had all the checking letters in place. I was really thrown by how to place all those vowels.I’m sure I have met the word before but it certainly didn’t spring to mind.

    8D for my COD possibly though this cluing of ARK has been up once or twice recently. The one I didn’t like was 2D as there’s no proper definition unless throwing puddings over old doctors is considered the sort of thing a tomboy might typically do.

    1. I think you’ll find the verb trifle means to toy with. I rather liked the girl = tomboy device.
      1. I hadn’t missed that,av, and I had no problem with the wordplay, only the definition. Since “girl” doesn’t adequately define “tomboy” I assumed it must have been an attempt at an &lit clue but I don’t think it’s successful for the reason given in my earlier post.
        1. Apologies; I missed your point entirely! I suppose the clue could be considered somewhat misandrynistic 🙂
          1. I thought the clue to TOMBOY, while not clue of the century, was perfectly fine – it’s a semi-&lit, I suppose you could call it. A combination of def and wordplay lead inconclusively to the answer and surely that is all that matters
  2. I solved most of this in less than 30 minutes, though at the moment of writing I am yet to solve 11ac, which will be my last one. OENOPHILE and PEA were among the early entries.

    Soon after solving 2dn I too felt the definition for it was inadequate but on calmer consideration it must be intended as &Lit clue as noted in the comment above.

    The surface reading of 3dn is smooth. And I liked the twinning with the next clue.

  3. Agree with jackkt: top half was very much easier than the bottom half, although as an Australian Alice Springs sprang to mind quiet easily for me.

    15D popped out quickly, luckily; and my relief at finding I didn’t need an obsure English placename or organisation can’t be overstated! Nice smooth surface and I’d nominate it for COD except for the big chuckle I got at 9A. I suspect the old hands might have found it a bit hackneyed and/or trite but for the laugh it gave me anyway 9A gets the nod.

  4. 7:59 for this one. Continuing the point in yesterday’s comments about incomplete analysis, here are the ones where I filled in the answer without understanding the whole clue:

    1: didn’t see any of the wordplay – just solved from the def and ???P?A
    9: just had the def and ‘prop’ – which I’d initially thought was part of MALAPROP, but rejected Queen Mala as too unknown unless backed up by checking letters. As I don’t think I’ve seen this joke before, this is my COD.
    17: just had the def and thought of “Alice band”, which turned out to be irrelevant.
    21: just had the def and Gus the theatre cat.

    I wasn’t sure about shoot=slip in 16. From the electronic Chambers, it seems that both mean to slide/glide.

  5. Re 3dn and 4dn. I looked at it this way:

    In 3dn “Soldier” yields PARA (short form of “paratrooper”). In 4dn, “- he’s” (note the lower case ‘h’) goes back to the whole solution word of 3dn, viz., PARAMEDICAL, now n., which yields the abbreviation PARA as a component for the latter clue.

  6. That would be a more normal structure than I suggested. But the dictionary I have here doesn’t support para as an abbreviation for paramedical.
  7. A straightforward 35 minutes for this one with just 15D and 18D needing some educated guess work. If I’ve come across these two before I don’t remember them. (That 35 minutes means time taken to solve the puzzle and understand the clues – not just fill the grid. For me until one understands the clues one hasn’t finished, which makes this site very valuable). The device at 3D and 4D used to be more common than it is today. Tony Sever has a better memory than me for these things and may also recall such linked clues. Jimbo.
  8. 13 minutes, with a drinks refresher break in the middle. I liked this one, the setter and I were on the same wavelength. I’d go with 2d as COD, that was a well-hidden definition.

    A lot of these went into without much consideration to the wordplay – seeing “Aussie town” and (5,7) would make it a stretch to be anything other than Alice Springs, a port authority starting with O is very likely oenophile and I used to think there was only one 8-letter salad but was put in my place in a recent Mephisto (this was the original 8-letter salad).

    Yikes, a long comment… I had a massive leg-up for the bottom half by knowing realgar – tetraarsenic tetrasulfide, a pigment that is unstable in light, and is one of the problems for people restoring art pieces. Being a member of the American Chemical Society division of History of Chemistry has it’s rewards!

  9. With thoughts centred on an extended Easter break I think my mind was apt to wander while solving this; while I didn’t record a time I suspect I took twice as long over it as necessary.
    “Port authority” was new to me and 15 thus gets my COD with 8D a close second – what a monster of a word to clue.
    It will be interesting to see what those with long memories think of the linking format in 3/4D. Personally, it feels like an unfair demand to have to refer back to an opening part of wordplay in the previous clue, but if there’s an accepted precedent I have no complaints.
    19D was a nice reminder that Holst’s omission of Pluto turned out to be spot on after all!
  10. I got held up in SW especially with 16 and 18. I though of realgar but I’d never heard of it, and I also thought of slippage, but neither slip=shoot nor slippage=failure to reach target seemed quite precise enough, and I couldn’t get 20 across with those (curiously the moment I wrote them in rather than imagined them being written in it was obvious — my brain seems to work like that sometimes).


    1. It didn’t occur to me to worry about slip=shoot, imagining that it was botanical, but I now see that makes no sense. So thanks to Peter above for checking that they can both mean slide/glide.

      Slippage meaning “failure to reach target” is all too familiar at work.

  11. Made rather heavy weather of this after a brisk start -over an hour in the end.

    I like the linked clues 3 dn and 4 dn, no matter whether there is a precedent for this device or not, and, pace richardvg, the clues only require us to take “para” as an abbreviation for soldier, so I see no problem there.

    Both 9 ac and 5 dn seem to me amusing contenders for COD. I’ll go for 5 dn with 9 ac as runner-up.

    Michael H

  12. Oenophile was clued as ‘port authority’ about ten or twelve years ago in a Times Christmas Jumbo.

  13. 35 minutes for this but it felt a lot longer. I’d classify this puzzle as one of those where a lot of clues suffer as a result of fancy wordplay making for clumsy surface. 12,20,3,6, & 21 for instance. That said, some clues were excellent, not least 5 & 15 and I’ll pick the latter as my favourite.
  14. Comment added to other topic …

    We don’t get the syndicated print version of the crossword until approximately 5 weeks after it appears in the UK, hence the delay. I can’t resist the only opportunity I shall ever get to help Peter Biddlecombe with a crosswword clue. You suggested the common meaning of “glide” to explain “slip” for “shoot” in puzzle 23.866 16down. The full OED 2nd Edition on CD-ROM (very expensive, but a constant joy) provides this definition for “slip” (noun 2).
    “A twig, sprig, or small shoot taken from a plant, tree, etc., for the purpose of grafting or planting; a scion, cutting.”.

    Kind regards

    Ian Robertson (Brisbane).

  15. Springs that is … kangaroos and very few movie stars …

    Just the trio of omissions from this blog:

    20a Wood by a river incorporating initially a form of defence (8)
    A PO LOG I. A. Dunno what kind of defence that might be?

    25a Sensational as one’s vices may be (8)

    24d Old man consuming Oriental food item (3)
    P E A. Pa’s favourite a Chinese takeaway.

Comments are closed.