Times 23872 – a tale of two halves

Solving time : 32 minutes, and one naughty peek in the dictionary

I found this one to be a real challenge, and expected it after three pretty easy puzzles this week. Some clues were very easy, but most of these had me scratching my head, and there may be a prize of half a biro for explaining the wordplay in 14…

1 POLY,P: growing up in Australia, even though it’s pretty common in crosswords, I often slip on POLY being an old school, and had OX??P thinking OXLIP for a while
9 TATTOO,IS,T(=head of theatre): Edinburgh is known for the military tattoo.
11 ULSTER: my last to go in – LUSTRE with the LU and the ER reversed. Mephistoish?
12 MONTAGUE: U in MONTAGE. Bard’s house was a clever definition that kept me from this one initially.
14 MIDNIETTE: From the definition and checking letters – standard shopgirl of the Mephisto, but I have no idea what the wordplay is here Edit: see first comment for wordplay
19 I,N UN,I,FORM: my COD, great construction
21 F,USE,LAGE(r): close second
26 ESPERANTO: ANT(=worker) in E,(PROSE)*
28 ETH,OS: the old character isn’t Greek this time, it’s Anglo-Saxon
1 PUT OUT MORE FLAGS: By Evelyn Waugh – an occasional visitor to my little part of the US
2 (f)LUTES
3 PROTEIN: E in PRO,TEN Edit: typo, should have been E in PRO,TIN
5 BUTTONED,UP: where’s my Basil Brush avatar?
6 IAPETUS: IMPETUS with the M(intiailly momentum) replached by A. I knew it was a moon of Saturn, I knew it was IMPETUS with a letter replaced (I thought the T, from this initially), and when all the checking letters fell into place, I snuck a peek at Chambers Crossword Lists.
8 TATTERDEMALIONS: Worked out from the anagram (OLD,MASTER,IN,TATE)*
15 DAMP,SQUIB: and the Guy is Fawkes
18 AILMENT: hidden
20 IMMERSE: not too thrilled with “duck” as a definition for “immerse”, maybe it was meant to be dunk? S in IM,MERE
23 (b)RANCH

35 comments on “Times 23872 – a tale of two halves”

  1. Got off to a flying start in all four quarters then struggled steadily before coming to a grinding halt in the NE corner. I too sneaked a look at a book for 6D with only the I?????S in place, as I didn’t know any satellites of Saturn other than “Titan”. Very annoyed with myself as I had already considered “impetus” with “a” replacing” “m” but had rejected “Iapetus” as unlikely. With that in place, PICOT and MONTAGUE soon came to mind and the puzzle was complete.

    Not far short of an hour today but I’m not convinced it was that difficult. Must try harder.

  2. Good fun and 40 mins here.

    Splendid to see tatterdemalions too – must be twenty years or more since I last saw it, and glad I did not remember the word in vain. And even better to see no reference to lacemakers or felines in the clue 🙂

  3. Good start with 1,4,9,11 across and 1-5 down going in fast. Then drew a blank at 6D so no ‘clean sweep’ chance. But got 7 down promptly and guessed at TATTERDEMALION or similar for 8, so followed the trail of right-edge checking letters – all the way to the final S, I think. Slowed down a little at the bottom but had all but 6D after just over 5. Main problem was to stop myself writing IMPETUS, which regardless of anything else would imply ‘def in the middle’ – not impossible but very rare. Then saw the M/A swap and vaguely remembered IAPETUS, stopping the clock at 6:35.

    Picky correction: the loaf in 5D is a TIN.

  4. is A abbreviating “are” in 22A? seems like i’ve encountered this before but can’t remember… I thought it was an advanced trick (like “t” for the and “o” for of).
    1. Yes, I think it’s that measurement again. And damn that I missed it again! I have a blind-spot on this one.
  5. About 24 mins, a lot of which was on MONTAGUE and IAPETUS (guessed) at the end. Certainly a few unusual tricks in this one (19A, for example – my COD too) and 23D feels nicely topical without naming names. The only thing I’m uncertain about is the definition in 26A: why is Esperanto ‘trickier’?
    1. I think that for a native english speaker, by definition esperanto is trickier than English. In fact for any speaker, given that no one’s mother tongue is Esperanto (ok, except for a small tribe of Esperants somewhere).
      1. Yes, I suppose that must be it. ‘Trickier’ threw me because Esperanto was designed to be simple.
  6. This is my sort of puzzle. I really enjoyed wrestling with it for about 40 minutes. I agree some of it is close to bar crossword standard. I guess if you’re familiar with Waugh then 1D is a bit of a give away that probably makes things a bit easier. I’m not and had to work at it. The old hands will be familiar with 8D and MIDINETTE is making its third(?) appearance in a very short while. There are lots of good clues (the hidden word at 18D is good again) but I’ll go for 4A. Jimbo.
  7. .. jumped out at me almost immediately those rascals. I commend the compiler. Fell into the Oxlip trap so the Waugh was tres difficile but Iapetus came readily once i had a couple of letters. Settled for Montague but couldn’t make the bard’s house connection. Go google after i have a look at yesterday’s cryp; the morning non-appearance put me out. alanjc
    1. I’d like to see a lot more tatterdemalions and far less longlist/long-list/long lists. (I see the reason for a short list but can’t see one for a word/phrase ‘long list’ – surely it’s just a list?)

      Anyway, like Alanjc tatterdemalions jumped out at me. Iapetus was also an early entry for (but given my background not an unexpected one).

      I had trouble with ‘poly’ but perhaps as an Aussie I suffer the same problem as glherd? OSLEP was the other O???P word that I could think of, but of course neither could be contorted to fit the clue.

      All-in-all a fine and challenging puzzle, but: (you knew there’d be a but) if I ever see APSE clued that way ever again, it’ll be far too soon…

      My COD nomination to 21A: I love a bit of double … entendre.

  8. I thought this a very good puzzle. It took me just over 30 minutes to get to the last 3 in the NE corner, then another 5 or more to get those, 6,10 and 16. IAPETUS was new to me, and I didn’t realise for a while that the letter to be replaced was M and the replacement was A.
    TATTERDEMALIONS was one of those words I dredged from the depths of my memory and got fairly quickly once I had the initial T and the L_O_S ending – rather neat clue, I thought, amongst a number of good clues.
    The only one I didn’t like was 11; “cut in” for reversal seemed a bit unfair to me.
    No doubt for me about C.O.D.: 16. Very neat and it had me fooled for ages (my last entry)
  9. Am I the only one who has never heard of TATTERDEMALIONS? I don’t think it’s an age thing because the last time I looked I was pretty frayed around the edges. I finally plumped for TATTERDAMELIONS so null points there. Was nowhere near off IAPETUS and MONTAGUE beat me as well – I was convinced I was looking for a poet beginning with HO (house). All in all a miserable failure for the second day running.
    Another uninspiring one today, I’m afraid. Agree with gl that 19a should be COD.
    1. No, you’re not 7dpenguin; I’d never heard of it either. And Collins doesn’t mention anything about them being children, though this is in Chambers as an option.
  10. I think ULSTER is LUSTRE with the edges (L and E) cut in – ie moved one place inwards.

    I couldn’t get Iapetus, or midinette, and I’d never heard of tatterdemalions (though it sort of rings a bell).

    1. Right, that’s probably a more succinct way of putting the awkward change in letters.
  11. angryvocab wrote:
    (I see the reason for a short list but can’t see one for a word/phrase ‘long list’ – surely it’s just a list?)


    1. I agree, but I’m afraid applying logic to business-speak is a losing battle. It’s in Collins so one assumes it’s in common usage.
    2. Chaps,

      If you can be sure that no-one will ever think that ‘list’ means the short-list, there’s no need to say ‘long list’. Knowing human fallibility, I think I’d use ‘long list’ to make it clear which one I meant.

      But this is all irrelevant really. Whether the word ‘long list’ should be in the dictionary is a question for lexicographers, not crossword setters. Once it’s in the dictionary, it’s OK as an answer.

      (And of course all this relates to yesterday’s puzzle. Please try to stick to today’s puzzle or just mention that you’ve added something about whatever to yesterday’s discussion if you think interested parties will miss it.)

  12. Very tough but enjoyable puzzle. Took me an hour in 2 sittings. ‘TATTOOIST’ was my last entry, and I had to google for any possible connection between Edinburgh and tattoos, which I didn’t previously know. I think ‘POLYP’ is COD, being just the sort of short, oddly spelled word, that if a clue can be created, becomes very difficult to dope out. But many other clues today were also excellent. Regards.
  13. I thought this was one of those puzzles in which experience and general knowledge make a big difference. I didn’t know TATTERDEMALIONS, MIDINETTE or the novel, and finished in 15:56, with a very doubtful IAPETUS my last entry.

    But even allowing for my ignorance, Peter’s 6:35 still seems very fast for this!

    1. I agree, 6:35 is really fast for such a difficult crossword. While struggling with it, I was idly thinking even the speed merchants would take 9-10 minutes! Also, I found it interesting to see the order in which Peter tackled the clues. I live and learn – Vijay

      PS: Can someone explain the “bard’s house” connection for Montague?

      1. Montagues and Capulets are the two “houses” or families at feud with each other in the Bard’s play Romeo and Juliet.

        That perhaps is the connection.

      2. Most of the difference between 6-something and 9-something was the gain (about 14 checking letters) from spotting 1 and 8 down instantly from their first letters and defs. This was lucky in the Arnold Palmer sense (“the more I practise the luckier I get”), and when it happens a puzzle can suddenly change from tough to easy.

        Order of solving is crucial for speed – I don’t know any quick solver who tackles the clues in the printed order (stands by to be told who does).

        (And rishi is dead right about the Montagues and Capulets.)

        1. Thanks for the explanation – by now I should have realized that bard usually refers to Shakespeare! And oh, “order of solving” is another of the extremely useful things I learnt from this blog. I am trying to break away from the years-old habit of solving in printed-order. Vijay
  14. Iapetus is one of Saturn’s moons and also the name given to an ancient ocean in geological history – 600 to 400 million years ago mainly in the Cambrian to Silurian periods. I had not seen it before in crossword-land but the Midinette and Tatterdemalions I only knew from Times crosswords. Possibly from this one as I may have done it when it first came out 10 years ago.

    There are 10 answers not in the blog:

    10a Lacy decoration gives bed very good edging (5)
    PI COT

    16a Was agent full of zest caught out? (5)
    SPI (c) ED

    17a Business course giving priority to Sport and Dance (5)
    RU MBA

    22a Are millions said to be lacking principles? (6)
    A M ORAL. A for Are is the abbreviation for the area unit the Are which is 10 x 10 metres apparently.

    25a A darling quick on the uptake (5)
    A CUTE

    27a Subject matter? Junior editor has opinion (9)

    4d Anaemic-sounding water carrier (4)

    7d Possibly (noticing) nothing as disguised person appears? (9)

    13d Vegetable with (banger isn’t)* cooked (6,4)

    24d Primate embracing saint? That could be feature of the church (4)
    AP S E

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