Times 23,876 – X marks the spot

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I had one major difficulty here, as will become apparent. 17 minutes of which the last five were spent inwardly debating, and then externally checking, 9 across.

5 BRAHMS – as in half of Brahms & Liszt, the Cockney rhyming slang (drunk is the polite way of expressing the meaning).
8 BILLET DOUX – Boy=BILL +(DUE TO)* + X. Nicely playing on the fact that a love letter might well end with a X.
9 DORE – the artist has an accent, which may be why I took so long. 4th or 5th class would translate to being D or E, presumably.
10 SET YOUR HEART ON – hearts as in (red) playing cards, of course.
11 DOUBLES – in A Tale of Two Cities Carton and Darnay are so alike that the former is able to allow himself to be guillotined in the place of the latter.
21 VANISHING POINT – the point where parallel lines appear to converge, handy if you’re trying to paint in 3-D.
22 GNAT – backwards in grea(tang)uish, forwards in assi(gnat)ion.
25 ELEGANCE – ‘Polish’ the noun today instead of the verb, in its meaning of style, E + L(EG)ANCE.
2 POLITBURO – (BUILT POOR)*, suddenly very easy when you have the O at the end.
3 TREFOIL -TRE(e) + FOIL (nip in the bud), plant usually known as clover.
5 BOX (tree) CAME to R.A.
7 MIRANDA – (MI) rev. + R and A. The Royal & Ancient is the governing body of golf, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter in The Tempest.
12 EXCISEMEN – EXCISE + MEN(u), a less glamorous occupation now people don’t smuggle brandy ashore from galleons, but fags from Calais.
16 RAVENNA is the city – ‘jet flier’ = ‘black bird’ = raven.
18 SUNDIAL – Sun sounds like Son, DIAL = LAID upwards, ‘set’ as in trap, for instance.
19 WAPPING – sounds like WHOPPING, and, of course, the controversial new home of the Times since 1986.

My problem was that having put in DORE, I wanted to be sure of my reasoning, so I started off thinking it was the accented version, but then decided that would have been the privileged class, not one of the lower classes (and would need another E). However, I wasn’t 100% sold on ‘classes’ necessarily indicating a succession of letters; perhaps I’m too used to this sort of clue being conventionally represented by musical notes rather than ‘classes’ and was simply thrown by this reluctance to do the obvious! Anyway, I may be quite alone in this stumble – you can never tell what innocent clue will cause difficulties for one person but not another.

Still, apart from my personal blind spot this was enjoyable; I don’t think any one clue stood out, but I’ll say 16 down as my COD for the ‘jet flier’ def.

P.S. Has anyone here who’s a Club member received their compensatory atlas? It struck me at the weekend that I, for one, haven’t. It’s not as if I’ve been waiting anxiously for the postman to arrive, but it would have been at least a tangible token of their contrition…if it had turned up.

25 comments on “Times 23,876 – X marks the spot”

  1. Hi topicaltim,
    Same problem – 19 minutes on this, the last 4 spent on 9ac, for much the same reason. Just couldn’t feel sure of it.
    COD – 12d is sweetly done.
    I didn’t apply for my “We’re sorry” atlas. After some of the emails I sent them, I figured we were even.
  2. 5:26 here, though should have been quicker on END,U,RES and the half-drunk composer. Got 9A from checking letters, which often happens to me with this kind of clue. Nice help in 10’s clue to discourage you from putting ‘SET ONE’S …’.

    COD suggesion: 8A.

    My atlas arrived a week or two ago.

    Edited at 2008-04-01 07:57 am (UTC)

  3. I struggled to get properly underway with this one but once started it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t know DORE but it seemed likely from the wordplay. Not sure that the “to the pile” element of 10 quite works.
  4. 1) Unfortunately, I blithely slapped in ONE’S into 10 across because it’s always ONE’S in The Times crossword.

    2) My apologetic mini atlas arrived here in Skiathos about 10 days ago having braved various individual strikes, a national strike, erratic ferry and air services and numerous power cuts.

    Mike O.

  5. I had no problem with this and finished in 20 minutes. The D and E classifications were used in the 2001 census where D was semi-skilled and unskilled and E was unemployed. I like 8A, it made me smile. My atlas turned up about 3 weeks ago but the head office of the Times was not marked so I couldn’t find it to go and throw things at them. Jimbo.
  6. Unfortunately, I also put in ONE’S in 10A but I thought it might be YOUR because of the clue, so it didn’t hold me up too much.
    I also put in MIRANGE at 7D originally thinking a range might be a golf club – I know next to nothing about this sport. I changed it on getting 13A, but didn’t know what R&A was – thanks for the explanation.
    1. The Royal and Ancient is a golf club based at St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland, known as the home of golf. It is the governing body everywhere in the world except the USA and Mexico. The US Golf Association covers these and is based at Fair Hills New Jersey. Jimbo.
  7. Mine arrived about a fortnight ago. It made something of a change to encounter pages I could open.
  8. Got my atlas as well a week or so ago which found its way to NYC. Not quite as good as maps.google.com on my iPhone though.

    DORE escaped because I decided on ABLATED for 6D, turning a blind eye to the wordplay.

  9. 11:48 here, though I feel I should have been a little quicker. My main problems today were RAVENNA and MAXIMISING. BRAHMS went straight in without checkers – The Brahms and Liszt was one of my irregular haunts during my student days in Leeds. Like others, I also mistakenly entered “ONES” at 10a. I can’t remember “YOUR” ever being used in a Times crossword.
    I thought the the literary references at 7d and 11a were unnecessary. It just seemed like the setter was showing off.
    I think 19d could be improved by having something like “but not for a Scotsman” at the end of it ;o)

    My Atlas arrived about 3 weeks ago. Perhaps we should have a poll to see which is the most popular arrival time for mini atlasses.

  10. My first sub-10 for quite some time, clocking in at just over 8 minutes. On any other occasion I’m sure DORE would have held me up – possibly for days – but, by chance, I recently attempted to set a thematic puzzle based on artists and this one, although not used, was on the list of possibles.
    Thankfully the “sound” typo at 19D caused no delay (in fact I missed it until re-reading the clue) and my only hold-up was, annoyingly, being unable to see the obvious ELEGANCE at 25.
    No COD I’m afraid; plenty of decent clues but no “wow” moments.
  11. 26 minutes here, probably not one to start on well after midnight. RAVENNA last to go in, I got my atlas about two weeks ago (I’m near the east coast of the US). Found myself accidentally in Wapping last May, otherwise that might not have come to mind quickly. There were some good clues here, 8a was cleverly clued, bit of a giveaway after the checking X, would have been a tricky one if I didn’t get BOX CAMERA (a giveaway) first.

  12. For topicaltim: My mini Atlas also arrived a couple of weeks ago. As I recall, you had to indicate a wish to receive it. I too was held up annoyingly by 9 ac, which prevented me from completing in under 30 minutes. I correctly assumed that the socio-economic classes D and E were involved but, despite being perfectly familiar with the real live chap called Doré, spent fruitless minutes trying to track down a non-existent artist called DERA. Even if the latter had ever existed, I guess the clue would have required a ? to make it work. Doh! I have to admit that the D or E reading is rather neat. But I would go for 8 ac as my COD.
  13. I received it a few weeks ago. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but the maps and text are so small, it is too hard to read. I doubt I’ll ever refer to it.
  14. 30 minutes and had to look up DORE & RAVENNA and check MIRANDA and CARTON/DARNAY ex-post.

    Put me down as another who put “ones” in 10 thereby slowing myself down on trefoil and endures.

    Janitor should help the US contingent – I’ve only ever heard them referred to as caretakers over here, except when watching Scooby-Doo.

    My COD nom is 13.

    1. “I’ve only ever heard them referred to as caretakers over here, except when watching Scooby-Doo.”

      ….and Hong Kong Phooey

  15. An enjoyable puzzle, though didn’t like set YOUR heart on, despite the hint. It’s always ONES.

    Ignored the offer of the atlas – had won one before in something and binned it as useless. In any case, always use the net now rather than a paper atlas which never has enough detail.
    Sent them a critical email instead, to which they haven’t replied.

  16. I’m sure that this is not the first appearance of YOUR rather than ONES in a Times crossword – or as sure as I can be without having a puzzle number to quote at you. That’s why I usually consider both, as mentioned in comments on 23873.

    As I understand it, there’s no rule about this in the crossword – ONES is just much more likely to fit easily with other answers.

    Any time you catch yourself saying “always” about something in cryptic crosswords, you can be pretty sure a counter-example will be along very soon.

  17. I did this last night while watching television, finishing mostly during the commercials of a 1 hr. program, so let’s say it was about a 1/2 hour. Lots of commercial time on American TV. THanks Penfold, in that I didn’t know ‘janitor’ was primarily a US usage. I looked up Dore, so I knew there was an artist, but I didn’t get the wordplay til now. I had Brahms as well, but as usual I’m lost on the rhyming slang, so reading here elicits another ‘Oh now I get it’ reaction. Regards.
  18. Thanks for all the answers re: atlases, clearly the Times just has it in for me 🙂

    Somehow, it feels more irritating to have been promised something, and have it withheld, no matter how little I actually want it (even less than before, now I’ve read these comments).

    Also glad it wasn’t just my blind spot…

  19. Foxed by the Royal and Ancient, but otherwise this seemed straightforward, including the D or E. My atlas arrived in Seattle about 3 weeks ago. Since I have two editions of the big one, I mean to save it for transatlantic flights: one thing you can say for it is that it’s a lot better for gazing out at Baffin Bay than the lousy route maps at the back of the BA flight mag. –JR.
  20. I think D and E are standard social/consumer classifications so Dore seemed fairly straightforward to me. As for “ones” and “your”, I’m sure “your” has been used before (if rarely), and was fairly clued given the “How YOU desired a goal” hint!
    Joel (no Atlas yet but now I can’t remember if I asked for one)
  21. Puzzle 23,876 appears today in the New York Post (Rupert’s Gotham rag), two weeks late, so I’ve only just now been royally stumped by DORE. However, I remain un-Dante-d.

    Do I divine correctly that COD means “clue of the day” hereabouts? If so, I second Mr. Biddlecombe; 8A and BILLET-DOUX. It’s not easy to write nonsense that makes sense!

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