Times 23878 – don’t forget your toothbrush

Solving time : Egads! with a few frustration breaks and a search for coffee, 95 whopping minutes, and that includes using some google and Bradfords

This is the most difficult crossword I’ve encountered in the Times since I started timing and concentrating on finishing the thing. Looking back on the completed grid, I’m not sure why it’s that hard, I guess it’s that there are no giveaways or easy long clues to write in. I was also hoping to do this last night, glad I didn’t.

I should say there is one guess, so I may not have gotten this out at all.

1 B,LIT,HE(=helium): got this from wordplay
9 ABERDARE: ABE, then D in RARE. Welsh town I had never heard of, almost worked out from wordplay, couldn’t quite figure where to stick the D.
11 SUPERCARGO: (PROCURE,GAS)* – it is obvious what the anagram needs to be, but an obscure word, I think I remember it from a Pynchon novel
14 CERT: hidden reversed in accounT RECeives
15 RU,PERT,BEAR: my US friends will find this tough going, the bear in the plus-fours made it to Australia, but I don’t recall seeing him here
18 RE,RECORD,ED: I think I was overwhelmed by difficulty level here and overthought this one
21 PARR: the wife of Henry VIII that survived, and sounds like PAR
23 OR(=partner of “either”)DER,PAPER(=(PREPARED)*): not a term I was familiar with, worked out from wordplay
25 HEGIRA: (A,RIG,EH)<=, thank you Bradfords, the flight of Mohammed from Mecca
27 HARRIERS: BARRIERS with the second-class B changed to H
28 DOS,I,DO: my first entry!
2 LAB,RU,Y,ERE: another author to be figured out from wordplay
4 ERA?: my guess from definition. Edit: thanks anax and 7dpenguin, it’s E.R. on A
5 QUE(st)ER: again from the wordplay, chambers includes “to spoil” as a definition
6 AIR CORRIDOR: AIR, then COR(=my), IDO in R,R(ends of RigouR)
7 R,H,U,BARB(=dig):
19 EARLIER: EAR(=boxer’s target, making it all cauliflowered), IE in L,R
20 TRAVERS(e): a playwright to be determined from wordplay
22 ARE,N.A.: nifty little clue
24 DUMAS: there were two of them

37 comments on “Times 23878 – don’t forget your toothbrush”

  1. … as we say when we revisit the solving experiences of our youth and wonder whether we’ll get to the end of a puzzle. The NW half or so of this was pretty blank after ten minutes of solving, so my ‘last answers’ were the two 5s, then 9, 1, 4, then 3 2 11 and 14 in a surge of inking in possibilities and spotting a well-hidden reverse hidden word, then 19, 18, 21. Clock stopped at 22:10, which could be well beaten by someone who knows about La Bruyère and/or supercargoes as opposed to pursecargoes or cargopurses. I suspect I’m not the only championship contender mighty relieved that this puzzle can’t come up in the Grand Final. And also relieved that I decided to buy a paper instead of tackling this as a Carte Blanche!

    Edited at 2008-04-03 07:57 am (UTC)

    1. “pursecargoes or cargopurses”

      “Cargosuper” (derived from cargo supervisor?) seemed the most logical solution until some checking letters fell in to place.

      1. I also wondered about something with SEA in it – just possible from the letters…
    2. I agree with all Peter’s sentiments (except that I knew the word SUPERCARGO. A tip that I probably shouldn’t mention to rivals is to read the Hornblower novels – not only are they awesomely good, but utterly replete with remarkable vocabulary and usages – and not always just naval ones).

  2. After exhaustive Googling I still have two to get (21 & 22). Without Google I would have had another 7 or 8 missing. This is the sort of crossword that convinces me that travelling to Cheltenham would be a waste of fuel and time.
  3. Did this as a ‘skeleton’ – hence the headache. Pleased to have got most of it done that way in about an hour, but I ran out of little grey cells and still have 14, 18 and 21 unsolved. Some seriously challenging clues, which is no bad thing once in a while, but I wish they hadn’t chosen last night for the grid to be unavailable online. As if it wasn’t hard enough. Why do I do this again? Pass the aspirin. Or a large brandy.
  4. I can eliminate at least one of Penguin’s missing brace, having tried fruitlessly to justify OPERA at 22 only to see the correct answer being more obvious than I thought. Still pondering 21 though.
    A very tough puzzle indeed and I surprised myself by getting as far as I did after 25 minutes.
    Not as many ticks as yesterday but a number of crackers, my tick going to 17 – not for its apparent naughtiness but for the clever use of “clothes”.
    1. Thanks for the tip that it may be easier than I thought. I took another look at 22d and got it almost immediately. That led me to also getting 21a – a cracker of a clue – find the def and you’ve got the answer.
      My earlier post may have suggested I didn’t enjoy this one, but I did. It’s just that my brain was hurting. I’ll agree with you and nominate 17d for the same reason.
      1. Got it! Very good indeed. The clue had led me to believe there were two different wordplay elements alongside the def, hence my troubles.
  5. Thanks for the hints. Yes, 21 is a belter, now I see it. I’m still left with 14. I can’t get a handle on it at all.
  6. George – like you, I originally placed this with no idea what wordplay to look for.
    It’s “first-rate” = A, on which we have E.R. “leading lady” = her maj.
    Nasty one!
      1. Thanks guys – didn’t make the ER=leading lady connection, since she’d already made an appearance as a monarch in 26a
  7. supposed to be a warm up before having a go at the qualifier but resulted my recalling times when i didn’t really expect to complete the crossie at one sitting even with aids to hand. Supercargo has been in a jumbo in recent years i’m pretty sure. I think i have previously never heard of La Bruyere though attainable from the construction. 3D is new if i am right in equating Host with Torrent(file downloader and a trial at that). 21 i am guessing is Parr heard as par and somehow a Henry 8 wife. Don’t get it and also unhappy with 8 23 the whole thing really. Been some similarily tough and unsatisfying xwords in the Indie and Grauniad lately. Makes you appreciate the plain sailing but then it’s over too quick. Emotionally oxymoronic. Just like to say i did predict the appearance of tatterdemalions when flibbertygibbet last passed this way somewhere in this blog. Not a cause for applause but interesting nonetheless. Was it a compiler response, a blind coincidence or is some deeper natural law at work? Sometimes the password works at other not. alanjc
    1. 3D: I think it’s just host = large quantity = torrent.
      21: Catherine P was his last wife – I think the def is best if you know the mnemonic rhyme:
      Divorced, beheaded, died;
      Divorced, beheaded, survived.
      Tatterdemalions and flibbertigibbet: coincidence I’d say – both are the kind of nicely daft words that should be in a crossword.

  8. Can someone please explain DUMAS for me please? I don’t understand the Moscow house part.

    Thanks in anticipation.

    Steve Williams

  9. Came to this after a good round of golf looking for half an hour of fun and then forty winks. An hour and a quarter and two mugs of coffee later I collapsed exhausted as I guessed La Bruyere as my last to go in. What a monster but congratulations and thanks to the setter who has done a first rate job. Too tired to nominate a COD – spoiled for choice. I bet it was quite a headache knowing which clues to leave out of the blog – glad I didn’t get this one! Jimbo.
  10. Thanks. I knew that. I’m now searching for the self-kicking boot I’ve heard about.

    Steve Wiliams

  11. Because there was no grid on-line early this morning I printed the qualifier and did that on my journey to work instead.

    When the problem with the site was corrected I looked at this one in spare moments during the day and managed to complete all but three (2,18,21).

    Admittedly some of my answers were guesses but with one exception they turned out to be correct. The exception being 1A where I had tentatively written in MANTLE hoping rather desperately for a bishop/chessman, gas light/mantle connection.

    I had assumed my difficulties were the result of not having a proper run at it during my “quality” solving time on the way to work so I was rather relieved when I came here a few minutes ago to find I was not alone.

    Perhaps having published a rather easy alternative puzzle the editor thought that some of us aspiring punters needed putting firmly in our places!

  12. I realize I’m posting to late for most others to notice, but I was thoroughly stumped by this puzzle. Missing 8 answers after returning off and on all day. As others here say, well done setter! I enjoyed the challenge despite my doltish performance. Better luck next time. Who is Rupert Bear anyway?
    1. Hopefully you’ll check back and nobody else will… this was definitely not a crossword for people unfamiliar with British terms. I have a tangential experience, growing up in Australia but now living in the US. I think I put a link up to Rupert Bear in an earlier comment, he was a cartoon strip bear from the 70s? Before?

      Terms I haven’t seen in the US that popped up in this crossword were Aberdare, cert, rupert bear, order paper, red rum, queer meaning spoil and air corridor. Pretty high ratio. Not one for me to try to get my students and friends into crosswords with.

      1. Rupert Bear: must have been around in the 60s, and I’d guess quite a while before but don’t know without research.

        Red Rum is a cryptic xwd favourite, being MURDER rev. And mentioned at an apposite time – this year’s Grand National is on Saturday, which means folk all over the UK will be putting pound coins into their office sweepstake today – those who don’t think the challenge is too cruel to horses, at least.

        1. I was taught to read by my grandfather during the second world war. He used to cut the Rupert Bear strip out of the paper and paste it into a scrap book. Then he would read it to me and get me to read it back to him. Jimbo.
  13. 8D being so obvious didn’t get elucidated but looking at it again, what’s he/she on about? Don’t get what scores has got to with it. alanjc
    1. Scores as in “lots of” (multiples of 20) ie no end of ……..

      Goalless – goal = end so goal less=no end

  14. gl, PB, Jimbo: It’s a day later, but thanks for the various explanations regarding the Rupert Bear query. I actually got a few of the answers glheard pointed out as tough for non-Brits, but the Bear, Aberdare, Red Rum, cert, and some others went right over my head ( in the air corridor, perhaps, which I actually did solve). I’m grateful for the sympathy.
  15. A toughie indeed. Solving time measured in days over here …

    There are 8 omissions from the blog. Not that these were all that simple – just had to leave some out in those days.

    5a Some circle courtyard yelling (8)

    10a Emphatic winner runs round perimeter (6)

    13a Does summer job broadcasting commercials (4)

    20a Stay a pro after eliminating the odd mistake (4)
    sTaY a PrO = TYPO

    3d Host making charge supporting rise (7)
    TOR RENT. Difficult literal host = torrent. Meaning “lots of” I suppose.

    8d Scores when goalless? (2,3)
    NO END. Expect no end of complaints about this literal – in multiples of 20.

    16d Guard against impact caused by writers block (3)

    27d Admiral dismissing Marshal’s staff (3)
    ROD (NEY). Get lost you French types – this is the British Navy.

Comments are closed.