Times 23,888

22 minutes, of which an unwontedly large proportion was spent on 13 down.

4 MAINSTAYS – guys as in guy-ropes.
9 AGINCOURT – NCO + ‘U’ inside A(rea)GIRT.
10 VERGE – (EG+REV) backwards; possibly a gap in my religious knowledge, but isn’t the verge, or virge, the symbol of…er, the verger? I started with MITRE before there were any checking letters, as it seemed more bishop-like.
12 BRISBANE – BRINE around (ABs)reversed.
14 REINSPECTION – REIN + S(P)ECTION; for non-UKers, Ofsted is the government office responsible for inspection of schools.
17 RIGHT-TO-LIFER – (IT FOR THE GIRL)*; a controversial topic. I liked the independent campaign of Kinky Friedman to be Texas governor; he ducked this thorny question by saying “I’m not pro-life, or pro-choice, I’m pro-football”.
23 TONDI – I’d only ever come across the singular TONDO and I admit I would have struggled to provide a convincing definition without Googling.
24 AITCHBONE – A(ITCH)+B(ritish)+ONE, part of the rump.
25 CHARTWELL – the name of Churchill’s country house in Kent, where he would paint and lay bricks to relax, in the days when politicians didn’t need to be seen to be doing something every hour of the week.
1 QUARTERS – a cunningly inserted comma disguises the fact that ‘change’ is part of the definition, i.e. coins, and separate from “direction” = ‘QUARTER’, plus the ‘S’.
4 MAUL – alternate letters in MeAnUgLy; pedantically, I don’t like the qualifier ‘rugby’ because a scrum on a rugby pitch has a specific definition and is quite distinct from a maul. Possibly this is just me.
6 SAVE SHOE LEATHER – bike riders don’t wear out their soles; Norman Tebbit famously referred to his father getting on his bike to look for work.
7 ABROAD – the Norfolk Broads would be the most famous.
13 GETHSEMANE – GET + (NAMES) reversed inside HE.
16 ERITREAN – (E)nglish(TERRAIN)*.
19 NARNIA – (IN + RAN) reversed + A, as famously featured in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

One of those where a certain amount of general knowledge was required, as well as the wordplay, though nothing too obscure in either, at least to a British readership. Nothing struck me as a stand-out for COD, but I’ll say 1dn because of the nice concealment of the definition.

P.S. Just back from a week’s holiday. Fortunately I only went as far as Paris, and didn’t require a mini Times World Atlas to get there 🙂

20 comments on “Times 23,888”

  1. 8:03 – 6D was a good difficult phrase, with no ONES/YOUR or other common words. 15D took me ages just by using ‘photograph’ as a verb. I do wonder how N American solvers will get on, though 1D and 5 are bones thrown to them. 3D is a good excuse to mention last night’s “University Challenge – the Professionals”, which was Rocket Scientists v. Salisbury Cathedral. I missed the first few mins so don’t know whether Paxman thought of “Rocket Scientists v. Sky Pilots”. The Virge: arguably a symbol of the cleric for whom the verger is pushing the throng aside, though there’s no stipulation whether this is a bishop or not. I was saved from MITRE by {for example = e.g.}, and {churchman = rev} both coming to mind promptly.
    1. No, Peter, he resisted that one. Interesting that the quiet clerics and their congregation wiped the floor with the scientists whose general knowledge was quite poor. A good advert for Salisbury Cathedral, which is well worth a visit. Jimbo.
  2. The RH side just wouldn’t be solved. I knew if I could get 6D it would all fall into place but it wasn’t to be before I ran out of time. I was not helped by carelessly misspelling 13 as GETHSEMENE and then settling for ENTRECOTE (but why?)as the adjoining cut of beef.

    Not one of my better efforts but I very often run into difficulty when I know have limited time available to solve it. I was pleased at least to sort out all the LH side after a slow start.

  3. I thought this a nice puzzle and found it reasonably tough in parts – about 40 minutes to solve. Assuming 1A is QATAR I’m still not quite sure on the wordplay. I ticked a number of clues I enjoyed, such as 3D, the use of A-BROAD at 7D, the good surfaces of both ST-EVEN(t) at 8D and OFF-SHOOT at 15D. I think TONDI at 23A is a clever hidden word but agree that 1D is the best of a good bunch. Jimbo.
      1. Thanks for that. I hear there are people who sound “r”, some even roll them apparently. Jimbo.
  4. Rev synonymous with clergyMAN? Not always these days! Reminds me of Scripture to indicate RE!
  5. 23:40. I was pretty slow throughout but BRISBANE took several trips through the alphabet and back again before the penny finally dropped. I’ll nominate 15d as COD – it looks easy now but took a long time to solve.
  6. Quite a slow solve anyway, but did myself no favours at all by entering SAVE UPON LEATHER at 6, so 12 – a tough one anyway – became impossible and I kicked myself on seeing my mistake here.
    One of those odd puzzles where on first reading there don’t seem to be many great clues; only going through them again do you realise there’s some fine wordplay at work. I’ll also go for 15D as COD but 12, 17, 18 and 21 all caught my eye.
  7. A slightly slow start for me, getting only two of the Across clues on first reading, but the Downs proved mostly easier, and I got into my stride. Putting in SAVE BOOT LEATHER initially stopped me from getting BRISBANE for a while, but then the penny dropped. Unfortunately 7 threw me. I’m not sure why, but I suppose I was too fixated on lakes, and rather than ponder it for ages I used a computer aid to tidy up the loose end. So ignominious defeat on this one.
  8. 40 minutes and totally stumped by Gethsemane with only one consonant in the checkers and a mistaken belief that I was looking for the name of a plant.

    Chartwell was first in – slight quibble here, surely a map MAKER would chart well?

    Liked 21 but will go for the ultimately simple 20a as COD – when faced with a starting T and Model as the first word in the clue it’s easy to bark up several wrong trees before seeing the light.

    1. That’s your Grauniad crossword roots, penfold! AFAIK, Model = T is not used in the Times puzzle.
      1. Until last week I haven’t done a Grauniad for donkey’s years but MODEL=T must have become entrenched – I still automatically think “T” whenever I see “Model”. Thanks for the tip – I’ll try to forget it when I’m doing a Times.

      2. Thanks for the hint Peter. I think it’s used in the Telegraph as well, which is where I cut my teeth.
    2. COD has ‘chart’: to plot a course on a chart, among other meanings.
  9. I cannot explain, but I felt this wasn’t a really difficult puzzle; it took an enjoyable 30 minutes or so. I certainly didn’t know ‘Ofsted’; I just figured you UK folks had a television program featuring an Inspector Ofsted, but the clue was understandable enough to be solved anyway. I agree that today’s best is “BASSET” for the sneaky use of ‘filleted’. To Peter, 1D is a sop to the Yanks as far as the coins are concerned, but it took me a while to recall that quarter=direction, which is not a very common usage over here. Regards to all.
  10. Didn’t time myself, and was very naughty, “solving” it during a seminar I didn’t want to pay much attention to. Did not get SAVE SHOE LEATHER (never heard of it), so a defeat here. I really liked 13, it didn’t hold me up once I started trying to put (NAME)<= in the answer.
    1. Right-to-lifer made me think of all sorts of awful things. First about how funny the speech was on “South Park” about how abortions are racist, and second that I have to pass by a clinic most mornings, and love playing with the protesters outside if I have the time and energy – great source of material.

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