Times 23899

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I received an email from the Crossword Club yesterday, saying that the site would be down today. I had planned to do the crossword later today, but finding it online this morning, I had a go and here is a quick write up…
I found it easier than many of late, once I got going.

1 PI(K)E
12 MEALS ON WHEELS – found this a bit difficult to read with the two ‘fares’ and not sure why ‘InterCity’ is needed.
14 SPLIT – at last a port I know – I’ve actually visited this one.
15 STORM,DOOR – DOOR=rood, reversed. I’ve just been reading a book about monasteries, so rood was fresh in my mind.
17 EX(ONE,RAT)E – Exe is the river.
24 ILL(1,C)IT
25 GON[e],DOLA – DOLA=anag of LOAD
26 SPOIL’S,PORT – SPOIL=baby, as in to treat like a baby
27 BE(S)T – S=singular


1 PASS MUSTER – anag of ‘at sums reps’
6 STO,LE(A,MARCH)ON – didn’t know the Spanish city of León, but it made sense from the wordplay.
10 PASS THE PARCEL – anagram of ‘castle perhaps’ – I did think for a while that a castle could somehow be a parcel, before realising it was an anagram!
16 [c]OVER(E)AGE,R – COVERAGE is reporting, R is queen (Regina) – took a while to spot, thinking queen was ER.
18 OT,HELLO – I presume OT=TO reversed. TO=shut in phrases such as ‘pull the door to’
22 ON TAP – H and C are on water taps.

21 comments on “Times 23899”

  1. 6:01 and thought I should have been quicker. 4, 7, 14 and 17 are stock wordplays, though somehow I failed to write in 17 straight away.
  2. Quite right PB – I suspect there will be some very quick performances today. Scraped in at 8 minutes myself and anything under 10 is unusual for me.

    Nowt at all wrong with the puzzle though, a very satisfying solve in fact. Even the old wordplay formats were treated pretty well. COD for me was 26, very neat indeed, and while it looks like an idea that can hardly be groundbreaking I can honestly say I haven’t seen it before, so it gave me plenty of entertainment value.

  3. After writing in four or five answers immediately I decided to go for the quick solve today and not worry too much about about the reasoning. It took 22 minutes which is good for me but I had 6 or 7 queries to go back to afterwards. Sorting these out added another 10 minutes.

    I’m still not sure why “social” in 13d. Is “social worker” an alternative definition of “ant” instead of just “worker”? And as Stephen has already mentioned “InterCity” appears to be redundant in 12.

    1. ‘Social worker’ comes up fairly regularly as a definition for ANT.

      Very easy one today – took me 6 and a bit minutes, which is about as fast as I can ever fill one in.

      Mike G.

      1. As ‘social’ describes insects that live in groups, “social worker” is an alternative to plain “worker” for both ant and bee.
  4. About 14 mins. I suppose ‘InterCity’ in 12A is because it has to be a fairly long-distance train, with a buffet car? I thought 10D worked very well, so it’s my COD.

    Tom B.

  5. I agree that this one of the easiest for several weeks. I was held up briefly held up at the end, having entered BACK for 27 across (wasn’t happy with it, but stayed with it until I saw ANEMONE for 20d. My vote goes to 26 for COD.
  6. Should have got a PB but missed out by 1½ minutes ending up with 13:59.

    Got slowed at the end by 3 in the SE. Storm door because I wasn’t terribly familiar with rood (or storm door for that matter), react because “take it” is a fairly loose definition for react, I’d say, and protestant because I was looking for something meaning social to go before ant and mistakenly took complaint to be something medical rather than the more straightforward meaning.

    COD 22 for originality.

  7. First (recorded) time ever under 7 minutes for me. 6.54. Helped by just putting in the long entries at 12a,6d, 10d and 21a without worrying too much about wordplay. Might have been 10 seconds better if hadn’t put in Back for Best at first. I am totally amazed at how some guys , like Peter and Mark Goodliffe can do a puzzle in less than 4 minutes at times. I tried to work it out- it must 1 minute to read the clues and 1.5 minutes to write in the answers. Doesn’t leave a lot of thinking time!
  8. 11 minutes but I’m going to claim 10 because I had a cat sitting on the puzzle (or does that count as help?). Yes, some nicely turned clues, but a lot of them were very guessable with no more than a glance, which does rob one of that satisfying ‘Doh!’ moment.
  9. I got off to a flier and filled the top half in hardly any time at all. I started dreaming of my first sub-5 again and put my sandwich down so I had no distractions. Came to 15a, already had S???M/?O??, saw “rant” in the clue and confidently wrote in STEAM ROOM without reading any further. Completely ruined any chance of a PB ! Still managed a creditable 8:42 though. I agree with Anax that, although quite easy, there were some very good treatments. I even learned that Othello was a jealous husband – that’s 3 Shakespearean facts I know now.
    10d and 20d were among my faves but 25a just shades it as my COD nom.
  10. 8 minutes here, probably a PB, my favorite word to misspell, ANEMONE, was here with wordplay that made it impossible to misspell, wheee! For the most part nice crisp clues, I don’t often complain about clues, but I thought 12a looked clumsy, the answer was obvious. I know it’s simple, but I’m a sucker for triple indicators, so I’ll plump for 5d as COD.
  11. Hello chaps,

    Apols for asking about a simple one, but can anyone give me 19A please ?

    It’s my last one and is driving me marginally potty.

    4D I see croppping up with regularity (is it the new “Capital of Czechoslovakia (4)” ?).

    Warmest regards, and thanks.

    1. 19A is REACT
      “Take it” is the def – think “I have to give him the bad news – I wonder how he’ll react?”
      RE = “on (the subject of)”
      ACT = “performance”
  12. I did this last night while watching television, and got through all but 18, 19 and 26 in about a half hour. When I shut off the TV I got the remainder. I had thought 26 was more complicated than it actually is, and I wasn’t aware that ‘shut’ can = ‘to’; I agree with Penfold that ‘react’=’take it’ is a bit of a reach. Nevertheless, an enjoyable start to the week. Regards.
  13. I often find that after a fairly decent general solve I reach an impasse with two or three answers at the end of the grid – arcane empiricals or particularly convoluted parsing, etc. – whether these are ultimately filled correctly, guessed or intractable, the total solving time can then be a somewhat ‘unfair’ guide to the overall performance. I’m sure this must be a common feeling.

    A parameter that would make for a ‘smoother’ statistical yardstick of progress day-to-day, is what I’ll term T90, the time to have completed 90% (or more) of the crossword. Given the nominal 30 answer format, this means the time to have gotten all but three (or indeed two or one) of the answers. A solver’s report might then typically read: solving time: 32 mins, T90 20 mins, the tricky ones being…

    Clearly, this would be intended primarily for tyros and intermediate solvers looking for a more reasonable measure of progress but it could also be used as a kind of shorthand notation for the elite sub-10 solvers too.

    Perhaps a touch pedantic and not for the purists but what do people think?

    1. I’d encourage bloggers and commenters to indicate which clues they found trickiest and how long those clues took, but I’m not convinced that the time for any particular percentile is consistently more informative than “T100”. The point at which things slow down for the “last few clues” can be anywhere from about T70 onwards, and sometimes the slowest spell is in the middle, not at the end.

      Total solving time is ‘unfair’ because it includes your slowest answers, but that’s how timed solving goes – it’s no more unfair than including the worst holes in your score for a round of golf.

  14. Was just looking at 26A again. I think it has to be construed as: Baby = SPOIL + ‘s = S + left = PORT. Is it OK for ‘Baby’s’ to work in this way?

    Tom B.

    1. It does have to be read that way – if baby’s meant “spoils” (third person singular), it would be ‘babies’.
      As there is punctuation between the baby and the S, this seems fairer than requiring indeed to be read as ‘in deed’, which AFAIK is not done in Times puzzles.

      To me this seems no worse than the various other things you have to watch out for with {‘s} in Times puzzles.

  15. Most seem to be recording pretty good times for this one. There are 9 “easies”. At least one of these has been covered above but here they are in one go:

    9a Raced around leading, then gave up (7)

    11a Bring information back about bow of ocean-going ship (7)
    TR O OPER. REPORT backwards containing bow (front) of (O)cean-going. TROOPER = Troopship presumably?

    19a Take it on before performance (5)
    RE ACT

    21a In disorderly hast? Completely (4,4,5)

    2d At present everybody is supporting king, wise guy (4-3)

    4d Individuals entering country, Asian republic (9)

    5d Striker in suit married at church (5)
    M AT CH. Double def as well as cryptic – striker AND suit can be equated to MATCH.

    8d Organ, new make (4)
    EAR N

    23d Girl in fil m is s exy (4)

Comments are closed.