Times 23,900 – Temporary word blindness and an old friend

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
As is my wont, total time a little over 20 minutes, but an inexplicably long part of that spent spotting the last two (9 down went in very slowly, after which I slapped my forehead and put in 26 across to finish, having groaned even more).

1 POST CHAISE – (ATHOSPICES)*: not necessarily the carriage of choice for one’s letters in the modern age.
4 JAIL – (J)udge + AIL, the frequently used American meaning of ‘can’.
11 CHAPERONE – H(eroin) inside CAPER + ONE.
12 CITIZENS ARREST – apprehension as in arrest, without the usual warrant.
14 PEGASUS – P.E. GAS + U.S. – I can’t see how this constellation looks anything like a horse, but there you go.
17 SHYLOCK – SHY=cast + LOCK (forward), certainly not the most obscure Shakesperian character to have made an appearance.
19 MENUHIN – ‘bowed’ as in ‘played with a bow’, ME + (HI) inside NUN. Partly due to The Morecambe & Wise Show, I imagine he was at one time as famous as violinists ever get in this country.
23 ALDERSHOT – (ATLORDSHE)*: I got excited looking for an actual cricketer but only for a second.
26 LAWN TENNIS – (NEW+N+STALIN)*/(LENINWASNT)*, it took me until the end to work out exactly what the anagram was made of, before continuing to slap the forehead when I realised it was there twice, for the hard of thinking such as myself…
1 PORT – became easier when I remembered that the online version can’t format numbers properly in the body of a clue, and it refers to 5 down.
7 ADORE – A DORE. Given that he appeared in the last but one puzzle I blogged here, this was not tricky! I guess the letter combination is too handy to be ignored.
8 LIEUTENANT = LIE+U+TENANT. The Wildfell Hall part might delay those unfamiliar with the Brontes, but not for long, I suspect
9 REPRESENTATIVE – (PATIENTSREVERE)* – long but straightforward anagram, hence the forehead-slapping moment. For some reason I couldn’t see it, even with _E_R_S_N_A___ in place.
13 EPISCOPATE – (SIP) in O+(CE) reversed + PATE. Whenever I see the opening E, I often confuse this with ecumenical matters, a la Father Ted.
16 ATHELSTAN – A+THE+L(i)ST+AN, a Strong King, who was handily mentioned on BBC7’s This Sceptred Isle last week, but might be a little obscure outside the UK.
19 MEGATON – (NOT A GEM)reversed.

More general knowledge required this week than is often the case, but a nice solid puzzle for a Tuesday. I shall start the COD ball rolling with 26 across for the neat balance of Stalin and Lenin, and the fact that it flummoxed me perfectly fairly for far longer than a (double!) anagram should have done.

21 comments on “Times 23,900 – Temporary word blindness and an old friend”

  1. 23 minutes. The biggest problems were the ones I gave myself by misspelling post chaise and Menuhin. I fought a long battle with Athelstan (he nearly prevailed) before finally conquering the realm at 10 – my last one in and a nice, neat clue which gets my vote for today.

    1. ‘top forger’ = ‘decapitate welder’. Rules of xwd blogging No. 27: never leave out a deletion clue: someone will always ask! Your reading of 10A matches mine by the way.

      5:50 for this or just possibly 4:50 – sometimes the minutes on my wrist watch are harder to read than the seconds. Made a cheeky guess from P??? at 1D that 5D would be a port, and just wrote it straight in! Nice to see ALDERSHOT about a week after the obits for Joan Hunter Dunn – “furnished and burnished by Aldershot sun”. Short pause at the end to correct EPISCOPACE and stop myself ‘correcting’ this to EPISCOPACY. A case of ‘see the basic word from checking letters’, then read the clue to spot head = PATE. Minor correction: the SIP is in a reversal of (O,CE) = “old church”.

      1. Minor correction noted and amended – thank you, Peter, for the proof-reading!

        I should have added this was one of the most “even” puzzles I’ve seen in recent times, in that it was difficult to know what to leave out; such regularity in the level of the clues only becomes really apparent when you are analysing and have to make a choice.

        (For those who don’t already know it, the convention is that solvers do not necessarily show absolutely all their working, which means some things only emerge in comments – and I concurred with REALM and SPARINGLY as noted above)

  2. Temporary word blindness here too. I found this one very hard to get started. I should think it was a full five minutes before I made my first entry and after that it was a case of slow but steady progress with the SE corner being the sticking point towards the end. An early problem was caused by having WRONGFUL ARREST at 12a but solving 4d put paid to that idea and CITIZENS was obviously the correct answer once spotted. Not one of my better days.
    1. I just noticed your mention of placing WRONGFUL ARREST at 12, and I’d have done the same thing were it not for kicking into a habit that’s quite unusual for me. Instead of placing any answers at all I had a quick read through all of the clues to see how many jumped out at me. WRONGFUL ARREST was one of the first. However, once I got to 2D the SINGLY component came straightaway – seeing how the “INGLY” bit would have to be at the end immediately threw me back to WRONGFUL, which could only be a wrongful placement.

      OK, yawn over. I just mentioned it because I wanted to ask an open question. Do any of you, before placing any answers, have a read through – NOT to see how many answers come quickly, but to get a feel for overall standard of the clues? I do it from time to time, looking out for clues which appear to be especially intriguing; snappy, especially humorous, just plain odd, whatever. What it boils down to for me is that sometimes the only reason I’ll give up on a puzzle is that nothing in the set of clues draws me in to wanting to solve them.

      Does anyone else employ a similar approach?

      1. As mentioned above I had a real problem getting started today so I was becoming desperate to solve any clue when I thought of WRONGFUL ARRREST and didn’t check elsewhere before putting it in.

        In answer to your general question, no, I never read through all the clues first for either of the reasons you suggest. As soon as I see one it goes in (in pencil, I don’t use a pen)and I have the sort of mind that prefers to solve each quarter at a time if at all possible so I will then concentrate working around the first answer in. Obviously I look elsewhere if I find myself stuck at any point but it’s prefectly possible that half way or more through my solving time I have not read some of the clues.

        I have a feeling that my speed will never improve if I continue with this method but it’s the way I enjoy working and I’m not really bothered about trying to win medals for speedy solving.

      2. In my time I’ve tried various ways of solving, (rotating through the clues in strict printed order until they’re all done, or doing one discrete corner at a time, or going for the longest words first), but I think it’s only since this blog that I’ve made any sort of initial assessment, just to see what I’ve got that day.

        So far, touch wood, I’ve not taken a first look and realised it’s one of those very occasional, competition-eliminator-standard puzzles…

  3. 26a is the best clue I’ve seen for a while – very clever wordplay. Nicely balanced crossword, about 30 minutes.

    Paul S.

  4. I agree that 26 ac has to be COD. Very ingenious double anagram (not spotted by me until explained by anax). No doubt old hands will have encountered the double anagram before, but this was a first for me.

    Otherwise a satisfying and reasonably straightforward xwd. I was all done in around 25 mins bar the aforementioned 26 ac, which then held me up – partly because for some inexplicable reason I had carelessly entered DOZE for 22 dn instead of DOSS. If I’d had the cross-checking final “s”, I think LAWN TENNIS would have come fairly easily (even without detecting the second anagram).

    Michael H

  5. 12:30 but one wrong. I couldn’t work anything else out so I just shoved in APOSTOLATE in 13d. Why do setters insist on using literary references like the one at 8d? Alright, I got the answer from the rest of it but surely “tenant” could have been clued in such a way that didn’t rely on the solver having read a specific book. Apart from that, a pretty fine crossword. ATHELSTAN took longer than it should – I spent a while trying to think of a word that meant LIST that I could take the I out of ! 2dn was almost S-CAR(p)-INGLY, never heard of parr but the definition won the day fortunately.

    Can only agree with everybody else with 26a as COD

    1. The clue only required you to recognise the phrase ‘Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. Knowing that it was a book, who wrote it, or anything about the content, was not necessary. Good thing too – I couldn’t tell you the tnenat’s name, or which Bronte it was (and I’d quite happily have believed it was Jane Austen instead). As literary ref’s go, this is pretty gentle. Start complaining next time we get Ben=Battle (Faithless Nellie Gray, Thos. Hood) or something like the reference a few weeks ago to “ancestral voices prohesying war” in Kubla Khan.
  6. Unusual to see five full anagrams in a puzzle, although I’d guess it’s not a record. This abundance undoubtedly helped to secure a reasonably quick solve, around 10 minutes, but the scrappy way I entered 13 made it look as if 20 started with a D, so that held me up for a while.
    I can’t take credit for pointing out the double anag at 26 – Michael H mistakes me for someone else, but “hello there” anyway!
    No real stand-out clues for me but plenty of good ones, pick of the bunch being 19A as it creates a pleasing image.
  7. As one of the slow brigade, this was my quickest solve in ages at 20 minutes. I always like the cryptic definitions such as 12 since I usually get them immediately and it gets a lot of letters into the grid at once. The odd minor hold-up due to my all-too-frequent misreading; I thought of MENUHIN as soon as I saw “me” and “sister” in 19, but reading “bowed” as “bowled” I rejected it as I thought I needed a cricketer. I took too long to work out the anagram from 9 and I was also slow to see 26, which went in last. A nice puzzle with plenty of good clues, though nothing really stood out for me to nominate a COD.
  8. I started this well after midnight, a long day and a few pints, so I’ll wear 25 minutes. EPISCOPATE and (wow, it must have been late) ECRU were the last two to go in. I’ll agree 26 was very fun, why have one anagram when you can have two!
  9. 12.00 today which was not too bad. Got held up in the top left corner. I note the comment about Wildfell Hall.Some cultural or general knowledge is a benefit.Menuhin is another case in point (and Athelstan as well). At least you should be able to work out from the wordplay unlike my first visit to a Times Regional qualifier in Glasgow in the 80’s. I was floored by this clue – “All is but —-” (Shakepseare) (4)- The answer is toys – checking letters “-o-s”. If you didn’t know the quotation – too bad. At least this type of clue is now long gone
      1. When I started out in the Championship (1989), quotation clues were still theoretically possible. As far as I remember, they were never used in a London Regional final after that, but did sometimes crop up in one of the ‘provincial’ ones.
  10. About 40 minutes for me, the last 15 minutes or so on 26, trying to sort MADESTALIN into a game, and only getting it by switching to LENINWASNT. Very nifty clue. Unfortunately, I fell into the exact same mistake as 7dpenguin with ‘apostolate’, not ‘episcopate’, so I’m stumped today. Regards, see you tomorrow.
  11. Anax,

    For years I have adopted your approach to Everyman crossword that is published in a local paper here in Madras.

    Once I solved all but three clues by merely reading the clues (some leapt to my mind and some I had to ponder a little) without entering anything in the grid.

    BTW, ADORE with similar wordplay appeared recently in a UK syndicated crossword that I know is set by Roger.
    For the weekly FT puzzle that I blog on in fifteensquared, I enter answers only in one segment, across or down, before I move on to the other.

  12. Quick start, slow finish, all in all a poor 40 minutes or so. Got really bogged down with some of the more obscure stuff like episcopate and Athelstan and had a mental blank on the chaperone/adore/archers combination.

    COD 18a

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