Times 23,924

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : Around 15 minutes – somewhat in contrast to yesterday’s!

ETA Having now looked at the solving times elsewhere, I can only conclude that I have had one of those happy days where you find yourself on exactly the same wavelength as the setter. This felt entirely fair, and just the right side of challenging, but I found the words dropping in as they often don’t in superficially less difficult puzzles.

Unsurprisingly, I’d be happy if the same setter was used all the time!

1 CASH – C(r)ASH
4 LITTER LOUT – not sure if Litter Bug pre-dates or post-dates this
10 MORN – MO + R(ight) + N(oon), &lit.
11 BODEGA – BOD=chap, + (AGE) reversed
12 OUTSTRIP – meaning “beat”, but it sounds odd to call an away strip an out strip; grated a little, I think, at the risk of sounding unnecessarily picky about a very satisfying puzzle
15 ACCOMPLICE – ACCOMPLISHED with C(ivil)E(ngineer) instead of SHED
17 RALLY ROUND – defs of “series of shots” + “ammunition”
21 HEADBUTT – HE’D swallowing A + BUTT(y), to nut = to headbutt, in the UK at least
26 APOTHEOSIS – A + (OP)rev + THESIS around O = ideal
27 YANK – YAK around (warre)N: I presume YAK is universal as in “Yakety Yak” by The Coasters; I think “Rabbit” in the Chas & Dave sense may be more parochially English
2 APPROPRIATE – A+P(ressure)+PRO(fessional) +PRI(v)ATE = to whip as in to abstract
3 HORSETAIL – as usual, didn’t have a clue that this plant existed, but not difficult to deduce quite confidently (mutters about Rogue Riderhood to himself)
4 LA SCALA – LA containing (p)ASCAL
5 THE LOW COUNTRIES – (W NEUROTIC HOTELS)* and I presume a common enough geographical term, even outside Europe
6 ERRATUM – as a Classicist from an early age, I find it hard to judge whether the traditional declension of adjectives as, say, BONUS, BONA, BONUM (masculine, feminine, neuter) should be seen as general, arcane, or deeply arcane knowledge. Given the modern lack of Latin in schools, possibly it depends on age…
7 ODOUR – sounds like ODER, or not, possibly depending on the German accent one has
13 INCANTATION – INCAN + (Jacques) TATI + ON giving a magical spell.
18 ROULADE – ROUE(n) surrounding LAD. I was at a French wedding at the weekend and was a very filled boy myself.
21 HOSTA – more botany! edited because I have belatedly spotted the chestnutty IT = SA, which I ought to have spotted at once, given that neither expression has been commonplace anywhere but crosswords for decades now.
22 AGGRO – AGO round G(eorge) R(ex); is this common outside the British Isles? The word AGGRO, that is, rather than Kings called George…

Category Score Clues
Visual Arts
Popular Culture 1 13dn TATI as a film director
Sport & Games
Natural World 3 14ac ORCA = killer whale, 3dn HORSETAIL and 21dn HOSTA as plant species
Science & Tech 1 25ac ARITHMETIC as a type of mean
Geography 1 ODER river
Other 1 Possibly 21ac BUTTY = sandwich outside the UK?

If there is to be a criticism I imagine it will be that the knowledge assumed was, while not unfairly obscure, potentially much better known in the British Isles than outside them.

Does anyone happen to know if setters are given any sort of guidance about who their solvers are assumed to be, in terms of age, or educational background, or, in these days of internets and occasionally working Crossword Clubs, nationality?

23 comments on “Times 23,924”

  1. Pretty tough at 15:03, but as jackkt says, much less reliant on literary or other knowledge. Last answer was 21A, where def and wordplay both include some fiendish stuff – Fellow had = “He’d”, “not finished sandwich” = “butt(y)”, and nut (vb.) = headbutt – the last two being slang which may baffle some transatlantic solvers.

    Edited at 2008-05-27 07:41 am (UTC)

  2. This was a toughie for me and proved more difficult than yesterday’s taking not much less than 90 minutes to complete. On the other hand I think the problems were all down to very clever cluing, and little specialist knowledge was required so I imagine there will be few, if any, dissenting voices in the ranks today.

    My COD is 27. Last but one to go in and its reasoning eluded me for some time after I put the puzzle aside. Then it came in a blinding flash!

    1. Having read the times set by others below I’m surprised I took so long over this one. Maybe I’d better claim I was distracted by peripheral noise and conversations on my commute to work. It wouldn’t be entirely false to do so but I think it really comes down to having a day when I simply found it hard to get on to the setter’s wavelength.

      Incidentally I don’t mind having the occasional puzzle like yesterday’s.

  3. I thought this was very good indeed, with some adventurous and innovative use of slang words in the bottom half of the grid. Unfortunately, I was shot down by not knowing 11A and slinging in ‘manega’. 25A is my COD nomination, great idiomatic use of ‘tight with it’ and ‘kind of’.

    Tom B.

  4. 35 minutes of pleasure after yesterday’s horror story. Very much my sort of puzzle. Clever usage of words such as whip=APPROPRIATE, good construction such as MO-R-N, and homophones that work (TAIL sounds like “tale”). We even had a mathematical reference with ARITHMETIC (mean) – wow! This is the sort of puzzle that does the Times credit. Will yesterday’s setter and the Crossword Editor please note this was achieved without any ludicrous literary references. Jimbo.
  5. In what sense does appropriate mean whip?
    As either a verb or an adjective, I couldn’t find a connection between appropriate and whip.
  6. 15:35. As others have said, this was a tricky one but exceedingly fair and very, very entertaining. My hold up was in the bottom left corner. When oh when am I going to immediately twig that IT=SA ? I loved the use of BUTTY in 21a and, like Jim says, also great to have some maths for a change.
    COD goes to 26a – it looked like one of those awful literary ones but turned out to be very well-crafted wordplay.

    I can’t word it better myself so have just copied from Jimbo’s comment:

    “Will yesterday’s setter and the Crossword Editor please note this was achieved without any ludicrous literary references”

  7. Thought I’d cracked the 15 minute barrier but 16-17 is probably more accurate. Even so, found myself on the same wavelength as the setter and found the solving process smooth and entertaining.
    Several highlights and many instances of wordplay being carefully constructed to support defs – always a very good sign.
    I do appreciate the sort of hard work that goes into creating convincing surface by way of a number of elements in a short answer, so my COD goes to 21D HOSTA. The clue reads brilliantly while making use of complex elements with absolute fairness and clarity.

  8. 25/26 minutes-ish (forgot when I started again – I need a timekeeper or one of Jim’s police witnesses).

    A class act, for sure. I don’t think I have a quibble, or even a quibblet. I ticked eight clues, three of them twice. So I don’t know why I didn’t love this one. I know, some people are never pleased (“Too many notes, Herr Mozart!”).

    But applause for 26a APOTHEOSIS, 13dn INCANTATION, 21dn HOSTA and 25a ARITHMETIC, among many ingenious clues. Anax is right: you could see how much work went into this. And it’s much appreciated.

  9. Certainly easier than yesterday’s, though it still took me 40 minutes. The major hold-up was 21ac; I was convinced that ‘sandwich’ was a container indicator. I agree that there was plenty of innovative cluing and nice surfaces. I really don’t know what to pick as COD. 21ac, 23, 27, 4dn, 6, 8, 21dn are all contenders for me.
  10. Doodled in this during a few meetings this morning, pretty smooth sailing until I hit 21 and 18. Eventually got to HEADBUTT after the penny dropped on nut, and I think ROULADE is a dish (looked it up just before getting on here). I liked the construction on APPROPRIATE (with a half smile to fans of jumbos) and APOTHEOSIS.
  11. Hi all,

    Sorry if this is a dumb question. I’m a newbie to cryptic crosswords, but am trying to learn….

    Why does “It” = “SA”?


    1. Informally, “it” = sex appeal, esp. in the phrase it girl. SA is sometimes used as an abbreviation for “sex appeal”. I was going to tell you that the Concise Oxford has both, but in fact it only has the first (10th ed., 1999). Collins and Chambers have both.

      In theory you can check stuff like this by looking up both “it” and “SA” in the dictionary, but when faced with the many defs for a word like “it”, it can take a few goes to see the shared meaning.

      Edited at 2008-05-27 05:03 pm (UTC)

    2. Not a stupid question at all, especially from one new to cryptic crosswords. This is an old crossword chestnut. ‘It’ and ‘SA’ both mean sex appeal. Check The Concise Oxford Dictionary and other dictionaries.
  12. I admit failure today, due to a few items that don’t translate over here; missed ‘litter lout’, ‘headbutt’, ‘ton-up’. See you tomorrow.
  13. In answer to your question Tim, I’d say no, not really. There’s a general assumption that most Times readers are fairly well educated/experienced (oh, go on then – old) and this is even more the case when you think of the average cryptic crossword solver – perhaps ANY cryptic crossword solver.
    There comes a point with any archaic/local/specialised terminology or reference where the editor has to make a judgment, but I imagine that can be a tough call. How do you accurately gauge how familiar (if at all) a “Britishism” may be to an overseas solver, especially bearing in mind that such a solver has made the decision to tackle what is, after all, a world famous but essentially British phenomenon?
    Where a clue demands arcane knowledge for solution – i.e. you’d never get the answer without knowing – it’s a mistake. If a crossword is to introduce a new word/phrase to the solver, then this “education” should be the byproduct of a clue that’s solvable without that prior knowledge.
    Words which are part of everyday language are pretty much fair game as long as their clues are fair. I’ve always been of the opinion that cryptic crosswords should entertain first, hopefully to the poin tof raising a smile. We’ve had unfortunate instances, though, where excessive demands on literary knowledge have created clues which are fundamentally in-jokes, and these bring no pleasure to the solver.
    1. As you say, the pleasure is far more in having to struggle (to whatever degree) to identify something you then realise was plainly there all along, not to find out the answer was something you didn’t know to start with, and still don’t…

      Possibly a discussion for its own thread, on a Friday or elsewhere, about where the boundary lies between intellectual rigour and sheer entertainment. In my humble opinion the Guardian doesn’t have the consistency of challenge of the Times, but the occasional puzzle there (which may break several Times rules) can be the more fun of the two…

  14. Why ‘Short’? A morn is not really a short period of time, and a mo is a period of time, so it seems that the clue would have had a better surface reading if ‘Short’ had been omitted. No doubt I’m missing something.
    1. Not at all, I think that’s fair comment. Obviously a MO is generally used as a short period of time, but as you say, the MORN isn’t necessarily short, which slightly disturbs the surface.

      My interpretation would be that whereas there might have been a good bit of MORN earlier on in the day, when you get round to asking how much of it is left just before the Noon, the answer is “not much”, which makes it short…

    2. I guess the idea is that morn is short in comparison to morning, which is the obvious interpretation of “time (right) before noon”, so “short period of time” is a better def.
  15. Quite a few allusions that got lost on their journey from London to NYC: headbutt/nut, litter lout, outstrip, yak/rabbit, ton-up, etc. (though Truman does belong over here).

    Surprised that no one noted (perhaps I missed it) the cleverness of “Not so up” (3,2) (wordplay in the answer) which even though I had to look the phrase up to check it meant something, I quite admired it once I had.

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