Times 23933 – Another Phew!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This took me about 45 minutes. I found the left side quite easy but became bogged down on the right with rather too many answers arrived at from one part of the clue without understanding the other. I think some of the references may make it the hardest of the week for some solvers. In two cases  At 3dn one needs specialist knowledge from two different segments of the pie in order to work out or explain the answer. 

1 WHARFINGER – WH(ARF)INGER –  ARF being FRA (rev) meaning a monk or friar, hence “brother”. A wharfinger is the owner of a wharf apparently. A new word to me.
6 AS IS – AS(1)S
10 LULU – Sounds like “loo loo”. Lulu is an unfinished opera by Alban Berg. A lavatory is sometimes referred to as “the smallest room”.
12 SQUASH LADDER – Squash, as in the fruit drink. In olden days a glimpse of stocking might reveal a ladder, also known as, principally in the US, a run.
17 HIRAM – Sounds like “hire ’em”. Hiram was King of Tyre who was responsible for the first temple in Jerusalem. I didn’t know this.
18 GREAT – G(R)EAT Nor did I know that Beowulf was a Geat, a member of a North German tribe of which I had also not heard.
19 APRIL FOOL – Is this &lit with no other way to the answer? If so, it seems a rather feeble one.
20 ELECTRIC HARE – ELECT,RICHAR(d Nixon),E –  As used in greyhound racing, I believe.
25 GUILLOTINE – GUIL(LO(T)IN)E The answer was easy enough but it took me a bit longer to spot the construction.
26 WHET – W(THE)*  – Edge (vb) = sharpen, as does whet
1 WOMB – MOW (rev) + B(aby)  –  Cradle = womb = place of origin or nurture? I sort of see it.
2 AIDE –  IDEA with the A moved to the front.
3 FOUR QUARTETS –  Put in to annoy some solvers, I suspect, but not me. Beethoven wrote three string quartets dedicated to Count Rasoumovsky. TS Eliot wrote the four poems of that name.
4 NERVA – NERV(e),A  –  Another Roman Emperor I didn’t know for sure
5 EARTHSTAR – (THAT’S RARE)*  –   Another guess. It’s a fungus apparently.
13 LONGFELLOW – LO(N)G,FELLOW –  US poet probably most famous for his Hiawatha.
14 ASSEVERATE – AS,SEVER(A,T)E  – To state solemnly or emphatically. Of course I knew what it meant! 
21 HALVA – Hidden. A Middle Eastern sweet made of sesame flour and honey,
22 DIRE – DI(R)E
23 LENS – It took me a long time to see through this one. The checking letters weren’t much help.
Category Pie ChartScore Clues
Religion 0  
Literature 1 3 (Four Quartets)
Music 2 10 (Lulu), 3 (Three Rasoumovsky Quartets)
Visual Arts 0  
Popular Culture 0  
Sport & Games 0  
Natural World 1 5 (Earthstar)
Science & Tech 0  
Geography 2 8 (City of London/Square Mile), 23 (Lens)
History 3 17 (Hiram), 18 (Geats), 4 (Nerva)
Other 0  
Total 9  

19 comments on “Times 23933 – Another Phew!”

  1. 14:19 for this – an inspired guess at WHARFINGER at the beginning, but a minute or two at the end wondering whether GEAT could really be a word. In the end followed the Sherlock Holmes advice that goes (from memory) “eliminate the impossible: whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

    I wouldn’t count the Beowulf clue as a two-pointer – {Beowulf = a Geat} is one fact for me. Whether Beowulf was literature, opera or a heavy metal band doesn’t actually matter. 3D does count double, though knowing one of the quartet counts would be enough to solve the clue. (And deducing that it’s N quartets gets you to a FOUR/FIVE/NINE choice.)

    New things for me: wharfinger, Geat. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Nerva before, and have done a bit of fungus foraging in the past so remembered earthstar. I think Hiram has been around as a crossword choice as long as Eli, though less often.

    Lulu is no. 84 on that list of Operas, so much harder than ‘Cav’. I don’t think we’ve yet had Wozzeck, the one Berg finished.

    11D is two meanings rather than a charade, I think. It gave me pause for thought, but I decided that as hood is not gown, and bachelor is not ‘status symbol’, “bachelor hood” must mean a particular hood on an academic gown. Not a phrase in the official dictionaries, but Googling finds examples.

  2. A difficult one with some guessing required. I’m assuming that a SQUASH LADDER is some sort of league table? HIRAM I knew (the actual builder of the temple was another one, Hiram Abif). I’d sort of heard of Beowulf but not the Geats. I’m a Beethoven nut, which helped with 3D. I guessed the fungus and ASSEVERATE was new to me. I’ve seen HALVA before. I thought SOUNDPROOF was a splendid clue. About 45 minutes in all. Jimbo.
    1. I’m very weak on sporting references, Jimbo, and only knew SQUASH LADDER because it’s mentioned several times in Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads – A Woman of No Importance”. I’ve listened to this so many times I almost know it by heart. I imagine the term means a league table as you suggest, or the order of play in a competition.
      1. Yes, squash ladders (league tables, in which one can challenge the player above) have been around for at least 25 years.

        I laboured to the end of this in c.25 mins, not knowing 1A or the quartets/Rasoumovsky. Nerva’s not exactly the best-known emperor, either.

        Tom B.

  3. Ran out of luchtime with a good few missing. I wasn’t helped by entering the device that helps short bridge players north of the border to see their cards, the SCOTCH LADDER as 12, so I had no chance with 3 (I’ll hold my tongue). No complaints really, just too tricky for me. 20a was superb and wins my COD nom (I’ll play my weekly joker to give it two votes)
    I realise I’m at risk of having to don the dunce’s cap for the second day in a row , but I can’t for the life of me see how BACHELORHOOD works.
    1. I was thinking along exactly the same lines as Peter when I blogged this but my attempt to explain it was rather poor. I don’t think I can do any better than refer to what he says above. The clue is definitely a bit iffy. This and 19 are are weak points of an otherwise excellent puzzle.
        1. From the University of Sheffield website:

          Regulations relating to Academic Costume

          2. The gown of the holder of an Undergraduate Certificate shall be made of black stuff to the pattern of the gown of the Oxford Bachelor of Arts; no hood shall be worn.

          4. The gown of a Bachelor shall be made of black stuff to the pattern of the gown for the Oxford Bachelor of Arts.

          So basically if you’ve graduated you can wear a hood and your gown is made out of tarmac or Guinness.

  4. About time I had a rough one, about 20 minutes in all. Having no less than five cross-checkers at 11 still resulted in a stupidly long struggle to spot it, and had similar problems at the interlocking 14/26. Had absolutely no idea about Rasoumovsky, the answer going in because, patently, nothing else would fit.
    I wouldn’t blame Mr Penguin for throwing a few darts at this – some of the references were very obscure – but the whole thing was pretty much made up for by 7 SOUNDPROOF; I agree with Jim – my COD nom for today.

  5. I couldn’t get into this at all. A couple of sittings and I suppose it took about 40 minutes, with one mistake. I guessed “Hyrum” for 17a which, as it turns out, wasn’t a totally inappropriate shot in the dark since Hyrum Smith was older brother to Joseph and an early leader of the Latter Day Saints.

    There are a couple of really good clues in here, but overall I thought it a lot less than great. Quite a few cumbersome constructions – heavily punctuated and with a laboured feel to them. I know it’s a matter of taste, but I like my crossword clues to read like English, not like crossword clues. Most of these couldn’t be anything but. I feel this sort of stuff belongs in a barred puzzle.

    9a MEDIUM RARE, 10a LULU and 19a APRIL FOOL are just lame, as is 12a SQUASH LADDER. I’m still hoping someone’s going to make some sense of 11d BACHELORHOOD.

    And I’m going to put myself in the stocks and wait for the rotten fruit: I don’t like 7d SOUNDPROOF simply because ‘avoiding’ as a synonym of ‘preventing’ is plain clumsy.

    Other than that, I thought it was great.

    1. I’m with your criticism of the surface meanings, more than the worries about the knowledge required to completely understand the answers. Convincing surface meanings are one of the good things about most Times xwds, and this one seems to fall a bit short on that side.
  6. I knew wharfinger (must have come across it in a book at some time) and Lulu and halva were somewhere near the back of my mental cupboardry but I wasn’t familiar with either of the quartetses, Hiram, earthstar, Nerva, Geat or asseverate.

    All of which meant a slow time of around 40 minutes with a fair bit of assistance from t’internet.

    Not a great puzzle for me, really, favourite clues were 15a and 7d.

  7. Pretty tough, with lots of obscure references and arty-farty general knowledge required that will no doubt have infuriated the dorsetjimbo school of cryptic purists, but which I found quite enjoyable.

    Like others I have difficulty with 11 dn, and not only because I initially entered SPINSTERHOOD, which fitted the definition and had the right number of letters, sharing six of them with the correct answer (though it made no cryptic sense at all). The academic cryptic reading offered in earlier comments doesn’t seem to me to work properly either because the hood which some universities require those receiving a BA degree to wear is a bachelor’s hood (cf master’s hood) and not a bachelor hood. Unsatisfactory.

    25 ac is my COD nomination.

  8. Toughish, with a higher proportion than usual of answers I put in without fully understanding e.g. BACHELORHOOD, SOUNDPROOF.

    SQUASH LADDER I got finally from the (friendly enough) wordplay but it’s not in my dicts that I can see.

    But I got there in the end.

  9. I fear this was an archetype of the sort of puzzle that I really don’t feel happy with, where the knowledge required and / or the solutions are of a level of obscurity that doesn’t sit well with that of the usual daily puzzle.

    On a Sunday, I will happily sit down with the Azed for an hour or two, and prepare to learn three or four new words, with outside help if necessary. During the week I find it jarring when I’m expected to know WHARFINGER or who Count Rasoumovsky, and, most of all, the Geats were.

    Of course it could just be that my definition of unfair knowledge is “things I don’t know”…

  10. Being a fairly inexperienced crossword enthusiast, I found this puzzle very difficult, and needed a lot of help from Google and Chambers to complete it. But I knew Beowulf was a Geatlander. I don’t understand 8d and there is no mention of it in any of the comments. Could someone please enlighten me?

    MY COD – Guillotine.

    1. I put it in the “pie-chart” list but didn’t explain it fully.

      It’s SQUARE MILE, another name for the City of London

      pleasant look = SMILE
      queen = QU
      unfinished district = ARE(a)

      Welcoming is the containment indicator here.

  11. This one was quite a problem as it had a couple of things I did not know. I did not get HIRAM as I had not heard of him and did not get the Hire ’em reference. Despite having read Beowulf at school I did not remember his Geat-ship. I quite liked ELECT RICHAR(d) although I doubt that I would have joined in had I been eligible.

    There are 5 “easies”:

    9a Spiritualist’s choice not to be grilled to much (6,4)

    24a Sort of year’s circuit: June finally enters (4)
    L E AP

    27a Without esteem, in any case (10)

    8d City’s pleasant look, welcoming Queen to unfinished district (6,4)

    16d In (gutter, Id a)* strange feeling of obligation (9)

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