Times 23944 – the Thursday annihilator!

Solving time : 38 minutes! Usually I’d have given up and headed for the solving aids on this one, but that would have meant getting out of my chair and that wasn’t happening. Another Thursday challenge, like yesterday, on a first read through the acrosses I only had one or two, but unlike yesterday the downs didn’t help everything out, and my puzzle is filled with wordplay doodles. I still have a few questions unanswered wordplay issues.

1 PACE,D: Got this from the definition. Wasn’t sure of the PACE part, but it can mean “by the leave of”. Odd usage, but legitimate
4 SEM(i),ANTICS: another one I got from the definition without seeing the wordplay until blog time
9 SPINNAKER: Easy to get from the wordplay, and one for the Antipodeans – AK is Knight of the Order of Australia, in a SPINNER(=slow bowler)
11 WELKIN: ELK in WIN, Shakespearian word for sky. Semi-guess, I’d heard of the word, wasn’t sure of it’s meaning
12 GABRIEL,I: Ugh – I was working towards PA,I and wanted PAGANINI in here. Wrong composer(s)
14 ROSETTA STONE: another one from the (slightly cryptic) definition. Wordplay, hmmm… TTAS in ROSE TONE? Edit: thanks to sotira – it’s ASTON (Villa) in ROSETTE
17 RECOLLECTION: computeR and then COL in ELECTION. Funny wordplay, I wanted to put the R at the end of the word.
20 TURGENEV: Got this from thinking of authors with URGE in the name. I can’t make TNEV(=VENT backwards?) for the wordplay. Edit: the definition of VENT is in OED – see comments
26 N,ODD(l)Y: an oceanic bird
1 P,AS,SWORD: I think I’ve seen this wordplay before, but it took me a while to get this one
2 CHINLESS: (NIL)* in CHESS. “Ineffectual and not very clever” sayeth Chambers, echoing how I feel this morning.
4 SIKH: sounds like hide and SEEK
7 I,RISES: I was about to have a panic attack on this one until I saw the checking I’s
8 SCENIC: sounds like SEE, NICK(=cop shop)
13 BARONETAGE: ONE,TAG in BARE. Last to go in, I think it was in a Mephisto recently. Clever definition
16 ANGLE,SEY(=YES<=): that device is nice, I’ll use it twice!
18 STOCKS: T(ub) in SOCKS. Not sure of “flower” as a definition for STOCKS. Edit – and even though I read the entry in Chambers once, that a stock is a flower of the genus Matthiola escaped me
19 G,RAPPA: let me hear you say RAPPER. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a hip-hip artist called G-RAPPA
22 FRET: two definitions

38 comments on “Times 23944 – the Thursday annihilator!”

  1. Toughest one for a long time – 29:29 for me. 11 and 12 were both guesses, with 19D/20A the last to go in. Loads of excellent clues though, and I still can’t decide on a COD nomination.
  2. It was payback time for me after yesterday’s cakewalk. I resorted to books after the first hour and solvers after the second. Maybe I am having a bad day or maybe it really is that difficult. I shall be interested to read what others think. My COD is 4dn.
    1. 9:24 for this – only a bit slower than yesterday, but this is much more knowledge-based and has some tricky answer words like WELKIN at 11A. How much of this stuff you know can make a huge difference to the solving time, possibly by way of knocks to morale. And some of it siuted me very nicely – like many brass players, I’ve played some Giovanni Gabrieli. I’m pretty sure I once read Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, and I’ve consumed the odd glass of grappa in Italy.
  3. the announcer is the archangel Gabriel. He comes before ‘i’ representing ‘one’. The ‘maybe two’ in the clue is because there are two composers call Gabrieli.
    1. Two composers called Gabrieli? I hope that’s not the crux of the clue.

      By my count at least 3 ‘famous’ and many, many more lesser known.

      Without breaking a sweat: Giovanni, Gianpiero and Andrea not to mention Domenico.

      And then there are probably tens or hundreds of relatively unknown composers of that name.

      1. Having looked him up, Domenico Gabrielli usually had two L’s. That’s all the Gabriel(l)is in Greene’s Biographical Dictionary of Composers which has 2433 of them, many of whom I’ve never heard of. An online database with about 3500 composers concurs. Neither these nor Google know of Gianpiero.

        So by any sensible count: two.

  4. 1 ac. ‘pace’ is the latin for with respect to.

    1 down. ‘like’ is as, holding up p for power followed by sword, and a password admits you.

  5. 4 across. house one abandoned is sem(i) and fooling about is antics.

    20 is urge (press) inside vent backwards.

    1. I assume vent is “free play” as in giving vent to your feelings. 2 of the 3 elements of the clue were at the boundaries of what’s acceptable I’d say

      Thanks for the other explanations. Didn’t know the latin, self-kickers on for semi & p/as.

  6. Only about half completed here before lunchtime ran out, and I felt pleased to manage that many…
  7. About 45 minutes with 12 blank (even word wizard couldn’t help). Seeing Peter’s comment above a) I’ve never heard of him and b) I can’t see the wordplay.

    Still don’t fully understand 1a & 1d, 4a and 20 either so I await George’s explanations with interest.

    Started fairly well with the two long downs falling early and got about halfway after 15 minutes but then found it a real slog with a lot of uncommon words. 21 doesn’t seem to be cryptic at all and the def at 2 is weak.

  8. What with Gnasher and NODDY where was Desperate Dan? I’d heard of one Gabrieli and have seen “announcer” used before for Gabriel, so lucky there. I thought TURGENEV very difficult and guessed it from TURGE?E? before working out the backward “vent”. I even struggled with BARONETAGE missing the word play of “many titles”. Must have been brain dead by then. About an hour to solve. I’m off to read my Dandy annual. Jimbo.

  9. I blew what should have been a very decent time by inexplicably writing DENISE THE MENACE at 3d, which left me scratching my head for ages over W_L_S_ for 11 across. I even got to wondering if the ‘big beast’ might refer to the walrus moustache of Lech Walesa… oh, well. By the time I’d sorted that out, it was probably around the half hour mark.

    A strange brew, this crossword, and not really my cup of tea. No issues for me with the general knowledge, but a lot of complicated clues that just didn’t quite repay the thought required to untangle them. I bit too Earl Grey for me. I’m more your Darjeeling kinda gal.

    And a conspiracy, shurely, at 11 across. “Sky’s success” in a Murdoch paper? Clearly the result of one of those notorious middle-of-the-night “Oi, I’ve got an idea …” phone calls to the editor.

      1. I think you got the short straw blogging Thursdays, George! They seem to be routinely trickier than the others.
  10. My ancient Grove’s has Domenico G with one L, so he + Andrea and Giovanni make three. But there’s no mention of Gianpiero Gabriel(l)i and no significant hits on that name on google or alltheweb.
    1. For mediaeval names there is no such thing as ‘standardised’ spelling, and it only gets worse when it comes from a foreign language. Gabriel(l,li,i,e) / Gambrel has more than a dozen modern spelling variants.

      If I get really excited about this all I’ll dig through my loft to see if I can find the collection of the 4 Gianpiero toccatas I was thinking of. But perhaps it’s just my mind playing tricks on me – again?

  11. 9A AK in SPINNER – interesting that there were two legitimate ways for this wordplay to work. I’m pretty sure the setter was thinking of the Ace and King as honour cards!
    1. Yes, that’s how I read it. It was the first one I put in; 11A and 12A did for me in the end.

      Tom B.

    2. I (partially) agree with linxit regarding the derivation of AK. Had it been the Australian Knighthood mentioned in the blog then ‘Honours’ would have been singular. There is therefore only one legitimate source for the wordplay.
      1. Interesting, now I’m not sure if it’s correct, but in the U.S. (as we know, the only place to go for correct language), “honors” is used for any award or merit. In the slim chance I might get one (services to incorrect blogging) I’m going to leave Knight of the Order of Australia up there.
  12. A toughie indeed. Relieved that others found it equally so. Finally completed with the aid of solvers and reference books.

    Re 12 ac: I guess that the existence of at least three well-known, and probably many more less well-known, composers by the name of Gabrieli (as angryvocab points out), doesn’t strictly invalidate the reference to “or two” in the clue, since it doesn’t rule out the possibility of there being even more than that number, but “or more” would have been better. Alas, it wouldn’t have helped me much as I had failed to spot the allusion to the Archangel Gabriel and his unexpected announcement to the Virgin Mary that she was in the family way.

    “Pace” penfold, I agree that “free play about” for VENT in reverse was hideously difficult in 20 ac, but, I think, on reflection fair. The COED defines “to vent” as “to give free expression to”(a strong emotion etc). So defining VENT as a noun as “free play, free expression” seems just about acceptable.

    I fancied both 2 dn and 4 dn as CODs, but will go with 2 dn, which made laugh.

    Michael H

  13. Chambers online: 11. any of various Mediterranean plants of the wallflower family that are cultivated for their bright flowers.
    1. Damn, I missed that on my read through the lengthy list of possibilities for stock. Here it is in the big red book – “any cruciferous garden plant of the genus Matthiola having heavily scented spikes of flowers”
  14. These will sound picky – you should be pretty chuffed to have finished the puzzle.

    1A: “with due respect to” is the def for pace in the Concise Oxford. I think it’s most commonly used in academic circles – “pace Smith” = “in spite of what Smith says”
    11A: Not just Shak. Michael Quinion gives some other examples.

    1. Pick away… I’d never heard of “pace” being used in that way, “by the leave of” in my blog came from Chambers, as did that Shakespeare used “welkin” for sky.

      I know it’s bad of me, but I don’t have a Concise Oxford, I have Websters at work and Chambers at home (when I win that new Chambers at the Crossword Centre, I’ll move old Chambers to work).

  15. I’m not an expert on rap music: is it necessary that it’s performed by a black singer?
    1. By no means — doesn’t Eminem count as a rapper? And I’m sure there are plenty of others. I’m surprised no one else commented on this. I thought that “black” in this context was unnecessary and borderline offensive.


  16. A bit late with a comment. I failed abysmally with this. I do The Times cryptic at sunset on the beach, miles away from any references and aids, so failed to solve most of the top half within the hour I generally allow myself.
    Am I the only one to find ‘stranger’ somewhat dubious as an anagram indicator in 24? “stranger’ can be a verb, but if the idea is an instruction to the solver, it’s rather awkwardly placed after the anagram fodder. Is there another explanation?
    1. The only “stranger” (vb.) I can find is in Chambers, meaning “to make a stranger” (Shak.). I don’t think that meaning makes it a fair anagrind, and I don’t think it would be used even if it was, because it’s not in Collins or the Concise Oxford – my understanding the Times puzzle only uses “Chambers-only” material if the setter can convince the editor that solvers should know it.

      My interpretation is that ‘stranger’ is a comparative – ‘AFRKAANS’ is stranger than ‘as a frank’, presumably because it’s not a word or sequence of words.

      1. Naturally it was the comparative that I first toyed with, but didn’t think it very satisfactory, and still don’t – one really has to force the cryptic sense out of it, unlike many Times clues where the cryptic sense is beautifully disguised, but once unmasked reads as naturally as the surface.
  17. I liked this puzzle a lot. Possibly because some of the trickier stuff was within my knowledge base?

    I read “honours” in 9a to be Ace and King AK from cards – certainly not an Ozzy Knight. Are they allowed? I suppose so – Sir Don Bradman for instance. I don’t think Steve Smith is going to get one though?

    Having lived and worked in Zuid Afrika for 8 years I definitely vote for Afrikaans being stranger than As a frank I at 24a.

    I remember Welkin from a song in an a drama production in the early 2000s. I don’t remember the whole song but it involved “letting the welkin ring”.

    Just the six “easies” not in the blog:

    10a Rotter introduces son to drink (5)
    S WINE. The clue suggests that the S goes inside the drink. Not so.

    21a Such a drag, dealing with tax (6)
    FISCAL. I could not define fiscal drag but I have heard of it.

    23a Nutty product Carries, On Packet, Required Advice at the front (5)
    C O P R A

    25a Coach abandoned giving actors direction (5,4)
    STAGE LEFT. In the Deadwood Theatre?

    3d Young tearaway showing extraordinary (he-man tendencies)* (6,3,6)

    6d Winter endless to one cowardly and old? (2,6,7)

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