Times 23968 – together we can take over the world

Solving time : 22 minutes. A tale of two halves, the bottom half took me very little time, and I was left with a mostly empty top half. Some guesswork here that I had to look up before starting the blog. My hunch is some will find this amazingly easy, and some will be like me and get frustrated about half-way through.

My COD nod would go to the neat little clue at 11

1 CLEMATIS: M in CLEAT,IS. One of the last to go in, guessed from wordplay, it’s a climbing liana I now come to find out
9 UNEASILY: double definition, one slightly cryptic
10 BOLT,ON: another guess from wordplay, it’s near Manchester, which I guess makes it northish
11 TIMES,WITCH(=sounds like WHICH): nice surface for the clue. My parents live and die by time switches, if you want to rob their house, just look for lights going on and off at regular intervals
13 MURPHY(=potato),SLAW(=salad)
17 DUOPOLY: OP,O in DULY. There’s a word you don’t see everyday
20 MARK,E,TABLE: nice construction, took me a while to see MARK=notice
23 SCRUTINEER: C in (RETURNS,I,E). One who checks that election rules are followed, a job I wouldn’t like to have in Zimbabwe
26 LANCELOT: LO in LANCET – guessed from definition and came back to verify that a LANCET is a tall narrow window
27 S,EDITION: lovely word, covertly inciting people to rise against authority
2 LEONARDO: (A,LORD,ONE)* – this took me far longer than it should, I was looking for a surname, but it’s Da Vinci chap
4 TAN,T,A,MOUNT: another sweet construction
5 SUMMARY: hmmmm… now I’m having second-thoughts here. I’m taking this to read as SUMMERY reportedly, and the definition being brief. Parsing experts, your opinion please…
6 ZEUS: (SUEZ)<= – my last entry and I pored over it for a while, all the way through the alphabet in fact
8 BY,THE,WAY (sounds like BUY THE WHEY)
14 HOUSE-PROUD: guessed the two parts of the cryptic definition, haven’t come up against this hyphenated word before
16 C,AM,I,SOLE: a ladies undershirt usually covering the whole midriff. I made it sound unsexy!
18 LIBRETT,O: LIBRETT being (BRITTLE)*, and the book being the word to a play or an opera

27 comments on “Times 23968 – together we can take over the world”

  1. I think summery. The comma seems to force the ‘reportedly’ to bind more tightly to ‘brief’ to give ‘sounds like summary’. Then again …
  2. I went for summery too, based on the comma.

    I raced through this in about 10 mins heading for a PB but I stupidly put “on the way” instead of “by the way” which meant it took me 5 or 10 minutes to fail to get “uneasily” before I did a re-check of the crossing clues and realized my error. Most frustrating.

    1. I’ll confess to also having scribbled in ‘on the way’. Most embarrasing as it’s so clear that it should have been ‘by’.
  3. 12 mins, a bit faster than my average. I put in SUMMERY but think SUMMARY is equally justifiable. 23A’s my COD.

    Tom B.

  4. Two halves for me too, glh, but not the same halves as yours. I found the RH almost wrote itself in apart from 6 and 9 which I came back to at the end, but the LH required more thought. I chipped away at it steadily and the whole thing came in at exactly 30 minutes which is usually as good as things get for me.

    Then I came here, rather pleased with myself, and found I probably have 5dn wrong having written SUMMARY. I doubt I would have made that mistake on a more difficult day but I was on a roll when I solved it and racing through at speed.

  5. 6:18, gaining from another bone thrown to Economics graduates at 17. I think 5D can give either answer and assume this is a mistake – the Times puzzle reckons to avoid ambigous clues.
  6. 9 minutes, which is fast for me.

    5D: I’m firmly in the SUMMERY camp, although looking out of the window in central London I shouldn’t be.

    COD to the prepared salad at 13A, but I can’t seem to find it on Ocado….

  7. Just like glh – about 15 mins on the top and 5 mins on the bottom. I went with summary.
  8. I had no hesitation in putting down SUMMERY. I still think that ‘reportedly’, the homophone indicator, can go only with ‘brief’ (“summary”), not the words before the separator comma. Or can it?

    I encountered CAMISOLE on two occasions recently, both good ones. I tried writing my own (down) clue and came up with “Scot hoisted one and only one underwear(8)”. Is this passable?

    1. Sounds solid to me – there’s a bit of write-your-own clue fun in anax’s forums that you can get to from the link to the COD poll
  9. My sole reason for choosing SUMMARY was that as a setter I’d have inserted it a) because it’s (arguably) a more instantly recognisable word and b) I’d have seen SUM+MARY as having wordplay potential. Other than that, I agree the clue is ambiguous although it does paint a nice picture of what we UK victims have so much cause to grumble about.

    There was some cracking stuff in here. Loved “potato salad” in 13A and the well-worked C+RETURNS I.E. anag at 23A. My COD nom is 1A as it brought back happy memories of when I did more rock climbing than crosswording.

    A quick time for me too, just putting the pen down before the clock ticked 6 minutes.

  10. 13:45. I put SUMMARY. Although SUMMERY is the more likely answer, I think “like a spell of good weather, reportedly” is perfectly valid to show “sounds like summery”. I struggled to start but the latter downs helped enormously. Last in was BOLTON which is about 6 miles from where I’m sat. I like potato salad=murphy slaw but I’ll give my COD nom to 11a
    1. If you assume it’s correct grammatically, then:

      “A, reportedly, B” means ‘reportedly A but actually B’.
      “A, reportedly B” means ‘A although reported as B’

      As a subjunctive clause in our instance you can’t separate ‘reportedly’ from ‘brief’. So it must be ‘reportedly brief’ => sounds like brief.

      [On the other hand, I’ve always assumed that punctuation and rules of grammar are ignored in a cryptic clue. In which case we’re back to “it’s ambiguous”.]

  11. I didn’t understand how the wordplay suggests the “ON” portion of the answer. Are machine attachments referred to as “bolt-ons”? (somewhat like add-ons).
    — Vijay
    1. “Bolt-on” is in Chambers and Collins defined as additional or supplementary. Collins adds an example: “a bolt-on prologue”, which suggests that the term does not necessarily relate to things mechanical thoough no doubt that was where it originated.
      1. I didn’t look up bolt-on, and just figured “an attachment to a machine” to be a cryptic definition – a bolt on a machine. I was more worried about finding out BOLTON was in Somerset.
  12. I started well and than came to a grinding halt, so what should have been a 30-minute solve for me turned into 40. I was too focused on Queen Elizabeth I to see LANCELOT for ages, and for some reason I was slow to see the ridiculously easy 19; I was trying to make something out of various combinations of A’s, AN’s & THE’s.
    I didn’t think twice about 5; I took the placing of the comma as a steer towards SUMMERY as the answer, though I agree there’s ambiguity. The wordplay for 10 is surely BOLT-ON, not BOLT + ON, justifying “Like” as an indication of adjectival form (which BOLT on its own would not), though oddly enough ‘bolt-on’ is not in COD. I liked the effective simplicity of 27, though I wasn’t convinced by the rather loose definition in 14. Nice puzzle on the whole.
  13. I read this at the time as pointing to SUMMARY, however on reflection I am sure that:
    a) the answer is meant to be SUMMERY because of the comma.
    b) As Peter says, it’s a mistake, because plainly there is an equally good case to be made for either answer.
  14. I had no hesitation in writing in SUMMERY. I believe that the comma is there deliberately to avoid ambiguity, and if it had appeared after ‘reportedly’ then I would have had no hesitation in writing in SUMMARY. Only if there had been no comma, or two commas, would I have claimed that either answer should be acceptable.
    1. If the answer to:

      Like a spell of good weather, reportedly, brief

      could be either SUMMERY or SUMMARY, that implies that ‘Like a spell of good weather, reportedly’ is an adequate homophone indicator. I agree, but I don’t understand why the second comma is then necessary (or desirable) for SUMMARY to be an allowable answer. I prefer definitions not to be highlighted by punctuation or link-words, if this can be avoided.

      Tom B.

  15. On SUMMERY/SUMMARY: for what it’s worth, I claim to have chosen SUMMERY, which the xwd ed confirms is the official answer. But he agrees that this clue can be read either way and that it should have made the choice clearer.
  16. I am in the summery camp – the comma leaves no other option so I would have thought it was the only correct answer (IMHO).
    Unlike GLH I got clematis from the defintion and checking letters (and also as I planted a couple in the garden last month for the first time)
    A few easier ones made for a quick start and 26 was last to go in.13 brought a smile. 9.55 today
  17. Most of this took me about 30 minutes, but then I took forever misleading myself on 26, 24, and 10. I finally sussed out 24 which made 26 obvious, and my labored attempts to work Dudley or Darnley or others into the answer were rendered superfluous. On 10 I don’t know too many northern UK towns, but I thought of ‘bolton’ and put it in as a guess. On the summery/summary judgment, I immediately entered ‘summary’. Generally there were several fun clues today: 6, 20, 11, and especially the nicely worded 16. On the other hand, ‘kris’ seems a tad obscure, and ‘scrutineer’ and house-proud’ are brand new to me. Regards to all.
  18. Didn’t record an accurate time as I solved this sat on a plane on the tarmac at Edinburgh airport a) without a chronograph and b) stopping midway through to pay rapt attention to the pre-flight safety demonstration. Anyway, I finished before we hit the air so I’d say this was a rare sub-15 minute solve.

    PS I didn’t come across anybody called MacDuff during my 21 hour stay North of the border.

  19. I failed to finish this puzzle, having entered MARKETRIPE instead of MARKETABLE [food=TRIPE, selling well=MARKET-RIPE]. Made perfect sense to me at the time 🙂 🙂

    Clive Tooth

  20. I was in the SUMMARY camp at 5d on the basis that punctuation of cryptic clues is usually to support the surface and mislead the solver rather than to provide clarity? Maybe I am too cynical?

    There are 9 “easies” in this one:

    12a Dagger seen as knight turned on king (4)
    K RIS

    16a After arrest, promises to pay in full (7)

    22a Scrape back of Blarney stone (4)
    RUB Y. SCRAPE = RUB? Meh.

    25a After operation I swallowed painkiller (6)
    OP I ATE

    3d Small bit of wood that remains after starting fire (10)

    7d Weapon from gunsho P I STOL e (6)

    15d For whom dismantling (state is par)*? (10)

    19d Expresses opposition in articles (7)

    24d Run slowly, in vain (4)

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