Times 23,986

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 12:47

A fast start, then slowed up, particularly in the South West corner. This was partly because I put the wrong answer in for 25D. “Religious work the speaker does (4)” could almost be ACTS, though ICON is obviously better. But it took me a while to spot it was wrong, because it seemed entirely appropriate for 28A to end in an S.

Lots of good clues. I think my favourite is the smooth &lit at 13D. Though I also liked 20A, partly because I started out determined not to be fooled into thinking that the apparent references to newspapers would really be to the newspapers. And the adjacent clues 22 and 24 where there are surplus indications are good as well.


1 HOST + A
9 NEOPHOBIA – cryptic def, though the surface doesn’t seem very misleading
10 USUAL – two meanings, the first as in the phrase “the usual?”
11 RE(TOL)D – TOL being LOT(rev) – if find this “in debt”=”in the red” device more satisfying when all of THERED is used
12 P(ED)AN + TRY
16 C(HE)F – I wrote this in thinking it was just a rather weak cryptic def, and was then delighted to find it is a clever &lit
23 BORROW – two meanings, including the author George Borrow, who is remembered only in crosswords so far as I know
29 MINOR – clubs being one of the minor suits in bridge


1 HO(N) OR IF 1 C – I think that is right, though I tried a few versions using “Hon” as in “Hon member” first
2 SH + OUT
4 B(r)A(m)B(l)E(s)
7 COURTSHIP – two meanings
8 DELAY, being (YALE + D)(rev) – excellent surface
13 ENTHUSIASM, being U in (THIS MEANS)*, &lit
15 A L + PENHO + R.N., PENHO being PHONE*
18 APHORISM – hidden
21 BURRO + W – “heading” is one of those unnecessary words that improves the surface
22 CRACK – three meanings
24 REIGN (=”rein”) and (=”rain”)
25 I CON

29 comments on “Times 23,986”

  1. Richard, there’s a typo at the end. You have the answer to 25D ICON shown as 24D, 24D as 22D, 22D as 21D and no answer for 21D BURROW.
  2. Apart from a fairly obvious guess at neophobia everything went swimmingly – inside 20minutes
  3. An enjoyable and comparatively straighforward puzzle – 35 minutes to solve. I made life hard for myself by mindlessly putting “pedantic” at 12A and didn’t sort that out until my last to go in had to be DELAY at 8D.

    I thought 13D and 15D very good but 16A is outstanding. Some clever use of words such as USUAL at 10A and no obscurities.

    1. You beat me by only 1 minute today, Jimbo! I must be getting quicker. I could have saved myself a couple of minutes if I hadn’t also put PEDANTIC at 12A and lost time wondering why it didn’t quite work.
  4. 36 minutes today, the last 10 being spent in the SW corner where 21, the 22s, 26 and 28 put up considerable resistance. Part of the problem was that I had ACTS for 25, but when I corrected this and put KINSWOMEN at 28 the rest of it followed quite quickly.

    But anyway, I found it a very enjoyable puzzle and I can’t choose between 15 and 16 as my COD. I thought I’d have a go at Anax’s QED rating and came up with 0 – 7- 5.

  5. The construction of 10ac wouldn’t fall into place for quite some time although the answer was obvious. I put it down to too much of the usual. 23 ac was a bit of a stretch.
  6. I thought this was going to be a stinker to begin with, since my first rapid scan through the acrosses yielded only HOSTA, but once I got a few downs it all progressed very smoothly. I’ve never heard of Borrow, the author, but that didn’t hold me up. 30 minutes all told. I thought the two best clues were 12 and 13, with my vote going to 13 for COD.
  7. This was my fastest time of the week – 35 minutes, but strangely unsatisfying because there were many clues I didn’t fully understand the wordplay for before coming here (perhaps because I was rushing to finish, without fully considering the wordplay, and some of the answers seemed safe enough.) 26ac / 8d / 21d were the worst suspects amongst these, though in retrospect nothing that should have fazed me.

    Lots of nice clues here, however, with lots of very good surface readings. COD perhaps 20ac.

  8. To be honest, rather shocked to finish this in 10 minutes as it felt much more difficult than that. Mostly very good clues and 13 is a deserving COD – perfect clue.

    My quibbles were the “emerging from” subtraction indicator at 26 and the “hear, hear” homonym indicator at 24, neither of which seems wholly fair.
    Other notable clues for me were 10, 16, 22A, 28 (amusing image), 4D (nice allusion to Babes in the Wood, I think) and 8.

    Q-2 E-7 D-8

  9. I, too fell for the old “ACTS” ploy and I, too, thought I was heading for a fast time when completing the top half became the work of an instant. SW corner last to fall and that’s where a cluster of really good clues sat – both 22s, 13, 21, 25 & 26.

    Finished in 23:35, COD 13, QED 0-7.5-6

  10. 13:30. Being a fully paid-up lemming, I followed others over the cliff with PEDANTIC and ACTS, which cost me a couple of minutes. Favourites for me today were CONQUEST and COURTSHIP (was that Jane Austen?).
  11. 15 minutes plus a few minutes to find the clue for 25. Anyone else have this problem with today’s (and yesterday’s) crossword where the last line was cut off (the printing ran into two pages, but the second page just had that annoying little blue box)? I’m using short, fat, American style paper.

    Very good puzzle, only guess I had was DELAY (from definition), though without such generous wordplay, I wouldn’t have gotten HOSTA. I liked 22, can’t recall seeing that clueing before.

    1. Prints fine for me on american paper (on an american printer in american which might make a difference).
  12. 25 mins for this – very stuck at the end on CRACK/AMOUR, and also rushed into ACTS.
  13. Also had pedantic written in first , completed all bar one in 10 minutes then spent about 3 minutes on 22a going through all the permutations. Note to self has to be – if you have letter ‘u’ in an answer try putting a ‘q’ in front of it before you try anything else. 12.57 today
  14. Like most others, I found this an enjoyable puzzle that mixed difficulty with quite a few very easy clues (e.g. 26, 27 and 29 ac). About 45 mins for me. Would have been quicker if, in one of those inexplicable mental lapses, I had not initially entered BALDFACED for 4 ac, unnecessarily complicating the search for an answer to 5 dn, which came quickly enough once the error had been spotted.

    Surprised to hear not a peep of protest from dorsetjimbo, arch-druid of the anti-literature puritans, who normally finds even Shakespeare unreasonably obscure, about the reference to George Borrow, whom few can have heard of and fewer still ever read. Admittedly, not a difficult clue, with or without knowledge of Borrow. I agree with jimbo about 16 ac. A beautiful &lit, whose beauty did not fully dawn on me until some time after I’d completed the puzzle. My choice for COD.

    Michael H

    1. And the antiliterature folk obviously knew a couple of lines of Wordsworth for 1a. I have no idea who Borrow is though, he is like the actor Tree, who I have also never heard of in any other context. Probably busy filling his etui with elemi or something.

      About 45 mins for me with a couple of phone calls in the middle so maybe 25 really.

      I don’t see why “hear, hear” is a weak homophone indicator. Since there are two homophones I thought it was rather clever. And I liked 22 (crack) since 3 meanings clues always take a moment to work out how they parse since they are fairly rare.

      1. “Hear, hear” objection successfully overruled. I’d read the def as “As a rule, control”, not seeing the REIN homonym. Well spotted Paul, slapped wrist Anax, apologies to the setter.
    2. George Borrow (1803-1881) may in some circles be famous for such gems as The Bible in Spain and The Romany Rye. To we inhabitants of the fifth dimension he exists as a crossword cliche, a reliable friend who crops up every so often in a corny clue such as today’s rather obvious format. Would I complain about such an offering? I must away now to Stonehenge and more important matters.
    3. There was probably no objection because he was defined as “author” not “the one chosen by the lamplighter’s greengrocer”
  15. I finished all but 8d in 8 minutes, but wasn’t helped by entering PEDANTIC at 12a. I thought it must be wrong so double checked it and decided that it wasn’t.
    Unlike you lot, I didn’t really enjoy this one and found the clues largely uninspiring. Is YALE one of the few allowable brand names? I wish there was some consistency with this kind of thing.
    Nothing worthy of a COD nom today.
  16. About 20 minutes, and yes I fell for pedantic also (but not acts). I also made the American mistake of thinking 26A was ‘armor’, which prevented me from seeing ‘alpenhorn’ for a while. At length I adopted Brit-spelling and got these two crossing answers to finish. I agree that 13 is a COD, followed by 16 and 8. Neophobia is a totally new word to me, and probably should count as obscure, but didn’t hold up solving. See you tomorrow. By the way, when posting I often check the box to’check spelling’, and I find today the Live Journal’s spell checker doesn’t think ‘neophobia’ and ‘alpenhorn’ are real words.

  17. I thought this one was pretty good. I was pleased to see & understand the Hear, Hear! double homonym indicator at 24d where even some of our most illustrious contributors missed them at first.

    There are 5 “easies” not in the blog:

    4a Audacious, having just had a close shave (9)

    19a Covering for shoulders and head (4)

    20a Political document used by Times but not Financial Times (5,5)

    27a (This vicar)* converted a record holder (9)

    17d A couple of elements once combined in strong drink (9)

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