Times 23,990 Le Mur du Louvre Mate

Solving time : 45 minutes

I may be having an off day but I found this a difficult puzzle with a lot of intricate wordplay and a good deal of slang. It was difficult to know which clues to leave out of the blog. Today’s new word is CUBEB, a plant with which I’m not familiar and I’m not certain that I’ve quite understood 2D yet.

1 FACILE – FAC(I-L)E; mug=slang for face
4 SQUAD,CAR – S(QUAD)CAR; scar=mark left; quad=(court)yard; UK police squad cars are called pandas
11 ELBOW – W-(n)OBLE(s) all reversed; to elbow is to barge
12 IDO – ID-O; a form of Esperanto
13 REGRETTABLY – RE(G-RETTAB)LY; bank=rely; to pound is to batter; definition is “I’m afraid”
16 OEUVRES – (l)O(E)UVRE’S; reference The Louvre in Paris
19 COXCOMB – CO(X-C)OMB; a coomb=a depression; old word for a dandy
20 ESKIMO – (agre)E-SKIM-O; one skims the cream; ESKIMO is a language but “cold” tongue?
22 APPARATCHIK – A-(park pitch + a)*
25 TIE – get even=TIE; bond=TIE; girls don’t often wear a TIE
27 OWNERSHIP – (shin power)*; definition is “having”
28 DOZINESS – DOZ(IN-E)SS; doz=dozen=12; ss=seconds; e=ecstasy=a drug
29 HANDEL – sounds like “handle”; scorer=composer; handle slang for name
1 FOSSIL – (gir)L IS SO F(rantic); reversed hidden word
2 CARBON,TAX – CARBON=copy; TAX=demand; not certain about this parsing
3 LEMUR – LE-MUR; le mur is French for a wall
5 QUITE,SOMETHING – QUIT-(tho seeming)*;
6 AWESTRUCK – A(WEST)RUCK; a ruck is a brawl; “go west young man” reference John Soule’s famous editorial
7 CUBEB – EU+BBC intertwined and reversed; EU=Brssels?; Auntie=slang for BBC; a plant
8 ROWDYISM – M(other)S-I(nstantl)Y-D(isavo)W-O(u)R all reversed
15 FLOOR,PLAN – FLOOR-PLA-N; PLA=Port of London Authority
17 REMATCHED – REM-(h)ATCHED; REM=rapid eye movement + the usual cockney cliche
21 PEN,PAL – PEN-PAL; a china (plate) is rhyming slang for a mate, a pal
23 PZAZZ – P-Z(A)ZZ;
24 KORDA – KO(reversed)-R(a)DA; OK=fine; RADA=Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; reference; Sir Alexander Korda 1893-1956

35 comments on “Times 23,990 Le Mur du Louvre Mate”

  1. This is one of the best puzzles this year, imho. I enjoyed many of the clues, though I like 26ac best because it is so neat. Apparatchik is also an elegant construction.

    Worth pointing out that this puzzle is also a pangram, and very nearly even more impressive since crossed lights contain all letters except J and V and uncrossed lights contain all letters except F, Q X and Y. This took me longer to work out than completing the grid did!

  2. A tough fight for a time around 25 minutes, but messed up CUBEB, carelessly trying CABOB, which isn’t a plant at all (variant of kebab).
  3. Initially totally infuriating. I quickly realized that I would never get though it without recourse to my computerized cheats. But no regrets. As the clues fell there was much banging of forehead and reluctant concession to a mind more warped than mine. 9dn the last to go. Probably a Britishism (Is there such a word?). I can see a love-hate relationship developing with this setter.
  4. Well either I had an off-day too, Jimbo, or as you suggest, this was a hard one.

    I took 30 minutes to do the botom half but had great difficulty getting started at the top. For a long time I had the second words of 2, 5 and 9 but the first words would not come to me.

    I cracked the NW eventually with one mistake at 12 having wrongly guessed ITO from which you can see I had other things in mind for “primitive instinct”. I am assuming that STEFAN is correct at 14 – does it suggest a Pole rather than any other nationality or am I missing something?

    I got within two or three of working out the NE but ran out of time and used on-line help to polish it off.

    1. “used on-line help to polish it off”

      what sort of online help, as a matter of interest?

      1. This is useful, particularly for multi-word answers-


        Enter the letters that you have with ? for unknown and spaces between words

        the “all matches” option on the result page will widen the scan considerably.

        Most useful feature is that you can place a colon after your input, then enter a broad synonym to filter your search.

        ?????? ??? ?????????:composer

    2. Yes, I have it as STEFAN. the Oxford Names Companion gives it as a German form of Stephen also used in Russia and Poland where Stepan and Szczepan are more common. Make what you will of that!
  5. 45 minutes on this but I wondered, after finally entering oeuvres, why it had taken so long.
  6. I assume ‘press’ in 2D is to indicate that CARBON sits on top of TAX? This setter plays fast and loose with definitions; Jimbo’s mentioned 14A and 20A, I also find the definitions in 28A and 9D, and the second definition in 25A, rather tenuous. I was held up by assuming that ‘without a’ in 24D implied that both examples of the letter were to be removed from RADA. Some very inventive clues, however, of which my favourite is 26A.

    Tom B.

    1. That was my reading Tom but I deliberately left it open to invite other, perhaps better, interpretations. Some 5 hours after solving it I still can’t think of a better explanation.
    2. Whilst we’re quibbling over a few things, has anyone other than me got reservations about “up and coming actors” = RADA in 24? RADA is not the students, it’s the school and the up and coming actors are AT RADA.
      1. As Tom says, this setter plays a bit fast and loose with definitions. Strictly speaking you are correct I think. How much it worries solvers will vary by individual.
        1. Its CARBON = copy “pressing on” ie above “are demanding”, so TAX=are demanding. “These clues are demanding, they tax me”. I’m more confident of this now that somebody else has confirmed my understanding.
  7. Totally vile puzzle. So many clues only make sense when you see the answer…. Makes me want to give up doing crosswords altogether….
  8. Quite a struggle, very pleased to get in under 12 minutes. The clincher was a guess – correct as it turned out – at 7D which opened up that corner.
    It was an odd solving experience really. Some clues felt a bit overworked and solving them led more to relief than appreciation of technique, but creating a pangrammatic puzzle is never easy and sometimes you have to sacrifice smoothness. CUBEB will no doubt cause problems for many solvers but when you look at that corner of the grid it’s impossible to rebuild and maintain the pangram. I will include 7D as a quibble as I think it warranted an easier clue.
    COD for me is 6D which reads better than most of the rest.

    Q-1 E-6 D-8

  9. Too difficult for me. Gave up after half an hour with only six clues complete. After reading the blog, I’m not surprised!
  10. One of the toughest Times cryptics I’ve encountered in a long time. After an hour I had little more than half the grid filled. After a second session I had all but 6d and 20a solved. By that time my brain was exhausted from doing overtime so I resorted to electronic help for 6, whereupon I was able to solve 20.
    The difficulty was that there were so many very devious clues, full of misdirection, such as the ‘A’ at the beginning of 1a, making one search for a noun answer. In addition, I really needed a dictionary and atlas to confirm a handful of answers, but I always tackle The Times well away from my computer or bookshelf.

    Very clever, very witty, hats off to the setter, but I’m glad we don’t get something like this every week. Too many gems to pick out a COD, but I particularly liked 3d, 6d, and 21d. If you twisted my arm I’d go for 6d, which had me stumped.

  11. 35 minutes, all present and correct. Somehow.

    I usually impose a thirty minute guillotine on myself, but I only had three or four left at that point so soldiered on. AWESTRUCK and OEUVRES were the last two in. In fact, ‘awestruck’ just about sums it up. Or possibly stupified. You know that feeling when you’ve been on a nightmare journey and you’ve got lost countless times and got in a real state and thought you were never, ever, ever going to get home… and then you do. That’s about it. Far too stunned by the whole experience to put in any of the usual ticks or question marks against any clues. I’m sure they were all brilliant. I hated every one of them.

    I presume it’s one particular setter who puts me through this every now and then. If I ever meet the culprit, I’ll either buy them a drink or throw one at them – haven’t decided yet.

  12. very hard puzzl that ruined my day!
    finally finished-congrats to setter…v hard
  13. I thought this was a brilliant puzzle and as hard as it gets. 30 minutes to get all bar one – then at least 10 minutes to get 16a – just could not see it. I found it a lot of fun with penny dropping moments all over the place.
    While it is nice to do a sub 10 minute time this gives me a lot more satisfaction.
    10/10 the setter, about 45 minutes today
  14. I casually started this seeing how much I could get done before a meeting only to find the answer was about 3 clues. I got there in the end in several sessions (but without a dictionary or online help) which I felt was quite an achievement. I had no problem with “cold tongue” in fact I thought it was clever once the penny dropped. “awestruck” took much longer than it should, “where young man should go” didn’t immediately make me think of west. One of those puzzles that is really hard but when you are done you are not quite sure what made it so difficult.
  15. Gulp! If I ever meet Sotira I will buy the drink, don’t worry.
    Definitely harder than yesterday, mumble, mumble 🙂
  16. Everyone’s saying how good 26ac is. I assume the answer is PEARL, but why? Can’t see it. OK pearl = it forms in shell, place = pl, an ear is arguably shell-like, but …

    What is perhaps doing in 20ac? Agree finally = e, no perhaps about it.

    Agreed, 24dn seems unsatisfactory. There ought to be an indication that it’s only one of the a’s that is removed.

    But otherwise a terribly good crossword. Took me ages and had that quality that has been mentioned above, that afterwards you look at it and wonder why it was so hard. I suspect Monk.

      1. I assume the ‘perhaps’ in 20A goes with ‘to take cream’, so ‘perhaps to take cream’ is SKIM.

        Tom B.

  17. I thought this was a really good one. It was hard but I never came to a full stop – just kept plugging on slowly and finished in about 40 mins. Nice wordplay in places (6D, 15A, 5D). Once I got the other letters, the more obscure answers were guessable from the clue – 7D 12A 23D. I guess “joggong bottoms” are what are known in Australia as “trackie daks” (look forward to finding that as an answer!)
    1. Must have been more of an effort than I thought – can’t even get the month right (it’s September!)
  18. Like at least one of the above correspondents I went for the wrong combination of EU and BBC at 7d to get the unknown plant CEBUB – apparently it is CUBEB?

    What was that about using anagrams to clue obscure words? We don’t even get direct anagrist in the clue – having to deduce Brussels = EU and Auntie = BBC. Fairly straightforward I know but it did not help to get the right combination as the E and U are unchecked.

    Very minor whinge over – if I had resorted to aids then I might have checked CEBUB but instead I was more satisfied to complete this very fine piece of work without my go-to resort OneLook.

    Apart from using a bit of Franglais (my favorite) in his title, our Dorset correspondent has ALSO left the volcano out for the geologist to fill in. Thanks Jimbo!

    There are just the 4 “easies” here:

    10a Volcanic island resort booms ’til end of summer (9)
    STROMBOLI. Anagram of booms til (summe)r. Sounds more like clubbing on Ibiza? I would rather visit the volcano personally.

    14a Pole’s fate sadly sealed by two others (6)
    S TEFA N. North and South Pole enclosing a sad (fate)* to give our Polish man. I didn’t know Stefan was a typically Polish name but it was easy enough to get.

    26a It forms in shell or around shelllike place (5)
    P EAR L. In the online version shell-like (ear) is there without the hyphen giving us a word with three Ls in a row. Not even the Welsh manage that – do they?

    18d Given axe, did battle (8)
    SCRAPPED. Simple double definition.

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