Times 23992 – beating the Plantagenets at the rat-race

Solving time : 29 minutes. I did myself in by initially getting 18 wrong (there’s a lot of 7-letter Republics that come close to fitting the wordplay). Nothing too too obscure for this puzzle, but 8 might hold people up for a while.

1 OOCUPATION,AL(l) – OCCUPATION being the hostile takeover (waggling a little finger in the direction of Georgia)
8 LAERTES: (SET,REAL(m))<= tricky clue, nice cryptic defintion though
12 WOO,DANT(e): another last letter dropping off
13 (d)APPLE(d): lets chop off both ends this time
14 HESITATOR: More tricky wordplay, I got the answer before all of the wordplay, it’s SIT in HEAT, OR
16 EXTRA,C,TOR: My last entry, after sorting out my error in 18
23 AVIGNON: more intricate wordplay – G,NO in A VIN
25 LIE DOWN: I in LED,OWN. I’ll give a COD nod, I like mundane words clued in elegant ways
26 STRAIGHT EDGE: (GET THIS GRADE)* after picking on LOGARITHM/ALGORITHM, “rule” didn’t sound like a great definition. Chambers says “a strip or stick for testing straightness or drawing straight lines” so I guess it works
1 ON,ESTOP: Cute
2 COTTAGE: OTT(o) in CAGE. Another subtraction clue
3 PAS DE CHAT: (DEATH CAPS)*, a ballet move where one throws a feline to a fellow ballerina
6 A,DAM,ANT: Nice imagery here
7 PLANTAGENET: PLANT, then E in AGENT(=MI6). This may have given me trouble except it popped up very recently
10 ENTER,T(r)AINING: Another subtraction clue – bit of a theme today
17 TURNOUT: Double definition
18 ALGERIA: My bane for the morning – wordplay is GER in (AIL)<= supporting the A on the top. I had NIGERIA originally

34 comments on “Times 23992 – beating the Plantagenets at the rat-race”

  1. 30 minutes to complete all but 1dn,2,7,8,11,13 so it was the cluster in the NW corner that did for me and I needed another 15 minutes to crack it.

    I was just about to ask how “top solicitor” = OUT in 5, but I’ve spotted it just this second! It’s (t)OUT, “top” being an instruction to behead. Rather a lot of this going on today as noted by glh.

    22 for my COD. I read it several times before I spotted the hidden word and then it made me laugh.

  2. 10:50 for this one. I also stupidly put NIGERIA at 19, and didn’t understand the wordplay for 7D but decided the chance of anything else fitting was tiny.
    PAS DE CHAT was new to me.
  3. 25 minutes with the left hand side giving most of the trouble. Work with MI6 = plant agents…..???
  4. Got started in the SE working toward the NW. Don’t know why Occupational should have given me so much trouble and Plantagenets took a while considering it is one of those words that i look out for but once the L was supplied Laertes followed rapidly. Only so many characters in Hamlet.
    The Indie online is now regular fodder though they don’t identify the compiler (they don’t respond to emails either)and the lay out i find a bit awkward. I notice that the Guardian xword is to become free from September 1st so that will save on photocopying down at the library; i am wondering what the thinking is behind that. Once upon a time one would find the broadsheets discarded; i think the IRA puy pay to that when they started putting bombs in railway station litter bins. I even checked the FT the other day and sure enough theirs is available too though not interactive. alanjc
    1. The Guardian site is first class – far better than the Times. I’ve been delving back into some old AZED crosswords recently and finding and printing them is an absolute doddle.
    1. There’s more than a “connection” surely. ‘plant’ and ‘works’ are both in COD as “a place where an industrial or manufacturing process takes place” – the def’s only differ by the odd word. Apple and (d)apple(d) seem equally solid.
    2. I only commented because you wrote “work” whereas the clue says “works” and I wondered if you had missed the intended meaning.
  5. I was expressing an opinion that I did not like a couple of clues, not looking for an argument.
    1. It would be interesting to know precisely what it is that you dislike about the clues – “with” as an instruction to join things together, “MI6″=”agents”, or something else …
  6. I crashed and burned on the west side, after a fast start. This was my favourite of the week so far, as the surfaces are, almost without exception, superb; among my favourites are 13A, 16A, 25A, 26A (another topical ref.), 10D. But like jackkt, I can’t go past 22D as COD, as hidden &lits are a hard trick to pull off.

    Tom B.

  7. 21 minutes, which I’m quite pleased with as this was far from easy.

    I’m entirely with Tom B. I thought this a very classy puzzle with so many beautiful surfaces that I stopped ticking them after a while. They’re nearly all terrific. Among many contenders, I’ll plump for 8 LAERTES as my favourite. I’ve looked, but I can’t find anything to complain about.

  8. 8:55. That’s two in a row under 10 minutes so I’m feeling a bit smug. As others have said there was some really good stuff again. I really liked 1d and 16a . I have no problem with PLANT AGENTS or (d)APPLE(d) either, in fact I thought they were both excellent. I’ll give my vote as best of the bunch to 26a
  9. I found this an easy solve, just for a change this week, and finished in 21 minutes ( I very rarely get under this). 7 and 16 were the main hold-ups; everything else I found straightforward. Good clues. My picks are 16, 26, 4 and 22. 22’s very neat but I’ll go for 16 for the nice combination of convincing surface and a cryptic construction that was quite hard to unravel.
      1. That’s what I’ve got – 19a is first letters in Stock As Cook Regularly Avers, and 20 is CON(=prisoner),DONE(=accepted)
  10. And it certainly was. Another sub-10 finish for me, quite a surprise as my first run through of the acrosses accounted only for SACRA, ENRAGES and STRAIGHT-EDGE – fortunately the downs proved far more accessible.
    No real quibbles, although 1A features a shortened 3-letter component which is usually frowned upon. 7D is perfectly fair although there was the opportunity to start with “What MI6 may do to protect…” (i.e. PLANT AGENTS).
    Lots and lots of superbly smooth readings, difficult to pinpoint just one COD but I’m going for 9A RAT RACE.
    Q-0 E-9 D-7
  11. 40 minutes, so it couldn’t have been that difficult. However, only got 8ac using some Hamlet study notes, and was never really sure of the wordplay for 13ac / 16ac / 25ac / 7d / 18d until I came here. COD for me 24ac.
  12. Finished without aids for the second day in a row and in a reasonable time for me (around 25 minutes). This restored my confidence somewhat after Tuesday, when I lost patience with around a third of the puzzle to go. bc
  13. Solved in a clothing store while my girlfriend tried on clothes, so seemed longer than it probably was! Anyway, I finished it faster than she made up her mind. Funnily enough I got laertes immediately (he sprang to mind and ended in set) so definitely not one to “hold me up for a while.”
    1. While in the clothes shop did you put in ALGERIA at 18d then change into NIGERIA, then change to LIBERIA and then finally plump for the first one you tried?
      1. … worth bearing in mind that “For the love of Mike, will you please make up your mind! That one looks fine, honest. Surely you don’t need to try on absolutely everything in the shop?” has more than 7 letters.
        And I do wonder, Paul, if as your solving progressed the pressure of pen on paper gradually increased?
        1. Actually I have to admit that having printed out the crossword before going to the store does make the whole process a lot more enjoyable for both parties than sitting fuming with nothing to do.
  14. I also thought this very nice. Semi-raised eyebrow, perhaps, at “MI6” (and not “MI6, perhaps”) = “agents”, at the risk of re-igniting a thorny subject.
    But STRAIGHT-EDGE was my COD – and very topical with the A level results out today .
  15. No problems with this one, solved in just over 20 minutes. Getting 1A and 7D immediately helped a great deal. Works=PLANT is almost a knee jerk solve for me. Anything to do with “factory” immediately triggers: works; plant; shop; yard and mill. And I’m not going to rise to the MI6=AGENTS definition by example comment made earlier (but I had noticed it!). Can’t understand the fuss about ALGERIA, which fits the clue just fine.
  16. Fun and nice puzzle today which I thought was less difficult than the last two days. About 20 minutes for me, with PLANTAGENETS my last entry, as I was forever trying to fit ‘spies’ into it. I also didn’t get the plant=works part til coming here, thinking ‘plant agents’ was ‘works with MI6’, despite the incorrect verb tense; glad to see everyone else is more attentive. Regards. COD for me: STRAIGHT EDGE.
  17. Rather than solving my Times crossword in the shop whilst the memsahib tries on clothes I always let her go on her own and do the crossword at home or in the pub. Easy.

    I liked this one a lot and had none of the problems expressed above. I never even thought of Nigeria at 18d despite having spent over 5 years working there. I have never been to Algeria but I can read & understand most (certainly not all) cryptic clues.

    There are 10 “easies”:

    9a Gunners getting draw in competition (3,4)

    11a Teachers cover for fool (7)
    N.U.T. CASE. I’m not a fan of nut or nutcase = fool. We are surely Times crossword nuts but not fools? I’m not keen on pejorative terms for mental illness in general. I must be getting P.C. in my old age.

    19a Bones: principal ingredients of stock as cook regularly avers (5)
    S A C R A. First letters of the last 5/9ths of the clue.

    21a Infuriates sergeant terribly, failing to keep time (7)
    ENRAGES. Anagram of SERGEAN (T).

    24a I’ll search high and low for a cleaner (7)

    4d Project worth developing (5)
    THROW. Anagram of WORTH – as in “throw your voice”.

    5d Top solicitor with job in remote settlement (7)
    (T)OUT POST. Thanks to jackkt for that one – I could not see how Top Solicitor = OUT. Solicitor General what? You nearly got me there setter – it had to be OUT anyway.

    15d Group of pupils allowed running water (9)
    STREAM LET. A micro-beck?

    20d Prisoner accepted pardon (7)
    CON DONE. It is the done thing.

    22d Children’s programmes entertain me (5)
    SPROG. Hidden in clue.

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