Times 24,032 – a diamond in the rough

Solving time : 17 minutes, so no major hold-ups in another moderate Tuesday puzzle. Very even and perfectly pleasant solve for me, with some nicely disguised definitions. One archaic word, acknowledged as such in the clue, and a couple of references which might trouble the non-British among us (edit: or see revised 14 across for an explanation as to why not!) Q0-E5-D5.

1 HACK – double definition.
3 INIQUITOUS – 1 + NI + QUITO + US = “base”.
9 RETYPED – enti(RETYPED)igree.
11 ASTOUND – A(rm) + wicke(T) inside SOUND = “bowl over”.
12 BUCCANEER – U + C + CAN inside BEER
13 REAVE – centr(E) inside RAVE = an old word meaning “to rob”; putting Rob at the start so it was capitalised meant that I was certain this had nothing to do with Rob Roy, but couldn’t get him out of my head. As it happens, Scotland actually had some famous Reivers, though the spelling diverged.
14 COME A CROPPER – the necessary knowledge here is that a “busy” is Liverpool slang for a policeman, which may not be widely known outside the UK. (Wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t look at a puzzle or the internet while I was on holiday last week, so imagine my surprise when I do a catch-up after writing this, only to find that this reference was blogged by PB as long ago as, er, last Wednesday)
18 ROUGH DIAMOND – ROUGH sounds like “ruff”; the definition is somewhat contrived to fit the surface, but as always the proof of the clue is in the solving, and it was clear enough what it was getting at. Filmgoers of a certain age may also be put in mind of Sid James’ finest role.
21 OUNCE – very nice, not Australian, but the cat which shares a name with the abbreviated imperial measure.
26 SOLIDARITY – (I’DSOLITARY)*; if I’m being picky, it’s not ideal to have three anagrams in the space of four clues, is it?
27 KNOT – double def, a knot is a sort of wading bird.
1 HARDBACK – cryptic def.
4 NUDGE – = E.G. DUN: not a full-blown quibble, but it seems to me this would work as well, if not better, with an extra word, viz “A gentle reminder (def), such as debt-collector turns up”. Or am I missing something?
7 OCULAR – Last puzzle I blogged, I had to add a J to OCULAR to get to comic, now I have the reverse! (Incidentally, did I miss a development while I was on holiday last week, or is this the first time the web version has managed to put a number in the clue? Well done, anyway).
8 SODDEN – SOD = grass, DEN = earth, as in a fox’s lair..
15 REGULATOR – ROTA + LUGER upside down.
16 SOLUTION – SO + I in LUTON. Apparently it calls itself “London Luton” now, which is something of a triumph of marketing over geography. Meanwhile, UK solvers of my age or above may very well be unable to think of Luton Airport without thinking of this advert
19 MORASS – O(ther) R(anks) inside MASS.
20 ENTAIL – first letters of Everyone Needs To Attend It’s Life: well-disguised, this, I was thinking it would have to end -ALL, which held me up for a while.
23 SIGHT – a place that looks a sight, and sounds like site.

19 comments on “Times 24,032 – a diamond in the rough”

  1. 20 minutes, with 4 spent finding MORASS. Didn’t know KNOT as a bird, but it had to be that. Entertaining blog – thank you, Tim.

    Q-0, E-5, D-5

  2. Another one where I got a phone call in the middle of solving, so I didn’t get a time. Nice puzzle, missed the wordplay in COME A CROPPER, but eventually got it from checking letters. Similarly got NUDGE and REAVE from definition without wordplay.

    Not used to seeing CATACOMB as a singular

  3. Another very gentle puzzle. REAVE was new to me – like Tim I immediately thought of Rob Roy, but it became obvious from the wordplay once the down clues were in place.

    DRUPE was also a new one on me, although the answer was obvious.

    Not sure about KNOT = tether. Perhaps in the figurative sense of the marriage knot? (although per Basil Fawlty that’s more like manacles than a mere tether).

  4. Actually it could be something other than KNOT. I put KNIT, never having heard of a bird with either name. I concede that “tether” better fits KNOT though.

    Otherwise a fairly straightforward race through, like everyone else never having heard of REAVE but what else could it be?

  5. Have to be perfectly honest here – just didn’t like this one very much and there are question marks all over the place. Solved it in 9 minutes.

    11A feels very forced, Tim’s right to point out the glut of anagrams towards the end of the Acrosses, not least because they seem pretty weak anagrams as well, 1D doesn’t seem right (a tortoise is hard-backed, or has a hard back – “description of tortoise” doesn’t seem to be grammatically correct), and the use of “all” at 8D is unnecessary padding.

    Yesterday’s easy crossword I thought was an excellent puzzle for encouraging new solving lifeblood into cryptics. This one, I’m afraid, didn’t leave me feeling enthused.

    Q-3 E-4 D-6

    1. Despite sharing your lack of affection for this puzzle, I’ll offer a possible defense for the ‘all’ of 8. I read the ‘grass all over’ as the verb – to cover with grass. It’s routinely used in this part of Canada where we Brits would more likely use ‘turf’. My Canadian partner often expresses an urge to “sod the yard” – which are my feelings exactly.
      1. OK, I accept “grass all over” may be a verb def.

        But, apart from the aqueduct, sanitation, roads…

  6. Spent 40 minutes on this and then ran out of time on my commute with three unsolved at 13,20 and 21. I had spotted the RAVE element of 13 but didn’t know REAVE.

    Having arrived at work I found I had no access to the network so I stared at 20/21 for about 10 minutes and drew a complete blank. Needless to say when I cracked them using a solver I was appalled that I missed seeing these.

  7. 18 minutes – either I’m on some kind of a roll or we are being offered a very gentle start to the week.

    OCULAR and REAVE last to go in – I’d seen reave before but had forgotten it.

    I didn’t really have any quibbles with this – and didn’t find it any more or less enjoyable than yesterday’s. I can rarely predict when others will like or dislike a puzzle. I will work on this aspect!

  8. This was a terrific puzzle, although I did miss REAVE and couldn’t understand why COME A CROPPER worked. As I’m an Australian I reckon I can be forgiven for this.

    OUNCE was my favourite.

    I visit this site almost daily (this is my first post though) and not only has it been invaluable in understanding the cryptic crossword, it’s also very entertaining. Keep up the great work.

    PS. Tim – I love your formatting!

  9. Another very easy puzzle, less than 15 minutes to solve two days running, and much weaker than yesterday’s where some clues at least had merit. The run of clues today from 22A to 26A is a really poor collection. Thanks to Anax for helping the cause by pointing out the superfluous “all” in 8D, which even with the padding is still rather weak. All rather unsatisfactory.
  10. Astounded myself at 2 am by my first ever completion of the Times xword in under ten minutes (about 8’30”); that’s less than I took for the Times 2! Maybe the BBC4 programme about Colin Dexter, which I’d just watched, gave me inspiration!

    Enjoyable and very solvable despite the few slight weaknesses already mentioned by others, and a few of my own small quibbles: There’s an unnecessary “has” in 1ac which I found very slightly misleading. Pity that 11 needs “over arm” instead of the standard “overarm” in order to work. I’m sure the setter could have found a way of making “Oz” the first word of 21; and the unnecessary “assigns” in 24 misled me for a few seconds. Mere fluffy cirrus clouds in a blue sky.

    Last answers in: 7 and 8. COD: 2 (catacomb)


  11. 9.37. I was surprised to see (ID SOLITARY used as an anagram for SOLIDARITY. They’re just too similar. I agree that there’s a section of clues towards the end of the Acrosses where the setter doesn’t really seem to have been trying very hard.
  12. thought it was a fairly easy work out with some pleasing if simple clues….I liked how well Entail was hidden….
  13. Didn’t find this as easy as some – 11:37. I jotted down “Again!” under the use of ‘busy’ in 14A. I was also a bit wary about ‘play a lone hand’ – not a very familiar expression to me. Remember the knot folks, along with various other birds with useful names for setters.
  14. 21 minutes. COD for me 3 Ac.

    Had an unfair advantage with reave, as the Elliots along with the Armstrongs and other unsavory kinfolk were the notorious Border Reivers of the Middle Marches. Inventive though. We came up with a most effective system whereby we would sell stolen cattle back to the original owner, and for an additional consideration would guarantee not to lift them again. This little insurance package we termed blackmail.

  15. 35 minutes here, around 3 times longer than yesterday. Filled NW and SE very quickly but then got bogged down in the SW and took ages over reave and sodden.

    Q-1 (just general quibbleness all over, including the “all” in 8 despite Sotira’s gallant defence) E-6, D-7, COD ounce.

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