Times 24,953

Timed at 26:29; I found myself terribly bogged down in the NW corner at the end, though as so often happens, filling in one correct answer unblocked the whole thing in a rush. The puzzle had plenty of wit, anyway, regardless of my shortcomings in solving it.

1 VENICE – European in [Very NICE]. And it is a very attractive city, of course.
10 INTRIGUER – double def.
11 CUPPA – Consumed + UP + PA, &lit.
13 IMMERSE – MM in (I + ERSE). MM in a financial context means “millions” (i.e. 1000 x 1000), but in the world of crossword clues, it could just as easily be represented by “thousands”.
14 CELLO – CELL + 0.
23 UNHITCH – HIT in lUNCH without the Liberal. Lift-and-separate required for the “Free meal”, because we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Nice clue.
25 RADICLER.A. + (EL CID)rev.
26 ERASE – Resistance in EASE.
28 OUTLAWRY – [Western Rex] in OUTLAY.
29 PLAYER – Piano LAYER, with good misdirection from the double meaning of “on the wing”.
1 VOIDANCEDAN in VOICE. I was held up by trying to insert an anagram of MAN, rather than the real answer. Mmmm…cow pie.
2 NATURAL – double def.; “natural heir” has a specific meaning in law, meaning heirs closely related by blood. That closeness doesn’t make inheritance “certain”, of course, but in the modern, non-legal, usage it usually signifies an inevitable sequence, as in “David Cameron is the natural heir to Tony Blair”.
3 CLIMB DOWN – (I’M B.D.) in CLOWN. The Doctor of Divinity is far more common in crosswords than the Bachelor, but only because DD appears more often in the middle of words than BD.
5 FORBIDDEN FRUIT – cryptic def.
6 LOCUM – (MU + COL)all rev.
8 THALERminT + HALER; from which comes the more modern “dollar”.
9 HUNTER GATHERER – HUNTER (=watch) + GATHERER (i.e. one who understands). What we did before farms.
16 PARADISAL – (AD in PARIS) + A Lake.
17 STREAMER – (TERMSARE)*. A streamer is a headline which runs across a full page width.
19 ATHWART – [Hospital in AT WAR] + argumenT.
22 TUXEDO – (EX)rev. in [T.U. DO.]
24 THETA – effecT HE TAxed; the first letter of Themistocles in the original Greek is not a T (tau), but a Θ (theta).

28 comments on “Times 24,953”

  1. Enjoyed this one, about average time c15m.
    I thought the sense of “natural” referred to in 2dn was as in “R Federer is a natural” ie certain to be successful
    re 24dn, I wrote this in happily without thinking of tau at all.. am I the only one here without fluent Greek? The schools I went to didn’t even offer it!
  2. Got all but one… and that one was ESPARTO. I read it as an anagram of ‘in ropes’ and ended up with ‘espirno’.

    Didn’t get the ‘natural heir’ ref, just assumed that if someone ‘was a natural (at)’ they were certain to succeed.

    Good puzzle. Only unknowns, other than the grass, were THALER and RADICLE, but they were gettable.

  3. 14 minutes.
    A smattering of unknowns today (RADICLE, ESPARTO, OUTLAWRY “hunter” as a watch) and one word (THALER) I know but only from crosswords. Otherwise a fairly straightforward but very tidy puzzle I thought. I wondered about “absorb” for IMMERSE but in the sense of being immersed/absorbed in work it’s fine by me.
    I thought “this writer’s” in 13ac was I’M, and “millions” just M. Works either way!
    1. No, I think it only works your way. The other way requires the ‘s to be “has” in the cryptic grammar and then that grammar’s in the “what’s wrong with this sentence” category. Not that grammar or Greek are my strong points.
      1. I do think it just about works: “this writer’s language” would be OK for IERSE. It’s clumsier though and two (an unspecified number) Ms for “millions” is loose.
      2. Actually on second thoughts can “millions” (as opposed to “million”) be just M? Doesn’t it have to be more than one M?
        Now I’m confused. I think the answer’s right though.
  4. Got this in dribs and drabs during breaks in the pub quiz. THALER, ESPARTO and RADICLE from wordplay, HUNTER-GATHERER from checking letters, everything else fell into place pretty quickly.
  5. Nothing too demanding here, but it took me 45 minutes. I also found the NW corner the trickiest, particularly 1dn, 2 and 10. 5 is probably old hat, but it was my last in, despite the heavy hint of “possibly?” at the end of the clue. The cryptic device used in 24 has suddenly become very popular in the Times puzzles.
  6. 25 minutes for me so I was pleased with myself, particularly solving in the middle of the night after Djokovic vs Nadal. I think I knew all the words and got all the references for once. THALER I first met in Der Mond by Carl Orff although that may not have had an H in it. It was a long time ago.
    1. From a long-time lurker, who often doesn’t finish…

      …ditto to all that’s been said. Stuck on 1d & 10a, eventually used aids for INTRIGUER whence VOIDANCE immediately fell. Otherwise a nice crossword with some decent surfaces, and not too hartd or obscure.

      Thought R. Federer, didn’t know of NATURAL heirs, or RADICLE and ESPARTO but guessed them all. Vaguely knew THALER, thought OUTLAWRY wasn’t a word but wrote it in from the cryptic. Saw hidden THETA and didn’t even think of tau (jerrywh, I suspect vinyl is the only one fluent in Greek, I only know the letters from mathematics and physics).

      Liked CUPPA, and AFFLUENT was a difficult anagram to find.

  7. 40 minutes of steady progress. I agree the surfaces here are splendid and witty. The best of them is AFFLUENT, I think, but take your pick. Afflence always reminds me of the Paris Metro signage “En cas d’affluence, ne pas utiliser les strapontins” which I think means the rich should use the best seats.
  8. Took a while to get started – that NW corner was pretty opaque. I liked the illicit date once the penny dropped, and the resulting chuckle makes it my CoD.
    Would anyone like a primer in Greek? Two more morsels today, perhaps a further hint that education has slipped a long way since we were expected to parse Aeschylus in the Lower Remove.
    I too parsed IMMERSE as I’m M Erse, taking that ἀπόστροφος to indicate the missing A. and yes, I know it doesn’t really mean apostrophe in this sense.
  9. A pleasant 30 minute solve with SW presenting most difficulties and ATHWART my LOI. Knew ESPARTO from somewhere (although not used, it seems, on golf courses – my usual source of information about grasses) and my knowledge of Greek could cope with today’s demands. I was part of the R. Federer school for ‘natural’: thanks, tim, for the blog, in particular the gloss on both NATURAL and THETA (including the blog, my total of Greek morsels is three).
  10. 7:01, finishing with the unknown RADICLE (25ac).  Also unknown were OUTLAWRY (28ac) and STREAMER as a headline (17dn), while ESPARTO (7dn), THALER (8dn), and PARADISAL (16dn) were unfamiliar.

    For anyone who was expecting this, yes, I did notice the dubious use of “without” in 26ac (ERASE), though I won’t labour the point again.  And it’s a shame that the &lit. in 11ac (CUPPA) was botched by the inclusion of a word (“One”) that didn’t belong to the wordplay, especially as this could have been avoided e.g. by starting with “Might it be”.  Otherwise, though, I thought this was a great puzzle.

    Clue of the Day: 3dn (CLIMB-DOWN), which I solved from its first word alone and was amused to read afterwards.

  11. 21:11. Unknowns for me were THALER, ESPARTO, OUTLAWRY AND RADICLE.

    I, too, toyed with ESPIRNO but managed to convince myself that the cryptic grammar didn’t quite support the use of in ropes as the fodder.

    Desperate Dan came to me quite easily as I went to a fancy dress party at the weekend where the theme was “D” and there were two of him.

  12. Thought 1 ac was weak. Thought 22 dwn was smart. And Forbidden Fruit a delicious play on “date”.
  13. I agree with all the previous comments, and enjoyed a very fair but taxing puzzle, ending just over the hour.
    I have a slight quibble over RIVET for BOLT. The latter has a thread while the former does not, though I can see the attraction of the very neat surface.
    “Without” meaning “outside” seems fair enough, as in “There is a green hill far away, without a city wall.”
    I do like this grid, where every word has at least three checkers.
    1. If you think about it, “There is a green hill far away, without a city wall” doesn’t provide the slightest justification for the cruciverbal use of “without” to mean “surrounding”.  My three posts here make the point in more detail; if that’s not enticing enough, they culminate in a suggestion for a parlour game.
  14. Got up early and had this solved in 20 minutes. Started to write the blog when my wife asked why I was doing it two weeks running – I’m getting worried about me! Had to go out before the real blog appeared.

    Easy puzzle which my mathematics based Greek could cope with. Personally I’m fluent in COBOL – can we expect clues in that language soon?

    1. This regularly happens to me on the alternate Tuesdays. Except when I think it’s Monday and simply don’t post a blog at all. Perhaps I need to get my midlife crisis out of the way, so I can devote myself to my senior moments more fully.
    2. Yes, it’s worrying, isn’t it, Jim? Take comfort that at least you didn’t actually post it up out of turn as I have been known to do!
    3. Oddly, I am in a pause while working on a program in my favourite language, Delphi. Don’t worry Jimbo, us 69ers can still cut the mustard, even if the odd bagatelle sometimes slips by.
  15. Very enjoyable, though I needed a bit over an hour. Some elaborate and quite witty clues, and of course a few requiring lucky guesses (RADICLE couldn’t really be anything else, but ESPARTO just seemed more likely than anything using IS or IN rather than AT, and also, the word AT wouldn’t really have been necessary if it wasn’t part of the anagram). As for THALER, well it used to be the local currency where I live a century and a half ago. By the way, it still is the local currency in the German version of Duckburg (called Entenhausen, of course).
  16. 11:03 for me – should have been faster but tiredness slowed me down.

    keriothe and others are quite right about “this writer’s” = “I’m”. It’s probably the same setter who came up with “Letter from Jerusalem in set that includes this writer’s (5)” (answer: GIMEL) earlier in the year.

  17. Not a difficult crossword, I thought, despite the abundance of unusual words (intriguer, radicle, outlawry, voidance, paradisal, thaler). But I made it difficult for myself by blithely entering ARROW at 20ac. Well yarrow is a shrub, isn’t it, and an arrow is certainly a bolt.
  18. 59 minutes, with undue time taken in the NW; I mean, I thought of ‘combo’ long before CELLO; I ask you. You solvers of the British persuasion should know that in every session of the House of Commons a
    ‘A Bill for the more effectual preventing clandestine Outlawrie’ is introduced after the Speech from the Throne and before any other business. Never read, of course never debated; its only point is to make the point that the Commons can do what it damn well pleases.

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