Times 24968

I can’t offer a solving time, I’m afraid. I’m feeling rather under the weather with a streaming cold. I stared at it for 30-40 mins last night, but I was too tired to give it the attention it deserved and went to bed with just two answers in place, having spent most of that time with my eyes closed! I got up early the following morning and managed to finish it in about another 40-45 minutes. I still feel very rough though, so other people’s times will better reflect the relative difficulty of the puzzle.

A lot of the answers went in without full understanding, probably 7 or 8 in total, and I had to work them out when writing the blog. I’m stil not sure I have all of them right, as several seem very weak. On edit: I think I have them all now, and on reflection I think they are all pretty solid. The weak ones were just me being slow-witted.

I have seen several comments already from people who thought this was wonderful, so I’m probably missing some of the cleverer bits. There were undoubtedly some very good clues here. I liked 1a, 2d, 3d & 13d to name but a few, but there were several others I was less keen on. Maybe I’m just grumpy because I’m ill.

cd = cryptic def., dd = double def., rev = reversal, homophones are written in quotes, anagrams as (–)*, and removals like this

1 KAMA SUTRA – rev hidden in pART USA MAKes, the reversal indicated by ‘progressing East-West’, and the definition is ‘relations work’. One of today’s better clues.
6 MIaMI + C – this is one of the clues where I had to work out the wordplay afterwards
9 R + A + VIOLIn
10 FLOUNCE – I guess you’d call this a dd. Flounce is a material used for edging, and a fluid ounce is an imperial unit of volume, usually abbreviated to fl. ounce as implied by ‘first part abridged’.
11 SABLE – I can only assume this is usable with the U removed from the start. But I can’t see any way that ‘can’ and ‘usable’ could be synonymous, so I’m probably missing something. Yes, I was. It’s IS ABLE without the I. I hadn’t thought about it being two words. Thanks to keriothe for putting me straight.
14 SH + initiativE – another one that went in without full understanding. Novel (3) is nearly always H. Rider Haggard’s She in my experience.
19 PEAk
20 FINLANDIA = F + AI rev about INLAND – a symphonic poem by Jean Sibelius
22 deliberately omitted
24 ODYSSEY = bODY’S + YES rev
26 SAY WHEN = (HAS NEW + Y)*
27 D + REAM – although the ‘to build pile, perhaps’ seems entirely redundant to me. A ream is a quantity of paper, so I’d have been quite happy with just ‘leaves’.
28 BANK + DR + AFT
1 KURDS = RD in S + UK rev
2 MO(V + AB)LE – I thought ‘source of leak’ was just going to be L, at first. It was only later that I realised it was MOLE.
3 SPOKEN + FORm – ‘One half of an item maybe’ is rather a good definition, I thought
4 THIN-SKINNED – I’m at a loss to explain this one. I can’t see where ‘judge’ comes in. Maybe ‘did wrong’ is SINNED, or maybe ‘case of killers’ is KS which is then ‘turned over’. Someone help me, please! Ah! I’ve just worked it out. I was nearly there. ‘Judge did wrong’ is THINK SINNED, then you turn over the KS (case of KillerS). Too clever for me, clearly!
5 ALF = even letters of hAs LiFt
6 MO(O)CHa
7 MO(NG)REL – MOREL is clearly another mushroom to add to my mental list (which only really had CEP in it before). I don’t really see what ‘us’ is doing there, other than improving the surface, but I think it spoils the definition a bit.
8 CLEPSYDRA = (CD PLAYERS)* – A old-fashioned (no longer used) water clock. Not a word I knew.
13 PRODIGAL SON = PRO (tart) + DIG (barb) + ALSO (too) + sterN
14 SANG-FROID = SANG + F + OR rev + ID
16 EAGLE-EYED = ‘EAD about GLEE + YE
18 VAN DYKE = V AND a + (KEY)*
19 PARTHIA = HI + A after PART
21 ASSAM, an Indian state = AM ASS the other way around
23 DO NUT – dd
25 Your Old Boots

44 comments on “Times 24968”

  1. I thought I’d just do this before I go out. It’s now 45 mins later and I have to leave it with about one third done. Dave, I wish you the best of luck!
  2. This was a peach. (Think I’ve got the rationales Dave if needed.) What a buzz! I salute the setter.
  3. Well done, Dave. I read 4dn as ‘THINK’ = ‘judge’ + ‘SINNED’ = ‘did wrong’, with the convoluted ‘turning over case of killers’ indicating that the two words overlapped over the ‘k’.

    Tentatively had ‘PINK FLOYD’ for 14dn (although this probably violates TIMES rules about living individuals, nothing else seemed to fit until SANG FROID came to mind)! SHE then went in on a hope and a prayer with no understanding at all. I did cheat for CLEPSYDRA.

  4. 22 minutes, and I’m firmly on the side of those who thought this was a top class puzzle*. Plenty of unravelling to be done, but all fairly clued.

    *(With the exception of SHE, which for some indefinable reason I find as annoying as the wretched gangster AL and actor TREE. Possibly sheer over-exposure over the last three decades.)

  5. I think this is reasonably difficult and I found it 25 minutes of quite hard going. Some of the definitions are very good (“relations work”) but some of the wordplay is a bit clunky (“Turning over case of killers”). Agree, there must be other ways of defining SHE other than by the overworked book. Overall, well done setter and hope you feel better soon Dave.
  6. Well SHE and YOB at least gave this solver a way in. I can only measure from when I started finishing these things regularly (18 months perhaps) but I am hard put to think of a puzzle that has given me so much pleasure, but then I am a sucker for inventive definitions: “Stop supply of drink”, “One half of an item”. Wonderful stuff. Thanks setter.
  7. 28 minutes. I thought this was a good puzzle and quite tricky but it didn’t strike me as particularly remarkable. A matter of taste I suppose.
    Unknowns: FLOUNCE, PARTHIA, CLEPSYDRA. The latter went in after an exercise in “which of these letters fits best in this gap?”.
    FLIP was unfamiliar but I think I’ve come across it before.
    Dave, 11ac is IS ABLE without the I. Get well soon!
  8. Relieved to see CLEPSYDRA was a word as it went in from the letters. PARTHIA from wordplay. Had to take a break in the middle, but 25 minutes or so.
  9. After a week of DNFs, I was determined to nail one, as Louis Walsh* might say, and managed to by the skin of my teeth, with CLEPSYDRA finally preferred to ‘clypsedra’, as FLOUNCE made more sense than ‘flouncy’. Lots of neat stuff here, including a couple of well disguised anagrams (12 and 26) and the ancient kingdom at 19. Just a couple of days after crowing about my Classical education, the Furies punished my hubris by making me enter ‘Oddysey’ at 24, thus stymying what I thought I knew must be VAN DYKE and then making me bemoan my lack of knowledge of Flemish painters. 83 minutes.

    * My daughter and I took advantage of the typhoon here yesterday to create our own Hitler ‘Downfall’ parody in honour of the X Factor.

  10. I found this very taxing and conceded defeat with the grid more than half empty. Some enjoyable surface readings – but I wasn’t up for the challenge.
  11. Blimey! One of those where I was surprised to finish in 22 minutes, so devious (and entertaining) both the cryptics and the definitions. Lots of post-inspiration/guess rationalising.
    KAMA SUTRA was almost my last in despite knowing for sure it was some sort of hidden, with that masterly euphemistic “relations work”.
    Lots of clues that would have been CoD’s in other crosswords. Let’s go for DONUT, the one that made me chuckle rather than just sweat.
  12. I thought this was an excellent puzzle which took me 50 minutes of hard solve without ever feeling that I was stuck for a moment. I might have described 4dn as a sort of variation on Dr Spooner. I think ‘us’ in 7ac refers to the setter and the solvers collectively, so the wordplay makes (for) us ‘cross’ (the definition). Well done, Dave, particularly in the circumstances.
  13. I had an experience very similar to Dave’s but without the cold as an excuse. Made very little progress for what seemed like an age, went away and did other things, came back and saw KAMA SUTRA, got the rest at a canter. A good quirky puzzle, with my COD vote to SAY WHEN.

    CLEPSYDRA was my last in, even though I see one quite regularly – there’s an impressive modern version in the shopping mall at Hornsby, to the north of Sydney, that cost $1 million to make, apparently.

    1. I’m not sure the Hornsby clock is a clepsydra – it’s certainly a bit more complicated than a water pot with a hole in it! I’ve never bothered to work out how to tell the time on it.
  14. When I finally got back to this it didn’t seem so hard as I first thought, and I finished it without much trouble. Must have woken up a bit. Lots of clever stuff if a little too clever in places. Pleased to say here were no unknowns, including CLEPSYDRA.

    I needed all the checkers for 18dn because I thought the artist was spelt VAN DYCK.

  15. Great puzzle, but although I almost managed it (put in ‘flouncy’ and ‘clypsedra’) without aids, there are still queries, even after reading your detailed blog, Dave.

    DONUT: I get that to ‘do your nut’ is to see red, and that a donut is a ‘ring’, but what’s all this about the Atlantic? It must be something very clever, as it seems choice for several CoDs

    ALF: why: ‘along the way’? Just to make it a smoother surface?

    ODYSSEY: Hull=body of ship, I presume, but why the capital H? I thought it was something to do with Mr Rod Hull! (Rody to his mates?).

    Quite a few unknowns made this a bit of a slog, but on the whole I found this one of the more satisfying puzzles of late. Loads of contenders for CoD, but I’ll plump for THIN SKINNED.

    Have a good weekend everyone – think our fab weather here in the UK is meant to last till next week!

    1. dictionary.com says DONUT is the U.S. spelling of doughnut, Janie. Can’t help you with ‘along the way’ though, sorry!
    2. I just read ‘along the way’ as extra padding.

      Hull is just a surface reference to the city in Humberside. As I understand it, it’s OK to add capital letters, but not to remove them.

  16. A real challenge. Thanks Dave Perry for all the explanations. I had a very long list of clues I needed parsing.SAY WHEN is my COD.
    1. V is a standard abbreviation for vide, which is Latin for see. It’s used in reference books to refer the reader somewhere else.
  17. Another puzzle of mid-range difficulty for me. Roughly same time as yesterday’s, 41 minutes. Much of the time I was filling the blanks on instinct rather than solving the clues, adding some question marks where the wordplay wasn’t all immediately clear to me (1, 11, 13, 19).
    The reversed hidden KAMA SUTRA was very neat and I only realised it was hidden in a post-solve scrutiny. I also liked 4 and 20. What a pity about the clue for SHE. It’s time SHE’s retired. Nine times out of ten the answer to a clue to a three-letter answer that begins or ends with “novel” is SHE. Far too predictable. In this case the clue’s surface was rather good, but it was almost wasted on me as I didn’t bother to read beyond the first word.
  18. 33 minutes. Super, smashing, marvellous as Jim Bowen would say.

    Put me down as another who can’t spell odyssey correctly at the first attempt. I’ve moaned in the past about obscure foreign words being clued as anagrams but in the case of clepwhatsit today I’ll let that pass as I could only see one likely possibility.

    I’ll give my COD gong to donut as well but there were many contenders.

    Thanks setter and well done/get well soon Dave. If you’ve got the same lurgy I had last week it was a bit like a microwave cold and came on in a flash, crammed all the symptoms into a very short period and then went away just as quickly so you’ll be better before you can get your clepsydra out of its box.

  19. Most enjoyable puzzle of the week for me. I found it difficult to start, with only KAMA SUTRA and MIMIC going in in the first 20 minutes, and I thought it might be a DNF. But once I got going the rest took around 40 minutes, finishing in just under an hour with CLEPSYDRA, which needed all the checkers in before I dredged it from my memory (it has appeared before, either in The Times or The Independent). Agree that SHE has been overused, but I thought this was one of the better clues for it.
  20. I didnt know Clepsydra either!
    finished though in under the hour enetered on web site and must have made a typo as came up with one wrong…frustrating!
  21. I’m with the group that liked this. Took me about 45 minutes, ending with SHE, SANG FROID and DREAM all together. I’m thankful that the CLEPwhatzit was an anagram, or it wouldn’t be gettable by me. COD to KAMA SUTRA, but the entire NW was pretty good including, for me today, the clue for SHE. Nicely done for something that, yes, has appeared enough to be a cliche, but today’s version is entertaining. Regards to all, thanks to the setter, and Dave. Hope you feel better shortly.
  22. Clepsydra was my first one in. Strange that. Think it was an answer earlier this week in “The Chase” or “Eggheads”.


  23. The clue ([wordplay]… being collected) leads to an adjective. Sang-froid is a noun I assume. How does this work, then?
    1. In this case “being collected” is a gerund (or verbal noun) rather than an adjective and so can mean the same as SANG-FROID.
  24. 15:03 here for one of those puzzles where I took ages to find the setter’s wavelength – but I offer him or her my compliments for some wonderfully clever stuff.
  25. 42 minutes, with many solutions going in without my understanding why until afterwards. And indeed, for 13d, 16d, & 23d, I didn’t understand until reading Dave’s blog. I liked 9ac, 20ac, and 4d especially, but my COD goes to 1ac.
    No point in asking at this time, no doubt, but is anyone else having trouble logging on to the Crossword Club? Firefox tells me they can’t vouch for the site’s security.
    1. The cecurity certificate has expired, a typical sort of problem for that ramshackle website! Tell FF to treat it as an exception.
    2. I had to manually import the certificate last week, and told the tech people it was about to expire. Looks as though that was a waste of time.
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