Times 24992

Solving time: 47:51, which felt like quite a good time. In fact at the time of writing, with the crossword having been online for some two hours, there is still only one sub 40 minute time on the leader board.

Some quite devious tricks amongst this lot, and very little that could be considered obvious, so it’s tricky to pick any to omit from the blog. Overall, I found this an enjoyable challenge. I think POLYGLOT gets my COD as the pick of the bunch.

I do have a couple of disputes, however, with 3 & 4 down, both of which I have covered below – and both of which can be put down to the limitations of my dictionary.

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

1 BRIEF + EN + COUNTER – David Lean’s classic 1945 romantic drama.
10 WHIRL = doctoR in WHILe – ‘in the course of’ = WHILE, ‘short’ = without the last letter, ’rounds’ is the containment indicator
11 DIRGE = EG (for one) + RID (shot) all rev
12 HOT SPRING – It took me a while to decrypt this one. I was expecting Spooner to be a reference to the verbally confused reverend, but it isn’t. ‘Spooner’s helping’ = TSP for teaspoon, in H (hospital) + O / RING (circles)
13 NOSE CONE = CO (poisonous gas – carbon monoxide) in (SEEN ON)*
15 rev hidden
17 BIG + AMY – I suspect I’ve seen all four of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women crop up at some point or other, so it’s worth remembering them. They are Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy.
19 TOR + TILL + A
22 TARKOVSKY – another one that I didn’t break down until afterwards. It’s TV + SKY (satellite broadcaster) about ARK (box) + O (over, a standard cricket abbreviation). Andrei Tarkovsky was a much respected Russian film director.
23 SYLPH = alt letters of cHaP oLd YeS reversed
24 tEXtILE
25 ILL TEMPER = LL (lines) in ITEM (article) + PER (a)
2 INWARDS = IN WORDS but with an A for the central O
3 FORCE – dd presumably, although I’m not really sure how fall & force are synonymous. A force is a waterfall, apparently. Thanks to the various people who pointed it out.
4 NEIGHING = WEIGHING with the initial letter changed from W (west) to N (north). I remain entirely unconvinced, though, that a punch is a type of horse. There is a breed of shire horse called the Suffolk Punch, but as far as I can tell, this is just a breed name and the two words cannot be treated independently. It is indeed a type of horse, if one looks in the right dictionary.
5 OF NOTE = (OFTEN + O)*
6 NEWSPRINT – a ‘new sprint’ is not an ancient marathon
7 ELITIST = LIT in hEIST, lit being a slang term for drunk that I haven’t come across before
14 COMMONER + Assent
16 POLYGLOT – another one that might need some explanation. ‘Interpreter, potentially’ is the definition, ‘good’ = G, ‘one with Dutch looking back’ = LOT (Dutch is a cockney term for wife, so this is a reference to the biblical account of Lot’s flight from Sodom where his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt), and ‘college once’ = POLY.
18 GERAINT = REG (what’s on a plate for motorist) reversed (needing lift) + AIN’T (isn’t commonly), the ‘available’ is just padding
20 LILY PAD = (ALL DIY)* about Provide
21 deliberately omitted

61 comments on “Times 24992”

  1. 40:30, and it just goes to show that one can get high on the leaderboard (temporarily, at least) if one solves the puzzle early enough.

    I got off to a bad start, having read through the clues solving any of them. I hadn’t heard of BRIEF ENCOUNTER, TARKOVSKY and GERAINT but they weren’t too hard to guess with plenty of checking letters.

    Chambers gives FORCE=a waterfall for 3dn, and also has punch=a short-legged draught horse … (also Suffolk punch)

  2. … but worth every one of them. And thanks to Dave for several cryptics I didn’t see … POLYGLOT in particular; “one with Dutch looking back” is a bit OTT though. Good to have a Times to do after a week in the bush.
  3. Terrific puzzle, which put me through the wringer – I eventually finished in 112 minutes. Thanks to Dave for HOT SPRINGS and STRAIGHT AS A DIE (I saw ‘A SADIE’, but was too worn down to find the rest). Ticks against NEWSPRINT and SPECS, but COD to the brilliant POLYGLOT. I will think of this next week no doubt when I’m down Sodom way.

    Should have seen force = waterfall, as I’ve come across a few while walking in the Lakes. I think the word may be used further south in the Yorkshire Dales too.

  4. Well done on this one, Dave. I was at panic stations within 5 minutes at the very thought that it could so easily have been my Friday to blog it. In fact it took me 8 minutes to find a clue that I could actually solve (at 8dn). After that it was very slow but steady progress until I ground to a halt after an hour with about 6 answers missing all in the top half apart from the film director. One of my problems was thinking TWIRL at 10ac and wasting ages trying to justify it.

    At 80 minutes I gave up on the final unsolved clue at 22ac and looked up the Russian of whom I have never heard. In trying to unravel the wordplay I should have spotted that TV was separate from the ‘satellite broadcaster’ cluing SKY.

    But despite all the difficulties encountered along the way, the puzzle was an absolute cracker. One of the best we’ve had for ages.

  5. 32 minutes though Googled for Tarkovsky at the very end. Shouldn’t have had to. Helped somewhat by getting the perimetric clues early. Lot seems a stretch but worth it for the ‘looking back’ I suppose. I’d call this one tricky but not super fiendish, to adopt the Mind Games Times page terminology. Some clever surfaces.
  6. Getting the long ones round the outside qucikly made this a rapid solve up to the point where I had three left – Tarkowsky, hot spring and neighing, which took me as long to fill in as the whole of the rest of the grid. 22mins in all. This is a fine puzzle and 9ac in particular is as slick a clue as you could ever hope to see.
      1. My pleasure, Mc.. very interesting to experience the hurly-burly of the daily blog, as opposed to the stately backwater of the Club Monthly.. hope to do it again some time
  7. 41:54, held up for I don’t know how long by NEIGHING (I should have realised that with a maybe and a perhaps in there, it was going to be tricky); for ages, realising it had something to do with horses, I was convinced it must end -HAND.

    You wouldn’t want to see one of these every day (especially when you might be the blogger – well done, Dave) but it’s good to have the occasional puzzle that requires a lot of chewing over, even at the risk of having more DNFs than usual. Plus, it makes the online leaderboard look authentic for a change, though presumably the likes of potterman will eventually solve even this one and claim another sub-3 minute time.

    Anyway, lots of hard staring followed by sudden penny-dropping, for which I tip my hat to the setter.

  8. I thought this was a superb puzzle with 9ac as the best anagram clue I can remember. Regrettably I failed on Tarkovsky though as he is unknown to me and, like others, I had already ‘used up’ the tv bit thinking it was just part of sky, ie tv sattelite broadcaster. More like this puzzle please!
      1. Edwardian is 9ac in my copy downloaded from the club. The blogged grid seems to have a different numbering system!
  9. DNF. Agreed, lots of brilliant stuff in here but I was brought down, principally, in SW: did not know TARKOVSKY and could not reconcile GERAINT with the wordplay. And, even with all the checkers, TORTILLA never entered my mind as a ‘pancake’ and I got nowhere near cracking the wordplay.

    So thanks, Dave, for a super blog to match the crossword. Even though I entered HOT SPRING, I’d got nowhere your full parsing, etc …

    1. TORTILLA clued as a pancake has come up before, and it caught me out the last time. The first thing that comes to my mind when you say the word is a Spanish omelette, and I don’t think the other sort of TORTILLA is really a pancake. Pancakes are cakes. They have eggs in them. A TORTILLA is a type of flat bread. However Collins defines a TORTILLA as a “kind of thin pancake” and I believe the word actually means “little cake”. I guess etymology trumps cookery.
  10. Probably a bit revealing to query but I had ASKING at 21 with 1 of 7 question marks, plus I didn’t understand the PER bit in 25?
    3 hours to arrive at a completed grid although this did include periods considering various alternative early morning activities that might be better for my ego.
    1. Hi Barry. Whichever one I left out today was probably going to be queried by someone. It was one of those days! ASKING is a dd – ‘Bringing an appeal’ = ASKING, and ‘regal’ = AS KING.
        1. I agree with you, Jim, that the deliberate omission of the odd clue or two seems fairly pointless on a puzzle like today’s, but that is the accepted practice of this blog for reasons that have been gone over many times before, and until someone tells me otherwise I’m happy to persevere with it. I do include every clue for the Sunday & Jumbo puzzles that I write blogs for, as these have already had their solutions published.
          1. Hmmm. Is this perhaps the time to discuss a possible amendment to the constitution?

            Speaking personally, I gave up on the practice some time ago with no observable effect – a) I didn’t mention that I was doing so, and b) nobody appeared to notice. Having a look back at the early days, I think that custom and practice have changed: for a typical daily puzzle five years ago, a blogger might only pick out a dozen or so tricky clues for analysis, leaving people to bring up others in comments if necessary. I imagine this is because there were fewer bloggers back then (and in fact just the one blogger, of course, if you go back far enough), whereas these days we spread the workload more evenly, and each of us presumably feels able to devote more time to their more manageable share of it. Anyway, I can see the point of leaving gaps if you’re only analysing one clue in three; but I must admit it seems perverse to blog 28 or 29 clues and not finish the job by doing one more…

            1. I’d also happily sign up to change the constitution just so long as it doesn’t bring the whole edifice crashing down around us. I don’t know who would have the final say. I know Andy coordinates etc but is the group account in Peter’s name so we might need his agreement? Perhaps we can discuss it further amongst ourselves?
              1. I’d be quite happy to blog every clue, like I do for the weekly/fortnightly ones. But I’d be interested to hear Andy’s opinion. I guess he should have the final say.
                1. For the sake of completeness lets state that leaving out clues is based upon a false logic. The argument for it assumes that a solver both (a) knows about this blog and (b) also phones the Times Solution Line. That would be completely irrational behaviour. Why pay the Times when the solution is available here free of charge?
  11. 33 minutes.
    Lots of brilliant stuff in here. I think “one with Dutch looking back” is magnificent, for instance. And there’s some very cunning misdirection, such as the use of Spooner in 12ac.
    I wondered about “fall”, and I also thought “measure of boxer” in 4dn was “weigh-in” and wondered where the G came from. But of course it’s “getting measure of boxer”. Fortunately I remembered punch from puzzles past.
    My last in was TARKOVSKY. I’ve never heard of him so it needed careful construction from wordplay. Again there is deviousness here. “Over” is not, as I thought, a reversal indicator. And having got onto the wavelength of this devious setter it took me ages to see that TV is just… TV.
    Superb puzzle, thanks setter.
  12. This was too much for my brain on a Friday night. I led myself astray with TWIRL and HOT WIRING, which made NEWSPRINT well nigh impossible. POLYGLOT had a neat definition, even though the combination of Cockney and Biblical reference meant the cryptic might as well have been written in Dutch as far as I was concerned. On the other hand FORCE was no problem for a former resident of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

    BIGAMY came as a relief at 17; with a couple of checkers in place I thought for one shocking moment we were going to have a repeat of BOSOMY.

    1. As an erstwhile objector to BOSOMY, I should say I’ve nothing against the object/state (sadly) or the wordplay. It’s just an ugly word. Glad to have that off my chest …
  13. 25 minutes to be left with an unknown and unbeatable Russian director and 20 minutes later resorting to google but still none the wiser. Thanks for very clear blog to explain this and other difficulties. Btw off to High Force in Teesdale this sunny afternoon fishing for grayling so that one at least was obvious to me!
  14. A little under 22 minutes, but ruined by late-night, post-concert carelessness on two clues. One of them was TARTOVSKY (which, personally, I prefer).

    [taking deep breath because my attempts at logical analysis usually end in tears here] I’m never quite happy with the syntax in clues like the one for TARKOVSKY. It’s not really ‘TV satellite broadcaster’ which carries the ‘box over’. It’s ‘TV’ which does that. Wouldn’t there be more logic in:

    ‘needs TV to carry box before receiving satellite broadcaster’?


    ‘needs box installed in TV before getting satellite broadcaster’?

    Just asking.

    Fine puzzle. Loved BRIEF ENCOUNTER.

    1. I see the point but I don’t personally have a problem with the syntax: you just have to consider “TV satellite broadcaster” as a single phrase and therefore TVSKY as a single, er, word, and be aware that the insertion can happen anywhere.
      More importantly though you would lose the need to lift and separate “TV satellite broadcaster”, which is one of the best things about the clue.
      1. Told you I’d regret it. Yeah, it probably passes me by most of the time. It just makes untangling the wordplay doubly tricky in a clue like this, especially if you know you don’t know the name involved, and especially especially if it’s Russian.
        1. Indeed. And especially especially especially if the “box” is an ARK, which is a bit like calling the crucifix a bit of wood.
  15. I’m always surprised when I find a puzzle relatively easy and others find it hard and, more often, when I find it hard and others find it easy! I got held up by the HOT SPRING/NEWSPRINT crossing (cleverly misdirected into looking for a spoonerism)but otherwise found this quite straightforward. A hugely enjoyable 30 minutes. It helped to have heard of TARKOVSKY and to live among the GERAINTs.
  16. 27:38, with the last 5 minutes spent constructing the unknown TARKOVSKY (22ac).  Other unknowns were STRAIGHT AS A DIE (26ac) and the Suffolk punch (4dn NEIGHING), which must have bolted from my mind since it last came up.

    Lots to like here, but one apparent howler: given that SPECS (23dn) is a noun, it could just about be defined as “help with seeing“, but it can’t be defined as “help to see” any more than it could be defined as “assistance to see“, because (unless I’m missing something) these aren’t intelligible as noun phrases.  (I’m discounting the possibility that the Times would allow a verb phrase to define a noun, as in “loves wine” for OENOPHILE.)

    1. “Help to see” seems to me intelligible enough as a noun phrase – at any rate I parsed the clue correctly at a first read-through, though it still took me a ridiculously long time to come up with the answer.
  17. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to find this tough. As I was interrupted by two phone calls I lost track of time, but at least 50 minutes, more likely over an hour, with SPECS as my final, very tentative entry. I liked a number of clues, but particularly admired the anagram in 8, the reverse concealment in 15 and the wordplay in 16.
  18. 31:11 but I have to confess to cheating to get old Tarko. Thanks to Dave for unravelling the (to me) ununravellable wordplay of several of today’s clues.

    Early doors I got the right and bottom long answers but they weren’t half as helpful as the other two would have been at that stage.

    I’ve been to both Aysgarth Force and Hardraw Force in the Dales so I saw 3d quickly enough. I have to say I’m surprised at the lack of familiarity with Brief Encounter. Where else does one learn how to remove grit from a lady’s eye?

    COD to Geraint which I expected to be rarebit.

    Super puzzle.

    1. I’ve only ever heard it called Aysgarth Falls, but Google does throw up some references to Aysgarth Force. Whatever, it’s one of those words that came over to the North with the Vikings, like thwaite and gill.
  19. I coudn’t parse a few of them. So thanks and well done Dave.Polyglot put in on sight, but Lot is pushing it a bit for me..
  20. Very busy today so tried to do this quickly – big mistake. Had to put it to one side unfinished and return some hours later

    A difficult puzzle I think with lots of very clever stuff a great deal of which had to be worked out after finishing. Interested to see that people admire the use of “dutch” as a direct substitution for “wife” with no indication of slang usage. So far as I know Lot was not from the East End so this could be considered a bit of a stretch. At the same time ‘eist is clued as “East End” although it is not a word that the average barrow boy would use

    1. Points taken, but the clue is already almost in the form of an essay, and lengthening it or adding inverted commas would have ruined it, no? Vivent these quirky clues that many love and others are a little irked by!
  21. Tough slog for 100 minutes. Probably could have broken 90(!!) if I hadn’t entered GAWAINT for the Welshman. Not sure why I thought a motorist would have a WAG on a plate. Guess I didn’t think it through.
    1. I have to say this apsect gave me pause for thought, but I’m unable to blame this for more than 3 of my 112 minutes.
  22. Well, that was some kind of puzzle. I don’t have a time since I settled down with this puzzle in front of the baseball World Series, and last night’s game was even better than this puzzle, so I was only reading clues between innings. But it certainly would have been over an hour, as the only things I saw on the first read were ASKING and COMMON ERA. And, at the end, I needed aids for the Russian. To me this was a difficult puzzle due to very tricky wordplay including some obscurities like the Lot and punch, but very entertaining. I agree, as said above, that the EDWARDIAN clue is one of the best anagram clues we’ve seen, and the succinctness of the 1A surface is admirable. Thanks and kudos to Dave for unravelling the wordplay, and to the setter. Regards.
  23. I thought this was utterly brilliant. It was joint effort with a work colleague and plenty was unexplained until coming here – e.g. POLYGLOT: I just kept thinking ‘but a polyglot isn’t an interpreter,’ though now I understand the ‘potentially’ and Lot’s wife reference I’m marvelling at the clue! I didn’t get 18dn and 17ac. The latter I’d figured was connected to Little Women, though I was also half-wondering if we were in for BOSOMY/S two days running.
  24. 13:36 for me – horribly sluggish in parts but reasonably brisk in others, so perhaps things are returning to normal after last Saturday. Like Falooker, I was helped by knowing TARKOVSKY: with T‑R‑‑‑‑‑Y in place, I felt fairly sure he was going to be the answer so bunged him in and then worked out the wordplay. I still find it a little surprising that so many people haven’t heard of him, but, as a competitive solver, I welcome this sort of thing as balancing all the foodie stuff that I’ve never heard of.
  25. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to struggle with this one! Had a real battle on my hands – three-quarters in after 20 minutes, but another 15 to finish and two or three of those from the definition only, so thanks to Dave for sussing out the wordplay for NOSE CONE, POLYGLOT and GERAINT where I couldn’t be bothered 🙂
  26. I missed the reference to “verbally” here and took a second definition as “in wards” after a heart transplant. Got the right answer though.
    Excellent puzzle. I screwed up on specs though and put in steps (to help see over a wall maybe)
    John D
  27. Finished it after a struggle (but got the director a bit wrong). However I needed this blog to unravel no fewer than 13 clues, so many thanks to you lot for the discussion.

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