Times Crossword 23975

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 15.44

After yesterday’s doommongering I was braced for a really tough puzzle. I definitely found this harder than the last couple of days, but overall it wasn’t too bad, despite a nasty moment when I had three entirely separate islands of unsolved clues in the NE, SE and SW corners. The SW was the last to crack.


  FIBONACCI (fab + iconic)*. Got off to a good start by seeing this straightaway. I had no idea till I just Wiki’ed him how long ago Fibonacci actually lived (1170-1250 or thereabouts).
  PACE, D. PACE here is the Latin word used before a name to express polite disagreement.
  ST, RIG, IL(l). A scraper used by the Romans after their Roman baths.
  YARDIES – “light from east” = RAY reversed, + DIES. Yardies are West Indian gangsters.
  SP(LEND O)UR. This took a while, though I suspected this was the construction – I just didn’t see either SPUR or LEND until I had quite a few crossing letters.
  WASTE – sounds like waist, with “of the ear” indicating the soundalike. Again here I guessed how the clue worked quite a while before I saw the answer, which needed all the crossing letters.
  ON ONE’S TOD – (o + do sonnet) *. Again I’ve learned something new, which is that this phrase is actually Cockney rhyming slang (Tod Sloan, on your own). Mr Sloan was apparently an American jockey who became famous in London. He called his autobiography “Tod Sloan by Himself”, a somewhat brilliant but probably unintentional double meaning. (There are people today whose autobiographies I suspect only got written because of the title. Would anyone have published Syd Little’s reminiscences if they couldn’t have called them “Little by Little”? Credit, though, to Vic Reeves for his memoir “Me: Moir” (his real name is Jim Moir).
  EILAT. E=energy, plus IS LAST with the S’s removed.
  OS, AKA (OS = Ordnance Survey). Very nearly came a cropper here by sticking in OMAHA.
  A(SHANT)I. Craftily constructed, with AI (cracking, here an adjective meaning first-rate) going outside (without) the word of defiance. I was grateful to spot ASHANTI=people when I had the H and the I in place, as I’m sure I’d never have seen the wordplay. This was the answer that opened up that stubborn SW corner.
  DERBY – luckily, after a few fruitless mental excursions through classic literature I remembered the classic horse races. (Tod Sloan never won this one.)
  BE(RINGS)E, A. “Cold drink” is the definition. I had to triple check the wordplay here because the “a” could really go anywhere, and I get the spelling of this sea confused with the Barents Sea, which is where the Kursk sank. Both are pretty cold.
  NO, GO(ARE)A. Isn’t this the second time this week we’ve had GOA used in wordplay?
  COLD-SHOULDERING. The COLD went in quite a while before the rest.
  IDYLLS OF THE KING (Lofty English kid)*. I suspect quite a few people will have got this right away from the definition and word lengths.
  PER, (d)ON. I wrote this in confidently enough but the wordplay defeated me until this moment. The “PER” is defined simply by “a” = as in “sixty pounds a person”. Then you just decapitate the Don. I’m making an effort to improve my lamentable clue appreciation skills and this one strikes me as quite neat.
  DISC, RED, IT, with “Rubbish” the definition, used as a verb, and “It” in the sense of the player catching the others in a game of tag.
  WI (thats)* ND = WITHSTAND.
  E(YE SOCK), ET. What a gift to crossword setters the film E.T. was. They also liked the musical Evita, especially backwards.
  TAL(e), KATI(V)E. And here indeed (though not used by the setter) we have Evita backwards. (Honestly, I only spotted this after my remark in 15d.) Quite a good showing by the Peron family today.
  P, INKY. I was expecting almost any meaning of “Finger” except this one, though I suppose I should have been tipped off by the fact that it was used as a verb in the clue.
  A, EG, IS.

28 comments on “Times Crossword 23975”

  1. Something around 20 minutes, solving onscreen. If you knew FIBONACCI and STRIGIL this wasn’t so bad. Personally, I never go anywhere without my strigil. Only query is about 25a where the wordplay doesn’t quite make sense to me. Nice puzzle, though, with some elegant stuff. I especially liked 10a YARDIES. And 13d is terrific. Big snake.
    1. I agree about 25a. It would be much tighter if it was clueing “tinkling”. Maybe the setter was distracted.
    2. On reflection, more likely a typo. Expand “time” to “time out” and you have a very slick little clue, more in keeping with the crossword as a whole.

      6d was my nemesis. I was sure it was Peron, but I just couldn’t get the “a” and “per” connection.It makes you feel so damned silly when the truth is revealed!

    3. Thanks for the explanations about 25. I only queried it because I didn’t get it, but I do now. Rather clever.
  2. Well, as I wrote yesterday, I’m glad it wasn’t my Friday to write the blog. I spent 90 minutes on this without cracking 9ac (never heard of it) nor 1ac really, though I had all the checking letters and the CCI ending, but the O,A and other I could have gone in any of the blanks so far as I was concerned as I’d never heard of him. I guessed PERON without knowing why though I assumed he was a Juan, and put in OMAHA at 22 without any degree of confidence.

    I also wasted ages on 5dn thinking of Arthur the automatic pilot, as both “flying” and “flight” are in the anagrist and the F could then have fitted with the anagrist at 1a.

    I didn’t see the wordplay at 4dn until I came here, so although I had considered COLD-SHOULDERING, the practice of COAL-SMOULDERING was also in the frame – don’t ask me what it is but it sounded vaguely possible to me!

    I agree with the comments on 25 and had marked it as unsatisfactory.

    On 17, I’m aware of this meaning of “flat” as in “I told him flat” but I don’t know the expression “that’s flat” so it seemed a bit weak to me, but if others know it then I withdraw.

    I think 24 is possibly the best clue of the day but my favourite is 21 so I nominate that.

    1. Having read the comments below I retract my remark about 25 being unsatisfactory. It makes perfect sense if one just reads the clue the right way.
  3. The easy-peasy run shuddered to a halt. Over an hour on this for me. Some very sneaky cluing – much time spent working out why the answer had to be what it was. 4&10 especially clever, I thought.
  4. A bit tougher today. Took me just over 19 minutes.

    I don’t agree with those who think 25 is defective. It seems reasonable to me that “ABCDE after B” could indicate CDE. And so TINKLING after Time can indicate INKLING.

  5. A much better puzzle that provided 40 minutes of good solving fun. Nice to see a very famous mathematician (his number sequence is fundamental to many studies) rather than some obscure poet. I had to guess STRIGIL but easy enough, particularly with checking letters and a = per is not uncommon.

    I’m at ease with (t)INKLING. If you read the clue as two statements “sounding bell after Times” and “a hint” it makes perfect sense. I like this type of clever construction and this puzzle has a lot of that. Congratulations to the setter and to Sabine. Jimbo.

  6. I thought I was heading for a similar time to yesterday but ran to 45 minutes with about the last 12 of those spent on 13a & d, 24 and 26. I was convinced that “word of defiance” in 24 was NO so that didn’t help. I see no problem with the wordplay of 25a, and I thought there were many good clues – 12, 19, 25, 27, 15, for example. In fact I’ll pick 25 for it’s coherent pub image.
  7. My excuse for a mud-crawling 25 minutes on this one was last night – music night. My recording compadre has just bought a new, totally silent monitor, and has shifted the PCs into another room. The “simple” process of optimising the screen resolution so we can see more of wav files for editing resulted in (among other things) a very low res desktop… tiled at 45 degrees! I kid you not. About 2 hours later we resumed our current musical project.
    All of which technical mind-numbery leads to the fact that it was a ridiclously late and tiring night and I’m still feeling the effects.
    Somehow I convinced myself BARSAC TEA was acceptable at 2D, so you can see how my brain isn’t working.
    Through the haze I saw a number of very good clues, but only had enough energy to place one tick – alongside 23D AEGIS which seems to be an original and clever treatment.
  8. 56+ minutes and 3 passes. Didn’t get strigil and convinced myself that 2d was something tea which made 13 impossible.

    COD pinky

    Off now for a nice cup of Sargasso

  9. This was one for those who like to take blind leaps based on wordplay. I started it last night, collapsed and finished it in the morning. STRIGIL, ON ONE’S TOD, EILAT, AEGIS all from wordplay.
  10. Both of these clues feature 3-letter words minus one letter – IL(l) and (d)ON. The latter is fine as the word DON is given, but I’ve been told it’s dodgy form to use the letter subtraction device on defined answer components of 3 letters or less, as in ILL = “badly” in 9A.
  11. 30 minutes plus with one mistake – didn’t know strigil and couldn’t see the wordplay. Also deceived for a while looking for tea for 2 (sorry) and spent about 10 minutes looking for coal-somethingorother.
    Also nobody has mentioned 17(is it thats flat?).If so I’ve never heard of it,or am I just not seeing the right answer? For me it would be 9/10 in the difficulty scale
    1. Yes, John, I have it as THATS FLAT. Chambers gives it as = “I tell you plainly” and of course “flat” is without sparkle, as in old champers, perhaps? Jimbo.
    2. If you Google “that’s flat” you’ll come across a bit of Shakespeare, something in the Wordsworth book of idioms and a def in the Cambridge dictionary.
  12. Didnt like this clue…worked out strigil from the clue but didnt know meaning…i liked the Derby clus and Withstand.
  13. Like gl I started last night, and after 30 minutes was missing 2, 6d, 9, 10, 13, and 22, and finished up this morning, so solving time in the 8 hour range. I realized that a=per which solved 6, and the crosser then allowed me to get ‘yardies’ strictly from wordplay. I then finally decoded ‘Bering Sea’ which got me the remainder. The ‘Bering Sea=cold drink’ is just great, so 2 is my favorite for this puzzle. New words/phrases to me, today: strigil, yardies, eilat, that’s flat, and of course, ‘on ones tod’. I also confess that I still don’t get the ‘between neighbours’ part of the wordplay in 26, so if anyone can put me out of my misery I’d appreciate it. Regards to all, see you next week.
    1. Kevin, 26A is a double definition. The Derby is a Classic (horse race) and a confrontation between local (‘neighbouring’) sports teams is called a derby. For example, there are derbies between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the two major soccer teams in Liverpool. On a strict definition, I think there are seven cities in England which can host professional soccer derbies, Derby itself not being one of them.

      Tom B.

    2. The Concise Oxford defines “derby” as “a sports match between two rival teams from the same area”. It’s also known as a “local derby”.
  14. A (local) derby is a game played between two neighbouring sides, eg. Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.
      1. Thank you all — and add that to the terms I didn’t know today. I keep learning new stuff in these puzzles!
  15. Well after reading your comments I feel quite good today. Managed all but 24a and 6d in a couple of hours , which is a great improvement for me. It must be down to all the tips I have picked up from you all this week. Thankyou.
    ps, being a maths person got 1a straight away!
  16. Some tough clues here. Little to add to comments above except that no-one has commented on 2D. The answer was easy enough from the word pattern, but isn’t it actually “Goas” = Indian states? I’m not very comfortable with pluralising a name of something unique. Could you clue “Londons” as “English cities”?
  17. A slightly tardy response (just under 10 years) to Anon of Australia:

    3d Small number exist in Indian state’s forbidden zones (2-2,5)
    NO GO ARE A’S. The use of Indian state’s yields Goa’s (or that belonging to Goa) NOT more than one Goa.

    Some great vocab in this from an old Italian mathematician, a Roman bathing accessory, and an Israeli resort to a Ghanaian tribe. Top effort setter.

    There are 6 “easies”:

    11a Poet’s answer at last for English lady (5)
    DONN (E) A. In which John Donne relinquishes his last (E for English) to be replaced by A(nswer) as in Q & A to get a lady called DONNA. No man is an island after all.

    17a There’s no argument which lacks sparkle (5,4)
    THATS FLAT. Nothing wrong with this DD?

    25a Sounding bell after Time is a hint (7)
    (T) INKLING. Nothing wrong with that clue either?

    27a Grasping folk from Turkish capital that vandalised St George crosses (2-7)
    GO – GET T ERS. Not Ankara – just T.

    7d Gripped by su CH INO ffensive material (5)

    20d Love met finally? That girl’s not the one! (5)
    0 (me)T HER

Comments are closed.