Times Cryptic 24990 – 8 minutes work for Mark Goodliffe..

A rare outing to the daily blog for me, deputising for Mctext who is out of town today.

Having attended the Crossword Finals last Saturday I wondered if I might get a free ride this morning but it was not to be, this is one of the puzzles from the first Prelim, which took place before I arrived. I started off in fine style with both 1ac and 1dn, and had all the E side done in short order. Unfortunately the W side took me longer, and it was 24mins altogether by the time I was done, longer than average for me. Still, it was after midnight and I expect some fairly fast times today.

This is a good crossword, with some very slick surfaces – look at 1dn for example, or 4dn – and I enjoyed it a lot

1 Camelot – appeared = CAME, + LOT(H)
5 Minors – Cretan King = MINOS, containing centre of labyrinth = R
8 Nightfall – NIGH + ALL containing Too Full
9 Woolf – WOOL + F. Easy, once I had the W!
11 Ethos – E + HOST but with the T moved to the front, viz: E+THOS
12 Endeavour – today’s dodgy homophone, sounds like “End ever.”
13 Vitality – Vide = “See” = V + ITALY containing IT = “heart of city.”
15 Sketch – front of steam = S + KETCH. One of the capabilities of a ketch is that it is handy enough to be sailed inshore and then out again on the same tide, which made it the vessel of choice for the better class of smuggler, here in Kent, in the days before the advent of the Transit van and the channel tunnel
17 Techno – TENO(R) containing CH. Techno is a style of music well after my time, but apparently favoured by some popular singing combos..
19 Butter up – Today’s dodgy pun. I am supposed to leave one, aren’t I, god knows why, so this shall be it
22 Ill-omened – (EMIL NOLDE)* – Mr Nolde does – did – exist, which makes this a neat anagram find by the setter
23 Leave – LEAVE(S)
24 Enter – (C)ENTER
25 Oenophile – (POOL + HEINE)* oenophile is today’s unusual vocabulary I suppose, unless you like wine as much as I do 🙂
26 Measly – maiden (as in maiden over) = M + EAS(I)LY
27 Element – My last one in and entered with little confidence, but I am pretty sure it is right and is just a weak DD. Elements being building blocks, and if one is in one’s E, that is an appropriate situation I suppose
1 Conservatoire – (RARE VOICES NOT)* first one in
2 Mugshot – Gulls = dupes = MUGS + HOT, = nicked or stolen. This took me a long time to find, not sure why
3 Lotus – LOUS(E) containing T, this one also took me too long as I had construed “edge of allotment” as AT
4 Travesty – Essay = TRY containing A + V + E + ST
5 Malady – springtime = MAY containing LAD
6 Newmarket – NEW+MARKET, a business opportunity.. Newmarket is a card game, never played it myself, is it any good?
7 Root out – ROO(MS) + TOUT
10 For the present – hmm, another dodgy pun so we’ll leave this too, ask if puzzled
14 Landmarks – country = LAND + MARKS = celebrates as in marking the day with a party, you can do that can’t you? I thought so but I waded throught the ODO entry and couldn’t see that meaning.. on edit, oh yes, there it is, half way down meaning no.3..
16 Sun dance – (US CAN END)* a practice only known to me through “Butch Cassidy and the”
18 Colette – CO + LETTE(R)
20 Realise – (A REEL IS)* the cunningly hidden def. being “cotton on.”
21 Snoopy – see = SPY, containing new = N and Our + O. The beagle in question being Charlie Brown’s dog
23 Lapse – Ah, another homophone.. LAPSE = laps. I quite like these, better than dodgy DDs, anyway

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

32 comments on “Times Cryptic 24990 – 8 minutes work for Mark Goodliffe..”

  1. Raced through top half then much slower going. 26 minutes. Element also my last, with its clever misdirection to a superlative. Strange how Colette’s name has endured when nobody reads her now and I’d guess relatively few ever did – something about the frisson of a 17-year-old writing a novel called ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ (if I remember aright) that’s put her in there with Chatterton, the ‘marvellous boy’. (Had Tolstoy/i for a bit there which didn’t help.)
    1. Francoise Sagan?
      Tough for me and only finished once SNOOPY figures which allowed to complete the OENOPHILE anagram.
    2. It’s Francoise Sagan who wrote Bonjour Tristesse but otherwise you’re right. Colette is probably remembered for the now almost unwatchable movie Gigi(Maurice Chevalier, thank heaven for little girls, ugh). 21 minutes with one wrong but can’t see it even after coming here. Blast.
      1. Olivia, 20mins is excellent.. the error will be just a typo probably, I have always associated typos with online solving, but looking at the results for last saturday it seems they can happen on paper just as often!
        I agree Gigi is unwatchable. If I had realised Colette would be such a talking point I would have supplied a link! I observe that she was accorded a state funeral, so must have been much better regarded then than now..
  2. This is the puzzle that dropped me many places down the league table – all three completed in 40 minutes except for three in the SE of this one. On a normal day, only ELEMENT would have caused any problems, possibly because it’s not a very good clue, in my opinion/excuse.
    I stalled a while on MINORS, because I got fixated on MIDAS as the king – wrong on every conceivable account, but this was an occasion when going away and coming back again later resolved a lot of issues.
    Competition conditions treat me like the Gatekeeper’s drink in the Scottish Play:
    “it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance….it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off”
    Most of the time my wits were sharper, clues resolved like magic. The last three took 15 minutes, for the same reason, I suspect, that once allowed me to enter a grid with an entire clue missing, or (dammit) put HEPTATHLON last year instead of PENTATHLON. Adrenaline overdose doth make idiots of us all.
    CoD for this one to NIGHTFALL, and certainly not ELEMENT.
    1. Your description “clues resolved like magic” rings very true. I was much more nervous than I expected to be, and it felt like my brain wasn’t working, but somehow the answers seemed to come.
      ELEMENT was make or break for me: another couple of minutes and I’d probably have panicked and bunged in EVENEST.
  3. 39:57 not that I had any illusions that I could be a successful speed solver anytime soon.

    I had guessed that 27ac was ELEMENT once I had all of the checking letters, but it was only after solving all the other clues that I understood the first definition, so it was my last one in.

    20dn was my COD for its clever definition.

  4. 40 minutes before bedtime plus another 10 considering alternatives to ELEMENT, my last in. I understood ‘building block’ but not the rest of it until I revisited it this morning and saw it immediately. A nice puzzle but I doubt I would have finished it under the stress of competition.
  5. Glad to see others over the competition limit; lessens my sense of inadequacy. I thought I was well on course until stumbling, even with all the checkers, on both MEASLY and ELEMENT. Thanks, jerry, for a good blog and explaining these in particular.
  6. 14:59, so one of those which felt harder while doing it than is reflected in that time, if you know what I mean (which I usually take to be the sign of a very well-constructed puzzle). Took a while to convince myself that SNOOPY was correct as it seemed a little un-Times like to rely on knowledge of a comic strip, even a venerable one, but I knew the breed from many pub quizzes (if Scooby Doo ever comes up, by the way, he’s a Great Dane).
  7. 33 minutes, so still some way off “Cheltenham” standard. (Sorry, but London doesn’t have the same ring.) Only know NEWMARKET as a racecourse spread across two counties, and wasted time trying to justify ‘vivacity’ at 13. I liked LAPSE but my COD goes to the MEASLY, so redolent of prep school days and portions that never satisfied.

    Re 27ac, I thought it was a very fine clue, with its cryptic “element” combining neatly with its “primary constituent of matter” meaning.

  8. I sped through most of this nervily but then got bogged down on some of the clues that troubled others: MEASLY, SNOOPY, COLETTE, ELEMENT, among a couple of others. So I moved on to the other puzzles and came back to this one at the end.
    I then spent a couple of minutes staring at E_E_E_T with a rising sense of panic, and decided to follow Mr B’s advice and check through the rest of the puzzles to make sure I didn’t have any obvious errors or blanks. This settled my nerves a bit and I finally got ELEMENT by going through all the words I could think of that fit the checkers and asking myself “is there some way the clue might fit this word in a cryptic-definitiony sort of way”. Eureka moment, hand up, phew!
  9. I found this much the easiest of the three Prelim 1 puzzles on the day racing through in about 12 minutes without having to leave any blanks to go back to later.

    I was surprised to see techno and wondered if that would hold up any of the more mature solvers.

    Element was much discussed in the pub afterwards and some solvers went for the incorrect Everest or evenest, presumably having been lulled into trusting an -EST ending based on “most…”

    1. Sorry to have missed you and the Penguin on the day – Dean said that you had already gone North. I was talking to Chaz and Dave (and others) having finished early.
  10. 40 minutes for me; held up by the COLETTE, TECHNO, MEASLY corner & ELEMENT after a promisingly brisk start in the top half. I suppose in competition the quality of the clueing is not something one spends much time admiring, but I think Jerry’s assessment is spot on.
  11. 20 minutes here with some last minutes dithering over ELEMENT. Overall, an excellent puzzle I thought with good wordplay such as TECHNO, a word I didn’t know

    Jerry, you’ve got two 5 downs

    NEWMARKET is a social rather than a serious card game. My grandmother used to love playing it but it’s not really for bridge players, say.

    1. Corrected Jimbo, thanks.. you have sharp eyes! 🙂
      My understanding of Newmarket is that you need a fair number of players – at least 4 say – and plenty of alcohol.. sadly a situation I seldom find myself in these days!
  12. 24:05.. found most of this fairly easy then ground to a complete halt on COLETTE, MEASLY and SNOOPY.

    I’m going to admit I thought COLETTE was a novel rather than a novelist, which didn’t help. Looking at her Wiki page, I see she was an early exponent of the author’s publicity shot, but blimey – you don’t see many like that today. That’s one Wiki biog. page worth the read (by the way, I seem to recall rather enjoying Gigi – my day for confessions).

    1. No shame in enjoying the novel, necessarily (you may be the only one here who has actually read it 🙂 – it is the film with m. Chevalier et al that is awful.
  13. 14 minutes, interrupted by a few text messages (which I guess wouldn’t be kosher at the championships). Nearly did a double-take at the clue for element, since it’s some rare chemistry in there. NEWMARKET from wordplay.
  14. I must plead guilty to having read Colette in my youth. “Gigi”, if I remember rightly, is only a novella and the version I read was published with another short “The Cat”. Her main oevre was a series about a girl called Claudine which followed her from childhood to adultery. I gave up halfway through. I enjoyed this puzzle. I started quickly but got bogged down in the SW with SNOOPY and MEASLY. I should have got the former – after all, how many other beagles are there? 32 minutes
  15. Started off well and completed most by 25 minutes, but then spent ages on 23 ac and dn and 27. 27 was the last in but plumped for EVEREST, not ELEMENT, for no good reason other than it ended in -EST. 40 minutes in all.
    I thought 7 and 24 were excellent clues in a very good bunch.
  16. Whipped through this in 15 minutes, except for ELEMENT. I also fell into the ‘must end in -EST’ rut, and tried a long while trying to see why ‘evenest’ or ‘everest’ could fit the wordplay. It took a further 15 minutes before the right answer popped into place. While some don’t like it, I think it gets my COD nod for the surface misleadingly pointing to a superlative, which was probably intentional, and in my case obviously worked. Regards.
  17. I started this in my usual nervous state (managing to break the lead of my propelling pencil almost immediately and deciding to switch to a backup – quite a nice ordinary HB job that all competitors were given at “The Times InterCity Crossword Championship 1992” according to the wording on it) and then worked steadily through in around 8 or 9 minutes; but, like others, I then stuck on E‑E‑E‑T at 27ac. I couldn’t justify EVENEST or EVEREST so decided to move on to the second puzzle and returned once I’d finished that, after which I thought of ELEMENT reasonably quickly.

    Nice puzzle. Looking at the results list, I see I’d have just scraped into the final if others faster than me hadn’t made mistakes – but I suspect it’s ELEMENT I have to thank for making it a bit less of a close call.

  18. I somehow finished in 22 minutes,with ELEMENT LOI, and only on the basis of ‘building block’; like Kevin from NY, I tried ‘everest’ for a while. It’s comforting to see that others were dubious about this clue, too. Unfortunately, I somehow knew the name Emil Nolde, and spent some time trying to remember who he was.
  19. Also stuck on ELEMENT and some worries in the SE corner plus having to look up NEWMARKET not knowing it as a card game. About 40 minutes wasting much of that time in the SE. Slapped my forehead over SNOOPY as repeats of Peanuts are in my daily comics fare along with B.C. and The Wizard of Id.

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