Times Saturday 23527 – Happy Birthday Roy Dean!

Solving time 24:22

I found this quite tricky, with a few obscure words to puzzle over. I noticed the phrase CHAMPION SOLVER in 21 and 24 across, and thought “Bloody need to be to finish this!”, but managed to eventually. Then Pete Biddlecombe emailed and asked if I’d spotted the theme.

(Last 3 letters of 1ac) 7ac is a current Times 26ac and first ever winner of the Times Crossword Championship, being 21ac 24ac in 1970 and 1979. He was 10ac last week, and is (or has been) a 9ac, a 13ac and a 27ac. 28ac!

Certainly worthy of the man – I found myself commenting on nearly all the answers.


1 FAUNTLEROY (Fortuna(t)ely)* – from the book Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
7 D(E)AN – refers to Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future from the old Eagle comic. I remember reading my dad’s old Dan Dare annuals when I was younger.
9 C(O.M.,POSE)R – good def, “one to make notes”.
10 (w)EIGHTY
11 STELLA – (w)ALLETS rev. Jonathan Swift wrote A Journal to Stella, whose real name was Esther Johnson.
12 BE(D,LINE)N – ben = “inner room” was new to me. Chambers gives it as Scottish dialect, which we wouldn’t normally see in a blocked puzzle.
13 P(O)ET – last one I got. Very misleading punctuation, giving Clare as an example of a poet, and being O (love) in PET! Never heard of him myself.
15 MET,ABOLIS(H/M) – i.e. abolish with m(ass) replacing h(usband).
18 DI(SPO=ops rev)SABLE
20 TO,OK – to=closed, as a door. Simple but hard to spot.
21 C(H)AMPION – another obscure (to me) poet.
24 S(O)L(i)VER – i.e. remove the I from SLIVER, then put an O in it – definition is “You”.
27 DIP?,LO,MAT – not sure about this. In the novel by Graham Greene, Wormold ends up as a diplomat, so the wordplay is “sold very cheap (DIP), look at (LO), cover (MAT) – but I can’t find any justification for DIP in either Collins or Chambers. [DIP explained by tony_sever as “finally solD, 1 P(enny)”]
28 HAIL – “hale”


2 A FORTIORI – (If orator)* + I – luckily one I happened to know so got it straight away.
3 NE,PAL – China = china plate = mate in Cockney rhyming slang. Geographically accurate too, so a good &lit.
7 DOG(VIOL)ET – needed all the checking letters to get this. “Please buy” = DO GET was what had me stumped for a while.
8 (he)ARTIE(s) – Artie Shaw was a well-known 1930s bandleader.
14 TYPEM(empty*),ET AL – I hadn’t heard of this, but TYPE stood out as part of the anagram of empty and the rest fell into place nicely.
16 B(R)EAST,PIN – I was stuck on this till I got the checking letters P?N, then I realised “secret code”=PIN and the penny dropped.
17 STONE BASS – didn’t understand this but with all checking letters in place I looked it up in Chambers and found that it’s a type of perch. PB explained later by email that the Commendatore is a singing statue in Mozart’s Don Giovanni
19 BONE(DR)Y – Boney = Napoleon’s nickname I suppose. I assume “bone-dry” is the opposite of “wet” in political hard-lineness!
22 H(YEN)A
23 I,N(R)EM – i.e. R(ight) inside (MEN rev)
25 LOOFA – aloof with the A moving to the end.

6 comments on “Times Saturday 23527 – Happy Birthday Roy Dean!”

  1. In 27a “finally sold” = d, and “very cheap” = one p(enny).

    I found this puzzle tough going, in fact my slowest so far this year at 19:34 (I made heavy weather of the SE corner, particularly BREASTPIN). I spotted SOLVER and SETTER while checking through to see that I hadn’t made any typos before clicking my stop-watch, but it was only when checking through the clues properly afterwards that I spotted HAIL DEAN, and then looked for the other elements of what, as you say, is a worthy tribute.

  2. “STONE BASS – didn’t understand this but with all checking letters in place I looked it up in Chambers and found that it’s a type of perch.PB explained later by email that the Commendatore is a singing statue in Mozart’s Don Giovanni”


    1. And…it’s a cryptic definition! The Commendatore, as a statue with a deep voice, would be a ….
  3. Confession time: I found this really hard and didn’t finish this without looking things up. I chose HORN instead of VIOL at 7D, somehow believing a DOG HORNET might exist. Eventually I saw the light on BED LINEN and corrected this, but my brain was by then too frazzled to find BREASTPIN and METABOLISM on its own.
  4. I’m glad PB – our esteemed founder – explained the Stone Bass. It was my last one in and Wiki provided the Perch link but the Stone Bass / Commendatore link evaded me – no great knowledge of Opera I’m afraid.

    This X-word was so good that Mr Linxit only omitted 4. Here they are:

    26a Late evening sun is a pointer (6)
    SETTER. Double definition DD or Triple Definition TD if you include the reference to Roy Dean.

    29a (Anyone’s aim)* can be wrong? Sauce! (10)
    MAYONNAISE. This took me a long time to see as I don’t normally think of Mayo as a sauce. I normally have it as a dressing for avo salads. It is also a county in Ireland where you might be able to get some Poteen (allegedly).

    5d Valuable coin that’s on Welsh table (7)
    RARE BIT. Cheese on toast to most of us.

    6d Produce mY tImEs LaD, regularly (5)

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