Times Saturday 23755 – Alphabet Soup indeed!

Solving time 17:44

This was a marvellous puzzle – a few tricky words but nothing really obscure considering that it was a double pangram. 12dn gave a strong hint to the theme, although I didn’t notice that until afterwards. My CODs are 9ac and 15dn.


1 MAR(JO(b))RIE(d)
9 ZEAL,O,TRY – ZEAL being New Zealand without “new and”.
10 DISC – “c,Sid” reversed – a forty-five was an old 7-inch single. I might even still have some in the loft, but I’ve got nothing to play them on.
11 KAZA(K)HSTANIS – K inside (haik stanzas)*. Not the most promising word to find an anagram for! I suspect the colonel will be telling us that the race is called the Kazakhs, but Chambers doesn’t differentiate.
13 QUIN,CE – Peter Quince is a carpenter in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
15 JAP(H)ETH – one of Noah’s sons.
16 PIT(A)PAT – Chambers gives this as either a single word or double-hyphenated, so the enumeration (3,1,3) is definitely wrong.
20 NUTBR(burnt*),OWN
22 T(HE,MO)B
23 MARX(“marks”),B(R)OTHERS
25 O,XEN=nex(t) reversed.


2 AVI(via*),FA(U)N,A
3 JACK IN THE BOX – double definition. Another one that should be hyphenated.
4 RIT,ZI(ES)T – ES is the last couple of “ceremoniES” inside ZIT=spot, but I don’t know how RIT comes from “the rest were” though.
5 E(Z,EKI)EL – “IKE,Z” inside LEE, all reversed.
6 NASSAU – alternate letters of “NeArS a StAtUe”
12 ALPHABET SOUP (applause both)*
15 JU(st)N(KM)AIL – great definition, “post to ditch”
17 IN THE RA,W – (the rain)*
19 KNOT,TED – another excellent definition, “one’s impolitely asked to get.”
21 O,A,RING – O and A are blood groups, which would be found in blood banks.
24 R(1)FF – R=queen, FF=following pages

10 comments on “Times Saturday 23755 – Alphabet Soup indeed!”

  1. 4D: ceremonies = rites – last two letters of which are in ZIT, and the other three start us off. Rites and ceremonies having the same last two letters is either an unfortunate coincidence or part of the setter’s cunning plan to fox us. 20 and 8 are other clues I liked. 15:30 for me – slightly slowed down by public solving which raised a few “why’s it taking so long, Mr Champ?” comments.

    Edited at 2007-11-17 11:19 am (UTC)

  2. Yes, a magnificent puzzle, congrats to the setter – I did notice the double pangram which helped towards the end. Two, while I got them right, that I do not fully understand are JAP(H)ETH – ie old-fashioned jests – all I can think of is that th might have been an earlier way of indicating plurals ie japes = japeth. The other one is the -xen part of OXEN “Steers round then reverses not quite far enough” shown as nex(t) reversed in the blog
    1. I think “japeth” was what you were meant to think of. In OXEN, round=O, then(!) “then” = next, and ‘reverses not quite far enough’ = ‘goes backwards but drops the last letter’.
  3. A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. It took me a few moments to work out the wordplay to OXEN after getting the answer from letters in the grid, and I have to confess to checking the spelling of KAZAKHSTAN before I got EZEKIEL, since I was provisionally working on ABE as the president. I was also very slow to get MARJORIE, seeing ‘Woman’s’ as part of the wordplay, not the definition to begin with.
  4. MARJORIE was last in for me as well, I just couldn’t see MARRIE(D). I thought the trick with ‘rites’ in 4D didn’t quite come off, for the reason Peter mentions (-es in ‘ceremonies’).

    I’m not sure I’ve seen the ‘old-fashioned’= 3rd sing. verb ending -th before, except as an indication of ‘hath’; it seems to me a very neat device, provided the verb is of some vintage (‘multitasketh’??).

    Great crossword overall, really imaginative cluing.

    1. MARJORIE was also my last answer – but I still don’t see where ‘MARRIED’ comes from!!!!
  5. This was undoubtedly a very clever puzzle, but I didn’t enjoy it. If it had appeared as the Club monthly puzzle, that would have been fine, but for a daily puzzle too many of the clues were simply too convoluted, and overall it lacked the lightness of touch that I look for in a Times cryptic.

    I’m almost certainly a lone voice here, but for all their shortcomings I much preferred the Times puzzles from the old days, e.g. the 1950s.

  6. It is perhaps a mark of a really good puzzle when there are no omitted “easies” in the blog. Everything was deemed to be worthy of comment. Congratulations to both setter and blogger.

    I was perhaps a bit disappointed to note that the Good Colonel did not rise to the bait on 11a. Also I was a bit surprised to see TS’s comment about the “good old days” of Times crosswords – harking back to times even before the Colonel’s alleged halcyon days.

    Of course days gone by have always been better. Take the Cretaceous Period for instance. Better by far for the dinosaurs.

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