Times Saturday 23820

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Solving time 21:00

I found this one a bit hard to get into for some reason, although I can’t remember now which clues caused me any particular difficulty, apart from the last two to go in, which were 16 and 22. Just a bad day I suppose.


1 BLOT,(cos)T,O
10 C(HICK,F)LICKS – I liked this one for the surface and seamless construction.
12 SUB ROSA – AS US around ORB, all reversed (travelling west).
14 AIR,HEAD – van=HEAD, express=AIR
17 C,LO(AK-A)ND-DAGGER – C (about), then AKA inside (grand lodge)*
22 EX(I)GENT – EX-GENT for transsexual is neat, although not entirely accurate as they can be ex-ladies too.
24 MU(N,ROB,A)GGER – someone who “collects” Munros, by climbing them.
27 JA(LOP)Y – this seems to suggest LOP in JAY, but I suppose loading can be used intransitively as well.


2 (her)O,B,I – OBI is West Indian witchcraft. Nice surface.
5 COCK-A-DOODLE-DO,O(ld) – COCK = raise, A DOODLE DO is supposed to be a casual name for a beetle drive I suppose, but I can’t find the correlation between beetle and doodle that I was expecting. Beetle is a game and doodle can mean to play, but that’s not close enough for me.
7 GOLD,EN,EA,GL,E – I put this in when I had a couple of crossing letters, but it took me ages to see how it worked. Au=GOLD, then jENa bEAt uGLy are the pairs, followed by E for England.
9 PLEASED AS PUN,CH – (applause ends)* + CH
13 BEETLE DRIVE – nice football surface, but it clues BEETLES DRIVES, surely.
16 WRITERLY – “right early”. Dodgy homophone because of the wrong stress on the syllables. I was looking for an author’s name, which was why it was the last one I got.
19 ALIB(i),A,BA(ck) – another one that I got quickly put took a while to work out the wordplay.
20 O.G.,(d)RESS – O.G. = own goal

13 comments on “Times Saturday 23820”

  1. I had to look up munro bagger, couldn’t get it from the wordplay. I agree writerly was wakward (and I wrote it in not being sure if it was indeed a word).
    1. As a frequent visitor to Scotland, I once bought a book on the Munros, and decided I was going to be a munro bagger. Unfortunately my achievements in this match the achievements of my other hobby, viz collecting crosswords whose answer to 7 down is “penguin”, in that so far I have “bagged” one of each.
  2. At 5 down I think the reference is to DOODLE=draw and a Beetle Drive involves the playing of Beetle which is a game in which one draws beetles! I don’t have a problem with that but I thought 13 down was most unfair. A beetle (singular) is a type of hammer (singular) and to spur is to drive so how the setter justified Spurs and Hammers I don’t know. 16 down was also my last to go in, for exactly the same reasons as you give. Jimbo.
      1. If you “are hammers” you beetle and if you “are spurs” you drive
        (Sorry about that!)
        1. I’m having a bad day too!
          Re EXIGENT – “Transsexual” might be clued as “ex-gent perhaps” but don’t see a problem with “transsexual” cluing “Ex-gent”
        2. There’s a verb “to spur” meaning drive but there’s no verb “to beetle” meaning hammer.
            1. … although having checked I see that, somewhat extraordinarily, it isn’t in Chambers. No room left, I suppose, after all those obscure Scottish, Spenserian etc oddities we all love for the Listener etc(!)
              1. Thanks for that – we live and learn. I had no idea that “to beetle” meant to hammer and as you say it isn’t in Chambers. Jimbo.
  3. O.G. for “own goal” seems a bit obscure to me as someone who knows little about soccer. It’s in Collins but not in Chambers. I should be interested to know if it appears on the (reportedly) very limited list of abbreviations allowed in Times puzzles.

    Does anyone know where this list can be viewed, as I’ve never seen it?

    1. There is no list of 2-letter abbreviations for the Times. There is a list of 1-letter ones but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it’s not available for general viewing. This is because, like many things to do with crossword compiling, it isn’t set in stone (tho deviations from it are rare).

      Anon mark 2

  4. A few contentious ones here. At 13d Hammers = Beetles is very obscure. Similarly WRITERLY at 16d being clued as a homophone of RIGHT EARLY with the literal “Author’s” took me ages to work out as being the only word that would fit as my LOI.

    There are 10 answers omitted from the blog. Fortunately none of these were quite so tricky:

    4a (Gal’s cry)*’s confused with her head dishevelled (8)
    SCRAGGLY. Her (the Gal’s) head = G for the 8th letter in the anagrist.

    11a Revolutionary general, one hard to hold back (3)
    LEE. EEL backwards.

    15a Through article, oppose way some drugs are sold (4,3,7)

    21a Exhibiting frivolousness at college that’s said to mount (5-2)

    Couples regularly shunning clean-living priest (3)
    ELI. (CL) E (AN) L (IV) I (NG). It took 100x longer to parse that one than to bung in the crossword 3-letter biblical priest.

    26a Unobtrusive (hat) sported with (style)* (8)

    6d Too organised to be a failure? (4,3)

    8d Beneath front of men’s underwear, (slide)* dicky bows (6)

    18d Pathetic bABY SMALl when unwrapped (7)

    25d Endless supply of wholesome syrup (3)
    GOO (D)

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