Times Saturday 23934 – a bit tougher than the last few!

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Solving time 26:30

I found this a hard slog, despite getting the two 15-letter downs straight away, which made me think it was going to be a doddle! Maybe I just wasn’t with it last Saturday, but I really got bogged down in the top right corner at the end.


9 RENEGED – DEGENERATE reversed, minus ATE (8, say). I put this in from the definition before understanding the wordplay.
10 CH(I)ASM,A – “the cross-shaped connection formed by the crossing over of chromatids during meiosis”…errrm, ok. New word for me, but luckily the wordplay made it easy.
11 E(GYP)T – Good surface reading, with two “lift-and-separates”, but I’m a bit doubtful about ET meaning “even” in French. Chambers says “and” can mean “even if”, not “even”, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same applies in French anyway.
12 VIC,EVER,SA – the Old Vic theatre in London, and the old crossword cliché “it” = sex appeal = SA.
14 P(SS)T
18 CO(LL,O,QU)Y – tricky wordplay for an uncommon word made this one tough to get, as I didn’t get 8D till late either and was looking for a word ending in QUE.
22 T(RI)AD – RI = Rhode Island
24 NEON,ATE – another word for a newborn baby
25 OI,LSKIN – IO rev. (one of Jupiter’s moons), + links*
27 TOM SAWYER – brilliant hidden reversal in “SurREY WAS MOTive”.


1 WORSE – SWORE with the S moved down (demoted).
2 MONEY FOR OLD ROPE – got it from the enumeration really, but it’s actually a very clever anag. &lit. (from poorly done)* + E (last letter of recompense).
4 S(TD,AVID)S – Irish politician is TD (Teachta Dála). The definition is “See”, for St. David’s Cathedral, which makes St. David’s the smallest city in the British Isles with a population of about 1800.
5 RO(COC(k))O
6 SK(I,VV)Y – this time see = V (short for Latin vide). Boots is a nickname for a hotel bootboy, i.e. a SKIVVY.
7 M,I STRESS QUICKLY – not Shakespeare’s actual landlady, but a character in four of his plays. She eventually becomes landlady of the Boar’s Head Tavern in Henry V.
8 PEAS(AN(y))TRY – one of the last I got, and put in without understanding the wordplay. Finally got it today while writing this blog entry.
13 L.A. Z(YB)ONES – I wouldn’t have known Westside was in Los Angeles, but Hollywood gave it away.
15 BOOKWORM – cryptic def. I was pleased to get this with just the K in place.
16 FLO,TILL,A – FLO is Florence Nightingale (to her friends).
20 DE-CENT (groan)
23 DIN,AR(t)
Category Score Clues
Religion 0
Literature 1 7
Music 0
Visual Arts 0.5 (12)
Popular Culture 0.5 2 (UK slang?)
Sport & Games 0
Natural World 1 10
Science & Tech 0.5 (25, Io)
Geography 2 4, 13
History 0.5 (16)
Other 0
Total 6

13 comments on “Times Saturday 23934 – a bit tougher than the last few!”

  1. I struggled to finish this off and got 20dn wrong.

    Is 9 really playing the game?

    I also don’t understand et = even at 11.

  2. Let me join the bemused et=even club. As it happened I solved 1A quickly followed by 1D through 5D and so, looking at E?Y?T wrote in EGYPT based on gyp=”cheat” and “republic” and put a question mark by the clue. Like linxit I did much the same at 9A and worked out 8 sounds like “ate” afterwards. It didn’t bother me any. Overall an OK puzzle I thought. Jimbo.
    1. Having read your account of this puzzle’s subtleties, I’m sorry that many of them were lost on me until you explained them. I had all but one of the correct answers and had sussed out most of the wordplay, but I’m afraid I must be a philistine when it comes to the finer points.
    2. I cannot let such a paeon of praise go ignored.
      Thank you in turn, Dorosatt.
      I wish my mind was as brilliant as you think it is. I always go over the puzzle in the paper when it appears in the hope that I will be able to remember the answers (and to refresh the memory before reading the blog). I’m ashamed to say I struggled with this(!) so apologies to those seeing it for the first time who found it a slog!

      S. Etter

  3. Regarding ‘et’ and EGYPT…. what dorosatt said.

    I also thought WORKAHOLIC for BOOKWORM qualifies as a classic. It has stayed with me throughout the week. I put three ticks beside it, which is like 11 out of ten. Brilliant stuff.

    1. I’m obviously missing something. The definition seems barely cryptic at all to me: remove the question mark and it could be a clue in any common-or-garden concise crossword. In which case, that makes it a terrible cryptic clue, no?
      1. You’re absolutely right: you’re missing something.

        ‘Workaholic’ doesn’t mean ‘bookworm’. The clue is a play on the alternate meaning of ‘work’ as ‘book’. Hence, ‘someone addicted to works’, rather than ‘someone addicted to work’. Hence the question mark. It’s impeccably cryptic. And ever so good.

  4. Dorosatt, I didn’t intend to suggest you were casting aspersions. Having read your original comments I realised there was a lot more to many of these clues than I had needed to solve the puzzle, and I hadn’t appreciated all these refinements until you pointed them out. It’s sort of made me realise that perhaps I should spend a bit more time in the future taking time to work out and enjoy such subtleties when they are present.

  5. Oh, yes, it was…. with respect.

    And thank you. Got to stick up for these setters who, rather like royalty, are unable to speak for themselves.

  6. One of my favourite places in the UK at 4d. The coastal scenery around North Pembrokeshire is exquisite.

    An excellent Saturday puzzle – I echo all the plaudits. Pity that the comments from Dorosatt have been deleted – I would be interested to see his comments on the subtleties. I am sure I missed a few.

    There are 5 answers left out here:

    1a Casanova (was in Rome)*, gallivanting (9)

    17a Exhibitions on reflection very typical of Australia (4)
    ZOOS. SO OZ backwards.

    21a Block evidence of killing, meeting threat of capture (4-5)

    26a Balloon’s slow rise and fall (5)

    19d Roughly put down fawn after onset of sickness (6)
    S CRAWL. Sea-sickness caused by 26a?

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