Times Saturday 23958 (5th July)

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Solving time 31:08

Toughest one of the year for me so far, but maybe I was just totally out of form last week. I remember going through all the acrosses and all the downs without entering anything on the first run through, then eventually started with 15A, which is one of the trickier clues in terms of wordplay. After 20 minutes I still had less than half the grid filled, but finally I got onto the setter’s wavelength and managed to finish. There’s a lot to admire here though – good surfaces throughout, and the difficulty has been achieved without recourse to obscure words or specialist knowledge.

NB bit of a contrast this morning, when I polished it off in 7:58!

1 JOCKEY – C(aught) in JOKEY
4 WHACKING – HACK in WING. This might just be Brit slang to mean very big, not sure.
10 RUINATION – the M removed from RUMINATION.
11 NEVER – EVEN rev. + R
12 BROAD-MINDED – ADMIN inside ROD, all inside BED. Amazingly complex wordplay for a six-word clue!
14 IDE – sounds like “eyed”. One of the most common fish in crosswords, but usually just in the wordplay.
15 ARTISTE – two Ts distributed in ARISE.
17 GAGGLE – GAG + GLE(e)
19 HOBNOB – HOB + NO + (her)B, definition is “mix”. HOB is “top cook uses”, i.e. the top of the cooker. Brilliant misdirection.
21 CHOWDER – CHOW + RED reversed.
23 AGA – AGAIN without IN
24 DOWN-TO-EARTH – (Death Row not)*
26 RADON – ADO in RN
27 HONEYCOMB – CO (care of) in HONEY, MB
29 PARASITE – PAR + A(rea) + SITE
30 INTACT – nit* + ACT
1 JEROBOAM – BORE rev. + O all inside JAM.
2 CHINO – CHI + NO. Chinese life-force with Japanese drama.
3 ETA – double def, stands for Estimated Time of Arrival.
5 HANGDOG – (c)HANG(e) + DOG
6 CANADA GOOSE – O(ld) + OS (Ordinary Seaman) inside CAN + ADAGE. I only worked out the wordplay this morning, just putting it in from the checking letters last week.
7 INVEIGLED – (1 given)* + LED.
8 GARNET – RAG rev. + NET
9 DIVINE – double def.
13 DO’S AND DON’TS – SAND + DON inside DOTS. The French writer is George Sand.
16 TWO-HANDER – (who ranted)*.
20 BOWSHOT – BOWS + HOT. A couple of unusual definitions for the components of this, but perfectly fair.
21 CETANE – E.T. in CANE. I don’t think I’d come across this before but it looks like the name of a hydrocarbon and is easy to get from the wordplay.
22 SATRAP – SAT (= “was a model”) + RAP. A governor in ancient Persia, which I remember learning about in school.
25 RIOJA – RIO + JA(w)
28 YEN – hidden in the middle of “happY ENding”.

7 comments on “Times Saturday 23958 (5th July)”

  1. I was very impressed with this one – 17:12 of furrowed brows, but as you say, done without resorting to obscurities.

  2. I don’t remember how long this took but I’m pretty sure I found it quite straightforward as my print-out of the puzzle has very few workings or question marks noted in the margins. the only one I wasn’t able to explain was 15 but it’s obvious now having come here for the explanation. I should have seen it.

    What with HOB and AGA and CHOWDER and GOOSE and HONEY and a possible JEROBOAM of RIOJA I suspect the setter may also have been planning a fine meal for later that day.

  3. Also forgot to note my time, but I think it was around 35 minutes.

    As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. This was a fine challenge – a setter on top form.

    HOBNOB and INVEIGLED were my last two in after much head-scratching. Lots of notable clues, but RUINATION and AGA stood out for me.

    The dictionaries all give ‘whacking’ as the adj. – ‘very big’ – so no problems with the clue. But it seems to me it’s always used adverbially now, as in ‘whacking great bill’. Has anyone heard the adjective lately?

    1. Dictionary.com offers these examples “a whacking phone bill”; “a whacking lie”

      They sound fine to my ear. I’d suggest “a whacking meal” which I’m sure I have heard said not that long ago.

  4. I can’t remember time or a COD from this, but I do remember enjoying it greatly.

    Tom B.

  5. This was a very good offering. So good that there are no “easies” to fill in for this blog.

    I would have had one wrong as I spelled 1d JEREBOAM – no wonder I could not parse it! My LOI was GARNET at 8d. Great effort for a Geologist.

Comments are closed.