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23,227 - plenty to think about


Solving time 11:55

Lots of well-written clues and some very clever bits of deception. Only 4 and 12 are remotely difficult answer words, so the difficulty is where it should be - in the clues.

1PO(TA)SH
4IDE,ALGA,S
12R(ILK)E
14ONE,HEN in anag. of GETS
23DOW,SenilE
27TRE(A,SIT(rev))E
28B(EIR(e))UT
3S,PACEMEN
5Ref. gates installed at end of DOWNING STREET after the IRA paid a visit with a mortar launcher
8DOS(rev),OM
10QUARTER, as in "no q. given", in anag of these with king = R inside
15"offers" = OFFAS, DY(K)E
17TERCE,SPOT all rev. Another of those service names from the seven canonical hours. Here's the full set: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers, Compline. We've had Nones or the variant None recently, and Laud, Prime and Sext look ripe for use in a cryptic clue.
18LEAD,TI(M)E - tie = fixing-rod
21CO,POUT
22D,TIME(rev)
24W.I.,PER

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 3rd, 2006 12:50 pm (UTC)
Hard Fridays
That's three consecutive tough Friday puzzles. Do I detect a pattern? I solved it in about 25 mins, but my mind was more on the Test Match than the crossword today...

Andy W
petebiddlecombe
Mar. 3rd, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Hard Fridays
The official line from the xwd ed is that there is now no intentional pattern of easy or difficult days of the week. Until some point in the last decade or so, there was apparently a policy of having an easy puzzle on a Monday. As evidence, and as it's Friday, here's a quote from Roy Dean's book Mainly in Fun, which he sent me for free so I reckon he's entitled to a plug! In a section called How a Record was Set, Roy describes his win in the first Times Championship, followed by attempts to improve his speed on commuting train trips, with a best effort of four and a half minutes.

"One of my boys had the Guinness Boook of Records and we [looked for] a crossword entry. Oddly enough, while there was a record for the slowest [...] Times crossword (which was obviously bogus and later removed from the book [the lady from Fiji]), there was none for the fastest. I wrote to The Times asking if mine might be considered. They published my letter on the Saturday, and at six [a.m.] I was woken [...] by a call from BBC Radio 4 saying that they were sending a car to bring me up for an interview on the Today programme. I had a shave and a bath and [...] found myself sharing the billing with a talking dog. I had a chat with Brain Redhead about the crossword, and he then stunned me by pushing The Times across and inviting me to set a record by solving that day's puzzle.

Now the Saturday puzzle is a prize one and more difficult than the rest of the week's. My heart sank as he started the stopwatch. But as the crossword editor afterwards explained to me, there had been a mix-up at the printers and the Monday puzzle - the easiest - had been substituted by mistake. It was an enormous stroke of luck, because I was able to run through the puzzle without a pause." [Result: 3:45 - still the fastest properly verified time, though various quicker solutions have been claimed. I believe the record for a puzzle completed by a competitor in the Times Championship is 4:28 by John Sykes. My own best championship time was somewhere between 5:01 and 5:59, but I suspect many other competitors can say the same.]
ilanc
Mar. 3rd, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
without you would have struggled
I struggled with this one -- and had to resort to your help: specifically 15D had me befuddled (offa's dyke just didn't occur to me though I knew that offer was the key somehow).

One of the most delightful clues that I've seen recently: 6D: "One's put in new gate, knocking down the old" (6) -- v. elegant: smooth surface and clever twist on new/old.
petebiddlecombe
Mar. 3rd, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
Re: without you would have struggled
Make that three potentially tricky answers - Offa's Dyke is probably a tough bit of geography for folk outside the UK.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )