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23,428 - very tricky


Solving time 15:43

If the chap who had 17 answers yesterday gets more than about 6 of these in the same time, he should be proud of himself. On to the explanations ...

Across
1P(ASTOR)ALE - various Astors used to own the Times. And a pale is a post. Related useless Portuguese for you: palito = little stick = toothpick.
6BLEAK - a kind of fish as well as cold and raw. Much time wasted looking for C=cold plus a four-letter 'raw' to make some other fish.
10D(RAFT)EE - had the right river from the start, but was looking for DE????E rather than D????EE - something like DEPUTEE
12UNA(DOR=rod rev.)NED - carried=held is the containment indicator, and Una is a popular xwd girl for fairly obvious reasons.
13C,HURL=cast,ISH="ruined his production" - hmmm.
17N.U.T.,S - new solvers: know your trade union initials.
18COAL="Cole (Porter)",HOLE="whole" - nuts are lumps of coal, as in "nutty slack". Very fiendish!
21LE(E,RING)LY - Lely was certainly a painter, nationality unknown to me before.
22R(A,D)IO = to contact by radio, I assume
25L(INK)AG,E
27TITLED,EED=Dee rev. (Dee = dimin. of any girl's name you like beginning with D - more popular in 60s/70s than now, I suspect)


Down
2STRIKE,UP,THEBAN,D
4A(L)TRUISM - a well-worn path, this one, so an easy clue for regulars
6BE A CON - more time wasted, trying to sell myself the non-existent variant spelling CLAXON with a stretched meaning of lax, and con (trick) as an instance of criminality. Good thing I didn't quite buy it.
7EN(TENT)E,COR(DIAL=laid rev.)E - a classic case of "spot the def and don't worry about the wordplay until later"
8KNEADABLE - anag. of bank deal + E
13CAN(ALE)T,TO - "snatch" on its own as the containment indicator is a tad iffy for me.
15POLY,G(L)OT - poly(technic) = "college once" as all UK poly's were upgraded to universities about a decade ago.
16FLORENCE - Brunelleschi was responsible for the dome of the duomo (cathedral) in Florence. I guess he must have been born in the same city.
19WIT,HER
20AG(H)A,St. New solvers: remember the aga = ruler (as well as oven), who can also be agha when it suits, I think.
23OREAD - a mountain nymph - fell = hill/mountain up North.


Indie 6247 (Virgilius) - 5:43
An absolute gem. I'll say no more except: beg steal or borrow this puzzle and enjoy it for yourselves.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
i_am_magoo
Oct. 24th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
I was quite surprised by your analysis as I finished in 6m42s and hadn't realised it was a particularly good time. I think I benefited from a casual approach, with plenty of assumptions, as it's not a competition and I wasn't going to be writing up this blog later. So I hadn't deconstructed 1a, 7d, 27a or 2d (where e.g. I just had the R and K and filled in the answer on the general assumption that it was a musical). I still had time to fill in a nonesensical CHARD at 6a and ponder CLAXON briefly...
petebiddlecombe
Oct. 24th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)
Ouch! - now unsure whether you did v. well or I did v. badly. Quite possibly the latter as I had only the short words 11 and 14 from first look at top-half acrosses. Extra checking letters from just one of the 7/8/9 letter words up there might have made a big difference. Forgot to mention time wasted on POL(ONAIS)E and imaginary variants at 1A. I didn't analyse 2D in full either - took a lucky punt on UP=at univ. being the second word (but apart from a few ?UP words as the 3-letter one, it can barely go anywhere else - maybe unconscious competence worked this out for me...).

Very glad I didn't see CHARD - memories of shad and char could have made it a very convincing 'red herring' (laughter).
(Anonymous)
Oct. 24th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
I guess you had a bad day, as my time was around 15 minutes too...

I got PASTORALE straight away, but got stuck on a few where I thought I knew the answer but couldn't see the wordplay, e.g. OREAD, TITLE DEED, and put in ?O?ETREE for 18 (where NUTS may be) which slowed me down until I got 7D. Last two I got were BLEAK/BEACON after staring at it for 5 minutes.

AndyW
(Anonymous)
Oct. 24th, 2006 04:25 pm (UTC)
Back to earth with a bump
Doh!, what a change from yesterday, I managed 4 that I'm confident of: 12a,14a,8d,16d, the others that I have but will have to wait till tomorrow(unless someone lets me know here) are
1 down = Pitch
11 across = Hotel
24 across = Witches

So if they are all correct it'll take my total to 7, exceeding all expectations.

Peter W.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 24th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Back to earth with a bump
mmm, a quick check of the answers you've provided would indicate my hopeful responses are not all correct, 11 across and 24 across are definately wrong, but there's still hope for the 1 down, which I was more confident of. That'll make 6 correct, exactly as predicted!

Pete W.
mr_babbage
Oct. 24th, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)
Didn't like this one a bit. Gave up as I couldn't get 23D so seemed little sense in completing the rest.

I question whether a word like OREAD is suitable for a cryptic definition. With no wordplay to grab hold of, am I alone in thinking it would stymie the majority of Times solvers?
ilanc
Oct. 24th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
oread or not oread
Obscure nymph and no way to reverse engineer from wordplay -- I had to use a dictionary to uncover her.

I also got completely blocked on 18A -- even with the crossing letters ?O?L ?O?E. I suspected that the subject was Cole Porter thus probably COAL ?O?E. But it's been a long time since I lived in England, and even then we had gas heating. PeterB's explication just vindicated my feeling that I was never going to get this clue.

A hard puzzle -- certainly compared to the last week or so (over 1/2h).
petebiddlecombe
Oct. 25th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Re: oread or not oread
I think OREAD would be known to experienced Times solvers (only choice for O?E?D I think), but it is a tough one for beginners.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 24th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
Birth Of Hope
Thanks for the hint about today's Indie crossword. I just popped out and found a copy. It was great fun and quite a quick one for me.
I had a hesitant start after initially thinking that 1A was something to do with a baby gorilla (due to today's front page story)!
Steven
petebiddlecombe
Oct. 25th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: Birth Of Hope
I did look briefly at the gorilla story but then remembered the logistics of edited newspaper crosswords!
(Anonymous)
Oct. 25th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
Re: Birth Of Hope
I also went out to our local shop after work for the Indy on the strength of the recommendation and ended up with the quickest solving time I've ever managed for a 15x15 cryptic. Just shows that the best puzzles are not the most difficult, and I feel a mite guilty as if I'd gulped down a fine wine instead of sipping it!

FGBP
(Anonymous)
Oct. 25th, 2006 07:27 am (UTC)
Virgilius
I am a huge admirer of Virgilius in his various guises, but (would you believe it?) I am actually getting tired of his ingenious gimmicks. They make the puzzle unravel very quickly. All these googlies - maybe he'll bowl a straight leg break one day to fool us!
petebiddlecombe
Oct. 25th, 2006 07:40 am (UTC)
Re: Virgilius
If he can keep coming up with the ideas, I'm happy to see these puzzles, even if they're easy - simply because they're fun, and can be appreciated by a wide range of solvers. If there's any risk of them running out, it might just be prudent to have a 'plain' puzzle once or twice a month. It would be a shame for new solvers in say 2008 to be told "you really missed it - Virgilius 2006/2007 was the crossword vintage of the century".
eimi_indie
Oct. 25th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
Re: Virgilius
I can inform those readers who may have solved Virgilius for the first time on the basis of Peter's glowing recommendation that Virgilius does slip in the odd puzzle without a theme or a Nina (a hidden theme). In this week's puzzle, the themes were mentioned in the clues, but the previous week's puzzle contained the answers Florence, Ermintrude, Dylan, Zebedee, Brian, Dougal, Rusty, Magic and Roundabout without cross-referencing or mentioning the Magic Roundabout anywhere in the clues.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 25th, 2006 09:32 am (UTC)
Porter
Kicking myself for not getting PORTER = COLE. I was looking for some kind of tree. I didn't get BLEAK either. It's heartening to know that Peter, like me, was looking for C something. OREAD baffled me completely. "I do not like thee, Doctor Fell..."
(Anonymous)
Oct. 25th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
Virgilius
Yes, it does get a bit easier if you know there may a theme as another route to the answer. But difficulty of solving should not be the main criterion as long as it is not so easy as not to be a challenge at all. I look forward to these every week and can only commend Virgilius on his consistent inventiveness.

Confession: I know nothing whatsoever about the Magic Roundabout, spent twice my average solving time on it before getting it - and then understood later using Google for some totally mysterious entry which was clued with an accessible wordplay but meant nothing whatsoever to me. What was good was that even knowing nothing about the theme, the puzzle could be solved and I did so.

NMS
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )