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25691 Delightful from top to bottom

14' 41", which turned out to be just under 2 Gilhams, but then I was taking it steady and trying to make sure everything made sense. No artists, no cricket, no poets, no painters despite an old master, and thankfully no words ending in -IZE or equivalent. Instead we have a good few elements knocking around, including an interesting variation on one, an organic molecule (a real one, too, not just a twisted bit of cluing) and a sub-atomic particle that sadly turns out to be a product of Daisy the Cow rather than Hermione the Hadron Collider. Probably therefore the most science-heavy Times crossword since 1930. There'll be (hopefully not too splashy) dancing in the streets of Dorset tonight!
There is an additional piece of lollipop brilliance to this crossword in that all the down clues are paired, a setting tour de force that merits positive comment. It will be interesting to hear from solvers who spotted it early enough to facilitate faster solving. I didn't.
Purists may complain that there is also a veritable compendium of crossword clichés scattered throughout the clues, but I found this rather added to the charm of some very pretty setting.

Here we go


1   REVAMP  Premier is PM, state is AVER, shove them together and reverse as per instruction and you have new arrangement
4   HUMBLER Type of glass is TUMBLER, ditch the T and replace it with H(ard) for the comparative commoner
9   CANER Yaroo! back in the world of Quelch and Bunter. Fungal rot is CANKER, which when written save the K(ing) gives a
    once-legal chastiser
10 IRASCIBLY What a fun clue! I believe "Fatty Owls" is still shown all over the planet (in Spain, Manuel is Italian) and was voted
    the best British television series of all time by the British Film Institute in 2000, which either means they are pessimistic
    about future productions or they have definitive access to a time machine. The setter manfully resists the temptation to
    include Sybil in the wordplay, and instead gives us an anagram of I (one) CRY BASIL to give the Torquay hotelier's primary
    adverb. If anyone hasn't a clue what I'm talking about, google "Fawlty Towers" and sample a few episodes.
11 PRUDENTLY Two adverbs in quick succession. Carefully the definition, "work at" gives PLY which, once it contains the
    familiar R(ugby) U(nion) and a depressed DENT, gives our answer
12 RURAL As arty as this setter gets. MURAL (painting) has its M(iles) replaced by R(iver) to give "rustic".
13 ICED: Two variations on diamond, both crossword conventions, combine to produce "covered in sugary stickiness"
14 HIGH AND LOW I assumed as in "hunting high and low". Drunk=high, in the gutter=low
18 NUCLEOTIDE What it says in the clue, a gettable anagram of TO INCLUDE and E(cstacy). "Synthesised" adds to the sciency
20 USER A heartless UShER. Have I mentioned how pretty, if not hard, these clues are?
23 COPSE Manage= COPE, enclose S(mall) for the generously defined thicket.
24 CHOPHOUSE Slow to get this, as I thought the river had to be URE. It's OUSE, following CH(urch) and O(ld) P(ublic) H(ouse)
25 AUTOROUTE Nest TOR (peak) in Au (gold - more chemistry) OUT (extinguished) and E(uropean) for the road to Europe's
    capital city in appropriate French.
26 EVICT Our alien is, of course, ET (Science again! Even if of the Fiction kind), and when he (?) embraces VIC(e) it's throwing
    out time.
27 SILK HAT "Something for the head". Queen's Counsel gives you SILK, THAT -T(ime) the rest.
28 LESSER Minor the definition, S(aints) cuddled by LES (French for "the") and ER the not-French current Majesty. Minor and
    Lesser are also interchangeable for the B list holy ones.


1   RECEPTION  "Do" provided by the re-ordering of NOTE PRICE
2   VENTURE "Give free rein to" provides VENT (as in anger), U(niversity) RE (concerning). There was a USS Venture flying with
    the Federation, same class as Enterprise. More Science!
3   MARKET "Try to sell" defines very precisely. Chest is ARK (Raiders of the Lost), here surrounded by METal without
    Al(uminium) Spelt properly.
4   HEAVY "Oppressive" formed by HE=man and V(ictor)Y hollowed. Heavy hydrogen is Deuterium, the other stable isotope of
5   MACARONI Reverse hidden in TurIN OR A CAMpanian
6   LIBERAL Currently an endangered species of politician given to inappropriate touching of other parties. LIBEL around
    R(oyal) A(tillery), my (cadet) regiment. You can call me Bombardier.
7   ROYAL Song=LAY, men=O(ther) R(anks), joined and reversed. The Duke of York is usually the monarch's second son, and
    therefore a Royal, though the very tidy misleading reference here is to the nursery rhyme
15 HYDROGEN For sure "an element", derived from minced GREYHOUND without U(pper-class)
16 WORCESTER  Three curt 3-letter synonyms for soak, dry and string turned upwards for the City and, by association, its
    cathedral. Royal Worcester is (maybe) the oldest English porcelain brand, still British!
17 RESEARCH "Thoroughly investigate". R(oyal) E(ngineers) above S(ton)E emptied and ARCH=structure.
19 CAPITAL "Wealth".  A PIT is seen in a CALL  cut short.
21 STUDIES Boss=STUD, I(d) E(st)= that is, plus (S)ons) for what good scientists are engaged in together with RESEARCH
22 CHEESE Quark here is not the fundamental particle (nor the DTP programme, as it happens) and not, as I thought, a trade
    name but an ancient, German form of soft cheese, here formed from our old revolutionary friend CHE and the odd
    direction of ESE. The clue did look properly scientific - quarks currently come in up, down, charm, strange, top and
    bottom flavours, so the revolutionary directions thing works rather well
23 CLASS C is your note, if it's middle vibrating at 261,626 Hz. Girl gives LASS, and again in "impressive stylishness" we have a
    generous definition.
24 COURT Rudely blunt=CURT, placed about a round O. I like the idea of a round quadrangle: circling the square?


( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:07 am (UTC)
Missed the paired clues until I came here. About 25 mins.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:07 am (UTC)
18:48 … I loved this one, too. Nice surfaces, inventive clues. I didn’t spot the pairing until I was checking through at the end - slightly too late to be any use! But I’m full of admiration.

Momentarily fazed by ‘house’ in the CHOPHOUSE clue, but that’s a legitimate double-bluff by the setter.

Last in and COD .. CANER - probably a word the setter was stuck with but a lovely way to clue it.

Thank you, setter (and z8).
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
And failed to get NUCLEOTIDE, having missed the anagrist. Tried in vain to get an anagram of ecstasy to fit in there. The checking letters assisted in the illusion.

For this reason, it was my COD, though I doubt that others will have much trouble with it. Can't help but feel I've let Ulaca down. He'll be along soon to explain exactly how I should have gone about it.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 03:47 am (UTC)
Far too much science!
That said, I was finally tripped up by two gastronomic clues. Even more galling, I'd cheated on one of them, scratching my head and searching the internet to find how an 'Ok' could be a public house.

Actually, a very fine puzzle - despite all the science.

[I'm feeling your pain, Gallers. About as much as Mitchell Johnson feels England's...]
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:17 am (UTC)
You mean some of England, two Irishmen, a Zimbabwean, a Barbadan and a Kiwi?
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:21 am (UTC)
Re: England?
You got something against South Africans, McT?
Jan. 23rd, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
Got 1dn right away and didn't do too badly on the rest until returning to the NW at the end with very little idea. PATIENTLY looked good for 11ac and LOI was CANER. Such an ugly word for an equally ugly person. Thanks to Z8 for noticing the down pairs. If I'd seen them earlier on, it would have helped heaps.

Like Sotira, did a double-take on the double-HOUSE at 24ac and wondered why WORCESTER was a cathedral and not porcelain or sauce.

Another clue for the tertiary-ed. adminions at 2dn.

Edited at 2014-01-23 04:21 am (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:41 am (UTC)
WOE (yet again…)

… and that one was NUCLEOTIDE where I had the the I and the O the wrong way around (when I'm anagramming on the laptop, I write all the letters in, and then work it out around the checkers. I'd not gone back to check this one…)

Other than that, I found this at just about the difficulty I like (took about 45 mins). Didn't spot the paired downs, so thanks for pointing that out, very elegant. I also ended with CANER, from the cryptic, but assuming that Mr Caner was a 'canvasser' like Mr Watteau. Doh!

Feb. 25th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: WOE (yet again…)
My guess was that a caner was a sailing ship, with masts. D'oh!
Also missed out on the quark - known only as the particles with common names, guessed ACHENE from the wordplay having 2 E checkers, overwrote the C without noticing, never revisited it. Bugger. And obviously missed the paired downs - never notice ninas, either.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:44 am (UTC)
Some of the finer points of this one were lost on me, I'm afraid, so thanks to Z for pointing them out.

I had the wordplay at 12ac parsed as R(iver) URAL which as Europe's 3rd longest certainly fits "river going on for miles", but I realise the letter substitution is the real deal.

I needed a bit of help with the last 3 unchecked letters in 18ac as I didn't know the word and failed to identify the anagrist.

50 minutes with some time lost in the SW trying to justify "cenotaph" as the empty stone structure before further checkers proved that I was on the wrong track .

Edited at 2014-01-23 06:43 am (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:20 am (UTC)

Sorry to be a bore, and I guess it's been explained before, but where does "angrist" come from? I know what it means, and know that "anagrind"=anagram indicator, but it's bugging me…

TIA (not one of thud's TIAs…)
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:47 am (UTC)
I've always assumed that if the anagrind grinds, then the anagrist is the grist.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:51 am (UTC)
Grist is the material that gets ground between millstones, so anagrist (coined here?) is the letters that make up the anagram. Anagrind, by extension, is what you do to them and refers to the word or phrase that indicates an anagram.
I defy grammar check to sort out that first sentence!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:57 am (UTC)
That makes more sense than 'indicator'… Cheers
Jan. 23rd, 2014 08:43 am (UTC)
10m. All very straightforward but a nice puzzle as already noted. The cheese was the only thing I didn't know. The pairing of answers passed me by completely.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:15 am (UTC)
I would imagine so when you're going at that lick!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:17 am (UTC)
Fair point, but it also passed me by completely when I was checking my answers post-solve.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 02:29 pm (UTC)
It's still passing me by! Put me out of my misery and explain how the clue pairing works.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 02:38 pm (UTC)
If you read the down clues down you get recognisable phrases: RECEPTION CLASS, VENTURE CAPITAL, DISTRICT COURT, etc.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Many thanks. How dim of me not to spot it! Brilliant device. I can't recall ever encountering it in such a complete form before.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:18 am (UTC)
Brilliant puzzle that was an absolute joy to solve. Thank you setter not just for some excellent clues but for the all round content and no fusty old poets. The pairing of the down clues is as good as I've seen.

No quibbles and difficult to highlight individual clues in such a fine mix but 10A is very good as is 18A (mistakenly numbered 15 in the blog)

Worcester Cathedral is worth a visit. Very pretty sited by the Severn it once appeared on bank notes with a picture of Elgar.

Great blog Z8
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:30 am (UTC)
Thanks Jim, and I've corrected the numbering
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:42 am (UTC)
anyone else get the wrong connection?
9A - having been browsing some lists, a memory cell was nudged and CANER (as Old Master) went in early.
Given z8's parsing had no mention of an artist, I had to double-check; my Caner is actually a Turk who in 2013 took War Photos in Syria some of which have been published in the world's press.
Presumably I mentally filed a paper/magazine accreditation under art.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 10:12 am (UTC)
Top class effort this, so much more enjoyable for me than yesterday's.. well done setter, and z8

Incidentally z8 I see you don't have your biog on the "About this blog" page here.. if you scribble something down and send it to Andy I'm sure he will add it for you
Andy Borrows
Jan. 23rd, 2014 10:25 am (UTC)
13 mins, and as others have already noted a very enjoyable puzzle.

I saw IRASCIBLY almost immediately and the helpful checkers from it made the NE very straightforward. After that the rest of the answers just seemed to flow. Despite my patchy scientific knowledge I got NUCLEOTIDE without too much of a problem, and I wasn't fooled by "quark".

Jan. 23rd, 2014 10:56 am (UTC)
Excellent blog z8. Thanks for explaining Worcester and Cheese.
The downs' pairing is very clever and went completely over my head!
Fastest iPad solve today – 3hrs 22mins on and off throughout the morning.
FOI Revamp, LOI Heavy.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:20 am (UTC)
26 minutes, making it the easiest of the week for me, but a pleasure to solve. I particularly liked 10, 13 and 18. I'm another that failed to notice the pairings; what a delightful feature.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:42 am (UTC)
Puzzle absolutely A1 and blog to match. Chapeau. With that time you were certainly on form Z. I sauntered in about 10 minutes later (25.39) having for once lingered to savour en route. No I didn't spot the Nina until quite a bit later.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 12:44 pm (UTC)
At the risk of simply providing an echo, top class puzzle and blog to match. Not especially difficult, but very elegant, especially the irascible hotelier. When it came to NUCLEOTIDE, I realised I'd heard it spoken but never seen it written down, so it's almost certain I picked it up as (quite possibly inaccurate) scientific exposition in Star Trek or the like.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
Another struggle for me...
...as I continued to have difficulty with clues that were really not that hard. At least I was able to put 'nucleotide' in from the definition. But I never saw the pairing, that might have helped.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
My New Year's Resolution was to notice Ninas in crosswords. Not going well so far...

Enjoyable puzzle which I finished in 9.53.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:53 pm (UTC)
what happened to 8dn?
I was checking my answers and I noticed that you had omitted 8 down as a clue. For those still confused I have the answer as:-
DISTRICT - a portion of land.
Duke=D, is set up, it's said=ISTRICT

Hope this helps

Grant Brierley
Jan. 23rd, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Re: what happened to 8dn?
Thanks Grant

I think D-IS-sounds like "tricked" = set up is perhaps a little more succinct
Jan. 23rd, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
Re: what happened to 8dn?
Thanks Grant. I could claim I was upholding the tradition that one clue was omitted so that desperate solvers would still ring the Times premium help-line, but I think it's really an eyesight thing. Pity too, because I quite liked the "is tricked" homophone, and so nearly put DISTRACT as my first option.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
I found this one rather fun and the only question mark at the end was not knowing quark as a cheese, but the wordplay was excellent. Loved the definitions for CANER and IRASCIBLE. Thanks setter!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
Great puzzle, no complaints, clever setting, 18 minutes of pleasure watching the tennis this morning.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC)
About 20 minutes, no complaints, though I had never heard of quark as cheese. Something learned again today. Regards.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
Another very enjoyable solve, Two quick tube rides, then polished off at home, under 30 minutes in all. I didn't notice the pairings until reading about them here. FOI USER, LOI CANER. Yaroo!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
10:08 here for a most enjoyable puzzle. Not surprisingly (given my ignorance of things foodie) I'd never heard of "quark" as a cheese, and probably agonised rather too long over it (having failed to spot the Nina), as I did with the slightly unlikely-sounding CANER.

Great blogging, BTW. Thanks to both you and the setter.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
34m 40s
I agree a fine puzzle. I am sure that my time would have been quicker had I not been distracted by the thought of all the gloating going on in Dorset. Here's to tomorrow, bring on Wordsworth, Shakespeare et al.
Jan. 24th, 2014 12:50 am (UTC)
Re: 34m 40s
Ha! More like Colley Cibber and Thomas Peacock!
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:56 pm (UTC)
I agree - a very nice puzzle. I missed the paired clues. The only clue I didn't like was 9ac.

Nice too to see a couple of bones thrown to science. It often strikes me as odd that there are more references to, say, cricket or Polynesia than there are to 50% of human endeavour. Imagine the fun that could be had clueing "zoonoses", "phosphorolysis" or "intron"... Ah well, best stop before I go all ranty.

Jan. 24th, 2014 09:11 am (UTC)
About 5 years ago I analysed a month's worth of clues and answers into the type of GK required to solve them and published the results here. You wont be surprised to learn that the arts, geography and cricket were well represented with the sciences barely registering. I repeated the exercise the next year with similar results.

Since then the number of references to the sciences and scientists has increased whislt the number of references to poets and painters has fallen. I think as older setters retire and younger people replace them we may see that trend continue.
Jan. 24th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
I remember a comment by Carl Sagan that went something like "for a species that is so exquisitely dependent on science, it is remarkable how Ignorant of it most of us are. ."
Jan. 25th, 2014 11:28 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised by Jimbo's findings (nice work, by the way). I would also guess that at least tenfold more people are employed in the sciences (let alone in technology) than in the arts, history and geography combined, which makes the bias even harder to understand.

I think a lot of it stems from a deeply ingrained notion that one ought to know a little about the arts and about history, but that it's acceptable or even attractive to be bewildered by anything scientific.

Mathematics is also an interesting case. Number theory, in particular, is so beautiful that it can really be considered an art, yet most people look on it as a closed book.
Jan. 23rd, 2014 11:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a most delightful blog, chatty, informative and a pleasure to read. Like many others, I totally missed the paired device; so looking back, bravo, setter!
Feb. 25th, 2014 01:00 am (UTC)
Only being fairly new to cryptic crosswords, can someone please explain the "pairing" of the clues in todays crossword (25691). Am in Australia so I think we are behind with your numbers. Thankyou.
Feb. 25th, 2014 02:18 am (UTC)
It's explained in the comments above bu Keriothe
The down columns read:
RECEPTION CLASS (a uk schools' thing)
Feb. 26th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)
Re: Pairing
Nice to see some other antipodeans here. District was my favourite.
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )

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