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23,604 - easy except for two

I don't have a lot to say about this puzzle. It was generally fair, had a good mix of clues and clean surfaces, a couple of words that were unfamiliar to me, but it wasn't overly difficult. In fact, if I hadn't been held up by the two unfamilar words that I had to guess from the wordplay, I would have solved this in less than five minutes. As it was, I took just over seven.



Across
1M(<=RANI)ET - Originally, wasn't sure about RANI = "queen" because I didn't think that they were synonymous, but a dictionary check indicated that, in some parts of the world, RANI and "queen" mean much the same thing.
9GEN-DAR(MERI(t))E - French police force which are actually part of the military.
10P.R.-O
11E(missio)N-TIRE
12MAR-M.O.-SET - this word came up recently in another daily puzzle - funny how that happens!
14P.A.-N(ICST)ATIONS where ICST is (tics)* - good surface
17CRE(MEAN-GLA(d)-IS)E - one of those clues where the wordplay takes longer to work out than the answer, which was fairly obvious once you had a few checked letters.
21MA-GI(CIA)N - the pedant in me thinks that the first "in" in the clue is unnecessary for the wordplay, and, although it makes the surface read better, it could be misleading.
23PIN-ETA where ETA is (tea)* - the second last answer I got. A pinetum is apparently a plantation of pine trees.
25OWL - (LOW with the "head" moved to the "tail" - I quickly wrote in TIT, thinking that the wordplay indicated a palindrome. In my defence, I may have expected "head to tail" in a down clue, rather than an across one.
26P-ROL(ETAR)IAT - (<=RATE) in (<=TAILOR) - like 17 across, this one takes longer to explain than to solve.
 
Down
2N-ON(S)TOP - where S = "head of state"
4TAME - "owned by" "quieT AMErican"
5ME-R(CANT)-ILE
7IMP-AS TO - laying paint thickly on to a canvas
8AMORTISE - (to a miser)* - as an accountant, this one came very easily to me.
13SCANDALOUS - (sauna's cold)* - liked this clue.
15T-(c)RITIC-ALE - had to guess this one, because I didn't know until I looked it up that triticale is a wheat/rye hybrid.
16S(CH)MOOZ-E - SMOOZ = (<=ZOOMS)
20PAL-TRY
22COPSE - regularly in "CrOw PaSsEs"
24MESS(age)

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
petebiddlecombe
May. 18th, 2007 11:48 am (UTC)
Not a good puzzle for me. A good start was spoiled by carelessly writing in PANIC STRICKEN at 14A, which would probably have been hyphenated for one thing, and of course didn't fit the wordplay once you got past PA and tics*. Then had a struggle with the SE corner which was mostly blank for 3 or 4 minutes, with only ELEGIAC having gone in first time. Then saw PALTRY and MESSAGE, which should have been easy, SKETCHY (loft = sky? sporting verbs, Peter!) and PROLETARIAT, where I found cut = TAILOR quite tricky. Then after some more pondering, saw TRITICALE and PINETA - both new to me, though with PINETA there is at least the more familar 'arboretum' to help it make sense (not spotted until much later). Total time 15:50.
linxit
May. 18th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
I found it pretty easy apart from the SE corner too. Got there in under 10 mins, then probably another 10 to finish! Not sure why now - the wordplay was mostly straightforward, but PALTRY and ELEGIAC took me ages to spot. Once I got those the rest fell out pretty quickly. I knew TRITICALE was right thanks to Star Trek! Remember the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles"? The wheat they were carrying in the hold was called Quadro-Triticale!
i_am_magoo
May. 18th, 2007 12:15 pm (UTC)
Bravo
I think David Hogg's time is excellent. All the answers seemd to be taking me longer to get than warranted, and then I ran up against the two obscurities he mentions. After a few seconds I was quite confident about PINETA (from hazy memory, I think) but I had to just hope TRITICALE was right from the wordplay, and it didn't look marvellous. I bravely stopped the clock at 7m38s and convinced myself it would have been a very good time when TRITICALE turned out right. Not so apparently
fgbp
May. 18th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Bravo
Bravo indeed. This took me 14:05, but with FIXETA(!) for PINETA. I was finding a lot of the answers were obvious without needing to construe the wordplay, when I ground to a complete halt 3/4 of the way through.
MARMOSET is one of those words that might have been invented for the crossword :-)
dhogg
May. 18th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Bravo
I'm beginning to doubt whether my watch was working, because most comments are indicating that my time was faster than expected! This puzzle just seemed to click into place - on another day, could just as easily have taken thirty minutes on another day.

cazouls
May. 18th, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
GENDARMERIE
Although this was under the control of the military until quite recently, it was a year or two back transfered to the interior ministry, who already had control of the national police.

There are at least two police forces in France, the gendarmerie, who look after the rural areas and smaller settlements, while the national police look after the larger towns and cities. Many smaller towns also have their own municipal police as well.

Harry Shipley

(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
15d and 20d
I didn't understand the removal of C from CRITIC. Can someone please explain why PAL=china?
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
Re: 15d and 20d *and* 27a
Sorry... didn't get the double definition for EXPRESS either :(
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
Re: 15d and 20d *and* 27a
15 Report entered by reviewer, not about cereal (9)
"Not about" means without C (= circa = about). Of course there are two "circas" in critic ...
27 Particular show (7)
Particular as in "my particular/express wish"
Show as in "Express/show emotion"
20 Worthless china with crack (6)
China plate = mate in Cockney rhyming slang. V. nice clue, I thought
crossword_fiend
May. 23rd, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
You know, this puzzle's a lot harder if the solver is not British! I don't know Cockney rhyming slang, don't know why GEN might mean "information," never heard of PANIC STATIONS, don't use M.O. to mean "doctor," and...I could go on. Wonderful to have the explanation of most of the clues, though. Thanks!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )