Times 28593 – something fishy?

Another really enjoyable Wednesday puzzle, taking me about 20 minutes to solve and parse. I had to contemplate 24a and my LOI 13a for a minute or three , otherwise it flowed in nicely. I’m slightly uncomfortable with pipsqueak, an endearment (not? hardly?) I sometimes suffered as a child, as you can imagine.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, letters deleted [in square brackets].

1 Boy with spirit wrapping up game he won (6,7)
VICTOR LUDORUM – VICTOR a boy, RUM a spirit, insert LUDO a game. Literally, “winner of the games” in Latin.
8 Shaft, access directly into tunnel, first of all (4)
ADIT – initial letters as shown above.
9 Insult someone male, equally hollow (4,1,5)
COCK A SNOOK – COCK a male, AS = equally, NOOK a hollow. Apparently a SNOOK is a fish like a pike, and the etymology of “cock a snook” is unknown.
10 Fated somehow to have cardinal locked up — unlikely to locate the key? (4-4)
TONE-DEAF – (FATED)* has ONE a cardinal number inserted.
11 Hill to the west in Manhattan, say, within reach (6)
NEARBY – BRAE, a hill, reversed inside NY meaning New York (city) of which Manhattan is a part.
13 A no good personality into crack — there’s something for the criminal record! (7,3)
GANGSTA RAP – A, NG (no good) STAR (personality) inserted into GAP = crack. My LOI, not being very familiar with music of this ilk.
16 Fastening hardly by one’s ear? (4)
KNOT – presumably sounding like “NOT” which at a stretch can mean hardly. For example, “Arsenal are going to win the Premiership. Not!”
17 Feed on this, not that man’s nipple! (4)
TEAT – TEA (feed, a meal) T[HIS].
18 A noted pain troubling native far, far away (10)
ANTIPODEAN – (A NOTED PAIN)*. Far away from London, yes but not from all our regular solvers like MartinP.
20 Prayer penned by dude for qualification (6)
CAVEAT – AVE (Maria) inside CAT a cool dude.
22 Reward left buried in concrete (8)
REQUITAL – QUIT = left, inside REAL = concrete.
24 Turtle said to metamorphose, sound as an insect (10)
STRIDULATE – (TURTLE SAID)*. I vaguely remembered this word once I had the anagram fodder to play with. It’s the noise crickets make by rubbing their parts together.
26 Noble king owing bags (4)
DUKE – DUE ((owing) bags K for king.
27 Hash, a chow’s chow? (4,9)
DOGS BREAKFAST – double definition, of an amusing nature.
1 Film-maker in arcade: movie getting shot (5,6)
2 Two characters discussed — one’s pretty (5)
CUTIE – sounds like Q T two characters.
3 A certain four sections cut originally in a shorter broadcast (9)
ORCHESTRA – C (cut originally) inside (A SHORTER)*. A normal orchestra has four sections; strings, woodwind, brass and percussion.
4 Prisoner admitting umpteen crimes initially, evil chap (7)
LUCIFER – LIFER (prisoner) with U C inserted.
5 Empty water, five tons on top (5)
DRAIN – RAIN = water, with D (500, five tons) on top.
6 Extremely anxious about answer, turned over (9)
RANSACKED -RACKED (extremely anxious) with ANS(wer) inserted.
7 Temper evident having missed baseline? Beastly call (3)
MOO – MOOD (showing temper) has its last letter dropped.
12 See red, blue and silver in container (4,1,6)
BLOW A GASKET – BASKET (container) has LOW (blue) AG (Ag, silver) inserted. Do cars still have gaskets? They don’t seem to blow these days, if so. My 1936 Austin 10 did, I remember.
14 Group of people gawping at her in gorgeous clothes (9)
GATHERING -hidden word as above.
15 Nobody making two high-pitched sounds (9)
PIPSQUEAK – well, a PIP and a SQUEAK are two high-pitched sounds, apparently from 1910 this became a word meaning an insignificant person, and in WWI was a nickname for a small type of German shell which made a high pitched noise.
19 Sharp part cut, chopped and served raw (7)
TARTARE – TART (sharp) ARE[A] = part, cut.
21 Printer in police station? One of two up for approval (5)
THUMB – Thumbs up! meaning getting approval, I think this refers to the taking of thumb and finger “prints” at a police station.
23 Country offering signed visas, every other one ticked off (5)
INDIA – alternate letters as above.
25 Loathsome person kicking out a fox (3)


76 comments on “Times 28593 – something fishy?”

  1. 26:29, WOE
    I biffed POI COCK A SNOOK, imperfectly remembered as …SNOOT. I biffed a bunch–NEARBY, GANGSTA, STRIDULATE, RANSACKED–only parsing them post-submission. NHO 1ac, but I had VICTOR L and looked it up; I also didn’t know LUDO. All in all, a very unsatisfactory performance.

    1. If ‘A on B’ means B, A in an across clue, then indeed it needs to be T[his] + EAT (feed).

  2. Like Kevin an unsatisfactory performance – never heard Victor Ludorum and don’t know Latin, but had heard of ludo, so that was a fingers-crossed guess. As was drain – never heard of D as 5 tons, and indeed it’s not in my Oxford or Chambers or Macquarie, or the on-line Chambers or Collins. So not a satisfying finish to an otherwise nice and tricky puzzle.
    Agree with Nigel F-H on teat; and I think antipodean can mean on the opposite side, so antipodeans are far far away from me in Australia, somewhere in the North Atlantic ocean.
    Liked ransacked and knot, slow to see them; also cock a snook and dog’s breakfast were pleasing.
    Seemed to be lots of Ks in the grid today.

    1. Somewhere in Portugal for me Isla. I checked when it came up only recently. But yes, wherever you are, antipodeans are far, far away.

    2. I took it as ton=100 (I forget why), D=500 (Roman numeral), ergo D=5 tons. I assume that that’s what Pip said.

      1. One hundred runs are often referred to as a ton.
        Or “ton up” – travelling at 100 mph.

        Many thanks to setter and blogger.

        1. Just me being slow. I know both those tons, even though we’re entirely metric, but somehow could not see the ton as anything except a weight. Even after reading the blog.

    3. It’s worth remembering that unless otherwise indicated in a clue, in Times puzzles geographical directions, distances etc are viewed from a London perspective.

  3. 20:49. I had already decided to award myself an all-correct, on the basis that VICTOR LUDORUM and STRIDULATE were the best I could come up with given my limited GK. The fact that they were correct was a nice bonus.

    My time wasn’t helped by bunging in the obvious DAVID CAMERON at 1dn. So obvious that I didn’t even notice I’d run out of squares.

    Enjoyed this puzzle, COD to BLOW A GASKET. Thanks Pip and setter.

    1. Don’t forget that apart from the monarch, living people never appear in the Times Crossword (Mon-Sat). Peter seems to allow it on Sundays though. So it was never going to be David Cameron.

    2. I presume you were confusing ex-PM David Cameron with film maker James Cameron?

      1. Indeed I was. Thanks.

        So it seems my answer was perfectly valid apart from the wordplay, the definition, the enumeration, the crossing letters and the qualification for inclusion. You can see why I entered it with such confidence.

  4. First time I’ve felt like I was “in the zone” since restarting my morning stab at the 15×15. I was amazed to get 1a after a few seconds thought and enjoyed the solve, aided by some minor biffing (NEARBY, KNOT). Held up 2 or 3 mins slightly by my old habit of solving a clue, putting the cursor at char 2, and typing from char 1 …but I guess I can fix that tendency (again).

    26:06 is a good time for me at this difficulty level – very satisfying.

  5. I found this hard work but I got there in the end with fingers crossed for STRIDULATE which I NHO, although I don’t think there is any other way to put the letters in with the crossers that is plausible. An enjoyable if slow solve. I knew VICTOR LUDORUM and got it fairly early which helped a lot in the top half.

  6. I rather laboured with this, and biffed COCK A SNOOK, NEARBY, and THUMB. All parsed soon after completion.

    TIME 13:36

  7. What Paul said about STRIDULATE, although I still managed to be amazed when I looked it up later and found it was correct.

    In addition to the above where I had to wait for all the checkers before taking a stab at the answer, my solving of this one suffered from never managing to work out the answer at 1ac and its absence throughout slowed me down considerably. By the end I had concluded the first word was VICTOR, but faced with L?D?RUM towards the second word I was out of ideas, assuming the answer was either a Latin expression I didn’t know or that Victor may have been a deceased sports champion known to half the world, but not to me. When an hour had passed since I started I gave up the ghost and resorted to aids.

    Both STRIDULATE and VICTOR LUDORUM are making their debut in any Times puzzle since the start of the TfTT era.

    Pip, listeners to The Archers from some years ago will remember that David’s daughter, Philippa, used to take great exception to still being called ‘Pipsqueak’ by her father when she reached her teens.

    1. I go to some lengths to avoid hearing the Archers, fortunately Mrs Pip has ceased listening as much as she once did.

      1. I broke the habit eventually after some 50 years and am off it now for ever. It was the dire Covid Monologues that did for me, so at least something positive came out of the pandemic, not that it counts for much against all the negatives.

    2. Jack, I was AWOL yesterday so missed congratulating you on your 600th blog.

      A phenomenal contribution, here’s to the next 600.

      1. Many thanks, Galspray, and to all others who posted messages of support and appreciation.

        1. I missed both days, so I’ll add here that my scorecard now says six tons and still at the crease. Well done.

  8. … there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.
    (A Portrait OT Artist AA Young Man, Joyce)

    25 mins mid-first-brekker. I liked it, especially the hidden gathering.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  9. 14:29. Quite often I submit with one or two doubts, so it’s nice on occasion, as with today, to submit with confidence (though it may sometimes be misplaced). I had the same two unknowns as others – VICTOR LUDORUM and STRIDULATE but both were fairly clued. Although the unchecked letters in the latter could in theory have gone anywhere STRIDULATE just sounded like a word.

    1. Agree about STRIDULATE. With the checkers in place, all the vowels were taken care of. From there it had to be STRI….. and you only had to arrange the D, L and T. The correct solution looked very much the most likely one.

      Easy to say that now of course.

  10. 16:51. I didn’t enjoy this. Three-quarters of it was too easy and the rest was too hard. The hard bits were hard because of the requirement to construct a random Latin expression from wordplay and then guess a couple of random words (racked, not) where the setter had decided that using synonyms as definitions is old hat. Harrumph.

  11. 23:18

    Had heard of VICTOR LUDORUM but couldn’t have said what it meant. NHO STRIDULATE but of the 5 unchecked letters, I figured that S and R had to fill chars 1 and 3 and took a punt on the rest.

    MER for part = AREA – seemed a very vague definition.

    Didn’t know REQUITAL as a word

  12. 48 minutes with POI THUMB and then LOI STRIDULATE, an unknown to me word clued with an anagram. COD to DOG’S BREAKFAST. I found this hard throughout. It’s as well my kids went to posh schools or I’d have wondered who Victor Ludorum was. Thank you Pip and setter.

  13. 16:34. All but finished in 12 minutes, but then took an age to see the remaining clues. LOI NEARBY when I finally spotted the BRAE going backwards. BLOW A GASKET took a while to come too. I liked THUMB and GANGSTA RAP among others. Thanks Pip and setter.

  14. 41 minutes. REQUITAL was a new word for me too, but I was mainly held up by 1a, trying to convince myself there was a Victor Lindrum, a long-lost relative of Horace and Walter. Of course DRAIN (I liked the D = ‘five tons’) put paid to that.

    With GANGSTA RAP here, a ‘hip-hop artist’ elsewhere today, and a Nintendo game series-based theme somewhere else yesterday, I think I’m getting too old for this.

    Thanks to Pip and setter

    1. Ha! Yeah I spent a while trying to dredge up the name of Walter’s brother whilst remaining very doubtful about a long-dead Aussie billiards player getting a guernsey in the Times.

  15. 39m 10s but put KNOB iso KNOT for some reason.
    I’m fairly sure that at my grammar school’s sports day we had a VICTOR LUDORUM.
    Thanks for the name check, Pip!

  16. Half an hour or so. I forgot that the first word of GANGSTA RAP is spelled with an ‘a’ at the end rather than ‘er’, so I hesitated over that before the T from ORCHESTRA set me straight. Both VICTOR LUDORUM and REQUITAL were unknowns but gettable from wordplay and reasonable-sounding answers, I didn’t parse TEAT at all and only parsed DRAIN after I’d entered it, and I eventually dredged up STRIDULATE from somewhere in the back of my mind.

    An enjoyable crossword that fell into place bit by bit – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Moo
    LOI Knot
    CODs Gangsta rap / Tone-deaf

  17. About 20 mins
    Good puzzle. Stridulate – new one on me.
    Thanks, p.

  18. Raced through this, luckily knowing both STRIDULATE and VICTOR LUDORUM (rare perks of a classical education). Was on for a single figure time, but then ludicrously got held up for over 15 minutes by CAVEAT. Couldn’t see it, even with all crossers. The penny dropped at 26 mins. What a chump. COD to CUTIE.

  19. Misspelled ‘antipodean’ so my fairly quick solving time counted for nothing. I’m pretty sure that this puzzle was set by the compiler whose style no longer appeals to me. Qaos is good in the Grauniad.

  20. 11:54

    I can’t believe I knew a Latin expression that many others didn’t know. That’s got to be a first, but without the game in there I might have spelled it LADORUM. I can’t tell you why I knew the term but I knew it and what it meant.

    I could complain about the insect thing being an obscure term clued as an anagram but as has been noted, with all the checkers in place there wasn’t really any other likely combination of letters.

  21. Completed but with a typo. I had written GANGSTA RAP and parsed it then wrote GANGSTE RAP in the grid.
    Didn’t parse TEAT needing the blog to understand or GATHERING as I missed the hidden. STRIDULATE was also a matter of fitting in the remaining fodder correctly.
    I enjoyed breaking down the wordplay for BLOW A GASKET. Also, PIPSQUEAK.

    Just noticed I had written TARE=Chopped? At the bottom of the puzzle now realise I had the wordplay wrong with TAR(T) TARE.

  22. I had no problem with VICTOR LUDORUM as it was awarded to the boy who was considered the best overall performer at the annual sports day at my grammar school.
    It was a pretty steady solve from top to bottom for me and I finished well inside target at 30.55. My pleasure was short lived however when I found I had carelessly inserted GANGSTERAP at 13ac, having failed to return to it to properly parse it. It was particularly annoying as I know perfectly well how it is spelt.

  23. At least we didn’t have the ORCHESTRA – carthorse anagram. Of course we never would, in The Times. But we’ve had several other chestnuts, some of which have been well-received. Why does this one in particular get such a bad press? I had no great problems (34 minutes), with STRIDULATE dredged up from somewhere. DRAIN I entered thinking it was a mistake (having taken quite a while to tumble to the D), as I had the definition as ‘Empty water’ and thought there was a double usage of ‘water’. In 12dn I wondered what a lowasket was, and since I’d only ever heard of tartare in sauce tartare I didn’t know it meant raw and chopped.

  24. NHO STRIDULATE, and didn’t have the also-NHO TOD at that point, but the other crossers were kind in that they used all the vowels, so it more or less had to start STR- . From there, the most plausible-looking arrangement of consonants turned out to be correct, phew!

  25. Well I went to a public school (via Direct Grant in the 60s) and we never had a Victor Ludorum as far as I know. Mind I might have bunked off sports day as I am not sporty.
    Stridulate jumped straight out at me when I saw the anagrist, it is a word, like crepuscular, that is so odd it sticks in the mind.
    For the gathering I saw that the AT HER IN was all there, and wondered where the 2 Gs came from. DOH!
    Never worked out COCK A SNOOK, being dim AGAIN, so thanks blogger.

  26. MOO went in first followed by more top row danglers. Took a while to see how DRAIN parsed, and RANSACKED also took its time coming. ADIT saved me from biffing MOVIE CAMERA. STRIDULATE was constructed after the checked squares were filled. VICTOR LUDORUM rang a bell once the checkers were in. Liked BLOW A GASKET. CUTIE was LOI. 19:25. Thanks setter and Pip.

  27. Reasonable effort for me, given the snitch.

    LOI STRIDULATE painstakingly constructed from the crossers. VICTOR LUDORUM went in relatively early for me, and I only did 3 years of Latin. I liked THUMB and BLOW A GASKET.


  28. 18:04. No problems with VICTOR LUDORUM – one of those Latin phrases that I thought had passed fairly thoroughly into English – but my Latin/60s rocker vocab abandoned me at DRAIN where I couldn’t see the relevance of the five tons. As per an earlier comment, I also parsed 17ac as T + EAT.

  29. I really enjoyed this despite clocking up three pink squares due to a brain crash at PIPSQEEAK .

    I lked the contrast between GANGSTA RAP and the retro BLOW A GASKET, COCK A SNOOK and PIPSQUEAK (“Pip, Squeak and Wilfred” anyone? ).

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  30. VICTOR LUDORUM remembered from The Horse Of The Year Show on the BBC.

  31. I struggled to finish this in 40 minutes. Victor Ludorum was familiar, but a late solve. STRIDULATE was totally new, but seemed a more likely option than STRILUDATE. GANGSTA RAP took me ages to get, and I couldn’t get DOG’S DINNER out of my mind, and was slow to get the other meal.
    Several clues unparsed, but I was happy with the answers so didn’t scrutinize too hard.
    I rather liked 1d, which had me searching the anagram fodder for a film director.

  32. My children clearly went to the same school as everyone else’s. No problem with VICTOR L but plenty of problems with everything else. Remembered/hear the phrase as COCK A SNOOP. Couldn’t dredge up KNOT despite extensive anagram trawls as the definition of hardly seems a bit loose. NHO of requital so despite having all but 2 letters I had to resort to aids to find REAL. All rather slow but liked DOGS BREAKFAST and the criminal record.

    Thanks Pip.

  33. A miserable DNF as I had mistakenly put in PIGS BREAKFAST which left TOD
    unanswerable and , therefore, not enough crossers in place to work out the NHO anagram of STRIDULATE.

    I liked BLOW A GASKET and , yes Pip, they are very much still used in modern engineering, especially in petrol/diesel engines.

    Ho Hum. Thanks Pip and setter

  34. NHO ‘stridulate’, desperately tried for a famous director for 1dn, and having failed, then tried for something in nature that might produce a film (skin?). Failed again, and resorted to aids. An inanimate device never occurred to me!
    Enjoyable puzzle despite being a DNF.

  35. Czerniawski, the pole vaulter, was the victor ludorum at my school over 60 years ago.

  36. Managed to finish in 29 minutes on the tube, which I feel was not too bad. My LOI was CAVEAT which took me simply ages.
    At 1 down I saw CAMERA in the letters quite fast, STRIDULATE and VICTOR L were both known to me. Sometimes I have the same problems / mistakes as everyone else, today it seems the opposite.
    Thanks everyone

  37. I had cock a “snoop”, which is what i thought the saying was, but couldn’t parse it and changed to snook. Enjoyed gangsta rap and LOI was stridulate, being the only logical biff I could come up with from the anagram and crossers.

  38. 24 mins. No problem with the hard ones, just the easy ones caused the problem. LOI TARTARE NHO the meaning, only the sauce, but took too long working out the cryptic.

  39. Wow! A slow start today with nothing appearing until the last across clue, and eventually roundly defeated by VICTOR LUDORUM (even after revealing it I couldn’t parse it, but that was because RU was the game which immediately occurred) and the NHO STRIDULATE, where missing the fact that it was an anagram didn’t help. BLOW A GASKET took ages as well, as I was sure the container had to be a packet. All in all vraiment le petit déjeuner du chien.

  40. Defeated by GANGSTA RAP in the end. I think STRIDULATE was vaguely familiar and VICTOR LUDORUM seemed very likely to mean winner of the games with the genetive ending being one of the very few things I can remember from schooldays! TOD was also a guess for me. Thanks for the blog.

  41. All straightforward today. Last one in Gangsta Rap. 22 minutes.

  42. Very slow solve, but completed successfully in the end. Enjoyed all the clues, difficult to choose a favourite. Did not like D = 5 ton, thinking of V & T or perhaps L as a Tonne is 1000 kg. However the explanation by Adrian of a ton = 100 runs or 100 mph clarifies things very well.
    Thanks Adrian, Pip and setter

  43. A bit over an hour, but still a very enjoyable puzzle with 5 tons of unknowns (even more unknown to me as a non-Brit) which all eventually succumbed to decipherment of the wordplay. I was sure 1 ac was going to have something to do with Harry Potter (and would therefore be impossible for me to solve) until I saw that the boy would not be a LAD, but VICTOR, and with RUM at the end as a spirit I summoned up all the Latin I knew and put in the right answer. There were many other clues where the wordplay didn’t work the way I was expecting, so it was a slow, but eventually successful, solve.

  44. Is decipherment a word? Any’ow, was rather unhappy with my effort until I came here and learned that many more seasoned solvers also resorted to aids to finish. Which I did, with STRIDULATE (NHO), TONE DEAF and CAVEAT never solved. Hard work, but enjoyed COCK A SNOOK and BLOW A GASKET ( because they fell easily), LUCIFER and THUMB.

  45. Grinned at dog’s brekkie. Befuddled by 19 done where served raw was misprinted in the Australian as serve draw. Bah.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. Another late entry from down under, but an enjoyable tussle none the less for Mrs H and myself. Please don’t cock a snook at me/us! We love coming here for all the interaction and illumination.
      Thanks to Eladnq for pointing out the misprint in The Orstralian (as her late majesty might have said!)
      Like some others, we misentered (?Tolkien tree-herd with absolutely no tricks and five hundred incorrect ?) “gangster ap” 🙁 , while “knot” had us bemused.
      We add our belated congratulations to Jack for his amazing milestone.

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