Times 28221 – the setter’s revenge?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Perhaps I have been too ready, on recent Wednesdays, to say too otfen that the puzzles were fun but lacked challenge or obscurity. Anyway, this one was hard and had several obscurities, as far as I was concerned. The LH side went in in about 20 minutes, 13d opening it up nicely, but the RH side, apart from SPAM and WONT, had me flummoxed for a good while and I needed a trawl from a solver to get to the bottom of 17a. Even now I am not sure I have that explained well. Or maybe the little grey cells are having a day off. How was your Brazilian geography? Did you get the ‘jabber’ thing?

1 Liqueur, like punch, over after a month (10)
MARASCHINO – MAR (a month) AS (like) A CHIN (a punch) O (over).
6 Send unsolicited plans back (4)
SPAM – MAPS reversed.
9 Key indicator in case covering appeal: a necessity (6,4)
LITMUS TEST – LEST (in case) around IT (appeal) MUST (a necessity).
10 Custom I’m not going to obey! (4)
WONT – or won’t, not going to obey.
12 Exclusion of chess player crying out to be heard (12)
BLACKBALLING – BLACK (not white) BALLING sounds like bawling.
15 The stuff of legend: from day one being seen in a sweater! (9)
ARTHURIAN – THUR I = day one, inside ARAN kind of chunky knit sweater. Appeared last Monday with a different clue.
17 Superior catch, perhaps, one that is in firm grip? (5)
CISCO – well I thought I knew my fish, but this was a new one; CISCO to me is a company that makes routers. Faced with C*S*O I found it quickly enough in a word search. I don’t quite understand the ‘superior’ in the clue; there’s nothing particularly superior about this salmon-like fish. I can see IS and C for catch inside CO for firm, i.e. in firm grip, but that doesn’t seem very satisfactory either.
18 Object to having invite not guaranteed at first (5)
THING – initial (at first) letters of To Having Invite Not Guaranteed.
19 Eyes smart manoeuvres that carry a fair amount of interest? (4,5)
20 Important double save: top class work, by George! (5,7)
MAJOR BARBARA – one from the TLS crossword, perhaps. If you knew George Bernard Shaw wrote the play, this was easy, especially if you had the MAJOR bit first, as I did. MAJOR meaning important, then BAR BAR = double ‘save’, and A for top class.
24 For The Listener, the solvers join together as one (4)
UNIT – sounds like ‘YOU KNIT’, the solvers join together.
25 Mean to keep winning, becoming champion (5,2,3)
STAND UP FOR – STAND FOR = mean, insert UP for winning, if you stand up for something you are championing it.
26 Scanty attire of old king showing his belly again? (4)
TUTU – King TUT has his U (belly, central letter) repeated. I’m not sure I’d describe a tutu as ‘scanty’ as it is normally worn with proper tights by a ballerina, it’s more of a decorative skirt, but our setter thinks otherwise.
27 Jabber in front of MI6, providing possible explanation (10)
HYPOTHESIS – HYPO has a lot of meanings, most derived as abbreviations for longer words with the hypo meaning ‘under’ from Greek, like hypoglycaemic. Here it is slang for HYPODERMIC syringe, or ‘jabber’. Then we have THE SIS or Secret Intelligence Service as the UK MI6 is now named. That’s a possible explanation.

1 Draw out minutes and sort (4)
MILK – M (minutes) ILK (sort, kind of).
2 Hotelier slowing down by sharp double bend (4)
RITZ – RIT. short for ritardando, musical slowing down; Z having two sharp bends in it.
3 America’s mischief, awfully sly, left UK bearing new grudge (12)
SKULLDUGGERY – here we have one anagram inside another anagram, which I don’t remember seeing before. (GRUDGE)* inside (SLY L UK)*. It is a word in English English too, but usually spelt with one L. The American version can have LL, Collins says. Origin was a Scots word, SCULDUDDERY, apparently.
4 Designed by boffins, possibly in white coats (2-3)
HI-TEC – hidden as above.
5 Some tack, based on changes, going in opposite directions (9)
NOSEBANDS – (BASED ON)* inside N S (opposite directions).
7 One receiving pay slip: ring line guaranteeing payment? (10)
PROMISSORY – PRO (one receiving pay, not amateur) MISS (slip) O (ring) RY (railway line).
8 State graduate will bring in no money (4,6)
MATO GROSSO – MA (graduate) TO GROSS O = to bring in no money. If you knew Mato Grosso was one of the states of Brazil, you were fine. If not, faced with M*T*/G***S*, unless you knew CISCO first, you were probably scratching your head and guessing it was in Mexico.
11 Scan picture, and most of the sketch (5,7)
FLICK THROUGH – picture = FLICK, slang for a movie. TH (most of THE) and ROUGH (sketch).
13 Equal time needed by soldier, perhaps, on a horse (10)
TANTAMOUNT – T (time) ANT (soldier insect) A MOUNT (a horse).
14 Band — collective appearing in seedy venue? (5,5)
STRIP JOINT – band = STRIP, collective = JOINT.
16 Tax nicely adjusted? Not quite! (9)
21 Call for House to scrap leave (5)
BINGO – BIN (scrap) GO (leave). I have never been to Bingo proper, but I believe, when one has a full card or ‘house’, one yells ‘BINGO!’.
22 Starts or finishes (4)
OFFS – double definition, OFFS plural as in ‘from the off’ and OFFS as in kills.
23 God reveals that bishop has departed (4)
ARES – BARES (reveals) loses B. Greek god of war.

45 comments on “Times 28221 – the setter’s revenge?”

  1. It’s I (one) + SC (that is) in CO (firm). Found in Lake Superior apparently!

    Edited at 2022-02-23 01:11 am (UTC)

      1. SOED:

        sc. abbreviation.
        Scilicet (= that is to say).

        I’m surprised you didn’t know it, Pip, as it comes up so regularly in Times crosswords. I have to admit I often forget it though and I always go to i.e. first.

        1. The only trouble I’ve had with scilicet is once entering ‘scilecit’ from anagram fodder in a Championship puzzle. I was not a happy camper.
  2. Really difficult, but only the one obscurity: CISCO, solved from parsing the same as jackkt. Major Barbara I’d heard of but didn’t know if it was book/play/music or who wrote it.
    NE went straight in, but then only dribs and drabs. My Brazilian geography is great, Mato Grosso soon in, then promissory after wont. Two long ones 13 and 14 down were slow, didn’t understand the second U of tutu (which I don’t think of as being particularly scanty). The two long ones across the bottom also slow, wondered if syringesis was like Tourettes, made you yell and shout and wave your arms about. Needed those two for the ante- and penultimate ones in OFFS and ARES.
    Over 200 on my NITCH, so hardest one for a while. Thanks setter and (Tardis-equipped?) blogger.
  3. 75 minutes, about half an hour of that on the NHO CISCO which I bunged in with eyes heavenwards, only because it seemed to fit the wordplay, which was as per Jack above. I needed to look it up after finishing but the ‘Superior’ bit was v. good. Also held up a bit by OFFS, for which I first put the equally plausible “goes”. I missed the anagram within an anagram bit of SKULLDUGGERY which went in from the def. For me, MAJOR BARBARA = Wendy Hiller.

    A couple of reminders of days long ago. I first heard of the MATO GROSSO in a Biggles book and CISCO is instantly associated with “The Cisco Kid” B&W (though apparently the first TV series to be filmed in colour, according to Wikipedia) TV Western series – “Oh, Pancho!”, “Oh, Cisco!”

    Thanks to Pip and setter

  4. I’m hoping that workout has tired my brain enough to let me go back to sleep now. I solved most of it unaided, but needed a check on the fish and put a guessed MOTO GROSSA into Google only to find it corrected for me. 35:59 with a little bit of help at the end. Liked FLICK THROUGH. Thanks setter and Pip.
  5. Took forever, and finally gave up on CISCO. But I’d already looked up NOSEB… , then accidentally saw WONT in Pip’s introduction; I probably wouldn’t have got it, anyway, being too tired to trawl the alphabet to W. Got BARBAR fairly early on (but not before I thought of BUTBAR, BARBUT, & BUTBUT). I knew MATO GROSSO, but it was a long time coming, although MINAS GERAIS uselessly came to mind. Does ‘TO gross O’=’bring in no money’? I didn’t know how to account for the TO.
    1. 8dn. I think you have to take the whole clue other than ‘state’ as the wordplay, so ‘Graduate will bring in no money’ translates as ‘MA TO GROSS 0’.
      1. That makes sense; thanks. Thanks also for CISCO; I regularly forget SC for ‘that is’.
  6. My second consecutive DNF as I resorted to aids as the hour approached. I didn’t need as much help as yesterday but once again it was the NE corner that proved impossible to finish without assistance. Unlike yesterday however I had struggled to get going on this one but I speeded up a bit when I had more checkers to work with.

    The ones that beat me were MATO GROSSO, WONT and CISCO, all of which were slightly obscure and had devious wordplay.

  7. DNF again, second day in a row. Defeated by MATO GROSSO and the NHO CISCO (except, like everyone else in tech, for routers and VPNs and stuff).
  8. A bad start to my day off—thirty minutes for most of this, then five or six more constructing the unknown MATO GROSSO, then I plumped for CASIO rather than CISCO after another five or ten, on the grounds that either firm might’ve been named for a fish I’d not heard of and I couldn’t see the wordplay either way. I have sometimes in the past remembered “sc” for “that is”, but as I’ve only once seen it in a book since learning it from doing crosswords, it’s not something that sticks in my mind.

    Edited at 2022-02-23 08:05 am (UTC)

  9. That was very difficult for me. Thanks to jackkt and others I now understand CISCO and MATO GROSSO.
    Thanks, Pip, for the blog and particularly for PROMISSORY, ARTHURIAN, RITZ and HYPOTHESIS.
    Thank heavens for A-Level Geography all those years ago for enabling me to see MATO GROSSO.
    PS: I agree with you, Pip, about TUTU; hardly a scanty garment.

    Edited at 2022-02-23 08:41 am (UTC)

    1. I’ve never worn a tutu (not got the knees for it), but anything that doesn’t reach above the waist while leaving the thighs uncovered meets my definition of scanty.
  10. I started out fine — MARASCHINO
    Then thngs got quite slow
    With a fish I don’t know
    So a tentative end with the CISCO
  11. 54 minutes with LOI FLICK THROUGH. CISCO was unknown other than as the cowboy kid but could be constructed. Eventually! Not knowing the names of the fish in Lake Superior is clearly a major gap in my education. But I hope my old Geography master (O level 1961) would have been pleased I remembered the MATO GROSSO, a place I don’t think I’ve had call to remember since. I don’t think I’d have got ARTHURIAN if we hadn’t just had it. COD to MAJOR BARBARA. A difficult puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.
  12. Gave up after 30′, same three problems: CISCO, WONT; and MATO GROSSO unsure of spelling.

    Thanks pip and setter

  13. DNF. I try (perhaps not always successfully) to have the good grace to recognise when I am fairly beaten but I think CISCO and MATO GRASSO are just awful. I constructed CASIO from the wordplay (fits perfectly) but didn’t have the confidence to put it in.
    1. It seems we tend to agree on these things. MATO GROSSO is quite simply appalling. Astonished no one else has called it out. Funnily enough I did remember CISCO from a previous puzzle but didn’t help with the State
    1. As mentioned by jackkt and others…

      Cisco…. I + sc ( Latin scilicet meaning namely or i.e.) surrounded by co for firm giving you… Cisco.

      I did not hack it myself!

      Jovan. Hope this clarifies matters.

  14. DNF and thanks Pip for the explanations. Too many defeats to list here but not an enjoyable experience — an hour spent trying to solve what the setter evidently intended me never to be able to solve with out recourse to Mr Google. Not my idea of doing a crossword — time to try the Guardian maybe as this sort of feeling for me is now a regular occurance. Just saying — rant over!
  15. Is it Friday? A tough challenge, and aids needed for MATO GROSSO (NHO), and with one wrong — plumped for EROS at the end, knowing it wasn’t right, but I was already beyond redemption. I was very pleased to work out FLICK THROUGH and a few of the other toughies all by myself though. My time was just under the hour, so not bad considering.
  16. Might have known it – I had a typo in MATO GROSSO after all that (why would I be thinking of Mata Hari?). I’d like to “remuage” that CISCO, or at least throw it back. Also tempted by “Casio” – I had one of their calculators when they were new toys eons ago. 24.57 with a pink square.
  17. Well above my pay grade, but I decided to give it my best shot – and really enjoyed the PDMs as they arrived at a glacial pace. When I worked out MARASCHINO, I was quite stunned that I actually have momentary episodes of being a decent solver. Studied MAJOR BARBARA in English class aged 13-ish, which was helpful. Last time SC= “scilicet”, “namely” came up, I made a note in my sticky-note crib-sheet – of course I immediately forgot it.

    Threw in the towel with six clues either wrong (SLIDE THROUGH which never felt correct), or unsolved. Enjoyed the challenge anyway, and it felt like a learning experience – thanks Pip and setter

  18. As so often, a fairly smooth start which eventually foundered, needing aids and taking just over the hour. It didn’t help that, like some others, I’d never heard of MATO GROSSO or the fish CISCO (which to me seems rather clever: I like the Superior bit). How can Casio parse?
  19. Tough in parts but all (well, let’s say most) fairly clued today. I’d heard of MATO GROSSO – the states come up occasionally in quizzes though I never get the right one, but definitely not CISCO, which went in after a certain amount of thought. There is a point where you have to abandon the rule that you’ll only enter fully-parsed answers and accept that sometimes you just don’t know the word and cross your fingers.
  20. (which I was supposed to be studying.) It was in a three-in-one edition with the Major and the Devil’s Disciple. I remember both of those works as well as I remember St J so I wasn’t very diligent or sensible, would have got a better grade if I’d stuck to the script.
    Fooled by 1d, entered MULL, thinking that ULL was the root for ULLAGE, meaning (inter alia) spoiled beer, so assumed to ull is to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Mulling is pretty close to “drawing out” I would say. DOH.
    COD to 20a Major B.
    I regard a tutu as a scanty garment – in as much as the knickers of the ballerinas are very much in view, unless the tights are VERY thick.

  21. ….which I felt could have been clued in a less complicated manner. I must have heard of MATO GROSSO somewhere, as I was happy to get it from the parsing, and it seemed vaguely familiar. I never studied South America in geography, and a lot of it is a mystery to me.

    Certainly a tough workout, but solved within my maximum 20 minute target.

    TIME 15:55

  22. This time I rattled through all but the NE in good time, but the last 2 MATO GROSSO and CISCO left me so flummoxed that I gave in and used helpers. And I was so bamboozled that I had 2 typos as well. Rant not over yet, it appears.
  23. Scuppered today by the obscure fish (pretty imprecisely clued) crossing the obscure state. Held up as well by having CAPS in for 22ac (idea being that caps are similar to starting for a football team).
  24. Well, that was tough. Technically a DNF as I had to look up the fish and the Brazilian state. Both clever clues, but obscure enough that I don’t think I’d have got here without reference assistance. And I thought I was doing so well getting all the other tricky ones. Bah!
  25. I’m not a fan of alternative spellings, and the one for skulduggery particularly because it gives an impression that the cranial bones are involved. I hated HI-TEC, and I don’t think I’ve even ever seen it spelled that way.
    LOI was CISCO, as it took a minute to fathom “Superior catch.”
    It also took a while to get to MATO GROSSO.
    NOSEBANDS?! I still have to look up what they are…
  26. I’m with Denise. Above my pay grade. CISCO and MATO WOTSIT too clever for me. Very tough I thought, even though done in several sittings. Bah.

    Travelled through Genoa (again) today, complete nightmare. If you are thinking of going there, or through there, don’t. Roadworks all the way.

    Seems most of us struggled a bit. Thanks Pip and very obtuse setter.

  27. Bit rubbish if there are two unknown bits of GK joined together, for the last two.

    I’ll never get used to SC meaning scilicet which is something else I had never heard of before doing xwds — Latin, bah!

    CISCO — american random fish. As with others, have heard of the routers, but pencilled in anyway.

    MATO GROSSO — pretty impossible if you’ve never heard of it — who knew that Brazil had states? — so I cheated with this.

  28. Defeated by CISCO and the Brazilian state, but I do like the “Superior catch’ definition. Thank you, pipkirby and the setter.

  29. Some speculations re cisco. I think there are cisco in the Pacific Northwest too as I’m sure I remember them being mentioned in Jack London novels. I wonder if the company Cisco is named from San Francisco Bay as its founders were from Stanford . Finally as a boy and devotee of The Cisco Kid ( much preferred him to Hopalong Cassady, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry!) I always thought his name was either a nickname from Francisco or he was from somewhere in Mexico that had Francisco in its name.
  30. DNF gave up after an hour with wont, Mato Grosso and cisco unsolved after resorting to a couple of fruitless alpha-trawls. I might’ve got wont if I’d persevered but I was miles away from Mato Grosso (approximately 5,729 apparently) and for cisco I was thinking of spectacular catches in cricket and trying to come up with a synonym for doozie.

Comments are closed.