Times 28305 – a Kosovan conman? A Montenegrin mountebank?

This was a first-class puzzle with some devious misdirection and at times witty clueing; it took me around 35 minutes, with the SE segment the last to fall. Much to like, e.g. 14a, 25a, 13d and 15d; I’m not sure I have explained 26a to everyone’s satisfaction. The Balkan swindler gets my CoD vote.

Definitions underlined in bold, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, italics for anagrind, and deletions.

1 One with inside info to leave before second drink (6)
GOSSIP -GO (leave) S (second) SIP (drink).
5 Bound to have instant cut in relaxation (8)
RESTRICT – TRIC(E) inside REST for relaxation.
9 Measure of processing speed for plate needing development (8)
TERAFLOP – (FOR PLATE)*. This was obviously an anagram, I toyed with FLOPRATE until I had the A from 3d to put me right.
10 Bishop ignoring limits in requirements for clergy? (6)
ORDERS – BORDERS (limits) loses its B.
11 Regrets first couple of options returned person of no substance (6)
POSEUR – all reversed, RUES (regrets) OP(tions).
12 Still recalled Michigan, going to city in Alabama (8)
IMMOBILE – MI for Michigan reversed, MOBILE city in Alabama.
14 Collection of letters in which X frequently appears? (6,6)
POSTAL BALLOT – cryptic definition.
17 A large country, good weather, without rain — everyone will appear (3,3,6)
ALL AND SUNDRY – A, L(arge), LAND (country) SUN, DRY (good weather without rain).
20 Defeat inspiring passion with defensive system (8)
FIREWALL – FALL (defeat) has IRE (passion) and W(ith) inside.
22 Support group? Most of family quite failing to get it (6)
CLAQUE – CLA(N) = most of family, QU(IT)E = quite without it. A claque is a group of admirers or fans, from the French word claquer to clap or applaud.
23 Humming sound almost entirely backing beat (6)
LARRUP – all reversed (backing): PURR = humming sound (not a cat perhaps, but a smoothly running machine?) AL(L) = almost entirely.
25 Some Balkan swindler always ignoring a note (8)
CROTCHET – took me a mo to see what’s going on here; a CROAT CHEAT is a Balkan swindler, he loses both As. You may groan.
26 Male bikers, as it were, cycling — pardon? (8)
CLEMENCY – my reading on this is: CYCLE MEN are male bikers, and ‘cycling’ somehow indicates the CY moves to the end > CLE MEN CY? But we welcome better explanations!
27 Quiet tear about Mike reveals weak character (6)
SHRIMP – SH (quiet!) RIP (tear) insert M for Mike.
2 Unusually powerful King restrained on losing son (6)
OBERON -(S)OBER, ON, where Sober = restrained. I knew Oberon was the King of the fairies, and in MND, but I didn’t know he was ‘unusually powerful?’ Am I missing something?
3 Shock all but transfixed writer (11)
SHAKESPEARE – SHAKE = shock, SPEARE(D) = transfixed, all but D.
4 Pressure from the past about to emerge, with views in opposition (9)
POLARISED – P (pressure) OLD (from the past), insert ARISE (emerge).
5 Copy something that’s still around, article filled with power (7)
REPLICA – RELIC (thing that’s still round), A (article), insert P.
6 Frenchman goes off climbing in bad weather (5)
STORM – all reversed: M (Monsieur) ROTS (goes off).
7 Indication to stop studied when speaking (3)
RED – sounds like ‘READ’, past tense, as in ‘I read Chemistry’.
8 Urge to restrict first couple of ringing bells (8)
CARILLON – CALL ON (urge) has RI(nging) inserted. Call on = urge, as in ‘I call on Mr Johnson to …’.
13 Corporation shaken with steps this person takes? (5,6)
BELLY DANCER – amusing cryptic definition.
15 American guy lying to shake off other guys? Awesome! (9)
BODACIOUS – I was delayed on this by thinking an American guy was going to be BUD, not bod, which is a perfectly normal English word for a chap. But BO it is, then lying = MENDACIOUS, shake off the MEN.
16 Exhausted and heading away from dance, considering everything (3,2,3)
ALL IN ALL – ALL IN = exhausted, (B)ALL = dance, without the B.
18 Brave to yield leadership to multinational force — and doomed (7)
UNLUCKY – brave = PLUCKY, replace the P by UN.
19 Repository finding value in silence (6)
MUSEUM – USE (value) inside MUM (silence).
21 Tree from area almost used up (5)
ASPEN – A (area) SPEN(T) = almost used up.
24 Odd slice removed from cut of beef? (3)
RUM – RUMP has a slice at the end removed. I wondered about RIB, but no.

63 comments on “Times 28305 – a Kosovan conman? A Montenegrin mountebank?”

  1. I think Bo is the US name- popular in southern states- Bo Diddley, Bo Jackson are a couple .

  2. DNF. Couldn’t see TERAFLOP, CLEMENCY, OBERON or LARRUP. Enjoyed CLAQUE and CROTCHET most. I haven’t seen many BELLY DANCERS but the ones I did see didn’t seem to take any steps- they stayed basically in one spot undulating. I wonder if the “unusually powerful” for OBERON is just pointing out that his powers are supernatural , i.e. not the usual ones of a normal King? Thanks for blog – very informative. I just remembered- President Biden’s son who died was named Bo.

  3. 33 minutes. Wowee! Almost gave up on this one. Was quite stuck on BELLY DANCER / CROTCHET (!) in the lower-right, and POSTAL BALLOT / SHAKESPEARE (!) in the upper-left. Shame on me for not spotting the Immortal Bard sooner.

    By the time I’d come to these devilish crossers, I’d already worked quite hard to get UNLUCKY, LARRUP, CLEMENCY, OBERON, and others. A good challenge from first to last.

  4. Testing! As was this puzzle – which arrived a couple of days early!
    After one hour I was left with 22ac unfulfilled. CLACK was my old man’s word for throat; as and when something got stuck there!

    FOI 16dn ALL IN ALL – my first brick in the wall
    3dn SHAKESPEARE the once ever present bard arrive early on.
    (LOI) 19dn MUSEUM – a night in.
    COD 25ac CROTCHETs & quavers – those lovely old potato thingies that haven’t yet reached China.
    WOD 15dn BODACIOUS – from Wayne’s World -schwinggg!

    The southern reaches were like wading through treacle.
    23ac LARRUP sounds like a Swedish kitchen utensil – from IKEA of course!

  5. I can’t say I enjoyed this much as I had to work hard at too many clues to tease the answers out, and there were others to unknowns such as TERAFLOP and BODACIOUS that resisted my best attempts to solve them. For these two, as the hour approached on the clock I resorted to aids. I was pleased to vaguely remember LARRUP as a word.

    A clue that troubled me almost to the end turned out to have a very easy answer, SHAKESPEARE. I wonder if I was the only solver trying to find a writer or writing implement that was an anagram of SHOCK ALL BUT?

    1. I was fortunate to get both crossing A’s early and saw only one in the anagrist, so I didn’t spend too much time on the misdirection. But I was with you in spirit

  6. Hard work but enjoyable. I showed my age, I suppose, by immediately thinking MEGAFLOP for 9ac! Last in, CROTCHET and LARRUP.

  7. DNF after 30 minutes with 3 left. Thanks Pip for filling in the blanks.

  8. 78 minutes. A real struggle although there were a few such as SHAKESPEARE (glad to see I’m in good company) which I should have seen earlier. DNK CLAQUE and had forgotten LARRUP. I liked the ‘always ignoring a’ part of the wordplay for CROTCHET.

    Agree with your parsing of 26a. Not a mamil in sight I was glad to see.

  9. Ran out of time in my hour, with BODACIOUS, the unknown CLAQUE and CROTCHET left to get.

  10. DNF 49m. FOI TERAFLOP made me thankful for my background of IT geekery (as did FIREWALL later), and I really enjoyed working my way through this one, finding it a tough but satisfying challenge, with a sprinkling of obvious ones.

    By around 35m I was two clues away – I never sorted:
    LARRUP – I hesitate to say NHO because I suspect there’s a vestigial remnant of a memory somewhere
    CARILLON – actually made up that almost-NHO word, but failed to separate out the two components of C-L-|O- in the cryptic

    Was feeling a bit dismayed to DNF twice in succession, but after checking the SNITCH I feel this was a good effort for my level of skill and experience. Thanks P and setter

  11. 56 challenging minutes finishing with OBERON, powerful or not. TERAFLOP was penultimate, eventually constructed from the anagram. I know Mobile only for the regrettable shortage of toilet roll. Bo Diddley gave me BODACIOUS. I didn’t know the meaning of CLAQUE and toyed with BRAQUE for a while. I assumed a similar explanation to yours, Pip, for CLEMENCY. I liked BELLY DANCER, ALL AND SUNDRY and COD POSTAL BALLOT but this was a toughie. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. BW, I would have bet good money on you knowing Chuck Berry’s “Let it Rock” (not super-well-known, but one of his very best IMHO)

      In the heat of the day down In Mobile Alabama
      Working on the railroad with a steel driving hammer

      1. Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again.

        Yep, I do know the Chuck Berry song, and of course his Bobship’s one. I was just too keen to indulge in lavatorial humour. I’m sitting here so patiently, waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice.

    2. I really expected you to be ‘stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again’ !

  12. As per (oddly) usual for me the SE corner was last in Not sure if other solvers have noticed this???
    Never heard of ‘claque’ before but ‘carillon’ rang a bell
    Didn’t like 26a and was stuck with ‘bud’ for a while on 15d Biffed it and then worked backwards
    Nice puzzle though and at 39 mins not too shabby an effort

    1. Dear old Jimbo used to talk about solving “top to bottom, left to right” so it’s probably “normal” to finish in the SE if you’re making steady progress and not having to jump around the grid.

  13. Phew, hard going but got there eventually. TERAFLOP was FOI, followed by POSEUR, but then the NW yielded no more for quite a while. Easier pickings in the NE saw that corner taken care of in short order. BALLOT popped up quickly but POSTAL took an age to emerge, unlike POLARISED. Like others I was convinced that 15d was going to start BUD, but the S from SHRIMP led to a sudden inspiration, as the Excellent Adventure of Bill and Ted came to my rescue. I was also puzzled by CLEMENCY, but could vaguely see where it was going. SHAKESPEARE and LARRUP were last 2 in. 38:21. Thanks setter and Pip.

  14. 14:51. But some of this was quite tricky. I liked CROTCHET best. Thanks setter and Pip.

  15. 10:15. I started quickly on this but the bottom half proved harder than the top. I really enjoyed it.
    I have always assumed CLAQUE was a variant of ‘clique’, so I have learned something new today.
    I associate BODACIOUS with Bill and Ted (not Wayne’s World Horryd) but it’s a fairly old word. Be Excellent to each other, and party on dudes: words to live by.

  16. 🎼Bodacious cowboys such as your friend will never be welcome here, high in the Custerdome🎼
    56m 56s of struggle. Not really my wavelength but I got there. Nevertheless there were some very nice clues such as BODACIOUS, CROTCHET, CLEMENCY and POSTAL BALLOT.
    On the other hand, I have a slight mer at a GOSSIP having inside information. A gossip in my view is someone who spreads any old tittle-tattle,
    Thanks, Pip!

  17. 25:58. Bogus!

    Very hard. If you asked me to reel off a list of writers, Shakespeare would doubtless be near the top, yet here, today, he was my last in (unlike Keriothe above I found the bottom easier less difficult than the top). I think I got put off a bit by trying, in my head, to form an anagram of the unlikely-looking shock all but.

    I normally like a tough puzzle but I think this was just on the wrong side of the enjoyable challenge / a bit of a slog divide.

  18. Is everyone happy with the BOUND/RESTRICT equivalence (the one past, the other present)?

    1. Not its most common use, but it’s there (in Chambers at least) as “To set bounds to, to limit or restrain”.

      For that clue I was a little less certain about the ‘ignoring’, but I think it works.

  19. 7m 30s, inspired by Dylan & by Bill & Ted (“totally bodacious babes!”).

    My first thought for 14a was PECKING ORDER, which doesn’t fit at all but has the makings of a similar clue concept.

    Thanks for explaining CROTCHET, which I biffed uncertainly. Nothing to croat.

    1. As Mauefw says, it’s in all the dictionaries as a present tense verb. Seen it used geographically and mathematically:
      e.g. Montenegro bounds Serbia to the west. More often in the passive, Serbia is bounded by Montenegro to the west.
      The probability is infinitesimal, bounded by the lower limit of zero.

    2. jch38 bound = restrict

      I had a real problem with it when solving but after completing the grid a little research suggested it’s okay though I still have a misgiving or two about the clue.

  20. FLOPRATE slowed me for a while — everything had been steady enough and I had been expecting a time half-decent for me, but for some reason I didn’t question it even though when I first put it in I was rather unsure that it was really a thing, and anyway I knew the correct answer and if I’d got the fairly easy REPLICA first there’d have been no problems. 69 minutes eventually.

    No problem with bound: Collins has ‘…the trees that bounded the car park.’ Liked the Balkan swindler. I think that in 19dn ‘mum’ has to be regarded as ‘mum!’, in other words ‘be silent!’, or ‘silence!’, because in the normal sense it doesn’t = silence; it = silent.

    1. FLOPRATE : the number of typos per puzzle per month (see my QC post, yet again 🙄)

  21. 13:30, most triumphant, dude. Enjoyed working out the chewier elements of this, and got there reasonably quickly in most cases (the exception being 14ac, where I spent a good while trying to come up with another term for “love letters” until the actual nature of the Xs became clear.

  22. 32:43 I thought this was excellent.

    I’m not sure where I summoned up CLAQUE, BODACIOUS and TERAFLOP from – but will try and use them more frequently from now on (well maybe not BODACIOUS). Shakespeare was almost my last one in, which seems somehow ridiculous now. POSTAL BALLOT and BELLY DANCER both made me smile, but COD was the very sneaky CROCHET.

    Thanks to piquet and the setter.

  23. 37 mins. This was a BODACIOUS crossword! I still don’t get CYCLEMEN although I can’t see it can be anything else than what is suggested. A poor clue among some excellent ones. Finished trying not to put FIREBALL as the B wasn’t clued, and FIREWALL took a while to see.

  24. Well that was quite a carry-on and I was certainly stuck inside of Mobile for a while. American churches don’t have bells like English churches they tend to have recorded CARILLONs which don’t have anything like the evocative sound. Bo isn’t always a guy – I recall Bo Derek who cast a spell over Dudley Moore in the 70s. The setter succeeded in bamboozling me at every turn – I spent time looking for someone poor (of no substance) in 11a and was confused by all the ALLs in the SW corner. After a very shaky start I was pleased to come home in 22.14.

  25. 31m. LARRUP was an out-and-out guess and my last one in, fully expecting the “unlucky” message (which always seems a rather generous way of putting it) as I filled in the final blank. I couldn’t parse CLEMENCY either – assuming it to be MEN on CYCLE(s?), which latter word in some unknown fashion known in crossword circles as cycling, moves the first syllable to the end. Perhaps it is just a clumsy clue.

  26. Enjoyed that, difficult but not a slog. Had all the vocabulary for once, but perhaps not the knowledge – couldn’t have defined claque. Slowed a bit by Oberon and replica, but last one in was crotchet where I was looking at the wrong end of the clue. No problem with clemency as per the blogger, or teraflop a write-in.
    COD Postal Ballot. Probably still counting them down here, but ours have numbers not Xs.

  27. ‘I hear your voice, soft and sad, yet your laughter rings like CARILLONS of bells in my ears’ (the Strawbs, “Tears and Pavan”)

    I was amazed to get my FOI, but the other techie clue was part of my subsequent struggle in the SW corner. I biffed my LOI, only parsing both it, and the clever CROTCHET, afterwards. I enjoyed this one

    TIME 13:12

  28. I was pleased to finish this toughie until I discovered that it wasn’t BUDACIOUS. I was fixated with bud as the American guy, even though I had worked out the parsing with mendacious. I just forgot to exclude the d.
    I had so many distractions when solving that I don’t have a time, but would estimate 60 minutesish.

  29. “BO: a familiar form of address for a man. (US slang)” which seemed obvious to me and Chambers, unlike almost all the rest of this sticky grid. I’m another convinced FLOPRATE, thinking pleased with myself for getting hip with the geeks of this parish. That rather crippled SHAKESPEARE, whose immortality failed to inspire recognition even when all the checkers were in. Apart from the fact that it was without wordplay, I’m not sure why POSTAL BALLOT was so reluctant: I blame Republican Gerrymandering.
    I took OBERON to be “unusually powerful” in that most of us don’t have access to his fairy capabilities: for example, his rowing with Titania seriously disrupts the weather.
    Despite my frustrated 34.44 time, I liked this one’s challenge, not least the CROaT CHEaT.

  30. 34.35. Very enjoyable but tough for me. FOI gossip, LOI bodacious. Worked out the mendacious bit but for a long time thought the answer must be audacious which didn’t really make sense. In the end guessed bodacious. Similarly with teraflop- sounds like an unsuccessful Hammer film from the 60s.

    Liked claque, crotchet and larrup but postal ballot gets my COD vote. It took me an age to finally get it.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  31. 48 minutes of very enjoyable struggle with crotchet a contender for COY never mind COD. Only slightly let down I think by the cycle men which seemed a bit contrived and not an obvious device.

    Thanks Pip and setter

  32. Was ‘clemency’ MEN in CLECY (a place in France)? Tour De France reference?

  33. Enjoyed this very much! It was a challenge, and I’ve just had my final session with it. The NW was the last quarter to fall, but quickly after the SE. Definitely a quarter-by-quarter solve. (Edited: I apparently have sense of direction.)

  34. My first post on the new site, so let’s see how it goes!
    Really tough puzzle but worth the effort. I had audacious for 15d (it almost made sense!) which delayed the SE corner somewhat.

  35. Like others, I struggled to see SHAKESPEARE even with most of the checkers. I moved away from trying to make an anagram of ‘shock all but’ quite quickly, but then for a long time I thought the definition was ‘shock’, the ‘all but’ was giving ‘save’, and that ‘save’ contained a writer… funny how just about the most famous writer of all time took ages – and three separate stabs at solving this crossword – to occur to me. Only once I got that was I able to put in the unknown TERAFLOP to complete the grid.

    Re CLEMENCY – I think it’s an anagram of ‘cycle men’, isn’t it? Not that I parsed it when solving, but having seen the explanation in this blog, an anagram (indicated by ‘cycling’) makes the most sense.

    A pretty tough challenge, but no less enjoyable for it. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Gossip
    LOI Teraflop
    COD Crotchet

    1. The words CYCLE MEN aren’t in the clue so that would be an indirect anagram, a real no-no in The Times.

  36. Really enjoyed this one, and agree it was on the harder side. Several fine clues and one slightly peculiar one, namely 26ac.

  37. Like Isla I was familiar with all the words, but maybe not exactly with all their definitions. I liked the Croat and had no difficulty with the cyclical letters in Clemency. But I don’t think of Shrimp as deficiency in character and I wanted a DBE “?” for Polarised. Thanks, pip

  38. 41.28. I found this tough but engaging. Larrup was LOI and a long time coming.

  39. Although I did eventually realise 3dn wasn’t an anagram, I finally gave up on the SW corner. I’d biffed APPLE tree & RIB of beef, so 26ac looked like CLUBBERY

  40. DNF

    Gave up after an hour or so with only 60% done – think I’m just tired after two long drives in two days. Some shrugging when looking at the answers.

    I too had FLOPRATE for a long time and BELLY LAUGHS which I corrected more quickly.

    Better tomorrow hopefully.

  41. Good fun but a little out of my league with some words (larrup/claque/teraflop). Was amused to see 14a NOT referring to love letters – but that thought held me up for far too long. And “bodacious “? : obviously I need to get out more…..

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