Times 28408 – at least two killings made

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time taken: 17:50 – and even then I was crossing my fingers when I hit submit. We haven’t had a stinker in a while and I suspect this could be the one.

I’m still not 100% on some of this wordplay but hopefully some prodding around Collins will sort it all out.

How did you do?

1 Not prepared to dispatch article with clout (3-3-4)
OFF-THE-CUFF – OFF(dispatch) THE(article) and CUFF(clout)
7 Jersey, perhaps, with large hood (4)
COWL – COW(Jersey, perhaps) and L(large)
9 Party outside harms awfully quiet US bar (8)
DRAMSHOP – DO(party) outside of an anagram of HARMS, then P(quiet). Had to piece this one together from wordplay. It seems to live on as a legal term, alcohol liability laws in the USA are called Dram Shop laws
10 Girl doing housework with a cheerful expression (2,4)
AU PAIR – A, UP(cheerful), AIR(expression)
11 Parisian in purple trousers meeting with everyone (6)
PLENUM – EN(French for “in”) inside PLUM(purple)
13 Relieved when our side is backed by veteran? (8)
ASSUAGED – AS(when), then US(our side) reversed, then AGED(veteran)
14 Stylish horse guards at military base (12)
INSTALLATION – IN(stylish), STALLION(horse) containing AT
17 One actor, Irish, featuring in British books and play (6,6)
BLITHE SPIRIT – I(one), THESP(actor), IR(Irish) inside B(British), LIT(books). Noel Coward play
20 Film dealing with case of arrogant bully (8)
MISTREAT – MIST(film), RE(dealing with), and the external letters in ArroganT
21 Plot escape, causing uproar (6)
BEDLAM – BED(plot), LAM(escapt)
22 Pound fare with seats often unavailable? (6)
BUFFET – I think this is just a double definition, the second referring to a meal that you get while standing. I thought it might have been BUFF + sEaTs but that I can’t justify BUFF = fare.
23 Champers offered for a great prize? (8)
EYETEETH – Reference to “I would give my eyeteeth for something”. It is given as one word in that sense in Collins, while eye teeth is given as two words.
25 Succeeding by stopping ensnarement plan (4)
NEXT – X(multiplied by) inside NET(ensnarement plan)
26 Physicist’s routine, see, releasing energy (10)
RUTHERFORD – RUT(routine) and the See of HEREFORD minus an E(energy). Seeing a physicist in the grid that is not Newton makes me smile and think of my departed blogging partner Jim.
2 Extended breather needed after following brother on ascent (3-5)
FAR-FLUNG – LUNG(breather) after F(following) and FRA(brother) reversed
3 Pot overturned mostly letting nothing out (3)
TUM – MUTE(letting nothing out) reversed missing the last letter
4 Place in Surrey for one radio operator (5)
EGHAM – EG(for one), and HAM(radio operator)
5 Upset unfortunately by delegation to university city up north (7)
UPPSALA – reversal of ALAS(unforunately), PP(per pro, by delegation), U(university)
6 Victory was one of those fine prisoners’ words leading to cheers (9)
FLAGSHIPS – F(fine), LAGS(prisoners) and HIPS(words leading to cheers).  Reference to HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship
7 Pirate didn’t pick articles for pillage (7,4)
CAPTAIN KIDD – anagram of DIDN’T,PICK and A,A(articles)
8 One to carry in drink? (6)
WAITER – I(one) in WATER(drink)
12 Never fit to bat on, I abandoned (3,1,3,2,2)
NOT A BIT OF IT – anagram of FIT,TO,BAT,ON,I
15 Kills time with furtive look around city (9)
LEICESTER – ICES(kills), T(time) inside LEER(furtive look)
16 Column something written by Greek survivor? (8)
PILASTER – PI(Greek letter), LASTER(survivor?)
18 In which sat the head of organisation shakily? (3,4)
HOT SEAT – anagram of SAT,THE and the first letter of Organisation
19 Perhaps one judge to be included (6)
FIGURE – three definitions: perhaps one, judge, and to be included
21 A word for doing turns with English accent (5)
BREVE – VERB(a word for doing) reversed, then E(English). The accent put over a short vowel, which I have usually seen called a hacek
24 Mischief that makes very big waves (3)
ELF – double definition, the second being for Extra Low Frequency waves

68 comments on “Times 28408 – at least two killings made”

  1. 19m

    Most of my time spent on the little clues near the corner – TUM, ELF, NEXT, FIGURE,WAITER but last and longest was EYETEETH which I didn’t understand till I came here, and now that I do I don’t think I like it

      1. I’m not entirely au fait with how the new system works but I think one can post anonymously if one adds a valid email address in the field that appears if you try to post when logged out. The message then goes into moderation and has to be approved before it can appear. An email address was provided in this case and it appears that one of the moderators has approved it. Someone else may know more.

          1. As I say, I’m not entirely sure how it works as I’m not involved in the technical side. It may be that there’s another global setting that automatically bypasses the approval stage.

  2. 18:53
    Some DNKs–THESP, PP, EGHAM, BREVE in the hacek sense, that HEREFORD is a see. I didn’t see what ‘US’ was doing in DRAMSHOP, a word I’ve seldom come across. Biffed BLITHE SPIRIT, CAPT. KIDD, LEICESTER, parsed post-submission. 3d had to be TUM, but I couldn’t figure out why: I took ‘letting nothing out’ to indicate deletion of O, and that of course got me nowhere. My other problem was LOI FIGURE; it took me a long time, and all the checkers, before I gave up trying to interpret the surface.
    [on edit:] I just took a look at the SNITCH, and it looks like George’s prediction is right: only 16 results in, but the number is 152; amazingly, I’m the only one so far with a 2-digit personal NITCH.

      1. As I said, amazingly (there are now 5 of us out of 75); I have no idea why. I suppose I could say I was on the wavelength, if I thought that there was such a thing as a wavelength to be on, or off.

  3. 64 minutes. No prizes for guessing the clue that took me over the hour mark which I just couldn’t FIGURE out as a (v. good) triple def. Couldn’t parse TUM or ELF and biffed BLITHE SPIRIT which I’ll pretend I could have parsed eventually. Not helped by initially putting in CAPTAIN “Hook” for 12d which I thought might be a cryptic def.

    Even if it’s a pretty mundane word, I still liked the clue for NEXT.

  4. I thought this was going to be easy when the first two acrosses went straight in. But I really ground to a halt in the SE and couldn’t see the straightforward MISTREAT and FIGURE. But all green in the end after a maybe an hour of actual solving. TUM was obvious early on but I was trying to find a way to get an “O” into it upside down (MOUT?)

  5. The timer said I’d taken over 97hours to do this. It seemed more like 20minutes, but time flies when fun is being had. Did I really start days before the puzzle was published? I submitted off leaderboard to avoid damaging my batting average. It would have made the snitch look awful too. Coming to TfTT I see no-one else had this problem and it didn’t affect the quick crossword which I did after it.

    1. Back in the day I once spent 20 or 25 minutes doing a puzzle and submitted, to see I’d been credited with a time of 18 seconds. Neutrinos: eat my dust!

    2. What an unpleasant experience, crawling through the obscurities at a snail’s pace! After one hour l relieved my misery and rang the help line. Go figure!?

      FOI 7ac COWL
      (LOI) 21dn BREVE
      COD none, as so, so many that were wilfully obtuse!
      The main culprits were IMHO – 9ac DRAMSHOP; 24dn ELF; 3dn TUM; 19dn FIGURE and 20ac MISTREAT. l’ll fetch my ‘Fetterman’!

      Mood Meldrewvian

  6. 47 minutes for all but FIGURE which I eventually gave up on and resorted to aids, and even then I was unable to see how it worked other than the first definition.

    DRAMSHOP took some working out from wordplay but at least having got to it I remembered we had it before and quite recently, but on checking I found that was in March 2020, further proof if any were needed that as age begins to take its inevitable toll my sense of the passage of time is faltering. On Tuesday I had reason to look up another ‘recent’ reference, this time to a discussion that had taken place here which I had said was a couple of months ago. As things turned out, that also took place in March 2020.

    Unknowns today were the required meaning of BREVE, the acronym ELF and UPPSALA obtained from wordplay and checkers and a bit of a guess that ‘by delegation’ might be PP.

    1. I think March 2020 was when Covid lockdowns began and I believe I subconsciously must have skipped over the subsequent two years or so with very little recollection of what went on during that boring period. Perhaps your mind did something similar?

  7. Another who couldn’t parse TUM, and with NHO but guessable Egham, dramshop and PP. Did know Uppsala, breve, and ELF as extremely long waves; surprised to see it in The Times puzzle. There’s a giant ELF antenna at an old US base a bit north of here at Exmouth. Felt way off the wavelength all the way through, but got there in the end after finally figuring out figure.
    Very hard. Very slow. Very enjoyable.

  8. I seem to be back to my more usual pace after a couple of quicker days—51 minutes for this, with the last ten staring at _I_U_E in vocalophobic angst, but I got there in the end (I’m not quite sure how. Maybe it was the hundredth alphabet trawl…) FOI 4d EGHAM, fingers crossed for the unknown UPPSALA, COD to ELF.

  9. Struggled on manfully for 35 minutes or so then lost the plot and shoved SEXT in at 25a, after guessing at the wrong end of the clue for the definition. When I got the pink square, the correct answer was obvious. Doh! 42:38 WOE. Thanks setter and George.

  10. This was brilliantly devious.
    I didn’t finish parsing RUTHERFORD after RUT.
    DRAMSHOP didn’t sound particularly American, and the explanation is appreciated.
    I know BLITHE SPIRIT from the film version.
    WAITER—what a great &lit!
    I’ve never seen the word “hacek”! BREVE first makes me think of the musical sense, two whole notes. Seeing that word close to ELF is cool. The low frequencies really do produce big (long) waves…
    LOI in, and parsed even later, was TUM!

    POW (Puzzle of the Week)… so far.
    But what will Friday hold?

  11. Met the love of my life in EGHAM
    She’s the reason I am where I am
    Cross words? We have none
    She is gentle and fun
    Now past fifty, but still very glam

  12. Liked this, 26 minutes, LOI PLENUM, delayed by having ESHER instead of Egham for a while but couldn’t parse that. Thanks George.

    1. #Me Too! ( best friend at school lived there, and had forgotten the other towns starting with’e’)

  13. 56 minutes with LOI FIGURE a guess. Three definitions and I couldn’t see one of them. BUFFET was in under false pretences too, assuming there was a meaning of BUFF that meant FARE. I’ve never heard of DRAMSHOP. But BLITHE SPIRIT hit me with a few crossers and RUTHERFORD sprang to mind readily. I love his quote that if you need a statistician on your experiment then you have the wrong experiment. Has that been verified to three-sigma, Ernest? COD to EYETEETH. Thank you George and setter.

  14. DNF. After navigating most of this successfully I finished with a silly error – NEST instead of NEXT. I thought perhaps nest could mean plan in the sense that a nest egg is a form of financial planning (unlikely, I know). The cryptic would then have been S for “succeeding” in “net”. I see now that S can mean succeeded but not succeeding.
    A frustrating way to end my streak of 24 completions which may be the best I’ve achieved. Oh well, hopefully I’ll have a streak of 1 by this time tomorrow.

  15. 68m 04s
    I was heartened to read George’s opening comments as I found this hard as well.
    I agree with George about BUFFET.
    With 26ac, I was working on the old favourite of (E)LY as the ‘see’ and was looking for a physicist that ended in LY.
    In the ranks of The Great Unparsed were AU PAIR and UPPSALA. Isn’t that one of Europe’s oldest universities?
    COD: LEICESTER….whose football team is in need of a boost at present.

  16. 46 mins for a real struggle and embarrassingly I had to use aids
    This was especially poor after a run of sub 30 mins efforts
    Something best forgotten

  17. DNS ( Did not start), after checking the Snitch I decided today would be a learning exercise via the reveal button. Only QC clue was COWL.

    MIS-biffed “town in Surrey” (E – – – M) as Epsom, even though I worked in Egham for years.

    Loads of great clues, but COD FLAGSHIPS. And WAITER is a great example of an &lit clue.

  18. 23:09. That was tough going. I took ages to finally see BUFFET as “fare with seats often unavailable”, trying, like George, to make something out of BUD sEaTs. I couldn’t parse TUM, CAPTAIN KIDD (failing to spot the anagram), FIGURE (to be included?). LOI WAITER after ASSUAGED. Nice to see a physicist that is Einstein and a see that isn’t Ely in one clue. Great stuff. Thank setter and George for the enlightenment.

  19. Hmm, no problems with this mostly, but got stuck on FAR-FLUNG and WAITER towards the end. Managed the first, but the second I simply could not see and eventually bunged in WHINER, instead. Well it does have IN in. Hate it, when that happens!

  20. Top line in straightaway, I thought this was going to be a pushover – how wrong I was. Even so, the full top half and a few down below were in by 16m – at which point there was a catastrophic collapse in my solving confidence, nothing In the next 6 or 7 minutes. In order to prevent an utter disaster, I took a walk to the allotment, and authorised an emergency intervention of muesli and fresh raspberries, bringing temporary relief to the situation.

    Fortified thus, I was able to resume and struggle through to completion, and submit with high confidence. ELF waves went completely over my head, alpha-trawled to get POI FIGURE but fully parsed the triple, and finally EYETEETH took a good 5m. 41:44 total for the two stage completion, thanks G and setter.

  21. 19’48”

    I thought this would have a pretty high SNITCH as I was completing it, and I was right. A fair amount of general knowledge required throughout. Disappointed not to see more submissions: does this not devalue the SNITCH somewhat? I make sure I submit every day, so assuming I make the leaderboard the SNITCH has a consistent representation of difficulty, for my part at least. At this moment in time only 72 people have actually submitted their completed crosswords!

    If anyone is interested, there is a distinction between a hacek and a breve. The former has a sharp point, while the latter is rounded more like a smile. The breve (from Latin brevis, -e : “short”) is also known as a brachy, after the Greek for “short”.

    1. Let’s see how Unicode-friendly the comments section is! EDIT: Entirely friendly, as I suppose you’d expect from WordPress in this day and age. I can just about tell that there’s a difference if I squint:

      Caron: ǎ

      Breve: ă

    2. Usually between 70 and 90 people’s times are considered for the SNITCH so 72 (plus the 8 people who didn’t get it right) is bang in the middle of the range. The SNITCH only considers error-free solves though, so if one or more people take ages over a puzzle but make a mistake then the SNITCH won’t reflect those slow times and hence won’t reach as high a value as perhaps the puzzle deserves.

  22. 13:43. Tricky one, but highly enjoyable. DRAMSHOP rang the faintest of bells, didn’t know BREVE in this sense or the physics meaning of ELF.
    I spent a lot of time in Sweden for my job a few years ago so UPPSALA was familiar. I must have driven through (or rather past) it at some point because I’ve definitely been to Gävle.

  23. 11:36, think I got lucky, firstly in seeing where all the wordplay was pointing quite quickly, when it wasn’t always obvious; and secondly in having my assumptions proved right about words I didn’t really know (DRAMSHOP, that meaning of ELF, where TUM was coming from (not to mention rejecting NEST in favour of a bit more thought). Nice stuff, even though I now think it’s Friday, of course.

  24. One wrong, but I often find that I make silly errors when I’m finding puzzles a bit tedious.

  25. 36.07 but put tsm in for tum thinking it was some kind of chemical acronym for cannabis. In the cool light of day, I recognise how dim this was. Not too disheartening though, a pretty stiff puzzle and I was pleased to see my two punts on elf and figure proved correct. Particularly liked buffet, next and eyeteeth- I suppose chompers would have made the latter way too easy.

  26. Goodness knows what we’re going to get tomorrow. Let’s hope it’s easier than this, which in retrospect was very good and the slowness all down to me. Several I didn’t really understand when solving, like ELF and TUM. Not sure how well-known Egham is: I knew it from Frank Muir’s references to the Egham Literary Institute when telling his story before or after Denis Norden at the end of My Word. 1 hour. FIGURE was excellent, although at the time it was incomprehensible.

    1. I, for one, never heard of Egham, and started to fling in EPSOM–not having an idea what shire it’s in– but cooler heads prevailed.

  27. 34 mins, but it was a bit like pulling EYETEETH, to mix a metaphor. I hate those clues where the only help are all vowels and a multitude of answers are possible. Yes FIGURE, I’m looking at you.

  28. I hesitated a bit over NOT A BIT OF IT because I’ve always used it in reply to “thank you”, as in “don’t mention it” or “c’est rien” rather than “never”. I mis-parsed AU PAIR as “(h)ope air”=cheerful expression. No wonder I scrawled “meh” next to it. Thanks George. Difficult this one. 25.46

  29. 13m 1s, tough puzzle. There were three clues in different corners of the grid that really held me up- WAITER, FIGURE & PILASTER. That was after half-remembering UPPSALA but really needing the cryptic to be sure.

    WAITER seems to me, I’m afraid, to be a classic case of trying to force an &lit idea that doesn’t really work (and yes, guilty myself in the past).

  30. 35. Two to go when I stopped the clock at 32:50 then came back and saw FIGURE and NEXT straightaway, so I am being generous with myself on the timing. A bit of a stinker, as already said.

  31. Tough. I came back to this repeatedly over a period of a few hours, hoping that breaks would clear the mind. Got them all in the end bar FIGURE and felt relieved to do as well as that. Liked RUTHERFORD, LEICESTER and FLAGSHIPS. NHO of DRAMSHOP, but the wordplay was clear.

  32. 57:49 and very pleased with that, given the SNITCH. FOI COWL, then not much more for a while. NHO DRAMSHOP or BREVE as an accent. LOI FIGURE with fingers crossed. I liked WAITER and NEXT

  33. What’s a SNITCH? Haven’t come across that.

    I did both Esher and Epsom along the way before dramshop forced a rethink. Didn’t get close to figure.

    1. Google ‘Times Snitch’ – a quantitative guide to the degree of difficulty of the Times Cryptic Crossword

    2. There’s a link to the Crossword SNITCH on this page… near the top right on a PC, way down the bottom below all the comments on Android. Read the intro when you get there – a mathematical guru who can program has used stats to estimate the difficulty of the puzzle in real time, judging by the time taken by those submitting on the club website.

  34. 31:39

    The shrug-o-meter (pat pending) is hovering around 3 today.

    TUM (unparsed), ELF (DNK) and FIGURE (confused) were all educated guesses.

    Liked a lot of the rest though

  35. Why “champers” in clue for EYETEETH? This was the last one in. Didn’t like clue for FIGURE, either.

  36. Approximately 50 minutes today because of a few interruptions. Good grief, this was tough!
    I freely admit that the high SNITCH puzzles frequently show me up, but this time I was determined to finish.
    At least I parsed everything except two 3 letter clues, 3 d “tum” and 24 d “elf” but by the time I solved them the answers were unambiguous, thanks to crossers.
    Otherwise a battle of wits with the setter and guess who won? Still a lot of fun, especially after a dental appointment earlier. The setter has gained my respect without doubt.
    Plenty of candidates for COD, take your pick.
    And now out to one of our favourite restaurants for a meal with friends.
    Thanks to George for the clarity and to the setter for creating a somewhat masochistic experience for me.

  37. 23’46”. Funnily enough I didn’t find this as hard as the high Snitch rating suggests. But then I often find the ones with low Snitches harder than they should be. Not sure what it all means. Like so many others, I was foxed at the end by TUM and FIGURE – but I worked them both out. In 18d, having SAT as part of the anagram for SEAT was not brilliant. But apart from that, this was a super puzzle, for which thanks.

    1. I think sometimes the low SNITCHs can be loose with the definitions and cryptics because the overall clues are so transparent – so if you’re off the wavelength they’re tougher than they should be; by contrast the higher SNITCHs have to be extremely precise in the cluing or else they’d be impossible, so if you’re wired in on the day things go more easily than you’d have expected.

  38. DNF. I ground most of this out in around 45 mins but struggled over my last two entries. I managed to get buffet but I wasn’t entirely certain it was correct. Gave up on figure, just couldn’t see anything for that one. A tough puzzle and always disappointing not to be able to finish.

  39. 48 mins.
    I got lucky with Uppsala. I knew of a racehorse with that name some years ago, and knew it was named after a Scandinavian city, and the parsing tallied. So I’ll give that my COD.
    LOI Figure.
    Thanks blogger and setter

  40. Too hard for me, on both sides of the aisle – some definitions I guess I knew but wouldn’t have thought of, and some devious constructions. I did like Flagships.

  41. Echo Paul in London’s sentiments , but strangely found some that were more torturous for seasoned solvers were easier for me – WAITER ,UPPSALA, BUFFET and MISTREAT for example. But NHO DRAMSHOP ( don’t think I would have got it even if I had!), ELF , or that meaning of BREVE. So all in all, out of my league 😫.

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