Times 28447 – Down in the kitchen

Time: 27 minutes

Music: Stan Getz, Sweet Rain

I found this harder than usual for a Monday, and only got five across answers on the first read-through.   Fortunately, the down clues were easier, and I gradually made progress.   I was held back by biffing America’s Cup, even though I know perfectly well it is continuing on.   Then I got literary agent and decided to examine the letters in the anagram.

I did do a lot of biffing, and had to figure out how the wordplay worked as I wrote the blog.    There is nothing that obscure, but I just didn’t need it.


1 Affected US soldier returning in a northern military action (8)
CAMPAIGN – CAMP A (G.I.backwards) N.
5 Some European runs to cradle head of collapsed ballerina (6)
DANCER – DAN(C[ollapsed])E + R.
9 Not heading into restricted hospital areas? (8)
10 Strange commander leading line into trench (6)
12 Legal document to burn and burn, entrenching women’s tirade (6,7)
15 Performed badly: opening for winning punch missed (5)
16 Main demo swirled around hospital, directed at individual (2,7)
AD HOMINEM –  Anagram of MAIN DEMO around H.
17 Writer’s retainer, heading off, enthralled by these in Calais (9)
19 Dance beat with energy (5)
TANGO –  TAN + GO, a chestnut I missed.
20 Who may be retrying a tale requiring different placement? (8,5)
LITERARY AGENT – Anagram of RETRYING A TALE, a semi &lit.
22 Current about to employ charge (6)
ACCUSE –  A/C + C + USE, a compendium of the usual suspects.
23 Recalled vermin being kept in small enclosure, for example (8)
SPECIMEN – S P(MICE backwards)EN.
25 Totally vacant check on computer using keyboard (6)
TYPING – T[otall]Y + PING, a little ICMP for you.
26 Cheap travel mostly expensive — great anger (8)
1 Validate feeling angry over American payment? (10)
CROSS-CHECK – CROSS + CHECK, in the UK a cheque.
2 Dull whisky (litre declined) (3)
MAT – MA[l]T.
3 Cunning, intervening in any disorder (7)
4 Mars? Admit flying to Mars is to be a success (2,4,1,5)
GO DOWN A STORM – GOD + OWN + anagram of TO MARS.   Thanks and a hat tip to BletchlyReject.
6 Bill amount demanded, getting positive response (7)
7 Tolerate noble punishment, relinquishing power (11)
8 Speed of elderly plane, not the maximum! (4)
RATE – [c]RATE – the maximum as in C = the speed of light.
11 Harpist etc or various players here (9,3)
13 Sail with mostly crude map at sea? This regatta’s had its day (8,3)
ADMIRALS CUP – Anagram of SAIL + CRUD[e] MAP.  Discontinued in 2003.
14 Bring in expert, securing new eminence (10)
IMPORTANCE – IMPORT A(N)CE.     I wasted time expecting ace to be on the outside of the whole thing.
18 Worker is in regional garb (but not cap) (7)
ARTISAN – [t]ART(IS)AN, one I biffed.
19 Section in repetitive music engaging hearts (7)
TRANCHE – TRANC(H)E, familiar from the SIV prospectus.
21 Dessert restaurant served up (4)
TART – TRAT upside-down, a chestnut I saw immediately.
24 Bird no longer found in second area (3)
MOA – MO + A.

80 comments on “Times 28447 – Down in the kitchen”

  1. 22 minutes. I found the down clues helped with the across clues too, particularly in the NW corner. I was slow on the uptake for some of the chestnuts but did manage to see MOA straight away. After reading this I had to look up ICMP and SIV and can’t promise I’ll remember either acronym, much less what understand what each is.

    Probably just a typo, but for 4a I had ‘Mars?’ (=GOD) ‘Admit’ (=OWN) and the rest as described. I thought it was fair enough, but am more familiar with “go down a treat”. The semi-&lit LITERARY AGENT and the surface for RATE were my favourites.

  2. Different solving order makes for a different solving experience? I found it very Mondayish and easy. 1ac straight in, the 4 downs from it were write-ins (albeit one was wrong – GO DOWN A TREAT here too, Mars bars were a treat when I was a kid, wondering if FLYING TO was link words). That made OUTWARDS and SEARCH WARRANT easy and the rest just flowed. CERVANTES corrected TREAT, the only slight hold-up on Admiral’s Cup.
    Quite liked COUNTENANCE, but COD to TRANCHE as I like the word.

  3. Like BletchleyReject I recognized the GOD Mars. But I was not familiar with the answer phrase, so that long Down came a little later than the other one, which was my third one in (MOA being first and STEERAGE second); after getting half of the words crossing it, I thought this would be easier than it turned out to be. But the way suddenly opened up again after I took a break for a bite. I didn’t perceive that a couple of them were anagrams at first, which is the way it should be, really.

  4. 27 minutes, so a typical Monday solve for me.

    I had two delays along the way. Firstly thinking (if not quite biffing) GO DOWN A TREAT, a perfectly valid alternative but not supported by wordplay so I had to think again.

    Secondly, the checkers at 19ac made TRANCHE leap out at me, but I had never heard of ‘trance music’ so I had to decide whether to take it on trust.

    1. I’d never heard of GO DOWN A TREAT, no more than the actual answer, of course.
      Trance music, though, I’m quite aware of. I’ve even created hours and endless hours of it.

      1. GO DOWN A TREAT is not in Collins, but then neither is GO DOWN A STORM, however a quick google brings up this from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: go down a treat – British English (informal) If something goes down a treat, people like it very much e.g. That new vegetarian restaurant seems to be going down a treat.

  5. 15:30 online, then off to the gym, and about 10′ more on paper. NHO GO DOWN A STORM, or ‘go down a a treat’ for that matter, although I remember ‘slit up a treat’ from Monty Python. No idea how RATE worked. DNK ‘ping’, and since I have no idea what ICMP means, I still don’t. Not your average Monday puzzle.

      1. Thanks. I won’t ask what an Internet Control Message Protocol is, although I still DNK ‘ping’.

        1. I knew PING immediately today because it has come up in a crossword within the past couple of weeks, possibly in The Guardian, but prior to that I had seen it on sites where one clicks various buttons in order to test one’s broadband speeds.

    1. I used the Unix command “ping” just last night, to see whether I’d set up a network properly. From one computer you “ping” another computer by sending it a few network “packets” (technically an ICMP echo request) and if it replies (sends back a few in response) then you know the network is working at a fairly basic level.

      I imagine the name of the command was originally based on the similar ping used by SONAR systems, but has since fallen into more general use, and can mean trying to get a response out of anything, including humans…

      1. … such as ‘ping me an email…’. Although I’ve worked in IT since 1966, and still never knew what IMCP stands for. But I’m a generalist and have never got into the black arts of computer communications.

  6. 24:43 starting with AD HOMINEM and CERVANTES, but it took a while to really get my teeth into this, helped by a fair amount of guesswork. A hopeful ARREST WARRANT was immediately fixed when I solved CROSSCHECK, then an orderly canter towards completion in the SW. LOI TART needed a quick alpha-trawl as I’d forgotten that TRAT is, for reasons unclear to me, a permissible abbreviation. Biffing RATE felt like cheating, but what the heck, I’ll take the win …thanks V and setter

  7. DNF. I had AD HOMENIM, I think influenced by the familiarity of the sound of “homonym”. Kind of ironic really.

  8. 36m 23s. Harder than the standard Monday puzzle as far as I’m concerned.
    25ac TYPING. I’ve never heard of ICMP. Sounds like the sort of thing the Soviets and the Americans had in abundance during the days of Mutually Assured Destruction.
    Thank you, vinyl and Bletchley for deconstructing GO DOWN A STORM. I started with TREAT as did others. TREAT, therefore, made a mess of CERVANTES so I had to have a rethink.
    About 3 or 4 years ago, during a particularly dry spell on the South Island, a man out walking his dogs found a fossilised MOA footprint in a dried up river bed.

  9. CERVANTES wrote Don Quixote
    Who tilted at windmills, they say
    His targets were taller
    My targets are smaller
    I can’t COUNTENANCE MOA today

    1. The MOA is hardly a TRANCHE
      Of the ornithological branch
      This now-defunct bird’s
      Just a three-letter word
      It wasn’t the full Kiwi ranch!

      1. When you’re looking to find a good rhyme
        It’s helpful to set aside time
        For a good cogitate
        And perhaps ruminate
        To discover one that’s just sublime

  10. I had a very similar experience here to many, including Vinyl, it seems. Dotting around filling things in—and toying with America’s Cup, too, but without the advantage of knowing it wasn’t defunct—until I built up enough crossers, and then suddenly the leftovers started falling like an avalanche. 31 minutes in the end, from a puzzle that I thought early on might take me the hour. Maybe I just needed the coffee I was drinking to get my brain going.

    FOI MAT, LOI 14d IMPORTANCE, COD 8d RATE. WOD 19a TANGO, which always reminds me of one of my favourite Adam Hall novels, The Tango Briefing.

      1. Unclear what vultures have to do with anything?
        Plenty of them in the Pyrenees. They are perfectly harmless, unless you’ve been dead for a while..

        1. I would tell you about the vultures, but there are spoilers for a 1973 spy novel involved, and I know a lot of people here are quite behind on their reading 😀

  11. … Escaped from bitter youth,
    Escaped out of her crowd,
    Or out of her black cloud.
    Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!

    25 mins mid-brekker. I quite liked its trickiness, mostly God Own aStorm.
    NHO Trance Music.
    Thanks setter and V.

  12. 31 mins, would have been quicker but I had to look for a school jumper.
    Accuse was a bit of a guess.

    COD outwards

  13. 28mins so standard fare today. FOI MAT, LOI HAMMY, a poor clue I thought.

    Enjoyed the longer clues and for once I don’t seem to have fallen into the same pitfalls as others.

    I liked TRANCHE.

    Thanks v and setter.

  14. I found that trickier too – 26:34. Basically solved the bottom half quite quickly after struggling to make a start on the top.

    I didn’t love HAMMY for “performed badly” – shouldn’t it be “performING”? And MAT for dull (rather than MATT) gave me pause too, as well as C for “maximum.” Some lovely clues in there too though.

    1. I think ‘performed badly’ is used here in the sense ‘badly-performed’. You can sort of make them mean the same thing if you squint a bit.

  15. 7:57. I too found the acrosses didn’t yield very much on my first pass, but the downs proved much more tractable and with plenty of checkers everything fell into place quickly with quite a lot of biffing.
    I considered AMERICA’S CUP but I already had CERVANTES so it didn’t go in.

  16. 23 minutes with LOI TART and POI ACCUSE replacing a MESS at 21d. I wasn’t sure that my parsing of OCCULT was the correct one but it seems to be. COD to GO DOWN A STORM, a familiar expression to me, with an honourable mention to CERVANTES. Thank you V and setter.

  17. Since I stopped fretting about possible pink squares and just solved the puzzle my times have improved somewhat – 9’22” today.

    I was once rejected by an early internet chess club because the ping was too slow, or something, so that stuck.

    Remembered the Admiral’s Cup – I think Ted Heath once won it.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  18. 11:58. I put in WARD at the end of 9A but couldn’t see the beginning until 4D showed up the mistake. But I also had an unparsed GO DOWN A TREAT for 4D before CERVANTES came along. I liked SEARCH WARRANT most. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  19. Another who cycled through GO DOWN A TREAT and AMERICAS CUP. CERVANTES finally corrected both for me. No trouble with PING. I use the command regularly when checking basic network connectivity. Started with MAT and LOI was OCCULT. 19:44. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  20. 29 minutes. Took a while to get away from America’s Cup and figure out the anagram to get ADMIRALS CUP, not helped by being slow to see retainer=servant for CERVANTES. Considered ‘go down a treat’ before figuring out the wordplay for GO DOWN A STORM, and got the unknown MOA from the straightforward wordplay.

    FOI Mat
    LOI Occult
    COD Dancer

  21. 23:35
    El Manco de Lepanto makes a welcome appearance.
    Steady solve with no dramas.
    Thanks, v.

  22. 25 mins for a steady solve
    Found the parsing of some clues harder than the solve!!!
    Didn’t really like 20a

  23. HAMMY would’ve been better clued as ‘Badly performed’ than the converse. The answer is an adjective, after all, not a verb. Quite unfair, I thought.

  24. 27 minutes with no great problems. I was a bit uncomfortable with HAMMY, for the same reason as Nathan Weston, but as Keriothe says if you squint a bit it’s just about OK. Liked the Mars clue.

  25. 25 mins. I imagine everyone like me would have biffed Americas Cup, and then having used the A for SEARCH, assume the answer was correct, and then seize up. Well that’s what happened to me, and it was a while before CERVANTES put me straight (he’s good like that)
    LOI STEERAGE total brain seizure.

  26. I found this fairly easy, though, like some others, I concentrated on the downs after all I had from the acrosses initially was DANCER, TANGO and TYPING. A few needed closer scrutiny to see the wordplay after I had the answer.
    21 minutes.

    I can’t see anything wrong at all with the definition for HAMMY. The phrase can be read adjectively in either order (without squinting). It may misdirect the solver, but it’s legitimate and fair.

    1. I’m not sure you can read ‘performed badly’ adjectivally. You wouldn’t say ‘it was a very performed badly play’, and in the phrase ‘the play was performed badly’ it isn’t adjectival. ‘The play was hammy’ conveys more or less the same meaning but an adjective in one case is conveying the meaning of verb + adverb in the other, which is where (for me) the squinting comes in. It doesn’t bother me unduly.

      1. Using an example from Chambers, I could define ‘clumsy’ as ‘unskilfully executed’ (as per Chambers) or ‘executed unskilfully’. It seems to me that ‘hammy’ is analogous. Dictionary definitions do not always survive the substitution test.

        1. But again ‘unskilfully-executed’ is an adjective, whereas ‘executed unskilfully’ isn’t. The overall sense conveyed is the same but I struggle with the idea that a verb (albeit modified by an adverb) can be considered synonymous with an adjective, even where they are (as here) semantically substitutable in some sentences. That’s the only reason I say you have to squint a bit.

  27. 12.45 – I found this relatively straightforwards and was surprised to see longer average times on the board. No doubt I will crash and burn tomorrow!

  28. 21:46 with plenty going in half parsed, so to speak. ADMIRALS CUP and OCCULT were the longest to hold out but there was nothing too scary in all.

  29. Has anyone recently had a problem whereby when they type in a letter the preceding one vanishes? The only way I could find to solve this was deleting all my cookies from The Times. It’s happened a few times recently to me. Can anyone shed any light on this?

    As part of trying to solve this I reset my puzzle. When I eventually got it working again I had lost about 90 seconds off my time, so there’s a possible way to cheat!

      1. But if I do that I’ll lose remembered autofill settings for forms, won’t I? Good idea otherwise.

        1. I don’t know what that means (for that matter, I don’t know what clearing cache means); but I haven’t had a problem with the site since, he said rashly.

            1. You should be able to clear the data for just the times website, so you don’t lose everything else.

    1. I had exactly this recently and had to do the same thing. I also get a 403 (I think) error from time to time and that requires the same treatment. I don’t know of any other way.

  30. Took ages to get going on this so thought it tougher than usual for a Monday. Very happy to get there in the end.
    FOI Accuse
    LOI Hammy (for reasons many have mentioned)
    COD Go down a storm

  31. The Monday Club median seemed to cluster around 28 minutes, so I am member.

    FOI 24 dn MOA
    LOI 15ab HAMMY

  32. A rare finish for me and 24 mins seems decent so I thought I’d celebrate with a first post here! Unlike many I checked the non-agram for AMERICAS CUP but made a similar mistake with LITERARY GREAT even though the definition clearly didn’t work! Had to take punts on OCCULT and RATE but appreciated nothing too obscure.

  33. Not on the wavelength today, and gave up after biffing in ‘UNTOWARD at 9.
    Will try again tomorrow.

  34. 22:21
    Fairly straightforward in the end, but l’m another who only really got going after ploughing through the Down clues. Not keen on HAMMY but I did like CERVANTES, COUNTENANCE and TRANCHE.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  35. I struggled at first. FOI MOA.
    Then carefully considered 1a and my CAMPAIGN was off and running.
    Probably about 40 minutes with last in ARTISAN after correcting TYPIST.
    Could not quite parse ACCUSE.
    Ping is mainly a golf club for me; but I did know the IT term.
    Enjoyable puzzle. COD to TART.

  36. Around 20 mins with the LOI being rate without really knowing why. Now I do! Duh.
    Like others didn’t understand the ping bit in 25 ac but put it in anyway.

    A good Monday puzzle I thought. COD Hammy after finally seeing whammy as the winning punch.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  37. 19:43

    Started completing while out for a walk. Finished on return home.

    Biffed GO DOWN A STORM from checkers (only missing the last) – think if something goes down a treat, it’s an ice cream, a nice pudding, or a tot of whisky – going down a storm is more on the scale of a concert where the support band blows away the main act…

    The only other that I didn’t parse was RATE.

    1. Good point re: go down a treat. Though I’d never heard of go down a storm, so had no alternative. Intrigued how you solve while out on a walk – do you take your phone, or a paper copy? Solve in your head remembering crossing letter positions, or carry a pen/cil?

      1. I take my phone, however its effectiveness depends on how bright the day is. Sometimes I have to wear glasses as the clues are occasionally less decipherable when overcast. I should probably spend more time admiring the view but this keeps the brain ticking over!

  38. 7:30 with CkUNTENANCE being today’s inevitable typo.

    COD AD HOMINEM (God bless O Level Latin !)

    1. Oh yes! Absolutely agree, Busman! Such a useful (dead?) language in my book – and probably one of the reasons why I began to invest in cryptic crosswords in the first place. AD HOMINEM also one of my first in, but thence found the down clues necessary to help with a poor showing in the first read of the across clues. Never did get which latter-day regatta event called for, even with A-M——L-/ CUP. Enjoyed SPECIMEN and COUNTENANCE.

  39. 25:03, everything went in steadily enough, LOI CERVANTES. I liked LITERARY AGENT, but there weren’t any particularly satisfying penny-drop moments for me. Thanks Vinyl & setter.

    1. In Collins, British English, for “mat”: “3. having a dull, lustreless, or roughened surface”
      In American, it’s an alternative spelling for “matte.”

  40. Finished in 35 minutes, despite the very slow start other solvers also had. But then it turned out to be not all that hard. No problem at all with HAMMY and in fact making a past participle (PERFORMED) look like a straight past tense is just standard misleading cluing, just what we want to have thrown at us, isn’t it?
    Otherwise nothing worth a special mention here. COD, if there is one, to TYPING.

  41. Very late getting to this today and completed with no recorded time, but estimated at about 35 minutes. LOI was OCCULT , and wasn’t helped by not having the confidence to put in RATE not fully understanding the relevance of the C in (C)rate.

  42. DNF as I didn’t know CERVANTES and since I didn’t know the French for these I couldn’t even begin to construct the answer. It would have been in vain anyway as I had the vowels the wrong way around in AD HOMINEM!
    Otherwise all fine.
    Thanks blogger.

  43. 11.56. Nice puzzle. I seemed to have all the necessary GK and went through this like a knife through butter.

  44. Can someone explain CAMP in 1? I’m a beginner, and it takes me about 27 minutes to get one solution.

  45. Struggled through, misled by the clue surface too many times.
    DNL (Did not like) HAMMY (for the reasons discussed above) or TART. Trat seems a fabricated shortened form of Trattoria, that is never used, or likely to be used. I can’t imagine saying “How about supper at the Trat?”, any more than “Anyone else want a Pizz?”
    FOI Dancer
    LOI Tranche
    COD Admiral’s Cup

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