Times 28473 – harder in practice than in theory?

A quirky puzzle, I thought, with a few clues solvable from the definitions but harder to parse. I liked best the oblique definition for catseye and the ancient hero. I was also in danger of pink squares at 4a and 20d until parsing them for the blog forced me to re-visit.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics

1 Search for oil curtailed with a second uproar (6)
FRACAS – FRAC(K) = search for oil, curtailed; A, S.
4 Country area, remote delta, invaded by the military (8)
FARMYARD – FAR D (remote delta) with ARMY inside. I flirted with FAR LAND with M inside, but couldn’t justify the LAN part.
10 Busy gathering of people requiring couple to swap places (7)
TEEMING – MEETING has two letters swapping places.
11 Wrong to snatch a jewellery item (7)
EARRING – ERRING (wrong), insert A.
12 English bowler maybe embraces early contest (4)
HEAT – HAT (English bowler) has E (early part of embraces) inserted. EDIT I mis-parsed here, as pointed out below, it’s E for English inside the bowler HAT, not E from embraces.
13 Home remains place of refuge after returning from manufacturing process (10)
INDUSTRIAL – IN (home) DUST (remains) LAIR reversed.
15 Shift effort to include area of fiscal planning (9)
BUDGETARY – BUDGE (shift) TRY (effort) with A inserted.
16 With failure of clubs, was boxing assessed? (5)
RATED – CRATED loses C for clubs.
18 Hefty? Pounds lighter, though not at first (5)
LARGE – L (pounds) (B)ARGE = lighter, losing first letter.
19 Cell: most of one transformed by author’s works? (9)
CORPUSCLE – I took a while to decipher this, was fixated on using OPUS at first but it’s CORPUS (collection of works) with CEL)* added, CEL being most of cell.
21 Our violent riots — threatening this? (10)
23 Soldiers without skill lacking in force (4)
UNIT – UNFIT loses its F.
26 Company on board in struggle to make artificial fabric (7)
VISCOSE – CO inside SS (company on board) inside VIE = struggle.
27 Very ornate pub, old, rather short of vermouth (7)
BAROQUE – BAR (pub) O (old) QUE = QUITE (rather) without the IT for Italian vermouth.
28 Affirmed wrong date given about international match (8)
ATTESTED – (DATE)* with TEST inserted.
29 Fellow ignoring educational component in school lecture (6)
SPEECH – PEER = fellow, lose the R (one of the three R’s = educational component) insert into SCH for school.
1 Get half-hearted supporters descending on church (5)
FETCH – FEET loses an E then CH.
2 Hero of old seeing a doomed lover accepting kiss (9)
ALEXANDER – A, LEANDER (doomed lover) with X inserted.
3 Keen helper catching cold (4)
ACID – AID with C inserted. Keen as in biting, acerbic, acid.
5 Ancient greeting set in the earth in Neolithic site (7)
AVEBURY – AVE (Latin for welcome) BURY (set in the earth). In Wiltshire not far from Stonehenge. I have been there, and funnily enough have just finished a Robert Goddard book in which the Avebury stone circle features prominently.
6 Choral work not ending in silence is something suggesting later discussion (10)
MORATORIUM – ORATORIO loses its final O and goes inside MUM = silence.
7 Excuse deviation from script, but not second one (5)
ALIBI – AD LIB loses the D (second letter) then I for one.
8 Snow vehicle follows cliff path, perhaps (3,6)
DOG SLEDGE – DOGS (follows) LEDGE (cliff path perhaps).
9 Computer language includes information in list of items (6)
AGENDA – GEN goes inside ADA, apparently a high level computer language, which I didn’t know.
14 Spreading Euro-libels, against Government’s wishes? (10)
15 Somehow able to grasp historical King by way of part of London (9)
BELGRAVIA – insert GR (historical king) into (ABLE)* then add VIA (by way of).
17 College without equal ignoring a University procedure (9)
TECHNIQUE – TECH (college) (U)NIQUE = without equal ignoring the U.
19 Source of beneficial reflection — certainly cheers up in church (7)
CATSEYE – YES (certainly) TA (cheers) is all reversed and inserted into CE for church. Do non UK roads use these and call them the same?
20 One Danish scientist upset about source of many diamonds (6)
RHOMBI – How many Danish scientists do we know? One; Niels BOHR. Reverse him, insert M (source of many) and add I for one. Of course, I had a careless S one the end instead of I, until I came to parse it for the blog.
22 Call volume, do you say? (5)
VISIT – V (volume) IS IT? (do you say?)
24 Saw components tailoring had initially affixed to shirt (5)
TEETH – TEE (shirt) add T H (tailoring had, initially).
25 Decline beginning to reappear in party power (4)
DROP – DO (party) P (power) insert R (beginning to reappear).


73 comments on “Times 28473 – harder in practice than in theory?”

  1. Done in an hour with LOI MORATORIUM showing that my answers of CHRONICLE and CARBUNCLE were incorrect.

    I had to look in the OED post-solve to see why PEER= fellow.

    Liked CATSEYE, very clever. No NHOs for me, today.

    1. I did the same and put in CHRONICLE without enough thought. CATSEYEs are very clever. Not just the reflecting glass but they have a cleaner that wipes them whenever a vehicle rolls over them. The original ones, that is. I think today they are just reflectors.

      1. As a boy I met their inventor, who brought one along to our Sunday school to show how it works.

        1. My father told me they were kittens buried in the road.
          I blanked it out from ptsd.

        2. Ken Dodd observed that, had the cat been facing the other way, Percy Shaw would have invented the pencil sharpener.

            1. Oh dear. I can only suggest that you imagine what you would see if you looked at the back of a cat as opposed to the front.

  2. Trciky and quirky, and an ultimate fail on CORPUSCLE, which I should have got. Had to think a bit for FARMYARD and CATSEYE. Rhombi a write-in – name a Danish scientist who isn’t Bohr. NHO Avebury generously clued. Sledge is a funny word – a cricketing term nowadays down here, not something pulled by dogs.
    Liked BELGRAVIA and REVOLUTION, FETCH and VISIT. Point of order on FRACKING – it happens after the oil is found, it’s not the search for oil. Involves fracturing the rock the oil is in so it can flow out more easily.

    1. Tycho Brahe was the Danish Scientist I tried to jam into the RHOMBI clue, I tried both his names. You can see his observatory in Copenhagen. In 1572, before the telescope was invented he saw a supernova and deduced that it must be a star, not a planet or a comet: proving that the heavens were not immutable. Also famous for having his nose lopped off in a drunken duel in the dark, arguing a point with a mathematician. He wore a golden nose as a replacement.

      1. Well done! Now you mention him, I remember Tycho Brahe. Was his observatory at the top of a round tower with a big spiral ramp? I did a lot of quantum physics at uni and no astronomy, so Bohr was forefront for me.

      2. 25.43 but in my physics textbook (Nelkon I think) at school there was a picture of Tycho Brahe and it said he had a nose made of silver rather than gold. I guess it doesn’t really matter! Good crossword today, thanks setter and Piquet.

        1. Wikipedia says his body was exhumed for examination and the nose is “more likely brass than silver or gold, as some believed at the time.”
          It also says Judi Dench is a first cousin, nine times removed … useless fact of the day 🙂

      1. Know of the unit Ørsted but didn’t know it was named after a Dane. After a google; they’re the only 3 names I recognise (though Bohr occurs 3 times – Niels Bohr’s son & brother both on the list; son like father won a Nobel Prize).

  3. Thanks for the qu(IT)e in Baroque, Pip.
    I had to read a number of the clues twice (or more) – the wording wasn’t awkward or incorrect, just it sometimes looked like it was going to be. Devious, Mr or Ms setter.

  4. 22:47
    An MER at FRACAS, for the reason isla noted. I had forgotten CATSEYE–if one can say that I knew it since it appeared here once. I believe ada was named after Ada Lovelace, a pioneer in computing. I liked this puzzle, although nothing in particular stood out for me.

    1. Ada Lovelace, the daughter of George Gordon Byron and Annabella Milbanke – a very smart cookie herself – worked with the ‘father of the computer’, Charles Babbage.

  5. 39 minutes. I initially latched on to “canon” for ‘author’s works?’ at 19a and once it was clear it didn’t fit, I needed to get the crossing MORATORIUM (always reminds me of the big anti-Vietnam war protests we had here in the early 70’s) to work out CORPUSCLE as my LOI. I just remembered AVEBURY (didn’t Ludovic Kennedy live there?) and I kidded myself I knew ADA as a computer language, but no.

    I parsed HEAT as E (‘English’) contained in (’embraces’) HAT (‘bowler maybe’) with ‘early contest’ as the def. A few commas may have helped: ‘English, bowler maybe embraces,…’ but were probably deliberately omitted.

  6. Apparently lacking the caution of others, I threw in CARBUNCLE and submitted. Of course I anticipated some elucidation about why a carbuncle is a cell, and how it was perfectly safe to completely ignore the wordplay.

    Imagine my surprise…

  7. 32 minutes for all but CORPUSCLE where like Galspray I was unable to see past CARBUNCLE which I knew could not be correct. After another 10 minutes I gave up and used aids. I later noticed an error at 4ac where I had put FARMLAND although I hadn’t understood the parsing. I think I had already entered LAND on seeing ‘country’ in the clue before thinking of FAR for ‘remote’.

    I also missed the second part of parsing in TECHNIQUE.

  8. Spotting too many birds makes me sad
    But the two yesterday made me mad
    So, you know what I did?
    I tried out a new grid
    Found no feathers in the old Grauniad

  9. Sinking bewilder’d ‘mid the dreary sea.
    ‘Tis young Leander toiling to his death.
    Nigh swooning he doth purse his weary lips
    For Hero’s cheek, and smiles against her smile.

    Poor lad.
    25 mins pre-brekker. No ticks, no crosses, no MERs.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  10. 43 minutes with SPEECH unparsed as LOI. I found this quite tough but it was fair. I knew of Ada Lovelace and who her father was but didn’t know she was a language. COD to VISIT. Thank you Pip and setter.

  11. The couple of good clues were outweighed by the 16, I think, letter insertion or removal clues.

  12. 31:53 with one error – FARMLAND. I found this really tricky and was struggling to parse the clues, so had basically given up trying by that point! Thanks piquet for explaining…

  13. DNF. I had Amebury instead of Avebury – I was thinking of Amesbury, the location of Stonehenge. I also knew ame to be a word though I wasn’t sure of its meaning (soul, from the French). As soon as I saw the pink square I realised the right answer.
    Afterwards I checked the leaderboard, where I had one error yesterday to find I still had one error. Which means I fleetingly got to zero errors this morning then blew it. Bah!

  14. 11:58. No major problems. Lots of single errors on the leaderboard today. I wonder which clue tripped most people up. FARMYARD/LAND perhaps.

    1. Yep, I was a rushed FARMLAND but was pleased with my 13+ minutes of labour other than that on a slightly trickier than usual puzzle.

      Thanks p and setter

  15. 13:05. No real difficulties for me knowing the Danish scientist and computer language. LOI and COD to CATSEYE with its neat deceptive definition and surface. Thanks Pip and setter.

  16. Yet another DNF when CORPUSCLE simply wouldn’t yield, ‘chronicle’ was eliminated and ‘carbuncle’ was thrown in out of desperation.

    The C should still have given me CATSEYE but I just couldn’t see it. Should’ve turned my lights on? It’s a great clue (on reflection!).

    Thanks setter and Piquet.

    Subsequently see that like some others I missed FARMYARD too, with ‘farmland’ instead.

  17. Double DNF

    An unparsed FARMLAND and a fat-fingered CROP for DROP which I didn’t spot on checking, what with CROP being a word ‘n’ all.

    I had no idea of the parsing of SPEECH and CORPUSCLE so I could quite easily have added a pink square with CARBUNCLE had I not thought of the latter.

    I knew Avebury because my Dad used to visit every year looking at crop circles.

  18. About 30 minutes. Lots of things took a while to come, but eventually they did – albeit relying on the wordplay for the unknown VISCOSE and CORPUSCLE – and I avoided the traps others seem to have fallen into. I also didn’t know the Ada computer language, but AGENDA was fairly obvious. I parsed HEAT the same way as BletchleyReject, and I think that’s the only way it works (can ‘early’ on its own really be enough to indicate a first letter?).

    FOI Heat
    LOI Avebury
    COD Catseye

  19. 7:56 which seems to put me surprisingly high up leaderboard. Chewy in places, with some neat references both in wordplay and definitions. Started off with CARBUNCLE in my mind too but just couldn’t see how the King’s pet word could be justified – and only found CORPUSCLE when I had all but first checker. A couple of biffs, without pause for wordplay thought, esp. SPEECH which was difficult to parse after I had submitted. Many thanks to setter & blogger alike.

  20. Two wrong after 24 mins. FARMLAND and another monstrous CARBUNCLE.

    Every time I see CARBUNCLE I think of King Charles. Every stinKING time.

  21. 22:12
    Quirky indeed and very enjoyable. Dithered over carbuncle for a while before deciding one couldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, be a cell.


    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  22. I took ages to get CATSEYE (even though the wordplay is straightforward, CORPUSCLE and TECHNIQUE. 36 minutes, though I forgot to go back 4a and look for an alternative to my FARMLAND. I knew it couldn’t be right as it wasn’t justified by the wordplay.

  23. Hello again. Apologies for my absence but I’ve been down with the dreaded lurgy for a week and it has completely floored me. I tried a puzzle or too but the drug induced brain fugg wouldn’t let me. Shame, cos in isolation there’s not much else to do. There is the footie I suppose.

    Anyway, nearly finished today with CARBUNCLE, wrong, and couldn’t see CATSEYE. Clever clue but beat me. Yes Pip, the word is the same in French but you seldom see them on the road.

    Thanks PK and setter.

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve not been well – maybe your corpuscles turned into carbuncles for a while!

    2. indeed, I am surprised to see it is “les catseyes” not les yeux de chats. Not sure l’Académie Française would approve!

  24. Another ‘Farmland’ failure here: otherwise correct but ‘speech’ unparsed. Setter 1: George 0. A bit like England, I usually fail in the Quarter Finals.

  25. 7m 43s. COD for me is DOG SLEDGE, beating CATSEYE in the dogs vs cats competition.

    Fortunately I thought of CORPUS as a possible part of the wordplay before I had all the checkers, otherwise I imagine I’d have chucked in CARBUNCLE as well.

  26. Why is it so tempting to enter carbuncle? I was encouraged to do so, but it was surely wrong, so I didn’t thank goodness. Corpuscle seems just as well-known a word; perhaps it is indeed King Charles. The DOG SLEDGE was something I was very unsure of but it was strongly suggested by the wordplay. Otherwise not too hard, 29 minutes.

  27. 13:57, and lots of head-scratching required here; my schedule for Friday means I probably won’t do that puzzle until the weekend, so this can do as a Friday puzzle instead. Very pleased to have avoided the tempting CARBUNCLE, but slightly embarrassed to admit that after trying FARMLAND for size, took out the MLAR so that I still had the requisite FAR and D…and then spent a long time wondering how on earth the letters MYAR could possibly mean “military”. I would be dangerous if I had a brain.

  28. 53 minutes for me, so quite hard, although I avoided the common traps and knew ADA was a language named after Lovelace. I have a great niece with the same name. Some really nice clues. Thanks p.

  29. Was feeling smug until coming here, having got corpuscle (obviously couldn’t be carbuncle, didn’t parse!) … until I discovered I had farmland not farmyard .. which also didn’t parse, but I never even checked. Hmph..
    Still, at least our best known Danish Nobel Laureate, Niels Bohr, gets a mention.
    Apart from Oersted and Brahe, my Danish scientist knowledge is limited, though I see that Morten Meldal has won the Nobel prize for chemistry this very year, 2022, for work that goes completely over my head, unfortunately.

  30. 21.59 with two wrong

    Yes those ones

    Personally thought the definition for CATSEYE was the best I’ve seen for ages. Loved it.

    Thanks Pip and Setter

  31. 19’45” after narrowly avoiding CARBUNCLE. More evidence that I perform better — relatively speaking — on the higher snitches. Much “easier” crosswords (acc. Snitch) are taking me only slightly less time. Good fun.

  32. 45:25 with two wrong

    Yes also those ones

    And, to keep my agreement with the comment by Dvynys above, also thought CATSEYE was great

    Thanks s & b

  33. 31.10 but messed up on my LOI by opting for farmland. Similar lack of reasoning as other posters. Very annoying cos I thought this was a taxing puzzle and I thought I’d nailed it.
    Back for more punishment tomorrow.
    Thx setter and blogger

  34. I made a bit of a hash of this, being another one who put CHRONICLE at 19a, before getting 6d and realising that N had to be U. I eventually used aids to get CORPUSCLE and then plumped for the unparsed FARMLAND which put the final nail in the coffin.

    I’ve never been to Avebury, but I remember Children of the Stones, which was filmed there in 1976. A bit deep for the 9 year old me, but good nevertheless.

    Happy day!

  35. Ah, thought it must be a mistake that CATSEYE had no hyphen in it but I did find the definition relating to UK roads just before coming here. The gemstone is also alleged by some to have “beneficial” properties.

    Just got around to this, spent some hours in a bar last night with comrades from the magazine whom I normally only see via Google meets. Before reading other comments, I’ll just say that there sure were a lot of one-letter deletions from suggested words—it’s probably that setter again. I had no trouble with any parsings.

    …Having looked at the other comments, adding that I also found the reference to fracking to be inaccurate. It is also unjustifiably innocuous! Ha

  36. In company with seemingly about half of all solvers I was another CARBUNCLE, realising that it just couldn’t be that. CHRONICLE seemed a more plausible option but I was happy that MORATORIUM was correct, so it couldn’t be that. The clock stopped at 42.14 so within target, but…..

  37. Annoyed to have a DNF, as I biffed in FARMLAND. My all correct week of solving eludes me yet again.
    I enjoyed DOG SLEDGE and CATSEYE clues.
    Thanks for the blog and thank you setter

  38. I limped over the line eventually, and all correct, probably because I make sure I parse any bifd ones and never time myself. The final crosser, U from MORATORIUM, immediately gave me CORPUSCLE, (carbuncle never occurred to me) which I then checked to make sure it parsed, even though it seemed right. FARMYARD was derived from the cryptic, so no temptation to put in farmland. In fact, very few words were biffable – I had to struggle through, being most definitely not on the setter’s wavelength – the first run-through yielded 0nly ACID. Looking at the puzzle now, I have to concede it’s a good one, just that I didn’t enjoy it much owing to having to struggle with every cryptic.
    I actually got CATSEYE very early on, but, like Vinyl, didn’t recognise it as a word – I read it as ‘Cat-sea’, perhaps because it was a down clue.

    1. I think perhaps the female brain works differently with regard to crosswords, in that I wholeheartedly agree with all that you’ve said, alto_ego! But I’m not in your league yet, unfortunately. Like you, on first pass ACID was the only write-in, then a torturous half hour to get a few more, parsing as I went. Don’t think any were bifd, but I was pleased to get BUDGETARY, INDUSTRIAL, RHOMBI and BAROQUE quite early on. Never did get CATSEYE ( good clue!) as stuck on the wrong sort of reflection, or VISIT, despite the first letter; and FARMYARD not attempted, as was stuck on SKI having to be the first word of 8d …I’m afraid this setter’s ‘deletion phobia’ is just not my style!

      1. Your reply set me thinking about the female/male brain thing. I know what you mean, but it’s not set in stone – on this blog, both Oliviarhinebeck and Denise Tremble post quick times compared to mine. Olivia is a lawyer, and I suspect her mind works in what you would regard as a ‘masculine’ way. Denise started doing crosswords relatively recently, yet has graduated to some quite fast times very quickly, which I could never match, though my success rate is probably higher, in that I rarely fail to finish a Times cryptic crossword now, no matter how long it might take. Whereas I have a good GK, from a lifetime’s reading (mostly novels), though with weaknesses in the sciences and business, my brain is incapable of making the lightning jumps required to biff a clue from a mere letter or two. My partner, on the other hand, barely reads books, so doesn’t have the equivalent GK, yet can leap to an answer in seconds, with anagrams or from definition, provided he knows the word, leaving me to parse it!
        It seems to me that the ideal crossword solver has a combination of these two skills – the knowledge and doggedness in searching for a route to an answer combined with intuition and an ability to access a mental database of vocabulary.
        So, in essence, I suspect that the overwhelming number of Times Crossword competitors will be male, having the ability to solve clues faster because of the way their brains function. I will never be among their number, but I can certainly attest that I have improved out of all recognition since my first attempts, which may have yielded one or two answers per grid! And more to the point, it gives me long periods of satisfaction denied to those that finish in 6 minutes or so. And for sure, if you carry on solving, you will get better and your vocabulary will expand in ways you never expected ( I refer you to RAGNAROK and SNIGGLE in No 28502 – 17th January)!

  39. At the risk of looking foolish, can we please ask someone to clarify the parsing of 27A: BAROQUE: we get that pub=bar; old=O; and then rather=quite and removing IT…so how do we know ‘vermouth’ is IT?! Just because it’s Italian?!?!

    1. “It” is an abbreviation for “Italian vermouth,” as in the phrase “Gin and It.”

  40. 41 minutes for this puzzle, which was much better than the previous two and had some very good clues (but also lots of boring ones). With a few exceptions, the surface readings were sort of, well, arbitrary and not really focussed on any thought likely to come up in the real world. But I liked 1dn, with the FEET as supporters, the CATSEYE and FARMYARD, which I was sure would involve FAR D somehow as indeed it turned out to do. Like others I rotated through CARBUNCLE and CHRONICLE before seeing CORPUSCLE. Let’s hope improvements keep on coming as the week progresses.

  41. DNF another farmland here. I dodged the carbuncle trap because I just couldn’t parse it. Sadly imparse-ability did not factor into my decision to enter farmland.

  42. Another CARBUNCLE sadly. I knew I couldn’t parse it but that applied to a few others that turned out to be correct. Needed help for CATSEYE but loved the clue. Slight MER at FRACAS as I thought fracking was for shale gas rather than oil?

  43. A very late solve today as I was out lunching with ex colleagues and then on a Zoom session. 23:28 but sadly, after dodging the CARBUNCLE, CORPUSCLE being my LOI, I discovered on submitting, that I’ve joined the FARMLAND brigade. Boo hiss! Thanks setter and Pip.

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