Times 28570 – did it 25?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time taken: 9:53

I’m curious to see what commenters make of this one – I think there’s some crafty wordplay and some obscure words and phrases. If you trust the wordplay it should come together pretty readily, there were many times I ignored the definition and tried to put wordplay elements together to get a likely entry before the penny dropped.

Hazarding a guess, I’d say 12 and 27 across will be the sticking points today.

How did you get along?

1 Not prepared to survive, being tiny (4-6)
LAST-MINUTE – LAST(survive) and MINUTE(tiny)
6 Promoted by firm for masterful move (4)
COUP – UP(promoted) next to CO(firm)
9 In the study, additional decoration much worn (10)
THREADBARE – THE containing READ(study) and BAR(addition to a medal)
10 Announced questions in the old manner (4)
WISE – sounds like WHY’S(questions). Manner as in edgewise or lengthwise
12 Weapon store on beach where Holmes’s adventures took place (6,8)
STRAND MAGAZINE – MAGAZINE(weapon store) next to STRAND(beach). Original publishers of the Sherlock Holmes stories
14 Take the chair, cancelling programme originally live (6)
RESIDE – PRESIDE(take the chair) minus the first letter of Programme
15 Imprisoned felon given further penalty? (8)
CONFINED – CON(felon), FINED(given further penalty)
17 While speaking, surrounded offensive woman (8)
GERTRUDE – sounds like GIRT(surrounded) and RUDE(offensive)
19 Decorous supporter losing heart (6)
PROPER – PROPPER(supporter) minus the middle letter
22 Bottom club’s possible predicament that doesn’t have any upside? (2-3,9)
NO-WIN SITUATION – the club at the bottom may have NO WINS
24 Declare answer extremely short (4)
AVER – A(answer) and VERY(extremely) minus the last letter
25 Well-trained police meet requirements (3,3,4)
FIT THE BILL – FIT(well-trained), THE BILL(police)
26 Cathedral on verge of collapse? That’s fishy (4)
EELY – ELY(cathedral) next to the last letter of collapsE
27 Unusual disrepute attaches to judge for witty remark (3,7)
JEU D’ESPRIT – anagram of DISREPUTE next to J(judge)
1 Instrument — another would be loud against it (4)
LUTE – if you add F(loud) to LUTE you would get FLUTE(another instrument)
2 Cloud’s position covering river (7)
STRATUS – STATUS(position) surrounding R(river)
3 Dine with doctor wearing fur, a source of delight (4,3,5)
MEAT AND DRINK – EAT(dine) AND(with) DR(doctor) inside MINK(fur)
4 Diarist’s criticism of a bottle of plonk? (6)
NOBODY – a bottle of plonk might have NO BODY. Reference to Diary of a Nobody
5 Fighter closed and roared furiously (8)
TOREADOR – TO(closed) and an anagram of ROARED
7 Shape of dome obscuring supposedly good view (7)
OPINION – ONION dome containing PI(supposedly good)
8 Clergyman to genuflect in free prayer (10)
PREBENDARY – BEND(genuflect) inside an anagram of PRAYER
11 Relations — hers, it’s implied? (4-8)
HALF-BROTHERS – HERS is half of brotHERS
13 Under protective cover, evidently, fraudulently set up robbery (10)
BRIGANDAGE – BANDAGE(protective cover) containing RIG(fraudulently set up)
16 Something in ready meal maybe rather moreish, about to be removed (8)
ADDITIVE – ADDICTIVE(rather moreish) minus C(about)
18 Violently led a conflict to overturn disadvantageous settlement (3,4)
RAW DEAL – anagram of LED,A and RAW(war) reversed
20 One has somebody calling round? More like a scammer! (7)
PHONIER – I(one) inside PHONER(somebody calling)
21 Suddenly blew up: detectives have left horrified (6)
GUSTED – remove DIS(detectives) from DISGUSTED(horrified)
23 Excess quantity left in narrow passage (4)
GLUT – L(left) inside GUT(narrow passage)

64 comments on “Times 28570 – did it 25?”

  1. 32:32
    I was hopelessly dim today, about as far off the supposed wavelength as possible. I biffed NO-WIN SITUATION from the enumeration, never parsed it; biffed ADDICTIVE, and parsed it post-submission. 12ac STRAND MAGAZINE and 27ac JEU DESPRIT were not problems; the magazine came up here recently, and the J + enumeration led to a quick solve. But by and large it was like pulling teeth. I liked THREADBARE and GERTRUDE.

    1. Not just me then Kevin. Similar time, similar struggles. Ended up half-guessing BRIGANDAGE and eventually saw the (now-obvious) parsing post-solve.

      Should have been quicker to spot GERTRUDE, as we’re probably the only country that uses the word “girt” on a regular basis.

      Thanks George and setter, good challenge today.

      1. Add me to the list of dummies. BRIGANDAGE bunged in last without a clue as to how it worked.

        Liked GERTRUDE. Due for a renaissance?

        1. On edit: Oh, you were referring to the name. Yes, I don’t recall meeting any Gertrudes at the gym. Not that I go to the gym.

  2. Very much on the tricky side. Like Kevin no trouble constructing JEU.., and knew where Holmes was published since reading all his adventures as a child. It was the bottom left corner plus WISE that held me up. Unusual words like gusted, phonier, Gertrude, eely, brigandage, prebendary allied to some wordy clues made it difficult (for me).

  3. Yes, this took a bit more thought than the others so far this week.
    I liked WISE, which was one of my last in.
    All parsed, finally, but had biffed NO WIN SITUATION and ADDITIVE, think that’s all. For most, I needed the wordplay. I like them like that.
    Not sure if the clue for BRIGANDAGE needs “evidently.”
    NOBODY as a diarist was a guess.

    1. The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel written by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, and I highly recommend it.

  4. 40 minutes, but a technical DNF because the last 5 of these were spent on 13dn and having made no progress on definition or wordplay I threw in the towel and resorted to aids. A wise decision as I didn’t know the answer (‘brigandry’ would have been my word for it) and I doubt BANDAGE would ever have come to mind as a synonym for ‘cover’.

    Elsewhere I wasn’t entirely sure that WISE was correct but it was the best I could come up with.

  5. Almost identical to Jackkt. Gave up on the hour having spent an age trying to figure out BRIGANDAGE but not succeeding. Didn’t know the meaning of GIRT either. No probs with JEU D’ESPRIT.


    Thanks G and setter.

  6. Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
    Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
    To muddy death.
    (Gertrude speaking of Ophelia)

    30 mins mid-brekker for which I blame taking too long to concoct Jeu D’esprit and a struggle at the end with Gertrude leading to Brigandage.
    Ta setter and G.

  7. DNF, again due to BRIGANDAGE. Pretty annoyed as I saw BRIGAND would fit but couldn’t see the AGE and most of my wordplay effort was expended on “case” as either the covering or meaning “set up robbery”. Fun puzzle, a lot of challenging wordplay to put together. Thanks both.

  8. 17:13. A similar experience to our blogger’s where I constructed the answer from the wordplay more often than not. I recognised the source of the Holmes stories only after I found MAGAZINE, and BEND was needed for PREBENDARY, for example. LOI GUSTED. A good test with some clever clues. I liked LAST MINUTE and NO-WIN SITUATION best. Thanks George and setter.

  9. DNF after 30 minutes. Never got WISE. It was the ‘the’ that was confusing me, I think. Got BRIGANDAGE but wondered if ‘Under … evidently’ instructed me to put RIG in (a) BANDAGE. I suppose it does.

  10. 65 minutes. I was as slow with the easier ones such as MEAT AND DRINK as I was with the difficult BRIGANDAGE and JEU D’ESPRIT. Exactly the same comments about GERTRUDE as made by galspray above. I found some website (I don’t know how authoritative it is) which reported that 3 girls born in the UK last year were called GERTRUDE; if there is to be a renaissance it’s starting from a pretty low base.

    PREBENDARY wasn’t one of the usual suspects for ‘Clergyman’ and I see it’s the first time this particular man of the cloth has made an appearance in the daily cryptic since December 2015.

    1. 2015 eh? I’m pretty sure I had a whinge about “prebend” back then. The ones you whinge about are the ones that stay in your head though, so it’s a practice I highly recommend. It’s why oreads and naiads hold no fear for me these days.

  11. Too hard for me today, no GERTRUDE or BRIGANDAGE or even PHONIER.

    By pure coincidence I was watching Wolf Hall last night when the Jane Seymour character used the phrase FIT THE BILL. I thought then, and have checked, that this is a gross anachronism.

    Thanks george and setter.

  12. Too many obscurities for me to have a successful day but no complaints – this is The Times crossword after all.

    BRIGANDAGE, G(i)ERTrude, JEU DESPRIT, PREBENDARY and even WISE = in the manner of, all just a step too far for this low/intermediate student of the biggie.

    Thanks glh for the fine blog.

  13. Well beaten today. WISE=manner, I’d never have thought of that. But pleased to crack many tougher clues on this one.

  14. This was tough, but I got there in just under half an hour.

    Didn’t know girt=surrounded, so GERTRUDE went in with a shrug, and I managed to figure out the unknown JEU D’ESPRIT as the most likely-sounding option once all the checkers were in place. For 25a I spent a while trying to make an anagram of ‘police meet’ before realising there was no chance and getting FIT THE BILL. My LOI was STRAND MAGAZINE, where I was on the verge of bunging in ‘strand paradise’ until I remembered that a magazine can be a weapon store.

    FOI Coup
    LOI Strand magazine
    COD Threadbare

  15. 45:03 but with one wrong. I had SLIT intead of GLUT, taking the definition from the wrong end of the clue, and not being able to parse it. Serves me right. I was OK with STRAND MAGAZINE, which I knew, but anyway I thought STRAND + MAGAZINE was pretty kind cluing. A bit more of a struggle with JEU D’ESPRIT but with the leading J and a couple of crossers the anagram came togeher in something I think I knew although I didn’t think it meant witty remark. I liked THREADBARE and FIT THE BILL. WOD has to be EELY

  16. 35.55. A good tussle with this one. Strand Magazine was no problem for me, but I spent a long time untangling some of the rest. At 16d, having the two ‘i’s’ in place, I tried for a while to justify ‘modifier’ until crossers ruled it out, and, of course, it didn’t parse.

  17. Somehow the ‘s’ has been deleted from my name. Hopefully this will correct it.

  18. I’m very new to all this, but am struggling through in about a daily hour and a half but with shameless resorting to online Crossword Solver (which sometimes produces words I’ve never heard of) and (in extremis) Anagram Solver. I find these daily explanations so helpful – thank you bloggers.
    Could somebody be kind enough to explain to me the coding of PI for supposedly good and TO for closed, so that I have a rationale for committing them to memory along with all the other well-worn codes.
    Many thanks.

    1. Pi is a contraction of pious, used to mean good in a churchgoing sense, ie often not good at all.
      To, as in “The door was pushed to.”
      Both regularly pop up.
      Well done if you finished today’s ..

    2. Welcome aboard, David. PI is one of those dated expressions which is too useful for setters to abandon – short for PIOUS, so (once upon a time) used to describe people who were being self-consciously good. And TO is in the sense of “pull the door to”. And yes, as you have realised, if you make an effort to fix them in your mind, these things do stick (eventually)

    3. I’m in the same boat, David…been trying for years, but still feel like a beginner!
      However, I’ve always found B.J.Holmes “Pocket Crossword Dictionary” really useful…falls apart after a while, so am on my 2nd copy! But has all the usual codes, and I just write in new ones as I learn them.
      Good luck!

    4. Hi David, also welcome from me another newbie here.
      I have done the crossword occasionally for many years but 18 months or so ago subscribed to the Times app on my phone, and since then started doing the xword almost every day. I’ve found since then that doing the xword daily has enormously improved my skill (and confidence), so I think you’ll be really surprised where you can reach a year from now.

  19. 12:41, so required a bit of thought in the obvious parts, as mentioned above; also took a while to convince myself that EELY was a genuine word (it sounded a bit too “Uxbridge English Dictionary” for me to trust it at first).

  20. Good solid effort, this, needed two cups to finish. Jeu d’Esprit came up not long ago, I think.
    As for prebendary, this from Harry Graham:

    When Mrs Gorm (Aunt Eloise)
    Was stung to death by savage bees,
    Her husband (Prebendary Gorm)
    Put on his veil, and took the swarm.
    He’s publishing a book, next May,
    On “How to Make Bee-keeping Pay.”

  21. Gave up on the 45 min mark with GERTRUDE and BRIGANDAGE missing. Both now obvious, so irritating.

    Otherwise OK though I felt I was wading through treacle. Nothing came easy.

  22. Really enjoyed this one, 23 minutes, of which five or more were spent on BRIGANDAGE and GERTRUDE at the end. Fortunately I knew jeu d’esprit and Ely is not far from us, although “cathedral” is a bit vague. Thanks George for explaining 13d and blog.

  23. Seemed to me that the wordplay was trickier than the vocab today. LOI BRIGANDAGE, which I think came up recently in a crossword in another place, as they say. The left side in general held me up.

  24. No problem with the answers that George predicted would be difficult, but eventually I gave up and used aids on THREADBARE and BRIGANDAGE so my time of 55 minutes is irrelevant really. Also I never understood why LUTELUTE was loud against it (1dn), but put it in and hoped for the best. Very silly since the reason is so obvious.

  25. 45 minutes, finding the top half easier than the bottom. It was as well that I chanced on JEU D’ESPRIT while blundering around with the anagram. LOI was GERTRUDE after I finally thought of BRIGANDAGE. COD to STRAND MAGAZINE thought it might have been better in the TLS. Thank you George and setter.

  26. 49:21

    Top half easier than bottom half – certainly helped spotting STRAND MAGAZINE early, dredged up from somewhere in the back of my mind.

    Wrote in GERTRUDE in the absence of thinking of anything else, but didn’t know the GIRT homophone. BRIGANDAGE was hard. JEU D’ESPRIT (I didn’t, but got there eventually with the checkers – it took ADDITIVE to break that one open) if you didn’t know it was very difficult.

  27. 10:52, taken well over the the ten-minute mark by BRIGANDAGE, where I had enough doubts to want to be sure of the wordplay. I eventually gave up and hit submit with fingers crossed, at which point I instantly saw how it worked. This is greatly preferable to doing the same thing and instantly realising your answer is wrong.
    I learned about the link between Holmes and the STRAND MAGAZINE from blogging the recent puzzle where it appeared, so that one came easily.

  28. 46:19. Miles off the wavelength and stuck for ages on the stubbornly clever triplet in the SW – BRIGANDAGE, GERTRUDE and ADDITIVE. Great puzzle.

  29. DNF, unable to concoct Jeu d’esprit, which was feeble of me as I got the anagram fodder right.
    8d odd church roles, I was cheerfully entereng PRECENTOR and found there was an empty square at the end. Knew that job because we had the Precentor for history at school. I hope he was better at that job, whatever it is, than teaching.

  30. 12m 38s, I found this tough, with a lengthy period in the middle where I didn’t enter a thing. As so often the way, once I got one (12a) the rest followed fairly quickly.


  31. Struggled mightily with this one. ADDITIVE, PREBENDARY, PHONIER, BRIGANDAGE and MAGAZINE were my main hold ups. 54:16. Thanks setter and George.

  32. Challenging puzzle that took me around 1 hour. Very enjoyable but the word “Eely” is one I can’t imagine being used in any circumstance – what would be eely except for eels?

  33. 33:21 for one of my biff-iest solving experiences yet. Ironic (or just plain silly) that I could easily spot clues like PREBENDARY and even some of the more obscure ones (JEU D’ESPRIT after some *analogue anagramming) but take ages over PHONIER. Agreed on BRIGANDAGE, having to resort to an alphabet trawl for something that looked vaguely plausible. Tricky, challenging stuff but strangely enjoyable.

    FOI – PREBENDARY (I’ve seen this fairly recently, probably in another paper)
    LOI – BRIGANDAGE (Grrr…)
    COD – NO-WIN SITUATION (appealed to the Star Trek fan in me)

    *pen & paper

  34. 24 minutes but didn’t know the Strand magazine despite having read Sherlock Holmes when I was young. Biffed strand Palatine for no good reason. COD to “wise” as it tickled me for some reason.
    Enjoyed JerryW’s earlier ditty.

  35. Gave up in despair, filled in a few blanks only to find only one of them was wrong (SLIT) so quite pleased with my efforts. I particularly hate clues like that …L…T which have so many possibilities, especially when clued obscurely, which this one wasn’t, but my brain had seized up by then.

  36. 26 mins with LOI toreador. Didn’t get to as closed but the fighter, no bull, sorted it to my satisfaction. Took a while with jeu desprit partly because I don’t see the absence of the comma as part of one word. However, I am learning.
    Really enjoyable challenge. Thanks setter and blogger- very impressive time!

  37. Another DNF – couldn’t see BRIGANDAGE and, although JEU D’ESPRIT was obviously an anagram, I couldn’t get it to fit around the checkers, perhaps because I was looking for a seven letter word in English, not two words, one contracted, in French. What is the ‘being’ doing in 1 across?

    1. ‘What is the ‘being’ doing in 1 across?’

      Good question. It doesn’t work as a linking word, and ‘being tiny’ is a verbal phrase.

  38. DNF: WISE, JEU D’ESPRIT, BRIGANDAGE. I’d also biffed in WARBRIDE where GERTRUDE should have gone.
    I liked THREADBARE and remembered Ely was originally the Isle of Eels, so got EELY.

  39. A tough but enjoyable challenge, completed in 29 minutes. Had no problem with 12ac or 27ac. but certainly struggled elsewhere, especially with odd words like PHONIER, EELY, and WISE (in the sense required).
    FOI – COUP
    LOI – WISE
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  40. Did it in 27 minutes (just under), started fast, but slowed down a lot at the end…
    With five left I had a very long pause
    Then got GERTRUDE (I’d been mentally fixed on GIRDLING) then ADDITIVE was obvious (without quite being able to parse it, thanks blogger)
    That left me with the second word of 11 down, 19 ac, 20 down to get
    I was obsessed with Half sisters for some reason, it took me ages and ages to suddenly cotton on and write BROTHERS
    Then PROPER was obvious and LOI PHONIER (“should have” been easy but somehow wasn’t)
    Phew made it, hooray.
    Thanks everyone like always.

    PS Reading the bloggers notes, Strand Magazine you probably either know or don’t, I knew it straight away pretty much; Jeu D’Esprit was harder, and I’m not good at anagrams, but the J gave it away. There were plenty of clues I thought were much harder!!

  41. Very off the wavelength with this one – everything that Isla says above is true of my solving experience, but unlike him I had to resort to aids, since I just ground to a halt about half way through and in order to finish, looked up the answer to 3D to get something new in the grid. Didn’t like the definition of it, nor the words phoner or propper! But I did then manage to finish at least, without further help. Can’t say I really enjoyed it.

  42. No real problems with this. A straightforward solve although I hesitated over EELY – surely that isn’t a word? But it gives me an opportunity to share one of my favourite poems. By the inimitable Ogden Nash from the “Golden Trashery of Ogden Nashery”:-
    I like eels
    Except for meals
    And the way it feels.

  43. On the bright side, I enjoyed each and every clue that I solved. It pained me when Bump And Grind – gleefully entered off of the bottom crossers – turned out not to be the delight which the setter had envisaged.

  44. Crept in at just under 20′, whch judging from remarks above is pretty good. I know I’m in a minority but I’m not convinced WISE and WHYS are homophones. Maybe I over-pronounce my WH’s.

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