Times 28597 – Woe, woe and thrice woe!

25:12 minutes for this fairly standard Monday offering, with lots of cryptic definitions in the acrosses. Nice to see a Classical clue to slow down the Bletchley Parkers. More of the same, please, setter!

Please ignore my time on the Club leaderboard. It is the result of a combination of things, all triggered by falling asleep on the Cheung Chau ferry. I will add the requisite minutes to my crosswords for the rest of the week to ensure my SNITCH is restored to its proper level.

1 Power to limit urban growth? (8)
CAPACITY – if you CAP A CITY, you may be said to limit urban growth
5 Its content suffers shell damage before soldiers go in (6)
EGGCUP – um, yes, the first and possibly weakest of the CDs; ‘soldiers’ are thin pieces of buttered toast prepared to dip into a soft-boiled egg
9 Way boy interrupts important series of tweets (8)
10 Flower person found in fruit tart (6)
HIPPIE – HIP (fruit – of e.g. a rose) PIE (tart)
12 Some taxable income from Honolulu and Juneau in 1959, for the States (7,5)
CAPITAL GAINS – both Hawaii and Alaska (first) became states in 1959, and their capitals are, well, as above
15 Part of double-edged sword could make you do this (5)
BLEED – a hidden all-in-one, I reckon. Bravo/a, setter!
16 Putting in other words a little time into relaxation (9)
18 As a rule, its leaders are unlikely to get to number ten (9)
OLIGARCHY – CD, based on the idea (slightly quirky) that oligarchs will number fewer than ten, with a play on words, since Number Ten Downing Street is the address in London of the house with a revolving door for would-be prime ministers of the UK
19 Slight encouragement needed by leading character in novel (5)
SPURN – SPUR N[ovel]
20 RLS and TSE, for example (3,2,7)
MEN OF LETTERS – CD, referencing Robert Louis Stevenson (who I quite enjoy) and Thomas Stearns Eliot (who I can’t make head or tail of)
24 Museum showing the collected work of artist there, apart from one piece (6)
LOUVRE -if a painter’s collected works were represented in the language of France (where the Louvre Museum is situated) then it would be ‘l’oeuvre’ of him or her; now, take one letter (piece) away
25 Clever clogs and article of clothing packed (8)
BRAINBOX – here we have BRA IN BOX; where would our setters be without the humble brassiere?
26 Audibly react to blow, maybe, being cowardly (6)
YELLOW – if you were hit over the head with, say, yet another CD, you might YELL OW!
27 For instance, an anagram that’s shrewd in the extreme (8)
1 Ursa Minor appearing over a Caribbean island (4)
CUBA – CUB ( young bear, or an ‘ursa minor’ – geddit?) A
2 Wine  left for someone in schooner, say (4)
PORT – double definition
3 Demolished canards as prognosticator, unbelievably accurate (9)
CASSANDRA – CANARDS AS*; Cassandra was the daughter of Priam, who was handy with a prophesy, but unfortunately for her native Troy they were invariably negative and invariably came true. Sometimes, I think my wife channels her…
4 As something required in court state, in brief, one’s crime (6,6)
TENNIS RACKET – TENN (Tennessee with a 4-letter abbreviation, no less) IS (one is) RACKET (criminal money making activity – so not the kind carried out by banks, then)
6 Cross, perhaps, about one condition of course (5)
GOING – I in GONG (cross, perhaps – a slang term for an award such as the Distinguished Service Cross) for condition of a racecourse; quite damp when Frankie won the Guineas on Saturday
7 Unreliable in island about evidence of debt (10)
CAPRICIOUS – CAPRI (island) C (about) IOUS
8 Publicity expert‘s gift in decline? Just the opposite (5,5)
PRESS AGENT – what we don’t have here in PRESENT in SAG; but we do have SAG in PRESENT
11 Collective panic as dodgy operator enters train going north (4,8)
13 Unusually, opera introducing learner is well covered (10)
ABNORMALLY – NORMA (opera by Bellini) L (learner) in ABLY (well); NORMA often pops up in crosswords because MANON LESCAUT is difficult to get into the grid
14 Change in menu, alas, like certain changes of time forward or back (4-6)
SEMI-ANNUAL – IN MENU ALAS*; also known as bi-annual
17 Improperly notarises claim (9)
21 In place of advance, surrender (5)
FORGO – FOR (in place of) GO (advance)
22 Producer of notes originating on back of envelope (4)
OBOE – initial letters
23 Get out vote in no-win situation going the wrong way (4)
EXIT – X (vote) in TIE reversed; referencing one of the looniest chapters in recent British political history


75 comments on “Times 28597 – Woe, woe and thrice woe!”

  1. 12m but I put in MAN instead of MEN @20ac. Ho-hum, whatever, same difference

  2. 34 minutes, missing my target half-hour because I was delayed by 27ac. I eventually biffed CANNIEST, having missed the fact that the clue was an anagram! Rarely have I felt so stupid being caught out by a clue.

    I’m still not entirely convinced by the clue to OLIGARCHY. The assumption in one reading of the clue is, as ulaca has pointed out, slightly quirky, and for the other reading to work ‘Number Ten’ requires capital letters.

    1. The usual rule is that you can capitalise words that don’t always require capitalisation, because in some contexts (at the beginning of a sentence for example) they are capitalised. But you can’t do this with phrases: there are no circumstances in which you could correctly write the phrase ‘unlikely to get to number ten’ in the required sense here with capitals at the beginning of ‘number’ and ‘ten’. So the setter could not do so here and is just relying (in my case with justification) on us not noticing.

      1. Am I right in thinking you are agreeing with my point about the alternative reading?

        1. I agree that a reference to 10 Downing Street would require capitalisation but I don’t think it makes the clue faulty: the cryptic grammar is fine and perfectly coherent surface reading isn’t mandatory (look at 16ac for instance).

      2. Is there a difference between words and phrases? You can capitalise random words, as you say, for deceptive purposes. Why can’t you capitalise two random words in a row – Number Ten? I was very surprised to see it lower case; but not being a Brit I didn’t know if Boris’s old house was capitalised or not.

        1. Yes I think there is, when the phrase is operating as such in the clue, because then the words aren’t random. If ‘number’ and ‘ten’ were separately indicating (say) FIVE and X, you could capitalise them. But here the phrase ‘unlikely to get to number ten’ is part of the definition and so needs to be written correctly.

          1. But still, without knowing the unwritten rules of the Times crossword, I’m surprised Number Ten wasn’t capitalised. In my mind I can’t see any reason not to. Just me – your mileage might differ.

            1. The reason not to is simply that capitalising words in the middle of a sentence is incorrect.

        2. You can take it that in any press reports Number Ten would be capitalised, but more likely to appear as Number 10.

          1. Back in the day – just after Andy somebody who used to be a News Corp lackey but had graduated to Prime Ministerial PR flak, and then been exposed as having hacked the phone of Gordon Brown for either the Sun or the News of the World – I wrote a clue:
            Number Ten very loudly defends ally hacking leader’s mobile (3,4)

  3. I also biffed CANNIEST before realizing that it was an anagram when I tried to work out what on earth that “an anagram” stuff was about. For a time I had WARD as the reverse no-win situation, before I realized that although WARDs are something to do with voting, they don’t quite fit the clue. I also liked BIRDSONG although I biffed it and reverse engineered the clue afterwards.

  4. 33m 41s
    Very pleased to get within V x 5 !
    Noted the two similar solutions: 1ac CAP A CITY and 26ac YELL OW. Liked those.
    I also liked 13d. ‘well covered’ was clever. As was 5ac EGGCUP.
    As George said: ‘fun puzzle’.

  5. Only me who was held up forever in the top-right corner? Saw the shell-damaged thing soldiers were invading immediately, but couldn’t fit 3-letter EGG into 6 letters. Hippie, going and capricious also slow. And to cap it off also had MAN OF LETTERS, RLS and TSE both being an example. Whatever, as has already been said. No complaints, the usual high-standard puzzle with some great clues.
    Edit: I saw extra cleverness in MEN of LETTERS: on first read it was going to be a reverse-cryptic, RLS and TSE being an anagram of LETTERS (wrong!)… but as well as being represented by 3 letters, the 3 letters in each of their initials are in the word LETTERS.

  6. 33 minutes with LOI CANNIEST. I still don’t really get OLIGARCHY but it was the only word I could think of to fit the crossers. Otherwise, I really liked this puzzle with BIRDSONG my favourite. Thank you U and setter.

  7. 25:50
    I did most of this online, went off to the gym, and took about 5′ at lunch to get CANNIEST, GOING, EGGCUP, & CAPRICIOUS. It took me forever to remember the eggy soldiers; they were an NHO when they showed up here a couple of years ago. I’ll join in the eyebrow-raising over OLIGARCHY. My COD to CANNIEST.

  8. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

    30 mins mid-brekker and I enjoyed it a lot, especially the Shyster and Yell Ow!
    I also had a tick against Oligarchy. Oligos=few=not numbering ten. I like it.
    Ta setter and U.

    1. Except that in practice there seem to be far more than ten, and that’s just the Russian ones …

      1. Some clever clues but nothing overly taxing. Ideal for a wet bank holiday Monday.

  9. Slow today for a Monday, another bank holiday. EGGCUP LOI, brainfogged.

    Liked CASSANDRA, and the groan-making BRAINBOX.

    My wife and I now have about ten crosswords stacked up after this weekend’s festivities.

    17’24”, thanks ulaca and setter.

  10. 14:43. LOI CANNIEST as, like Jackkt, I failed to spot the anagram. Doh. Lots of fun clues, favourite being the BRA IN BOX. Thanks Ulaca and setter.

  11. Missed the classical (in what sense) clue unless its Cassandra who ceased being classical with Sex in the City IMO . LOI hippie with a meh moment. First external activity of the day to collect a tennis racket that got left behind loq

  12. I liked this one, Mondayish but enjoyable.
    I take Myrtilus’ clever point regarding oligarchs, but these days you can’t pick up a newspaper without tripping over an oligarch or two. Methinks the meaning of the word is changing.

    1. ‘Oligarch’ usually just means ‘rich Russian’ these days but I would argue that OLIGARCHY isn’t changing in the same way. The clue’s a bit odd but on balance I would say it’s more likely than not that an OLIGARCHY would number fewer than 10.

  13. DNF. I found this quite tricky and gave up with one left after 35 mins. I couldn’t see HIPPIE.

    Some clever clues. I liked BLEED and EGGCUP with the latter being my COD.

    1. Well I don’t really need to comment now but I put RIPPLE instead of HIPPIE for my LOI because I wanted to finish.

      And really liked EGGCUP.

  14. Thanks for the etymological justification for OLIGARCHY. MER withdrawn.
    Could someone slowly talk me through the definition to SEMI-ANNUAL?

    1. The clocks change twice a year – forward and back – so the change in time is SEMI-ANNUAL.

  15. Cassandra was fated always to tell the truth but never to be believed, something experienced by many prophets.

  16. 12:29. Definitely not standard Monday fare today with some very interesting devices employed. Thought it was all rather good myself.

    Came here to congratulate Ulaca for his sizzling time, but I see he’s playing it down in his usual humble way. BTW U, my wife is also a Cassandra, who conveniently happens to be named Cassandra.

    Didn’t quite get how LOUVRE and OLIGARCHY worked but was chuffed to narrowly dodge the MAN/MEN landmine.

  17. HIPPIE my last one in, good clue, as were most of the rest. I particularly liked the shyster. The one about the new American states was a bit clunky I thought and for a while I couldn’t see what it was about. 50 minutes after taking an age to get started — my first look through was I thought going to be completely arid until 23dn saved me. Clues like 4dn that contain an ‘as’ which is only there to make it grammatical always seem to me a bit weak and in this case it could have been avoided.

  18. I agree, fun with traps. I put in MAN of… but clearly it is not ambiguous and MEN is correct. I’m not very happy with TENN as ‘state’ but biffed it and OLIGARCHY anyway. The rest was excellent. CAPITAL GAINS and EGGCUP especially.

  19. 12:37

    I never even considered MAN over MEN for the TSE / RLS thing, so a lucky escape maybe.

    I was also relieved that 4d turned out not to be some stupid legal phrase in Latin. As you know, anything to do with classics is very much my Archimedes heel.

  20. Wiki has:
    Traditional abbreviation Tenn
    so that’s all right then.
    Didn’t think MAN of letters was a thing, but have added it to my list of multiples that show up.
    Never saw the SHYSTER, never noticed CANNIEST was an anagram. Not very clever of me really.
    I was 10 in 1959 but only today discovered both states were in the same year. DOH!

  21. 30:14 so a bit off pace maybe. The “quirky” bit of the OLIGARCHY clue just seems a bit too loose to me, though perhaps mostly because it took me a long time to see it – not helped by a struggle to get the perfectly straightforward ABNORMALLY.

  22. 9:31. I liked this one a lot.
    An OLIGARCHY being normally less than ten seems reasonable to me: the clue only says it’s unlikely, not impossible.
    I considered MEN/MAN carefully before committing but I thought the use of ‘and’ made it unambiguous. Or at least if it had been MAN I’d have felt justifiably cross.
    I was in Capri just over a week ago so it came readily to mind.

  23. Some clever clues but not too taxing. Ideal fare for a wet bank holiday Monday.

  24. 26 mins. Stuck at the end with OLIGARCHY, caused by trying to type MONARCHY, realising it was wrong, and too short, and then having the wrong letters to play with.
    LOI BLEED, had to come here for the reason why, only to discover I’d missed a hidden. Duh…

  25. Two goes needed to complete this one, after getting almost nowhere in the SW corner on the first attempt. OLIGARCHY went in with a shrug, I only realised CANNIEST was a anagram after I’d put it in, and I needed the first and last letters of FORGO before I got anywhere near solving it. For me, HIPPIE was a reminder of just how hard cryptic crosswords can be: all our instincts tell us to separate ‘flower’ and ‘person’, yet here they needed to be read together.

    A nice crossword to start the week – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Cuba
    LOI Louvre
    COD Capital gains

  26. 34 minutes. Slow and steady with OLIGARCHY being the only one I wasn’t sure of; I see now that OLIGO = few, but I was still put off by ‘ten’, thinking the exact number had some special meaning. GOING for ‘condition of course” took a while to occur to me at the end.

  27. I was initially thinking HEPTARCHY for 18a but the crossers soon saw to that.

  28. I made hard work of this, failing to see the hidden for BLEED and missing the anagrist for LOI, CANNIEST. Liked CAPITAL GAINS, BIRDSONG and EGGCUP. 33:06. Thanks setter and U.

  29. 32:00

    Splodges of answers remained dotted around the grid – completed the SW first of these, followed by the SE, leaving just the NE. Once GOING went in, could see it was EGG-something-ending-in-P but couldn’t think what part of an EGG would end like this – TOP? CAP? Took a gargantuan mental effort to realise it was not a part of the egg itself but what it sits in that was required – DOH!

    That gave CAPRICIOUS and then another minute or so to turn the fruit tart on its head and come up with HIPPIE. So, slowish but then it is a bonus public holiday today.

  30. A strange puzzle to solve. I found only 26ac on my first reading through the across clues, but the down clues all seemed a lot easier. Had done all bar one in 30 minutes but was held up by 27ac, failing to realise it was a double bluff and actually was an anagram. Agree with others’ reservations about OLIGARCHY. The 30 tyrants imposed on Athens by Sparta at the end of the Peloponnesian War certainly numbered more than ten. But still an enjoyable crossword with lots of clever clues.
    COD – CANNIEST, but also liked EGGCUP and MASS HYSTERIA.
    Thanks to ulaca and other contributors.

  31. Put me down as another MAN OF LETTERS. 6m 46s with that error.

    Just to show it takes all sorts, I really don’t enjoy clues like the EGGCUP one. On the other hand, I thought CAPITAL GAINS was wonderful, as was BLEED.

    1. FWIW
      Having just looked it up… ‘man of letters’ is in the dictionaries, men of letters is green paint.

      1. But surely if man of letters is in the dictionary, then men of .. is just the standard plural, not green paint at all

  32. I worked this late last night after karaoke, so it couldn’t have been too hard!
    The easy HIPPIE was my LOI, ironically enough (having sometimes been called such myself). But “flower person” didn’t seem right as a definition. The phrase back in the day was “flower child.” Yet I see that Collins has an entry for “flower people,” defined as “flower children.” I reckon “flower person” is just as OK as pluralizing “men of letters.”
    I wasn’t sure about how the clue for OLIGARCH worked, and didn’t look up the etymology.

  33. 29.15 with LOI canniest which when I finally worked it out was my COD. Spurn took a while to sink in as did abnormally but got there in the end.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  34. 24:55 and very happy with that, having drawn a blank at the first pass throught the across clues.
    I lked this a lot. A nice range of clues from the silly EGGCUP to the erudite CASSANDRA.


    Thanks to Ulaca and the setter

  35. Completely forgot to look at the blog on completion, as I got sidetracked into booking a holiday in September! Well, we puzzled over OLIGARCHY for a bit, but then came up with the idea that oligarchs are not ‘elected’, they are people of power and influence, no? So to get in to number 10 (Downing St) you would have to be elected by the people rather than rule through other means. We liked this quite a bit – it wasn’t exactly easy, but was quirky and, more to the point, when you got an answer, you knew it was right because it jolly-well parsed. I liked BRA IN BOX and CASSANDRA,’unbelievably’ accurate – as David Exham has said, always accurate, but fated never to be believed. I, too, wanted WARD for 23D until I thought of TIE, which made sense of the definition. COD YELL OW!

    1. Truss and Sunak weren’t elected by the people, and neither was Johnson in his first stint.

      1. We were always taught in history class that in the British parliamentary system the Prime Minister isn’t elected as such by the people but rather merely elected as an MP and it’s his party that makes him Prime Minister. This of course is in direct contrast to the American public directly voting for a President.

  36. Much of this seemed clever to me or certainly cleverer THAN me. Saw everything in the end but good job I had nowhere to be this wet bank holiday other than in front of the fire chewing my pencil. Needed aids to remember CAPRI having been through the Highlands and Islands unsuccessfully. I was another MAN of letters. Damn.

  37. On holiday for two weeks with no crosswords, so was happy to come in at 21’05”. Harder than the average Monday, I’d have said. Particularly liked the clues for OLIGARCHY and CAPITAL GAINS. New word learned while on holiday: OCHLOCRACY = mob rule. Quite apt, here in France. Hope to see it appearing in a crossword soon.

  38. Having dipped soldiers in eggs for over 70 years, I have to admit that I couldn’t see the answer to 5 across and therefore got stuck in NE corner. Can I excuse myself by suggesting that egg cup should be (3,3) and not (6) ?

  39. Just in time to say WHAT A GREAT PUZZLE! Very happy to come in at 23 minutes. LOI HIPPIE. COD CASSANDRA, Im always sad when I get such a clever clue fast, because I feel the cleverness was a bit wasted. Really enjoyed that from start to finish. Many thanks to the setter. Thanks to blogger too 🙂 cheers Steve

  40. Struggled with hippie, capricious and oligarchy. I visited HK often for work trips – usually of a week. If possible I’d try to escape to Cheung Chow for a walk/meal. My favourite ‘off HK’ island.

    1. Smart choice. We’ve had a holiday place there for a few years now.

      Made more friends in 6 months there than in 35 years on the mainland.

  41. Really enjoyed this diverse and amusing puzzle. Biffed a few : HIPPIE,OLIGARCHY and ABNORMALLY, then reverse-engineered. Very much like BIRDSONG my FOI, BRAINBOX and TENNIS RACKET once I realised where the definition lay. Took me a while to recognise the initials of our MEN OF LETTERS, but I got there eventually. Overall would have taken about 5o minutes.
    Good start to a cold, grey winter’s day here in Oz.

    1. Sunny in Sydney. HIPPIE my FOI, strange to see some many better solvers getting it last.

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