Times 28600: Painted into a corner

Time taken: 10:10, with about a third of that on the bottom left corner, where all the unusual words and traps lay. If you are confident of some of the spellings of the foreign terms it could be a quick solve indeed, but I needed all the checking letters to be sure, and then breathed a sigh of relief when it came back as correct.

How did you get on?

1 Nervous about zany inferior (6)
SHODDY – SHY(nervous) surrounding ODD(zany)
4 Like hearing of Australian keeping company with some jerks (8)
ACOUSTIC – AUS(Australian) containing CO(company), then TIC(some jerks)
9 Black, though hot tap finally failing to turn where one could wash (7)
BATHTUB – B(black) then BUT(though), H(hot) and TAP minus the last letter all reversed
11 Playwright inferior in companion to Equus? (7)
MARLOWE – LOW(inferior) inside MARE(companion to Equus)
12 At home in bed turning to this remedy? (5)
TONIC – IN(at home) inside COT(bed) all reversed
13 A nun tried misbehaving like a novice (9)
14 One small faction inside lots of mixed group (10)
MISCELLANY – I(one), S(small), CELL(faction) inside MANY(lots of)
16 Influential leader in good United game (4)
GURU – G(good), U(united), RU(game)
19 Bird sound like a dove beginning to twitter (4)
COOT – COO(sound like a dove) and the first letter in Twitter
20 Noticed also the key is serrated (3-7)
SAW-TOOTHED – SAW(noticed), TOO(also), THE, D(musical key)
22 Babylonian lawgiver, one to ban Muslim community returning (9)
HAMMURABI – I(one), BAR(ban) and UMMAH(Muslim community) all reversed
23 Be in debt in Greek peninsula (5)
GOWER – OWE(be in debt) inside GR(Greek). Got this from wordplay, it is a Welsh peninsula that used to bat left-handed in the upper order in the English cricket side in the 80s
25 Aegean island motor yacht working in another closer to Turkey (7)
MYKONOS – MY(motor yacht), then ON(working) inside KOS(another Aegean island)
26 Detailed question about a single king’s daughter (7)
GONERIL – GRILL(question) minus the last letter surrounding ONE(a single). Daughter of King Lear
27 Terms are misused in banner headline (8)
28 Determined and furtive about support of course (6)
STEELY – SLY(furtive) surrounding TEE(support on a golf course)
1 Very tiny pipistrelle, say, trapped by Finnish (9)
SUBATOMIC – BAT(a pipistrelle is a brown bat) inside SUOMIC(Finnish)
2 What’s in internet form returned many times? (5)
OFTEN – hidden reversed iniside interNET FOrm
3 Going on a separate mission objective (8)
DETACHED – Double definition (thanks to Corymbia in comments – I had it as a cryptic definition originally)
5 Go nowhere with space visitor on round object (4,2,7)
COME TO NOTHING – COMET(space visitor), ON, O(round), THING(object)
6 One French and Spanish coin is fake (6)
UNREAL – UN(one in French) and REAL(Spanish coin)
7 New US president following God may, perhaps (9)
THORNBUSH – N(new), BUSH(George H, former US president) after THOR(God)
8 Belief coming with sailors carries no weight (5)
CREED – CREWED(coming with sailors) minus W(weight)
10 British use a basil oil when cooking stew (13)
BOUILLABAISSE – B(British) then an anagram of USE,A,BASIL,OIL
15 Who’s hammered at last — and he a smoker, unfortunately (9)
17 Where one might look for Hamlet to act with little emphasis (9)
UNDERPLAY – If you were looking for Hamlet in a book store, it might be UNDER “PLAY”
18 Obsessive chasing money ring (8)
DOUGHNUT – NUT(obsessive) after DOUGH(money)
21 Some bread frequently put before pigs (6)
GUINEA – first part of GUINEA PIGS
22 What a bee does around its second plant and leaves eventually? (5)
HUMUS – a bee HUMS surrounding U(second letter of hUms)
24 More ill with developing sore (5)
WORSE – W(with) and an anagram of SORE

85 comments on “Times 28600: Painted into a corner”

  1. I parse 3d as: going on a separate mission= detached, as in a military detachment, and detached = objective, unemotional. This was my last in.
    I particularly liked the bread cast before swine.
    In 1d I considered SUOMI for Finnish, as it wasn’t Finnish say or Finnish for example, which might have allowed the more alphabetically useful NORDIC, but I rejected it initially as such an unlikely combination of letters, only to be surprised when it turned out to be useful towards the end in my difficult NW.

  2. DNF
    Really irritating: I was done in under 15′ except for 21d, and for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything, even though I assumed ‘bread’ was money. Damn.
    DNK GOWER until it appeared here a few days ago; I imagine I would have got it anyway from checkers; like GUINEA. Biffed BATHTUB & MARLOWE, parsed post-submission. DNK ‘pipistrelle’, but biffed SUBATOMIC from M_C and def. Is SUOMIC a word of English? It’s not a word of Finnish. Not in ODE or Collins; I suppose Chambers will have it.

  3. Stone the crows, as we (don’t) say down here. This was hard, and I eventually surrendered, as the GUINEA / HAMMURABI crossing did for me. I had to look up the Babylonian dude. No excuse for not getting GUINEA, great clue, and I wonder if I’d have been able to guess HAMMURABI with that useful U crosser. I don’t think so, not possessing either of the required bits of knowledge.

    As it turns out, I had failed the spelling test with BOULLIABAISE, and somehow managed to fat-thumb ACOUDSIC so I ended up with more pink than an SCG Test.

    Really good puzzle though, the meatiest one so far this week. COD to SHOEMAKER I think.

    Thanks George, especially for the mention of D. Gower. What a player, made batting look other-worldly.

    1. ….when he wasn’t trying to get to other worlds in a Tiger Moth….😁
      PS: Enjoyed the reference to an SCG Test!

  4. The left-handed peninsula did more than just bat, he was sublime to watch. Some good clues in there, but no so keen on this, it seemed a bit of a general knowledge puzzle. e.g. Hammurabi I somehow knew, but not his spelling, so had to jag Guinea to get it as the clue was no use -RUMAH and UMMAH equally unlikely. Ultimately I failed on DOUGHNUT of all things, just couldn’t see it or construct it.

  5. After fairly smooth progress, seeing SUBATOMIC from just the M and C and HAMMURABI from the second A and the I, I too wound up in the SW. Antepenultimate one in GUINEA, POI HUMUS (tricky! and cryptic def) and LOI MYKONOS, which I first spelled with an I, before parsing: first encounter with MY for “motor yacht”!
    Really liked the definition for SHOEMAKER.

  6. ‘Painted into a (SW) corner’ sums up my experience perfectly. The concentration of foreign words plus the tricky bee clue did for me so that eventually I resorted to aids. A shame, as up to that point I had been on target for a target 30 minute solve.

    I knew of the stew at 10dn which feeds into this section of the grid but not exactly how to spell it, so without all the cross-checkers in place I was unable to unravel the anagram.

  7. 34 minutes with LOI HAMMURABI, which I half-remembered from a first year History class at grammar school but with insufficient confidence to put it in before all crossers were in place. HUMUS provided the key, not to be confused with Houmus, although they do taste similar. A tricky puzzle, but I was mainly on wavelength and I enjoyed it. COD to SUBATOMIC. Thank you George and setter.

  8. DNF. I had a similar experience to galspray – I didn’t manage HAMMURABI or GUINEA and was left wondering why I didn’t get GUINEA, and if I had, then whether I’d have managed HAMMURABI without any of the GK.

    Also like galspray if I had managed those two it would have been in vain anyway, as I had HUMES, constructed from hums around the second letter of bees. I had my doubts about it, though I also thought it looked vaguely familiar. With hindsight I reckon that was because of its similarity to humerus.

    1. Spooky, as I also flirted for a long time with HUMES. Just be grateful you didn’t emulate my spelling and typing skills as well!

  9. Into her womb convey sterility;
    Dry up in her the organs of increase;
    And from her derogate body never spring
    A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
    Create her child of spleen, that it may
    Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits
    To laughter and contempt, that she may feel
    How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
    To have a thankless child!

    20 mins mid-brekker left the three tricky ones – and after 5 mins, I gave up. I knew it was going to be Hum, but would have guessed Hummarabi and Humes.
    Otherwise I liked it.
    Ta setter and G.

  10. 14:00. Very tricky today, and it wasn’t so much the bottom left-hand corner as the entire left side of the grid that caused me problems. My last in was GUINEA, which was completely baffling until suddenly it was completely obvious.
    I was expecting more complaints about HAMMURABI. I had absolutely no idea about the Babylonian chappie but I did know UMMAH, fortunately, allowing me to pronounce the clue entirely fair and the puzzle excellent.

    1. I thought ‘Babylonian lawmaker’ was a gimme, and was surprised how many of us were in DNK territory. I would have thought that the Code of Hammurabi was a chestnut of World History/ Western Civ classes in high school.On the other hand, it’s comforting, in a coldish way, to see that I wasn’t alone in my GUINEA problem.

      1. Not in any school I ever went to! UMMAH on the other hand seems like something everyone should know in our modern multi-cultural society.

        1. Agree in principle K, but like most of us I have a lot of Muslim friends and colleagues and I’m sure I’ve never heard the word before.

          1. Oh sure, I didn’t at all intend that as a criticism. I just got lucky with it. However it does perhaps highlight how the expectation that we should all have an intimate knowledge of Latin and the obscure backwaters of the bible is increasingly questionable.

            1. Don’t worry, it didn’t come across as a criticism. I’m just commenting on the perceived obscurity (or lack thereof) of the word.

              Anyway, you know the rules. An obscurity is a word I don’t know. Simple.

            2. But knowing Hammurabi of the famous (yes) Code (pullquote: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”) has nothing to do with knowing a dead language or anything obscurely biblical. I biffed that one, with the last two crossers… and only then, and a bit dimly, recognized “ummah.”

              1. I didn’t say that it did: my comment about Muslim vs Christian arcana was completely unrelated to this Hammurabi fellow.
                I have occasionally on here seen comments to the effect that we ought to know about biblical nonsense because it’s a foundation of our civilisation, or we ought to know Latin because it’s a foundation of our language. These comments invariably come from people who actually know these things because they were taught them as children. So in that spirit one might argue that we ought to know UMMAH because it is an everyday word reflecting the common experience of a large proportion of our compatriots.
                However I don’t actually think this at all. We should measure whether something is ‘general knowledge’ empirically: on the basis of whether a preponderance of people actually know it. Based on the comments here (from what is after all an uncommonly erudite group) I would argue that neither HAMMURABI nor UMMAH qualify.
                (And yes I did have a very good dinner thank you 😉 )

        2. I agree about UMMAH but I also lived in Saudi for most of the 80s so I was familiar with the word.

            1. I don’t know if things have changed but there used to be a toll plaza outside Mecca on the road from Jeddah. It wasn’t to collect money, it was to check you were a Muslim! If you were travelling beyond Mecca as a non-Muslim, you had to take what was called the ‘Christian Bypass’!

              1. Martin, I remember it well. May I make a shameless plug for my novel The Collation Unit? It is set primarily in Saudi in 1982 and includes the thing you describe. Having worked there, I think you might enjoy it.

                1. Thanks, Sawbill, I’ll look it out. I was in Riyadh from ’82 to ’86 and Jeddah from ’86 to 88.

                  1. I was part of the team planning military cities at that time in Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam and Hofuf. The novel is set during the Falklands War.

                    1. The SW of the country, around Taif, is very interesting, isn’t it, and very different from everyone’s idea of Saudi Arabia!

      2. Definitely a NHOBSH for me Kevin (Never Heard Of But Should Have). Nice to have one that expands one’s knowledge rather than just eliciting a shrug.

        GUINEA was more of a Should Have Intuited That.

      3. I knew Hammurabi but it came to me not from high school but from a novel by one of my favourite authors, Len Deighton. He mentions the name in “Only When I Larf”. In the same way I learnt of the Greek Fates, particularly Atropos, from reading Deighton’s spy novel, “Horse Under Water”.
        PS….GUINEA was my LOI. Spent ages on it.

  11. Really enjoyed this, savouring some lovely surfaces and some great cryptics. The detailed question was elegantly disguised, and like others when I finally got HUMUS, GUINEA and SHOEMAKER the PDMs were accompanied by a wry and even joyful metaphorical slap of the forehead. Finished in my new target half hour. Well done, setter, and thanks to George.

  12. The fish stew is a great meal, but it took a while to construct. HAMMURABI went straight in – I believe the code is the basis for nearly all written legal systems with its ‘if…then…’ constructions.

    16′, but with a careless invented HUMES.

    Thanks george and setter.

  13. DNF, defeated by GUINEA (a real ‘doh!’ moment when I saw it here). Doubly annoying, given that I’d figured out the unknown HAMMURABI and managed to spell BOUILLABAISSE correctly. I hesitated over GONERIL, even though it was clearly right, as it took me a while to remember the ‘detailed’ device.

    A tough but enjoyable crossword – thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Shoemaker

  14. One wrong. Never heard of Hammurabi so I opted for ‘Hammunabi’, which looked no less plausible. Not a puzzle I could say I enjoyed at all, although the Babylonian lawgiver was the only element of knowledge I lacked today.

    1. I considered that but decided that it was less likely that BAN would be exactly replicated from clue to answer. This does happen though so I thought the wordplay ambiguity was less than satisfactory.

  15. Well, I seem to be in good company today, with the last two “impossibles” unanswered. A number entered from the wordplay rather than my (less than) encyclopedic knowledge.

    BOUILLABAISSE (my COD) is a local dish down here, so no probs with that and I did know the peninsula, but in the end it all CAME TO NOTHING!

    Very tricky. Thanks g and setter.

  16. DNF. Failed on SHODDY/DETACHED in the NW as well as GUINEA and HAMMURABI where I knew neither the Babylonian king nor the Muslim community. That one belongs in a Mephisto, cluing an obscurity with another obscurity. Or is UMMAH everyday vocabulary and I’m just ignorant? Not fun at the end. Thanks George and, I suppose, setter.

    1. I’m with you on cluing an obscurity with an obscurity – I knew neither either!

  17. Like others, defeated by GUINEA. Got all the tough ones, and everything else, but even staring at the last empty gap I couldn’t see it. Infuriating.
    Worked in the media all my life but NHO STREAMER – although ‘screamer’, sure. Liked CREED, MYKONOS and HUMUS. Have heard of ‘ummah’, but I knew HAMMURABI as the Babylonian law-giver anyway, so it was an easy one.

  18. 44m 14s but most of my time over 30 mins was spent in the dreaded SW corner. 22d HUMUS and 21d GUINEA were my LOIs, with most time spent on GUINEA.
    No problem with HAMMURABI. If you read enough Len Deighton, you will come across him. He is mentioned very late on in “Only When I Larf”.
    I’ll take George’s word that SUOMIC is in Chambers but not in the online version on my laptop.
    Overall I liked this puzzle but I thought 4ac was a bit clunky.
    George, I did like your comment about Gower! Very funny! Reading his autobiography years ago I think he mentions bemusing Ray Illingworth, his then county captain, by turning up to a match one day wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe.
    Late Extra: I regard UMMAH as GK. (Not to be confused with Ummagumma…which is something else again!)

  19. DNF. I didn’t know the lawmaker or the community, I couldn’t make sense of HUMUS, and I just failed to see GUINEA. Otherwise fine

  20. 48 minutes. Didn’t know the ‘Babylonian lawgiver’ and had forgotten the ‘Muslim community’ so HAMMURABI was not much more than a hit and hope. Couldn’t parse DETACHED, being stuck on ‘objective’ as a noun. COD to GUINEA even if it had me wondering what on earth was going on for the last ten minutes or so.

  21. I did finish this but not without a bit of help as I also had to look up the Babylonian, I got the IBAR bit but had no chance with the rest clueing an unknown. I have never heard of Ummah.

    I didn’t parse DETACHED which was my LOI. I just couldn’t link it to ‘objective’.

    I did enjoy the PDM for GUINEA, HUMUS and DOUGHNUT which I’m sure I’ve seen before.

    MYKONOS went in but I didn’t understand where the MY came from I just assumed an abbreviation for Motor and Yacht.

  22. 10:03 with both this blog and the leaderboard suggesting this was right up my street, if not necessarily everybody else’s. Today’s earworm is The Mesopotamians by They Might Be Giants, which proves that catchy pop tunes can also be educational, and contains not just Hammurabi but Sargon, Ashurbanipal and Gilgamesh. Also one of those days when it was definitely worth checking before submitting, as my brain had inadvertently entered SHOTMAKER instead of SHOEMAKER at first pass, suggesting I’d drifted into a reverie after seeing GOWER, and was back at Trent Bridge in 1985.

  23. I managed to complete this, but only by looking up words for Muslim communities. I had the IBAR bit and H_M from crossers but had NHO the lawgiver or the required community. The U from UMMAH allowed me to get my LOI, GUINEA. DETACHED was another late entry. No particular problems with the rest of it. 32:07. Thanks setter and George.

  24. I don’t think the clue for HAMMURABI was unfair — it was perfectly sound. I just thought it was appalling of the setter to clue an obscurity with another obscurity. If, like me, you’ve never heard of the law-giver or the Muslim community (yes, well you should have done …) the answer is quite impossible. I did all of the crossword except this one and GUINEA in a little over 30 minutes, then, although I reckoned it probably finished ‘…rabi’, gave up at 45 minutes and revealed the solution. Which is a pity, because the rest of it was nice.

    1. I think it’s sound but unfair. I don’t think either of these things remotely qualifies as ‘normal’ GK.

      1. Yes you’re right: soundness and fairness are not the same thing. If a clue’s unsound it isn’t fair. But if it isn’t fair it isn’t necessarily unsound. I think the level of difficulty of the crossword determines this: in a Times Quick Cryptic the HAMMURABI clue would be unfair; in a Mephisto it wouldn’t; the question for this clue is whether it would be fair in a regular Times 15×15, and we are agreed that it isn’t.

  25. As others, failed in the SW corner, after 20 minutes, not knowing HAMMURABI and failing to see GUINEA which is a perfectly good clue. I knew SUOMI was Finnish for Finland, been there often, but SUOMIC looked like a word made up for crosswords to me, surprised to hear it is in a dictionary. Nice to see Lord GOWER getting some plaudits.
    Thanks George and Corymbia for explaining DETACHED which I only half understood (the objective part).

    1. It doesn’t surprise me that the dictionary it’s in is Chambers.

      1. But Suomi is in all the dictionaries, and adding a single letter C is not a huge leap into the unknown, is it?

  26. 26 mins, no problem with HAMMURABI, pretty straightforward. Can’t say the same for GONERIL, although the ‘detailed’ bit should have come a bit quicker. Other hiccups included GUINEA, DETACHED and SHODDY. Zany isn’t odd in my opinion.

  27. 8:18 It’s hard, isn’t it, to know what is GK for other people. We have pipistrelles, which are the commonest UK bats, in our roof, so BAT went straight in once I’d got TONIC, and SUOMIC seemed an obvious derivative of SUOMI, even though I’ve never actually heard it used. I knew about the lawgiver and Muslim community from general reading & listening to history podcasts, so the SW corner wasn’t a problem. The GUINEA clue was excellent and seemed obvious once the checkers were in place. Lots of biffing today (GONERIL, MARLOWE, BOUILLABAISE, etc.), but some great clues. Funny how cricket manages to rear its head even though not referenced in the actual puzzle. I’ve got no interest in sport but even I remember David G. Thanks to the setter, and to George for making sense of it all. COD for me was SHOEMAKER, with some nice misdirection.

  28. Took a long breather after thirty mins with blanks at HAMMURABI and GUINEA, and a question mark over DETACHED. I never did resolve the parsing of the latter, but the first two eventually succumbed, though I had never heard of the Babylonian nor the Muslim community. No time recorded, but at least 40 minutes solving time, I think.

  29. Another DNF until I used aids. I did work out HAMMURABI, but I do think it’s an unfair clue for a daily cryptic. My failures were GUINEA, SHODDY and DETACHED. I had ATTACHED for 3 down, which vaguely fitted the clue, so SHODDY was impossible. I don’t see ODD equals zany anyway. Until I got stuck I was speeding through the puzzle.
    Not my week this week.

  30. I was amazed to discover I got HUMUS & HAMMURABI correct, since I didn’t know either – ummah must have been lurking in my memory somewhere, but my goodness, what a clue.

    9m 23s with a lot of that time on the SW corner, like most other people.

  31. DNF for me as I too came a-cropper in the SW corner. I stared at _U_N_A for about ten minutes before throwing in the towel. It’s a clever clue which I should have seen through. I had heard of HAMMURABI though my (ancient) dictionary gives only the spelling UMMA for the Muslim assembly.
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  32. It never crossed my mind that HAMMURABI could be a NHO but nor did it that I would spell it wrong which left GUINEA as quite a poser.
    Otherwise very jolly and malleable for a Thursday.
    Thanks for the blog

  33. The Finnish for Finland is Suomi, and for Finnish is Suomalainen, what with me being half Finnish, I should know (not that my knowledge of the language extends a great deal further than that). NHO Suomic, but I supposed it had to be.

    I’m making an effort to do more of the puzzles where the snitch is >100 to try and improve my skills, and I enjoyed today’s. No probs with the Babylonian/muslim diaspora, but DNF due to GUINEA (I’d even thought of money=bread). It seems I’m in good company though.

    27:32 when I gave up, after a couple of mins looking at ?U?N?A.

  34. 35:58 but…

    …as I had no idea about the Babylonian dude, nor the Muslims, I had to resort to an aid to fill in the unchecked letters. Shame – as it somewhat spoiled a decent grid.

    Didn’t quite see the parsing of GONERIL as I had single as ONER and wondered what the detailed GIL might have been. Nor did I see how exactly DETACHED worked.

    HUMUS – all such items I’ve ever seen have been spelt with two Ms, but can’t say I’m surprised if it’s also written with a single M.

    Pleased with the revelation of sticking SUOMIC around BAT and getting a readable word!

  35. Struggled today and could not get the Babylonian chap so DNF.

    I have a question on Goneril though which i did get. I can’t see anything in the clue that instructs you to drop the second L in grill.

    Can anyone help?

    1. Sneaky crosswordese. Detailed should be read as de-tailed so remove the last letter.

      1. Aah of course, clever misdirection that I missed – thanks very much and thanks as ever for the blog.

    2. De-tailed = remove the final letter, the tail letter, hence gril(l)

  36. A 40 minute DNF, beaten by HUMUS, HAMMURABI and GONERIL, all of which I would consider obscure. I struggle even with the gentler work of Bill Spokeshave and it is unlikely that I would get any of his characters’ names other than from play titles. So, yes, I got the Hamlet clue here – I may even have seen part of that play, though I definitely would have tuned out most of it – but the Lear reference was never going to yield an answer for me. And at my age there’s no chance that I will ever pick up his stuff now. If my old English master, Mr Miles, reads this, all I can say is ‘Sorry, sir’.

  37. Also gave up on the Babylonian and Guinea pig. Stared and stared but didn’t have what it takes.
    Thanks all.

  38. BOUILLABAISSE, SAW-TOOTHED, SHOEMAKER and HAMMURABI were my first four in. Lots of crossers there, helping with completion of the rest. Particularly liked HUMUS.

  39. 14.50 with the last two in being shoddy and detached. Fortunately, having solved one the other became obvious.
    Very pleased to spell the fish stew correctly, didn’t want to try my luck a second time.

    Humus confused me as I knew it was the correct answer but like some others thought the second letter referred to bees before realising it was to hums.

  40. Like Kevin Gregg and others, I was going great guns till I came to 21 d. QUANTA, DUENNA, CUENCA? I must have spent seven of my 26 minutes before finally seeing the light. HAMMURABI came easily after I spotted the UMMAH . I see in English we tend to put the H at the end of these Arabic feminine words.
    In French they don’t. There is in fact no H sound in the Arabic original. The final letter in Arabic script is a TA MARBUTA, which is written as a soft H with two dots on top. I imagine that’s why we put the H in.

  41. Only managed to get GUINEA after googling HAMMARABI to find out if I had invented the correct answer. Possibly a bit unfair, but I’m happy to have my GK broadened.

  42. Same few problems as others: HUMMURABI (NHO), GUINEA ( good clue), and SUBATOMIC ( where I knew the bat, and entered it confidently, but not the Finnish Suomi); but the rest went in steadily – not unhappy.

Comments are closed.