Times 28607 – smiling and villainous


On a scale of Monday to Friday, I’d put this on a high Wednesday. Unusually for me, I really liked the double/cryptic definitions today; they were somehow guessable, tricky, and funny at the same time.

LOsI were 4dn (unknown word and villainous wordplay), then 13dn (which took at least 5 minutes, and I still didn’t parse it until seconds before posting).

Definitions underlined.

1 Cleric keeps company with shrewd colleague (10)
ARCHDEACON – DEAN (cleric) containing CO (company), with ARCH (shrewd). Self-referential definition – the answer is a colleague of a Dean. Could have done with a question mark IMO.
6 Part company with surgery led by GP? (4)
DROP – OP (surgery) after DR (GP).
9 Liable to produce spoilers maybe from popular record about film (10)
INDISCREET – IN (popular) + DISC (record) + RE (about) + ET (film).
10 Words expressed with venom (4)
SPAT – cryptic/double definition? Spat = quarrel = (have) words.
12 Ill-timed, immoderate needs succeeded for king (12)
UNSEASONABLE – UNrEASONABLE (immoderate) with S (succeeded) in place of R (king).
15 Walk then run, being in a frenzied state (5,4)
MARCH HARE – MARCH + HARE. Being = creature.
17 Test case for tribunal involves revolutionary aspect (5)
TRIAL – case for TribunaL, containing reversal of AIR (aspect).
18 Large plant finishes off reactor to allow extra production (5)
ROWAN – final letters from reactoR tO alloW extrA productioN.
19 Children’s home forever faced by endless changes (9)
ORPHANAGE – AN AGE (forever) after (faced with) mORPHs (changes, “end-less”).
20 Male characters in The Devils spread confusion (12)
DISHEVELMENT – MEN (male characters) in an anagram (spread) of THE DEVILS.
24 Close listener follows note (4)
NEAR – EAR (listener) after N (note).
25 Writer set out to capture live animal (10)
WILDEBEEST – WILDE (Oscar, writer) + anagram of SET, containing BE (live).
26 Square divisible by two (4)
EVEN – double definition.
27 Poll‘s official objective hedged by expressions of doubt (10)
REFERENDUM – REF (official), then END (objective) surrounded (hedged) by ER and UM (expressions of doubt).
1 Passionate, vocal woman who leads uprising (4)
AVID – DIVA (vocal woman who leads) reversed.
2 Start to cause trouble about final piece of work (4)
CODA – first letter of Cause, then reversal of ADO (trouble).
3 Left with no illusions after he sent candid snaps (12)
DISENCHANTED – anagram of (…snaps) HE SENT CANDID.
4 Cycling bore gets fit (5)
AGREE – EAGRE (a tidal bore) cycling (i.e. first letter moves to the end).
5 Fail to rise to the occasion when one should? (9)
OVERSLEEP – cryptic definition.
7 Leaders of right-wing establishment host US counterpart (10)
REPUBLICAN – first letters of Right-wing and Establishment, then PUBLICAN (host). Another self-referential ‘definition’.
8 Having prominent corporation with pounds in bank misrepresented (10)
POTBELLIED – L (pounds), in POT (bank) + BELIED (misrepresented).
11 A banal tune — it swings like The Impossible Dream? (12)
UNATTAINABLE – anagram of (…swings) A BANAL TUNE IT.
13 Base of lower lip harbours what appears to be rash (10)
IMPRUDENCE – last letter (base) of loweR, that IMPUDENCE (lip) contains (harbours).
14 Swims at speed in shallow area with access to facilities (5,5)
CRAWL SPACE – CRAWLS (swims) + PACE (speed). Kudos for a 6-word, somewhat technical, definition.
16 Pay for issue brought up previously (2,3,4)
AT ONE TIME – ATONE (pay for), then EMIT (issue) reversed.
21 What features in chironomid genetically? (5)
MIDGE – semi-&lit, hidden in chironoMID GEnetically. Chironomids are a family of non-biting midges. More kudos to our setter for a clever clue that probably took more effort to set than to solve. COD.
22 Small drop in attendance initially disrupting teacher’s course (4)
BEAD – first letter of Attendance, in BED (BEd, Bachelor of Education, teacher’s course).
23 Staunch supporter of green growth? (4)
STEM – double definition.

60 comments on “Times 28607 – smiling and villainous”

  1. 25:08 WOE: I stupidly put in UNREASONABLE
    Never parsed ORPHANAGES, although ‘morph’ did occur to me. Biffed TRIAL (seemed too self-evident, so I waited until I had the checkers), REFERENDUM, & IMPRUDENCE, parsed post-submission. COD to MARCH HARE.

  2. Long day, and I desperately need the Irish coffee I just brewed, as I couldn’t parse IMPRUDENCE. Didn’t even think of “impudence”! But I think William’s rating is quite accurate.
    TRIAL from “tribunal” seemed too obvious to me too so I couldn’t biff, had to parse.

  3. Found that very tricky in the solving, simple afterwards. Slow, but no reason why. Top left was particularly puzzling, L2I were 1dn then 1ac. Saw EAGRE/AGREE immediately, worked out correctly it needed to be UNSEASONABLE, and recognised the chestnut IMPUDENT/IMPRUDENT from the clue but still took a while to remember the answer.
    All in all a satisfying puzzle. I’d rate it a Friday, though not a beast, but I suspect I was way off the wavelength.

  4. 45 minutes. Missed a DNF by that much. I was on the point of submitting with an R in an unparsed 12a, then had another look and realised that the answer as entered was just that, so I put in an S instead, uncrossed the fingers and hit the Submit button. Otherwise pretty slow, taking a while to see the defs for MARCH HARE and CRAWL SPACE and to work out the parsing for IMPRUDENCE. The cleverness of the wordplay was wasted on me for ORPHANAGE which was just a biff.

    Favourite was the ear worm at 11d; maybe not so banal either.

  5. One hour exactly. I also found this very hard and when solving at bedtime I very nearly gave up on it overnight with barely half the grid completed. Only a very few answers went in on first reading of the clue, and with others, even when I’d found possible solutions from definition or wordplay I was unable to make them fit the other part of the clue so the answers didn’t go in until checkers made them inevitable. With a puzzle like this I needed to take more risks and move on.

    For all my difficulties, like Isla I wouldn’t rate this as a beast because I actually quite enjoyed wrestling with it and felt satisfied as I gradually cracked it without any assistance from aids, although I was almost tempted a few times along the way.

  6. ARCHDEACON is a colleague of deacon; what is REPUBLICAN a counterpart of?

      1. But Republican isn’t the counterpart to an establishment; the Republican party is the counterpart to the Tory/Conservative party (assuming a UK context for the clue), but Republican is counterpart to Tory.

        1. Fair enough. But close enough for crossword purposes.
          Though my understanding is Republican can be a noun also – George Santos, the Republican from New York.

          1. It’s a noun, but not a mass noun. But anyway, I grant you I didn’t have the slightest MER when solving.

            1. How about: the Republican is a counterpart of the leaders of the right-wing establishment – no longer a mass noun.

  7. Felt glad to finish this – ORPHANAGE completely unparsed, and I had no idea whatsoever about AGREE.

    SPAT to my mind has a good clue – a cobra springs to mind, or someone spitting out their words.

    19’07”, thanks william and setter.

  8. 65 minutes with LOI CRAWL SPACE in with a shrug. I’ve just looked it up and read there that British houses don’t have it because the climate is too wet. So I can blame the weather for not knowing it. I hope I’m not the only one to have first thought of IMPOTENCE for 5d. COD to ORPHANAGE, although I’d never have got it without the crossers. Not on wavelength at all. Thank you William and setter.

  9. Dishev-i-lment spread confusion and doubt
    (“In the devils” and “M”, mucked about)
    O how silly I am!
    It’s the wrong anagram
    AT ONE TIME finally sorted it out

  10. I tried to parse Archdeacon in the same way as our blogger but thought that the clue order doesn’t work. My wife’s idea is that a deacon is a cleric keeping company with arch gives archdeacon who can be a colleague of the dean. Seems a better explanation to me and would not need a question mark?

  11. Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know,
    But leechlike to their fainting country cling
    Till they Drop, blind in blood …
    (Shelley, England in 1819)

    35 mins mid-brekker. I liked it, especially Atone Emit.
    MER at Words, really being ‘a’ spat.
    Agree was LOI with no idea why, not being familiar with Eagre.
    Ta setter and WJS.

      1. I think we are agreeing that Words means “A” spat. If ignoring the “A” works for you, tht’s gret.

  12. I’m another one who took over the hour (1*05) but couldn’t see why when I looked back. Like several others, I was stuck in the NW with L2I AVID and AGREE both going in quickly once I’d finally seen ARCHDEACON. Tricky stuff. I also struggled with IMPRUDENCE and CRAWL SPACE.

    Like Jack, I was happy to finish today as I had a disaster yesterday, though there were extenuating circumstances.

    I liked the MARCH HARE.

    Thanks William and setter.

  13. Count me in with other commenters – I found this slow and difficult (though satisfying) with almost every clue resisting speedy disentanglement. Had to take a break and a second cup of coffee before slogging my way to completion, but chuffed to eventually get there with closing sequence ROWAN, CRAWL SPACE, and a biffed AGREE.

    62:08 – thanks blogger and setter

  14. Struggled to the finish in 41m, biffing ORPHANAGE, ARCHDEACON and AGREE, with no idea why. I liked the WILDEBEEST and will be hearing Michael Flanders in my head for the rest of the day. Thanks for the elucidation William and respect to a tricksy setter.

  15. 25 minutes or so, finishing with two I really wasn’t sure about: SPAT and AGREE, where not knowing the eagre didn’t help. IMPRUDENCE went in unparsed, so thanks for the explanation. Otherwise this was fairly quick for me by Friday standards.

    FOI Trial
    LOI Agree
    COD Disenchanted

    1. Nearly did the same, K, but soldiered on with little hope of getting LOI AGREE (NHO EAGRE), but it proved to be worth the effort when solving clues like MARCH HARE, ORPHANAGE ( a gimme), CRAWL SPACE, WILDEBEEST Most of it very fair, but work needed, which is as it should be. Thanks to setter and William.

  16. 40 mins
    Slow but enjoyable solve. Felt AGREE was unfair and biffed like others.

    Thanks setter and William

    1. Especially as an equally valid answer is ‘Agrue’. An anagram of auger meaning an ‘involuntary shivering’. It’s a bit mephisto-ish, but the setters recently haven’t seemed to have been unduly bothered about including such clues in the daily.

      Spat needs the indefinite article, and Republican isn’t the equivalent of the UK ‘establishment’.

  17. 92m 41s Well, it was very difficult for me. And I got 4d wrong. Thought of AGREE but couldn’t equate that with the clue as I had never heard of EAGRE so I put AURAE which I found is the plural of aura and has a meaning given in Collins Online of:
    “strange sensations, such as noises in the ears or flashes of light, that immediately precede an attack, esp of epilepsy”
    Close enough to ‘fit’ for me.

  18. 08:41, and, as always on these occasions, interesting to find that my mileage varied so much from the solvers I nearly always find somewhere much closer to me on the leaderboard. Clearly I was in luck not having to reach for EAGRE, which is a very crosswordy word; and CRAWL SPACE, which probably comes from recently re-watching The X-Files (there is frequently something nasty lurking there, if not in the ventilation system).

  19. Slow to finish (in just over the hour) and needed aids for my last two, which were long words where I had nearly all the checkers (I was delaying on POTBELLIED, not comfortable with pot = bank), and when they were revealed they were a bit of a letdown: I wasn’t quick to see UNSEASONABLE = ill-timed, or unreasonable = immoderate, nor DISENCHANTED = left with no illusions. Nho CRAWL SPACE, a complete mystery: I thought it might be some pool for toddlers to crawl in, with the area shallow so that they don’t drown … The definitions in Collins seem to overlap, both saying that it’s US. In that case should that not have been signposted?

  20. I liked this one, and mildly surprised at some of the other comments..
    Eagre, for example, is pretty nearly a regular here, appearing in several daily cryptics including each of the last three years..

  21. DNF, foolishly entered SPIT for 10a.
    Read through most of the clues without any success, then started with TRIAL but no further progress in that quarter.
    Tried to spell INDISCRETE so, making 5d impossible.
    Couldn’t parse UNSEASONABLE, totally lost on IMPRUDENCE, DOH!

  22. I’m with DeniseTremble on this one. Hard but fair, though nho CRAWL SPACE. Took a lot longer than usual, at 55 minutes.
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  23. 17:35. I found this OK. I had DEAR for NEAR so IMPRUDENCE wouldn’t yield itself until I corrected my error.


  24. 38:20. Tough, I thought, with IMPRUDENCE, CRAWL SPACE, UNSEASONABLE and AGREE taking the awkward spots. I never saw how AGREE worked and thought the whole offering was decidedly Friday difficult.

  25. Seems I did OK.

    Biffed AGREE, will try and fail to remember EAGRE. Also biffed IMPRUDENCE. Everything else more or less completely understood.


  26. 18:03
    I’m a little surprised at my time given the general level of opinion here about the difficulty. I’m not saying I found it easy but CRAWL SPACE was the only one that made me pause for any length of time. I was lucky with AGREE; I’d never heard of an EAGRE but vaguely remembered something abut auger drill bits and somehow managed to mis-parse this into the correct answer.

    COD MIDGE but I’m delighted to have learnt about MAMILs and FOMBOLs

    Thanks to William and the setter.

  27. 1 Across. The cleric is dean which has a co in it. Preceded by arch.

  28. All done and dusted, apart from -r-w-space. I tried brown space in my hurry to finish. Don’t think I’ve ever seen dishevelment before. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  29. 33:51

    Managed to bash my way through this one with five unparsed at the finish, though managed to parse two of them before coming here:

    UNSEASONABLE – from definition so thankfully didn’t get caught in the r/s mix-up
    REPUBLICAN – missed the host=PUBLICAN bit
    IMPRUDENCE – was thinking Base=RUDE so couldn’t twig how the rest worked

    Solved POTBELLIED and ORPHANAGE before reading William’s blog.

  30. 16:05. I seem to have been fairly on the wavelength for this one given the times and experiences of other solvers. An enjoyable tussle. Dishevelment, at one time and orphanages held out the longest but cracked them eventually.

  31. 42 minutes, not especially hard imo (remembering I’m not the speediest solver anyway!) but at 12ac I wasted a lot of time looking for a word with k in it that I could switch for an s, forgetting that king can be r.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  32. I felt “agree” was rather too close to an indirect anagram for my liking.

  33. 37.07 . Always pleased to finish a Friday and makes up for missing arid and trappists on Wednesday. Bit of a slog today and yesterday but enjoyed both challenges.

  34. Felt more Friday-ish than Wednesday-ish here. I liked At One Time. Thanks, wmjs & setter

  35. Just over an hour, with a break before getting ARCHDEACON and AVID. It was not easy, but I didn’t find the difficulties very clever nor very pleasant. AGREE was biffed, as was IMPRUDENCE at first, but for that I eventually understood the wordplay. But there were many gratuitious obscurities (there must be other ways to get the ORPH in ORPHANAGE, for example) and lots of reuse of clue ideas from previous days (ARCH for shrewd or knowing, for example) which made some things easier than they should have been. Not my favourite puzzle.

  36. I’m with Keriothe on this one. I rarely give up, but was left with 1 and 9A and 1,2 and 4D and just couldn’t get a purchase on that corner. I immediately thought of EAGRE but was trying to reverse it and having only the final E didn’t help. The others were equally baffling, which was a shame because the rest of the crossword was eminently solvable and parseable, except for 13D.

  37. No time because I fell asleep. A bit of a slog, NHO CRAWL SPACE, quite a few times I was working on the wrong literal (eg POTBELLIED). Liked REPUBLICAN when I finally got it, clever clue.

  38. As per Cracking the Cryptic, this was Jason Crampton’s (aka Serpent in the Independent) debut as a Times setter.

Comments are closed.