Times 28663 – Up the creek without an atlas

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Music: Mozart, Symphony#40, Fricsay/VPO.

Time: 22 minutes


I was treating this as a typical Monday puzzle, biffing my way through the grid.   But at the end, I came to the NW corner, and really had to think hard, using knowledge I didn’t know I had.    Can anyone name the twenty tributaries of the Trent?  Thought so!    But fortunately, other knowledge came to my aid, and I was able to put in the obvious answer.   On the other hand, I did know the far from internationally famous Scottish town.

As a challenge to our UK solvers, I invite you to name the 169 different municipalities in  Connecticut, and all the tributaries that feed into the Housatonic River.


1 Day round northern town (6)
4 Set off brilliant attempt to sell (5,3)
10 One enters to take the place of petitioner (9)
11 Prince keeping superb racing horse (5)
12 Row all but head of Trent tributary (3)
OAR – [s]OAR, of course.   Wise solvers will biff and move on.
13 European men confused with ringtone (11)
MONTENEGRIN –  Anagram of MEN + RINGTONE.   Getting either end will get you the rest.
14 Curve on road needs key traffic light (6)
CAMBER – C + AMBER, another easy one.
16 Reactionary — that is husband interrupting attorney, by the way (3-4)
DIE-HARD – D(I.E., H)A + RD.   Most solvers will biff.
19 Get ready to make cuts around theatre (7)
20 Proposal that uses titanium in satellite (6)
22 Ed lunched with us, getting sozzled — not planned (11)
UNSCHEDULED – Anagram of ED LUNCHED + US.   Amusing surface.
25 Each article two pounds? (3)
ALL – A + L + L, another starter clue.
26 Figurative expression is right in excellent English (5)
TROPE –  T(R)OP E.   A word often found in 18th century poetry.
27 Old question over India in country of the Six Nations? (9)
IROQUOIAN – IR(O,QU,O,I)AN, one I biffed, and erased because I couldn’t parse it, and then got.
28 Note put in to request supply of another instrument (8)
29 Drifting sand blocks Greek port (6)
GDANSK – G(anagram of SAND)K.   I believe we have seen this one before.
1 It is very good time to be an artist (6)
TISSOT – TIS + SO + T.   I had to wrack my brain to remember this character, as the SO part was not obvious from the cryptic.
2 Like CID drug incident under investigation (5-4)
UPPER-CASE – UPPER, i.e amphetamine + CASE.
3 Where some were tried earlier, Hindu festivals set up (5)
SALEM – MELAS upside-down.
5 Transforming into maltreated ragamuffin (14)
TATTERDEMALION – Anagram of INTO MALTREATED, an easy one for me.
6 Substitute for engineers dispatched earlier? (9)
7 Very big vehicle shows character papa is after (5)
OSCAR – O/S CAR, where Oscar and papa are in the NATO alphabet.
8 Lament mistreatment of thorny devil, not six left (8)
THRENODY – Anagram of THORNY DE[vi l].  Another easy one for over-educated solvers.
9 Moon of Saturn in forbidden path making top news item (6,8)
15 Work as cleaner round West End, initially outfit on the Strand (9)
BEACHWEAR – BE A CH(W.E.)AR – don’t mind the capitalization.
17 Praise a Democrat speech (9)
ADORATION – A D ORATION, another beginner clue.
18 Throw out fifty getting into small club (8)
21 Physicist’s scheme united Celsius and Kelvin (6)
23 Philosopher — one in short supply (5)
24 Priest swindled outside game (5)

84 comments on “Times 28663 – Up the creek without an atlas”

  1. I had a similar experience, winding up in the NW, where I hopefully marked THURSO POI (NHO) but then couldn’t get TISSOT. I’ve seen the name before, and I figured the answer had to end in T, and I had TIS for “it is.” Tried PI as “very good…” I can see only “very” as applying to SO. Where’s the “good”?

    I didn’t put in TISPIT, but I did have IER for 12A. Wikipedia: “The Ier or Eriu (Hungarian: Ér) is a right tributary of the river Barcău (Berettyó) in Romania and Hungary.” That’s “Row” = TIER, minus the head of Trent. NHO the Soar (either).

    1. That was one of my questions, too; I finally decided that SO=very good.
      If you Google ‘Tissot’, you get a zillion hits for the watchmaker; trying ‘Tissot artist’ worked.

      1. I didn’t Google that. If I’d thought of TISSOT, I’d have remembered the artist.
        Alas, I had IER for OAR. It’s a tributary!

    2. Ha, I had the same experience regarding IER, although I abandoned it after looking up the word and finding no Trent tributary river of that ilk. Eventually got OAR, and checked Soar, to find it was the aforementioned tributary. TISSOT more guessed at than remembered.

  2. 26:47
    Not at my sharpest today. I sort of knew THURSO, although of course couldn’t have told you where it is. The U gave me 2d, which I’d been struggling with. Biffed BANNER HEADLINE, parsed post-submission; DNK the satellite. Biffed OAR, DNK the tributary, oddly enough. I’m glad 13ac was an anagram, as I’d probably have spelled it MONTENEGRAN. LOI TISSOT, who I kinda sorta knew, maybe; took me a long time to see in any case.

    1. I was going to say obviously not your sharpest day if you didn’t know MOON for satellite. Then I realised you were talking about RHEA…

  3. I didn’t have the vocabulary today, and didn’t have the patience to work through the cryptics to get there. I’ll say that vinyl’s Connecticut challenge would be too many for me.

  4. A happy mix of hard and soft for me, got there in roughly 34 (time adjusted for telephonic interruptions). Unsure about SPLUTTER = throw out and CAMBER = curve, thought it was the slope of the road surface. Tried to spell it THREDONY, tried to put a C in SUPPLIANT, thought BANNER HEADLINE was nicely put together. NHO THURSO or TISSOT but PLANCK is an old friend from here, and here only. Thanks all.

  5. Got there, just. Never heard of Tissot or Soar or Rhea. Rhea was an easy guess, but with the other two crossing it was hit and hope for 1dn and 12ac. Slight MER at SPLUTTER for throw out – not the first thing I’d think of. Quite liked Planck.

  6. I shall quote isla verbatim as every word of this applies to me too: “Got there, just. Never heard of Tissot or Soar or Rhea. Rhea was an easy guess, but with the other two crossing it was hit and hope for 1dn and 12ac. Slight MER at SPLUTTER for throw out – not the first thing I’d think of.”

    IROQUOIAN, THURSO and SUPPLIANT added to my problems and only meticulous attention to anagrist got me to MONTENEGRIN rather than ‘Montenegran’ which is the way I would spell it and Collins advises is an alternative.

  7. 33 minutes. I thought this was going to be a doddle until I hit the ‘European’ at 13a (for which I initially had the wrong def) and then IROQUOIAN. This was before I turned my attention to the ‘artist’ at 1d and the ‘Trent tributary’ at 12a, both of which were NHO’s; my first thoughts for both were the same as Guy’s but TISSOT and OAR looked more likely than the alternatives. No idea about the non-South American RHEA at 9d.

    No problems with THURSO, my FOI (it’s where The Highland Vet is set), SO for ‘very good’ or THRENODY which was a write-in, not because I’m an “over-educated solver” but just because I’ve done too many crosswords!

  8. When friends no longer remembered
    the reasons we set forth,
    I switched between nanny and tartar
    driving us on north.
    (Ice, Andrew Motion)

    25 mins mid-brekker, starting very slowly in the NW, then speeding up.
    MERs at very good=so, throw out=splutter and the Trent tributary.
    Not my favourite.
    Ta setter and V.

  9. Got there, in about 50 mins, FOI was THURSO, along with Wick were towns on my Atlas, plenty of room for town names up there.

    Struggled with spellings today, TATTERDEMALION and IROQUOIAN, don’t often see UOIA together. Also looked up the river Ier, on the same logic as Guy.

    LOI SUPPLIANT, as I thought the word was Supplicant.

  10. 32 minutes with LOI SPLUTTER. OAR was a write-in. Ratcliffe-on-SOAR power station was the jewel in the CEGB crown and was always a pleasure to visit. I constructed IROQUOIAN with crossers but had no idea about who or what one is apart from I don’t think they play rugby. Likewise, I didn’t know MELAS but I saw The Crucible a couple of weeks ago and the crossers were kind. There’s nearly three hours of my life I’m not getting back. A toughish but enjoyable puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

  11. Was OK but wrongly guessed the vowels in TATTERDEMALION and carelessly had the native of Montenegro incorrectly, although I’ve been there.

    Like seemingly everyone else, struggled in the NW. About 16′ otherwise.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  12. We Astros are rude folks, it’s clear
    Scatalogical homophones here
    The planet Uranus
    Does much entertain us
    And also the little moon RHEA

  13. Just under the half hour but with two pinks: TATTERDEMELIAN where I failed to double check the anagrist and a clumsy ADORATIIN. This puzzle pushed the limits of my vocabulary (and evidently spelling) and felt wilfully obscure in places – especially OAR as a verb (an ugly thing I have never come across, despite rowing for ten years at school and university) using a tributary surely known only to locals.

    Also in the obscure category were the Hindu festivals, the six nations, the European with an I, and the misspelled urchin. But not, for me, THURSO, as our ferry to mainland Scotland docks at Scrabster, a mile from that town. It’s literally the end of the line for UK railways, the final stop for the little two-car train from Inverness as it winds its way up the East coast and through the wonderful Flow Country. The Queen Mother was well known and liked in Thurso as she frequented local businesses during her stays in nearby Castle of Mey.

  14. Too clever for me, a definitely under-educated solver!

    Had to look up the Indian, the lament and the ragamuffin. The last two NHO’s.

    I liked BEACHWEAR.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  15. Just under half an hour. TISSOT and IROQUOIAN were unknowns pieced together from wordplay, I hadn’t heard of the Mela festival as required for SALEM, and the vaguely remembered TATTERDEMALION only occurred to me once I had all the checkers. Had heard of THRENODY without knowing what it was.

    A toughish start to the week – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Planck
    LOI Iroquoian
    COD Unscheduled

  16. 41m 46s An enjoyable puzzle for me but, like Jack, a ‘mer’ at SPLUTTER.
    As with others, the NW corner proved a harder nut to crack..
    Very recently I saw THRENODY used in a reader’s comment in The Times and I was impressed.
    27ac: I wonder how many other 9 letter words have 6 vowels in them?!
    Overheard in a Polish disco: “Hello darling! Fancy a Gdansk…?” (I’ll get my coat)

  17. 21:22. I don’t think any answers were completely unknown to me today but there was a lot at the periphery of my knowledge – THURSO, TISSOT, TATTERDEMALION, IROQUOIAN, MONTENEGRIN. Strictly speaking TISSOT was beyond my knowledge, because although I recognised the name it was only as a watchmaker. Definitely one of those puzzles where it’s a relief to come through unscathed.

  18. Hmm, not so keen on this one, which I thought a bit too clever for its own good. Did not help that I decided 1ac was that well-known town THURON. (As in Chateau Thuron, Francois 🙂 ) Eventually found the witches and put it right. And spelling IROQUOIAN, no easy task – how many words have four consecutive vowels?
    Time for a lie down.

    1. Didn’t spring to mind , I must say. Vaguely heard of the Chateau but can’t say I know it well. I’ll try and track down a bottle.

  19. DNF. No problem with (S)OAR, as one of the highlights of the summer of ’76 for me was a youth club barge holiday starting on the Soar in Leicester then joining the Trent to Nottingham via Newark and back.

    Anyway, I was undone by a careless THRENODE. Any that after patting myself on the back for getting the right ending on MONTENEGRIN.

  20. As a former native of Leicestershire, I was familiar with the river and Barrow-on-Soar. It’s a fairly substantial waterway. Whilst I managed all the difficult spellings I was stupidly held up for a time by confidently writing in “beachware”.

  21. Clues of the “like CID” kind always trip me up. And today’s also bought out my raging pedantry. In printing, there was no such thing as “upper case”, just lower case and capitals.

  22. What day is it? Nothing on this one for about 10 minutes, and 27.42 over all. Similar comments to others, though I’ll add TATTERDEMALION, which is only a biff if you don’t think SCATTER… first. Apparently it doesn’t exist, but my brain thinks it does.
    BEACHWEAR was obvious enough if you don’t think West-End is T and initially out fit is O, and wonder if TOAR is something beachy.
    SO very good is possibly more familiar to us Mephisto and Listener solvers, for whom it crops up often enough. As are the sort of words we got in the SE corner, with either too many vowels or too many consonants.
    To complement Vinyl’s challenge (answers here and here, simples) can anyone supply the other other 5 nations?

  23. Like others I struggled for a long time to finish the NW but it was all in vain because of an illiterate MontenegrAn.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  24. What day is it? Nothing on this one for about 10 minutes, and 27.42 over all. Similar comments to others, though I’ll add TATTERDEMALION, which s only a biff if you don’t think SCATTER… first. Apparently it doesn’t exist, but my brain thinks it does.
    BEACHWEAR was obvious enough if you don’t think West-End is T and initially out fit is O, and wonder if TOAR is something beachy.
    SO very good is possibly more familiar to us Mephisto and Listener solvers, for whom it crops up often enough. As are the sort of words we got in the SE corner, with either too many vowels or too many consonants.
    To complement Vinyl’s challenge (answers here and here, simples) can anyone supply the other other 5 nations?

    1. Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora, and Mohawk are the six Iroquois nations. My dad managed a bank on Tuscarora street in Windsor, Ontario.

  25. A PS on TISSOT, who I guessed and looked up afterwards to see if I knew any of his stuff. I came away feeling I did, but they were someone else’s work. I did come across his painting of Our Lord Jesus Christ, manifestly a self portrait.

  26. DNF at 72 minutes with 1dn and 10ac missing also 27ac although I had IROQUOIAN written below the grid worked out from the crossing letters and WP. I just didn’t believe it and forgot to look it up before coming here.
    I had drawn smiley faces against DIE-HARD, UPPER-CASE, REPRESENT and particularly enjoyed BEACHWEAR.

  27. 38.05

    NHO TISSOT the artist. Only vaguely remembered THURSO for being a horse racing venue but couldn’t have said where it is. The one that baffled me most tho was what IROQUOIAN has to do with Six Nations. Seeing as no one here has explained it, guess I’ll have to go look it up.

    I’m just a few km from Montenegro right now so that was a pleasant surprise having seen CROATIA somewhere last week.

    1. I think you might mean Thirsk as the horse racing venue. Having visited and lost money at just over half of the 59 courses in these islands, I’m sure that Thurso isn’t on the list; Perth is the most northerly course in Scotland. Delightful town and I managed a winner there.

  28. I thought this was very difficult and (as nobody seems to have mentioned) unMondayish and I expected to find that the SNITCH was going to be around 140. But the fact that it’s only 100 (when I last looked) suggests to me that I am really past it. Much difficulty in the NW corner, had never heard of the River Soar, a careless MONTENEGRaN, couldn’t believe that SUPPLIANT was a word (and not supplicant), had no idea what IROQUOIAN had to do with the six nations, had never heard of Mela. And not happy with SPLUTTER = throw out. About 70 minutes with that Monte… mistake.

    1. The SNITCH as described seems to have a few built-in biases.
      Only correct submissions count towards the SNITCH.
      More obscure crosswords have more people making errors or looking up answers – my guess, not a known fact.
      With harder vocabulary the better solvers tend to make fewer errors than average solvers – my guess, not a known fact.
      If my guesses are correct, then on harder, more obscurely-worded days the SNITCH will have a relatively larger complement of better solvers and a relative smaller complement of average solvers. So it will be lower than you might expect, for the difficulty of the puzzle.

      1. Today the SNITCH reports 59 solvers and 20 excluded with errors. Compared to normal that’s a lot excluded with errors which bears out what you say.

    2. I would have thought that my comment that it was « too clever for me » might have suggested it was pretty tricky:-)

  29. Managed to remember TISSOT, quite a good clue when I got there, but then wrote montenegrAn. Pretty stupid considering (a) it’s an anagram and (b) I did know the correct spelling. Anyway apart from that I either finished or DNF depending how strict you are in just under 30 minutes.

  30. 37 mins. The setter must be reading my posts, because I mentioned Thurso on Friday, having spent 2 nights there before going to Orkney a month or so ago.
    Utterly stuck in NW despite getting THURSO, LOI TISSOT, like most artists, I’ve NHO him. No, I don’t like SO for very good either.

  31. Like others, I thought this was going to be a breeze, but a few took some thought, especially in the NW. I tentatively entered SALEM right at the beginning, but MELAS was new to me, so I was not confident. Almost the whole of the NW eluded me for some time. 2d gave me the R of OAR, but I had no idea of the Trent tributary. TISSOT and THURSO followed. Finally I checked 13a and changed my penultimate A to an I. It was clear from the anagram, but it didn’t look right at all.
    27 minutes.

  32. tough in the NW, as others have said. DNK TISSOT (other than watches), got THURSO and knew the SOAR as it’s not far away in Leicester. Didn’t parse IROQUOIAN just guessed and DNK why six nations – was thinking about rugby. Also confused by SUPPLIANT which I thought should be SUPPLICANT but it didn’t fit. Not a very enjoyable one, as JW says, too clever, but was in a distracted mood as mrs piquet just home from hospital and I am on duty.

  33. A little tough in the NW, a little marginal with the definitions (adoration, throw out, a growing failing of recent Times to my mind). Eventually half-remembered Tissot when faced with it. ‘So’ as ‘very good’ seems fine in a scenario say of a gradual series of questions and answers. Amazing to think it’s nearly 50 years since Lech Walesa jumped over a barrier in a shipyard at Gdansk.

  34. 63’33”
    Sweated up badly before the start, never nearer.
    The comment above is true; I had to walk halfway across the town in 43+ degrees to find a signal to download the puzzle. However, finished and all parsed, but I didn’t know the tributary. Oar for row wasn’t tricky as my club’s 1st Men got their blades and the club came 2nd in the cup by a quarter of a point on Friday, so it was on my mind.
    An enquiry:
    Would the Snitchmeister include this time in my average (my par is just over 34′) , or would it be dismissed as an outlier ?
    Thanks, I think, to the setter, and, certainly, to Vinyl et al.
    My lad needs to find me a very big bucket of water.

  35. No problem with THURSO. Years ago I was there looking for bait to go fishing and was directed to a fishmonger who gave me 3 frozen mackerel and wouldn’t take any payment. Popped along the coast to Scrabster to angle, but failed to catch anything. It was a dull, wet windy day. Anyway my daughter and me went to a place called Popeye’s Bar to thaw out, and got chatting to the barman, who on learning that we hailed from Middlesbrough, asked if we knew Chipchase Road fish and chip shop! Turned out his mates on the Rigs raved about it. As it happens, I used to use it myself when I had a flat round the corner, when I first moved here. Anyway, despite that tortuous digression, I managed to assemble the artist, had heard of the Soar and managed to avoid the rest of the pitfalls, finishing with TATTERDEMALION. 18:08. Thanks setter and Vinyl1.

  36. Another BEACHWARE here until it became clear that something was amiss in the SW! Once that was put right the TROPE and RECORDER fell into place. Wasn’t sure about SPLUTTER and didn’t know the Soar or RHEA but went with the flow. Quite a mix of easy and hard for me. Thanks setter and vinyl1.

  37. Hard for a Monday.
    Was particularly thick over BEACHWEAR as Be A Char had occurred to me but I simply ignored the West End. DOH!
    Having assembled BANNER H I had to go and look up Saturn’s moons. It has very many moons, even ignoring the zillions in the rings. Rhea wasn’t particularly familiar, but I prob have heard of.
    Tried to check on semi-guessed (James or Jacques) TISSOT but blinded by watchmakers as others have mentioned.

  38. 7:31, WOE. I didn’t find this hard, but it did have a strange feel to it.
    NHO the river of the moon, but I had the rest of the required knowledge. My problem was with spelling: I knew TATTERDEMALION, but not how to spell it, so I had to be very careful with the anagrist. IROQUOIAN required similar care, and I think that used up my care-with-spelling reserves. In any case the correct ending for MONTENEGRAN was very much an unknown unknown so I’m not sure it would ever have occurred to me that it could possibly be anything else.
    I’ve driven through THURSO on the way to various places in Sutherland. You go past the reactor at Dounreay soon after.

  39. Very similar problems to all the above ie NW corner really held me up, apart from THURSO. I couldn’t remember the Hindu festivals and until the (correct) anagram for 13A was identified and filled in, was unable to guess SALEM from the S alone. Tried for SUPPLICANT and it was ages before the other word came to me and I then worked out the parsing. On the other hand, IROQUOIAN went in straight from the parsing, and I was delighted to get a word that meant something as a result! Would never have bifd that one! As a result, it wins my COD.

  40. For me this felt like a fairly standard Monday offering, and it was all done in 21 minutes. Luckily I had heard of the artist at 1dn, and if you live in certain parts of London the MELA will be familiar.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

  41. My 26 mins became a DNF on coming here and realising I had forgotten to go back to 27ac and puzzle out IROQUOIAN. Would I have got it? I’ll never know, probably fortunately.

  42. Trying to make the jump from the QC to the 15 x 15 on an ‘easier’ Monday… hah! Pleased to correctly spell IROQUOIAN and MONTENEGRIN and vaguely remembered the words TATTERDEMALION and THRENODY, although not their precise meanings (often the case with me). DNF after an hour with BEACHWEAR and THURSO/UPPERCASE/OAR unsolved. Remembered looking up TISSOT for another Times crossword fairly recently. DNK splutter = throw out. Didn’t parse OSCAR. Enjoyed my foray. May try again tomorrow – practice makes perfect. Thanks for the invaluable blog.

  43. This was OK for me. About 35 mins split either side of a very wet game of golf (I must use a better weather forecaster..). Tatterdemalion was a biff in the sense that I knew the word, it fitted the anagram, but I didn’t really know its meaning. Iroquoian needed a very methodical parse. Re place names, Salem is reasonably close to Connecticut!!. Thanks vinyll and setter.

  44. I thought of TISSOT and OAR, but not being entirely sure if the artist existed, how ‘very good’ could be SO (which I still don’t follow), and what the tributary could be, I plumped for TISPIT and IER using the same parses as previously mentioned. Pah! Bit rough for a Monday all round really.

    I liked BEACHWEAR and SCHEDULED. Thanks both.

  45. Oh dear, only managed a few today with so many words I’ve NHO. Never mind, I’ll try again another Monday …

  46. Pretty tough at the end of a long day, so not too upset with my 32’28”. It could have been less, but I just couldn’t summon the energy to seek pen and paper and work out the anagram MONTENEGRIN. It lingered till the very end. Had to guess TISSOT and OAR.

  47. This felt like a proper Monday in places. Unlike others the NW fell into place quite quickly. I have a young lady from the very same Scottish town visiting as I write. It was the SW that defeated me. TROPE would not come to mind and I didn’t see top as excellent. Came here for that answer then the two edges became clear. IMO SPLUTTER does not mean throw out or RE ORDER to request supply, surely to request supply again?

    Thank you for TROPE and the rest of the blog.

    1. I had to look up splutter – it’s in the dictionaries, so it must be true (not). With recorder, it works if you join “request supply of” and “another” and leave the definition as just “instrument”.

      1. Thank you isla

        I realised that definition of splutter was probably correct but unknown to me. I was just being grumpy, but thank you for sorting me out.

        And thank you also for ‘request supply of another’. It does as you say work that way. All is forgiven of the setter. 😂

  48. 75m. Slow and steady. Only entered TISSOT because of the watch, it fitted and being last one in I knew I’d be enlightened here in short order. Didn’t misspell any and even got IROQUOIAN correct but only by having all letters except the second O which was the only letter possible and then it actually looked right as the adjectival version of IROQUOIS

  49. 19.47 with a typo

    I struggle with anagrams (see Quickie today) but give me some clear instructions (TISSOT) and in it went, no questions asked. Knew THRENODY from Greek O Level and bypassed the other traps. Seemed fine as a puzzle to me but I can see I’m in the minority today

    Thanks all

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