Times 28667 – now fair Hippo

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic


A gently challenging puzzle – no gimmie, but nothing outrageous. I normally take the advice of others on this forum, and move on quickly if I can’t see an answer, but today I found myself lingering on several clues. A lot of the time I had no idea how to interpret the cryptic, and there are quite a few cryptic definitions/hints which are my biggest weakness. 7dn and 17dn were my LOsI, but the last I understood were 1ac and 8dn. Liked 4dn the best.

Definitions underlined.

1 Number of sheep, possibly, but not goats (8)
SINGULAR – cryptic definition, playing on the fact that ‘sheep’ can be singular or plural, but ‘goats’ can only be plural.
5 Conservative legislation covering university that’s growing and tricky to handle (6)
CACTUS – C (conservative) + ACTS (legislation) containing U (university).
9 Novelist includes arresting incident in printed version (4,4)
HARD COPY – HARDY (novelist) containing COP (arresting incident, “it’s a fair cop”).
10 I, one of those who’s affected, returned ornamental art (6)
BONSAI – I (one) + A SNOB (one of those who’s affected) all reversed.
12 Start of season not good guide for followers of game (5)
SPOOR – first letter of Season + POOR (not good). An animal track.
13 Area supporting crazy ideas introduced earlier (9)
AFORESAID – A (area) + FOR (supporting) + an anagram of IDEAS.
14 Its playfully revolutionary movement produces moving reflections (12)
KALEIDOSCOPE – cryptic definition.
18 Depict pain that’s mistreated and is reason for operation (12)
21 No sprinter succeeded with inferior trainer (9)
SLOWCOACH – S (succeeded) + LOW (inferior) + COACH (trainer).
23 Joint leader in church may let it go to his head (5)
MITRE – definition and cryptic hint. A joint in woodworking, and a hat for a bishop, etc.
24 Famous actor ousting second one for title role in musical (6)
OLIVER – OLIViER (famous actor) minus the ‘i’.
25 Part of body and part of that sport (8)
FOOTBALL – FOOT (part of body) + BALL (part of that).
26 Be repelled by both sides in dispute and subsequent trial (6)
DETEST – first and last letters of DisputE + TEST (trial).
27 Article run in magazine that provides useful explanations (8)
GLOSSARY – A (article) and R (run), contained by GLOSSY (magazine).
1 Church is replacing contents of sanctum, hence division (6)
SCHISM – CH + IS, replacing the contents of SanctuM.
2 With little between sides, new indicator of how to proceed (6)
NARROW – N (new) + ARROW (indicator of how to proceed).
3 Not predictable ie can turn haphazardly (9)
4 In this order, abbot takes precedence over bishop and cardinal (12)
ALPHABETICAL – cryptic definition. A (abbot), before B (bishop), before C (cardinal).
6 From opening that’s inconclusive, white finally in superior position (5)
ABOVE – AB OVo (from the egg, from the beginning) + last letter of whitE. Maybe tricky to parse if you aren’t a biologist?
7 Check every letter in answer — or one in box, in case (8)
TESTATOR – TEST (check) + A TO R (every letter in ‘answer’). The person in the box during a legal case regarding his/her will.
8 Kind of crook who does all he can to make a living? (8)
SWINDLER – cryptic definition. He ‘does’, i.e. cons, all those he can.
11 Grand female in rather dated ball in which everyone can be seen (8,4)
GOLDFISH BOWL – G (grand), then F (female) in OLDISH (rather dated) + BOWL (ball).
15 Emphasis shifts — about time — for fellow-craftsmen? (9)
SHIPMATES – anagram of EMPHASIS containing T (time).
16 Old man’s weapon that’s needed to deal with challenge (8)
PASSWORD – PA’S (old man’s) + SWORD (weapon).
17 Source of succinct statement, a page I inserted in short revision (8)
APHORIST – A + P (page), then I contained by an anagram of SHORT.
19 Ring with a small amount of power raised capital (6)
OTTAWA – O (ring), then A + WATT (small amount of power) reversed.
20 Provide another view of answer with another briefly covered (6)
REPLAY – REPLY (answer) containing A (another answer, briefly).
22 Section of launch, essentially, in which master gets mates on board (5)
CHESS – hidden in launCH ESSentially.

82 comments on “Times 28667 – now fair Hippo”

  1. 11:12. Took a while to see APHORIST. Terrific clue for GOLDFISH BOWL, not as tricky as most Friday puzzles.

    1. dear glh, I’m new to this game. can you please explain:
      biffed- guessed?
      Loi- last one in?
      foi- first one in?
      regards David

      1. Welcome Dalidog. Have a look in the ‘Help’ section of the menu. There you’ll find our glossary.

      2. There is a glossary, but those acronyms pop up pretty often
        biffed sounds like BIFD, Bunged In From Definition – putting an answer in without looking at, or deciphering the wordplay
        LOI, FOI – yes, Last One In and First One In
        PDM – Penny Drop Moment, sudden understanding of what is going on, especially after reading a clue several times
        COD – Clue Of the Day, favourite clue in the puzzle
        Glad you enjoy the blogs, we all try to be helpful and prompt here, even if we construct our own vernacular that is almost as opaque as the clues.

  2. 20:45
    I was surprised to see the SNITCH standing at 130, as this went by rather quickly, at least once I got my FOI, KALEIDOSCOPE. Biffed GOLDFISH BOWL, parsed post-submission. Biffed ABOVE, had no idea where ABOV came from.  It took me a while to see how SWINDLER worked, a longer while with TESTATOR, my COD.

  3. I had ABOVE very early on but didn’t know the “ab ovo” phrase so it ended up being my LOI once I got BONSAI (which also took some time). My only other holdup was worrying about the central vowel in KALEIDOSCOPE since I wasn’t 100% sure it was O and there was no wordplay.

  4. 77 minutes. A real SLOWCOACH performance and I’m the main reason the SNITCH is so high at the moment. I had no idea about the parsing of ABOVE and was also held up in the NE by BONSAI (should have seen earlier) and TESTATOR for which I needed all the crossers. I’ve only just worked out the parsing of HARD COPY and FOOTBALL now, so not a great day. Anyway, the SNITCH will be coming down soon.

  5. I completed this in 45 minutes but unlike our blogger and some other commenters so far, I found it very difficult.

    I needed a good 5 minutes to find a clue that I was able to solve (CACTUS second time around) and several other answers (like BONSAI, and KALEIDOSCOPE) were written in tentatively as I wasn’t sure of wordplay and would not have been surprised if the arrival of intersecting answers had proved them to be incorrect.

    With ABOVE I spotted AB as Latin for ‘from’ but had no idea where OVE came from.

    SINGULAR was my LOI and it went in reluctantly merely because it was the only word I could think of that fitted the checkers. Well done to Will for working it out and explaining it.

    1. Same time, same experience. No idea what was going on with ABOVE or SINGULAR, my last entries, but couldn’t see what else fitted.

      Struggled to get off the mark with this, but a lucky guess at GOLDFISH BOWL, parsed after the fact, got me going. Liked APHORIST and TESTATOR.

  6. 18:53. I spent an age trying to justify ABOVE or considering alternatives. I toyed with the idea of ALONE thinking that if you stand alone you could be in a superior position. I wondered if superior was meant in a religious sense and tried to see if I could get variations of abbot or abbey into the answer. In the end I gave up and threw in ABOVE with fingers firmly crossed but largely expecting I had an error so it was a pleasant surprise to finish with all correct.

    1. I didn’t get round to commenting yesterday but this so exactly reflects my experience I felt I had to. My time was very similar (17:49) and I’m sure I spent 5 minutes at the end trying to justify the obviously wrong ABOVE. I mean there is obviously no other possible word in English with the form ABOV_, right?!

  7. Guessed the probable parsing of ABOVE correctly, but don’t think ab ovo has penetrated my consciousness before.

    Like jackkt, singular was my LOI, but the penny dropped as I typed it in.

    Thanks for the blog…..hope you’ll explain the title!

    1. It’s nothing very clever I’m afraid. Just an inconclusive opening for a midsummer night’s blog.

        1. If you’re into figuring out the theme, may I politely suggest that you don’t see? Shh!

  8. 35 minutes, with 1a my LOI. 6 and 7 were rather swings-and-roundabouts as I failed to see the Latin AB OVO in 6 but immediately Ninja-Turtled 7 from “TESTATOR silens…” which are, of course, the first words of the theme song to the BBC’s Silent Witness. Some nice varied clueing, I thought.

  9. 51 minutes with LOI SPOOR. I biffed both SINGULAR and ABOVE. I did O level LATIN in 1961 when it was required for Oxbridge entrance even for the sciences. 62 years is a long time to remember, so I hope it isn’t going to be necessary to solve the Times crossword. COD to GOLDFISH BOWL in this toughie. Thank you William and setter.

    1. My great uncle Bill was in the same predicament for maths; the Latin took him three attempts.

  10. Finished but with two errors.
    I had BOATRACE at 25ac even though it’s two words (I didn’t notice at the time) – part of body ‘face’ and part of that sport. That made 20dn an unparsed REMEDY.
    I also needed the blog for the parsing of the BIFD ABOVE which I would never have worked out and SWINDLER although I should have seen that one.
    Smiley faces against CACTUS and TESTATOR both for the PDMs.

  11. 49m 44s I thought this was rather a good puzzle. The only clues I couldn’t parse fully were 6d:ABOVE and 20d:REPLAY so thank you William.

  12. I also found this hard, taking 44 minutes.
    I still don‘t understand the BALL part of FOOTBALL, must have a mental block.
    I thought bonsai was i as nob! I, a snob – of course.
    Thanks blogger and setter

  13. Gave up exhausted after 1hr 15mins. Just couldn’t get SINGULAR and therefore NARROW.

    Nothing more to say.

    Thanks William and setter.

  14. An hour
    Stared at ABOVE forever, then threw it in, expecting to be wrong.
    Thanks, w.

  15. 35-ish minutes. Many clues that were tricksy but felt just the right side of fair – SINGULAR, for instance.

    CDs are often a matter of taste but I can’t for the life of me see what the setter is trying to do with SWINDLER and KALEIDOSCOPE – they seem to have forgotten the “cryptic” part and just presented definitions. Can anyone enlighten me as to the alternate readings of these clues?

    1. A swindler ‘does’ people. Our swindler ‘does all he can to make a living’.

      Can’t help you with the other one as I thought the same myself.

      1. Isn’t there an accepted clue-type which pretends to throw letters around whilst merely defining?

          1. Isn’t that so to speak the shadow of an alternative reading for ‘kaleidoscope’?

          2. A cryptic definition (CD) has no wordplay and defines in a misleading fashion, whereas an &lit consists of wordplay whose surface provides the definition. The clue for KALEIDOSCOPE is the former.

              1. I don’t think the clue is doing the pretending- it’s the solver’s mind that may expect wordplay, but the solver’s mind is capable of mistaken interpretations of any and all clue types.

                1. Well, there we have the difference. An interesting discussion. This solver’s mind feels that ‘playfully revolutionary movement’ and ‘moving reflections’ are deliberate temptations to at least start to look for reversals or anagrams.

              2. It does indicate that in a way: “playfully” … a revolutionary movement produces moving reflections.

                If we look at this ‘playful’ definition, we get KALEIDOSCOPE.

      2. I think the alternative reading of 14ac is musical. This isn’t intended as a defence of its quality!

    2. I also thought thought KALEIDOSCOPE was a bit weak but I suppose the definition could also be applied to a symphony?

  16. 13:50
    Hoping for better when I slotted in all the intersecting (12)s, but then ground to a halt in the NE corner – ABOVE proved beyond me for a while.
    IMO, four cryptic definitions is (four) too many.

  17. Always happy to complete a Friday puzzle and like many puzzles this week quite a few came very quickly before I ground to a halt, or at least a crawl. The northern section particularly caused difficulty, the cryptics such as SWINDLER and SINGULAR were biffed without parsing. ABOVE similarly “parsed me by”…(sorry). Needed all the crossers for LOI TESTATOR. Thanks blogger and setter.

  18. 19:27. I was a bit slow seeing where our setter was coming from with a lot of the clues. Like others LOI was ABOVE unparsed. Great puzzle. I loved GOLDFISH BOWL, SHIPMATES and my COD, TESTATOR. Thanks William and setter.

  19. All very clever, of course, but four CDs? Really? One I can’t usually spell without wordplay, two where I spent ages trying to make sense of the wordplay, SINGULAR and ALPHABETICAL, and one that actually looked like a CD in SWINDLER. For ALPHABETICAL, I wandered over Abbots that I knew (Russ? Bud? Not Dianne, she’s still alive) variations on Bishop (not Harold, he was dead but came back to life) and every conceivable variation on Cardinal such as numbers and sins. That one in particular, when light dawned, I felt cheated.
    Of the rest, didn’t remember ab ovo, so ABOVE was desperate; SPOOR even though I twigged the right sort of game I spent too long trying to take the G out of guide; and TESTATOR trying to be too clever and working out how to fit in ATOZ for ever letter. But GOLDFISH BOWL was good as was the surface for CHESS.
    35 rather frustrating and occasionally annoying minutes. Thanks William for easing my pain!

  20. 14:38

    The first 7 across clues gave me nothing so I switched to the downs and got the first four straight off which gave me something to build on. I cottoned on to most of the setter’s “tricks” and was only slowed at the end by BONSAI and ABOVE, the latter just biffed in hope so thanks for the explanation.

  21. 21:17
    As so often, I grumbled reguarly at the abstruseness of some clues, but then decided, on successful completion, that they were all highly intelligent and excellent. TESTATOR and BONSAI the pick of the bunch for me. I biffed ABOVE.

    Thanks to William and the setter.

  22. 45:50 including a pencil and paper session at the end to get APHORIST. I liked SWINDLER

  23. Nice variety of clue types, with a few cryptic definitions to puzzle out. No hope of parsing ABOVE, but what else could it be? Can someone enlighten me as to what snitch signifies?

    1. The SNITCH is something that’s going to change your life. Under “useful links” on this site check out the Glossary first for an explanation, then follow the link to the SNITCH itself.

    2. It’s a wonderful site put together by one of our forum members, starstruck: https://xwdsnitch.herokuapp.com/. It gives all sorts of great stats on the crossword, the main one being a difficulty rating of the day’s puzzle based on the times taken by online solvers against their average times.

  24. Several nice clues like those mentioned above. 34 minutes but SINGULAR and TESTATOR entered without real understanding: SINGULAR was just because it fitted, I had no idea; TESTATOR was half parsed: I saw the definition, but thought that the ‘or’ was part of the wordplay so couldn’t think why ‘at’ was from ‘every letter in answer’. My impression is that good setters are so good nowadays that they largely avoid link-words and every word in the clue is part of either the wordplay or the definition. But not in this case. I agree with the many who aren’t impressed by the large number of CDs.

  25. A lot of this was very easy. I filled all of the NW corner + ALPHABETICAL and a guess at KALAIDOSCOPE (pretty poor CD in my view) in 3 minutes. More giveaways followed, but then I hit the buffers, ending up stuck for ages in the NE corner. REPLAY also gave me trouble until I got GLOSSARY.
    40 minutes.

  26. SCHISM got me off to a flying start, then I crashed and burned until CACTUS and KALEIDOSCOPE got me off the ground again. The SE corner was more tractable and I eventually worked my way clockwise and found myself trying to justify ABOVE, which I signally failed to do, so thanks to William for the explanation. BONSAI went in on the strength of the O from ABOVE and the I from SWINDLER, and was then reverse engineered. TESTATOR was LOI. A bit of a workout! 30:58. Thanks setter and William.

  27. A cross person here, perhaps because I feel nauseous and under the weather.
    I know a weeny bit of Latin, not enough for AB OVO.
    TESTATOR in Latin means a witness or one making a will, but in English it is someone who has made a will ONLY as far as I can see. When the case comes up it is unlikely that the testator can stand in the witness box, as (s)he’ll be in a different box, so a MER.

      1. When solving I thought it to mean box as in casket, and thought it rather clever at the time.

        1. Indeed, “deaddybones” as my long-ago probate tutor termed it. A lovely bit of whimsy for such a dry subject.

  28. 31:37. A question mark on the very good SWINDLER until I got it at the last minute. Most difficulties resided in the SE – REPLAY, OTTAWA and MITRE, none of which in retrospect should have been too hard. A cracking puzzle all round.

  29. 8m 55s, reluctantly entering ABOVE after being unable to think of anything else – AB OVO was not in my vocabulary.

    Some nice clues, but I’m not a fan of cryptic definitions at the best of times, and the four today felt like four too many. KALEIDOSCOPE in particular was more a definition than a cryptic definition.

    COD to 15d.

  30. I eventually completed this one, but I found it really hard. I’m not the biggest fan of cryptic definitions, so having four in one puzzle wasn’t very satisfying. ABOVE went in partly unparsed as I hadn’t heard of ‘ab ovo’, and CHESS suffered by comparison with the lovely cluing we had for it yesterday.

    FOI Chess
    LOI Singular
    COD Shipmates

  31. Another with no Latin and NHO ab ovo – above was a fingers-crossed guess. Otherwise mostly enjoyed, until reading andyf’s comment abovo and being equally cross. I inferred a testator was someone who testified, in the witness box, in a case. It isn’t – the clue is just wrong! But as I say, enjoyed it. Last 3 in alphabetical, singular, and above.

  32. The OED’s second meaning for testator is ‘One who or that which testifies; a witness’, so isla’s inference is correct.

    1. OED, eh? Don’t have that 20-volume or whatever dictionary. With that meaning, testator’s not in my Oxford or Chambers or Macquarie and not in the online Collins or Lexico or Chambers – Chambers who make up heaps of stuff just for a joke.
      That’s really obscure.

      1. I have an old CD version; I deeply regret that they won’t update it – online only these days. It doesn’t define testator as obsolete, but the last citation for this meaning is 1698…

        Just wanted to add how much I enjoyed this puzzle. Far too hard for me, but finished it and enjoyed the variety of clues – no problem with cryptics – takes all sorts!

        Thanks, setter and blogger.

        1. And they just updated the on-line, making it really difficult to log in. Bah. (a word I don’t need to look up)

  33. 59’55”
    Started slowly and got slower, never at the races.
    Stared at ABOV for ten minutes before twigging it was AB OV + something or other; so I was chuffed to have finished with all parsed based bar the O, which I have come across but it refused to emerge from the dusty attic.
    I enjoyed this rather whimsical offering; thank you setter, William et al.

  34. I’ve been doing this while watching the test match, so it goes without saying that no time is recorded. I did find it tough however, and I suspect if it had received my undivided attention, I would have taken over an hour.
    At least I finished with all correct, although my LOI ABOVE was put in with fingers crossed as I just couldn’t parse it.

  35. 45 mins of sluggish progress. NE corner proved particularly tricky until I stopped trying to fit atoz in testator- I don’t know why either.🙁 However, that produced a late spurt with above LOI, without knowing why.
    Pretty pleased to get through the week unscathed .
    Thx setter and blogger.

  36. 23.07

    Can I confess to just chucking in an answer when I have the checkers and the definition is clear (ABOVE)?

    NARROW and SINGULAR were also my last two but I gritted teeth to get the former which then yielded the latter.

    Wot Mauefw said regarding the CDs. I like them if they’re good but they’re never that far from falling flat. KALEIDOSCOPE rather fitted that category.

    Liked the rest of it though

    Thanks William and Setter

  37. Lots of clues which needed a stop; re-read; parse the verbiage carefully; approach, which I enjoyed.

    I didn’t like gleefully converting Sidney Poitier into the lead role in the musical Harry Potter, which really slowed the SW down. I even less liked, after things cleared up, how clever I remembered having felt when I wrote in the wrong answer.

  38. Gave up on this after 60 minutes, with 10ac and 7dn unsolved. Now I have seen the solutions I fear they would have remained unsolved as I was never anywhere near working them out. For me ‘every letter in answer’ suggested A TO W rather than A TO R (though I admit this does not include all of them, just the extremes); and having read the comments I agree the MER on TESTATOR and comments on the excess of CDs. But otherwise a fair challenge.
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

  39. 32:51 but…

    …the clock started without me somehow, so didn’t hit the first clue until 4:54 had gone by, so my real time was 27:57.

    Bunged in ABOVE without parsing (bl**dy Latin! – no idea what was going on); 7d TESTATOR missed the A TO R bit, but also didn’t see the relevance of ‘box’.

    As for 8d, I saw the definition but the cryptic was so mild, it didn’t really deserve any place in this crossword.

  40. Surprised to finish a Friday puzzle having just missed most other days this week. Like many others I biffed ABOVE, SINGULAR (LOI) and SWINDLER though so thanks for the explanations.

  41. Yet another contender for poorest puzzle of the year, with four cryptic definitions, and ‘cryptic’ stretching it a bit. I thought I’d stumbled into the Concise by mistake.

    Add one clue that is just plain wrong, some sort of acid-induced whimsical vagueness going on at 1a (‘lambs’ might have given the clue a semblance of meaning), and some random clergymen to define alphabetical order, and you have every element of a crossword simply not good enough for The Times.

  42. Harsh words indeed (above).
    DNF today. I was fifty fifty about whether there were elements of word play in 14a, as others have pointed out could have been being signalled, or whether it was a CD. I tried shadow puppet, snow scene but couldn’t come up with a suitable toy that fitted and without the confidence I was even looking for one I gave up.

    Otherwise I enjoyed working out the many clever clues at a fairly steady pace and with plenty of pencil chewing.

    Thank you setter and William.

  43. More than chewy for me, I’m afraid! But I have no problem with cryptic definitions, as they are a valid part of the art: however I did not get KALEIDOSCOPE. Nor many others (too many to admit to). Started off not too badly with SCHISM, ALPHABETICAL and HARD COPY, then searched the grid desperately looking for the anagram clues (usually one of my footholds). Found it in APPENDICITIS, which helped with PASSWORD, OLIVER and DETEST, then the only hidden CHESS. After that it was all downhill (never did get SINGULAR (a clever clue IMHO), and didn’t remember Ab Ovo from schoolgirl Latin, and so on. Ah well – we all get days like these, I’m hoping!

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