Times 28701 – Bishkek and chips

A gentle Wednesday this week, with a couple of entries from the urban dictionary and three tolerable homophones. No need to know where the lush places in Kyrgyzstan are. 15 minutes.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Supply funds for vessel (8)
STOCKPOT – STOCK = supply, keep a stock of; POT = funds.
6 Genuine Polish saint (6)
HONEST – HONE = polish, ST for saint.
9 Country united in reversal of basic principles (4)
CUBA – ABC being “basic principles”, reverse and insert U.
10 Sometimes a lack of staff as a consequence? (3,3,4)
NOW AND THEN – NO WAND being a lack of a staff, THEN = as a consequence.
11 Piece of meat and celery, perhaps, feeding couple in the Far East? (10)
CHOPSTICKS – CHOP a piece of meat, and STICKS of celery. You need a pair to eat with them.
13 Lush part of rural Kyrgyzstan (4)
ALKY – hidden as above, lush as in alcoholic.
14 Cow eating cow, perhaps: roughly speaking, is its mate able to? (8)
CANNIBAL – sounds (rather) like “CAN A BULL?”
16 Old swimmer lassoing a bovine (6)
OAFISH – O[ld], FISH = swimmer, insert A. Collins meaning 2. gives bovine = stupid.
18 Poetry in very old language succeeded (6)
VERSES – V[ery], ERSE an old language, S[ucceeded].
20 Bar I dropped thrown out (8)
BANISHED – BAN (bar) I, SHED (dropped).
22 Wine having seen better days removed from case (4)
ASTI – PAST IT loses its first and last letters.
24 Measure has brought the enemy into focus (10)
CENTIMETRE – TIME, the old enemy, inside CENTRE meaning focus.
26 Italian tide with Latino turned (10)
NEAPOLITAN – NEAP a low tide, (LATINO)*.
28 Head cut off in photograph, laugh (4)
HOOT – SHOOT losing S.
29 Level of tale told to audience (6)
STOREY – homophone for STORY.
30 Squirrel away, turning up with nuts as diet (3,5)
PUT ASIDE – PU (turning up), (AS DIET)*.
2 Bit mean, to make contact! (5,4)
TOUCH BASE – TOUCH = bit, as in “that’s a touch …”, BASE = mean.
3 One screw securing another, gripping device (7)
CRAMPON – CON with RAMP inside. Here both mean “screw” as in swindle.
4 Wine kitty keeps at home (5)
PINOT – IN inside POT. Pinot grapes make pinot wine.
5 Draw what informally comes up (3)
TOW – WOT (what informally) reversed.
6 Farm employees not working easily (5,4)
HANDS DOWN – HANDS for farm workers, DOWN for not working e.g. that machine is down.
7 49 per cent? 100 per cent! (3,4)
NOT HALF – double definition.
8 Spot Italian meat (5)
SPECK – double definition, the second being a type of Italian cured ham.
12 Approximately year lost by African slave on island (7)
CALIBAN – CA (approx.) LIB[Y]AN. Caliban was Prospero’s slave in THE TEMPEST.
15 Close to gagging when I cry, first of all (9)
BASICALLY – BY (close to) “gags” i.e. includes, AS I CALL = when I cry.
17 Steel shackles put on, that’s an obscenity! (9)
SWEARWORD – SWORD (steel) with WEAR (put on) inserted.
19 Item of footwear, one treading on banana skin? (7)
SLIPPER – slightly cryptic second definition.
21 Witnesses inhaling the fumes (7)
SEETHES – SEES (witnesses as a verb) with THE inside.
23 Pick up coin, did you say? (5)
SCENT – sounds like CENT a coin.
25 Tavern needs vermouth, don’t you agree? (5)
INNIT – INN and IT (Italian vermouth). Essex speak, innit.
27 Bonus clue (3)
TIP – double definition.


72 comments on “Times 28701 – Bishkek and chips”

  1. Very clear definitions – or so I found them – made this a quick solve.
    Excepting only that I didn’t stop to consider whether STEAK fit the cryptic, which it doesn’t. Oops. (In my defense, I’ll spot you a fiver and I’ll stake you with a fiver made me think there would be a homonym indicator for that kind of stake if I looked hard)
    I liked the casual Wot and Innit and the feeding couple.
    thanks, pip

  2. Steady, quickish solve, NW falling last.
    “Feeding couple” was fiendishly clever.
    STOCKPOT was my POI, CRAMPON LOI. I checked, then, that “ramp” does mean “swindle.”
    I remember that Horryd was not fond of INNIT. I was certainly looking for something less informal.

  3. Nothing too hard. My LOI was CRAMPON too (not least since I assumed it “obviously” ended PIN). POI was CUBA which took me a moment to realize what first principles were, after I’d given up on PERU earlier since it made no sense except it was a 4-letter country with a U in. It would not surprise me if CUBA and PERU are the only 4-letter countries with a U in.

    1. Niue is also on my mental list, though there may be some debate about whether it counts as a country…

        1. “Pointless” would not accept it as a country, as it is not a member of the UN. They would say it was a NZ territory .. so does Wikipedia, it seems. I hadn’t heard of it!

          1. It IS very small and it is a self-governing territory. Has its own flag, head of government (I believes he drives around in an old Bentley) and the Nieuans I’ve met at Pacific Island Forums certainly think of themselves as a country (even if most of them live in NZ). I just have a soft spot for Pacific microstates…of which there are quite a few!

          2. “Pointless” would not accept England, Scotland or Wales as countries. We are not even Pacific microstates

  4. Yet another CRAMPON last in, not knowing ramp. Took an unfeasibly long time on STOCKPOT and TOUCH BASE, too, but the only other problems were reverse-engineering the obvious ASTI and BASICALLY.
    Some really nice clues – especially liked CUBA, so simple, and the surface of PUT ASIDE.

    1. Yeah, ASTI I got from having the S and thinking of “pAST It” took some time. I wonder how many people will get to the answer by the wordplay.

  5. 19:12
    Slow to start, slow to finish, LOI being (surprise) CRAMPON; I too DNK RAMP. Also DNK SPECK. With 22ac, figured 4-letter wine has to be ASTI, but took a while to figure out why. I wasted some time trying to make an anagram of (tide, Latino); finally saw the light. Didn’t understand the clever ‘gagging’. I liked NOW AND THEN; only figured out what was going on when I got the W.

  6. 38 minutes, which felt longer because I seemed to be struggling quite a lot and I wrote in several answers without being 100% sure they were correct until intersecting answers came along that fitted in with them. STOCKPOT was one such such example. CRAMPON was my LOI which I failed to parse because I was thinking of the wrong types of screw.

    I thought SPECK has been discussed here very recently so I searched and found the bacon/ham/meat product was defined in some detail in a comment by johninterred on 25th August. It was part of the wordplay for EMOTE which appeared in that puzzle blogged by William. By strange coincidence a clue to EMOTES had appeared in March this year, also blogged by William: Speck, among foremost of Europe’s smoked hams.

      1. Posted by johninterred in August as mentioned in my comment:

        From ODE…
        SPECK ▶ noun [mass noun] a smoked ham of a type produced in north-eastern Italy. via Italian from Dutch spek, German Speck ‘fat bacon, whale blubber’ (in which sense it was formerly used in English): related to Old English spec.

        1. Thanks for that. A speck, cheese and rocket combination is a popular sandwich filling in these parts.
          I’ve often wondered where the very rare Italian K came from.
          I commented the other day on kaki – an island dialect word for persimmon.

      2. I can’t remember when it was but it was very late in life that I discovered that SPECK is, in fact, Italian and not, as I had always assumed, German.

          1. The stuff I knew about and thought was German is definitely Italian. Other specks may be available.

  7. 41 minutes. Who knew that CALIBAN was a ‘slave on island’; certainly not me. If I’d taken Cole Porter’s advice it would have saved me a good 10 minutes today. The rest went in without too much trouble though I couldn’t parse CRAMPON either. Thanks to the wordplay I missed making my usual NEO- spelling mistake for NEAPOLITAN.

    Favourites were NO WAND THEN and the ‘feeding couple…’ def for CHOPSTICKS.

  8. DNF. I’d gone four weeks without an error only to succumb to a typo, despite checking before I submitted. Grrr!

  9. I think I made a bit of a meal of this, taking 30 minutes though there was nothing especially hard. CUBA took me a while too since I couldn’t stop thinking of GUAM. I needed CUBA to get CRAMPON, I didn’t know that meaning of RAMP till coming here.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  10. Took a while to get going and finally registered 26.51, held up at the end by BASICALLY (thank you for the explanation piquet) and CALIBAN. Missed the celery reference in CHOPSTICKS, that’s a clever clue. To say ‘roughly speaking’ about CANNIBAL being a homophone for CAN A BULL is perhaps to understate it. Liked NOT HALF, CUBA and PINOT.

  11. 13:36

    On train to Glasgow, normally irked by the occasional banal announcements before and after each station, however they washed over me today as this all went in very smoothly indeed.

    Wasn’t sure whether a STOCKPOT was a thing.
    CRAMPON – was thinking of screws as prison wardens, so needed all checkers to confirm they weren’t
    CANNIBAL – was thinking CAN NIBBLE rather than CAN A BULL but Piquet’s explanation is much better
    OAFISH = bovine – didn’t know this, but clear from the cryptic
    NEAP – vaguely remembered as a tide, but didn’t know what sort of tide
    BASICALLY – didn’t see how ‘gagging’ worked and needed all checkers to be confident enough to enter. I had AS I C (first of ‘cry’) ALL inside BY, but the wordplay doesn’t quite work
    CALIBAN – vaguely knew of the character from The Tempest but didn’t know he was a slave.


    Thanks P and setter

  12. 9:45
    Slightly distracted by the announcement of the 2023 Times Crossword Championship printed below the puzzle in the paper, which I must have missed when it appeared on this site last month.
    Would I be in London that weekend for the Ravens @ Titans NFL game? Would I have to cancel any gigs?
    Answers: No (it’s the previous Sunday) and Yes (two). Curses.

  13. A devil, a born devil, on whose nature
    Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,
    Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost;
    (Prospero’s view of Caliban)

    30 mins pre-brekker so not too easy for me. Neat and tidy except for the abominabull homophone.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  14. A highly enjoyable 15 minutes. Some really smart clues here, which accentuates the wooliness of the wordplay on Basically, as others have mentioned.

  15. 47 minutes. LOI CRAMPON, hung up on a screw being a warder. DNK SPECK but it is clearly a spot. I liked CALIBAN so I’ll tolerate the dreadful CANNIBAL. No, I didn’t find this gentle. Thank you Pip and setter.

  16. 11 minutes – really enjoyed that. I have been struggling the last couple of weeks with lots of silly mistakes, so this was a relief. Perhaps old age has not got me… yet.

  17. 14 minutes. I never bother with times normally, but I know this because I am IN TRAINING for the Championships.
    Must go, time for my run 🙂

  18. Completed this quickly, for me, in 25 mins… but that makes it sound easier than I found it. I biffed ASTI, BASICALLY and CRAMPON without being entirely sure what was going on (DNK ramp = con, and indeed many dictionaries don’t seem to list this meaning). Liked INNIT and CANNIBAL, though the homophone is a bit dodgy.

  19. About 20 minutes, not all understood. BASICALLY went in with shrug (as much as I wouldn’t readily equate ‘basically’ with ‘first of all’, it’s clever to use ‘first of all’ as the definition rather than an indicator of multiple first letters as I assumed, so thanks for the explanation), I hadn’t heard of a neap tide in NEAPOLITAN, and I didn’t know ramp=screw for CRAMPON. Not entirely convinced by the homophone for CANNIBAL.

    FOI Touch base
    LOI Crampon
    COD Alky

    1. I wouldn’t want them too often, but I love an outrageous homophone like today’s clue to CANNIBAL occasionally to brighten my day. It also serves to remind us that homophones generally shouldn’t be taken too seriously as they will never fit every dialect.

      Clues on the subject of CANNIBALISM usually give good value. Two of my favourites in recent years were Having some friends for dinner (10) and the very succinct one from Dean Mayer Likes eating (10).

  20. Perhaps I’m about to tempt fate
    But birds have been rarer of late
    In other good news
    I’m off on a cruise
    All things considered, life’s great! 😄

  21. Isn’t there a theory that Shakespeare based the name Caliban on the word “cannibal”? It’s not even close to a homophone by the way. Great puzzle.

    1. Yes, there does seem to be plausible evidence that Shakespeare derived Caliban from some version of, or connection to, the term cannibal.

  22. Lots of wit in this, which I completed with a FFT in just under 20 minutes. Thanks Piquet for BASICALLY: too many possibilities in the wordplay for congenial solving, SICk, for example, being close to gagging.
    I like homophones that make me groan: I actually think that’s what they’re supposed to do, rather than being relentlessly accurate.
    Like others, I entered SPECK in trepidation: wherever it comes from, that’s no Italian word. How was I supposed to know that in that far north of Italy the German/Austrian influence is so strong that a Dutch word creeps in?
    Someone needs to tell the editor that if we’re going to have WOT and INNIT included, we need to have provision for inserting the glo’al stop.

  23. Lost on BASICALLY, now I see it is clever.
    NHO SPECK – I have as I looked it up last August apparantly, but had clean forgot. Damn. “Al’s hammer” (from Cider House Rules, John Irving) perhaps.
    Loved the abominabull homophone.
    Wasted a lot of time on prison warders for CRAMPON, but vaguely recognised ramp=con=screw when it arrived.

  24. About 35 mins either side of a trip to kennels. Like others didn’t parse CRAMPON and didn’t catch the CANNIBAL homophone. The NE corner held me up for no particular reason

  25. Glad to see that there are more comments saying that we must be relaxed about homophones than the usual ones about rhotic pronunciation etc. Perhaps people’s attitudes are changing. All went well until the CUBA/CRAMPON pair, which held me up for a while since my childish imagination that the West Indies were a country (as in cricket) still discourages me from easily thinking of any country from anywhere round there as being individual. And with CRAMPON, I couldn’t get past con = prisoner and the thought that it was a mistake because a con isn’t a prison warder or screw , so 36 minutes eventually.

  26. Couldn’t get crampon (dnk ramp and had clamper) or cannibal, where I had no idea what was going on.

    COD now and then

  27. I finished in 48.35 but with a mistake having decided that Italians from southern Italy could be described as NEOPOLITAN. Other than that bit of carelessness, I managed the rest without error with my only major hold up being CRAMPON followed by CUBA

  28. Held up a little at the end by stockpot and crampon, otherwise a steady pace . The ‘cannibal’ clue hits a new low for me with its weak grin of an apology for a clue. But de gustibus… Oafish also a bit tough on bovines but it’s how the word’s used. Didn’t know speck but had to be. Liked the feeding couple.

  29. I didn’t find this particularly gentle, only just scraping in under the half hour. It was enjoyable though with plenty of smile/groan moments. I needed all the crossers for CALIBAN even though I knew him from The Tempest, which I studied for E-Lit O-Level. Chuckled at CANNIBAL. PINOT was FOI and CENTIMETRE was LOI. 29:51. Thanks setter and Pip.

  30. 42:48. I don’t seem to be quite alone in finding this one tricky. I thought of the “screw” on a boat and had PROP pencilled in where RAMP needed to go. And in BASICALLY I spotted ASIC – AS I C(ry), where the C is CRY first of all – which just left me stranded. I enjoyed the homophone

  31. I thought perhaps the homophone in 14 ac. was “Can ‘e nibble”?

    Many thanks to setter and blogger

  32. 35 minutes, but with one wrong at 8d. I entered STEAK with little thought, since there one or two others whose wordplay escaped me (e.g. ASTI), and I didn’t go back to it.I thought the clue to CANNIBAL was awful. “roughly’ seems to excuse about anything. There were some good surfaces in the clues to STOCKPOT, ASTI, PUT ASIDE.

  33. 9:47. Steady. I enjoy terrible homophones and puns (Paul McKenna’s Mephisto ones are always wonderfully awful) so I liked CANNIBAL.
    You generally TOUCH BASE after you’ve circled back, of course. I hate this business jargon, and it’s constantly evolving in newly ghastly ways. A recent trend is for people to speak for a few minutes and then say ‘I’ll pause there’. You never heard this a few years ago and now I hear it about five times a day. The same is true of ‘the long pole in the tent’, an expression that doesn’t even make any sense.

    1. Had a little self-side bet that you wouldn’t let TOUCH BASE by without a mention 🙂 Circle back is excruciating but the horrible thing is I end up hearing myself say the same things. Never heard of the pole thing but it will be like movies in the Seventies – they’ll find their way to the sticks soon enough.

      1. I know, it can be hard to resist when you’re surrounded by it.
        ‘Long pole in the tent’ is an old military expression that originally referred to something very important in a project, as the long central pole holding up a tent is important. That makes perfect sense, but now it always refers to the element of a project that is going to take the longest time, and hence define the overall duration of the whole project. That makes no sense at all.

  34. 15:16 – thought the cannibal clue was pushing its luck a bit too far, but since we all got there in the end perhaps not.

  35. Truly a red letter day – faster than Verlaine on both puzzles for the first time!

    A little slow to start, but then built up a head of steam, finding time only to grimace at the truly terrible clue for CANNIBAL before finishing with a biffed CRAMPON (thanks as ever Pip)

    TIME 6:59

    1. Well done. Now the trick is to keep your sprinting spikes sharp until the Championships

  36. 44mins, and another with L2I CRAMPON and CUBA. So much wine early in the morning gave me a thirst! I felt nice 1er Cru coming on, but ended up with a nice Luberon Rosé for lunch. Well, someone has to.

    CALIBAN (DNK) worked out from wp after all checkers were in and looked up post solve.


    Thanks pip and setter.

  37. 25 mins held up due to the fact this was not a veggie-friendly puzzle. Fraid I had to come here to confirm if it was STEAK or SPECK.

  38. 24.55. No real problems but crampon was troublesome until I got Cuba . A misfire with touch type also produced a pause but reboot allowed for cannibal, basically and centimetre ( the last dawning with the recognition of time as the old enemy) .

    Thx setter and blogger.

  39. If you have ever been skiing in Austria you will surely have eaten speck mit ei – ham and eggs.

  40. A gentle and enjoyable stroll, completed in 19 minutes. I was another one who found a nibble in 14ac, but enjoyed the clue anyway. I felt I was down on the street with the kids with INNIT and WOT, but we have to accept this is how languages develop.
    FOI – ALKY
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  41. 65 minutes. Slow, I’m still blaming the heat. All parsed except for BASICALLY. CRAMPON and CUBA were the last two. I did enjoy CANNIBAL but POT providing the P in both STOCKPOT and PINOT seemed a bit lame. Thanks to piquet.

  42. 18.19

    Excellent puzzle for me. Neat, tidy and with sone humour. Worked bottom up ending in the NW.

    Thanks Pip and setter

  43. Add me to the list of people who bunged in STEAK, even though the parsing didn’t work at all. Other than that, done in 45:42.

  44. 20’13”
    Kept up early pace.
    Enjoyed this.
    Thank you Pip and setter.

  45. 18’13” A day late. Luckily avoided the STEAK trap. Also almost put in STANDPOT which would have worked. The CANNIBAL homophone is indefensible.

  46. Strange how solvers are sharply divided by those who enjoy “dodgy” homophones, and those who find them (as above “indefensible” and excruciating). I actually find they lend a little lightheartedness to the sometimes over-serious interaction with the puzzles. That said – I didn’t do all that well on this one, until I looked up a couple of answers, got the drift, and from then on found it a biff-fest, with, happily for me, crossers being helpful in so doing. Does the panel think that, given the slide into Essex-speak, we will end up with phonetics as the basis of our language?

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