Times 28811


I think this is as hard as I’ve had it for a while, but found myself on the wavelength for a change. I’ve hit a busy patch with work so I’m not able to do as many puzzles (nor enjoy them as much, sadly), but this was just the ticket. Enough unusual words, plenty of witty constructions (my favourite: 13dn), and a few gimmies. Good weekend to all.

Definitions underlined.

1 Way of working among East Germans, a kind of infiltration (7)
OSMOSIS – MO (way of working) in OSSIS (East Germans). I did not know this contraction of Ostdeutsch, but am very familiar with osmosis, so it went straight in.
5 Wander by rock face to find duck (7)
GADWALL – GAD (wander) + WALL (rock face). This duck was on the very periphery of my conciousness, and I spent a while trying to put ‘drake’ in at the end.
9 After restructuring, modernisation is excluded for figure below the line (11)
DENOMINATOR – anagram of MODERNisATION (excluding ‘is’).
10 Gun that’s shown in front of clergyman (3)
REV – front of REVerend (clergyman). Another DNK – revolver, I presume.
11 Where verdict is considered wrong (6)
INJURY – double definition.
12 Soup on vacation extremely chilled, or extremely chillied? (8)
SPICIEST – outside letters of SouP + ICIEST (extremely chilled).
14 Screen something uplifting that’ll whet the appetite (7-6)
CURTAIN-RAISER – CURTAIN (screen) + RAISER (something uplifting).
17 Take turns to go through this process for hiring public servants (9,4)
REVOLVING DOOR – double definition.
21 Criminal left inside country club — terrible (8)
UNLAWFUL – L (left), contained by UN (country club) + AWFUL (terrible).
23 Agents detaining loony flipping in birthday suit (6)
ADAMIC – CIA (agents) containing (MAD (loony), all reversed.
25 Heads rolling in “hire and fire” will produce such anger (3)
IRE – remove the first letter (heads) from hIRE or fIRE.
26 Sounding sanctimonious in head to head (7,4)
OPINION POLL – PI (sanctimonious) in ONION (head), then POLL (head).
27 Call idiot in Asian capital (7)
RINGGIT – RING (call) + GIT (idiot). Currency of Malaysia.
28 Disorder, not so alien in parliament (7)
KNESSET – sicKNESS (disorder), without ‘sic’ (so), then ET (alien). I saw the answer with checkers in the grid, but this one proved quite tricky to parse for some reason.
1 Invest in merger of Chelmsford and Aintree? (6)
ORDAIN – hidden in chelmsfORD AINtree.
2 Deer meat filleted, Cajun stews (7)
MUNTJAC – anagram of MeaT (without internals, filleted) + CAJUN.
3 Not all in country united in support of southern ruler, right? Not quite all (9)
SEMIRURAL – U (united) underneath S (southern) + EMIR (ruler), then R (right) + nearly ALl.
4 Function without appearing in court? (4)
SINE – Latin for (appearing in court?) ‘without’.
5 Energy outfit in the past controlling Midwestern state (3,2,3,2)
GET UP AND GO – GET UP (outfit) + AGO (in the past) containing ND (North Dakota, midwestern state).
6 Cook base for pilaf mainly in Greek style (5)
DORIC – DO (cook) + most of RICe (bace for pilaf).
7 Close shaven Cockney? (7)
AIRLESS – hAIRLESS (shaven), said with a cockney accent.
8 Mountain flower on the right in bog (8)
LAVATORY – LAVA (mountain flower, i.e. flows from volcanoes) + TORY (on the right).
13 Digital file manager, frenzied and fastidious, blowing top (10)
MANICURIST – MANIC (frenzied) + pURIST (fastidious) without its first. Brilliant definition.
15 A martial artist getting into say, skipping (9)
AVOIDANCE – A, then DAN (martial artist) contained by VOICE (say).
16 One dealing with worsening cough? (8)
CROUPIER – double definition.
18 Criminal swapping one key for another — one’s bound to work (7)
VILLEIN – VILLaIN (criminal), swapping A for E (one key for another).
19 More than one sheep gathering offspring wild garlic (7)
RAMSONS – RAMS (more than one sheep) containing SON (offspring).
20 Fur that’s spotted upset green group (6)
OCELOT – ECO (green) reversed + LOT (group).
22 Grow desperate protecting knight errant (5)
WRONG – anagram of GROW containing N (knight).
24 Appropriate place for criminals (4)
NICK – double definition.

65 comments on “Times 28811”

  1. I found this quite hard and needed 44 minutes to complete it.

    At 1ac MO leapt out at me as ‘way of working’ which led me quickly to OSMOSIS. I knew there was a colloquial name for East Germans as it has come up before, however I had thought it was OSSIES.

    ‘Gun’ can mean to REV an engine so no weapons need to be involved in the parsing at 10ac.

    I didn’t know that REVOLVING DOOR practices were restricted to public servants, but Collins mentions them in one definition.

    ADAMIC and RAMSONS took some dredging up from the depths. RINGGIT was unknown and looked unlikely, but what else could it be once the checkers were in? NHO GADWALL, but I said that on its only previous appearance in 2015 .

    KNESSET was devious, as was the interrupted hidden answer, ORDAIN – more Guardian than Times, I think.

  2. I had a headache when solving this, but have a feeling I won’t be alone in finding it the hardest of the week. Quite enjoyable, despite the mal de tête. Really liked ADAMIC. Worked out GADWALL and RINGGIT strictly from wordplay. LOI UNLAWFUL, which looked so weird without the missing letters that I almost cheated (remember, I had a headache). Last one parsed, though (aptly enough), was (sic)KNESSET.

    The American variety of the wild garlic RAMSONS are called “ramps,” and they are a big thing when in season back in West Virginia, where there are festivals devoted to consuming the (extremely) odiferous plant.

  3. Definitely the hardest of the week for me, although the SNITCH is only at 103, and there were a few surprisingly easy clues: IRE, say, or NICK, or AIRLESS; a few. For a number of clues, I had to write down my tentative solution and parse it before I dared enter it. In a couple of cases–DORIC, KNESSET–I never could figure out the parsing. RINGGIT appeared in a Concise just a few days ago, which helped. DNK GADWALL, RAMSONS, revolving door hiring. I rather liked ORDAIN. And I liked MANICURIST, although ‘digital file’ said ‘nails’ pretty clearly. I had a sense of achievement in completing this, especially as it was a long time before I had much of the grid filled in.

  4. 40 minutes to fail on the unknown duck; I eventually took a punt on GADRAIL on the ground that it at least fitted and I knew a rail was some kind of water-based bird. A shame after getting through the other bits unscathed.

  5. I found this hard. Nearly put in the tempting RANGOON (for RINGGIT, which I knew since I’ve been to Malaysia) before I realized it doesn’t fit the clue quite, and it is no longer the capital of Burma/Myanmar anyway. Had to work out RAMSONS and ADAMIC from wordplay since I’ve never heard of them (and worse, they crossed). I liked CROUPIER.

  6. 65m 06s A definite sense of satisfaction in only taking just over an hour to complete this one. Thank you setter and thank you, William.
    I’ve come across the likes of ‘digital file manager’, or similar, before so that didn’t take too long.
    I had most difficulty in the NE corner with 5ac GADWALL and 8d LAVATORY. The latter took me by surprise a little when the penny dropped.
    GADWALL came to me through playing Eric Clapton videos on YouTube. One of his regular drummers is Steve Gadd. A while ago he started a band called The Gaddabouts. Here he is with Clapton.

    1. I believe there’s a much more famous 1970s musician called Gadd, but we don’t talk about him any more.

  7. 34:26 and that was definitely hard with several words I either did not know or just vaguely recognised. Last two in were GADWALL and LAVATORY, I just suddenly saw lavatory would fit and then realised how the clue worked, having been obsessed by ‚something inside mire‘ up to that point. Then I was able to guess that the rock face was a wall (nho gadwall).
    A lot of clever clues today on top of the tough vocabulary (Ringgit I have vaguely heard of, ramsons were new to me, and so on). Also, I got knesset without understanding the clue.
    Thanks setter and blogger 🙂

  8. One hour, pretty tough, and then…. Like Gothick, I found I had banged in GADRAIL, which I agree sounded right. NHO GADWALL. Oh well.

    A number entered unparsed, OSMOSIS, SEMIRURAL AVOIDANCE & KNESSET.

    I liked LAVATORY.

    Thank you William for the enlightenment and crafty setter. Ps at 3d you have ALI instead of ALL.

  9. Annoyingly I threw in the likely-sounding INJURE/IN JURE without pausing to think if there was a simpler answer!

    Strictly that would probably be the answer to the clue “How verdict is considered wrong (6)”

  10. 47:21. More of a workout than we’ve become used to lately. Several vaguely-knowns, where I had to work them out from the wordplay but the answer clicked when I saw it. LOI GADWALL. I wasn’t sure that gad = wander and anyway I was distracted by “godwit” which is a bird but it doesn’t help. Nice crossword

    1. You are correct. Gad is the obsolete and archaic definition of wander, and as such either shouldn’t be clued in that way, or at least signposted.

  11. What a cracker! Inexplicably, I finished quicker than yesterday (just) but with many lip-smackers on the way.
    I’m fortunate in that RAMSONS turned up in an old Listener I was ploughing through recently, and RINGGIT and variations on ADAMIC have certainly been in Mephisto. CROUPIER was gigglesome, and there was a certain satisfaction in doggedly chasing down the wordplay for the complex AVOIDANCE and SEMIRURAL. Mind you, I didn’t work out what went in front of KNESS to give disorder.
    With thoughts of the recruiting process known as the milk round, I thought 17a had to be something TOUR, and when the REVOLVING clicked I only changed TOUR to DOOR on proofreading. Those extra seconds can be crucial!

  12. Very pleased to finish this. Lots I didn’t know – ADAMIC, RAMSONS, GADWALL – but crossers and wordplay helped the guesses. Was lucky to know the other ones that some didn’t. LOI was MANICURIST, a super clue. KNESSET couldn’t be anything else, but I couldn’t see the parsing. Thanks for explanation.

  13. 46 minutes with LOI SEMIRURAL. The motorway’s only on one side of the new housing development. I knew it couldn’t be RANGOON but the thought took a long time to clear. ADAMIC wasn’t a word I knew but the agents were the usual suspects. I had vaguely heard of the duck. Some great clues today with MANICURIST just about winning COD. If only people would bite their nails, they could save themselves a lot of money. Thank you William and setter.

  14. DNF

    – Put ‘manujac’ instead of MUNTJAC, thinking it was MA (‘filleted’ meaning take alternate letters from ‘meat’, though I see now that it doesn’t really make sense) + *CAJUN.

    – Didn’t know GADWALL. I thought ‘wander’ was giving ‘go’, then hoped ‘drail’ might be a rock face to give ‘godrail’.

    Also didn’t understand SINE at all; had never come across ADAMIC before, though the wordplay was helpful; only vaguely remembered RINGGIT and VILLEIN; didn’t parse KNESSET or OPINION POLL; and hadn’t heard of RAMSONS.

    A tough end to the week – kudos to everyone who completed this one. Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Manicurist

    1. Before the use of Latin phrases/maxims in the law was abolished by Derry Irvine in , I recall , 1998, court proceedings once issued would sometimes be adjourned “sine die”-without a date being fixed for hearing.

      1. Wow, that is obscure. I too couldn’t parse SINE. Thanks for the explanation, as the blog left me none the wiser (sorry!).

  15. 37 minutes. I missed the ND for ‘Midwestern state’ at 5d. It makes a change from the usual California, Florida and a few others; still waiting for WV though. I started worrying I wasn’t going to get the ‘head to head’ at 26a at the end until working out that ‘Sounding’ was the def, not a homophone indicator. Favourite was the SEMIRURAL def at 3d.

  16. Liked this one a lot, not easy but very fair.
    Failed to parse Knesset, only a vague duck recollection,
    but no undue problems otherwise.
    Nice to see the proper word for toilet/loo/can/john, for once..

  17. About 50′. Did quite well before bedtime and the harder ones came to me this morning. MANICURIST has a great definition! Biffed a few others, GADWALL from crossers (knowing GAD) and KNESSET couldn’t be anything else. Heard of REVOLVING DOOR but didn’t really know its meaning, even though I worked in the Civil Service before the private sector. I had Rangoon in my first pass which almost worked (Rang goon), but finally biffed RINGGIT from crossers and wordplay. Always happy to complete on Friday. Thanks William and setter.

  18. 22:16
    Lovely stuff and no pink squares despite a number of, to me, new words. ADAMIC, RAMSONS, RINGGIT and GADWALL. Some nice misdirection throughout with AVOIDANCE and MANCURIST my favourites.

    Needed William to fully explain KNESSET. Thanks to him and the setter.

  19. 12:41, with about a minute spent mulling over GADWALL, as neither half felt 100% synonymous. Despite the various NHOs, some fine examples of clean cluing here, and ADAMIC was a very satisfying PDM as I realised the connection.

    Thanks setter & William, especially for the parse of KNESSET (which I couldn’t figure out) and GET UP AND GO (which I didn’t bother figuring out).

  20. 14:55 That was a very fine puzzle, which means there was enough subterfuge to stop me biffing everything. No problem with gadwalls or ramsons, both of which are familiar to anyone living in rural (or semi-rural?) parts of the UK at least, and I was pleased to remember ringgits from a recent puzzle. The only one I wasn’t entirely convinced about was ADAMIC, though it was obvious with the checkers in place. COD to CROUPIER, which made me smile.

  21. Tough going today, but I got there eventually, in about an hour to judge from the unsatisfying temperature of the second cup of coffee this morning, albeit without parsing KNESSET. Congratulations and thanks to our blogger for persevering with that. I’d never have seen it in a month of Sundays.

  22. 28 mins, however I admit to a bit of googling to confirm the NHO GADWALL, and needed the L for LAVATORY, clever clue. Tx for parsing of KNESSET, was wondering about SOKNESS!

  23. NHO Adamic as far as I remember but easily assembled from wordplay and checkers.
    Had forgotten 5a GADWALL.
    Never parsed 28a KNESSET.
    Totally foxed by 15d AVOIDANCE. BIFD.

  24. 16:03, a sign that there wasn’t too much biffing in this puzzle, and several pennies which needed to drop in a satisfying way. Not knowingly come across ADAMIC but it made sense, and remembered that a GIT can be stupid and not just unpleasant; we get RAMSONS in our veg box occasionally, with a claim that the flavour is mild, though my taste buds beg to differ.

  25. Over the hour mark here, with much trust in wordplay to solve all the NHOs (GADWALL, ADAMIC, RINGGIT).

    KNESSEN had me going as the LOI. Finally realised KLESSEN didn’t work so had to sort out the Latin clue removal. Ouch my brain …


  26. 20:25. That was bloody difficult! I had more or less all the knowledge (GADWALL only very vaguely familiar) so the difficulty was all in the rather devious wordplay. It was mostly fair I thought but sailed close to the wind a couple of times.
    I slowed myself down enormously by convincing myself that 15dn was some sort of musical notation ending ANTE, and that 8dn was the name of a mountain with MIRE on the outside.
    I biffed KNESSET with no idea how it worked so thanks for that explanation.

  27. At 42 minutes I was struggling with 5ac, plumped for GADWALL expecting it to be wrong do did not revisit my entry of RAMKINS for the NHO RAMSONS, and the unlikely OPINION MILL. Kicking myself for not thinking of POLL.

  28. Steady solve in 27:30 but a pink square due to daft typo on croupier. Lots of NHOs here but the wordplay was generally helpful. I had a bit of a mer at git for idiot but I suppose the dictionaries will bear it out.

    Thx William and setter

    1. We’ve had this discussion before, and only Chambers among the usual dictionaries supports it (defining it as ‘a fool’). I’ve never heard it used in this sense.

      1. I suppose when Del Boy calls Uncle Albert a ‘soppy old git’ he means ‘fool’. But without the qualifiers it would sound rather different.

        1. I don’t think the meaning in a phrase like that is so specific: it’s just a non-specific derogatory term used ironically to show affection. You could substitute ‘bugger’ without altering the sense.

      2. If it is only Chambers that supports it, it’s a sure bet that Chambers is wrong.

  29. Half and half easy and very hard. GADWALL unnkown/forgotten, RAMSONS and MUNTJAC vaguely remembered from past puzzles, ADAMIC known, and been to Malaysia often enough to know RINGGIT. Couldn’t parse KNESSET, wondering if SOKNESS or KNESSSO was a thing.
    It was the SW corner that was hardest – on the right track with MANICURIST but still took a while; CROUPIER was brilliant and was the key. Also liked the “taking turns” definition of revolving.

  30. 32:34

    A few NHOs here
    – OSSIS, GADWALL, ADAMIC, RINGGIT, RAMSONS – so some guesswork was required, but the wordplay was generally helpful. Also an FTP (Failed To Parse) in SINE. Probably like others mis-parsed REV.

    I liked CROUPIER.

  31. I suspected KNESSET at quite an early stage, but only biffed it once I solved NICK, so many thanks to William for explaining it. I also biffed GET UP AND GO without bothering to return to actually parse it, and North Dakota may well have had me scratching my head. NHO ADAMIC, but the parsing was clear. I was another tempted by “Rangoon” but resisted it. NHO of “Ossis” but again, as I had O-M—S at that stage the answer was pretty obvious. I think I’ve seen the 🦆 somewhere else recently (or maybe I’m going quackers…..

    TIME 10:34
    EOD to the smutty rugby song (to the tune of the Marseillaise) which begins a Frenchman went to the LAVATORY.

  32. 35:40.
    I fell into the RANGOON trap for a while. L2I were the NHO GADWALL, followed by LAVATORY , where I wasted a lot of time trying to parse LAVATERA (it’s a flower, possibly from a mountain, begins with LAV…) then looking for words starting LO and ending O. Only when staring at the mombled LOVATERO did the penny finally drop.

    Biffed KNESSET as the only parliament that fitted. Thanks William for explaining how it works.

  33. DNF. After an hour I was stuck with two unsolved clues in the SE corner and threw in the towel. Had I seen KNESSET I might have seen NICK – or vice versa. Some very smart clues here, and a fair challenge. Failed to parse several answers (inc. GET UP AND GO, OPINION POLL), and a MER at REVOLVING DOOR, though no doubt there is some dictionary support for the reference to public servants. NHO OSSIS or RANSOMS (being a townie), but found the answers from the rest of the clueing and crossers.
    LOI – (DNF)
    Thanks to william and other contributors.

    1. See Collins: ‘the hiring of former government employees by private companies with which they had dealings when they worked for the government’.
      You hear the phrase quite often in the news. ACOBA, the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, is even known informally as the ‘revolving door watchdog’.

      1. See also Private Eye, where it appears as a regular feature illustrating mutually beneficial appointments…

      2. Thanks for the reference. I twigged the meaning, but did not know it had been hallowed in any of the dictionaries.

  34. 1 hour to complete. Fabulous puzzle. My COD & LOI was Manicurist which took a while despite (obviously) having all the crossers.
    I did have to look up Gadwall and Ramsons as NHO either.
    As others have said, a sense of achievement today.
    Many thanks, Setter and Blogger.

  35. Got there with no prior knowledge of the duck and garlic. Failed to parse knesset. Adamic looked like a word. An interesting puzzle but not the spiciest.

  36. I started off with OSMOSIS and made reasonable progress in the LHS and SE, but I made the NW impossible by biffing HAIRLES at 7d and not noticing it had been truncated. That left me struggling with 6d, 7d, 8d, 10a and 12a. I had no idea about the duck, and GAD for wander totally eluded me, so I looked up ducks beginning with G. I still rejected the NHO GADWALL until I noticed the error at 7d. At that point I arrived at the LAVATORY and the rest fell into place with SPICIEST LOI, but by then I’d wasted at least 20 minutes. 48:23 with a look up. Hard going! Thanks setter and William.

  37. I scraped in under the hour but with a hasty GADTAIL, for no reason except that it sounded like a duck. I nominate that as today’s Slightly Unfair Clue. Fun puzzle though, thanks.

  38. Very surprised after an hour and a quarter to find I had only one mistake: GODWALL (parsed as GO=wander, D=diamond=rock, WALL=face), having successfully guessed (or worked out from wordplay) MUNTJAC, RINGGIT, ADAMIC, RAMSONS — was that really everything? At least VILLEIN rang a very faint bell, (GAD as wander did not, but it now occurs to me that one can indeed gad about). This was an everyday cryptic chock full of obscurities, a bit too many for my taste (although, hey, I only had one mistake and I suppose I could have avoided it, at least if I had known the duck).

  39. My perfect week was foiled at the last- not aware of Knesset and so bunged in klesset! So OWL! So close! Plenty more I hadn’t heard of- adamic, gadwall, ringgit so I suppose it’s reasonable one of guesses would be awry!
    I’ll try again next week!

  40. Rather pleased to complete. Time about 45 mins, with a few sneaky uses of “check”. Did well to deal with the NHO ADAMIC GADWALL and RANSOMS.

    Can we retire PI for “sanctimonious”: I think it was Word of the Year in 1928.

    COD a tie between CROUPIER and LAVATORY (=bog, now that’s much better slang)


  41. Much more on the wavelength than yesterday’s. Despite numerous unknowns, I got the duck, the b’day suit, the garlic (possibly HO?) and the currency. LOI MANICURIST, where the suggestion of ‘digital’ always brings on a brain fog. KNESSET was a biff, given the K. Liked CROUPIER and LAVATORY. I enjoyed this hugely, thanks setter and William.

  42. 32.10 with a bit of luck. Worked out ramsons but didn’t know the word so looked it up. Knesset was a guess based on the final word. Interesting to see gadwall as the Wetland Centre in Barnes was stacked with them this afternoon. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many.

    Not sure which was the bigger highlight of the day, seeing them or finishing the crossword.

  43. Sine qua non is ‘without’ (something essential) in latin, and and used in legal reasoning. ‘Causa causans’ is the immediate cause, say of the harm in the case of negligence; the last link in the chain of causation. Causa sine qua non is some preceeding link from which the immediate cause could not have been operative.

  44. HS ( Hardly Started); had to look up my second (after REV) as just came to a halt! So, OSMOSIS in place ( NHO OSSIS btw), felt sure the function had to be SINE, but could not parse it. Some oddly put clues, unknown words, and a mind that was half elsewhere, I struggled on with minimal success, of course. When DORIC and SPICIEST fell, thought things might pick up, but knowing the MUNTJAK (as I had it) didn’t help. The curtain never raised for me! Did enjoy the few I got ‘legally’, especially CROUPIER and LAVATORY.

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