Times 28828 – a well hidden puzzle

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

After the first three puzzles this week were pretty easy, I figured I was going to get the stinker. What I didn’t expect was that the link from the Crossword Club did not go to the puzzle!

I managed to get to the puzzle using the puzzles page, so I was not solving using the usual nifty bells and whistles you get from the Crossword Club page. You never appreciate what you have until it is gone, right? Having to scroll down to see the clues, and having to type over the letters already entered.

I’m afraid that meant I did not enjoy the puzzle as much as I should have – it is definitely a step up in difficulty from the other offerings this week!  Now that I am writing the blog it is a merry romp of science, politics and lots of maths.

Did you persevere?

1 Mostly useless runner failing to finish in twilight (4)
DUSK – DUD(useless) minus the last letter and SKI(runner) minus the last letter
3 After delaying line, worth digesting Dickens play (10)
VAUDEVILLE – move the L(line) along in VALUE(worth) and insert DEVIL(Dickens). Collins confirms this can mean a comic theatrical piece as well as the style of show.
10 Maybe Lynn pots mountain plant (7)
VERBENA – VERA Lynn (singer, We’ll Meet Again) containing BEN(mountain)
11 Back in flat, select instrument (7)
CELESTA – hidden reversed in flAT SELECt
12 Proserpine, frantic with lust, beds a group containing Mars? (8,7)
SUPERIOR PLANETS –  anagram of PROSPERINE with LUST containing A. A new term to me, it means the planets whose orbits are outside the Earth
13 Enjoy and let go, ignoring trendy question (6)
RELISH – RELINQUISH(let go) minus IN(trendy) and QU(question). I liked this clue a lot
14 Fragrant vapour having appeared intermittently outside (8)
PERFUMED – FUME(vapour) inside alternating letters in aPpEaReD
17 Football team, one welcoming new scorer (8)
ALBINONI – ALBION(football team), and I(one) containing N(new) for the composer Tomaso
18 Strict name indicator (6)
NARROW – N(name), ARROW(indicator)
21 Leave little room for airport customs inspection? That’s easily decided (4-3-4,4)
OPEN-AND-SHUT CASE – titchy double definition
23 Dupes four unclothed idiots (7)
OUTWITS – remove the external letters of fOUr, then TWITS(idiots)
24 Enormous belt snaps on 37.5 per cent of trousers (7)
TROPICS – PICS(snaps) after the first 3/8ths of TROusers. Maths part 1!
25 Criminal resorted to the obvious way out? (6,4)
26 Hack stone (4)
JADE – double definition, the first being an overworked horse
1 Factor is contributing to separation abandoned by church (7)
DIVISOR – IS inside DIVORCE(separation) minus CE(church). Maths part 2!.
2 No ultimate sign of wear in this small travel iron? (5,4)
STRIP CLUB – S(small), TRIP(travel), CLUB(iron). I liked this clue a lot too.
4 Long distance runner, one in old women’s race (6)
AMAZON – double definition
5 Make out first of month by going around husband (8)
DECIPHER – the first of the month could be DEC 1, then PER(by) surrounding H(husband)
6 Frugal vicar not working 24/7, possibly (6,8)
VULGAR FRACTION – anagram of FRUGAL, VICAR, NOT. Maths part 3!
7 Thread through northern town missing vehicle (5)
LISLE – CARLISLE(northern town) minus CAR(vehicle)
8 Doctor pleased to have passed (7)
ELAPSED – anagram of PLEASED
9 Typical delegate (14)
REPRESENTATIVE – double definition
15 Drink raised pulse on a girl (9)
MARGARITA – GRAM(chickpea, pulse) reversed, then A, RITA(girl)
16 Protectively coated adenoids malfunctioning (8)
17 Loving Muslim Filipino embraced by two kinds of American (7)
AMOROUS – MORO(Muslim Filipino) inside A and US(two kinds of American)
19 The setter is cursed with old doctrine in Early English (3,2,2)
WOE IS ME – W(with), O(old) then ISM(doctrine) inside EE(Early English)
20 Minor example of House and The Observer initially supporting British PM once (6)
BHUTTO – HUT(minor example of a house) and the first letters of The Observer underneath B for the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir
22 Penetrate heart of USA, not getting caught (5)
ENTER – CENTER(heart in USA) minus C(caught)

61 comments on “Times 28828 – a well hidden puzzle”

  1. Worked this online, dang! (A dumbfounding situation: What can be so difficult about posting a PDF?) But things went very smoothly, until I had it all filled in but a handful of seemingly inscrutable clues, which I took my time solving while finishing my evening meal. Last was the alpha trawl for _A_E, fortunately just… ten letters in—then felt I should have seen it immediately. And working on paper, I would’ve, fersure! Ha.

    STREET DOOR struck me as a mite green-painty, but it’s clearly more of an expression on the other side of the pond, with an entry in Collins though not in Merriam-Webster. I must’ve sometime heard the name at least of ALBINONI, but no football club came to mind, so that took a minute.

    1. FWIW, I managed to print the puzzle by going back to the main site and coming back via its link to the crossword club.

    2. If you google Adagio Albinoni you’ll have heard it, although it’s not really by him, it’s by a 20th century composer claiming that Albinoni wrote it. Often played at funerals and memorials. Also featured in the plot of The Cellist of Sarajevo who attempts to play it during the siege.

  2. Gave up at about 45 with -A-E staring me in the face. Otherwise a good puzzle with some very tough and innovative clues: DUSK, RELISH, BHUTTO. Thanks George.

  3. 50 minutes. Tough but enjoyable. I never did manage to parse DUSK, not realising it would consist of two words that failed to finish. Nor AMOROUS as I didn’t know MORO. BHUTTO was my LOI.

  4. Suitably tough for a Thursday. Pity about the missing link. Really liked 21a as well as the two already noted. Resorted to an aid for one or two including 7d. The challenge of being a Brit expat is the lesser knowledge of names of uk towns etc…

  5. I also found this hard, finishing in 37:13. LOI was ALBINONI of whom I’ve never heard, after several minutes I put N in Albion and I on the end and was pretty amazed when it was right. Jade also took me a while with an alphabet crawl. I thought several of the clues were cleverly misleading like Bhutto where I was first thinking of British PMs, strip club where there’s no ultimate sign of wear.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  6. 42 minutes. Same frustrations as others with the puzzle unavailable on the Club site and with that _A_E answer at the end. I didn’t know the equine sense of JADE so I wasn’t confident when that last letter went in, but up came the “Congratulations” message. I liked the TROPICS, STRIP CLUB and VULGAR FRACTION defs but my favourite was the difficult not ‘British PM once’ for BHUTTO.

  7. After 35 minutes, I had two left, ALBINONI and JADE. After 45 minutes, I still had two left. The Baggies, Brighton and Hove, or indeed Albion Rovers, just wouldn’t come in. JADE had no chance, as I didn’t know the clapped-out horse. So a DNF. Up to then, I was quite enjoying it, pleased with getting VAUDEVILLE and VERBENA. Pride comes before a fall.Thank you George and setter.

  8. How like a jade he stood, tied to the tree,
    Servilely master’d with a leathern rein!
    (Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare)

    After 30 mins pre-brekker, I was left with the alpha-trawl for Jade, best stone I could come up with and jaded is a bit like hacked off.
    Also didn’t know Moro.
    I liked it though. Two ticks for neatness for: street door and elapsed.
    Ta setter and G.

    1. … not forgetting ‘… ye pamper’d jades of Asia!’ (Opening line of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine )

  9. 44 minutes on paper (although I think the link is working now). LOI JADE, my niece, and the only “stone” I could think of. I liked the maths, especially VULGAR FRACTION

  10. About 40′, including a short break. Particularly stuck in the SE, until BHUTTO came to mind (first thought of her dad, who was president at one time). Like others, JADE LOI as only possibility.

    I’m pretty sure that Carlisle is a city – these things matter in the UK.

    Thanks george and setter.

    1. According to Wiki “Carlisle … is a cathedral city in the ceremonial county of Cumbria in England.”
      But all cities are towns, only some towns are cities, so I let the setter off.

  11. 24:05, to break my losing streak. Quite chewy, with ALBINONI (new to me, but the football team helped) and BHUTTO going in long after I had all the crossers.

    I usually find ‘think of a synonym then delete something from it’ quite a tough device, but LISLE and RELISH didn’t put up too much of a fight here.

    JADE has been clued similarly previously, where it defeated me. Not this time, although like Myrtilus I satisfied myself via ‘jaded/hacked off’.

    Favourites were RELISH, VERBENA, VAUDEVILLE, TROPICS – and the frugal vicar.

    Thanks George & setter.

  12. Half an hour, with the longest time spent on JADE – I didn’t know the hack meaning, so it went in with no great confidence.

    Hesitated over MARGARITA because I didn’t know (or had forgotten) gram=pulse; didn’t parse DUSK or AMAZON; hadn’t heard of SUPERIOR PLANETS or LISLE; thought the definition for 24a would be simply ‘enormous’ and was trying to make it tro + *belt (with ‘snaps’ as the anagrind) until I figured out TROPICS; for 17d, I assumed the two Americans were AM and US so thought the Muslim Filipino would be Oro, which seemed unusual – luckily that mistake didn’t matter.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Open-and-shut case
    LOI Jade
    COD Vulgar fraction

  13. 17:38. Problems with the club site seem to have been resolved by the time I got to this, my usual morning routine having been derailed by a 7.30am Zoom call. Yuk.
    I found this very tricky, largely because of the large number of unfamiliar things that demanded close attention to wordplay.
    My last in by a country mile was JADE. Like Myrtilus and Amoeba I was thinking along the lines of jaded/hacked off, but unlike them I wasn’t happy enough with the equivalence in the form ‘hack’. I was about to give up when suddenly I remembered the horse meaning. A very tough DD to end a tough puzzle.
    A good workout but I wouldn’t like them like that every day.

  14. Really happy with getting through this unscathed in a good time for me on a tough puzzle – 14.21.

    Enjoyed quite a few of the clues for deceptiveness such as STRIP CLUB, VULGAR FRACTION and BHUTTO. JADE was drawn from some obscure part of the memory having stared anxiously at _A_E for a while and STREET DOOR went in with a shrug

    Thanks George and setter

  15. Found this v tough, but by dint of stopping and coming back to it fresh two or three times I managed to finish it, though with considerable head scratching (never did parse ENTER and NHO LISLE). Thankfully knew both ALBINONI and BHUTTO, though I don’t like real name clues.

  16. Found this tricky and for some reason I wasn’t keen on it, not sure why not since the maths is right up my street (door), and no problems with JADE thanks to Ms Heyer.
    Carlisle is a city not a town, as already pointed out. Nho superior planets, does that make Venus inferior? Harsh.

  17. My planet’s better than yours?
    Certainly tricky in the bottom right, though JADE went in instantly for me via the horse connection. It was BHUTTO that took most time, as I entertained a vague memory that one of the lordly PMs was a CHATTO, which was, of course, relentlessly a minor house in my fevered imagination. The setter should be roundly sanctioned for putting the British in front of the PM: after all, might not a really minor house be a B HUT anyway?
    Otherwise what a jolly romp this was, with nudity a mini theme: STRIP CLUB was a
    chortle, and (if we’re being unkind) its performers appearing as four unclothed idiots. Unsurprisingly, an enormous belt snapped, as one of the girls got excited by her MARGARITA.
    DUSK my last in: had to be, but I wanted to be sure and eventually worked out the short Russian dudski.
    I came close to a pink with DEVISOR, but relented in time. 25 minutes, most of them enjoyable.

  18. DNF
    Murdatina: gin, curacao, lime juice and a dash of arsenic.
    And, be it noted, a margarita is the one and only cocktail I would ever order 🙁
    Thanks, g.

  19. 27:08

    No major issues here, though shrugged at the end entering JADE – not the greatest pointers in the clue, I’ll accept that both words can be a definition of the answer but the _A_E is perhaps the most disheartening alphatrawl, in which there is no cleverness and takes away some of the enjoyment of the whole experience – just saying, setters 🙂

    RELISH also bunged in without understanding the workings, and ALBINONI vaguely recalled once STRIP CLUB was in. Another here that wondered what an ORO was doing between AM and US – thanks for the enlightenment George.

  20. 52:15
    Off-colour today and certainly not helped by counting and discounting JADE a number times before putting it in a shrug of my shoulders.

    Even relative gimmes such as AMAZON were slow to real themselves.

    ALBINONI and SUPERIOR PLANETS were the only real unknowns, although I wasn’t convinced by MARGARITA thanks to the unknown pulse. I too was tempted by the siren call of Harmonic’s deathbed cocktail.

    Nice to have a sterner test after an easy week.

    Thanks to both.

  21. Quite a lot here that caused problems: I’d never heard of SUPERIOR PLANETS although once you had the planets it was easy enough. Didn’t know that a Moro was a Muslim Filipino and guessed anyway that an Oro was. Never parsed DUSK, trying to fit in Usk = runner. Gave up on BHUTTO (either Benazir or her father Zulfiqar Ali, both of whom were prime ministers) — ghetto seemed to be the only thing that fitted. Used aids for several and even then didn’t finish, about 57 minutes when I stopped.

  22. 14:22 and very much enjoyed. I was fortunate that something in my brain clicked as soon as I saw “hack”, so I’m guessing I’ve struggled with that meaning of JADE before, but at least it seems to have stuck now (I dread that _A_E type of alphabet trawl, obviously). My main hold-up, such as it was, came from being predictably parochial in thinking about Prime Ministers, but the penny dropped eventually.

  23. A battle, where I was very slow to start, and never accelerated noticeably. I biffed DUSK, VAUDEVILLE, SUPERIOR PLANETS (NHO), and AMOROUS (partially parsed). Thank you George. A very satisfying PDM on my LOI, which was a close runner-up for COD.

    TIME 17:26

  24. Dnf – drawing a blank at ALBINONI, which was – admittedly – fairly clued and gettable, even if the man himself isn’t exactly a household name ( at least not this household).

  25. The first definition of ‘city’ in pretty much any dictionary is ‘large town’ so I can’t get too worked up over it, although it’s something worth pointing out when a specific place (such as Carlisle today) is not given its due status.

    1. If one is referring to the cities of Wells, St Davids and Ripon, two of which are small towns and one no more than a large village, that dictionary definition is demonstrably wrong.

  26. DNF. 18a Um, NARROW. Too clever for me.
    Never sussed out 1a DU(d)SK(i). Overly complex for me.
    Ditto 3a VAUDEVILLE, although I could smell a value in there somewhere. Too clever for me. Forgot about devil=Dickens.
    I think Superior/Inferior planets are an NHO. But planets came out of the anagrist to leave superior as an easy spot.
    NHO 17a Tomaso ALBININO now added to cheating machine.
    23a LOL, fOUrTWITS, COD.
    25a STREET DOOR is a bit green paintish IMHO.
    I punted 26a JADE not really believing the hack=jade def. But Wiktionary has “A horse too old to be put to work”, so OK. Now I think about it I had heard of the equine jade.
    15d MARGARITA, NHO GRAM=chickpea.
    17d Was gobsmacked to find Wiktionary has “Moro A Muslim inhabitant of the Philippines”. I was struggling with ORO as I assumed AM=American.
    20d 2 Bhuttos were PM of Pakistan, Benazir’s dad Zulfikar. President first, then PM.
    Oh well, I sound cross but it was a good puzzle.

  27. 53.33 After a comprehensive alphabet trawl failed to suggest anything other than JADE (NHO the horse). Is there a -#-# with more possibilities than-A-E?

  28. 36 mins. Got stuck at the end trying to put GERBERA in as the only plant I could think of. Some very clever clues here eg VAUDEVILLE, but JADE could have been anything. As stated above, ruined a good crossword.

  29. The problem with the clue for LISLE is that the Northern town missing a vehicle could’ve been RED (from Redcar) which put me off for a while. Got it in the end but having ‘city’ instead of ‘town’ would’ve improved the clue.

    1. I too was waylaid by the allure of Redcar. Not a sentence you’ll hear often, I’ll bet!

  30. 2 hours and yet a DNF. I meant to revisit the biffed GHETTO as I had suspected British was telling me to start with a B, yet I could not drag BHUTTO from my mind then, and probably wouldn’t have anyway so fair enough.

    Very tough puzzle while in the midst of it, which afterwards didn’t seem like it should have taken so long. The delay on the site meant I couldn’t do it on the train but rather in fits and starts during work breaks, so that didn’t help either.

    COD to VULGAR FRACTION for high cunning, but I did also like VAUDEVILLE which was a late entry for me.

    Brilliant toughie, and RIP to my average score for February already. Hey-ho.

  31. 48’55”
    Found the going testing, faded closing stages.

    However, this old JADE should have seen -A-E earlier as it is what I’ve called myself often on this page, and, while not troubling the judge, I’ve Witched at nearly bang on a ton all week; belated thanks to all four setters.

    Hall-doors are how my great aunt Chris referred to front-doors in Dublin forty years ago, and grandma’s 1983 Chambers has an entry both for it and for street-door.

    Lucky to get a clear run with only the Moro unknown, and too much to like to single anything out.
    Thank you and well done setter and George.

  32. The club site was up and running by the time I was ready to start, and I got off the mark quickly with DUSK, STRIP CLUB (which raised a chortle), VERBENA, LISLE and a postulated PLANETS , then ground to a halt for what seemed like an age. I eventually got moving again with DIVISOR and SUPERIOR. VULGAR FRACTION was a big help and begat VAUDEVILLE. Gradually the unfilled squares were reduced to the SE corner where NARROW led to WOE IS ME, TROPICS arrived, BHUTTO dropped by and I was left with -A-E at 26a. A short alphabet trawl arrived at JADE, which rang a faint bell from somewhere, possibly Black Beauty, last read probably 60 years ago. 38:25. Thanks setter and George.

  33. My knowledge of classical composers takes up less space than the average crossword clue, so I was happy to find ANTONINI, which fitted the grid, if not exactly the clue. Sadly this made 2 down impossible to solve. Otherwise, a fun puzzle.

  34. At 23′ I found this pretty straightforward though I’m not as particular about my biffing than others. Therefore LOI JADE confidently went in having made the wrong and feeble connection between “jaded” and “hackneyed”. NHO “moro” but couldn’t be anything other than AMOROUS. I quite enjoyed STRIP CLUB, sorry vicar, and happy to have worked out ALBINONI, Albion Rovers being one of my local teams at one time. Thanks George and setter.

  35. 21:37. Tricky! I couldn’t parse DUSK, so thanks for that George. I tried ROSSINI for 17A but it fit neither the grid nor the wordplay. Lots of great clues. I liked OUTWITS, TROPICS DIVISOR, and VULGAR FRACTION but COD to STRIP CLUB for the laugh it gave me. LOI JADE after an alphabet trawl where I didn’t know the first mean but surmised it from the phrase “hacked off” for “jaded”. Thanks George and setter.

  36. DNF
    Crashed and burned after 35 minutes with gaps still to fill everywhere. Not sure I’d ever have got VAUDEVILLE or BHUTTO. I liked those that I did get, particularly STRIP CLUB and OUTWITS.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  37. This was tough going, and, even allowing for the telephone interrupting me four times today, I must have taken well over an hour before grinding to a halt in the SE corner. Didn’t know and therefore didn’t solve JADE and couldn’t see TROPICS or WOE IS ME, either of which could be COD. Enjoyed the puzzle though, and thanks to our blogger for the equine meaning of ‘hack’, which I shall doubtless forget in a couple of hours.

  38. I enjoyed this, perhaps because even when some of the substance of the clues was unknown, such as MORO or GRAM=pulse, it was still possible to reach the required destination. The IT glitch did not bother me as I still use pen and paper, finishing in about 30 minutes. Also NHO STREET DOOR. We call ours the front door, but then it is separated from the street by a small garden.
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  39. Divisor – FOI – with its highly specific definition and tricky wordplay made me think “Uh-oh. One of THOSE Thursdays”, which it was.
    I knew both Jades, worried that the enormous belt was going to be an asteroid thing I’d not heard of, and liked Strip Club and several of the cleverly hidden definitions.
    Nice job, setter, and thx, GLH

  40. ‘Enormous belt’ glossed as TROPICS. Of course, but penny took ages to drop even after I’d spotted TRO as 3/8 of trousers (the only English noun which is singular at the top and plural at the bottom). Trounce? Trojans? More of a slow dawn than an Aha! moment.

    Are SUPERIOR PLANETS the ones inhabited by Nobel prize-winning astrophysicists?

    Good chewy puzzle, thank you setter and blogger.

  41. A 45 minute DNF, with two mistakes. One of them I don’t mind, since I try not to remember the names of football teams and only after seeing it did I realize that I actually have come across the name of the composer. I had ANTONINO instead, assuming ANTONIO could be the name of an Italian (or perhaps Swiss) football club. What I do kick myself for is forgetting that an iron can be a golf club, so I had STRIP FLAT instead of the superb STRIP CLUB. After a 10 minute alphabet trawl I did finally dare to put in JADE and was very pleased that it was right. VAUDEVILLE was very good and nothing else was too hard to cope with.

  42. No time as done in two sessions with a two hour gap. I would be sure that at least an hour must have elapsed before I finally decided JADE was a possibility for 26ac. I was surprised to find it was right and like others had no idea how Hack was relevant. I was delighted to finish with all correct and just this one unparsed.

  43. Eventually finished, but no time recorded as I solved in two widely separated sessions and failed to stop the clock. In all honesty though, it took me ages.

  44. 33’13” with the wonderfully deceptive BHUTTO the last to go. With first letter A and fifth letter N, 17 across was crying out to be an ARSENAL derivative. Fortunately ARSENALNI just seemed too unlikely. NHO SUPERIOR PLANETS. Funnily enough, JADE posed no problem. Much fun. Many thanks.

  45. One of the worst crosswords I’ve ever had the misfortune of looking at. You can honestly smell the setter. Dusty, crusty, and musty.
    You are all too busy touching each other up to admit how ridiculous this is.

    1. Agree, with Veritas, this one would have been enough to turn a beginner off The Times cryptic for life! An elitist trend has certainly taken hold.

  46. About 30 mins but took a punt on Sholto without any real confidence and that was justified. Thought the British PM was literal rather than devilishly cunning.
    Didn’t get tropics either putting in a very weak Leonids. Liked the 37.5% bit.

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