Times 28876 – around the world

Time taken: 9:48.

Early time indications suggest this is a more difficult puzzle. I had a pretty steady solve and was just a scratch outside my average time, though I think the puzzle played better to my general knowledge (more weird place names, less botany). I will give the setter props for the cheeky cryptic definition at 11 across, it is rare that I would pick a CD for clue of the day.

Difficulty aside, this is a really good puzzle, with lots to smile at! I seem to get lucky with the eclectic Thursday offerings to write up.

How did you get along?

1 Grabbed time to tour quiet Asian city (8)
TASHKENT – TAKEN(grabbed), T(time) containing SH(quiet). Capital of Uzbekistan and not one that came immediately mind when I saw an 8-letter Asian city.
5 Impulsive military assistant’s cracking plan (6)
MADCAP – ADC(aide-de-camp, military assistant) inside MAP(plan)
10 Old nurse had my pill that we must dissolve (4,4,3,4)
11 Well endowed? (3-4)
OIL-RICH – cryptic definition
12 Hospital department personnel, half in need of case or grip (7)
ENTHRAL – ENT(hospital department), HR(personnel), then HALF minus the external letters
13 Did dock area cross delta? (8)
ABRIDGED – A(area), BRIDGE(cross), D(delta)
15 Feature of gents’ retailers? (5)
CHAIN – few gents would have a visible CHAIN on the loo, most are handles or auto-flush, though I guess there is still a chain on the inside
18 Spur for one mostly departed (3,2)
EGG ON – EG(for one), then GONE(departed) minus the last letter
20 Stone got in your way at morning ramble’s end (8)
AMETHYST – THY(your), ST(way) after AM(morning) and the last letter of ramblE
23 Nancy’s friends going on to make lace floor coverings (7)
TATAMIS – AMIS(French friends) after TAT(to make lace)
25 Declare vests to have shrunk after spinning a few (7)
SEVERAL – hidden reversed inside decLARE VESts
26 State intervening in divorce, arguably with no questions asked (15)
UNCONDITIONALLY – CONDITION(state) inside UN-ALLY(divorce, arguably)
27 Praises late place for Penny, returning (6)
EXTOLS – EX(late) and then SLOT(place for a penny) reversed
28 Shoemaker’s form, when visiting doctor, is desperate (4-4)
LAST-GASP – LAST(shoemaker’s form) then AS(when) inside GP(doctor)
1 Unlikely I felt that this might be wicked (6)
TALLOW – TALL(unlikely), OW!(I felt that)
2 Glad as bed is moved, revealing pouch by seat (9)
3 Arab nation reversed hold on island (7)
KUWAITI – UK(nation) reversed, then WAIT(hold on), I(island)
4 Two centuries back, hotel becoming nick (5)
NOTCH – the two centuries are C and TON – reverse them, then H(hotel)
6 Paciest bowling to become sterile (7)
ASEPTIC – anagram of PACIEST. A fairly popular term in the USA for juice boxes and the like
7 Not exactly a shock for one getting behind supporter (5)
CHAIR – C(not exactly), HAIR(a shock). Fun definition.
8 Means to convey fuel policy after tweet (8)
PIPELINE – LINE(policy) after PIPE(tweet)
9 Worried about brief to offer one present (8)
ATTENDEE – ATE(worried) surrounding TENDER(to offer) minus the last letter
14 Hide from attack on small family (8)
GOATSKIN – GO AT(attack), S(small), KIN(family)
16 State of an American boxer in capsized craft (9)
AUSTRALIA – A, US(American) then Muhammad ALI(boxer) inside ART(craft) reversed
17 Not working to resolve complaint? (4-4)
REST-CURE – cryptic definition
19 Lack of fur, mostly, on a large puppet? (7)
NOMINAL – the lack of fur could be NO MINK. Remove the last letter, than A, L(large)
21 Shelter with which to put up one in need? (4-3)
HAVE-NOT – HAVEN(shelter), then TO reversed
22 Misbehave in front of petfood store (4,2)
PLAY UP – first letter in Petfood, then LAY-UP(store)
24 One’s obliged by old townsperson to be silent (5)
TACIT – TA(obliged), then CIT(old townsperson)
25 Star still having all-round appeal (5)
SPICA -fittingly my last in – PIC(still photograph) inside SA(sex appeal). Brightest star in Virgo.

59 comments on “Times 28876 – around the world”

  1. 31:30
    Submitted off leaderboard, as I couldn’t parse a couple (including SEVERAL, where once again I failed to spot a hidden). FOI OIL-RICH. Biffed Nightingale and KUWAITI, parsed post-submission. I liked CHAIR.

  2. Hardest one so far this week for me… but was easier after I’d had a bite to eat. Felt rather original, with several parsings raising a smile. POI NOMINAL (had to grasp how that could mean “puppet” before I actually inked it in) and LOI (a CD, of course) REST-CURE.

  3. Too hard for me but no less enjoyable for that, terrific puzzle. I failed on SPICA and REST-CURE after about an hour with interruptions. Stand-outs included KUWAITI, CHAIR, NOTCH and OIL-RICH. Thanks to glh for much-needed explanations for UNCONDITIONALLY, SEVERAL (a hidden? Who knew?) and LAST-GASP among others.

  4. 42 minutes for what I did, but his was a technical DNF because I needed to use aids for SPICA which was unknown to me, its only previous appearance having been as a hidden answer in 2018 which I evidently spotted and entered without difficulty.

    CIT for ‘old townsperson’ (qualified by by Collins as archaic, mainly derogatory) was unknown to me but I spotted TACIT for ‘silent’ and TA for ‘one’s obliged’ and took the rest of the wordplay on trust.

    I’d have sworn I never heard of TATAMI(S) but leaving a Jumbo and a Mephisto aside it has come up on 9 previous occasions, 3 of them when I was blogging the puzzle myself, yet it has failed to stick in my brain. Maybe this time!

    It’s a shame I fell at the last fence, as this was an inventive puzzle that was otherwise a pleasure to solve.

    1. I remember the last time, or a previous time, ‘tatami’ came up, being surprised at the number of NHOs. I had somehow thought the word had become as naturalized over there as ‘futon’ (which one lays on tatami); evidently not.

  5. Failed. I didn’t know SPICA as a ‘star’ but yet again missed the old PIC for ‘still’ trick which would have made it solvable. I liked the OIL-RICH and REST-CURE cd’s.

  6. 60+ mins, with a couple of cheeky checks.

    Pleased to get SPICA and TATAMIS, although both needy this blog for parsing. LOI was TALLOW where I didn’t see “wicked” even though it appeared just last week in the QC for CANDLELIGHT.

    Many great clues, such as OIL RICH, and MADCAP.

    CIT and TAT were unknowns, and I will not be able to remember them, I’m sure. SA for Sex Appeal is on my Pet Peeve list.

    I had CATCH for NOTCH (= nick), with the two Cs being two centuries.

  7. … And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote —
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’
    (Vital Lampada, Henry Newbolt)

    25 mins pre-brekker got me to the Rest-cure, Spica blockage and the long one linking them. And there I remained … but, remember, it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat, or the selfish hope of a season’s fame …
    Ta setter and G.

    1. You have a typo in the title of my old (and I mean old!) English teacher’s favourite poem “Vitai Lampada”.

  8. Pleased to finish accurately, with SPICA LOI. Didn’t see the brilliance of OIL-RICH until I’d submitted.

    Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart – using statistics to make the case for modern nursing. And trivia addicts know where she was born.

    18’22”, thanks george and setter.

    1. I remember the pie chart coming up last year and posting this:

      On a subject of which I know nothing, the Wikipedia entry on ‘Pie chart’ acknowledges the part played by Florence Nightingale in its development and usage but states that the pie chart first appeared in a book by William Playfair published in 1801, nearly 20 years before Florence was born.

      Still, if it wasn’t for the association with Florence, nobody would know or care who invented it!

  9. DNF
    Oil Rich and Tatamis both beat me
    Very Annoying!!! I think on a better day I would definitely have got these. (I had a bad night but I won’t bore you with that)
    Thanks to both setter and blogger

  10. 46 minutes with LOI the unheard-of SPICA requiring a trawl to get the PIC. The equally unknown TATAMIS rested on a biffed TACIT being right but at least I had by then met Nancy’s friends. COD CHAIR needed all crossers but then went in with a smile. I liked MADCAP because I wasn’t really expecting an answer to emerge when I played around with ADC. Quite a tough one. Thank you George and setter.

  11. 20:49 but one wrong – I plumped for the musical direction TACET rather than TACIT not being able to get either to parse. Quite chewy in places, and a couple took a while to come – GOATSKIN and TATAMI. COD to HAVE-NOT. Thanks George and setter.

  12. Similar to some others today. Stormed through the top half in about 20 mins (again!) but ground to a halt in the south. Eventually the SE yielded and on the hour I had the unknown star, REST-CURE & TATMIS, equally unheard of, left. That’s when I gave up.

    Looked up SPICA, couldn’t see « pic », and TATAMIS. I had our French friends but didn’t know tat for lace-making. Oh well. I liked MADCAP.

    Thanks G and setter.

  13. 9:16. No major hold-ups after a slow start. I more or less knew everything today: even SPICA rang a bell once I had constructed it from wordplay and I have a feeling CIT has appeared somewhere before, Mephisto perhaps.
    OIL-RICH is superb.

  14. Unable to parse TACIT, but, given the checkers, what else could it be? Otherwise a steady solve, time unknown, solving on phone, I used the wrong bit of the app.

  15. Bit of a struggle, but got there in 28’50”. Had to assume TATAMIS was a word, and never saw how SEVERAL worked. There was some very devious clueing in there, and ’twas all the better for it.

  16. A shade under 25 minutes, with no idea how George et al could have crunched it much (much!) quicker. Particular hold-ups were SEVERAL, possibly the most invisible hidden ever, HAVE-NOT where I was desperately trying to parse HIDEOUT, REST-CURE where the excellent CD (OIL-RICH is better) refused to reveal its intricate wordplay, and UNCONDITIONALLY, where I got as far as the state of N[orth] D[akota] inside UNCOITION which might be a divorce in Uxbridge. Clever, eh?
    Full marks to today’s setter for transoptical lanification, and to George for sorting out my puzzlements in such a fine time.

  17. DNF
    Tatamis – no idea about tat; Spica – forgot pic = still; rest-cure – couldn’t get it. The clue and answer for 17dn don’t seem to match up. The clue assumes ‘not working’ is a noun phrase equivalent to ‘rest-cure’. You can have a rest-cure, but you can’t really have a not working … I might be missing something, though.
    Thanks, g.

      1. Thanks, k. I did try to make the gerundive idea work, but I felt that a gerundive is a type of abstract noun that encompasses an action or a state (swimming, being, etc.) and that can’t be preceded by an indefinite article. With that in mind, I wondered if one could justify swapping ‘rest-cure’ for ‘not working’. One can have a rest-cure to resolve [a] complaint, but one can’t really have a not working to resolve [a] complaint. Additionally, not working is more what happens during the rest-cure, rather than the rest-cure itself. In short, the clue seems to point to a verb, whereas the answer is a noun. But I’m probably overthinking this; I have form for doing that.

        1. From grammar lessons sixty years ago I seem to remember being taught a gerund was a verbal form functioning as a noun while a gerundive was a verbal form functioning as an adjective.

          1. Yes, you’re right, co. Gerund is the right term here, I believe. I always get gerund and gerundive mixed up. Thanks 🙂

  18. Two goes needed.

    I’m another who initially put ‘catch’ for 4d before correcting to NOTCH once I got TASHKENT; didn’t parse the ‘al’ bit of ENTHRAL; wasn’t very confident CHAIN was right; didn’t know TATAMIS (or tat meaning to make lace – the association in my mind was tat=tawdry=St Audrey’s lace), but I saw the Nancy trick and with T_TAMIS I plumped for the right letter; didn’t see the hidden for SEVERAL; had to trust that cit is an old townsperson for TACIT; and didn’t know SPICA so had to hope my parsing was right.

    Tough stuff – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Egg on
    LOI Chain
    COD Oil-rich

  19. 41:50. My own GK normally struggles with weird place names but today, looking for one with SH in it, 1ac TASHKENT went straight in, followed by 1dn TALLOW helped by this third (I think) recent appearance of a wicked clue, as Merlin and others have noted.

    So. Which burns longer, a wax candle or a tallow candle? I am sure I know this riddle from my childhood, so long ago, remembered perhaps because I didn’t understand it then. Neither. They both burn shorter of course.

    Needed the blog to make sense of the wordplay for TACIT and LOI CHAIR. both went in from definition only; “behind supporter” was a good one. COD GOATSKIN

  20. 34:12
    All was going swimmingly until the SW reared its ugly head. REST CURE, UNCONDITIONALLY, TATAMIS, EXTOLS and TACIT all caused problems and took up the second half of the solve. SPICA was last in as I needed the I to finally think of PIC for the still in the unknown star.

    A real test, with some nice wordplay.

    Thanks to both.

  21. DNF

    Sub 20’ with only three to go, but NHO TAT, TATAMI, CIT or SPICA, so they remained unsolved at 30’+ when the family arrived for the weekend and I gave up. I guess TACIT would have come eventually, then TAT, but not PIC for still. Next time….

  22. I’ll start at the top: Thanks, George, I needed way too much of that.
    Then the grudging: Thanks, setter, some nice “that” in that today.
    A comment: Chain went in with the pull-loo thing in mind, but I’d still like more
    And today’s philosophy: I don’t know many plants, and I don’t know many stars. When plants show up in the grid I’m usually disgruntled; when stars show up I’m chipper and pleased to learn something. Go figure.

  23. All correct but no time recorded due to interruptions while the clock was running. Certainly not fast and, sadly, not the kind of puzzle I enjoy. Good one in the Grauniad though.

  24. Too difficult for me, I’m afraid, several clues left unsolved. Did anyone else stumble over 27A due to not being able to get TILL out of there head (‘place for Penny’)?

    1. No, but it did cross my mind that ‘penny in the slot’ was taking us back once again to 15ac and days of gents’ loos with pull-chains!

      1. I have seen toilets with a pull-chain but not for a very long time and I can’t remember when or where. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at some point last century. Are there any functioning public pull-chain toilets still around? They’re still available commercially online but I suppose they must just be used in private houses (though only a very small percentage of them) or maybe as props on film and TV sets.

  25. DNF. I toiled away for 50 minutes but gave up when I could not find a satisfactory answer for 17dn and decided I must have made a mistake with one of the crossers (I hadn’t). Not really my kind of puzzle, as I found the parsing of several of the clues took too long. No doubt worse is to come on Friday!
    Thanks to george and other contributors.

  26. Failed on the unknown SPICA despite knowing I needed a 3 letter synonym for still and having the crossers. Even a synonym trawl on Google didn’t yield PIC! 30 minutes for all bar that and submitted off leaderboard at 45:19 after giving up and Googling the clue. I need a lie down now. Thanks George.

  27. Just under 30 minutes- was pleased to remember Tat from a previous puzzle.
    Much thanks to setter and blogger

  28. 43:56 but…

    …used aids for the last few. Enjoyed the first 73% of this in about 20 mins but ran into a huge roadblock for the final nine – all in the bottom half. Teased out all but the not very good REST-CURE where the clue doesn’t seem to work for me. NHOs SPICA and TATAMIS (twigged the AMIS but not the TAT) required a look-up.

  29. A stressful day, and I did the Quickie (fairly chewy) first, so came to this over lunch and was pleased to get the 2 15-letter ones quite quickly. All parsed and all correct, though I took SPICA on trust, and a little suggestion from Mr Ego that pic = still (he’s a photographer). He also parsed the obvious CHAIR for me – I had the hair bit, but just couldn’t see how it worked with the C. Was very pleased to work out some of the barely knowns from wordplay, such as TATAMIS and AUSTRALIA, and only saw the hidden in SEVERAL after entering it in the grid. A great puzzle, suitably challenging but solvable.
    EDIT: I didn’t mean AUSTRALIA was barely known – although I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting it – just that biffing didn’t come into it!

  30. Good puzzle that I only recently did as this morning was impossible. 61 minutes with all going in eventually without aids, but I had to look up the unknown SPICA in a list of stars, being unable to see that ‘still’ was a noun. Syeta and Sbuta occurred to me until I had the ‘I’. I wasn’t very impressed with the CHAIN clue. Is there a chain anywhere in any loo nowadays? And ‘retailers’ struck me as rather loose.

  31. 44:10, but a technical DNF, as I also needed to consult lists of stars to see SPICA. At least I could parse it, unlike KUWAITI which I biffed without understanding how it worked, and CHAIR which went in as the only supporter that fitted; I am not familiar with HAIR = shock.

    Many thanks for the blog, for making sense of it all.

  32. re 6dn and the blogger’s comment. According to my dictionary a juice box is a low cost multi media player. Could someone please explain the relevance to the clue. Thank you.

    1. Goodness knows. I was equally bewildered. It’s now so late that it looks as if nobody will tell us.

      1. I think they are called cartons in the UK. A sealed tetrapack of juice drink, you push a straw into it and drink it. Popular in kids lunches. In the USA they are called juice boxes or aseptic juices – aseptic because they can be stored on the shelf at room temperature and keep for a long time.

    1. One of the definitions of state in Collins is “a sovereign political power or community”, so any country can be defined as a state.

  33. I’m with Susan on that one: I too live in Australia, and no self-respecting Aussie would hear of it being called a state (despite glh’s explanation. )So I thought that one a bit unfair. It really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, as this puzzle was way too hard for me, and I even had difficulty after a few ‘look-ups’. ItDefinite COD would have to be OIL-RICH: brilliant!


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