Times 28879 – A cure for stemmaticism?


Time: 31 minutes

Music: Beethoven, Choral Fantasy, Ax, Mehta, NYP

I ran into a bit of trouble, expecting a normal Monday puzzle.    However, when I couldn’t see any answers in my initial scan, I had to step up my game, and use the experienced solvers tricks to get going.    As I looked for some easy pickings, I thought that this puzzle was strangely devoid of anagrams.   Ha!   There are actually quite a few, but they are very well-hidden.

Looking at my completed blog, I would say it should not have been that hard.   But that’s what you always say, once you solve it.

1 There’s only so much a bowler can take? (6)
HATFUL – Cryptic definition.
5 Nick a Kandinsky perhaps (8)
ABSTRACT – Double definition.  Wassily Kandinsky was an abstract painter.
9 Yells about wound? Quite so (10)
10 Husband no longer wanting sex in retirement (4)
11 Forlorn, being without one’s valet? (8)
HELPLESS – Double definition, the second jocular – “the help”.
12 Fit Soviet leader moving in (6)
INSTAL – STALIN with IN moving.
13 Captain given warning to turn back (4)
NEMO – OMEN backwards.
15 Manages to get a hearing in these distant parts (8)
18 Drink making you sanctimonious? (4,4)
HALF PINT – HALF PINT is PI, sanctimonious.   I believe we have seen this one before.
19 Try to make Republican leader? That won’t fly (4)
RHEA – HEAR with R moved to the front.
21 Start to jeer, with pressure on workers (4,2)
BOOT UP – BOO + T.U + P.
23 Model free to waste time meeting poet without family (8)
25 Worry European drivers will go wrong way (4)
CARE – E R.A.C backwards – the Royal Automobile Club.
26 Etonian pal mistaken for an Italian (10)
27 Calmly dishonest, taking in English court (8)
28 Wife ignoring important figure (6)
2 Better to leave case behind and walk (5)
AMBLE – [g]AMBLE[r].
3 Nothing will stop sweet academic, that’s certain (9)
4 Increasingly rowdy yob almost upset wine (6)
LOUDER – LOU[t] + RED upside-down.
5 Treatment of initially acute hysteria proven to work (8,7)
6 Acrobatic performer making kids very excited (8)
7 Grasses on European copper (5)
REEDS – RE + E + D.S, Detective Sergeant.
8 Companion well informed about fashionable porcelain (9)
14 Speak after cover up or disappear? (9)
EVAPORATE – PAVE upside-down + ORATE.
16 Youngster knocking over girl’s pint (9)
17 Stupid to restrict island’s power supply (8)
20 Repudiate participants in Greek overreaction after upheaval (6)
REVOKE – Backwards hidden in [gre]EK OVER[eaction].
22 Letter governor sent in to Times needing answer (5)
THETA – T(H.E)T + A.
24 Accommodate expert after change of heart (5)
ADAPT – AD(-e,+A)PT, a letter-substitution clue.

45 comments on “Times 28879 – A cure for stemmaticism?”

  1. I was totally on the wavelength today at 10:32. I could have finished under 10 minutes, but I couldn’t parse HELPLESS and was not convinced enough to submit. I also couldn’t parse EXEMPLAR (thank you, vinyl!), but I was much more sure of that one.

  2. 26 minutes. I raced through most of this but then slowed down considerably with 4 or 5 answers in the lower half still outstanding, most notably at 27ac where I lost time trying to justify SERENELY, but with the arrival of THETA providing an A-checker I was able to get back on track. I had also lost time by thinking the poet at 23ac was John Ruskin and trying to come up with an answer to the clue ending RUS.

  3. Crumbs. I don’t know what everyone else is on but I obviously need some, I felt just finishing was an achievement and doing so in 55 was, you know, under the hour. There used to be a school of thought that Mondays were comparatively easier. Vinyl1’s help much appreciated for the use of Stalin, that PI thing, EXEMPLAR and AMBLE. Some great clues here though I’m not sure a SKYDIVER is an acrobat, don’t they just jump out and plummet towards the earth?

    1. I thought that about SKYDIVER too and the article on Wiki would seem to back us up, but SOED has: skydive perform acrobatic manoeuvres under free fall with a parachute.

      Collins is less specific: skydiving the sport of parachute jumping, in which participants perform manoeuvres before opening the parachute and attempt to land accurately.

      Chambers doesn’t mention or hint at acrobatics but ODE and the Concise Oxford do, so it would seem to be an Oxford thing!

      1. What a weird thought. Jumping out of a plane and performing acrobatic manoeuvres while hoping your parachute will open and you won’t plummet to a terrifying death. I’ll stick to long lunches, red wine and sport on TV.

      1. I also considered that, but it seems that SKYDIVER relates only to people jumping out of planes whilst ‘aerobatics’ are manoeuvres by pilots of planes.

  4. 15:00. Becalmed at the end for more than a couple of minutes in the SW corner. LOI SEDATELY took the longest to see once I finally got DISPENSE. Nice puzzle with a good variety of wordplay and deception. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  5. Slightly chuffed to come in around 28 minutes fully parsed on a day when some serious solvers are posting similar times! Normally if I come in under 30 mins the usual suspects are all less than half that….
    Woke up at about 3am and couldn’t sleep, so maybe I should try the crossword at that time more often. Was clearly on the wavelength and had the NE quadrant done in about 5 mins but was slowed up in the south. LOI Rhea, which inexplicably added about 5 mins.

  6. Pleasing start with ABSTRACT followed by the 5d biggie, then romped through about 60% before the proper solving started. Closing sequence HATFUL – FOOLPROOF – NEMO. 23:29, EXEMPLAR unparsed.

  7. Since someone will forever be surprising
    A hunger in himself to be more serious,
    And gravitating with it to this ground,
    Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
    If only that so many dead lie round.
    (an excuse to quote the masterpiece, Church Going, Larkin)

    25 mins of great enjoyment. A proper crossword with witty surfaces and sly wordplay. It seemed to flirt with, but get away with, some minimalist elements, e.g. Workers=TU, drivers=RAC, copper=DS, governor=HE, Captain (alone)=Nemo.
    I liked it. With the P in 23ac, I thought it would be Push(kin), not P,Lar(kin).
    Ta setter and V.

  8. Spectacular fun to be had at The Grauniad today, and not very hard. Just solve the straightforward clues and it will soon come together. Google: Guardian Crosswords online.

  9. 29 minutes with LOI DISPENSE. I took on trust the sort of painter or thinker KANDINSKY was. I wasted a bit of time trying to be serene and not sedate. COD to EXEMPLAR. I went straight to Larkin. “Deprivation for me is what daffodils were for Wordsworth.” Thank you V and setter.

  10. 35 minutes. Slow to get some not very difficult ones like ABSOLUTELY but eventually got there with everything parsed. Favourite was the FOOL PROF for ‘sweet academic’.

  11. 29:00
    Mark me down as another RUSKIN.

    No unknowns and looking back I wonder what held me up so long.

    A nice mix of clues and wordplay though so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  12. Quick today except for the SE corner which held me up for a little.. but v enjoyable, fine crossword this, with some excellent surfaces.

  13. 29.14. Slower than other solvers with whom I am usually on a par, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Perhaps my brain was still reeling after solving the superb puzzle in the Grauniad today.

  14. Struggled a bit with last three in DISPENSE (COD), BOOT UP & HALF PINT (unrembered if we’ve seen it before). 45 mins. Rather like our blogger, having completed I don’t why I found it so challenging. Perhaps it’s my old thing of, on seeing a pile of unches, my brain freezes up!

    Some people say I’m just out to ‘unch.

    Thanks v and setter.

  15. 35′ which I’m pretty happy with once I saw that it wasn’t so straightforward. Quite a few on the first pass and I saw most of the anagram fodder right away (though slower to solve a few of them). I was also another toying with serenely and Ruskin though Larkin came quite quickly after. For some reason the last two in were CARE and ADAPT, both with a trawl then a doh! Thanks Vinyl1 and setter.

  16. 15:52. Never heard of the painter and didn’t really know that sense of ABSTRACT, but it made enough sense and nothing else fitted. A few ‘movement’ clues, which was interesting. Enjoyable stuff.

    Thanks V and setter

  17. Finished in 37 minutes today, so well below the pace – can’t say why as I didn’t find it especially hard. Had no idea who Kandinsky was, so Abstract needed all the crossers. LOI was Eighty.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  18. Another for whom “other solvers with whom I am usually on a par” did far better than I did. It took a while to get started, and progress was slow. Eventually DNF in 62 minutes, with 16dn DISPENSE defeating me, no reason really as it wasn’t all that difficult. The CD at 1ac struck me as very loose and I was reluctant to enter it. And I don’t like clues like 24dn which don’t specifically tell you how the heart should be changed. Otherwise it all seemed to be pretty good, just not Monday-ish. Bank Holiday I suppose.

  19. 27.39

    The left half flew in but got badly bogged down in the eastern territories struggling with the parsing for INSTAL and EXEMPLAR. I did ponder EXEMPRUS for too long. And Pushkin also ending in KIN.

    Thanks all

  20. It had its moments, but overall I wasn’t keen on this, and I thought my LOI was a particularly poor clue.

    TIME 10:48

  21. 18:41

    RHEA not parsed I confess.


    Very enjoyable challenge, thank you.

  22. 17’11”, toyed with Pushkin too. HELPLESS was FOI. Should have written out the long anagram, but didn’t, so it took a while and several crossers.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  23. 26:13

    Good fun. Another Pushkin here. DISPENSE and BOOT UP nearly had me beat and I wasted time trying to parse CHANCERY as the English court.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  24. 32:34

    Didn’t get much on the first pass, but then my daughter was watching something on her tablet in the same room, so recommenced with headphones!

    Missed the parsing of OVERSEAS and HALF PINT – did think of PI but didn’t twig how it worked. Parsed the correct poet only after filling in the answer to 23a. LOI was 21a – got the T UP part and spent ages thinking what the first three letters might be. COD to INSTAL though.

    Thanks V and setter

  25. After 5minutes, all I had was R— at 19a. A desperate scrabble for easy pickings finally came up with CARE and THETA. Then THERAPY emerged from the mist and the SE started to come together. I gradually extended my ambit to populate the NE and NW, finally conquering the SW with BOOT UP LOI. 26:54. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  26. I’m in agreement with everyone (nice clues, some a bit edgy) except the 2/3 of the posters who found this a doddle. I had to think my way through almost every clue, and usually needed crossers to help even then. I’ve got a hatful of explanations for why that might have been, but I’ll save them until I really need them. thx, vinyl

  27. 45 minutes, but inexplicably entered Nevo instead of Nemo – senior moment.
    Nice puzzle – not so Mondayish, I thought.

  28. 7:30

    Think I got lucky today as almost every synonym, abbreviation or cryptic that popped into my head immediately chimed with the clue. HATFUL, AMBLE, ABSOLUTELY flew straight in, and then I only wasted serious time on BOOT-UP (confidently typing in an initial J which had me flummoxed for a while) and STRIPLING, where I discounted straight away the possibility of an anagram because the letters looked a bit weird.

    A 50 NITCH corresponding to a similar WITCH is most unusual for me!

  29. 23.44 with LOI dispense. Didn’t work out half pint, hadn’t seen it before but a good clue, which I will remember. Reasonable start to the week.

  30. 22’08”
    Suited by the going, got a clear run, stayed on gamely under pressure.

    I was very surprised to see the Snitchmeister putting this in the 90s; perhaps, like Semillon, it was a wavelength thing.
    However, this half-pint has to admit to a retrospective parsing of himself.
    Very concise and clever; thank you setter and Vinyl.

  31. No time to report as the solve was in two distinct halves with a football match in between. When I left for the match I only had about five to solve in the lower half, and they proved to be stubborn. SEDATELY eventually came, and after another hard think my LOI BOOT UP came to mind allowing me to stagger gratefully over the line. I was a lot more successful than my football team who managed to lose at home by no less a score than 0-4!

  32. A slow plod, and eventually decided to pull stumps with four or five left, most of which I should have seen, but Sedately was probably always going to be out of reach. Still, it’s all good experience. Invariant

  33. I saw 1ac at once, which is not normally a good sign. Then nothing hit me for a long time until I solved 26ac. After that I managed to get up a head of steam and completed in 29 minutes. Not a typical Monday offering, as others have said, but enjoyable none the less.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

  34. All said: enjoyable amble through, with hitches only on HELPLESS(forlorn?), and SEDATELY. I knew we were looking for a HATFUL at 1a, but didn’t know it as an expression, so went in almost last. INSTAL device very clever; knew of KANDINSKY’s work, and entered HALF PINT without understanding where the NT came from…still don’t!


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