Times Cryptic 28088

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 34 minutes with the last 10 of those spent on two clues, 5dn and 10ac. I had a wrong answer which we shall get to in due course.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.


1 Stationed in east so push for strong drink (8)
PRESS (push) contained by [stationed in] E (east) + SO. This is not by any means my idea of a strong drink, so I only got to it via wordplay.
6 Shot where force breaches European citadel (6)
F (force) is contained by [breaches] E (European) + FORT (citadel)
9 Senior ministers in queue perhaps store hard copies here? (6,7)
FILING (in queue), CABINET (senior ministers)
10 Religious house seen in earlier years (6)
PRIOR (earlier), Y (years). So simple, yet this was my LOI after something of a struggle.
11 Timbre enthralling traveller born to find instrument (8)
TONE (timbre) containing [enthralling] ROM (traveller – Romany, gypsy ) + B (born)
13 Relaxed as not spotted snatching rupees (10)
UNSTAINED (not spotted) containing [snatching] R (rupees)
15 Exploit recalled framing a wronged brother (4)
USE (exploit) reversed [recalled] containing [framing] A. In Book of Genesis, Esau’s brother, Jacob, swindled him out of his birthright as the marginally elder son of Isaac in exchange for a mess of pottage. By way of light relief we have this tongue-twister set to music.
16 Fellows applied to university, getting course list (4)
MEN (fellows), U (university)
18 Guard, in bed, suffering complete (10)
Anagram [suffering] of GUARD IN BED
21 Cheat to secure point in street game? (8)
CRIB (cheat), BAG (secure) E (point). The standard peg-board used for recording points scored at cribbage has four rows of 30 holes each, sometimes referred to as ‘streets’.
22 Goddess makes appearance following credit crunch (6)
CR (credit), ISIS (goddess)
23 Important: arm this police unit (7,6)
SPECIAL (important), BRANCH (arm)
25 When retired go round world (6)
AS (when) reversed [retired], TURN (go round)
26 Leave country singer regularly housed by English couple (8)
{s}I{n}G{e}R [regularly] contained [housed] by E (English) + MATE (couple)
2 Son having slight temperature avoids paella flavouring (7)
S (son), AFFRON{t} (slight) [temperature avoids]. It’s the saffron that gives paella its distinctive colour.
3 Approximate guide in digital governance? (4,2,5)
4 Alexander has opinion about nude seen here and there (5)
SAY (opinion) containing [about] N{u}D{e} [seen here and there]. A standard variation on Alexander that I think a number of solvers didn’t know on a previoous occasion.
5 Unusual action needed to consume cold tongue (7)
Anagram [unusual] of ACTION containing [to consume] C (cold). This is the one I got wrong. Once again we have an obscure foreign word (Collins doesn’t even list it) clued as an anagram. When all the checkers were in place the answer had to be OCCITAN or OCCATIN. I chose the latter for no reason other than Latin ends -IN. I might as well have flipped a coin! Lexico: The medieval or modern language of Languedoc, including literary Provençal of the 12th–14th centuries.
6 Enhance glowing piece about French king with duke (9)
EMBER (glowing piece) containing [about] ROI (French king) + D (duke)
7 Maybe bass part loud one needed at the start (3)
F (loud), I (one), N{eeded} [at the start]
8 Building over frozen soil sees river rising (7)
O (over) + TUND{r}A (frozen soil) with R (river) rising in a Down answer becomes ROTUNDA
12 Nan having success as one bringing home the bacon (11)
BREAD (nan), WINNER (success)
14 Grown-up with one leg to accept answer as flattery (9)
ADULT (grown-up) + I (one) + ON (leg – cricket) contains [to accept] A (answer)
17 Island in unsettled US area, or continental one? (7)
I (island) contained by [in] anagram [unsettled] of US AREA. The definition refers back to ‘area’.
19 Aloe vera treated missing volume in sunken spots (7)
Anagram [treated] of ALOE {v}ERA [missing volume]. I can’t a reference to ‘sunken’ in any of the usual sources. Edit: Thanks to bletchleyreject for pointing out that ‘sunken spot’ is in the full version of Chambers. I should have checked my printed edition as on-line I only have access to a cut-down version.
20 Choice ultimately mine to assume the nickname (7)
{choic}E (ultimately}, then PIT (mine) contains [to assume] THE
22 Crumbs American soldier gives dog (5)
COR (crumbs!), GI (American soldier)
24 Bird Madagascan primate skinned (3)
{l}EMU{r} (Madagascan primate) [skinned]

78 comments on “Times Cryptic 28088”

  1. Quickish, no real problems. Sort of knew Occitane as a region of France, ancient or modern unknown, so an easy guess. LOI espresso expecting something alcoholic. 2LOI crisis, having misread goddess as goodness. Didn’t know a cribbage board had streets, learn something every day. Quite liked the FIN as a bass part, and EPITHET and EMBROIDER.
    COD Saturn, for the surface.

    Edited at 2021-09-21 02:05 am (UTC)

    1. I was at an event once when a perfectly sober preacher announced his text as “My brother Esau is an hairy man”. No one seemed to understand why I collapsed in giggles.
  2. We have L’Occitane here, a store for fancy hand creams. That must have allowed me to get 5 Down. The combo of OCCITAN and ESPRESSO (a tough parsing) was dastardly for me. PRIORY was tough as well.

    But, under 20 minutes gets no complaints from me!

    1. That’s how I got it, too, I think: there’s a branch of L’Occitane on Park Street in Bristol, though I hadn’t remembered until you said that! OCCITAN just sounded right when I thought of it…

      (27 mins for me, by the way, with no problems that haven’t been mentioned elsewhere…)

    2. L’Occitane is a French chain, they are everywhere! I suspect it helped me to the answer too, although I also knew Occitanie as a region.

      Edited at 2021-09-21 07:28 am (UTC)

  3. PRIORY was my POI; I mistakenly separated ‘religious’ and ‘house’, and looked for HO in something for ‘earlier years’. Should have given up on that idea sooner. I’m surprised that Collins doesn’t list OCCITAN, not that it’s garden-variety GK (it does have OCCITANIE, a newly-created region of France). I remember learning in high school about langue d’oc and langue d’oïl, the former morphing into Provençal, the latter into modern French. Biffed TROMBONE & SAFFRON, parsed post-submission. Surprised by ‘street’, but then I don’t know from CRIBBAGE. Wasn’t surprised by ‘sunken’, because I don’t know from AREOLAE. Jack, you have an unwanted A in the anagrist for UNABRIDGED.
  4. 28 minutes. Exactly the same experience with the ‘So simple’ PRIORY which was my LOI too. Didn’t get the significance of the ‘sunken’ in AREOLAE either, but there it is in the first sense given in Chambers and I was put off by the ‘street’ in the clue for CRIBBAGE. Did remember OCCITAN from schoolboy French lessons.

    Good to have no mention of “hairy” in the clue for ESAU – thanks for the link to the NHO Ames Brothers song – and I liked the singing fish at 7d.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  5. Thanks for the link, Jack. I’d forgotten that one. I’m familiar with our local hand cream store, PJ. Mrs K’s even more familiar with it.
  6. I got off to a fast start but then got a bit stuck. Biffing embellish didn’t help. Plus I was tongue-tied for quite a while.


  7. My first thought for the language was OCCATIN, and having given it some thought, like Jack I decided that ending like Latin was some reason to stick with it. I of course forgot the golden rule — always go with your instinct except when it’s wrong.
    1. I’m like Max Beerbohm’s London policeman: “Not as ‘ow we’re infallible. Sometimes we makes mistakes. And when we makes ’em, we sticks to ’em.”
  8. Another one who probably chose OCCITAN as the solve for 5d as a result of L’Occitane retail chain

    Fail was entering FON instead of FIN after misinterpreting the cryptic – frankly a dumb thing to do when just testing the other vowels, and thinking for a few seconds, all that was needed.

    Overall very happy with this – not often I get under 35m – a few weeks ago I was regularly getting bogged down around that time, even on easy puzzles. Solving skill and discipline both improving in a very satisfying way.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  9. Took the punt that OCCI might be a more likely prefix than OCCA, but really had no idea.

    There was an undistinguished and unlamented poltician named Paul Filing who gained some prominence for a while in Perth about 20 years ago. Sub-editors everywhere must have dreamt of him becoming Premier one day and announcing his first, um, Cabinet.

    PRIORY was LOI for me as well, weird that so many of us struggled with it.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  10. As with yesterday, NW corner caused the most trouble, failing on ESPRESSO while looking for an alcoholic drink.

    SANDY was tough, as did not know the “seen here and there” device. Was thinking of “Al” .

    I had SHADOW CABINET for some time, with queue =shadow.

    NHO ROM for gypsy. But at least did know OCCITAN


  11. Under 20 mins pre-brekker.
    No ticks, no crosses. Eyebrow flicker at Rom and Occitan which I assumed had to do with the Occitanie bit of France.
    Thanks setter and J.
  12. I think many will probably know
    Of the slip in a recent Jumbo
    Standards were not upheld
    A drink was mis-spelled
    Which was, as you’ve guessed, ESPRESSO

    The answer SATURN caught my eye
    But the setter almost made me cry
    By supplying its U
    From a cursed EMU
    Still a bird, even though it can’t fly

  13. 21 minutes with LOI AREOLAE the best use of the remaining letters I could manage. I wondered why we were playing CRIBBAGE in the street. I had vaguely heard of OCCITAN. I seem to be encountering a TROMBONE far too frequently in the run up to my next birthday in less than a fortnight. I guess the one after that, God willing, should be spent on Sunset Strip, and then one playing very old records. Decent puzzle apart from the two obscurities. Thank you Jack and setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-21 07:18 am (UTC)

  14. OCCITAN was okay as I holidayed in the area around Carcassonne many years ago and saw the graffiti ‘Oc’ (seeking independence or at least recognition), and have subsequently drunk much wine labelled ‘Pays d’Oc’. AREOLAE LOI with careful placing of letters.

    11′ 11″, thanks jack and setter.

    Edited at 2021-09-21 07:29 am (UTC)

  15. 07:35. Is it still Monday? LOI PRIORY was the only one to hold me up for long. Like others I ninja-turtled the unknown language from the shop – we have one in Bury St. Edmunds too.
  16. No real problems here, though I didn’t fully parse SAFFRON and it took me a while to realise the “secure” in 21a wasn’t a containment indicator in order to figure out CRIBBAGE. Also didn’t know that nan bread doesn’t need two As, though BREADWINNER made it obvious.

    FOI Effort
    LOI Rotunda
    COD Menu


    A day where everything seemed to fall into place (although I was insure of ROM in TROMBONE). The NW corner took the most time until OCCITAN gave ESPRESSO and I finally parsed SAFFRON, which had been tentative until the end.

    Thank you jackkt and the setter.

  18. Fast one today back on the Glasgow train.

    Unparsed — TROMBONE missed the TONE bit.

    DNK — OCCITAN — guessed right with all checkers.

    ‘Well I never’ moment — streets on a cribbage board.

  19. For extra strength stick a schnapps in one’s espresso!
    Time 24:30 so a Monday-ish medley


    LOI a priori 10ac PRIORY!!


    WOD 5dn OCCITAN(e) – they have been present(s) here in Shanghai for almost 20 years.

    I have never heard of ‘streets’ on a cribbage board – I suggest this might be local.

    Edited at 2021-09-21 08:14 am (UTC)

    1. Italians (certainly in the Tuscany / Umbria border area familar to me) refer to such a fortified espresso as a “correctado”

      I rather like the implication that normal espressos are somehow a terrible mistake…

    2. I’ve played CRIBBAGE in Manchester and in Birmingham, and the “street” usage is common to both, so I wouldn’t call it local. Distinctly British perhaps ?
      1. Phil — When I played in the East Midlands and London, ‘street’ was Not used. I further note that neither Scarne or Hoyle make mention of it. Cribbage is played extensively in the US and Canada — is it used there? Anyone?
        1. Whatever. The term is widely used (search on-line) and clue is perfectly valid.

          Edited at 2021-09-21 01:59 pm (UTC)

          1. And, my Hoyle, which has US authors (copyright about 1947) does not mention the streets term. It does, however, back Keriothe up, referencing Aubrey’s Brief Lives in saying the game was almost certainly invented by Sir John Suckling, who was 1609-1642.
            They don’t write instruction books which reference Aubrey these days, do they? Sad.
            1. From my geeky search for an answer to the ‘streets ahead’ question it’s clear that streets do also feature in American cribbage. Google ‘American Cribbage Congress’ if you can be bothered!
    3. it is an objective of mine to leave my crib opponent in “shit street” i.e. 31+ points behind out of 121.
  20. 9:46. I didn’t know what streets had to do with CRIBBAGE but followed the wordplay. LOI PRIORY, like others. I had a bit of a brain freeze over that one for a minute or so before the light dawned.
    An ESPRESSO is a drink, and it is strong, but it is not a strong drink. Discuss.
      1. I wondered about that when preparing the blog and tried researching it, but I couldn’t find anything to confirm its connection with cribbage. Still seems possible though. The earliest reference to it is given in various sources as c1850.
      2. Hmm interesting question. The short answer is that I don’t know, and I can’t find any reliable source that supports the theory.
        The concept of a ‘street’ as an example of a long distance is seen elsewhere. The OED (which doesn’t have the cribbage meaning in it at all!) gives:
        > the length of a street: (used as the type of) a considerable or great length or distance.
        > not to be in the same street (with or as): to be far behind in a race or competition, to be far inferior to.
        There’s no mention of cribbage on any of these examples. Having said that cribbage is a very old (early 17c) and historically popular so I guess it’s possible that these examples (the earliest citation is 1860) are adaptations of a phrase that originated there.
          1. None of these references give any actual evidence though, and these neat-sounding folk etymologies are usually wrong. The fact that the OED doesn’t contain a single reference from cribbage or cards of any sort is not supportive of the theory.
            It would be interesting to know if cribbage has always had ‘streets’. The fact that the term doesn’t seem to be used in the US (see Paul below) suggests it may be a relatively recent coinage.

            Edited at 2021-09-21 10:12 pm (UTC)

          2. Not that I’m obsessive or anything but I found the below, which describes Noddy and Cribbage as they were originally played. A few things to note:
            – no mention of streets although being ‘in the lurch’ does get a mention
            – Cribbage was originally played to 61 points (an increase from 31 in Noddy). This would appear to make the concept of streets (as I understand it there are four going to 131 in modern cribbage) less relevant
            – modern cribbage did not appear until the 19th century
            If ‘streets’ are associated with modern cribbage, then the more general linguistic association of streets with (winning by) a large distance predates its use in the game.
  21. 13.39, quicker than yesterday. My last was (of course) OCCITAN which rang a faint bell and used all the available letters.
    Only on arrival here did I discover that the clue for CRIBBAGE had the word street in it: sometimes the tendency to skip inconvenient words is useful. Also discovered why my tentative SAFFRON was right after all, and that bass is also a fish (I knew that, didn’t see it!). I just thought it was an odd way of referring to a fin on the underside of a fish, if ever there is one.
    AREOLAE is one of those useful words in scrabble when you have too many vowels: I shrugged my way past the “sunken” bit.
    I thought ESPRESSO was clever, the misdirection to alcohol fooling until the end when desperation set in.
  22. 10:07 – thrilled with the time although would have been nice to break the arbitrary 10 min barrier. PRIORY, SANDY and ESPRESSO just held me up at the end.

    Thanks for all the explanations

  23. Another quickish finish. No trouble with OCCITAN, but I struggled with EPITHET – a new meaning of the word for me.
    COD EMBROIDER. In France a TROMBONE is a paper clip, which may explain why Glen Miller was an infrequent visitor.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  24. Ripped through this to complete another sub-10 double (QC time 3:33). Surely a tad easy for a Tuesday? Confess to biffing quite a few but always with confidence from the generous defs. Many thanks to blogger for confirming the wdp of biffs.
  25. ….L’Occitaine (there’s probably one in the appalling Trafford Centre, six miles and light years away from me) and I biffed NHO OCCITAN rather than “occatin” once nothing else looked likely. Only then did I see my LOI, so not an “espress” performance from me today.

    I only parsed EMIGRATE afterwards.

    TIME 7:27

  26. Annoyed to have one wrong. Not being musical I was relying on wordplay: Loud (F) (O)ne (N)eeded.
    Never mind. I had one wrong yesterday as well. Everything else went in easily.
    Thanks for the blog and thanks to the setter for my level of puzzle.
  27. 13 mins thanks to lots of giveaway definitions which cut down the need for careful parsing. Dredged up OCCITAN from somewhere remote and the word AREOLAE was more familiar than its definition so needed some letter-counting, but apart from that it felt like the Monday I definitely didn’t have yesterday.
  28. The full name of the scent purveyor is L’Occitane en Provence – which certainly did make the solving easier. The one that always fools me is the world=planet thing in 25a, which I should remember by now but once again it took a few beats before coming into view. 14.09
  29. Quite easy, slowed down only by OCCITAN — but there was nothing else it could be once other letters were in.
    1. Well yes there was, as discussed in the blog. If you didn’t know the word it could just as easily have been OCCATIN.
  30. Felt I should have been quicker. It was all straightforward but I slowed down in the top left. Occitan is the language of L`nguedoc, as opposed to the Langue d’oil. Two ways of saying yes — Oc and Oil — and there’s a rough border separating the two. Basically the southern third of France is where they used to say Oc. No connection with Och aye. The language is having a little revival, though as so often in these things it’s hard to know how much is just activist hype. Until a few years ago you could certainly hear older people in rural areas speaking Occitan (or one of its variants like Provencal).
  31. 15.50 with LOI priory. DNK Occitan but had heard of the word before so took an educated punt. Filing cabinet was the head slapping winner today with Sandy my COD. So obvious when you get it though Scots would certainly have an advantage.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  32. Best time (under 15 minutes) in a while — remembering Languedoc meant OCCITAN was no problem, but slight delay for PRIORY
    as was trying to include HO for ‘house’. So LOI was SAFFRON — not parsed, as were a few others — thanks jackkt for clarification.
  33. Like others, LOI PRIORY -after a long trawl for me. OCCITAN I knew, but I needed all the checkers. CRIBBAGE and TROMBONE partly parsed; in fact TROMBONE not at all.
  34. mostly spent stuck in the NW. In the end, the answers were fairly straightforward, just slow on my part. OCCITAN was a wild guess.
  35. A rare excursion to the 15 x 15 for me, and a very good time somewhere short of 30 minutes. ROTUNDA and ESAU were last two in after I had plumped for OCCITAN from the limited number of options available. It was always Streets on Cribbage boards for me on various mess-decks, and also on Uckers boards (now there’s a game to play with!). Thanks all.
  36. Forty seven minutes, a big improvement on two hours. FOI filing cabinet which was a big help crossing so many other clues. Esau, emu, corgi and menu were easy, embroider, fin and rotunda in the next tier, then the rest emerged piecemeal and I thought quite slowly but this is probably a pb for me for a 15 x 15. Husband blurted out emu before I had read down there, I think I would have got it having been to Madagascar and seen lots of lemurs. Had cribbage but could not see the street in it. Had to use it anyway. I didn’t fully parse everything. LOI Sandy and Occitan. Knew it as Languedoc, and derived it from there. COD cribbage because I could see the crib, the bag and the point. Never mind the street! Thanks for the blog, Jack, and to setter for a puzzle I could do over lunch instead of taking half the afternoon as well. GW.
  37. I’m with our blogger on setting relatively obscure foreign words as anagrams – I.e. I don’t much care for it – but my coin came down heads for OCCITAN today, so luck was on my side. Thanks for explaining the streets on the crib board. I used to play often with my father and I definitely knew the term from frequent defeats ‘by a street’, but I couldn’t see CRIBBAGE as a street game before coming here. Firesides at home, yes; occasionally in the snug at the Lord Nelson; but not in the street. All clear now! 33 mins today, which is OK for me.
  38. 10:25 late this afternoon. Less than a minute more than I took to complete the QC earlier, so a much needed confidence booster even though I appreciate the SNITCH is indicating a puzzle very much at the easier end of the spectrum.
    FOI 3d “rule of thumb” then a steady solve until the usual suspects of 5 D “occitan” (which I’d heard of via Vins de Pays d’Oc- where the quality of winemaking has improved significantly by the way over the last 20 years) and LOI 10 ac “priory”.
    COD 2d “saffron” where I liked the misleading use of “slight”.
    Thanks to Jack for the blog and setter
  39. 20:47, probably my best time ever, so I found it very easy despite a slow start (PRIORY was my FOI). No problems with anything, really, not even OCCITAN since I speak French. Of course I also wondered about the street in CRIBBAGE, but I read the clue as “point in STREET” giving E, or S I suppose, rather than N or W. Silly, since CRIBBAGN and CRIBBAGW were obviously not options anyway.

    Edited at 2021-09-21 04:34 pm (UTC)

  40. Not that easy. 5 dn Occitan, never heard of it, worked it out by logical arrangement of letters in ‘action c’. Liked 7 dn Fin as part of bass being a fish as opposed to a musical tone. 24 dn Emu a bit mean, because it was derived from a ‘cryptic clue within a cryptic clue’ i.e you had to guess which primate (lemur) as well as which bird (have noticed that the current compositor goes in for this sort of stuff)
  41. Thoroughly enjoyed this, especially as 5d Occitan brought back happy memories of family holidays based in Saint Jean du Gard, and picholine olives with a glass of the local white wine before dinner. Couldn’t parse Cribbage, nor Saffron, so not quite a full house of answers and parsings but I’m just happy to be making progress. Invariant
  42. It too was my LOI so must be the COD as simple as it now appears. Cribbage completely passed me by and I am not a big fan of the trombone although Fr. paper-clip was interesting!
  43. Doesn’t surprise me, just I’d not heard it. But then I’ve not played at the ACC level!

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