Times Cryptic 28166

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 46 minutes. A technical DNF as I looked up one answer.

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 Female in charge of hotel with superior neckwear (5)
F (female), IC (in charge), H (hotel), U (superior – the classist U / non-U thing again).  SOED has: A triangular piece of muslin, lace, or the like, worn by women round the neck and shoulders, and formerly also over the head. It appeared in a puzzle only last Thursday defined as ‘shawl’ but I didn’t make the connection with ‘neckwear’ so I had to rely on wordplay to get to it.
4 Emotional old lover worthy of praise in war? (9)
EX (old lover), CITABLE (worthy of praise in war?). Some way down the definitions of  ‘citable’ in Collins I found: to mention or commend (a soldier, etc) for outstanding bravery or meritorious action
9 Steps leading to the shower? (4,5)
A cryptic definition I have seen many times before.
10 Dance round quietly with girl taking the lead (5)
GAL (girl), O (round), P (quietly)
11 Revolutionary actors siding with revolutionary soldiers (6)
CAST (actors), then OR (soldiers – Ordinary Ranks) reversed [revolutionary]. ‘Siding with’ as in ‘next to’, I assume.
12 Anger’s returning against friend in a row (8)
IRE’S (anger’s) reversed [returning], ALLY (friend)
14 Popular vet working in country years ago (5,5)
Anagram [working] of POPULAR VET. This became Burkina Faso in 1984.
16 Render pardon for doing a bunk (4)
{for}GIVE (pardon) [‘for’ doing a bunk]
19 Position of diver fixed, beginning to spring off (4)
{s}TUCK (fixed) [beginning to spring off].  SOED: In diving, gymnastics, etc, the adoption of a tuck position.
20 Waves farewell when this holiday is taken? (5,5)
Cryptic. Time away from ship for sailors
22 See hospital about to admit sick and “peaky” types (8)
SPOT (see)  + H (hospital), reversed [about] and containing [to admit] ILL (sick)
23 A male essayist producing a novel (6)
A, M (male), ELIA (essayist – pen name of Charles Lamb).  NHO this novel by Henry Fielding.
26 Wood-dweller to value lake (5)
RATE (value), L (lake). Another name for the honey-badger
27 First during summer month to get to river (9)
IN (during), AUG (summer month), URAL (river)
28 East Anglian town to record one not conforming (9)
DISS (East Anglian town), ENTER (record)
29 Lines penned by old man to convey spirit of nature (5)
RY (railway lines) contained [penned] by DAD (old man). A wood nymph.
1 Defence building protecting city with our open area (9)
FORT (defence building) containing [protecting] EC (city of London) + OUR
2 Bill joined by little son and little girls (5)
CHIT (bill – account), S (little son). Collins has: chit – a pert, impudent, or self-confident young woman or child (facetious or derogatory)
3 Like type of delivery in pit area (8)
A definition with reference to cricket, plus a cryptic hint
4 Times puzzle on Saturday has got filled in (4)
Hidden [filled] in {puzzl}E ON S{aturday}
5 Yes, rector will finally upset part of the church (10)
Anagram [upset] of YES RECTOR {wil}L [finally]. SOED:  The upper part of the nave, choir, and transepts of any large church, containing a series of windows, clear of the roofs of the aisles, admitting light to the central parts of the building. I knew the word as something in a church but couldn’t have defined it further.
6 Gentleman and unpleasant person capsizing in river (6)
SIR (gentleman) + GIT (unpleasant person) reversed [capsizing]
7 Instrument a research establishment conjured up is given to space traveller (9)
A + LAB (research establishment) reversed [conjured up] LAIKA (space traveller). Laika was a Soviet space dog who in 1957 was the first animal to orbit the Earth (Wiki). It was never intended that she should return safely to earth but the poor creature didn’t survive even as long as had been expected. Quite what this proved I don’t know.
8 Leaders of ministerial team said to be vain (5)
Sounds like [said to be] M{inisterial} T{eam} i.e. “Em Tee”. I think the setter has taken the pee!
13 Sign near headland perhaps that is precise and concise? (2,3,5)
A cryptic definition followed by a literal. The cryptic relies on ‘headland = point’.
15 Gambles — after initial loss, steals (9)
{s}PECULATES (gambles) [after initial loss]
17 I shouted to be heard, being under close scrutiny (9)
Sounds like [to be heard] “I bawled” (shouted)
18 Like a parrot, reddish-purple and old (8)
PLUM (reddish-purple), AGED (old)
21 Envelope specially prepared to contain ring and stones (6)
SAE (envelope specially prepared – Stamped Addressed Envelope) contain TEL (ring – telephone). This was the one I gave up on. If I ever knew the word (singular ‘stela’) I hadn’t retained it. SOED defines it as (antiquities) An upright slab or pillar, usually bearing a commemorative inscription or sculptured design and often serving as a gravestone. I didn’t find the wordplay helpful.
22 Explosive Pole who ordered a death penalty? (5)
HE (High Explosive), ROD (pole – unit of length). Responsible for the Massacre of the Innocents.
24 See posh car followed by unknown vehicle (5)
LO (see), RR (posh car – Rolls Royce), Y (unknown – algebra)
25 Hideaway excellent for keeping sides apart (4)
A1 (excellent) contained by [keeping…apart] L+R (sides)

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28166”

  1. Mixed feelings on this one. I got there in the end, so the NHO’s must have been solvable. CLERESTORY seemed the only likely arrangement of letters. CHITS left not much alternative, but have never heard that term in the context of young women. STELAE, I spotted the likely SAE, but “ring” for TEL seems unconvincing, unless I’m missing something.

    Not totally satisfying, but better than yesterday’s Welsh stew. And most of my time was wasted at the end on GIVE, which I thought was pretty good after I got it, so no complaints overall.

    CASTRO being an anagram of “actors” made the parsing confusing, but Jack clearly has it right.

    Looks like they’re putting them out in reverse order this week. Friday should be a doddle.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  2. After fifty minutes I impatiently slung in 2dn CHICS; 16ac HIDE and 19ac TACT.
    which should have been CHITS; GIVE and TUCK.

    After yesterday and my South Pacific MUSICAL fiasco I would like to wash this week (so far) right out of my hair. Roll on Friday!

    FOI 1ac FICHU again!

    (LOI) 20ac SHORE LEAVE which I am due for!*

    COD 5dn CLERESTORY I should hasten to one.


    *Yesterday my eldest son was 46. I left Blighty at that age and wonder if I shall ever return, other than in an urn!? Thank The Good Lord for FaceTime.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 04:03 am (UTC)

    1. They’ve got an urn over there that doesn’t belong to them ‘orryd. Maybe you could use that one.

      Happy birthday to the young fella.

  3. I had everything but GIVE, and wasted a couple of minutes playing with the alphabet to get it, but didn’t. Paused, went to the gym, came back and the penny dropped in about 5 seconds. No problem with CLERESTORY or STELAE (I knew ‘stele’, anyway, if not ‘stela’). Spent too long trying to get CHE to once more be the revolutionary. I never did spot SPOT, and just biffed. Didn’t care for CHITS, which for me is just derogatory, not facetious. COD to GIVE.
  4. A 66 minute DNF, failing on STELAE. I had come across STELA before but even if I had remembered it, I still would have had trouble in solving this. Just like yesterday, a few others, like the NHO CHITS, went in with a question mark. FICHU happened to be my FOI after its appearance last week.

    A very minor point but I’m not sure if the def of 13d is meant to be ‘precise and concise’ or just ‘concise’.

    1. I agree ‘concise’ would be enough but wouldn’t that leave ‘precise’ unaccounted for? Or perhaps the clue’s meant to be a cryptic hint followed by a double definition?
      1. Thanks. Just my two bob’s worth and I may well be wrong, but I parsed it as ‘Sign near headland perhaps that it precise’ as the wordplay, meaning that TO THE POINT is an accurate (‘precise’) way of directing someone to a ‘headland perhaps’, with ‘concise’= TO THE POINT as the def. It really is splitting hairs and I think either parsing would do.
  5. Since there was some discussion here yesterday, I have a couple of observations about the response options etc.

    I notice that the ‘Expand’ option when postings have been collapsed continues to work as before when viewing on my Android tablet and iPhone. But on my PC it throws me out of the conversation, and shows me only the hidden posting, which is irritating. However if I go to the last posting immediately above the collapsed ones and click either ‘Thread’ or ‘Expand’, that opens up all of the hidden postings in that section of the discussion. I still have to use my a back button to revert to the main screen but it’s less hassle than doing multiple ‘Expands’ on individual items.

    As the day progressed yesterday the later postings were lacking Complain and Like options but I see they are back today, so far at least.

    If anyone wants to report their experiences today it would be helpful to mention the type of device being used.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 06:27 am (UTC)

    1. As of 5.50a.m. NY time I’m getting the “complain” but not the “like” option on my desktop using Mozilla Firefox in Windows. I’ll try your method for expanding later – thanks Jack.
      1. The crazy thing at this moment is that there a Like option on the QC blog but not on this one! It was here earlier because I noticed someone ‘Liked’ H’s comment about the LJ platform.

        Edit 90 mins later: It’s gone from the QC thread now too!

        Edited at 2021-12-21 12:37 pm (UTC)

    2. I can see the first 3 comments but when I try to expand the last 3 it takes me to a new page and I have to use the back arrow to return to the thread.
    3. Same experience here (PC, Windows 10 with Edge browser). But when I used “expand” on the QC blog earlier today it worked as it used to, so I assumed the problem had been resolved. Curiouser and curiouser.

      Jim R

    4. The “expand” button on my phone does what it says: expands the hidden comment, and occasionally, helpfully, any further replies – without hiding any other comments. Why would it? Right? I’d actually prefer all comments to be expanded by default.

      But – uh oh – now, on all the desktop browsers I’ve tried, the expand button opens a new page, just showing the expanded comments. I have to use the back button in the browser to continue reading. I see you can speed things up slightly using the “thread” button on the parent comment, this shows the original comment + all replies & sub-replies etc.

      Optimistically, they’ll change it back because the user experience is far worse. I expect they won’t though, because the new behaviour means more pages opened, ergo more ad revenue. I blame those tax-avoiding dopes that use ad blockers.

      Edited at 2021-12-21 11:49 pm (UTC)

  6. This is noted as an unpopular, creaking, old Russian platform, that is well past it’s sell by date. No wonder it is playing-up on a daily basis. Could not TfTT look elsewhere?
    1. This came up a few years ago, and Sotira argued for staying with them. Evidently Putin and his gang do not like LJ. Jack, do you remember?
      1. I think the difficulty of transferring the rather extensive back catalogue of blogs was the main reason for not considering it.
      2. I can’t remember all the ins and outs of it but I know it was considered in some detail but it was found that an enormous amount of work would be involved. And even if somebody had been willing to carry it out as an unpaid task there would have been a problem with retaining the archive as an integral part of TfTT.

        I went off topic today in an attempt to help people who might be experiencing difficulty, and increase our understanding of how to accommodate the latest LJ changes, and I would prefer to stick to that for the moment. Or discuss the crossword of course!

        Edited at 2021-12-21 08:38 am (UTC)

  7. I continued my bad run of form today, making it 5 DNF out of the last 11. It was STELAE which did for me — I decided on toll for ring and then hoped there might be such a thing as an SE for a stamped (and presumably unaddressed) envelope giving me STOLLE. Seemed unlikely but I was out of other ideas.
  8. Took far too long on EONS. The main character in my novel The Collation Unit is called Empty after his initials and because he was a sandwich short of a picnic.
  9. The INAUGURAL mission, Sputnik
    Whizzed through the ether real quick
    Then the Reds launched a hound
    To go round and round
    And the media named it Muttnik
  10. After 30 enjoyable mins pre-brekker the enjoyment was starting to fade as I alpha-trawled my LOI. The best I could do was Stelle.
    Thanks setter and J.
  11. DNF after 35 minutes, with CHITS and STELAE still missing. I should have got the first, and possibly would have done if I’d persevered, but STELAE was unknown. I liked RAIN DANCE, LORRY and UNDERARM, but COD to SHORE LEAVE, without which I wouldn’t exist, born as I was in 1945 to a father serving in the Navy. Decent puzzle apart from the stones.Thank you Jack and setter.
  12. 8:43. Fingers crossed for the unknown CLERESTORY but it seemed the only feasible arrangement of the letters. LOI GIVE, after a brief panic at the number of possibilities. NHO AMELIA.
    STELAE isn’t much cop. Has anyone ever used TEL as a verb? It’s not recorded as a usage in any of the usual dictionaries, even Chambers.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 08:26 am (UTC)

    1. I’m sure it has been used in the same way in the crossword before and we had the same discussion then. I’m still not keen on it.
    2. I was going to query this in the blog but then persuaded myself that Tel = telephone = ring, and as part of the wordplay it was reasonable enough. One might see it in a promotional letter or leaflet for example. I see far dodgier stuff in the Guardian puzzle most days but perhaps it’s a little loose for The Times.
      1. Tel is short for telephone of course, but I don’t think it’s ever used as a verb. ‘I’ll tel you later’? I don’t think so.

        Edited at 2021-12-21 08:51 am (UTC)

        1. I agree no-one would say it but most abbreviations are not spoken out loud. If there’s any justification (and I’m not saying there is) it would have to go through an extra stage, so tel = telephone (noun), then telephone (vb) = ring. In a main definition this would surely be unacceptable but perhaps wordplay can be a little more flexible? I don’t really know, but as I’ve said, I’ve seen far greater liberties taken elsewhere.

          Whatever the setter’s intentions were his wordplay didn’t help me and I failed on this clue, so I’d be quite happy to say that’s it’s unfair and doesn’t work.

          Edited at 2021-12-21 09:54 am (UTC)

          1. Concise Oxford just gives tel. as abbreviation for “telephone” with no further clarification.
            I think it’s perfectly sound but I agree a bit indirect and hard to see in an unfamiliar answer
            1. Sorry Jack, the Like option was there. I meant we need an affirmation icon like a thumbs-up. Sometimes I want to just agree, without sending a symbol of undying love.
  13. 21.12, with heaps spent on GIVE running through the alphabet (only ?A?E has more possibilities, I suspect), a really classic example of the importance of lift and separate. I haven’t rendered pardon to myself for being so dense yet.
    STELAE was, of course, my other late entry, but it fell as soon as I tried writing the letters out horizontally. TEL for ring seemed at the time unexceptionable: as K says, you see it often enough as tel 0000 where it might equally be taken as an instruction or as an abbreviated noun.
    The rest was pretty steady, though I glossed over CASTRO as being an anagram of actors and thought no more about it.
  14. Even when written down I don’t think it’s ever used as a verb. It’s an abbreviation for telephone number: ‘tel. 1234567’ or whatever.
    The operation you describe is what has been described here as a ‘three point turn in a dictionary’: the equivalent of saying bob means both shilling and curtsy therefore you can define curtsy as shilling. Whether definition or wordplay ‘tel’ is not a verb and shouldn’t be used as such, IMO.
    1. Tel was once common as an abbreviation on shop fronts and business vehicles, and in advertisements. The advent of email had much to do with the demise of that usage. I always read it as a verb, instructing one to call said number, and I likewise read ‘ring’ as a verb here.
      1. It still is reasonably common: people do still use the telephone! But I don’t know why you’d read it as an instruction: it’s listed in Collins as an abbreviation for ‘telephone number’ and that’s how I’ve always interpreted it in these contexts.
        If you could find an example of it being used in a context where it is clearly an instruction (‘tel 12345 now!’) I would be persuaded but I’d also be very surprised.
  15. Another failure. stelae, empty, Tigris and give all beat me. Seems I’m not alone but definitely not on the wavelength today. Some other answers bunged in without knowing why really. All too depressing.

    My biggest prob with LJ is that I keep getting logged out on my I pad.

    Thanks Jack for the explanations and setter.

  16. 16a GIVE and 19a TUCK both beyond me. SW corner v difficult until (s)peculate suddenly arrived.
    Didn’t like tel = ring in 21d.
    Knew stelae vaguely but only that I can’t spell it and do not know the singular. Clerestory I remember from the beak showing the Lower 6 round the cathedral, trying to keep in his hand as a teacher I suppose.
  17. Used to appear in the NY Times puzzles (before they went over to rap lyrics and HBO shows) along with “stere” for a measure of wood – but even so it took some time to dredge it up. CLERESTORY I recalled from Kind Hearts And Coronets where Alex Guinness, in the person of the Reverend D’Ascoyne, invites his soon-to-be killer to admire its roof. I was slow to see HEROD too. 22.23
    1. If I had remembered that scene, I might not have gone through life (well, not yet) thinking it was cleREStory.
    2. We get through quite a few “stères” here in winter. I thought it was only a French word, but it’s in my online dictionary as a “cubic metre” of (usually) cordwood. So I checked “cordwood” and, confusingly it’s wood cut into logs of 1.20m.
  18. Surprised the Snitch is so high as it all seemed on the easy-middling side to me and I expected it to be about 90. Perhaps it’s like those crosswords after the Championships where it says (said?) something like ‘This crossword was solved correctly by 10% of the competitors” and you fear it’s going to be rather hard, and then it turns out not to be, apart from just one clue that trips up 90% of the competitors. Didn’t like tel = ring. 35 minutes.
  19. FICHU got me off to a start, remembered from last week. A few more trickled into the NW before I moved on. The NE initially yielded nothing, but when I returned after CLERESTORY helped me to get SERIALLY, I made more progress. (for)GIVE took a while, but surfaced eventually. UPPER VOLTA arrived after the, hidden in plain site, OUR was inserted into the citadel and city at 1d. Eventually I was left with 21d and battled for 7 or 8 minutes before coming up with the unlikely looking STELAE and confirming its existence before submitting. 37:11. Thanks setter and Jack.
  20. ….and my LOI needed an alpha-trawl.

    FOI FICHU (Bless you !)
    LOI STELAE (No further comment required)
    COD SHORE LEAVE (Hello sailor !)
    TIME 12:41

  21. Almost twice as long as yesterday’s puzzle at 47 minutes, though there are some that I should have solved more quickly. Another one involving judicious placing of unchecked letters from anagram fodder, and again I guessed right. I’ve never encountered CLERESTORY before. FICHU and GALOP were my first in, TUCK and EONS my last. I didn’t undertsnd the clue to EMPTY, and I still don’t really. It’s a pretty poor homophone.
    1. It’s a perfectly good homophone as far as I can see: with ‘M,T’, the [m] de-voices before the [t] (what’s called assimilation) so that it becomes a [p] before the voiceless [t]; with ’empty’, the [p] is already there.
        1. The little sound clip in Collins has the P being pronounced very clearly. I don’t think most people actually say the word like that, most of the time: in everyday speech the P gets almost entirely lost.

          Edited at 2021-12-21 06:11 pm (UTC)

  22. 19.05 but DNF due to stelae. Stelle was ringing some kind of bell but obviously not loud enough. Annoying cos I was quite pleased with myself till hitting the brick wall. Never mind, just another of life’s disappointments.
  23. Tough going towards the end with a very tentative STELAE, my last entry.

    “A mere CHIT of a thing” is a phrase I dragged up from somewhere, Denis Wheatley perhaps. I hadn’t heard of the delightful Honey-badger before, RATEL seems a poor alternative.

    Lots of good clues, with HEROD the pick of the bunch.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  24. Never on the ball with this one — it seemed harder even than 120 which it was when I checked.

    Two new words for me CLERESTORY and PECULATES.

  25. Responsible for the Massacre of the Innocents?
    Allegedly! I think he was a progressive leader and builder who’s been unfairly tarnished by the anti-semitic writer of the Matthew gospel.
    And most anti-Herod biographers of the period don’t think to mention it.

  26. This puzzle was too difficult for me.
    But on my recent visit to The British Museum I saw several stelae. Basically big stones with writing or pictures carved into them.
    You can see them online.
  27. Found most of this covered fairly familiar territgory until we reached the STELAE; fortunately I knew the word but arriving at it from “tel.” being defined as “ring”, which I agree is mysterious, and the SAE, which I haven’t needed to enc. for many years now in real life, took a while.
      1. To be fair to anon, I said it’s the beginning of ‘sprung’ that is ‘off’. His (?) version is that the beginning of ‘stuck’ that’s ‘sprung off’.
  28. On closer inspection it gets worse. It just doesn’t conform to dictionary pronunciation guides nor to normal speech, especially regarding uneven stress. It’s a rubbish clue.
    1. On closer inspection — without any subject or clue number for us to reference, your comment is utterly meaningless — dyste-opian even!
  29. Responsible for the Massacre of the Innocents?
    Allegedly! I think he was a progressive leader and builder who’s been unfairly tarnished by the anti-semitic writer of the Matthew gospel.
    And most anti-Herod biographers of the period don’t think to mention it.

  30. I got stelae, since it was the only word that seemed to fit, but I could not parse it. Thank you jacckt.
  31. Christmas mayhem so this took me around 15 minutes – rather late in the day.
    Why all the fuss over SAE round TEL? Please contact me at Whitehall – Tel. 1212
    There are plenty of STELAE in Sri Lanka and my COD.
    1. Having never heard of Stelae, never been to Sri Lanka, and having tried to ‘phone Tel. 1212 and got nowhere, I am slightly confused.
  32. Some tricky vocabulary here, including CLERESTORY (NHO) and PLUMAGED (which just sounds odd to me), but, for me at least, not STELAE. I think I came across this for the first time in a guide book to the splendid Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. Like the Memorial itself, the word stuck.
  33. 22:14 late this afternoon, with a third of that time wrestling with 21 d “stelae”. One benefit of my attempting the 15 x 15 well after everyone else most days (it would seem), is that I can read everyone’s comments here before posting my own and gain a little re-assurance that “it wasn’t just me” .
    I had a vague — and it would appear totally spurious — recollection that “stele” had something to do with gallstones but first I had to convince myself that SAE was the “specially prepared” envelope and then find a suitable synonym for “ring”, so it was one of these clues where I rather staggered over the line.
    Whatever, I enjoyed the rest of the puzzle although my GK was stretched. For 7d “balalaika” I was able to remember the Soviet pooch that got launched into orbit in advance of Gagarin. I think it was Romania that issued stamps to commemorate her flight.
    I especially liked 14 ac “Upper Volta”, 3 d “underarm” and 4d “eons”. I also was amused by 9 ac “Rain Dance” and don’t recall having come across it in a Times Crossword before. Certainly about the only option left for Joe Root and the lads down under right now.
    Thanks to Jack for a fine blog and to setter for the workout.
  34. Defeated by STELAE (and nearly by CHITS since I didn’t know of the girl meaning). I missed SAE, although TEL did cross my mind.
  35. Another victim of STELAE here. I was never going to find that. EONS was really well hidden. Usually this type of clue is easy but EONS took ages!

  36. I agree about TEL as a verb (though we should probably check with some 12-year olds to make sure it isn’t current text-speak), but it didn’t hold me up as I had thought of Stele(s) early on, and when the SAE appeared it kind of made sense. I didn’t know Chits for impish girls, and I did know Chics for girls, so one up to the setter.

    I learned on Thought for the Day this morning on Radio 4 that Herod was was chased out of Palestine and to Rome by an invading army. He travelled via Egypy, where Cleopatra either tried to seduce him or did successfully seduce him; when he got to Rome his pal Marc Anthony set him up with an army and sent him back to regain his throne.

  37. Ground to a crawl trying to get GIVE which was rather good when our kind blogger explained it. Also failed on CHITS — annoying as I sort of know the definition but just couldnt think of CHIT for Bill

    The SAE did occur to me with TEL assumed with a twitch of the shoulder and you know mebbes a teeny raise of the hairy area immediately to the north of the eye.

    Enough from me

    Thanks Jackkt Setter and the enjoyable comments from everyone else

  38. 36.05. Interesting but tricky this one. I didn’t quite see the parsing of hilltops, unfortunately for me it crossed with stelae where the parsing was even further out of sight. Eventually got those two then a lengthy alpha-trawl and a pause for thought to justify LOI give.

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