Times Cryptic 28184 – University challenge

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 40 minutes with a lot of time lost toward the end on the cryptic clue at 26ac.

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 Efficient message covering a page (7)
CABLE (message – telegram) containing [covering] A + P (page)
5 Decline evident finally: time flies (7)
DIP (decline), {eviden}T [finally], ERA (time)
9 Disgraced junior to do UCLA wrong (5,1,5)
UNDER (junior), anagram [wrong] of DO UCLA. I couldn’t make any sense of the surface until I checked that UCLA stands for University of California at Los Angeles.
10 Strip of silk, perhaps — or lace? (3)
Two meanings
11 Grass on dude in China (6)
CAT (dude), HAY (grass). Both ‘cat’ and ‘dude’ are slang for ‘man’ so that’s okay for the crossword,  but each usually carries overtones as to a type of person which I don’t think match necessarily. The answer is noted as archaic and poetic but nevertheless it’s well-known.
12 State could get around rules, initially (8)
MAY (could) + LAND (get – capture, obtain) containing [around] R{ules} [initially]
14 Current queen and various characters in one majestic residence (7,6)
WIND (current), then R (queen) + CAST (various characters) contained by [in] SOLE (one). Her Maj’s main place of residence these days, other side of the tracks (well, the M4) from Slough.
17 Convert also respected statement of belief (8,5)
Anagram [convert] of ALSO RESPECTED
21 One punch after another bringing cheers (4-4)
CHIN (another punch), CHIN (one punch). ‘Cheers’ as in a toast to health.
23 Excellent drink — get round in (4-2)
LAP (get round) contained by [in] SUP (drink)
25 Back in a game (3)
A, GO (game)
26 Food in hot and cold state (5,6)
A cryptic definition that nearly did for me and added a good 10 minutes to my solving time
27 Short song about US university (7)
LIED (song) containing [about] MIT (a second US university!)
28 Make longer   sentence (7)
Two meanings, the second being a term of imprisonment
1 Champ in moment of truth? (6)
Two meanings
2 Flat pack for West Country town (7)
PAD (flat),  STOW (pack). Famous for its May Day celebrations and ‘Obby ‘Oss festival.
3 East End locks securing publication in drawer (3,6)
BARNET (East End locks – Barnet Fair / hair) containing [securing] MAG (publication )
4 Score eight tries, conversions harder originally (4)
E{ight} T{ries} C{onversions} H{arder} [originally]
5 Blunder, as might careless builder? (4,1,5)
A main definition and a cryptic hint
6 Pet in field? (5)
Two meanings. ‘Pet’ and ‘paddy’ are both slang for a fit of temper.
7 Cutting more, cut less content (7)
EXTRA (more), C{u}T [less – remove – content]
8 Accessing a mountain, road we take ultimately for British city (8)
RD (road) + {w}E + {tak}E [ultimately], contained by [accessing] A + BEN (mountain)
13 East winds endangered by a star (10)
Anagram [winds] of EAST, then RISKED (endangered)
15 All clear for development around university lacking basic units (9)
Anagram [for development] of ALL CLEAR containing [around] U (university – non-specific this time)
16 Expression of disapproval about hot blanket (5-3)
CATCALL (expression of disapproval) containing [about] H (hot)
18 Order including usual number in eggbox, because that’s what eggs are like (7)
OM (Order of Merit) containing [including] VI (usual number in eggbox – 6) + FOR (because)
19 Put top side in trouble? (7)
Anagram [in trouble] of TOP SIDE
20 Publicise    irregular spot (6)
Two meanings. If your paint brush drips on the floor it leaves an irregular spot or ‘splash’ .
22 Old measure in fragment of copper? (5)
CU (copper), BIT (fragment)
24 Very large keys have split: but they can be fixed (4)
D + D (keys) contained by [have split] OS (very large – outsize)

71 comments on “Times Cryptic 28184 – University challenge”

  1. Slower than yesterday, but I imagine everybody will be.

    Jack, I didn’t have BAKED ALASKA (my LOI) as a cryptic. I had hot = BAKED, cold state = ALASKA. Although I do understand that it works both ways. Very clever.

    Edited at 2022-01-11 02:31 am (UTC)

    1. I parsed BAKED ALASKA the same way and do not see it as a CD. But almost an &lit!

      Edited at 2022-01-11 05:52 am (UTC)

    2. TBH once I arrived at BAKED ALASKA after a considerable struggle I didn’t look for wordplay and I thought that as cryptic clues go (or as pointed out, possibly &lit), this was rather a good one, and still think that, notwithstanding our Shanghai correspondent’s misgivings over the word ‘food’ which I don’t share.

      You may well be right about the wordplay (perhaps the setter will drop by later and reveal his intentions) and no-one could argue with ALASKA as ‘cold state’, but I might quibble with ‘hot’ = ‘baked’ as it doesn’t necessarily follow as lots of baked food is served cold and it’s more usual to use ‘baking’ as a synonym for ‘hot’ in general. Also the whole point about BAKED ALASKA, whether food or confection, is that it’s both hot (outside) and cold (inside) at the same time, so for me the cryptic still has the edge as the better clue. Not that it really matters how one gets to the correct answer of course.

      Edited at 2022-01-11 06:09 am (UTC)

      1. Agree about hot=baked, though we’ve seen worse. But it’s hard to imagine that the term “cold state” was coincidental, so the setter must have had at least one eye on the word play.

        Not an easy clue to categorise, and of course we don’t actually have to.

        1. I can see it both ways, but bake can mean (Collins): 4. (intransitive) informal
          to be extremely hot, as in the heat of the sun… If you said, “We baked on the playa,” it would be equivalent to “We were hot.” But you could conceivably say, “We were baked on the playa” and not mean that you were turned into a comestible product. (“We got baked on the playa” would be more ambiguous.)
          CDs often have involve a play on the sense of a word or phrase, though typically a bit more unobtrusively than the deployment of “state” here.
          More importantly, though, I have to find out where I can get some BAKED ALASKA.

          Edited at 2022-01-11 05:00 pm (UTC)

  2. Was 26ac a cryptic clue as per Jack, or as per Lord Galspray? Whatever, I thought the clue fell between the two, as the word ‘food’ was somewhat clunky. A BAKED ALASKA is a confection of a rather specialised nature and hardly nutriment IMLTHO. However, it went in fairly early, hereabouts.

    FOI 4dn DROP A BRICK — as I did yesterday with Lorraine!

    LOI 16dn CATCH-ALL


    WOD 11ac CATHAY

    I did not bother to parse the IKEA (Slough) conundrum at 14ac — WINDSOR CASTLE.

    My time a steady 42 minutes

    Edited at 2022-01-11 04:15 am (UTC)

  3. Took a long time to finish this, being stuck on “bombe” for the NHO BAKED ALASKA until I finally got ASTERISKED which pointed me to the correct answer. A few other hard ones such as CATCH-ALL and OVIFORM didn’t help the solving time. Glad that the mind was sufficiently in gear at the end to spot the close-but-not-close-enough “clutch” at 1d and to swap it out with barely a CRUNCH.
  4. Had a wrong guess for PADSTOW for a while, which gave me a wrong guess for CATHAY, but got to both places eventually.
    Biffed WINDSOR CASTLE, but did finally parse.
    Have never eaten BAKED ALASKA, but am sure I would like it. Look for the phrase in headlines about climate change…

    Edited at 2022-01-11 06:24 am (UTC)

  5. Pleased to solve this without too many problems in under 40 mins.
    Thanks, Jack, for WINDSOR CASTLE and OVIFORM, neither of which I could parse adequately. With the former I took “current queen” at face value and put (Betty) WINDSOR. “Various characters” gave me cast so that left me with L E.
    In 11ac, nice to have “China” as other than ‘mate or ‘pal’.
    I agree with Galspray regarding BAKED ALASKA.
    PS: Isn’t Padstow better known for Rick Stein these days?

    Edited at 2022-01-11 07:24 am (UTC)

        1. Or so they’ll have you believe…

          Holidaying in Cornwall a few years ago, we got a lift from a local farmer. He was nearly totalled by a car coming fast and wide round a blind corner.

          ‘Holiday driver?’ I asked.

          ‘No – local,’ he replied. ‘They’re the worst.’

          1. Well my tongue was in my cheek but it is a genuine problem, particularly in places like Padstow or Rock.
              1. You just end up with a bit of a hollowed-out economy which revolves around catering for people who aren’t there most of the time. Of course the same can be said of parts of London.
        2. Wouldn’t surprise me. Last time I looked there were 4 restaurants in the town with the Rick Stein name attached. Maybe folk look on that as overkill. He also has a restaurant in Mollymook on the South Coast of NSW. His second wife comes from there. My late wife and I used to take holidays in the general area and we ate there on 2 or 3 occasions. I must say, it was very good.
  6. The lone and level sands Stretch far away.

    Just short of 30 mins pre-brekker after a long tussle with Splash and Paddy, which unlocked Maryland.
    That was more like it.
    Thanks setter and J.

    PS and apologies in advance…
    I had friends at University, one of whom liked to say, “Time flies like an arrow.” To which another would respond, “Fruit-flies like a banana.” A third would then add, “Tits like coconuts.”
    How we laughed.

    Edited at 2022-01-11 07:48 am (UTC)

    1. It doesn’t cease to amuse me to tell people I like looking at great tits while I’m working from home. Yes I am puerile.
      1. We used to have a neighbour who was a sitting-room window bird watcher. His wife used to tell people, “Harry likes to watch the birds from the window. The four-legged variety of course.”
        1. Let’s not even get started on the importance to the over-wintering birds of easy access to fat balls.
    2. I thought that the time flies joke was from Groucho Marx, but evidently not. First cited in 1982, it seems; one of your friends?
  7. It was nice to have something to get one’s teeth into after yesterday’s amuse bouche. LOI CATHAY, for which I was largely reliable on the Cathay Pacific airline for familiarity. I did contemplate grass = rat, as in snitch for a while which gave the implausible CATRAT. I’m glad I didn’t trust my parsing in this instance.
  8. 8:11. On the wavelength today. Whereas yesterday I was able to biff loads of answers, and in several cases didn’t even need the clue, today I almost always needed at least some element of the wordplay. This makes for slower but rather more enjoyable solving.
    I don’t think BAKED ALASKA is just a CD: I can’t believe ‘cold state’ isn’t intentional. And if it were just a cryptic it would be rather poor: hardly cryptic at all. As it is it’s very good.

    Edited at 2022-01-11 09:34 am (UTC)

  9. I wish, unlike Pootle, I hadn’t trusted my parsing, as I’m back on my normal form after yesterday. 47 minutes to find I’d not gone back to question my improbable OVICOSM, which fitted the wordplay and the crossers, but in hindsight was obviously very wrong!

    Edited at 2022-01-11 08:33 am (UTC)

  10. … after yesterday’s ascension to heaven. Wrong way round, speaking theologically. 46 minutes with LOI SPLASH, although I had it in mind for most of my solving time, without being convinced. For someone living less than two miles from High Barnet centre, the East End for CRS was confusing in BAR MAGNET. We could not be “norther” in London terms. I spent far too long parsing WINDSOR CASTLE despite having the WIND (not that sort) and the CAST. COD to BAKED AKASKA. A toughish challenge. Thank you Jack and setter.
    1. Yes, it has always puzzled me as to why Barnet should have been chosen for the CRS as it’s so far north of London, and actually in Hertfordshire for most of its existence. A little research found that Barnet Fair flourished in the 16c-18c as the country’s major horse fair so in days dominated by horse transport and power its fame would have spread nationwide. Its location adjacent to the Great North Road – the most important northern route out of London – made it something of a transport hub for changing teams of horses, refreshment and overnight lodgings so that it became known as ‘the town of inns.’
  11. Unfortunately got sidetracked by work before I hit submit.

    I also thought BAKED ALASKA was a great clue. Held up a bit at the end by EXTRACT / TIE – having seen the parsing I like EXTRACT, not so fond of TIE.

    Thanks setter and J.

  12. Steady progress with some head-scratching along the way. Much more enjoyable than yesterday if one’s honest. Admired def for CATCH-ALL with its justaposition to HOT. Complex (but perhaps too easily biffable) wdp for HM’s residence.
    No great tits to admire from my home office but each day I do get a red squirrel on the maple and the camellia (still in flower) outside my window.
    Many thanks to setter and blogger, as ever.
  13. …and my mother, RIP, made a mean Baked Alaska. Always a childhood treat and very fond memories.
  14. Much more here to get your teeth into after yesterday. 32 minutes, but I spent a couple of minutes after the end working out why WINDSOR CASTLE worked. I’d put it in because it was the obvious answer, but for a long time it was a mystery. Didn’t think much of the etch clue, rather a feeble surface.
  15. ….”Yesterday Once More” when CAPABLE went straight in, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this was quite a different proposition.


    TIME 11:45

  16. The nearest I’ve been to a BAKED ALASKA is the Arctic Roll, pretty much the inverted version with sponge round a solid cylinder of non-dairy ice cream. But we were happy! If I say I thought the clue was brilliant, that definitively disqualifies it from the CD category. I know this stuff.

    I quite liked this one, slow to start and with enough head scratching on the way to make it interesting. I completed in 17.30, though I freely admit to leaving the parsing of Windsor Castle to Jack: I was not disappointed, thanks!.

    EXTRACT I thought was very clever, taking a while to work out what was going on with more and less cutting.

  17. Rather a dismal effort from me today – started off fairly briskly with UNDER A CLOUD and about eight more around the grid, but soon found myself unable to make further progress. Very nearly gave up about 30m and halfway there, until ACELLULAR unlocked the SE corner, and I soldiered on without much enthusiasm or expectation of success. As I approached the hour however, possible completion loomed, and I entered DIPTERA / PADDY / MARYLAND hoping for the best – but failed at the final hurdle of CATHAY.

    Sorry to be so glum today, must have been the muesli breakfast.

  18. Mostly completed just before bed last night. Left with NE corner with only DROP A BRICK and ABERDEEN in place.

    On resumption, saw PADDY almost immediately but then several minutes thought before splitting ‘time flies’ and puzzling out DIPTERA. A few more minutes for EXTRACT and a shrug for TIE (didn’t get the ‘lace’ reference until after completion).

  19. I had to hunt to find a clue that would get get me started, but once I had a few entries things speeded up, then slowed down again as I struggled to get EXRTRACT and ABERDEEN, among others, not helped by a tentative entry of CUT for 10a. I thought the dd’s were pretty uninspired. I wasn’t even sure SPLASH was right when I finally entered it. The clue to EXTRACT, however, was very good; one of those clues where you have to work at each bit of the clue before the light dawns. I was sure for some time that it was (tr)ENCHANT, because of my error at 10a.
    40 minutes in all.
  20. Unlike yesterday’s disappointingly easy puzzle, this had just the right level of difficulty to be challenging but solvable. Well done to the setter.
  21. When they were small my children liked to watch a tv series called Fairy Tale Theater in which famous people played the leading roles. In The Nightingale Mick Jagger was the Emperor of all Cathay and was all got up in a topknot and Fu Manchu face hair. He was no actor but it didn’t matter. Thanks for the WINDSOR CASTLE parse Jack. 16.23
    1. Remember “Ned Kelly”? Mind you, he was probably more proud of his Emperor of all Cathay performance.
  22. As per others’ experience, straightforward without being facile. Lots of clues which could be read more than one way, so a nice solve.
  23. 23:42 with CATHAY LOI. I didn’t have any issue with the CAT/DUDE equation, the distinction being more their use by different generations, I thought, rather than a having a different meaning or implication. But then I was never hip enough to use either of them, so I can’t speak from experience.
  24. A good step up from yesterday. COD – BAKED ALASKA.

    I once explained CHIN-CHIN to some French friends who now use it at very opportunity, when we meet, even when over a cup of coffee.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

    1. The French say it though. They spell it ‘tchin-tchin’.

      Edited at 2022-01-11 06:46 pm (UTC)

  25. 14a slowed me down. Clearly ‘ a majestic residence ‘ would have to be a PALACE, and biffed WINDSOR PALACE. It worked for the checkers except 7d, which forced a rethink ; so castled on the queen side. Unlike chess, one can take back moves in the crossword.
    LOI CATHAY, as I wondered whether CATRAT could be a type of porcelain.
  26. 38.50. I found this a struggle and was a bit off the pace, plus I kept going wrong and wasting time scratching my head for ages before correcting to allow further progress, even though I was pretty sure the incorrect entries didn’t quite parse. Padstow was neat. I thought 17ac was great in Rocky I.
  27. Like Phil, when I got CAPABLE and then ETCH straight away, I thought I was in for another easy ride, but then I hit a wall. Nothing else appeared until I put POSITED at 19d. That, of course, made the rest of the SE rather tricky. However, the APOSTLES CREED put me back on track, and I started to make slow progress. UNDER A CLOUD heralded PADSTOW and CRUNCH, but CATHAY eluded me until the very end. EXTRACT, TIE and ABERDEEN just preceded CATHAY. Liked BAKED ALASKA and ASTERISKED. 36:47. Thanks setter and Jack.
  28. I got three longish clues straight off-DROP A BRICK, UNDER A CLOUD and WINDSOR CASTLE so I was quicker than yesterday at first. Also got BAKED ALASKA easily which I thought a good clue (Alaska =cold state). But carelessness set in and I failed to correct CATRAT and ODES, so two errors. COD to SLAP-UP.
    I have spent the last several nights watching Rick Stein’s programmes on BBC 2 at 6.30pm about Cornwall. They are charming and well-made and the locals appearing seem to still love him. He is very engaging.
  29. An hour and a quarter. Most enjoyable. Had help from husband on capable, ago and cubit, for which I would have put cubeb as I knew it was Cu for copper and I had the b, but cubeb is a shrub and I couldn’t bring the measurements of the ark to mind. FOI under a cloud, LOI diptera, which also gets my COD. Quite a few unparsed – Windsor Castle, Maryland, oviform, Aberdeen, so thanks for shining the light on those, and for the blog, Jack. Thanks, setter, for the entertainment, in places for two, which was even better.
  30. LOI was 14a, obviously WINDSOR CASTLE, but there was a chin-stroking interlude until I parsed it to my satisfaction.
  31. A bit slower than yesterday, but then who wasn’t? Windsor Castle was well IKEAN. COD 12ac MARYLAND. WOD 26ac BAKED ALASKA.
  32. 53:20 and not much to add this late, except to say I didn’t linger long with CATRAT at 11ac but moved swiftly and confidently on to CATPOT (grass=pot is, I believe, a thing): a novelty ceramic biscuit barrel. But it wasn’t POT. So we seem to have a Times Crossword with no drugs references. Who’d have thought it
  33. Drugs such as alcohol, codeine, ‘fentanyl’, morphine, pethadrine, cannabis today all have important medical propensities. It is their abuse that is a problem. You seem to be slightly out of touch!
  34. What a difference a day makes. Struggled to see some of the solutions that turned out to be rather more obvious than I was trying to make them, then had a brainfreeze and put in ODES instead of ODDS for a technical DNF in 17:26. Still can’t fathom why I thought ODES could be fixed. Oh well.
  35. Last two in were splash and slap-up, and I wasn’t convinced they were right. I had lap for drink, which made it hard to parse. The cockney locks I had down as ‘air’ for a good while, which slowed me down in that corner. COD definitely extract. Many thanks to setter and blogger.
  36. 54 minutes and quite an enjoyable puzzle, certainly more to bite into than yesterday. My LOI was CATHAY since it took me some time to make myself aware that HAY and not just RAT was a 3-letter grass, and of course that dude was not going to be D for some reason and China would not be PAL but rather the literal meaning of the answer. Fortunately I proofread before submitting, so that I didn’t submit DOPOSIT. PADSTOW started off as PADCREW, which seemed very unlikely (and was). I managed to biff BAKED ALASKA almost from the grid, without reading the clue. COD to OVIFORM for the cleverly knitted wordplay.
  37. Ran out of time in the end with only 61% done. Found it hard but I reckon I’d have got there or thereabouts in the end if I’d persevered. Very annoyed not to get BAKED ALASKA which seems so completely obvious when you see it.

    I had XIAMAN in for 11ac for a very long time – it nearly works as XIA is some kind of grass and MAN is dude. However, Xiamen, not Xiaman, is a place in China. But in the end my favourite airline slotted in nicely.

    Thanks blogger and setter…

  38. Having the blundering builder Show A Crack was my worst error, but there were others. (H)air Closet anyone? But I had proper nits to pick all over the rest of the place. Capable is not efficient. Chin is not a punch (it’s the recipient of one) any more than gut or kidney is. I could go on, but then you would think I’d just turned in a rotten time and was irked. And you’d be right.
  39. I messed up and put in the non-existent AIR MAGNET since I’d forgotten the CRS BARNET and so went with ‘AIRNET. Then I never managed to get CAPABLE before I had to go and do something else. So DNF for me.

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