Times Cryptic 28214

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: Over an hour and I still needed aids to finish off  my last entry. The clue at 27ac suggests this may have been compiled by one of our regular QC setters.

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 Uproar about cryptics being cut back (6)
Hidden in [being cut back] {ab}OUT CRY{ptics}
4 Apropos hoax, laugh, oddly reflecting “we’d give it a whirl!” (4,4)
{a}P{r}O{p}O{s} H{o}A{x} L{a}U{g}H [oddly] reversed [reflecting]. These were all the rage in the late 1950’s when I had a yellow one.
10 Chance you usually won’t have   material (7)
Two meanings. You might not stand ‘an earthly chance’ at something. ‘Worldly and material’ as opposed to ‘heavenly or celestial’.
11 I say ring for the blessed commander! (7)
HALO (ring for the blessed), GEN (commander – General). The halogens are a group of related elements in the periodic table, one of which is Iodine (I). ‘Say’ indicates the definition by example.
12 Extended call for peace involving a foreign ruler (4)
SH-H (extended call for peace) containing [involving] A. ‘Shhh’ is in SOED as a variation of  ‘sh’ , so why not ‘shh’?
13 Athlete, exhausted and quiet, having not qualified (4-6)
SHOT (exhausted – slang), P (quiet – music), UTTER (not qualified  – total)
15 Winger having edge on kid (9)
CHAFF (kid – exchange humorous banter), INCH (edge)
16 Thus having easily passed acid test, getting buzz (5)
PH ONE (thus having easily passed acid test). pH1 would be the highest level of acidity on the pH scale. ‘Phone’ as in ‘give us a buzz’.
18 Bill after turning from gas is steep (5)
TAB (bill) reversed [turning from…], HE (gas – helium)
19 Dicky this time is buttonholed by club bore (9)
Anagram [dicky] of THIS + T (time) contained [buttonholed] by WOOD (club – golf]. Past tense of ‘bear’.
21 Put back in control, thanks primarily to our boss? (10)
REINS (control), TA (thanks), T{o}[primarily], ED (our boss – editor of The Times)
23 Shark fighters in Jaws: film replacing a western (4)
JawS becomes JETS when ET (film) replaces a + w (western). The Jets and Sharks are opposing gangs in the musical West Side Story, the equivalent of the feuding families in Romeo and Juliet on which the story is based.
26 Plant that’s excessively puffed up, but not round (7)
{o}VER (excessively) [not round – o), VAIN (puffed up). My first unknown of the day but I worked it out eventually. It has come up only once before in the time I have been contributing here; that was 6 years ago, and I didn’t know it then either.
27 So the swine’s going back to work, protecting home and family (7)
GO (work) reversed [back], containing [protecting] IN (home) + KIN (family). Dear me, such a devious definition!
28 Romantic poet translated stories about the heart in Latin (8)
Anagram [translated] of STORIES containing [about] {la}T{in} [heart]. Known to many as writer of In The Bleak Midwinter.
29 Swimmer, one you catch sleeping with leading lady (6)
Z (one you catch sleeping), AND (with), ER (leading lady – HMQ). This was the one I gave up on. I got the ER, but I never heard of the fish, nor of ‘catching Z’s’ meaning to sleep.
1 Launches into reason for 27? (5)
A straight definition and an outrageous cryptic hint referring to OINKING at 27ac: 0 (zero) PENS might be the reason for 0 (zero)INKING!
2 Scold, in time, one for cooking the books (9)
TERM (time), AGA (one for cooking), NT (books – New Testament). AGA is a Swedish brand of kitchen range. SOED advises that a scold is a persistently nagging or grumbling woman (rarely a man) whereas a termagant is  a violent, overbearing, or quarrelsome woman.
3 Game personnel in industrial heartland (4)
RU (game – Rugby Union), HR (personnel – Human Relations). The industrial heartland of Germany.
5 Group of countries meeting slight problem separate (7)
UN (group of countries – United Nations), HITCH (slight problem)
6 Pops out with Laurel for numerous functions (3-7)
Anagram [out[ of POPS LAUREL
7 Demanding to have top lowered, is obliged (5)
{t}OUGH (demanding) becomes OUGHT when its first (top) letter is lowered
8 Correspondent‘s twenty-four hours in federal jail to finish (3,6)
FRI (twenty-four hours) contained by [in] PEN (federal jail – penitentiary) + END (finish)
9 Short promotion by female that features in build-up (6)
HYP{e} (promotion) [short], HEN (female). Another devious definition!
14 Violent confrontation to experience: I’m slapped on the face (10)
AFTERS (violent confrontation), HAVE (experience). Easy enough to solve but less so to explain if, like me, one didn’t know ‘afters’ as ‘a confrontation or physical violence between football players immediately after they have been involved in a challenge for the ball’ (Collins). ‘Afters’ for me conjures up far more pleasant visions of stodgy puddings served with lashings of hot custard.
15 One often hailed as the new Verdi in California — British! (9)
Anagram [new]  of VERDI contained by CA (California) + BR (British).
17 In agreement lasting sixty seconds, dissent’s beginning (2,3,4)
OF ONE MIN (lasting sixty seconds), D{issent’s} [beginning]
19 Furniture item that now needs repair (7)
Anagram [needs repair] of THAT NOW. A stand with shelves, used for keeping or displaying small objects (SOED)
20 What’s for watching   you might think outside (3,3)
Two vaguely cryptic hints. ‘The box’ is slang for a TV set, and one is sometimes encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ – to explore ideas that are creative and unusual and not limited or controlled by rules or tradition. Often needed in crossword solving, especially as a Times solver venturing into Guardian territory.
22 N African king‘s daughter embraced by goddess (5)
D (daughter) contained [embraced] by IRIS (goddess). Apparently Idris was King of Libya, but in my childhood it was a popular brand of orange squash.
24 Ducks out of mounting charity events around university (5)
RAGS (charity events) reversed [mounting] and containing [around] U (university). ‘Ducks’ and ‘sugar’ are both somewhat dated terms of endearment each best known on opposite side of The Pond, perhaps.
25 Maybe miss a year’s events, all but the last (4)
ANNA{l} (a year’s events) [all but the last]

58 comments on “Times Cryptic 28214”

  1. Definitely harder than yesterday’s, with some definitions seeming quirky (SUGAR wasn’t a problem, but EARTHLY is a trip). IDRIS makes me think of the eponymous Elba (initially famed for The Wire). I didn’t know that sense of AFTERS either, and didn’t even think about it until reading the blog. Over here, a PEN FRIEND is the more alliterative and snappy “pen pal.” The turf war between JETS and Sharks is timely now, because Spielberg has redone the musical for film. I particularly liked HALOGEN and HYPHEN.

    (I’m getting these done quicker this week because I have to work them at my desk!)

    Edited at 2022-02-15 02:45 am (UTC)

    1. You’ve probably seen this before, or if not will get it straight away, but one of my favourite crossword clues: Pen pal (3)
      1. PIG? HOG? SOW? CON? LAG? COB?
        I think COB is my favorite…
        Seems it would depend too much on the crossers to be a perfect clue (according to my own ideal, anyway) for a straight no-chaser cryptic. But in a noncryptic crossword with the occasional cryptic clue, sure. Like The New York Times on Saturday.
        1. Yes, when I did it, I must have had one of the C or B crossers first, so COB it was and that’s the one I like most. I agree though there are other possibilities.
  2. After God knows how long–over an hour, anyway–I had the damned fish left, and gave up after an alphabet run with D (badder, cadder,…) and the prospect of L, N, R to come. Had no idea how AFTERSHAVE worked, just biffed it. Also biffed HULA HOOP, parsed post-submission. Never got the definition for HALOGEN, and DNK that iodine was one. Some impressive clues–WITHSTOOD, JETS, OINKING, HYPHEN inter many alia–but if this is Oink, I wouldn’t mind if he confined himself to QCs for a while.
  3. What a brilliant puzzle. Certainly at the limits of my solving ability, especially with the unknown VERVAIN, ZANDER and AFTERS (in that sense), and the barely-known TERMAGANT, RUHR and IDRIS, as well as having no idea of why “I” could be HALOGEN.

    Too many great clues to mention, but hard to go past the definitions for HYPHEN, OINKING and HALOGEN.

    Relieved to have finished, and I had misunderstood the parsing of OINKING until reading the blog. Thanks for that Jack, and thanks for the challenge setter.

    Edited at 2022-02-15 03:41 am (UTC)

  4. Time way, way off the scale (>2 hrs) so I submitted off leaderboard, but at least finished with all in correctly. NHO the ‘Plant’ at 26a, the ‘Swimmer’ at 29a (helped by being the first name of a South African golfer) or the ‘N. African king’ at 22d (entered courtesy of IDRIS Elba too). No hope of parsing AFTERSHAVE and I wasn’t sure what the last letter deletion was for ANNA.

    A bit of a slog but plenty of highlights. I loved both bits of the 27a/1d combo, the def for HYPHEN, the ‘I say’ for HALOGEN and the surface and parsing for SHOT-PUTTER among others.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  5. DNF. Never heard of whatnot, but remember it has come up before. NHO vervain, and don’t remember it from 6 years ago. After looking up those 2 withstood fell easily. Also beaten by zander – I’d push Zs, not catch them; but even so it was way too devious for me. Also missed the no pens no ink – I was a bit nonplussed as to why lack of pigpens would lead to pigs oinking.
    But some brilliant stiff in there. Disappointed I wasn’t up to it.
  6. …is quite acidic, but the pH scale is open-ended. Out of interest google seems to think the strongest acid has pH of -25: fluoroantimonic acid.
    1. I should know better than to add detail on scientific matters of which I know very little but I think I pasted that in from somewhere.
  7. I meant to query ‘federal’; states have penitentiaries, too (lots of them), and ‘the pen’ isn’t restricted to federal ones.
    1. Yes, that makes it an unsignalled DBE but I imagine the setter wanted to indicate ‘pen’ as an American jail, ‘state’ would have been no better and ‘state or federal’ overblown and pedantic. He might have covered himself by adding a question mark, but not everyone’s so fussy about DBE’s these days.
      1. He could have said ‘American prison’. Come to think of it, I don’t think there are any federal jails.
        1. Someone was in the news the past few days wanting to be in a federal prison (comfortable and civilised) rather than state prison (not comfortable or civilised). Google google… the McMichaels, who killed Ahmaud Arbery.
  8. Well, I minded a bit. But overall I was relieved to get out alive in 40 minutes with just two clues unsolved: the crossers TERMAGANT and EARTHLY. Now it feels like I should have gotten them, but hey ho. After constructing VERVAIN, ZANDER and a bunch of other toughies, and thus avoiding a large-scale disaster, I’ll take it. Particularly liked CABDRIVER. I got the idea early but was obsessed with the CAB going at the end, rather than the beginning, of the word. An excellent, and challenging, workout.
  9. …used aids for EARTHLY, AFTERSHAVE and HYPHEN so SWOLB.
    I like HALOGEN and HYPHEN but too difficult for me today.
    Thanks for the blog, Jack.

    Edited at 2022-02-15 07:59 am (UTC)

  10. … frosty wind made moan,

    After 30 mins I hadn’t unlocked the Termagant. Another 5 mins cracked it.
    NHO that Irdis.
    When I got Sugar I thought Uh oh, but eventually I liked it, mostly Zander and Withstood.
    Thanks setter and J.

  11. DNF, surrendering without ZANDER after 50 minutes. I didn’t stand an EARTHLY with that. POI AFTERSHAVE. I did know AFTERS from football commentaries but the word is usually synonymous with pudding for me, ‘What’s for afters’ the most important question of the day. COD to HALOGEN and JETS jointly. I eventually constructed VERVAIN without knowing the plant, having been convinced it was VERBENA for ages. Tough but excellent puzzle apart from the fish. Thank you Jack and setter.
        1. You should, it’s wonderful! Defeated on today’s by half a dozen clues, btw, including Aftershave, Zander and Oinking. I sensed early on I’d never complete it, and I was right.
          Gill D
  12. Tough stuff indeed. Thinking I might be just off track today, but then see leaderboard and would seem all agree. Even Magoo took 15 mins (or maybe he had a 10 minute break to have his breakfast or vlog another Sudoku). Some terrific definitions, wholly deceptive, but also some odd GK (IDRIS?). A real work-out.
  13. I found this tough but fun. The NW corner took me most time but I had in the back of my mind that scold could mean a shrewish woman and eventually TERMAGANT came to me and unlocked the rest of the clues. ZANDER seemed reasonably familiar to me though I’m not sure where from. VERVAIN was more tricky and I required Mrs Pootle’s help for that one. Without it I think I’d have struggled on for a fair bit longer.
  14. ….in fact barely started. 20m, in I had 3 isolated answers, and realised I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Felt intimidated by the difficulty, I also had the distinct feeling it just wasn’t my day. This proved to be the case:
    – Despite reviewing the clues for the hidden word, I didn’t even spot OUTCRY
    – Failed to do enough “oddly reflecting” due diligence for 4a
    – Couldn’t solve anagrams such as “Pops+Laurel”

    When even the low-hanging fruit is unreachable, it’s time to leave it to the big hitters.

  15. ….this was an absolute beast. I eventually biffed the fish (which I’d heard of) and so my thanks to Jack for unveiling its secrets !

    TIME 21:21

    1. I had also heard of the fish (probably from crosswords) but couldn’t see why — I presumed it must be some theatrical reference!
      Tough puzzle — didn’t time myself but at least two hours not including a much-needed break.
  16. DNF. Too tricky for me, gave up after 1.5 hours. Missed OPENS, EARTHLY and ZANDER. The only Zander I know is on Pointless!

    Some. Great clues and tricks. I particularly liked HULA HOOP, PEN FRIEND, WITHSTOOD and JETS.

    Shame not to get there in the end. Thanks Jack and crafty setter.

  17. I drink IDRIS when I’S DRI……….desperate slogan but used by the now defunct product name.
    1. When Jack mentioned it I immediately thought of the slogan, even though it hadn’t crossed my mind for, what, sixty years? Such is the curious persistence of memory, and the conundrum of where in all that grey matter such things are stored.
      1. For what it’s worth, the online records don’t have that added s, though I’m open to persuasion.
        1. I remember it well. Am sure it was IDRIS. I always thought it was a Welsh drink because round by here there used to be lots of Idrises.
  18. I thought that ‘back’ in 1ac was a bit naughty, a quite gratuitous difficulty suggesting that it’s a reverse hidden, but otherwise an excellent crossword. Surprising that the SNITCH is so high, as I ‘only’ took 47 minutes, with the odd aid to prod me (but I don’t think vervain and zander are given in Chambers Crossword Dictionary). Never understood the Z in ZANDER, and thought the pig was oinking because there was no pen for him, so he had to sleep out in the cold. Wasn’t Marilyn Monroe’s character in ‘Some Like it Hot’ called Sugar? Anyway it helped me, perhaps for the wrong reason.
  19. Oof, hard but good, and all perfectly fair once you saw where the clue was pointing. Lots of slightly niche knowledge required, but obviously that’s fine when I know it. Niche knowledge which wasn’t required: the man who invented the Aga won a Nobel Prize (though not for inventing the cooker, obvs, however much people love them).
  20. Very pleased to finish this – with EARTHLY (had considered earshot and earthen first) and HYPHEN – even though it took me 67 minutes. Some really innovative stuff, most of which I twigged, apart from the inky stuff, which makes the linked clues so much better.

    I think OINKING is my favourite, especially since, after 34 years tramping round Hong Kong, I saw my very first wild pig today. Very impressive too. Having come across the giant Chinese frog and the Chinese cobra on the same waterlogged walk a few years ago, all I need to compete my bucket list are the barking deer and the civet, though I would need to turn nocturnal to have any chance of catching a glimpse of these…

    Edited at 2022-02-15 10:48 am (UTC)

  21. The CHAFFINCH I clearly disdain
    And a most obscure plant, the VERVAIN
    With an unheard-of fish
    Called the ZANDER; I wish
    I could find some more room in my brain
  22. Tough going indeed, and I’m quite pleased with my 26.50, which will bring the stratospheric SNITCH down an infinitesimal amount.
    I even got ZANDER, with a bit of an aaaargh as I realised where the Z came from.
    It seemed to me this was something of a compendium of the things that have stumped us over the last few weeks, such as the-hidden-in-plain-sight um, HYPHEN and the I for Iodine HALOGEN, and “so the swine’s going”. Several nearly evil definitions.
    I had my pigs oinking because they has no pens, but the O INKING is even cleverer – didn’t spot it.
    I think I associate AFTERS with Bill McLaren or Eddie Waring and the rugby codes: in soccer its more often handbags.
    Frabjous blog, Jack on a very fine puzzle.
  23. Ditto Z with the sound of OINKING when the pigs find there are O PENS. He was much faster than me though. Very hard at 33.04 but very enjoyable. VERVAIN is verbena en Francais and L’Occitane has it in an AFTERSHAVE, which certainly didn’t help with the other meaning of “afters” which I DNK. I liked the JETS all the way.
  24. Really liked this, some great stuff, HALOGEN, HYPHEN, RUHR, IDRIS, all very good. After 40 minutes I had the far SE corner left, – the pig noise, the fish and the terrible IMO SUGAR, so came here to see what I was missing. Knew VERVAIN from seeing / buying the herb in French supermarkets. Do you “catch a Z” sleeping? Only plural, I would have thought. But life goes on and golf is rained off today.
  25. This was tricky and it was wonderful – the best puzzle for a while, with so many great clues. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but EARTHLY, HALOGEN, PHONE, WITHSTOOD, JETS, AFTERSHAVE, SUGAR could all easily have been COD in another puzzle. Special mention for OPENS, which I had taken to be referring to a lack of sties giving rise to pigs’ disgruntlement (as it were) – and would have been a terrible clue – but O INKING is lovely. Also a very nicely hidden for OUTCRY.

    Like others, VERVAIN and ZANDER caused the most difficulty, with the last few minutes spent alphabet-trawling for them – never heard of either, but figured out the cryptic eventually. If I’d followed up an earlier thought that this might be a pangram, I might have got the Z earlier – although, of course, the grid is missing a Q.

    The only slight weakness for me was the use of ‘the new Verdi’ in 15d, which fits with the surface but not quite with the cryptic, as it’s only ‘a new Verdi’.

    14m 14s on this. More please!

    1. I had them too, all marked up on paper ready for blogging, but when I got to writing up the clue 0 INKING suddenly dawned on me and I saved myself the embarrassment of getting it wrong, moaning about the clue and being corrected.
      1. I also thought the pigs must be homeless, until seeing your blog, Jack, prompting a large groan. Very clever, and very well spotted!
  26. The NW had me completely and only managed to finish with help. Having got OINKING I’d have thought 1d would be easy but no. LOI the totally unseen hidden OUTCRY.
  27. DNF after an hour and a half with four missing in the NW. Particularly liked the SE which fell very slowly to a mixture of PDMs and groans. I knew ZANDER, assuming I knew it from crosswords, but it seems not. Many thanks for the blog
  28. Lots of bemusement, and a bit of hit-and-hope. Some answers I saw easily (Shah, Hula Hoop, etc.), others took an age. LOI Vervain only reached by an alphabet trawl and familiarity with the French ‘Verveine’ (safest way I’ve found to order mint tea in France is with Verveine – ‘Verveine Menthe’ – as the straight mint teas always seem to have been sweetened. Any better tips would be appreciated!)
    NHO Idris or Zander, but they both seemed pretty likely from cluing and crossers. I think ‘catching some Zs’ is fairly commonplace, isn’t it? I’d always assumed that the ‘Z’ was a shorthand snore, so singular not an issue.
    The ‘hyphen’ penny dropped only when I had ‘earthly’, which in turn I only managed when I finally got ‘opens’ having decided that pigs may well oink with no pens – so many thanks to Jack for the far neater explanation.
    My only slight issue is whether your hailed chauffeur would be all one word. Time 24:54, paused for a couple of interruptions.
    Definitely feel like my brain has been tested, so thanks, Setter! And many thanks to Jack for the unravelling.
  29. 41:22. I found this extremely difficult – or rather, I found three-quarters of it reasonably straightforward and a quarter so extremely difficult that I didn’t put in an answer for what must have been 20 minutes. I came very close to giving up but the standard of clueing was high so I thought effort was likely to be rewarded. So it proved, with the most intractable clues (mostly in the NW) all resulting in lovely PDMs when I finally unravelled their mysteries.
    Like others I thought the OPENS/OINKING connection was to do with, er, disgruntled pigs so thanks jackkt for decoding the neater explanation.
    First class stuff.

    Edited at 2022-02-15 04:35 pm (UTC)

  30. Flippin’ eck!

    That was tough. Cheated with both ZANDER and VERVAIN to see if they were actually things. Was quite up with the Britishness of the clueing though — catching Zs; AFTERS

    Thought EARTHLY = material was a bit loose

    OINKING was a construction exercise — OPENS took a lot more thought!

  31. DNF. Gave up after straining the brain cells (both of them) for over an hour with zander still to get. Clever stuff but too brutally hard for me to enjoy all that much.
  32. Agree – brutally hard. Finished with help from husband and dictionary but we chose the wrong xander, which can be spelled either way apparently, not remembering Zzzzzzzzzz from the Beano. Husband also supplied hyphen and bathe, and checked the spelling of Rossetti for me. At least two hours. FOI Jets. Had some kind of runner for the athlete, but the *h*t meant that could be corrected, and changed organ (only word that fit) to ought, which parsed, hooray. And so on. Very enjoyable. Thanks, Jack, and setter.
  33. After 88 minutes in 2 sessions I finally submitted and had a pink square. GANDER. Drat! Thanks Jack.
  34. Got there in the end. Had to stop last night with eight clues to go, and luckily the light shone on all of them this morning. Definitely a toughie. Last letter in was the Z. The French spell the plant verveine which made it slightly confusing for me. I took the no pens to mean no pig pens , therefore oinking – but now I think about it pigs are more likely to oink if they’re put in pens, not if there aren’t any. So the inking must be right. Thanks for a real tester.

Comments are closed.