Times Cryptic 28304


My solving time was 28 minutes. A grid containing 7 zeds and a double-helping of PIZZA might suggest there’s something special going on, but if there is I’ve failed to spot it. It’s not even nearly a pangram as we are missing 3 letters J, K & Q. For all that, it’s a quirky puzzle and was enjoyable to solve.

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 English divine visiting new site of key Welsh festival (10)
E (English) then DD (divine – Doctor of Divinity) contained by [visiting] anagram [new] of SITE OF,  then D (key – music). I knew the DD abbreviation but wasn’t sure about it being clued as ‘divine’, but then I found this in Collins: a divine is a priest who specializes in the study of God and religion. I was wary of spelling the Welsh word but the wordplay left little room for doubt.
6 Wide boy seeking profit in villainy, primarily (4)
S{eeking} P{rofit} I{n} V{illainy} [primarily]. Collins defines ‘wide boy’ as: a man, especially a young man, who has a lot of money but who earns it in a dishonest or illegal way- mainly British, informal, disapproval.
9 Happy lass finally touring in Africa and Asia, say (10)
CONTENT (happy) + {las}S [finally] containing [touring] IN
10 Old Russian ruler’s vehicle carrying Zambia’s leader (4)
CAR (vehicle) containing [carrying] Z{ambia’s} [leader]
12 Unsettle girl’s jazz group, initially being unusually behind time (14)
DI’S (girl’s), COMBO (jazz group, B{eing} + U{unusually} [initially], LATE (behind time). Great word!
14 Forcibly enter Irish port after game (6)
IR (Irish), RU (game – Rugby Union), PT (port). I’m not sure I even knew this word, or perhaps I have come across it and assumed it was an alternative spelling of ‘erupt’. Anyway I know it now, if it sticks. I also don’t recall seeing ‘pt’ as an abbreviation of ‘port’, though it makes sense and is probably used in place names on maps where space may be in short supply.
15 Way in which this is a sound piece of weaponry? (8)
HOW (way in which), then ITZER [sound]s like “it’s a” (this is a). A word that had its origins in Czech, German and Dutch.
17 Where yachtsmen off Cowes are disrespectful and rude (8)
A straight definition preceded by a cryptic hint with reference to Cowes on the Isle of Wight which lies on the stretch of water between England and the island known as ‘The Solent’. I think we covered the ‘What’s brown and steaming…?’ joke here very recently, though it doesn’t really work when written down.
19 Faulty shot having impact at first in film (6)
H{aving} + I{mpact} [at first] contained by [in] MIST (film)
22 Ancient religion Amritsar and Zion so reformed (14)
Anagram [reformed] of AMRITSAR ZION SO
24 House recalled by northern chap (4)
N (northern), then LEO  (house – sign of the Zodiac) reversed [recalled]
25 Where Gray famously wrote a place for grave contemplation (10)
Cryptic with a hefty GK prod. It refers to Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written  in a Country Churchyard
26 Pity   Boaz’s wife (4)
Two definitions of sorts. I knew the first and that Ruth was a Biblical character, but I only assumed who Boaz was as I don’t recall his name.
27 Transverse beam constructed by peevish man on board (10)
CROSS (peevish), PIECE (man on board – in chess for example)
1 Make an impression, and so on, on husband (4)
ETC (and so on – et cetera), H (husband)
2 Islamist Queen of more cheerful disposition (7)
SUNNI (Islamist), ER (Queen)
3 Son plugging heroic work by foreign-sounding churchgoer (12)
S (son) contained by [plugging] EPIC (heroic), OP (work), then ALIAN [sounding] like “alien” (foreign)
4 Abstracted female GP possibly injected with drug (6)
DR (GP possibly) + AMY (female) containing [injected with] E (drug). For those overseas who may not know,  GP stands for ‘General Practitioner’, in the UK a doctor who provides primary care (or used to).
5 Established writer comes in to land, do we hear? (8)
ORTHO DOX sounds like [do we hear?) “author” (writer), “docks” (comes into land  – as a ship might). Time to get the tin hat out, I fear!
7 Sparkle of Greek character initially accepted among Zulus (7)
PI (Greek character), then A{accepted} [initially] contained by ZZZZ (Zulus – NATO alphabet). The exact number of Zulus is unspecified but 4 will fill the remaining spaces.
8 Waving brevet, charge, having backbone! (10)
Anagram [waving] of BREVET, then RATE (charge). The surface meant nothing to me until I looked up ‘brevet’ and found it is an official document of some sort.
11 Noted skill of chap on vessel inspiring American firm once (12)
MAN (chap) containing [inspiring ] US (American) + ICI (firm once – Imperial Chemical Industries), then SHIP (vessel). The company was taken over in 2008.
13 Horse in oceangoing vessel fed unsuitable food (10)
LINER (oceangoing vessel) containing [fed] PIZZA (unsuitable food – for a horse). SOED: Lipizzaner or Lipizaner is a fine white breed of horse developed at the former Austrian Imperial stud at Lippiza near Trieste, and used especially in dressage at the Spanish Riding School, Vienna.
16 Telltale sons egg on French sweetheart (8)
S (sons), NIT (egg), CHER (French sweetheart). I don’t recall ‘s’ for sons (pl) before but Chambers and Lexico allow it. Interestingly, they both  have ‘d’ for ‘daughter’ only in the singular.
18 Crossing eastern river, passed big snake (7)
SPENT (passed – time), containing [crossing) E (eastern) + R (river)
20 House for men only, originally earmarked for captive (7)
HO (house), STAG (for men only), E{armarked} [originally]
21 Lie about origin of synthetic threads (6)
FIB (lie), RE (about), S{ynthetic} [origin of…]
23 On radio, outlets for publicising cutting tool (4)
Sounds like [on radio] “ads” (outlets for publicising)

58 comments on “Times Cryptic 28304”

  1. 38:47
    Yes, a lot of Z’s plus a lot of religious references. IRRUPT was new to me but made sense. Enjoyed NOEL for the zodiac sense of house. Luckily the long answers were all ones I was familiar with. Was having trouble with 4 and 5 down so looked closely and realized the Welsh Festival was spelled wrongly. I knew there was a double d but at first I had it at the end instead of in the middle.What an ignoramus! Thanks for explaining ” writer”- I just thought Ortho must be some unknown type of fountain pen. And thanks for all the other explanations.

  2. It’s almost as if they’re taking the mickey… the other day I confused continent and content, today it’s a clue! Quite liked the quirkiness, though during the solve there seemed to be lots of homophones, not my favourite. Still a quick solve, lots of write-ins, a few at the end needing a bit of thought: orthodox, fibres (sneaky ‘on’) and the unknown churchyard. Learnt of Gray’s Elegy on this site without ever knowing its full name.
    COD Lipizzaner

  3. 12:02
    I thought I’d get in under 10′ easily, as so many clues were so biffable: FOI EISTEDFODD [sic], ZOROASTRIANISM (from the R), CHURCHYARD, VERTEBRATE, DISCOMBOBULATE (from the C), EPISCOPALIAN, LIPIZZANER (from the Z). But, exactly like curryowen, I doubled the wrong D, and wasted a lot of time trying to solve 4d and 5d before I finally thought of the problem; DREAMY, ORTHODOX followed almost immediately.

  4. 1A was a write-in…except I had to pick apart the wordplay to get the spelling right. Same with the Austrian horse. I raced through a lot of this and then ended up with 5 or 6 isolated (and fully checked) answers that took a surprising time to finish off.

  5. 36 minutes. I was grateful to crossers and wordplay for the spelling of words like LIPIZZANER but still couldn’t work out where that extra D in EISTEDDFOD came from; ‘divine’ as a noun was new to me too.

    I liked the surface for DREAMY. My only criticism of the homophone at 5d is that it wasn’t quite bad enough.

  6. A breezy 23 minutes for me, mostly top-to-bottom, though I did have to pop back up for LOI ORTHODOX. I’m not sure what’s going on with the double PIZZA, but it’s certainly not something I’d ever refuse…

  7. 21 minutes with COD and LOI ORTHODOX, a strong contender for double homophone of the year as it works for me. Penultimate was DREAMY. How long can setters continue to use ICI after everyone has forgotten about it? I remember that it used to be said that the jobs were hereditary there. I hope 26a didn’t leave those who dislike biblical clues feeling RUTHless. Enjoyable. Thank you Jack and setter.

  8. Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

    25 mins pre-brekker. A gentle return after being away for a few days.
    No dramas, but took a while to get to Leo as the 3-letter house – LOI.
    Thanks setter and J.

    1. But Keats got it wrong. It wasn’t Ruth who was homesick in Canaan. It was her first mother-in-law, Naomi, in Moab.

  9. Usual time. I think we need to put this one in the box marked ‘fun’. 10/10 for using odd words. I’ll forgive the homophones and 8 initial/final letter indicators this time.

  10. DNF 41m. This started rather well for me – a decent chunk of the top half, and a sprinkling of others right away, including both 14-char across clues. Progressed reasonably well until about 20m, when my solving powers deserted me almost completely – got a couple more, but I was overcome with a “this isn’t gonna happen” feeling. Possibly triggered by 13d, where finding a 10-char word with Z at char 6 seemed particularly improbable. Gave up because I wasn’t having fun, and it was making me feel stupid.

    All those Zs – perhaps our setter is secretly a supporter of Putin’s “special operation”? …no, let’s not go there…

  11. Sailed through this in 6:59 after struggling a bit with the QC. I noticed there were a lot of Z’s, and after a pangram in the concise I wondered.. but as Jack noted there are no J, K or Q. In fact that might even be the Nina, just the court cards missing!

    As Kevin mentioned earlier, a lot of clues were biffable on small snippets of the wordplay, and I took full advantage. The only one I had to go back for was ORTHODOX, but again it was “think of a word that fits, then see if the clue agrees”.

  12. Lots of biffable clues but some needed careful spelling especially 1a
    Most clues went in reasonably fast but 5d (COD) took some thought On reflection I think I’ve seen something like this before
    At 20 min one of my fastest
    Anything under 30 mins makes a great start to the day

  13. 7:34. No dramas. Even with all the Zs it didn’t occur to me to look for a pangram: it never does.
    I dithered a bit at the end over 3dn, which could easily have been EPISCOPALEAN as far as I’m concerned. In the end I just went for the slightly more common ending and crossed my fingers.
    NHO Boaz but how many other biblical characters are also a word for pity?

      1. Ever since I lost the series final of ‘Countdown’ back in 1992 when I couldn’t solve the conundrum in the last round (an anagram of PEPSI COLA), things EPISCOPALIAN have usually come to me rather quickly ! I don’t know where I would have been able to find room for the full 26 volume leather bound set of the OED anyway – the cheque for £250 as runner-up was perfectly acceptable !

      2. I just mean -IAN is a bit more common than -EAN. I had no idea which was the right ending here.

  14. 9:34

    What’s going on?!? That’s two in a row where I’ve had little struggle completing the grid and the first time I’ve broken ten minutes. Normally I find longer clues harder than shorter clues, but these all seemed to write themselves in very comfortably.

    Only really had to think about the spelling of EISTEDDFOD (corrected by DREAMY) and what word could possibly fit O_T_O_O_ being my LOI.

  15. 12 minutes. Managed to spell EISTEDDFOD correctly on the first attempt, which helped a lot. The large number of Zs helped me remember that ADZE is spelt with a Z rather than an S, which is something I’ve got wrong before. I tried to fit some version of ‘disconcert’ into 12a before getting enough checkers to figure out DISCOMBOBULATE, and CHURCHYARD went in without knowing the Gray reference. DREAMY was my penultimate one in as it took me a while to move away from ‘dreamt’, before I finished off with ORTHODOX. Enjoyable stuff, and my first solve for a while. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Eisteddfod
    LOI Orthodox
    COD Howitzer

  16. 5d for me was very poor. Took me three minutes of trawling through the alphabet to see it. The first synonym of ‘writer’ that came to my mind was indeed ‘author’ but it was immediately rejected, since in my pronunciation AUTHOR and ORTHO sound nothing like each other -not even close. So, a clue that was virtually impossible for someone who can actually articulate the phonemes that make up our language. I’ve moaned about this before, and have come to accept that it’s part of doing crosswords, but this was an egregious example.

    1. Separately yes, but the usual pronunciation of “orthodox” is exactly the same as “author docks”.

      1. First, you have no idea how I pronounce words, so please don’t assume my pronunciation is the same as yours. Second, as any student of linguistics will tell you, there is no such thing as the ‘usual’ pronunciation, and again it’s arrogant to prop0se that there is, or that yours is in some way ‘correct’. Lastly, and most importantly, when I say the word, ORTHODOX sounds nothing like AUTHOR DOCKS.

  17. 25m 27s
    A lot of biffing but, also, a lot of careful spelling. Thanks, Jack, for EISTEDDFOD and EPISCOPALIAN as well as ORTHODOX. Not impressed by the idea that ORTHO sounds like ‘author’.
    LIPPIZZANER is an interesting word. In John Le Carré’s novel “A Most Wanted Man”, a rather dodgy British-owned German bank has certain bank accounts called ‘Lippizzaners’. These start out as ‘grey’ but, after a period of time and money laundering they end up ‘white’ as do the horses.

  18. 07:25, some of that time spent checking the tricky words which I wouldn’t have staked my mortgage on spelling right first time without checkers and/or wordplay. I didn’t spot a particular pattern to the Zs or the PIZZAs either, but I enjoyed the solve anyway. Sometimes a pizza is just a pizza.

  19. Very quick today, my first grid after return from three weeks in foreign parts. I was very pleased to be able to print off and carry on doing the crosswords even in the more remote parts of Spain..

  20. That whoreson unnecessary again!
    Loads of Zs and it’s not even my turn to blog! A 12.46 whizz through, with zero issues, except spelling checks for LIPIZ(?T)ZANER and DISCO(?U)MBOBOLATE.
    I can pronounce ORTHODOX with a schwa for the second O, so the homophone works for me, though it didn’t help much with the actual solving: as others have pointed out, separated out, ORTHO and author aren’t that close.
    Thanks Jack for zealously taking time to expand informatively.

  21. 26 minutes, thought it was going to be a bit faster but slowed at the end by HOWITZER and ORTHODOX, whose last appearance (or was it GRANDILOQUENT?) prompted me to mention The Diary of a Nobody (a little test here, which worked), but as was pointed out I got the reference wrong, so won’t even try this time.

  22. On form today, not at all discombobulated; whizzed along in 11 minutes with FIBRES taking a minute or so to see at the end, so preventing a PB. Liked all those Z words and being reminded how to spell the Welsh carry-on. The author docks was a bit of a stretch but fun.

  23. Started off very nippily, then slowly ground to a halt for some time. HOWITZER LIPPIZANER and ORTHODOX almost did for me, but staggered over the line in 20:41. Veered regularly between loving and hating this, and I’m still not quite sure.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  24. Put me in the “like” column for ORTHODOX, and for the puzzle generally. The US just sent a consignment of HOWITZERS to Zelensky to help blitz the Russian panzers and discourage their CZAR so the Z can work on the Ukrainian side too. 11.12

  25. I managed to spell EISTEDDFOD correctly first go and then got its danglers, apart from 5d, which was eventually LOI, holding me up for a good 5 minutes all by itself. The homophone works for me. It’s probably helps having a Northern accent. Once ZOROASTRIANISM was in place, the horse trotted back into the forefront of my memory banks. POI, FIBRES also held me up for a while. 22:24. Thanks setter and Jack.

  26. 17.50. Tricky I thought not helped by initially misspelling the Welsh festival. As a result orthodox – very clever I thought- was my last in. Just after howitzer.
    Irrupt took a time looking for an impossible Irish port until the penny dropped.

    Likes insolent but COD the aforementioned orthodox.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  27. For Zed-Headz. Dizzying north-east and west-side. I would think the setter tried to get some more ‘zed’s but gave up after 23dn ADZE.

    FOI 6ac SPIV
    LOI 24ac NOEL
    COD 7dn PIZZAZZ!

    Time 45 minitz

    On edit I overlooked 56ac DISCOMBOBULATE as I was somewhat discombobulated

  28. ‘The curfew tolls the knell of parting day” as Gray began his “Elegy Written in a Country CHURCHYARD”, and I could hear something tolling at 0045 when I finished the QC. Thus I retired, and only dragged myself out of bed at 1030.

    I found this practically a shoo-in, until I was left with just two clues to solve after 5 minutes. I finally nailed what is now my COD, and my LOI was my pet hate – a four letter word with two letters missing. It’s not the first time I’ve been held up by ‘house’ as a sign of the zodiac.

    TIME 6:27

  29. 28:02. No problem with the wordplay just with spelling the same culprits as everyone else. I had EPISCOPALEAN for a while too but changed it to -IAN at the last minute on the same reasoning as Mr Keriothe. I assume it is the long penultimate A that suggests the EAN ending (to me at least), but there’s no real reason why it should.

  30. More Zeds than a buzz load of buzzing béez. Great fun this one, 41 mins with LOI IRRUPTION. A weird word indeed.

    I certainly wasn’t DISCOMBOBULATED. My COD.
    Thanks Jack and setter.

  31. Bah! Clicked submit in under 20 mins, expecting an 800+ score, to find that I had indeed misspelt Episcopalian.

    The Cowes joke is one of my favourites, although the last couple of times I’ve been, the ferries were red and white. Far more amusing though than the Spanish Riding School. If you’re ever coerced into attending a dressage demonstration, be sure to take a box of pins to stick in your eyes. It’s the only way to make the experience remotely interesting.

  32. An easier one – good job, as quite busy.

    The Z’s were helpful I thought.

    Biffed ORTHODOX as my LOI. The homophone passed me by!

  33. Interesting that the SOED, as cited by our blogger, refers to the LIPIZZANER as coming from near Trieste. Geographically it’s true enough, but I’m surprised that the fact that Lipice is actually across the border in Slovenia doesn’t get a mention. I visited Lipice as long ago as 1973 when few outsiders had ever heard of Slovenia but we were definitely in Yugoslavia, not Italy. The horses were magnificent there, just as they doubtless were at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna – and the show was about a tenth the price, a difference which has probably gone by now.

    As to the crossword: I found all the Zs, but it’s a DNF after ages today with too many gaps to count.

  34. Struggled thru in 39 minutes only to find a dreaded pink square by lazily biffing TZAR with no consideration of the wordplay. Very enjoyable puzzle, thanks J and setter.

  35. ORTHODOX came very late because when I pronounce them, “author” and “ortho-” sound quite distinct. Was happy to get EISTEDDFOD right (but only after all the checkers). The horse nearly threw me.

  36. Agree “ortho” on its own doesn’t sound like “author” but it does in “orthodox”, at least to my Brummy ears.
    A good, chewy and amusing test today I thought. Thanks Jakkt and setter

  37. 15.17 a fun solve which I took at a canter. Only hold ups were the cracking of author docks and the unfamiliar Lipizzaner. Pleased with my performance I took an executive decision (by which I mean I’ll find out tomorrow if it’s ok with the boss) and gave myself the afternoon off which I spent quaffing a large glass of wine and then wandering round the Raphael exhibition at the National. All those Madonnas, heavenly!

  38. 11’46” for me. For a good while I was on course for an under-tenner, but was held up by orthodox and noel. Rather too many easy-biffers to make it a great crossword, to my mind. Welsh festival – what else could it be? I’m not a great fan of the homophone clues either, but I think author docks – orthodox is fair. The or and o sounds become schwas, (or whatever they’re called in linguistics.)

  39. Yes, a very quirky puzzle, but that made it rather enjoyable despite its being not very hard. I took about 35 minutes to finish it. Lots of PIZZAs in it actually, how yummy. I’m not sure if MUSICIANSHIP is really a word, other than in crosswords — one would probably rather say “musicality” or something like that. LOI was DREAMY, which worked much better than my first idea, DREAMT. For INSOLENT I first biffed CHURLISH, which fit the definition but not the wordplay, so I soon dropped it. Fun puzzle.

  40. I can’t speak for now, but when I was studying for my degree in music back in the 1960s ‘musicianship’ was referred to a lot. I don’t think it’s quite the same as ‘musicality’ as musicianship is specifically skill and artistry in performance, singing, playing an instrument etc whereas musicality could be just having an interest in and appreciation of music. But obviously there is overlap.

  41. 26 across reminds me of my favourite Times crossword puzzle clue: “Her mother-in-law Ruth does not name (5)”. The compiler arranged that one of the crossers was easy so we quickly find that the second letter is A.

    Everybody remembers that Naomi was Ruth’s mother-in-law but Ruth (i.e. the book of Ruth) does name Naomi. Ruth married a second time. Her second husband was Boaz. Boaz (or Booz) is named in the book of Ruth but his mother is not. She is named in Matthew chapter 1 and in Chronicles: RAHAB.

    1. No, and on reflection my explanation of the clue does it a disservice. It has to be taken as a whole so ORTHODOX sounds like ‘author docks’ in normal speech.

      1. Nope. Only way to make it work is to make the visible r silent and the invisible r silent as well. That’s not ‘normal’.

  42. Minor point. The “dreamy” clue arguably works better if “female GP possibly” is “Dr Amy”…unless that is what you meant anyway, Jack? Semantics probably.

    Thanks for the well-explained answers.

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