Times Cryptic 28376


Solving time: 34 minutes


15dn and 21dn delayed me at the end and caused me to miss my target half-hour.

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 Superior unions collectively back strike (8)
UPPER (superior), then TUC (unions collectively – Trades Union Congress) reversed [back]. It’s a punch in boxing, usually to the chin.
5 A father secures power to rise to a great height (6)
A, SIRE (father) contains [secures] P (power). I’m not sure I knew this meaning, but it’s in the usual sources as ‘literary’ and ‘figurative’.
8 Knight‘s half of republic’s capital (3)
DUB{lin} (republic’s capital) [half of]. The last time I blogged we had ‘knight = sir’ but this time it’s a verb, meaning to confer knighthood on by ceremonially touching on the shoulder with a sword.
9 Part of the world suggesting it’s Anglo-Saxon? (6,4)
A clue relying on a reverse definition for wordplay. The MIDDLE of EAST = AS (Anglo-Saxon)
10 Need to leave almost leaderless business (8)
EXI{t} (leave) [almost], {a}GENCY (business) [leaderless]. A word I knew vaguely but relied on wordplay to bring it to the surface.
11 Colourful English Times involved in hearing (6)
E (English), X (times), OTIC (involved in hearing – of or pertaining to the ear)
12 Part of city starts to slag off Home Office (4)
S{lag} + O{ff} + H{ome} +  O{ffice} [starts]
14 Outstanding male feature‘s very soft in water (5,5)
PP (very soft – pianissimo – music) contained by [in ] ADAM’S ALE (water)
17 County charity’s first to go broke (4-3-3)
DOWN (county in Northern Ireland), {h}AND-OUT (charity) [first to go]
20 Gambling centre where pound note’s gone west (4)
ONER (pound note) reversed [gone west]. The pound note ceased to be legal tender in 1988. I think it was more usually a ‘oncer’ and indeed Chambers and Collins don’t recognise ‘oner’, but Lexico and SOED have it.
23 English sides swallowing one team’s panacea (6)
E (English), L/R (sides – left/right) containing [swallowing] I (one) + XI (team)
24 Scholars of 50 briefly repeating themselves? Not on! (8)
L (50 briefly), ITERATI{on} (repeating) [not ‘on’]
25 Green militant with energy to bully a bishop downing port (3-7)
E (energy), COW (bully), A, then RR (bishop – Right Reverend) containing [downing] RIO (port)
26 Brown  belt strains here and there (3)
{s}T{r}A{i}N{s} [here and there]. The wordplay is preceded by a double definition – the colour, and ‘belt/tan’ as in ‘thrash’ or ‘beat’.
27 Pressure monk to preserve small part of vessel’s contents (6)
P (pressure), LAMA (monk) containing [to preserve] S (small). A constituent of blood.
28 A carrier on building site cuts short time in plant (8)
A, then HOD (carrier on building site – for bricks) is contained by [cuts] SPEL{l} (time) [short]. A type of lily.
1 Sends rude novel — with such illustrations? (9)
Anagram novel] of SENDS RUDE. I think all of the clue is needed as definition here for it to make sense, or maybe omit the first word. 
2 University in lead is first in Hungary to pen large issue (7)
U (university) contained by [in] PB (lead – Periodic Table) + IS + H{ungary} [first], containing [to pen] L (large)
3 Regret hosting thousands on king’s vessel (6)
RUE (regret) containing [hosting] MM (thousands), R (king). It’s a type of drinking glass. A word I didn’t know, this time constructed entirely from wordplay. I tried to check whether it had come up before but the search kept returning occurrences of ‘drummer’.
4 A foreign action keeps police in two minds (9)
UN (‘a’ foreign – French), DEED (action) contains) [keeps] CID (police – Criminal Investigation Department)
5 Possibly infinite series of language lessons (7)
Hidden in [series of] {langu}AGE LESS{ons}
6 Look round a course? Not in this! (3-6)
PEER (look) containing [round] A + SOUP (course in a meal). E.g. on a golf course you wouldn’t be able to see anything in a ‘pea-souper’ as it’s a thick and dirty fog.
7 Soak with Asian money the result of error in court? (7)
RET (soak), RIAL (Asian money used by various Middle Eastern states)
13 Horrible old chest holding new debtor’s notes (9)
O (old), BOX (chest) containing [holding] N (new), IOU’S (debtor’s notes)
15 Fit one wool supplier up, touring classy island (9)
SUIT (fit) + I (one) + RAM (wool) reversed [up] containing [touring] U (classy)
16 Soppy book about island on line (9)
TOME (book) reversed [about], IONA (island), L (line)
18 Source of crude painting in good health (3,4)
OIL (painting), WELL (in good health)
19 Perfect state of Irish victor housed by granny (7)
IR (Irish) + V (victor – NATO alphabet) contained [housed] by NANA (granny). In the Hindu and Buddhist religions, Nirvana is the highest spiritual state.
21 Staged revolutionary Hamlet, say, and suchlike inside (7)
ETC (and suchlike) contained by [inside) DANE (Hamlet, say) all reversed [revolutionary]
22 Want costly article reduced (6)
DEAR (costly), TH{e} (definite article) [reduced]

65 comments on “Times Cryptic 28376”

  1. Dead on 30 minutes for me, but done while watching a conference live-stream too. So probably faster really. I assumed a RUMMER was a ship for transporting rum, but it was clearly indicated by the wordplay. As it happened, I was about 50 miles from Reno last weekend…so embarrassed to say it took me too long to stop trying to delete letters from “casino” or “monte carlo”.

  2. 16:38
    I had a MER at ASPIRE, not knowing the relevant (literary) meaning; I also took much too long to think of SIRE. Wondered about ‘belt’, not thinking of the relevant meaning of ‘tan’. (I think of ‘tan’ as a prolonged beating, ‘belt’ as a single action, but.) DNK RUMMER.

  3. Some tricky bits. I learned Rummer, here, from context; was reminded that I’d learned Ret once somewhere, probably a different puzzle; and refused to learn Asphodel and store it away. That way I can moan about it again next time it comes up. Thanks jack, setter

    1. “Ret” I learned from New York Times puzzles, where it used to appear quite often. Have never encountered it in the wild.

  4. 12m but with ASPHODAL whoops oh well

    I really shouldn’t trust my ability to spell plant names

  5. 32 minutes. Like others it seems, I didn’t know RUMMER and even though it seemed less likely, I hoped that second M wasn’t going to be a K. I didn’t know the ‘rise to a great height’ sense of ASPIRE which I just bunged in from the wordplay. ASPHODEL appears every so often and for the usually feared ‘plant’ wasn’t too hard with the crossers in place. LOI and favourite was MIDDLE EAST.

    1. MA pleasant outing from Shanghai to Mauritius* I was home and dry in about 40 minutes.
      FOI 12ac SOHO and not South of Houston!
      LOI 22dn DEARTH
      COD 6dn PEA-SOUPER as experienced in 12ac in the early fifties.
      WOD 28ac ASPHODEL – bought from IKEA.
      * 15dn MAURITIUS is indeed a colonial philatelist’s paradise. But one needs to be considerably wealthy to afford the early issues on ‘cover’. Fortunately today, because of the Internet, one can become what is now known as ‘a virtual collector’ for such rarities.
      This morning I wasn’t able to get completely UNDRESSSED with any much satisfaction, due to the seeming lack of definition.

      Was not a RUMMER an old glass drinking vessel, rather than a sailing vessel?
      Edit. On return home that is confirmed as correct.

  6. Woke up far too early and I suspect my solving was handicapped by insufficient sleep, because this felt like one of my efforts from a year ago, making heavy weather of some quite easy stuff. SW was a cinch, but I took ages to get PEA-SOUPER even with all the checkers except the trailing “r” and struggled for 5 minutes to deal with LOI ASPHODEL. The clue database tells me this has appeared once, 2021-05-27, since I became a regular solver, but effectively a NHO for me.

    After 35m which felt a lot longer, I got a 1-char fail due to ETOTIC – I actually considered the correct answer, but forgot that “times” can decode as X. As per Pootle’s advice from last week – own up to your howlers to avoid repeating them. Thanks J and setter.

  7. 25 minutes and all fully parsed, which is pretty good going for me (and lucky I took the time, otherwise I might’ve biffed EXIGENCE, which is what I always think that word should be.)

    It helped that there’s a popular pub in Bristol’s St Nicholas Market called The Rummer, which apparently has been there since it replaced an earlier inn in 1742—it seems there’s been a pub on the site since the thirteenth century.

    FOI UPPERCUT; my last couple were ASPIRE/PEA SOUPER; I never seem to think of “sire” for “father” first time through, so I had to come back for that one.

  8. 23 mins for me, and seemed easier than yesterday. Oddly though I solved from the bottom up and had the lower half completed and nothing above.
    Rummer should pose no problem for the historical fiction readers amongst us.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  9. A DEARTH of OBNOXIOUS birds
    No critters that wander in herds
    ASPHODEL’s an odd plant
    Have it all? No you can’t
    NIRVANA must sometimes have turds

  10. Not too bad on about an hour, with the NW holding out last. Very slow to get UNDRESSED. Some NHO in parsings include RET, OTIC and ADAMS ALE. Didn’t really like the reverse cryptic MIDDLE EAST, since surely a setter would say “middle of east”, “East’s middle” or some such formulation.

    RENO has previously been clued as the Divorce Capital, I think. A divorce is certainly a type of gambling, stick or twist.

    Particularly liked ELIXIR

  11. 25 mins, so good to break my 30 target
    NHO rummer
    Biffed Mauritius
    LOI 21d which took a few min
    Didn’t like 27a Vessel seems a bit general to me

  12. 13:21. I was a bit slow getting started on this one, but no real hold-ups. LOI ASPIRE. I liked UNDRESSED and PUBLISH. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  13. And as no chemic yet the elixir got,
    But glorifies his pregnant pot,…

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked it. My only eyebrow flicker was at the hybrid DD plus wordplay. I have sometimes come up with these when setting, but discarded them as being beyond convention. I must get more hip.
    Thanks setter and J.

      1. Good stuff, but I think you have pushed the def/def/wordplay to def/def is wordplay – which has taken my eyebrow flicker to ‘minor raising’ level.

        1. I guess we reverse it: Hospital proprietary knowledge in joint. The surface is still very awkward, but as they say ya takes what breaks youse can get.

  14. Quick again today, LOI EXIGENCE which took me a bit to come up with
    Rummer, known from the Antiques Roadshow; it has come up three times bfore in the daily cryptic, but 2013 the last time, blogged by Topical Tim. You, Jackkt, were “none too sure whether I have met RUMMER as a drinking vessel before.”
    I think a memory lapse after nine years is forgivable 🙂

  15. 12:10. I followed a familiar solving pattern, getting most done quite quickly then struggling to finish. Today I was held up by RUMMER and EXIGENCY, which were at least fairly tricky clues. I might have been quicker if I hadn’t had in mind a single M for thousands, not thinking that the plural implied MM (and probably not MMM, etc). With a possible ER for king I’d come up with RUMEER which still fitted after I’d got EXIGENCY so I’m pleased to have dodged a potential blooper.

  16. 27 minutes. The unfamiliar RUMMER was constructed from wordplay, while I didn’t know the ‘ret’ or ‘rial’ bit of RETRIAL, so that went in with a shrug once the checkers were in place. Didn’t understand MIDDLE EAST either.

    FOI Soho
    LOI Rummer
    COD Undecided

  17. 17 minutes, the last couple on EXIGENCY. RUMMER was a construct but I would have been surprised if it was wrong. I was pleased to see RUE again today having been the only one here to enjoy the RUEFUL pun yesterday. I knew RENO from my Perry Mason reading days sixty years ago. A nice puzzle giving me delusions of adequacy. Thank you Jack and setter.

        1. Responding to boltonwanderer:

          Just to be clear, there was no problem with the word RUEFUL, only the way it was clued.

            1. I envisaged a herbalist doing his stock taking and saying “Rue:full” Also Ophelia pointing at herself and saying the same. As you say, whimsical.

  18. 34 minutes, after having spent quite a while on MAURITIUS, which for some reason was a problem. I think that while a setter shouldn’t clue ‘as’ as ‘middle-east’, it’s quite acceptable here: the clue does say ‘suggesting’ and it’s only in reverse, so a bit of licence? My Chambers (2014 I think) has ‘oner’ as a £1 note, among other definitions.

    1. Yes, I’ve found ‘oner’ as a £1 note in my printed Chambers (12th edition) now. When I wrote the blog I only checked the free on-line version and I’ve never managed to work out exactly what that consists of.

  19. Very sluggish this morning but I got there. DNK ONER with that meaning but if you can have a fiver or a tenner it seemed ok. ASPHODEL dimly remembered from O level Greek. 18.04

  20. Would have been 23 mins but for PLASMA, which defeated me. Fixated on water-going ‘vessels’ and also pathetically trawling my memory for types of monk (ie Cistercian etc), so was nowhere near it. It wasn’t even one of the harder ones in this puzzle, so very disapp0inting.

    1. Me too. LHS was relatively easy (including RUMMER) apart from PLASMA which had me stumped. RHS was more of a challenge but got there in the end despite NHO RET.

  21. 14.05 but..

    I can’t spell WARRIOR. I’m moving to the Dunce’s corner immediately. Horrible. It never seems so obvious in the grid

    Knew RUMMER for exactly the same reasons as Matt. EXIGENCY last one in

    Thanks all

  22. 8:07 with no real issues along the way. Whole-heartedly agree with our man from Shanghai about the inaffordability of (most) Mauritius stamps and covers. Bit like British Guiana, really. Been to both – preferred Mauritius. Paused over last letter of EXIGENCY so avoided heffalump. Thanks to blogger and setter.

  23. I started this at a canter but slowed to a walk about three quarters of the way through. The NE gave most problems, but was eventually sorted when AGELESS and ASPIRE appeared and smoothed the way. That left me with 3d and 10a. I’d posited RUMEER for the former, and finally coming up with EXIGENCE seemed to condone that, but fortunately I reread both clues carefully and noticed the thousandS in 3d and properly parsed 10a so I finished with EXIGENCY and RUMMER. Close call though! 24:06. Thanks setter and Jack.

  24. 15.57. LOI exotic. Wasn’t convinced by middle east as a clue but nothing else attracted.
    Good puzzle with nothing too esoteric or arcane. Thx setter and blogger.

  25. Finished in 29.41 so well inside target of 45.00. I recall ASPHODEL as a plant from previous crosswords, so not a problem. LOI 10ac EXIGENCY which was not familiar to me, but quite gettable from the clueing.
    RUMMER seems to be unknown to most, and my knowledge of the word is gained from the existence of The Rummer Tavern in Cardiff, located opposite to Cardiff Castle. This was a favourite watering hole for students at Cardiff Uni, including me over 50 years ago! Still going strong today accommodating thirsty undergrads.

  26. 18:14. RUMMER was an obvious guess and I had forgotten or never heard of RET. I briefly wondered if it was another word for a heavy drinker type of soak (thinking “sot”) but I didn’t dwell on it.

  27. 26:57

    No great issues though needed 5a to get 5d, 6d and 7d which had all other checkers in place. Eventually thought of SIRE.

    Pencilled-in MIDDLE EAST initially, parsed later in the solve.

    Didn’t parse AND-OUT (doh!).

    Guessed RUMMER was a ship rather than a drinking vessel.

  28. 23:14 Enjoyed this. Some very wily cluing throughout – ASPHODEL, PEA-SOUPER,LITERATI, MAURITIUS

    I’m just old enough to remember the 1962 PEA-SOUPER in London; walking to and from school, pretending we were in a Hammer horror film.

    Thanks to Jack and the Setter

    1. The Late Music Hall humour alert! (Tommy Trinder)

      “My father went out in the smog of ’62 to get my mother a cauliflower for lunch. He was knocked down and killed by a 73 bus, whilst crossing The Fulham Road.”
      “Your poor mother, what

        1. The old ones are the best.😊

          Trinder used to refer to his audiences as. “you lucky people”. Not, I suspect, an opinion they shared.

  29. I thought this was a similar level of difficulty as yesterday’s, though lackinng an obscure answer and bits of wordplay that were unfamiliar to some yesterday. The only hold-up for me was a careless reading of the last letter of 1d as S (my hand-writing), making the first part of 17a (DOWN-…) impossible to see. Finally spotted the error and finished in 28 minutes.

  30. Started well but the NE corner was a stumbling block. The usual ploys worked, menial tasks, make biscuits and have a difference of opinion with OH. A break really presses the cerebral refresh button.
    5d was in plain sight. Was I in the Middle Ages, The Levant or middle aged?
    There is another currency ‘riel’ ( that’s cruel ) .
    The Rummer tavern in Cardiff is reputed to be the oldest in…..
    The wild asphodels in Andalucía in the spring are gorgeous, as are all their wild flowers.

    Thank you to setter, Jackkt and a big thank you to the powers behind the throne who, so promptly and courteously sorted my login problems yesterday.

  31. I often have to consult Mrs. SL for the names of plants, but asphodel seems to crop up a lot in crosswords. I was slow to reach the finishing line but at least I got everything right. “Rummer” was the only unknown word, but it could not be anything else. Thanks to setter and hinter.

  32. Late on, after tiring hot golf game, was surprised to finish this fairly easily in 20 minutes and one mug of tea. Nothing much else to say.

  33. To aspire is NOT to rise to a great height. It is to hope, or work towards rising to a great height. Poor clueing.

      1. I had the same qualm. Collins has this sense as “archaic” in American but not tagged that way for the Brits. Apparently this sense is most often, if not indeed only, applied to inanimate objects (which cannot hope), as in “above the domes of loftiest mosques these pinnacles aspire”—i.e.., figuratively “reach upward.”

  34. 13:53 late this afternoon. Enjoyed today’s battle with the setter. Not all clues came to me readily, so I found it a satisfying solve.
    Got lucky with 8 ac in the sense of parsing “Dub” as half of “Dubai’s” but with the first and last letters in place for a 3-letter word, it had to be.
    From experience, when Hamlet appears in crosswordland he tends to be a Dane rather than a prince but I don’t always remember that immediately.
    Did anyone note the link between 20 ac and 19 d? Well, I’ve always thought Reno was in Nirvana…but maybe not…
    Thanks to setter and Jack for his blog

  35. 10’57”

    An enjoyable cryptic for me. I actually parsed 9 Across differently, abbreviating ‘East’ to E and reading the answer as Middle English. Oh well, doesn’t matter how you get there in the end, I suppose.

    Last entry ENACTED, after mistyping SAN for 26 Across and spending a while trying to justify ELAPSED. Note to self: check each entry immediately after typing it in!

  36. Rattled through with a bit of biffing but then DNF! Lost the will to live in the NE. Must remember ASPIRE /AGELESS. Annoyed with myself.

  37. A bit slow at 39:36.

    I’m not sure I like 24a – “repeating themselves” would be iterative. I can’t see what “themselves” is doing in this clue?

  38. 16.38. Some anxious moments as clue after clue went by with nothing going in but eventually Soho got me started and I never really looked back after that. A little hesitancy over 1d where undressed illustrations seemed a bit odd. Enacted and pea-souper both had me going for a while.

  39. 32 mins. Very late solve today so probably no one will read this… LOI ENACTED biffed never got the parsing at all.

  40. Good level for me today , but ASPIRE and RUMMER not entered ( never think of sire for father(!) and cannot imagine why something was stopping me putting in MM for thousands ( senior moment – what else?) Good satisfying workout however.

Comments are closed.