Times Cryptic 28382


My solving time of 25 minutes was well within my target half-hour but would have been even quicker if I had not been delayed by two unknowns at 7dn and 11dn.


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 Cooks tofu in a stew, admitting starter of turkey is unavailable (3,2,5)
Anagram [in a stew] of COOKS TOFU containing [admitting] T{urkey} [starter]
6 Slightly move the jug (4)
Two meanings. I wondered about ‘slightly move’ but one definition of ‘stir’ is  a slight or momentary movement; a brief interruption or disturbance of a state of calm or stillness –  as one might stir in one’s sleep.
9 Open gothic novel suitable for a film? (10)
Anagram [novel] of OPEN GOTHIC
10 Twin reported for fight (4)
Sounds like [reported] “dual” (twin). As in twin/dual engines.
12 Give up TV for a toy (4-2-3-3)
JACK IN (give up), THE BOX  (TV)
15 5:37, perhaps, is when most are watching? (5,4)
The format 5:37 is used for displaying time of the day and the digits here are all prime numbers. The definition continues the TV theme from the previous clue.
17 Opportunely gathering trendy material for a coat? (5)
PAT (opportunely) containing [gathering] IN (trendy). Pat: in a manner that exactly fits the purpose or occasion; appositely, opportunely. (SOED)
18 Private place to drink beer occasionally (5)
INN (place to drink), {b}E{e}R [occasionally]
19 Short street party is swell (9)
CRESCEN{t} (street), DO (party). Getting louder.
20 One flat, say, with important endorsement (3,9)
KEY (important), SIGNATURE (endorsement). Continuing the music theme from the previous clue, a key signature of one flat indicates the key of F major or D minor.
24 I live with cross mountain climber? (4)
I, BE (live), X (cross). It’s a goat antelope that lives in mountainous areas.
25 Fairy queen avoiding difficulty to get flower (10)
PERI (fairy), W{r}INKLE (difficulty) [avoiding queen – R). Wiki: A peri is a fairy-like creature in Middle Eastern and Asian mythology.
26 Head of innovation not in running for award (4)
GO{i}NG (running) [head of innovation not in…]
27 Spy pens farewell, initially navigating in a new direction (2,1,7)
AGENT (spy) contains [pens] TA-TA (farewell) + N{avigating} [initially]
1 Henhouses with no roof? My mistake! (4)
{c}OOPS  (henhouses) [with no roof]
2 Writer shuns a universal god (4)
{au} THOR (writer) [shuns a universal]. I had this originally as THOR{au} and suspected an error in  the clue as the famous American writer is spelt ‘Thoreau’ but there’s nothing to indicate deletion of the ‘e’. Anyway it turns out that the error was my own since the wordplay is much more simple than I was trying to make it. Many thanks to Kevin Gregg for pointing this out and to Bletchley Reject for considering the same route to the answer as mine, although he was wise enough to reject it and think again. [Edited at 05:50 BST]
3 Cheese from farm fair goes rotten (7,5)
Anagram [rotten] of FARM FAIR GOES
4 Pinch whiskey in wooden container (5)
W (whiskey – NATO alphabet) contained by TEAK (wooden)
5 Customers tell niece off (9)
Anagram [off] of TELL NIECE
7 Hit Scotsman over pinching bishop’s instrument (5,5)
THUMP (hit) + IAN (Scotsman) + O (over), containing [pinching] B (bishop). Also called ‘mbira’ or ‘sansa’ this is a musical instrument of southern Africa consisting of a set of keys or tongues attached to a resonator, which are plucked with the thumb and forefingers. (SOED). I never heard of it. All searches on YouTube return music for the kalimba which seems to another name for it, or a very similar instrument
8 Briefly cancel boring family member’s leisure (10)
AX{e} (cancel) [briefly] contained by [boring] RELATION (family member)
11 Party official’s business working to capture one arachnid (4,8)
WHIP’S  (party official’s), then CORP (business) + ON (working) containing [to capture] I (one). Another unknown to me. A party whip is an MP appointed to maintain discipline and ensure that fellow members vote in accordance with party policy.
13 Dusting sign on top of library during cleaning period? (10)
INK (sign) + L{ibrary} [top] contained by [during] SPRING (cleaning period)
14 Cook binned a key ingredient for chilli (6,4)
Anagram [cook] of BINNED A KEY
16 Live   together (2,7)
Two meanings
21 Informally, it is not corrupt? (5)
T’AINT (it is not) [informally]
22 Island beginning to erupt — heavens above! (4)
SKY (heavens), E{rupt} [beginning]. ‘Above’ indicates position in the Down clue.
23 Coin dispatched to the auditors (4)
Sounds like [to the auditors] “sent” (dispatched)

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28382”

    1. Many thanks, Kevin, and I have edited the blog accordingly. The point raised yesterday about American bloggers being fast asleep when the UK contingent weigh in with their corrections works two ways. Although grateful for yours as the first input, by the time I got round to reading the comments I felt a bit overwhelmed by the number people making the same point.

  1. 15:08
    DNK the scorpion, DNK JACK IN. Having got PERI, I had no problem coming up with PERIWINKLE, but I never figured out how WRINKLE worked. Biffed THUMB PIANO (I’ve seen one in Kenya or Tanzania), RELAXATION, & WHIP SCORPION, parsed post-submission.

  2. Kevin’s right about [-au]THOR.
    Guessed WHIP from the crossers.
    Easier than yesterday’s!

  3. 7:08. I was on for a blistering time here but then spent fully three minutes trying to come up with the right party official. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of WHIP but I did eventually.

    1. The two parties in American government each have a “whip,” but it seems the term isn’t heard as much over here as in Britain. (I’m not drawing any conclusions from that…)

  4. Also held up by the THUMB PIANO since I’d never heard of it, and I needed that before I managed to fill in STIR and DUEL. I’d never heard of WHIP SCORPION either, but I got the SCORPION bit fairly easily and then WHIP came to mind as a party official. I also had 2D as auTHOR and I never even considered Thoreau.

  5. 43m 04s but I put KEY SIGNATORY instead of SIGNATURE.
    I think our setter must have been keen to get all the anagrams out of the way early on. I counted 4 in the NW corner plus 14d.
    1ac was clever in that it had me wondering what the anagrind was. The use of the word STOCK reminded me of an exchange in my favourite Goon Show, “Dishonoured”
    Seagoon: “But why are you interested in me?”
    Moriarty: “I run a rag and bone shop”.
    Seagoon: “Are you looking for a manager?”
    Moriarty: “No, I’m looking for STOCK”.
    Definitely COD: PRIME TIME. Lovely clue!
    Thanks, Jack.

  6. 24 minutes. Had to construct the 7d ‘instrument’ and 11d ‘arachnid’ from wordplay and missed the musical subtleties of KEY SIGNATURE. Otherwise nothing too obscure, though I had the same thought at first for the ‘writer’ at 2d as Jack – 1d!

    Just being picky and I get the PRIME numbers bit, but wouldn’t “7:53” or “7:35” have been better for the surface of PRIME TIME?

    1. Re “author”: Jackkt is going to slap his forehead so hard when he gets up and sees this in the morning!

      Five-thirty-something is definitely not prime time in the dictionary sense! I’m pretty sure that was meant to be misleading. To give a time after 7 or 8 would amount to a straight definition, which we already have with “when most are watching.”

      1. Thanks. Yes, I see what you mean; ‘7:35?’ by itself though would be a pretty sneaky clue.

    1. Neither is 537 a prime number, it divides by 3 giving 179. Of course 3 and 5 and 7 are primes, but.

      1. I think 537 is as close as you can get. 5, 3, 7, 53 and 37 are all primes. I don’t think there’s a number where that’s true and the whole thing is also prime.

          1. 1 isn’t generally considered a prime. This has always seemed strange to me but I’m no mathematician!

            1. Thanks-didn’t know that( unlike all the other mathematical concepts such as orders of infinity and negative square
              roots which I totally understand ….).

  7. 14 minutes with LOI the unknown WHIP SCORPION. COD to PRIME-TIME. Not difficult but tricky enough to satisfy. Thank you Jack and setter.

  8. 11:13. Like others I hadn’t heard of the THUMB PIANO and consequently this delayed me finishing with my LOI, STIR. With the U and the B of THUMB in place I kept wanting to put a Q in front of the U which only yielded the disappointing sounding SQUIB PIANO.

  9. This is my hammer, Miölner the mighty;
    Giants and sorcerers, Cannot withstand it!

    20 mins pre-brekker. I knew the arachnid (once I stopped thinking of SHOP stewards). But NHO the piano-like instrument.
    Thanks setter and J.

  10. The clue of the day is PRIME TIME
    Both amusing and really sublime
    It is this sort of clue
    That the best setters do
    So I thought I’d pay tribute in rhyme

  11. Was on for a good time but could not get LOI WHIP SCORPION. Party official had me thinking of “shop steward” or something similar, with business=shop. Considered spiders as well but not other arachnids.

    I was another THOR-EAU. COD PRIME TIME.

  12. 8:52. After a steady start my last few came in a rush, but I biffed PERIWINKLE, CRESCENDO and WHIP SCORPION even though I DNK the arachnid. THUMB PIANO held me up a bit, but I eventually got there via the wordplay and then vaguely remembered it.

  13. 14′ 43″, with NE LOIs like others. Nho THUMB PIANO. Also went from Thor(e)au to the correct parsing.

    Re PRIME TIME, I thought the setter did a good job, but I was tempted to see if I could do better, but I couldn’t. 5, 3, 7 are prime, so is 37. But 537 is not, being 3 x 179. Researching, I could not find a completely satisfactory number, it does not exist, so well done setter.

    And thanks jack

    1. 5:23? Or are you also counting the first two digits (i.e. 52) in which case no, there aren’t any.

  14. 15 minutes or so. Biffed PHOTOGENIC and PERIWINKLE with the checkers in place, so thanks to the blogger for the explanations. Managed to figure out the unknown THUMB PIANO and WHIP SCORPION from wordplay. The NE corner took me the longest, but eventually I saw DUEL and STIR.

    FOI Oops
    LOI Stir
    COD Gong

  15. Forgive me for hijacking this thread, but can anyone help me crack the wordplay for ‘Alexandrian’ in Saturday’s Jumbo? ‘Boy or girl also, cheerful with time away from African port’ was the clue. Boy or girl = Alex. Also = and. But how does ‘cheerful with time away’ = ‘rian’ ?? Thanks for any input. David Mc.

    1. Its RIANT (laughing/happy from the French verb rire: to laugh) without the T (Time away).

    2. I found this rather tiresome I’m afraid. Like others, ‘thumb piano’ and ‘whip scorpion’ were unknown to me, but could be deduced. 28m:36s.

    3. Don’t suppose it matters much for this one clue, but Saturday’s Jumbo is a competition puzzle so we shouldn’t be discussing answers until the competition has closed.

      1. It’s also a puzzle I haven’t solved, and now I know one of the answers. Please don’t do this: just wait for the blog!

  16. No time.

    Done on paper with ‘help’ from my three young-adult children on the train.

    Straightforward enough but slowed down a bit by unknowns THUMB PIANO and WHIP SCORPION

  17. 33 mins with the same hold-ups as our blogger, both unheard-ofs. I had SHIP SCORPION for ages but it just didn’t look right. Finally got there after staring long and hard at the clue.

    I enjoyed the plethora of meaty anagrams today, lovely, particularly OUT OF STOCK and PHOTOGENIC. PRIME TIME also a great clue.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  18. A very careless DUAL ruined my 16:49. Drat and double drat! Thanks setter and Jack.

      1. Same for me too. I had forgot the Times convention of Wordplay ‘for’ definition.
        Also got WHIP SCORPION wrong too- biffing in SHIP.

  19. As Guy says, easier than yesterday, 18 minutes ending with the ‘must be’ THUMB PIANO. Also got the scorpion from wordplay NHO that one.
    Thanks MartinP1 for the Seagoon snippet. I remember
    “Neddy, your life is in jeopardy!”
    (Seagoon) “I don’t want to go abroad!”
    and so on.

  20. Like many others I was unsure of THUMB PIANO, WHIP SCORPION and PERIWINKLE in my 28 minutes. Nho the first two and thought that in the third there would be some queen like Queen Winkruble, so only entered in doubt. And like Jack my first thought was Thoreau, so was expecting to moan here.

    Not sure if 737 is a prime (think so but …), so if we allow primes to be repeated doesn’t ‘7:37?’ do?

    Why did the setter have ‘the’ in 6ac? The clue reads fine without it, and is just as, if not more, sound.

    1. The: Now that you’ve raised the issue it occurs to me that ‘the’ may be intended as part of the second definition. The equivalent of being in ‘stir’ is being in ‘the jug’, I think.

      1. Yes how silly. and there I was trying 13, 17, 19 etc as divisors. 11 is obvious since 7 + 7 – 3 is divisible by 11.

  21. All done with STIR LOI. As an aside I’m still working on Saturday’s jumbo and Alexandrian was one I hadn’t yet solved….

    1. Annoying. It was one I had solved, but I was still surprised at the mildness of Jackkt’s rebuke

      1. I assumed it was done in innocence but if people hadn’t already replied by the time I saw it I would have simply deleted it.

        1. But, simply for damage limitation, could you not have deleted it anyway? You (Jackkt) posted at 9:50. If you had deleted the original post then, and the responses (from people who should have known better), you might have spared Notreve, who did not post until 10:54, and perhaps many others

    2. I haven’t done it yet either. I did try to steer mcchoc off because (s)he raised the query late in yesterday’s thread before I knew it had popped up here too.

  22. 06:03, with only brief hold-ups, firstly to make sure I’d got the soundalike clues the right way round, secondly to confirm that THUMB PIANO and WHIP SCORPION were the best looking fits from the wordplay, given that I hadn’t heard of either thing before. Both seemed pretty convincing, so no problems.

  23. Nope, couldn’t get past Thoreau at 2d. More or less whipped my way through but couldn’t think of any arachnids except spiders and ticks for a while and was slow to parse CONCERT – oh that sort of “live”, not LIV but LI IVE. The anagrams were good (and very helpful) and I liked AT A TANGENT. I see Mohn clocked in at well under 3 minutes. Eat your hearts out neutrinos. 15.29

  24. 20 minutes. A lot easier than yesterday’s with lots of giveaways. I made a racing start entering many answers as soon as I read the clue. Main hold-ups were KEY SIGNATURE, THUMB PIANO and WHIP SCORPION, the last two unfamiliar to me also.

  25. 14:40 with a huge number biffed as the crossers appeared. I was yet another who thought of Thoreau and was distracted by SHOP STEWARD.
    Nice puzzle, thank you setter.

  26. 18:09. I thought 5:37 was odd as a cryptic for PRIME TIME but apart from that and a bit of head scratching over the SIGNATURE bit of 20a it felt like smooth sailing.

  27. 18 mins
    Thought this would be harder, but it appears that I did the hardest bit first. After a struggle in the south, what with the SCORPION and all, the north wrote itself in. Another confused Thoreau reader here too.

    1. After seeing so many comments from people on the same wavelength I’m starting to think that Thoreau may well have been the writer after all! There have been so many misprints of late (e.g. ‘unbathing’ for ‘sunbathing’ in yesterday’s QC in the newspaper) we can’t be blamed for being a little suspicious of clues that don’t quite read as we expect.

  28. Happy to almost finish in around 30 mins – stumped by THUMB PIANO and WHIP SCORPION, and STIR was biffed (NHO ‘jug’ for prison – one to remember). Thanks all.

  29. I would echo the comments of others in that I thought it easier than normal but with WHIP SCORPION and THUMB PIANO unknown. Both perfectly gettable from the cryptic and no complaints. Had no clue of the parsing for PRIME TIME, so thanks to Jack for enlightening me. Crossed the line in 24.00, a full 21 minutes inside target

  30. Came over here from the QC on @merlin’s suggestion – did ok but had turn for 6A t for the and then urn for jug- enjoyed the anagrams! Thanks setter and all.

  31. 9:29 late this morning, less than 3 minutes over my time for the QC earlier, so I must have woken up I guess.
    A basically straightforward 15 x 15 but with several clues that were quite interesting.
    Like many others I went down the “Thorau” route to solving 2d “Thor”, even with misgivings about the spelling.
    Also NHO 7d “Thumb Piano” and 11 d ” Whip Scorpion” but the wordplay in each case was was kind.
    LOI 26 ac “gong”, where I was trying in vain to parse “gold” until POI 14 d “kidney bean” made me think again.
    Really liked 15 ac “Prime Time” – nice idea.
    Thanks to setter and Jack for the blog.

  32. 10.30 and no mistakes! So a marked improvement on yesterday. LOI paint after working out whip scorpion which was a NHO. Too much time thinking the answer to 17ac was a material. Anyone heard of Apint? Perhaps I should try and invent it.
    DNK key signature but able to work it out from cluing and crossers.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  33. Very enjoyable and clever for a puzzle that’s on the easier side. I was also a Shop Steward and a Thoreau, but my holdup was trying to use the rest of the verbiage at 25A to turn the well-liked Titania into a (not-so-well-liked) flower. I hestitated over Dual/Duel – I could read it either way. Thanks, jack, and setter

  34. Another Thoreau theorist here.

    Never heard of WHIP SCORPION or THUMB PIANO. The latter made me think of Les Dawson. Managed to get both of these but then a rush of blood to the head made me enter KEY SIGNATORY.
    Oh calamity!

  35. We got STIR at 6ac from ‘slightly move’ but still baffled as to where/how/why ‘jug’ comes in to it!! Can anyone help please?!

    1. “The jug” is one of the multitude of nicknames (get it?) for jail… as is “stir.”

  36. A very easy 27 minutes, the NE corner going in right away when I started solving. PERIWINKLE was the only clue I needed to biff and my solving would have been quicker if I hadn’t spent so much time trying to figure out the wordplay for it. A suggestion for how to understand the definition of PRIME TIME: if you say 5:37 out loud, what you say is “five thirty-seven”, and those are two primes. Nothing else needs to be.

  37. 17.05 and too slow to get on the leader board for the Snitch. I was off like a rocket on this one and had hopes of a PB but slowed down in the lower half of the grid. Periwinkle in particular took some time to winkle out and I didn’t quite have the clue to Skye the right way round for a time.

  38. 20.46

    Late entry

    Brain seemed in a fog (couldn’t immediately think of COOP and so it went on) but prised them all out eventually.

    Liked the 5.37 clue a lot

    Thanks Jackkt Setter and for everyone’s comments

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