Times Cryptic 28403


Solving time: Off the scale – I stopped counting when the hour passed.

Please note as this is an emergency blog it doesn’t contain all detail I would normally hope to include.

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 Aromatic plant: partner to pop one in cold beer! (8)
MOM (partner to pop) + I (one) in C (cold) + ALE (beer))
5 Uniform’s for the Girl Guides (6)
U’S (uniform’s), HERS (for the girl)
9 Such a highly-rated company unhappy with small imperfection (4-4)
BLUE (unhappy), CHIP (small imperfection)
10 After month, gold found somewhere in Alaska (6)
JUNE (month), AU (gold)
12 For instance had penetrating light? (5)
I think this is AS (for instance) inside [penetrating] LED (light).  On edit. The Times Crossword editor advises below that It is an &lit. “Had” here just means , well. “Had”.
13 Nap spread out, becoming smoother (9)
Anagram [out] of NAP SPREAD
14 Life magazine holds competition, with article, to compose hymn (7,5)
A (article), MAG (magazine) contains [holds] ZING (life), RACE (competition).
18 Eat out — and manage well (4,1,3,4)
HAVE (eat), AWAY (out), WITH (and)
21 Champion getting gold after racket challenge’s final cancelled (9)
CON (racket), QUER{y} (challenge) [final cancelled], OR (gold)
23 Vineyard with can it’s used for fruit pulp (5)
CRU (vineyard), SH (can it – be quiet!)
24 Ordered ale for worker only rarely? (6)
Anagram [ordered] of ALE FOR
25 Dated pupil, once only, note (8)
OB (pupil, once – Old Boy), SOLE (only), TE (note)
26 Mawkish, one very quietly having stopped being the opposite? (6)
I (one) + PP (very quietly) contained by [having stopped] DRY (being the opposite of drippy)
27 How steeplejack might be paid to sweat? (8)
PER SPIRE (how steeplejack might be paid)
1 Fellow from Riga, maybe, kind of blue (6)
CO- (fellow), BALT (from Riga, maybe)
2 Timid chap taking extra small dessert (6)
MOUSE (timid chap) containing [taking] S (extra small)
3 Tree cracking up under the surface (9)
MACADAM (road surface), then AI (cracking -first class) reversed [up]
4 Permissive conditions faze Israelis (7-5)
LAISSEZ-FAIRE : Permissive conditions faze Israelis
6 Floor or platform for speaker (5)
Two meanings. Politicians go ‘on the stump’ when they campaign.
7 Briefly release both hands to grasp a model (8)
EXEMP{t} (release) [briefly], then L+R (both hands) contain [grasp] A
8 Lay in awfully risqué ladieswear on vacation (8)
Anagram [awfully] of RISQUE L{adieswea}R [on vacation]
11 Certain   such things will be passed on! (12)
Two meanings
15 Explain how to be favoured candidate on ballot? (3,6)
GET A CROSS (how to be favoured candidate on ballot)
16 Directed supporting cast — and saw the funny side? (8)
CHUCK (cast), LED  (directed)
17 Sinister influence of seconds, see, on English boxer (8)
S (seconds), V (see), ENG (English), ALI (boxer)
19 Bones smell, with heat rising (6)
HUM (smel), then IRE (heat) reversed [rising]
20 A ruse to inspire, if unhealthily? (6)
Two meanings
22 Take letters for reading out in court (3,2)
USE sounds like [for reading out] U’s (letters), UP (in court)

55 comments on “Times Cryptic 28403”

  1. The glorious day has arrived! No, not the crushing victory of the proletariat over the evil bourgeoisie – something even better than that!! First time I’ve had a full Mon – Fri sequence of successful completions – and actually I didn’t find this too much trouble, certainly not as difficult as the SNITCH would suggest. In view of the circumstances, I refrained from attempting the solve shortly after getting up, instead opting for a Somali breakfast and extra coffee before hitting the “go” button.

    FOI CAMOMILE then LASSIEZ FAIRE, I jumped around the grid quite a bit, focused more on getting it right than posting a fast time. Nothing too problematic, though I failed to properly parse the “eat out” sense of 18a, took far too long to realise LOAFER was an anagram, and unsure whether CRU = “vineyard”, ended with a lot of alpha-trawling of C-U-H to make sure I wasn’t missing a better solution than CRUSH. COD has to be PERSPIRE.

    Objective achieved in 43:35, actually a respectable time for me on a puzzle of this difficulty – thanks Jack and setter

    1. Congratulations! Not the easiest puzzle to round out your full house! You can face the future with full confidence.

    2. Well done Denise. It seems the harder puzzles might be your forte, which bodes well for your average times in future, as you get more accustomed to spotting the setters’ standard tricks quicker.

  2. Took me ages to get started, dotting around everywhere in desperation before finally coming back to the NW corner and getting BLUE CHIP. After that it was a case of slowly plugging away, repeatedly restarting in different areas as I failed to build any real momentum anywhere. I also spent a while going through all the letters to sadly conclude that the puzzle was definitely a pangram but that I’d already put in all the letters of the alphabet so it didn’t help!

    Eventually my isolated inroads started to join up, and finally HAVE AWAY WITH gave me the W that pushed me towards LOI UNANSWERABLE at about the 54 minute mark. Gosh, that was hard work.

  3. Couldn’t parse LASED, AMAZING GRACE, CONQUEROR but got them all (eventually.)
    Oh, and many thanks for jumping into the breach.

  4. 68m 59s
    Well done, Jack!
    And thank you for solving my parsing queries with LASED, AMAZING GRACE, CRUSH, UNANSWERABLE and USE UP.
    The top half went in fairly quickly but I had plenty of difficulty with the bottom half.
    LOI: LOAFER because I separated the clue in the wrong place.

  5. Thanks for the blog Jack. This went in smoothly enough although it took me several beats to see how LASED worked and I wasn’t sure about CONQUEROR=champion until it couldn’t be anything else. This rounds out a week of good puzzles and one might CHUCKLE at the thought of the steeplejacks DRIPPY with sweat. 20.21

  6. 54 minutes with LASED my LOI — I’d got it some time before but couldn’t believe that it was a word; however, checking showed that it was. Good crossword because in retrospect nothing was terribly difficult, yet as one was doing it things weren’t at all easy.

    Many thanks for emergency blog Jack: you’re too modest — I can’t see how there is anything more to say about AMAZING GRACE.

    1. Thanks, Wil, re AMAZING GRACE. Actually I edited the comment later to make it clearer how the containment worked but it can’t have been saved. I’ve been in a bit of a dither this morning writing the blog against the clock.

  7. 21:46. I found much of this tricky though I never felt bogged down at any point. I finished with the excellent HAVE A WAY WITH. I very much like the brevity of the cryptic for that clue.

  8. 61 minutes. It would have been good to have at least cracked the hour barrier, but it took a long time to see HAVE A WAY WITH for ‘manage well’ and like Will R. above, I couldn’t see how LASED could be a word and I only put it in as my LOI as nothing else would fit.

    I liked the ‘cracking’ MACADAMIA and the pay rate for the ‘steeplejack’ at 27a.

    Thanks to Jack for stepping in for the blog and to setter

  9. It seems I was quite lucky with LASED. (Warning: spoilers for a 1979 SF novel!) In Larry Niven’s The Ringworld Engineers, one of my favourite moments is the revelation of the scale of the Ringworld’s meteor defence system:

    “The sun extruded a jet of plasma some millions of miles long. It is difficult to observe because it came straight at us. It did not arch over in the sun’s magnetic field, as flares commonly do.”
    “That was no solar flare that hit us.”
    “The flare stretched out several million miles over a period of twenty minutes. Then it lased in violet.”
    “Oh my God.”

  10. Tricky. Thanks for the emergency blog. No problems with LASED, a nice &lit – lasers lase, will lase, have lased. The wonders of English when an acronym becomes a noun then backforms into a verb. I worked out the convoluted Amazing Grace with all its parts out of order. And with a full anagram of magazine in it. Never figured the wordplay for Have a way with, I was looking for a double definition, so feel a bit silly it was so simple. I’m with Wil Ransome, one of those pleasing puzzles that seem tricky at the time but simple afterwards.

  11. Thanks jackkt for short-notice blog. I finished this in half an hour although found it difficult to get started, until 8a, 10a and the NE corner fell in. Ending with LOAFER which took me a few minutes at the end. COBALT and CHUCKLED were the best IMO. Wasn’t keen on UNANSWERABLE for certain, but nothing else as good would fit.

  12. 15:53, but with a couple unparsed (LASED and CONQUEROR). Lots of fun clues. I liked PERSPIRE, GET ACROSS and “partner to pop” best. Thanks for the blog Jack!

  13. Like our blogger (thanks Jack for the stand-in) gave up on the hour with the dubious, for me anyway, UNANSWERABLE. Still don’t really get it. Also had LASER for a long time which made MACADAMIA impossible.

    I didn’t feel at all on the wavelength today. I did like COBALT and CRUSH.

    Ta as usual.

      1. OK. I have a couple of problems here. If a question is unanswerable, why pass it on? Theoretically no one will know the answer. Secondly, I don’t like question being cited as “thing”. Too vague IMHO. I do agree that certain=unanswerable.

        1. You don’t “pass it on”, as Justinwestcork says you “pass on it”. As in “Mmm I think I’ll pass on that one”. From Mastermind, where a contestant says “pass” if they don’t know the answer.

  14. Much the same as Ms Tremble, except after an hour l jacked it in. So an inglorious DNF in the lower Kent area. Perhaps it was Lord Verlaine’s birthday again?

    (LOI) 19dn HUMERI
    That dominates
    I note that MACADEMIA is a college in Edinburgh, where Ian Fleming was a student, back in the day.

    On edit 4dn STUMP brought to mind St. Botolph’s, which dominates the sky-line of Boston.

  15. 26:23. I enjoyed this and found it quite tricky. Some very nice clues. CAMOMILE, USHERS,


  16. 20:48, with significantly over 25% of that struggling with 18ac. I had HAVE A ?A? WITH but just couldn’t see what the middle word was, for reasons I can’t for the life of me understand. It took one alphabet trawl considering all possible starting letters, and then another considering all possible last letters. For some reason considering WA? didn’t get me there, and of course it took some time in my second trawl to get to ?AY. When the penny dropped, it dropped hard.
    A very difficult (albeit not as difficult as I made it) but absolutely first-class puzzle. Lots of really devious wordplay that leaves you with little idea of what direction to tackle the clue from.

  17. 45:15
    A tough customer. AMAZING GRACE was sneaky, with ‘magazine’ pretending to be anagrist.
    Thanks, jack.

  18. Thanks Jack. I enjoyed this but couldn’t parse the hymn. The letters of MAGAZINE look awfully tempting as some anagram fodder.

  19. 19:18, glad to see it wasn’t just me who struggled, especially with some clues where I could see what the answer presumably was (HAVE A WAY WITH, CONQUEROR) and had to work hard to parse after the event, and others which were just a bit tricky (LASED, UNANSWERABLE). Well that’s Fridays for you.

  20. 27’30”. Got stuck at the end with HAVE A WAY WITH. I had all the bits apart from the WAY! Just couldn’t see it. That old eat=have trick. Not sure I approve. Took a punt with LASED, and never worked out AMAZING GRACE. SVENGALI was the dancer Trilby’s controller in the book by George du Maurier. The hat got the name because an actress in the London stage version wore one.

  21. All green with the clock showing a ridiculous 2 hours 13 minutes. Some great clues. LOI UNANSWERABLE once i had the W from POI HAVE A WAY WITH. I parsed LASED as AS (for instance) inside LED (had – as in had/led a quiet life). It avoids the double duty.

    Im using a new Tablet today with a small real keybord. It slowed me right down (that’s my story) but I have high hopes of it

  22. 43:30. Worth persisting with, though it took time. LASED and UNANSWERABLE were LOIs and although I was confident both were correct, I didn’t entirely see how they worked. The mechanics always seem so simple when explained in the blog. Thanks as usual.

  23. An OBSOLETE LOAFER – Hey that’s me!
    I WHEEZE and PERSPIRE frequently
    Near UNANSWERABLE clues
    That STUMP and bemuse
    I’m a CONQUEROR, but most tardily

  24. DNF, foiled by HAVE A WAY WITH. I just couldn’t separate “eat” and “out”, and even with all the checkers ‘way’ never occurred to me as the third word. Enjoyed this though – USHERS is the COD for me.

  25. 56:34

    Some enjoyable bits and some harrumphing – LASED? Really – never heard that before (but what else could it be?), only LASERED.

    HAVE A WAY WITH – even with all of the checkers, it took a long time to see this the right way round. Well done with this one setter.

    UNANSWERABLE – in my view, the most difficult to get without enough checkers in place. Slight groan when the penny dropped.

  26. Thanks for the blog Jack. I think the definition for 23a should just be “fruit pulp”, the rest is part of the wordplay.

    While I’m happy with LASED as an answer, I’m struggling to see how the clue works. To be an &lit, AS would need to mean “for instance had” which it doesn’t.

    1. I parsed for instance = as, penetrating light = inside LED, and struggle to explain how the word ‘had’ got into the clue. ‘This thing’ (was) had (been) penetrating ‘that thing’. Not great but the best I could do, and I couldn’t see it as anything else as an attempted &lit – it is even less parseable as wordplay/definition.

  27. I’m afraid Matthew may have polished this off in a couple minutes and never realized it was Friday. I didn’t find it very hard—just chewy—and I tell myself I couldn’t finish last night just because I started so late (there must be only one hymn with a zed in it, and I couldn’t think of it!). There were a lot of clues ending in “?” but maybe one or two others still that could have used one! Very enjoyably tricky, but all quite fathomable (I remember now that I parsed LASED last night just as Jackkt did… reading the comments had me confused for a moment; Isla has a point about “once” in OBSOLETE, but I also parsed that as Jackkt has it). As usual with me, the long CD came very late. POI WHEEZY, LOI PERSPIRE (Ha!).

    1. 7m16 for me. Good but no Magoo.

      Sorry all for missing my regular blogslot – I was travelling between Portland OR and Washington DC all day Thursday and missed my window. Should I have arranged a stand-in blogger in advance? Indeed I should.

  28. 19’14”

    An absolute corker for a Friday, with a nice variety of clues. My favourite was probably MACADAMIA. Thought the wording of the LASED clue was a little clunky; otherwise 5 stars to the setter for a proper Friday toughie. JUNEAU always makes me think of Phil Cornwell’s immaculate Michael Caine parody in “Stella Street”, as in “D’you know?” (Michael Caine is a great collector of obscure facts), usually followed by “and not a lot of people know dat”, in best South London accent.

    1. gothick did refer to the pangram obliquely (saying that as s/he had used all the letters already it didn’t help much).

  29. 55 mins including a long doze. Left with the strange LASED to finish it off. I’d have used LASERED myself, but what do I know.

    1. I think there’s a subtle difference; I think you can, as a verb, “laser” something, as in shoot it with a laser, leading to “lasered”, but there’s also the intransitive “lase”, which is more technical and means to achieve the chain-reaction-style cascade of photon release that produces a laser beam, leading to “lased”.

  30. 41.01. I really struggled to finish this off. The last two words of have a way with crossing with the unfathomable unanswerable and then Amazing Grace which I could see but which defied all my attempts to parse. Tough.

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