Times Cryptic 28412

Solving time: 32 minutes

I can’t say I noticed when solving but whilst writing the blog it struck me that there seemed to be rather too many containment clues in this one. Actually it’s 15 out of 28 but 1ac has two containments bringing the total to 16. I’ve no idea how this compares with other puzzles but the last time I blogged the setter was the one dubbed by someone as ‘the start/end deletion fiend’ who managed only 12 of those, so 16 containments seems a bit excessive. By contrast we have only one ‘start/end deletion’ today! And  nothing hidden. A little more variety would be appreciated.

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 Ecstasy found in room backed dishonest talk about heroin trader (8)
E (ecstasy) contained by [found in] RM (room) reversed [backed], then CANT (dishonest talk) containing [about] H (heroin)
6 Penny leaving Greek battle site for shack (4-2)
LE{p}ANTO (Greek battle site – 1571) [penny leaving]. There’s more than one definition of a ‘lean-to’ but this from Collins will suffice, I think:  A lean-to is a building such as a shed or garage which is attached to one wall of a larger building, and which usually has a sloping roof.
9 The Intersection: gripping stuff penned by novelist (5,8)
VELCRO (gripping stuff) contained [penned] by Doris LESSING (novelist). I liked ‘gripping stuff’ here!
10 One coming inside stumbles around in shade (6)
I (one) contained by [coming inside] TRIPS (stumbles) reversed [around]. I was caught out by this meaning of ‘shade’ once before, but not today. SOED: A ghost, a spectre, a phantom; a disembodied spirit, an inhabitant of Hades.
11 Sailor, spiteful sort breaking fall, finds step down (8)
AB (sailor – able seaman), then CAT (spiteful sort) contained  by [breaking] DIE (fall)
13 Flask going into bag as far down as possible (10)
THERMOS (flask) contained by [going into] NET (bag). ‘Thermos’ is a trade name but like ‘Hoover’ it’s now in the language. It started out as German company but is now owned by a Japanese conglomerate.
15 Any number seen aboard punt that’s leaning (4)
N (any number) contained by [seen aboard] BET (punt)
16 Lord’s ducks  perhaps mating animals (4)
Two meanings. I didn’t know the first but ‘Lord’s’ and ‘ducks’ suggested cricket terminology and that turned out to be correct. A ‘pair’ is when a batsman is dismissed in both innings without scoring  a single run, i.e. he’s twice out for a duck. Mick Hodgkin’s latest Times Newsletter begins with an item about cricket and crosswords
18 Arrogant, intoxicated worker appears before news boss (4-6)
HIGH (intoxicated), HAND (worker), ED (news boss)
21 Caution in favour of conflict between opponents (8)
FOR (in favour of), then WAR (conflict) contained by [between] E N (opponents at bridge)
22 Soup label mysterious writer keeps (6)
Edgar Allan POE (mysterious writer) contains [keeps] TAG (label)
23 Reverse a tutor suffers making valuable discovery (8,5)
Anagram [suffers] of REVERSE A TUTOR
25 Dancing bride succeeded causing wreckage (6)
Anagram [dancing] of BRIDE, then S (succeeded)
26 Bananas excellent served with some tea? (8)
CRACK (excellent), POT (some tea?)
2 Cuts in central Greece producing blackout (7)
CLIPS (cuts) contained by [in] {Gr}EE{ce} [central]
3 Clubs swindle that puts extra on bill (5,6)
C (clubs – cards), OVERCHARGE (swindle)
4 Often nurses left parcel out (5)
A LOT (often) contains [nurses] L (left)
5 Whirlwind to trouble British sailors sucked in (7)
RN (British sailors) contained [sucked in] by TO + ADO (trouble)
6 Survive having to abandon desperate defenders here? (4,5)
LAST (last), DITCH (abandon) as in a last ditch attempt at survival
7 Supposedly the greatest length trunk road spans? (3)
A1 (trunk road) contains [spans] L (length). Some boxer bloke.
8 Colossus reportedly becoming tense (7)
Sounds like [reportedly] “Titan” [Colossus)
12 Classy furniture one’s got in now bracket fixed (11)
I (one) contained by [got in] anagram [fixed] of NOW BRACKET
14 Runs through — tries to stop Welshman? (9)
HEARS (tries in court) contained by [to stop] REES (Welshman?)
17 Bartholomew maybe after beer bottles (7)
ALE (beer) contains [bottles] POST (after)
19 Officer briefly laid on fine blanket (7)
GEN (officer briefly), ERIC (fine). SOED: Eric, in Irish History, was a blood fine or financial compensation which had to be paid by a murderer to the family or dependants of the victim. I think I have met this before.
20 Composer wanting area green for painter (2,5)
ELG{a}R (composer) [wanting area], ECO (green)
22 Ready with article about Indian city (5)
PAT (ready), then AN (indefinite article) reversed [about]. Known for  its rice.
24 Dread losing initial musical ability (3)
{f}EAR (dread) [losing initial]. We’ve heard a lot of having a ‘tin ear’ in the past few days.

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28412”

  1. 17:15
    Like Jack, ‘Lord’s’ and ‘ducks’ suggested cricket, and I figured maybe getting 2 0’s means something; anyway, PAIR seemed inevitable. No idea how to parse GENERIC, never having heard of ERIC. I liked SPIRIT.

  2. Some full value GK — Elgar mixed with El Greco (which I have to say boggles the mind), the Indian city less well-known to those of us who didn’t study pink-tinged maps in third-form geography, a somewhat rare cricket occurrence, the location of the demise of the other late 16th century armada, and of course Eric — mixed with some remarkably direct cluing made for a bit of stop and go in an otherwise easy-ish solve. Thanks, jack

  3. I didn’t know PATNA was a city but I have heard of the rice (I don’t think Basmati is a city though). Didn’t know the cricket meaning of PAIR (although I knew Duck). No idea about the Irish ERIC either. So I submitted with fingers crossed but was all green.

  4. Harder than yesterday’s, especially in the NW corner for me, so I started off with ALI at 7d and worked my way back around. By the time I got back to the start, I did at least have all the crossers to make it apparent that COD 9a was some kind of CROSSING and got stuck in from there, finishing off with SPIRIT in 25m. Like others, wasn’t sure about PAIR as I know nothing of cricket, and PATNA was constructed from wordplay; I stick to basmati, it seems…

  5. Are there signs of a GENERIC BENT?
    A PAIR with product placement
    So I think we should know
    Does sponsorship now pay the rent?

  6. 26m 34s I stared at this for a while before any solutions came to mind. Once I had the two anagrams sorted out in 12d and 23ac, though, things proceeded apace.
    Jack, in 21ac shouldn’t the ‘opponents’ be E & N and not W & N as you’ve got?
    NHO: ERIC.
    Thank you Jack.

  7. I initially thought that ‘gripping stuff’ was going to be a containment indicator. Little did I know there would be 16 of them. NHO ERIC. Liked VELCRO and THERMOS.

  8. 77 years for me today down the sunset strip of life. 26 minutes on this with LOI SPIRIT. COD to LEVEL CROSSING. I did enjoy this one, seeing LEAN-TO straightaway and thinking there must have been a Battle of Lepanto. Thank you Jack and setter.

      1. Many, many more!!

        I have an ambition to solve the crossword on my hundredth birthday, and you’re very welcome to share it.

        Will let you know if I make it! 😄

  9. 8:15. According to the SNITCH this is of a similar difficulty to yesterday’s yet I finished it in under half the time. Funny how some days answers can just jump out at you. PATNA RICE appeared two months ago which might well have helped with PATNA today. I’ve also become quite familiar with ERIC recently as he’s made at least a couple of outings in either the Mephisto or the Listener (I think the latter).

  10. At 16 mins one of my quickest for a while
    LOI 16a
    NW corner took most of the time
    Not a lot more to say

  11. I was on course to comfortably break the Ten Minute Barrier but got stuck for over 3 minutes with LOI, PAIR. Eventually worked it out and completed in 12:09. But one error. PATWA for PATNA.


  12. 6:49. No hold-ups today, but I found I was using the wordplay at least partially for most of the clues so it was more satisfying than an out-and-out biff-fest. I remembered PATNA rice from its recent appearance, which helped, and I knew everything else. ERIC was familiar from Mephisto but strikes me as unsuitable for use in the daily puzzles.

  13. 9:40. Held up at the end by having an unparsed GENERAL for 19D, but I eventually saw CRACKPOT and fixed the error. I knew Lepanto as it was a favourite brandy of my Dad’s, named after the battle. Thanks jackkt and setter.

    1. Me too John with regard to the 19 d/ 26 ac intersection (but never heard of the the Lepanto brandy!)

  14. Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
    Bird thou never wert,

    30 mins concurrently with breakfast and other distractions. I liked it, mostly the Thermos and Velcro insertions.
    Patna was easy, but my eyebrow did quiver while I searched for an appropriate Pat=Ready context. A pat/ready reply, I guess.
    Thanks setter and great blog J.

  15. 11′ 56″, didn’t know ERIC.

    A pair is rare but a king pair is rarer.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  16. 31 mins so average time. Held up by PAIR having never heard of the cricketing reference, but it had to be.

    I agree there are too many inclusion clues and therefore not many anagrams. Bah.

    I did love LEVEL CROSSING though.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  17. 13:52
    Quickish solve. The definitions gave a lot of the clues away immediately.
    Thanks, jack.

  18. Was flying today but then spent about half my time bogged down in the SW. Putting in GENERAL didn’t help and struggled with CRACKPOT and I seem to be one of those that didn’t remember PATNA from last time. I will remember next time (I probably won’t)

    Finished in a leisurely 12.39 so have missed out on good times on both the easier puzzles this week so far.

  19. Thanks for doing the homework on PAIR and ERIC Jack. You’re right that we had that kind of ERIC in some dim and distant past puzzle but I’d forgotten all about it. I liked the mental image of Bridesilla wrecking the reception. 15.05

  20. 29 minutes. Mildly annoyed to have forgotten ERIC for ‘fine’ which we have had before. Don’t think I knew PATNA (pop. 2.5 million according to Wikipedia), not helped by not immediately seeing PAT for ‘Ready’. Favourite was PAIR which always reminds me of Graham Gooch’s first test performance.

  21. Was going along well by my standards and was ready to finish in well under 30 minutes, but then the 16ac/17dn pair slowed me up so much that eventually I took 44 minutes. The problem in 16ac was that I was mentally putting the ‘perhaps’ in the wrong place; also my knowledge of Bartholomew was rather lacking. I’d forgotten that he was an apostle and missed that after = post. Pretty feeble, in retrospect. I suspected that a whirlwind wasn’t exactly a tornado, but close enough no doubt.

    1. Wiktionary:
      1) A violent windstorm of limited extent, as the tornado, characterized by an inward spiral motion of the air with an upward current in the center; a vortex of air. It usually has a rapid progressive motion.

  22. I thought this was going to be another Monday job, but progress slowed towards the end. 29 minutes. Took a while to see which city was needed – tempted by PATRA which I used to pass through regularly after ferry from Ancona.
    I see jackkt above complaining about too many containment clues and asking for a wider variety in clueing in a given puzzle; I think there should be no pressure on the setters to give us a particular mix, like having a hidden clue every day; predictability is to be avoided.

    1. I’m agreed regarding the clue types. I find the general mix agreeable and don’t mind how they are distributed in any single puzzle.

    2. I also wouldn’t want to see undue pressure or a requirement for a particular type of clue (such as hidden word) every day but I do think it’s the job of the editor to monitor with a light touch and perhaps have the occasional quiet word. If not that, then what is their function?

  23. Somewhat tricky. As noted above, ERIC is a refugee from Mephisto-land, where it turns up fairly frequently. I did not help myself by putting CRACKERS for 26a (well, it does mean bananas, and you could just about imagine having crackers with your tea), until eventually seeing that only EL GRECO would work.

  24. 13:55. On a roll today, with a PB for the Concise of 2:55 and the Quick at 5:02. I didn’t know the sporty definition of PAIR, my LOI, but rightly assumed it was today’s mysterious cricket term; a puzzle with more biffing than parsing on the whole

  25. 5m 38s, lots of biffing today, including LEAN-TO, LEVEL CROSSING, TREASURE TROVE, COVER CHARGE, REHEARSES, EL GRECO. I’d say ABDICATE counts as semi-biffed, as I got the AB from the wordplay and biffed the rest.

    Now that I’ve read the parsing of LEVEL CROSSING, that velcro is very nice. COD

  26. Mostly straightforward today, done in 29 minutes. No idea about Lord’s ducks, but PAIR obviously fitted the bill. LEVEL CROSSING was nice, a 6-letter item inside a 7-letter one; not so with MERCHANT, too raggedy. ERIC familiar from Scrabble, as it can be hooked to give ERICA.

  27. 31:32 with one pink square. I shouldn’t have settled for Prawn Patia without considering Patna Rice. I enjoyed seeing Thermos and Velcro

    1. I sympathise as if I had ever heard of the Prawns and PATIA had occurred to me I would have taken it without a second thought, taking the “Indian” as I. But then the Indian is NOT India, so….

  28. Solved over a very leisurely coffee. Finished in the SE where GENER- AL/IC had to be corrected before CRACKPOT. That left the checkers for EL GRECO which couldn’t have been anything else but went in unparsed – thanks for the clarification.

  29. 32 minutes, so similar to yesterday’s, but no unfamiliar words, though I didn’t understand the cricket reference in 16a. I’ve never seen the appeal of cricket, so I’m familiar with only the most common of cricketing terms used in crosswords. I was held up a bit by 18a since I was convinced for a while that it ended in -HEADED, which put 12d out of reach even though it was obviously an anagram-based clue.

  30. I need stronger coffee – got 17 and 19 mixed up (Eric & Bartholomew) and got dear Eric Morecambe stuck in my head . . .

  31. Must have been on the wavelength today because most clues were immediate write-ins. Only the SE corner held me up at all, notably GENERIC. 14 mins.

  32. 19 mins. Must have come across ERIC before, but like a goldfish it was new to me again. Otherwise straightforward.

  33. A fast finish for me today at 20.55, and would have been quicker still if I hadn’t spent nearly three minutes on CRACKPOT and LOI GENERIC. PATNA had to be dredged from the darkest recesses of my memory which helped me get CRACKPOT. All parsed with the exception of ERIC and like others was trying to parse GENERAL.

  34. 08:09, with a pause to contemplate ERIC – if I’ve met him before, I don’t remember it, but given that I was looking for a word meaning “blanket” to fill in GEN_R_C, it seemed like a reasonable punt. The realisation that putting VELCRO inside LESSING gives something meaningful was a nice surprise.

  35. Two clues rang literary bells for me. Lepanto was the name of a poem by G.K. Chesterton describing and celebrating the victory of an alliance of Christian fleets over the Ottoman Turks. Patna was the name of the ship young sailor Jim abandoned to his shame in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim.

  36. 25’, but I couldn’t bring PATNA to mind and, even if I could have, I’m not sure I’d have taken it as I don’t really see how we get PAT from ‘Ready’, so a DNF unfortunately. At 8D, don’t we have an adjective in the clue defining a verb solution? Could only be TIGHTEN, but it caused a modicum of tooth-sucking.

    1. “Tense” is also a verb, both transitive (She tensed her muscles as she waited for the serve) and intransitive (I tensed up and missed the putt).

      1. Thank you. Extraordinary how easy it is not to be able to find a simple example when I need one!

  37. I didn’t count occurrences of the too-frequently repeated device, nor even notice its recurrence, but that must be one thing that made this so easy. A good number were also seen from a few crossers and the definition. LEVEL CROSSING is new to me.
    LOI (just now!) CRACKPOT, right after PATNA. And right before that was PAIR, which was something of a guess!

  38. Thanks Jackkt for the fine blog.

    I was two away from finishing had POTNA not PATNA as I’m sure the former is a place in India and I convinced myself that pot = stash of cash = ready. Now kicking myself that didn’t think of having something “off pat” as being ready.

    Also couldn’t see MERCHANT until I’d biffed my LOI as ‘penchant’ thinking it may have an archaic meaning of ecstasy. As soon as it came back pink I saw the correct answer.

    Thanks setter too!

  39. Biffed LEVEL CROSSING and parsed it after the event. FOI, ALI, LOI, PAIR.Late to the puzzle today after a visit to the Bird of Prey Centre at Duncombe park in Helmsley and a riverside walk. Rather weary now! 23:55. Thanks setter and Jack.

  40. 9:58, just made my first sub-10 minute for a while. I thought this puzzle was broadly equivalent in difficulty to yesterday’s but I felt a little sharper (or luckier) despite having had my COVID/Flu double header jabs with Mrs P shortly beforehand.
    Interesting choice of location on this occasion by the way, in a vacant site in a central shopping mall in Edinburgh. Have to say it felt rather like being in a goldfish bowl, although mercifully there was a pleasing absence of voyeurs and a very efficient process was in effect.
    While I accept Jack’s point about variety of clue, I still found it an enjoyable puzzle to tackle.
    COD 9ac “level crossing” – just so neat!
    NHO of that particular meaning of Eric as featured in LOI 19 d “generic”. It reminded me, rather unhelpfully, of the follow up to the “Dead Parrott” Monty Python sketch where the same John Cleese character explains that all his pets are called Eric including his pet fish – “Ereek is an Halibut”. Very strange.
    Thanks to Jack and setter.

  41. 22:03

    NHO LEPANTO but the answer was obvious.

    The parsing of LEVEL CROSSING went over my head.

    SPIRIT and ERIC were beyond my ken.

    Heard of the rice but didn’t know it was a city.

  42. 45 minutes maybe, but I actually took a long break expecting not to be able to solve 18ac and 26ac, but then realized 19dn might not be GENERAL, which made CRACKPOT solvable. When I did bang in PAIR and GENERIC I was sure they would lead to pink squares, but they didn’t. ERIC indeed!

    As for LEPANTO, that was no problem because Don Juan of Austria, the victor of the battle, was purportedly conceived in Regensburg, where I spent half of September. There is in fact a plaque in the old town in which the city of LEPANTO (actually called something else in Greek) expresses its gratitude to the city of Regensburg for this contribution.

  43. I found this much easier than yesterday i.e. I finished this one, although NHO ERIC nor LEPANTO so thanks for explanation. COD for me was PAIR.

  44. DNF in a little under 14 mins. I found this pretty easy-going. I knew Lepanto as the battle where Cervantes lost the use of his left arm. Alas I misremembered the city as Patia (though on checking the comments above I too could well have been thinking of prawn patia). I liked the clue for level crossing.

  45. Can’t believe there are not more Test Match Special listeners among our solvers. A duck in each innings is 00 – a pair of spectacles!

  46. “Puddin’ or Patna?” was one of my mother’s favourite sayings as she dished out the regular Wednesday ‘afters’ – so no problem there! And to this day I have followed her rice pudding recipe, and still think it the very best.

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