Times Cryptic 28418


Solving time: 26 minutes


There were a few tricky clues and a handful of unknowns in wordplay but much of this was very straightforward including several clues that would not be out of place in a Quick Cryptic. This isn’t a criticism though, just an observation as it may encourage less experience solvers to have a go at it. There was a good mix of clue constructions this time.

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 Scientist came across a lot of magnetism with substance (12)
MET (came across), ALLUR{e} (magnetism) [a lot of…], GIST (substance)
9 Explosive ingredient some disconcertingly brought round (5)
Hidden [some] and reversed [brought round] in {disconc}ERTIN{gly}
10 Lighter finished as fluid escaped (9)
SPILL (lighter), OVER (finished). A spill is a thin strip of wood or piece of paper used for lighting a fire, candle, pipe, etc. Not seen very often these days.
11 Cherish processed English cheese (8)
Anagram [processed] of CHERISH, then E (English). A marked improvement on the Red Windsor that was served up to us last week.
12 Pub noise? This can carry (6)
BAR (pub), ROW (noise)
13 Plots with skill turned over for plant used for stuffing (8)
BEDS (plots), then W (with) + ART (skill) reversed [turned over]. I knew of straw being used for bedding of course but not the name of this particular plant. Collins has it as: any of numerous plants of the genus Galium, which have small white or yellow flowers and prickly or hairy fruits: some species formerly used as straw for beds as they are aromatic when dry.
15 Fantastic country is fine, with a lake (6)
F (fine), A, ERIE (lake). I knew this as an olde worlde spelling of ‘fairy’ but not as the land of the fairies.
17 Note Mickey almost is universally recognised (6)
FA (note – music), MOUS{e} (Mickey) [almost]
18 Perfume the French sell old queen (8)
LA (‘the’ in French), VEND (sell), ER (old queen). I find it sad that setters here and at The Guardian (and probably elsewhere that I don’t visit) feel the need to qualify ER in wordplay by inserting ‘old’, ‘ex’, ‘former’ etc. There’s really no need for it as the abbreviation still works historically.
20 Desire to do mischief in country church (6)
MALI (country), CE (church)
21 Obstruct idiot grabbing copper in war-torn city (8)
DAM (obstruct), ASS (idiot) containing [grabbing] CU (copper)
24 Bat defensively, a single wicket in stand (9)
ONE (a single) + W (wicket) contained by [in] STALL (stand)
25 Tree, large, that is beside river (5)
OS (large – outsize), IE (that is), R (river). Another name for the willow tree.
26 Excitedly telling niece news (12)
Anagram [excitedly] of TELLING NIECE
1 Dress caught on a black taxi (7)
MINI (dress), C (caught), A, B (black)
2 Running into maltreated ragamuffin (14)
Anagram [running] INTO MALTREATED. Fortunately remembered from a previous outing.
3 Parasite left on tree, destroying billions (5)
L (left), {b}EECH (tree) [destroying billions]
4 Put mares out towards spring. perhaps (8)
Anagram [out] of PUT MARES
5 I invested in horse over win (4)
I contained by [invested in] NAG (horse) reversed [over]
6 State of fruit ends in great wastage (9)
SULTANA (fruit), {grea}T + {wastag}E [ends]
7 Plain short stage show’s got excess of parts (14)
OVER{t} (plain) [short], PRODUCTION (stage show)
8 Idly read lines in bed, mostly (6)
ROWS (lines) contained by [in] BE{d} [mostly]
14 Time to manage revolutionary concerning weapon (9)
T (time), RUN (manage),  CHE (revolutionary), ON (concerning)
16 Standard form of gene mostly for twin (8)
PAR (standard), ALLEL{e} (form of gene) [mostly]. I didn’t know the gene but took it on trust.
17 Go without food, finding a trace of mercury in salmon? (6)
A + M{ercury} [trace of…] contained by [in] FISH (salmon?). I lost some time here trying construct an answer using ‘fast’.
19 Ice to keep fresh without power (7)
{p}RESERVE (keep fresh) [without power]
22 Very much into morning working, then golf (5)
AM (morning), ON (working), G (golf – NATO alphabet)
23 Bamboo vessel, not round (4)
CAN{o}E (vessel) [not round – O]. Other types of cane are available. I find it hard to think of a canoe as a vessel, but there you go…  

61 comments on “Times Cryptic 28418”

  1. 16:59
    Like Jack, I didn’t know of a plant called BEDSTRAW; also DNK STONEWALL in the cricket sense. The setter was perhaps a bit too fond of deleting final letters: 1ac a lot of, 17ac Mickey almost, 7d plain short, 8d bed mostly, 16d gene mostly.

  2. 7:14 – pretty breezy, everything understood. The E from English is needed to complete CHESHIRE

    1. Thanks, George. Amended now. I’ve mentioned several times (most recently yesterday) that I annotate my printed copy as I solve each clue to indicate parsing and definition, yet as illustrated here I seem to have fallen into the habit of not consulting my print-out and therefore mis-parsing the occasional clue when constructing my blogs. I must have a word with myself!

  3. 30 minutes for me. I’d forgotten the TATTERD… although I was sure that was how it started, so with the anagram and the checkers there weren’t really other choices. I don’t recall having heard of BEDSTRAW but it went in from wordplay (and a very plausible name for something to stuff beds with).

  4. I only said much of it was straightforward, and I had mentioned a few tricky clues and unknowns in my intro.

    Fortunately my father was a keen gardener and always had supplies of bamboo canes of various sizes in readiness for supporting growing plants, so the answer CANE came easily to mind.

  5. 33 minutes. I found it so hard to think of a CANOE as a ‘vessel’ that I spent almost ten minutes at the end on a more than usually frustrating alphabet trawl to make sure that CANE was correct until I finally did get around to inserting the O into the correct place, not surprisingly something Vinyl did much more quickly than me.

    Still, good to see STONEWALL after the micro-discussion about Confederate generals yesterday and I was happy to remember SPILL as a type of ‘lighter’.

  6. 9:41. I was moving fairly steadily through this until I saw TATTERDEMALION, though at the time wasn’t sure of the spelling. I was in two minds whether to grab pen and paper and work it out but I’m glad I did as it completely opened things up for me and I sped to the finish from there.
    Like Jack says, I found it quite jarring to see ER referred to as “old queen”.

  7. 32 minutes; I’d have been a lot faster if it hadn’t been for a handful of holdouts at the end. Luckily I finally corrected my assumption that 7d had to begin with OVERT and carry on with a short stage show and got OVERPRODUCTION, which led quickly to FAERIE, which I’m entirely familiar with but where I’d been trying to think of something more specific—Neverland, say, or Ruritania—and DAMASCUS. All that fiddling gave me enough time for the back of my mind to work on the _A_E bamboo that stumped me earlier and I suddenly saw it quite quickly to finish off.

    I was also held up a bit on TRUNCHEON, as with “trebuchet” there is more than one 9-letter weapon beginning with “t” and containing the same revolutionary…

    On the plus side, TATTERDEMAILION was a write-in and I remembered “spill” and BEDSTRAW from previous outings.

  8. 19 minutes with RHS taking longer than the left and LOI a constructed FAERIE. FOI was TATTERDEMALION, which was a big help. COD to METALLURGIST, also in early. Thank you Jack and setter.

  9. And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
    In blanched linen, smooth, and Lavender’d

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked it. I think the clue for Spillover is very neat given it is a tricky word to define.
    Thanks setter and J.

    1. A late thank you to Myrtilus for yesterday’s Larkin allusion – well, quote, really – which sent me off to find its source. A most happy discovery. Haven’t read enough Larkin. Hardly any, in fact, and I’m changed for the better by it.

  10. 8:04. No major dramas, although I was a bit concerned about which vowels and where to put them in TATTERDEMALION. Not really a suitable candidate for an anagram but I remembered it from previous outings.
    Not sure what the objection to CANOE is but they can be pretty large and you can carry tons of stuff in them. They were used extensively in the fur trade in North America.

      1. Collins: the long jointed pithy or hollow flexible stem of the bamboo, rattan, or any similar plant
        Chambers: The stem of one of the small palms (eg calamus or rattan) or the larger grasses (eg bamboo or sugarcane)

  11. Quick today even though some of the rhs needed a little thought. Lavender, loi. Not my favourite scent.
    Nice to see Gen. Jackson. I think it was not him but another general whose famous last words were “Don’t worry, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…” Instead, he was shot accidentally (one assumes) by his own troops.

    1. From Wikipedia:
      John Sedgwick (September 13, 1813 – May 9, 1864) was a military officer and Union Army general during the American Civil War….
      He is remembered for an ironic remark among his last words: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

  12. 32 mins and good fun. Enjoyed working our METALLURGIST and (WOD) TATTERDEMALION. LOI LAVENDER and I agree about the Queen thing.

    DNK BEDSTRAW but the clueing was fair. ALLELE also unknown, so thanks for that Jack. FAIRIE bunged in with fingers crossed, but it did look right.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. Don’t understand the objections to ER. What about Gloriana? She’s as likely a candidate, surely.

  13. 15’55”, but got the unchecked vowels in TATTERDEMALION the wrong way round. Rather liked FAERIE.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  14. 34 mins which for me is about average
    Several unknown words but only 2d took much time to work out

  15. Why we tend to find different things easy I don’t know. I came here expecting to find people saying that this one was even easier than yesterday’s (certainly my time of 18 minutes rather than 22 suggests this) but no, the SNITCH is at 85 not 53 and people seem to be saying it was indeed harder. Apart from FAERIE (whose meaning in this sense I didn’t know and took on trust) and a bit of a block over my loi CANE it seemed easy to me. Was a bit unimpressed by the crossings of 10ac and 7dn both using ‘over’.

    1. Some of it is due to levels of general knowledge, which vary quite markedly. And tend to favour the geriatrics like us 🙂

  16. Argh, as soon as I submitted, I thought – wait, TATTERDAMELION doesn’t look quite right. A word I only know from the Times crossword, and as it turns out, I don’t know it as well as I thought. Otherwise all plain sailing today. COD 4d for the lovely definition.

  17. Yes. Pretty sure ‘queen’ has been used to indicate VR, and ‘king’ to indicate GR, without the ‘old’ qualification. I haven’t yet seen CR indicated by ‘king’ but won’t be long I’m sure.

  18. A bit Monday-ish, this one, although not quite as straightforward as yesterday’s. Remembered TATTER… vaguely from previous times, although not a word I’ve ever heard in speech. Mrs piquet needed to confirm that we could regard lavender as a perfume not just a herb. The rest went straight in with METALLURGIST in first and FAERIE my LOI. 21 minutes.

    1. I think it’s always ‘lavender water’ rather than ‘perfume’ but it serves the same purpose. Also my grandmother’s generation used to press sprigs of lavender when storing bedlinen

  19. 25’01”. Stupidly wrote in OVERT for the top of 7D, which made a hames of the right hand side. Note to self: never write in part answers. Seriously considered OVERTRADUCTION, that’s how low I sunk! Also SATSUMATE – the mysterious eastern realm of Mandarins and people from Tangiers.

    1. Similar processes led me initially to BARASCUS, which could easily have been a scene of ancient strife. Fortunately I reconsidered.

  20. Yes I’m another one that did a double-take at the old queen – until recently that usually meant Anne or Cleopatra. Some years back the US was gripped by the murder trial of OJ Simpson which introduced the word ALLELE to people’s vocab. I was humming along until I had a brain freeze in the NE corner. Finished in 19.11

  21. 06:13, a pleasant solve with no hold-ups. TATTERDEMALION is one of those words which is, in theory, tremendously obscure, but regularly comes up in the “word of the day” type Twitter feeds from Susie Dent and other lexicographers, so is surprisingly well-known (well, if you’re the sort of person who follows lexicographers on Twitter, anyway). Never knowingly heard of the ALLELE but it – or something like it – had to exist, really.

  22. I started with GAIN and finished with its next door neighbour, SULTANATE with SPILLOVER POI. PARALLEL went in from crossers and definition as allele was unknown. TATTERDEMALION was fortunately remembered from previous outings here, and allowed our scientist to be identified. Hadn’t heard of the plant, but constructed BEDSTRAW confidently. I was also delayed at 7d by a posited OVERT at the start. Count me in the raised eyebrow brigade at old queen. 17:05. Thanks setter and Jack.

  23. 21 mins. Well the first Elizabeth was an old queen too…. I didn’t equate bamboo with cane, so that took a while. I got TATTERDEMALION as it couldn’t be much else, however yet another UCWAA.

    1. It’s true about Elizabeth the First but we’ve never had ER clued as ‘old queen’ before so it’s reasonable to assume that this has been done to reflect the passing of our late monarch. It’s not necessary.

  24. 14:05 I remembered TATTERDEMALION from Freddie Mercury’s “The Fairy Fellers Masterstroke” which also helped with FAERIE.
    Minor hold up with BEDSTEAD biffed without reading the clue properly.
    A bit intimidating at first with no word breaks but actually very enjoyable.
    ALLELE a write in for those of a biological background.
    Thank you setter.

  25. 18 mins. Mostly straightforward with one or two Mephisto-ish obscurities in the clues, if you were prepared to spend time working them out. 7d proved tricky as I was determined to start it with OVERT and CANOE was late to spring to mind for no good reason. Never knew BEDSTRAW was a plant, so thanks for that.

  26. 22:42

    Relatively plain-sailing for a SNITCH of 84 (which gives me a target time of 32 mins).

    Some bits I didn’t parse/didn’t know:

    METALLURGIST – the GIST bit was the easiest – had enough checkers to not bother with the rest
    SPILLOVER – didn’t know that definition of SPILL
    OVERPRODUCTION – didn’t see the OVER(T) bit

    BEDSTRAW – but parsed OK and seemed reasonable as ‘stuffing’
    ALLEL(E) – but not a problem as had PAR and all other checkers

    Thankfully very familiar with TATTERDEMALION.

  27. We used to stuff our paliasses with straw when staying over at the Methodist Church Hall, so I assumed it was thus. 45 minutes. Not up to speed yet!

    FOI & WOD 2dn TATTERDEMALION – remembered from Ian Fleming’s description of Operation ‘Tabarin‘ in the Falkland Islands Dependencies, during WWII.
    LOI 25ac OSIER – when the scales fell from my eyes.

  28. Largely very easy, but it was also easy to go awry. I also consider BARASCUS, and initially entered OVERT for the beginning of 7d. And with the second and fourth letters of 12 and 15 being the same, I initially entered BARROW in the wrong entry ( I was working in dim light – that’s my excuse, anyway).
    23 minutes, but should have been quicker.

  29. I came unstuck with TATTERDEMALION and BEDSTRAW. I also couldn’t see DAMASCUS, so not a good one for me.
    I just wasn’t on the wavelength.

  30. Off form, and ended up DNF. Like Inuit words for snow, there’s about 500 words for salmon at various stages of their life-cycle and positions on the planet, so I mombled FAMAST for one of those 500 salmon, getting the clue arse-about. Otherwise was way off the wavlength, really struggled in the NE, not least through expecting “SCIENTIST” to be a surname of a famous one. Did know spills from Agatha Christie, and allele, though faulty memory had a Y in it: allyl(e). No complaints, all on me, excellent puzzle.

  31. 18:58
    Another relatively straightforward puzzle. LOI FAERIE was the ony real hold up .

    Did not know ALLEL (e) or BeDSTRAW but both “had to be”. Slightly thrown by “ice” for RESERVE because recently it seems almost invariably to mean “kill”.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  32. No specific time for this one as I had a few interruptions with queries from the decorator who has seemingly taken root in our house. Estimated at about 35 minutes however. Unfortunately will count as a DNF, as once again given the choice of how to arrange the vowels in TATTERDEMALION, I decided that the final A and E needed to be transposed. As I’ve previously pointed out, it never ceases to amaze me how I unerringly make the wrong choice in these circumstances.

  33. 18:13 late this afternoon. After yesterday’s blitz, a hesitant performance today, with some clues proving rather stubborn.
    FOI 17 ac “famous” then something of a plod thereafter. 1 ac “metallurgist” was painstakingly solved by syllable, with the middle two eventually getting parsed.
    Several NHOs – 13 ac “bedstraw”, 15 ac “faerie” (at least in the sense of representing the land) and 2 d and LOI “tatterdemalion”. I carefully tiptoed through this anagram on the assumption that it would most likely begin with “tatter(d)”.
    Liked 12 ac “barrow” because of its conciseness.
    Thanks to Jack and setter.

  34. Nearly an hour and also a long time getting started, but everything fell into place eventually. I was sure TATTERDEMALION would be an adjective ending in IAN, so I had TOTTERDEMALIAN until S?ACEWALL made so little sense that I got the vowels right. That I took so long today is, shall we say, not entirely the setter’s fault (but not all mine either).

  35. Wasn’t there a convention that our late Queen was the only living person referred to in The Times crossword? If I’m right – and I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m not – doesn’t it follow that, in our new era, the King should now have that ‘honour’, perhaps also with our new Queen (referred to often as Queen Consort, but legally Queen even so)? If so, ER must be clued as ‘old Queen’, ‘old King’ or similar. I know it’s going to take some getting used to after seventy years, but we have to live with it: in everyday life and here in Crosswordland ‘the Queen’ without a qualifying adjective can now only refer to Queen Camilla.

    1. You make a very cogent point, Normo. I was also a bit miffed at the Queen suddenly acquiring ‘old’ status, but you are quite right that the only living queen would be Camilla.

      1. alto_ego, you’re right that the only living queen would be Camilla (please see my reply to Normo for more on that), but Elizabeth II (and ER) can now appear in puzzles without having to rely on the living person convention.

        1. But isn’t Anne, for example, referred to as old Queen, or Queen once, rather than just queen?

          1. She has been, but doesn’t have to be. Similarly it’s wouldn’t be wrong to clue Elizabeth II (ER) as ‘old queen’ but unnecessary and I feel a bit disrespectful so soon after her death. I’d expect the qualification only when referring to someone a lot further back in time.

    2. Normo, you’re right about the convention so we might now expect CR (Charles Rex) if the clue contains ‘king’ or ‘Charles’ or ‘leading man’ etc. If under the living person convention ‘queen’ refers to Camilla, what would it be cluing, I wonder? Camilla, I suppose, but what else? It doesn’t seem a particularly useful path to pursue, but setters are inventive people so who knows what they may think of.

      As for ER referring to Elizabeth II, it remains valid historically and does not require qualification.

    3. But the clue didn’t say “the Queen”, it just said “old queen”. Jack’s arguing (and I agree*) that the qualifier “old” is unnecessary in this case – because without “the” & the capitalisation, it could be any queen, it could even be a cat. Only if the clue had said “the Queen” or “our leader” etc. would it have to refer to Charles/Camilla

      * Though I think in this case that “old” marginally improves the surface somehow

  36. I was so hoping for another easy solve today after a speedy start but resorted to my usual hard stop with 6 to go. Mr C spotted STONEWALL which I’ll add to my limited cricketing knowledge. I had MENACE at 20a but I won’t blame that for my inability to allocate the correct anagram fodder. Another corrected BARACUSS. Annoyingly otherwise pretty straightforward. Must try harder.

    Thanks jackkt and setter.

  37. I am at a loss to know how a puzzle with Tatterdemalion and -allel ends up with a Snitch of c85. I have clearly led a sheltered life. Invariant

    1. I’m with you on that one, Invariant, and also my sad attempt closely followed Pitcaithlie’s thoughts on the struggle. I obviously haven’t done enough Times puzzles to come across TATTERDEMALION before, and BEDSTRAW as the name of a plant? Also NHO allele, so on the whole a bit of a shambles for me …

  38. I thought this was quite hard so was very pleased that my only failure was TATTER…
    which I had never seen before unlike most other bloggers. Clearly I have not been doing these crosswords long enough.

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