Times Cryptic 28430


I found this very hard and needed 57 minutes to work my way through it. Mostly very enjoyable though, and a good challenge. As I started to write the blog I still had several queries unresolved, a couple of parsings and some unknown definitions, but I think these have now all been resolved.

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 Hate getting tips from arithmetician: one’s useless! (6)
A{rithmeticia}N [tips], I’M (one’s), US (useless). ‘US = useless’ came up only last week and some contributors hadn’t seen it before.
5 Oscar presumably off to interrupt my dull routine (8)
O (Oscar – NATO alphabet) + NOT ON (presumably off) contained by [to interrupt] MY
9 Boss, supposedly dead cross after returning to nick (8)
ROOD (cross) reversed [returning], NAIL (nick – as the police may nail/nick a villain). Collins defines ‘doornail’ as ‘a large-headed nail used to decorate or strengthen some doors’. Elsewhere it has ‘boss’ as ‘an ornamental protuberance; stud’. ‘Stud’ can be synonymous with ‘nail’ so I think that and the reference to the saying ‘dead as a doornail’ just about explains it all.
10 Hammer thrower exercises in village (6)
THOR (hammer thrower) PE (exercises). A thorpe or thorp is a small village but it’s also found in many UK place names e.g. Scunthorpe.
11 What’s operated by driver  sitting (6)
Two meanings. Chambers helpfully defines ‘clutch’ as ‘a sitting of eggs’, presumably derived from a clutch being the eggs that a brood hen can incubate in one sitting.
12 Accused of sort of language used by young delinquent (8)
INDIC (sort of language), TED (young delinquent – sigh!)
14 One’s left with three kisses on his birthday? (12)
& lit. L (left) + XXX (three kisses) in Roman numerals = 50 + 30 = 80
17 Title of Munch Moon painting initially without his name, strangely (12)
CHAMP (munch), then IO (moon of Jupiter) + P{ainting} [initially] containing [without] anagram [strangely] of HIS N (name)
20 Quickly turn back, mainly to find one left on shelf? (8)
SPIN (quickly turn), STER{n} (back) [mainly]. A definition from the dark ages.
22 Acquire gold carriage (6)
LAND (acquire), AU (gold)
23 Maybe watching international display (6)
AT TEST (maybe watching international cricket, rugby etc). I wasn’t sure about the definition but I think it works.
25 These tea breaks for one who appreciates work! (8)
Anagram [breaks] of THESE TEA. A person who professes a superior appreciation of what is beautiful.
26 Team heading for Wembley maybe FA are inclined to keep at home (8)
FA + LIST (are inclined) containing [to keep] IN (at home). This was my LOI and took me ages to find the answer and nearly as long again to understand how it worked although in retrospect the wordplay is actually very simple. If anyone doesn’t know, FA stands for ‘Football Association’.
27 Parade indeed preceded by band (6)
SASH (band), AY (indeed = esp. in Scotland). I’m familiar with the word but the definition was a little unexpected.
2 A little pasta or jam? (6)
This is a double definition but the second took some thinking through. ‘Noodle’ is a term used by musicians for improvising, as is a jam session.
3 Picture — of island — artist however inserted alongside identical one (8,3)
RA (artist) + THO’ (however) contained [inserted] by MAN (island – IOM), then MAN (identical one – IOM again)
4 Perhaps slum area of Belgian city finally turns to one for food (9)
SPA (Blegian city), GHETTo (slum area) with its final letter turning to I (one)
5 Pressing on gamely at first with complaint in minutes (7)
ILL (with complaint) contained by [in] MIN (minutes), G{amely} [at first]
6 Observed what tipping bidet only can reveal (5)
Hidden [can reveal] and reversed [tipping] in {bi}DET ON{ly}
7 Into the bargain basement go who, last of all? (3)
{basemen}T + {g}O + {wh}O [last of all]
8 Description of logs from elderly lady crossing a jetty? (8)
NAN (elderly lady) containing [crossing] A + PIER ( jetty). At last I have remembered John Napier as the discoverer of logarithms! On later edit: The Times Crossword Editor has acknowledged that this answer is an error as the word is actually NAPIERIAN as previously pointed out by some of our contributors. Fortunately for me I wouldn’t have known any different.   
13 Boring old computer types entertaining person with drinks (11)
CARD (entertaining person), PUNCHES (drinks). From before my involvement with computers.
15 They believe nothing in this is real ultimately, somehow (9)
Anagram [somehow] of IN THIS IS {rea}L [ultimately]. Haven’t thought of this word since yesterday!
16 Bread with some butter relations brought up after tea (8)
CHA (tea), PAT (some butter), then IT (relations – How’s your father) reversed [brought up]
18 Senator faked the bearing of a poet (3-4)
Anagram [faked] of SENATOR. I found this eventually in Chambers but there was nothing to confirm that it’s necessarily poetic usage.
19 Something repeated, or fallen into, endlessly? (6)
MANTRA{p} (something fallen into) [endlessly]
21 Young king’s one for the people of Africa (5)
TUT’S (young king’s), I (one)
24 What a Greek can write was worrying on reflection (3)
ATE (was worrying) reversed [on reflection]

63 comments on “Times Cryptic 28430”

  1. 18:58
    A number of DNKs: NOODLE=jam, NAIL=nick (‘nick’ has more meanings than I can keep track of), CARDPUNCH, DOORNAIL–I knew the expression, of course, which is why I could solve the clue; but I’d never got past doornail=nail in door. I had no idea what was going on with 14ac OCTOGENARIAN; biffed it from the O_T. Luckily we had Napier recently; until then I didn’t know of him. 18d NOR-EAST isn’t poetic, it’s sailor-talk; the definition is simply wrong. As is, of course, ‘delinquent’ defining TED. Of 20ac SPINSTER, the less said the better. Three cases where the editor might have stepped in.

  2. Back down to earth with a resounding bump after some recent good performances. DNF or come anywhere close – giving up on this one at 28m, without the luxury of unlimited solving time and less than half the clues solved. Ouch!

    1. Same here. Thought I might be able to get a few more with another hour or two, but I have a life that needs attending to.

  3. I found this difficult initially, but soon got into the swing, registering a pleasing 43 minutes. Should 8dn not be NAPIERIAN, as he was in my log book!?

    FOI 22ac LANDAU – my carriage could not wait!
    LOI 24dn ETA – it’s Estimated Time of Arrival at Sleepy Hollow.
    WOD 9ac DOORNAIL – the skeletal coachman who was an….
    COD 14ac OCTOGENARIAN – ay, even older than Biden!

    At 18dn NOR’EAST sounds suitably poetic to me. Did Masefield use it? Over to you Mr. Myrtilus.

  4. I thought this was going to take longer than it did, and as I can never remember for sure whether it’s OCTOGENARIAN or OCTAGENARIAN I thought I had a 50/50 chance of failing at this from my third one in. As it is, at the last moment I wrote both words down in the margin and changed my “a” to an “o”, giving me a win in 36 minutes.

    Along the way I had a lot of question marks in the margins, not knowing that meaning of CLUTCH, nor having heard of Spa, and also wondering about whether MILLING and pressing were the same thing (as industrial processes they seem quite different in my mind).

    I thought NOR-EAST might pop up in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but apparently not.

      1. That’s how I got Spa, thought it was just the name of the racecourse, didn’t know it was a city.

        1. Spa the circuit is in the middle of nowhere (except close to a micro village called Francorchamps,) so although I have been to the circuit it hadn’t registered as a Belgian city, I had just assumed Spa was a slightly bigger village.

      2. No, my Dad used to have it on when I was a kid, but I never caught the bug. Last motor “sport” event I went to was the demolition derby at the end of the Mendips Raceway banger car season—a long way from both F1 and Belgium!

  5. 1ac 3dn 4dn straight in, thought it was going to be easy – soon disabused of that opinion. Though it all went in smoothly enough until completely stuck in the NE. Took a break, came back to get noodle – knew the jam meaning from puzzles past, but tend to see pasta and noodles as different. Then clutch had to be, guessed from chooks, but not a usage I’ve ever seen. Doornail followed soon enough, and LOI milling without understanding – guess it means a crowd/press milling about.
    Really liked MONOTONY, OCTOGENERIAN when I saw it, and CHAMPIONSHIP which I see I didn’t parse – with a casual glance I thought the letters M-O-O-N were in there rather than I-O. Lucky to get away with not checking the anagrist. Old enough to remember what pre-dated punchcards – we started with cards where you put a pencil mark on the letter/digit, rather than punching a hole. Is there any significance in the word BORING in the clue? Are punchcards uninteresting? Is ‘boring’ meaning ‘making a hole’? I’d have said boring required a rotating bit rather than a punch, but the dictionaries equivocate.

  6. 63 minutes with LOI MILLING. It was a ‘noses to the grindstone’ sort of puzzle with CHAMPIONSHIP slowly constructed and the answer greeted more with a scream than a kiss. I know the expression ‘dead as a doornail’, which is as well or 9a would have remained an eternal mystery, but I’ve never made much sense of it and usually say ‘dodo’. 64 years ago, maybe, but heading back from Wembley still makes a happy avatar. Thank you setter and Jack.

  7. My tenderest squeeze is but a giant’a Clutch.
    So, fairy-thing, it shall have lullabies.

    I don’t think I know any “Nor-east” poems.
    After 30 mins pre-brekker (thinking of noodles, spaghetti, chapatti) I had the DOOR.A.. and M…ING crossers left. After failing to parse Championship and thinking Napieran needed to be NapierIAN, I gave up.
    I did like Octogenerian.
    Thanks setter and J.

  8. Heart sank at first, nothing happening, until AESTHETE. Steady from then on. Liked MARATHON MAN, a terrifying film, saw it in Paris with French subtitles – peculiar disconnect when the rest of the audience is half a second behind.

    22′, thanks jack and setter.

    1. Exactly the same initial reaction as you, RobR, and AESTHETE also my first in. But thence I ground on until I stopped dead with several undone. Think the surface readings cleverly obscured the definitions eg “description of logs”; without knowing anything about Napier – pretty undoable! However, happy to get most of it done within my time frame 😌.
      Btw, as a youngster was employed in Shaftesbury Avenue as a ‘Computer Showroom Supervisor’ where we operated punched-card machines called ‘Friden Flexowriters.’

  9. Annoyed to record a DNF
    Failed to get 9ac DOORNAIL and 5d MILLING.
    To me, MILLING means standing around in an aimless manner and doesn’t imply pressing. Collins and Chambers Online don’t support pressing.

    1. Yes they do Martin. From Collins: “the act or process of grinding, cutting, pressing, or crushing in a mill”
      (Oh, THAT sort of milling!)

  10. 33’30 and a lot of hard work. The last two in were DOORNAIL and MILLING, and I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with either. I dare say I’m wrong, but I thought milling in an industrial sense meant shaving bits off to create the right shape. The doornail- boss equivalence seems a bit of a stretch too. OK, I’ve just looked them both up in Chambers, and I am of course wrong. Fair play. Also couldn’t get the Dylan song Pressing On out of my head. Thanks setter and jackkt.

  11. At 44mins a real struggle with some fairly convoluted clues
    That said 14a, 17a and 26a were all clever

  12. Made a good showing on a tough puzzle, a few short in NW.

    DOORNAIL, great clue but I couldn’t get beyond cross=X.

    I thought Oscar= “No Tony”, as they are both awards in entertainment. Although that left a Radom MO. And what’s with IT=relations?

    OCTOGENARIAN was really obscure, I saw Xxx=30, but couldn’t go on from there. Banged it in (with a misspelling) from the checkers. I even mused if THIRTYNARIAN might be a thing.

    NAPIERIAN was an unlikely FOI, but have to confess to trying MAPERIUM.

  13. 89 minute DNF. Unlike gothick, I went the wrong way with an incorrect A for the correct O in OCTOGENARIAN. A couple unparsed and a bit of luck seeing a few others, so not too disappointed despite the DNF and very slow time.

  14. 37:32

    CHAMPIONSHIP leapt out at me whereas OCTOGENARIAN (clever) and most of the NW required painstaking piecing together. MARATHON MAN giving ANIMUS (seen somewhere recently as well as its meaning being a question on ‘The Chase’ lately), then NOODLE and the shrug for SPAGHETTI – didn’t parse that at all.

    Didn’t know sitting=CLUTCH nor Boss=DOORNAIL – finally dragged out with a bigger shrug than for SPAGHETTI.

  15. Bit more tricky today .. despite being familiar with Napierian logarithms, I still thought Naperian for some reason. Failed to fully parse 14ac Octo etc.. not sure about the rather indirect left = L = 50, Romans notwithstanding. Or the equivalence of doornails and bosses. Perhaps if you have one of those studded doors some castles have..
    I’ve been to Spa, it is a nice town but with a pop. of around 10,000, not much of a city. No cathedral either, the casino is bigger than the church. A city it is though, according to Wiki.
    Still, got it all done in due course, perhaps 35mins.

  16. As Vinyl knows well the bad weather in the winter around here comes roaring up the coast in a NOR-EASTerly direction and there’s nothing poetic about shoveling the snow it leaves behind. ATTEST=display – hmmm. 22.54

  17. For once I didn’t really enjoy this, but perhaps it was because it was so difficult. I never understood OCTOGENARIAN or how milling = pressing (on?), didn’t know that sense of noodle, had never heard of the film. And NAPIERAN is just wrong. It isn’t supported by any of Collins, Chambers or the Oxfords. That’s my feeble excuse for taking over an hour, eventually with aids.

  18. Just the sort of crossword I like- enjoyed CHAMPIONSHIP and OCTOGENARIAN- LOI CARDPUNCHES when I remembered card narrowly following DOORNAIL when I saw rood
    Thanks setter and blogger

  19. 23:40, finding it difficult without really being able to put my finger on why. Something of a relief to dicsover I wasn’t alone in having had to think hard about this one…

  20. 35 mins with a typo. Note that I put mins not min. I know setters have been doing this since time immemorial but surely minutes is mins not min. Or am I just being pedantic?

    1. An interesting point. Actually none of the usual dictionaries has ‘mins’ as an abbreviation for minutes, they all have min. = minute(s). But Collins online lists a number of examples of ‘min’ in a sentence, and some of these employ ‘mins’. I think the justification for that and your favoured usage is that dictionaries do not list plurals formed by the standard addition of -s, only the irregular ones.

    1. A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

  21. An almighty struggle for 67:26, with no reward at the end as I had OCTAGENARIAN. $%*&£$^”! MERred at NAPIERAN. Last 2 in DOORNAIL and MILLING. Thanks setter and Jack.

  22. 42.07. This felt very tricky after a weeks’s absence and I feared the cogs had rusted from their short disuse, so I was slightly relieved to see its objective difficulty confirmed. I thought the inelegant NAPIERAN was very suspect – difficult to see what particular quality of logarithmic tables might be conveyed by the word – and indeed it was.

  23. Too complex. Not at all on the wl. Gave up well after the hour. Thanks Jack for persevering.

  24. DNF. I shrugged off the obvious error at 8d but failed to get 5a, 8a or 5d, being convinced that the 5s both started with G. And I spelled OCTOGENARIAN wrong! Inexcusable, as the Greek for eight is definitely not octa.

    What is “on” doing in 5d anyway?

    1. I now suspect the definition is intended as ‘pressing on = milling’ but the clue has been the subject of so much discussion I’m not changing my blog at this late stage for fear of starting a new one. Thanks for your query though.

      1. No problem Jack, thanks as always for the blog – Tuesday seems to be regaining it’s crown as the weekly toughie.

        1. Surely PRESSING is the definition, and most of the wordplay: “complaint in minutes” is MILLIN which is sitting *ON* G = gamely at first. The word in the clue I’d be questioning is with, which is just a little bit clumsy.
          Edit… and I’ve just read Joe Casey’s post a few lines below where he shoots me down in flames: ill is “with complaint”. Obviously.

          1. Yep, I think between you you’ve got it.

            ILL (with complaint) contained by [in] MIN (minutes), on G{amely} [at first]

  25. Nearly gave up on the last two in: DOORNAIL & MILLING. I couldn’t quite nail the parsing of 9a, though I saw the rood cross. Milling was fine, in that the milled edges of coins had to be done in some kind of press.
    I thought it should be Napierian, but assumed I was wrong when Napieran parsed and therefore went in without further ado. Nice to see the editor’s correction.
    CARDPUNCHES brought back memories of Fortran programming in the early 70’s in High School.

  26. Nearly an hour, but with one wrong. At 5dn I had MOLDING, thinking it might be a “pressing”, but then having to disregard the rest of the clue. Early on I put in BUTTON instead of CLUTCH at 11ac (sitting = butt on) which messed up the nor west for ages. But a most enjoyable struggle

  27. Thanks to Jack for explaining DOORNAIL and CHAMPIONSHIP, both of which I biffed. NAPIERAN simply parsed, and as an NHO I was unaware of its innacuracy. I didn’t really get onto the setter’s wavelength as I battered the beast into submission.

    TIME 11:17

  28. Interesting puzzle which I just managed to finish before exiting Holborn tube station.

    As with others here:

    CARDPUNCHES – I used these when I stared in IT
    MILLING – not sure about until I thought about coins
    OCTOGENARIAN – changed from OCTA at last minute
    NOR-EAST – not sure why particularly poetic
    NAPIER(I)AN – just assumed a strange spelling, now see was a mistake
    NIHILISTS – second day in a row

  29. Too much raising of eyebrows for me in this one, on the issues covered above; NAPIER(I)AN for one, MILLING ?? CLUTCH for sitting?? NOR-EAST being poetic?? Never heard of the Marathon Man as a “picture” but apparently so. A few good clues, THORPE, OCTOGENARIAN, but not a favourite puzzle in my book. Needed more editing.

      1. Dear Mr. Chumley, the ‘Picture’ was entirely obvious hereabouts to us now silver-speckled lads of the forties, which got me off to a cracking start, geddit!? Our local ‘flea-pit’ in Sleaford was the. . . ‘Picturedrome’. I’m sure there were others far and wide.
        Mr. Meldrew

        . Meldrew

        1. Ah! In my neck of the woods (a little further south down the A15) we had an Odeon and an ABC. Flea-pits indeed.

          PS: cracking – I like what you did there!

  30. Would probably have finished by tomorow afternoon but ran out of steam. Fair play to setter – first rate clues everywhere.

    I remember card punches from my programming days. I think 5 8 and 6 8 were open and close brackets. Not recommended as a conversational ice-breaker.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  31. I’ve been in and out all day, and visited the crossword when I could. I found this really tough, and I’m pretty sure I was well over an hour. My last two in were the DOORNAIL and MILLING crossers, and I was just on the point of giving in when DOORNAIL suddenly came to me. I had OCTOGENARIAN but had no clue on the parsing, so thanks for that Jack.
    In the end it annoyingly goes down as a DNF as I had MONOTONE instead of MONOTONY. Grrrrr.

  32. This was a stinker for me, second day in a row, so I was in no great mood when I finally struggled across the line. I thought of NAPIERAN quite early on, but since I’d never heard of it, and it seemed so unlikely to mean anything at all, I left it until near the end. The one I really liked was OCTOGENARIAN, which once I’d got it I realised I should have parsed from the outset. A few went in early on, FOI being the repetitious NIHILISTS from yesterday, with a different anagrist, that led to a quickly completed SE corner, but then I hit a brick wall. MER at CLUTCH for sitting, TED and ILL, not twigging that the definition was ‘with complaint’, not ‘complaint’. Let’s hope tomorrow’s more of an enjoyable workout.

  33. For what it’s worth I think you’re all being a bit hard on the setter. Just because NAPIERAN isn’t in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly reasonable bit of adjectivising, especially as it’s created from a proper name. I bet you all got it anyway.
    As for NOR-EASTER not being poetic, nuts to that. Only the yellow-wellie brigade (a member of which I once was) talks about ‘Nor’east’ rather than ‘North-east’. No, my carp is more with the hyphen for the apostrophe.
    And finally, I didn’t like CARDPUNCHES as a single word. In the days when I used one it would always have been two words. After all there were also such things as ‘tape punches’ back then, too. So there!!

  34. 23:22 late this afternoon. I needed a fair amount of biffing ( or at least not fully parsed entries) to achieve this time, so thanks to Jack for his illuminating blog.
    Pity about 8 d “napieran” – I assumed at the time it was a less common variant of what I remembered from school maths. Otherwise I felt there were some clever clues in evidence.
    Liked 14 ac “octogenarian” where I rumbled early on that a person’s age with 30 involved was needed but for whatever reason I didn’t register the need to account for “l = 50″.
    LOI 13 d ” Cardpunches” which brought back mixed memories of submitting programmes overnight on the University computer for my Masters in 1972.
    Thanks to Jack for a fine blog and to setter.

  35. I always thought they were punched cards not cardpunches? Enjoyed the 30% I managed to solve; nowhere near the rest; thanks for explaining.

  36. Hardest crossword I’ve done for a while. Lots of staring at clues without anything to chew on for min/mins on end. SPAGHETTI finally gave me OCTOGENARIAN, which I liked when I saw it. Gave up with DOORNAIL and CARDPUNCHES thinking everything might be inside CHAS (drinks) My challenge clearly is to finish in time to blog the same day 😂

    Thanks setter (your slip unregistered by this non-mathematician but educated now) and Jackkt

  37. I tried using the crossword app to find n?p?e?n, the answer was no words found, i now see that it was an error, i am wonering how the times dealt with this, people who did the crossword on line must have been flummoxed as i was, when googling logs napier came up and i wondered if it could be related with an alternative spelling, however the crossword editor appears to have let it slip through

Comments are closed.