Times Cryptic 28460


I solved all but two clues in 38 minutes but the missing answers at 3dn and 11ac intersected and after a further 12 minutes of unsuccessful alphabet trawling I used aids to look up a synonym for part of the wordplay in 3d. That was all I needed to unblock my brain as the answers then came to me immediately.

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 Too busy folk holding policemen back (7)
BEES (busy folk) containing [holding] DI’S (policemen) reversed [back]
5 Picture of Bill next to the water in Biarritz (7)
TAB (bill), L’EAU (‘the water’ in Biarritz)
9 Maybe privatise public authority (9)
OUT (public), SOURCE (authority)
10 Cockney tough guys died? That’s correct (5)
{h}E-MEN (tough guys) [Cockney], D (died)
11 S, perhaps, for sport here? (7,6)
Once you have the answer you can see that S is the CENTRE of LEISURE. My LOI.  I was missing the I-checker until the very last minute but once that was in place the answer was clear. I wonder if anyone else found this clue a little unfair?
13 Revenue wants to exclude capital (8)
{y}EARNINGS (wants) [exclude capital]
15 Looks? What’ll get you to the top, they say (6)
Sounds like [they say] “stairs” (what’ll get you to the top)
17 Irrational to be entertained by Dynasty recording (6)
PI (irrational) contained [entertained] by TANG (dynasty)
19 Reptile papa buried in ground (8)
P (papa – NATO alphabet) contained by [buried in] TERRAIN (ground)
22 No longer time: I state it’s the end (13)
EX (no longer), TERM (time), I, NATION (state)
25 Alliance if led by British would be a cause of pain (5)
{B (British) +} UNION (alliance) would be a cause of pain
26 What hell I must suffer in corridors of power! (9)
Anagram [must suffer] of WHAT HELL I
27 A bit like Harry’s craft? (7)
A straight definition preceded by a cryptic hint
28 Radical message, not the first, going to engineers (7)
{t}EXT (message) [not the first], REME (engineers). I think we are all familiar with RE (Royal Engineers) who seem to turn up most weeks if not most days in our puzzles, but this is a separate corps of the British Army, the ‘Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers’ or REME. The abbreviation is less useful to crossword compilers than RE, but our setter has found a use for it today. Note: The sentence in italics replaces my original, which was incorrect, as was pointed out by several contributors below.
1 I don’t think much of that Republican oaf (4)
BOO (I don’t think much of that), R (Republican)
2 Pioneer’s dog found in lake? On the contrary (7)
The contrary of ‘dog found in lake’ is ‘lake (L) found in dog (SETTER)’
3 Briefly enjoy pinching fashionable clothing (5)
DI{g} (enjoy) containing [pinching] HOT (fashionable). This was the clue I cheated on eventually looking up ‘fashionable’ to come up with ‘hot’ although I really shouldn’t have needed to. ‘Dig’ for ‘enjoy’ came to me only after solving the clue. I knew the garment but it was never going to be come to mind whilst the middle checker was missing.
4 Surgeon worried about Charlie’s bum (8)
Anagram [worried] of SURGEON containing [about] C (Charlie – NATO alphabet). ‘Bur-n’ or ‘bu-m’ was in question here causing unnecessary delay.
 n5 City once outstripping all others for the most part (6)
THE BES{t} (outstripping all others) [for the most part]
6 Who will protect this carnivore? (9)
I’ve indicated this as one definition but it consists of two elements. Protect: Wiki has ‘Popularly known as Beefeaters, The Yeomen Warders of His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London’. Carnivore: I didn’t think that ‘beefeater’ existed as a lexical term for people who eat beef, but Collins lists it as an American term.
7 One putting up with English vicar (7)
E (English), RECTOR (vicar). Vicars and rectors are both parish priests but their payment arrangements were historically different and a rector would be likely to be receive more.
8 Nuns’ dirges tragically revealing all (10)
Anagram [tragically] of NUNS DIRGES
12 Take offence, as Quasimodo did? (3,3,4)
A straight definition of a colloquial expression plus a cryptic hint.
14 Stupidity of one racing when drunk (9)
Anagram [drunk] of ONE RACING
16 Gloomy for one visiting local? (8)
EG (for one) contained by [visiting] NATIVE (local)
18 Country lover Penny attending great show (7)
P (penny), AT (attending), RIOT (great show – a riot of colour, for instance)
20 Pound has a good reputation, like George Eliot? (3,4)
PEN  (pound), NAME (good reputation). Her real name was Mary Ann Evans.
21 Only 50 per cent in battle (6)
Two meanings. The battle took place in the Pacific in 1942.
23 Heavy-handed Congress obstructing writer from the south (5)
IT (congress – how’s-your-father) containing [obstructing] PEN (writer) reversed [from the south]
24 Take off jumper, did you say? (4)
Sounds like (did you say) “flea” (jumper)

74 comments on “Times Cryptic 28460”

  1. Well, harder for me than yesterday’s, but I would’ve finished much sooner if I hadn’t persisted in reading “bum” as “burn”! That damn font. Let’s start a petition. (And I can just barely see the difference here.)
    I think my favorite was BESIDES, as it took forever to see the definition. In strong competition, though, is my LOI, LEISURE CENTRE (didn’t see anything “unfair” in it).
    But no—it’s just been so long, I already forgot!—I really loved the clue for WHITEHALL.

    For INEPT, I was looking for a word for “Congress” (“it,” “sex”…) in the middle of a word for “writer,” not on both ends of it.

    1. I agree about the font. I’ve wasted a lot of time over BURN on this clue.
      Can we start a petition?

  2. 14:45
    I looked hard at ‘bum’; get close enough and it’s no problem. I had the EAU right away at 5ac, but failed to register the ‘the’/L, and wasted some time on WATTEAU. DNK GET THE HUMP. I got INEPT soon enough, but ‘obstructing’ suggested to me–as to Guy, evidently–‘contained by’ rather than ‘containing’.

  3. I had problems with the same two as our blogger, and I cheated in roughly the same way. And, like Guy I also put a “?” by Inept – seems to me that the clue implies the dirty is inside the reversed PEN rather than the other way around. Thanks for explaining the L in L’eau, jack.

    1. The walls of a prison obstruct the inmates and prevent them escaping; similarly IT obstructs PEN reversed.

      1. Fair enough; but would you say that ‘obstructing’ could not be used to indicate insertion? I’m reminded of ‘lining’, where I believe it’s an insertion indicator–the lining of a jacket, etc.–but seems to me anyway it could be (has been?) a containment indicator –the silver lining of a cloud, etc. I don’t suppose there’s any authority on these, but.

        1. No, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility but it doesn’t seem as likely as say ‘occupying’.

          The only authorities I have to hand on indicators are Chambers Dictionary (12th edition) which has a Wordgame Companion supplement, and Chamber’s Crossword Dictionary. Both have ‘obstruct’ as a containment indicator but do not include it in their ‘insertion’ lists.

          1. I think I disagree, jack. The walls only obstruct when the prisoner tries to get through or past them; they restrict or confine, but they are only an obstruction when there is movement, but they don’t really qualify the prisoner’s placement position. All of that is a bit of a quibble, though, it was pretty quickly clear what the setter had in mind.

  4. 24 minutes. Just one of those days where I managed to see what was going on with LEISURE CENTRE without much delay and I put in DHOTI once I had all the checkers in place. I note Jack’s reply and see what he is getting at, but I had the same comments as others about the use of ‘obstructing’ as a containment indicator in the clue for INEPT and to me it works better as an insertion indicator.

    Current political events and crosswords don’t usually make a good mix but I liked WHITEHALL; it’s probably always like that, whoever is in power!

  5. No-brainer GET THE HUMP gave me a flying start in the SW, then steady progress – but all the time slowing down towards completion. POI LEISURE CENTRE from the checkers before parsing, and LOI DHOTI.

    Felt a bit dubious about the SE, with REME almost unknown (think I’ve seen it here once before) and NEGATIVE biffed (the “for one” = EG device gets me almost every time). So in the end I was relieved to get through this unscathed, in 39:33 – thanks Jack and setter.

  6. All done in about 30 minutes. LOI was the unknown GET THE HUMP, but with all the checkers it seemed plausible. The slight change in tense also didn’t help (‘Quasimodo did” should lead to GOT THE HUMP). Lots of nice clues here. LEISURE CENTRE went straight in once I had a few checkers, and then I saw how it worked. No problem with DHOTI since there are not many clothes that end in I and “hot” came to me without a problem. Fun crossword.

    1. As an affirmation it works: Quasimodo certainly (or sure if you’re American) did get the hump.

      1. Quasimodo certainly got the hump but in our part of the world (Norn Ireland) you take it when you’re offended – you don’t get it

  7. 40 mins with one missing: NEGATIVE. just couldn’t see how the clue worked, and tried various “locals” such as pub, bar, inn etc. Plenty of words seemed to fit, relative, sedative etc. so had to press the Reveal button on that.

    Heard of DHOTI, in the context of Ghandi, who gave one as a wedding gift to (then) Princess Elizabeth, who referred to it as a loincloth and thought it “rather vulgar”.

    Did not parse LEISURE CENTRE, although I see it now. I also liked the clever construction of SETTLER.

  8. 35m 49s
    I’ll join the ranks of those who say that in 23ac -INEPT- the way the clue reads it should be IT inside NEP.
    PS: I like 1d. There are many to choose from!

  9. Standing aloof in giant Ignorance,
    Of thee I hear and of the Cyclades, …

    Only 15 mins mid-brekker. I thought this was quite gentle and well constructed.
    We often have ‘blocks’ as a containment indicator, in the sense of ‘obstructs’ so my first thoughts went to that, but I think it works both ways. So does ‘lining’ as was pointed out earlier.
    I get that Beefeaters protect, but I don’t think the clue really works.
    Thanks setter and J.

  10. 8:00. No problems this morning.
    I’ll add my two penn’orth to the ‘obstructs’ debate by saying that I don’t think it works either way.

  11. I also had DHOTI and LEISURE CENTRE last in; luckily I thought of DHOTI for some reason and worked backwards from it to see the HOT I’d been missing. I was just glad that 11a didn’t turn out to be some French sporting arena I’d never heard of ending in LETTRE, which was my fear from the start. Apart from that, quite a frustrating solve, giving up on the top half after petering out a couple of times, then coming back to it after finishing most of the bottom half and picking off the stragglers slowly from there. 44 mins.

  12. 24 minutes with LOI NEGATIVE. I didn’t see any problem with the obstruction. COD to WHITEHALL, surprised I hadn’t seen it before. Enjoyable puzzle.Thank you Jack and setter.

  13. Bereft of the True Solver’s art
    Made a mess of this right from the start
    But let’s have some hurrahs
    No birds and no bras
    That’s something to gladden the heart!

    1. Second day running!
      “Once is happenstance, twice is circumstance, the third time it is enemy action.” (Goldfinger). Let’s see what tomorrow brings..

  14. A tick over 30 minutes, which felt like longer: at 25m, over half the grid was empty but then the dominoes fell quickly until, like our blogger and others, I was left staring at the 3D 11A intersection. Finally IN gave way to HOT and the line was in sight.

    A nice puzzle, with my COD to WHITEHALL. I see the box set of The Thick Of It is streaming now. If it ever seemed OTT, is doesn’t any more!

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  15. 17:23 – spent far too long on 1a thinking it meant “too busy”, and didn’t really parse it until I read the blog. Thanks jackkt! Enjoyed POTTERY.

  16. …And lo I was left with two, too. My two were NEGATIVE and EXTREME. Not helped by my insistance that 28ac ended ERE. Never did get there. Another MER re the obstruction.

    I didn’t think many people would like the GET THE HUMP clue, but it made me laugh.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

    1. Count me another who fixated on the ending of 28a being ERE. – that and BESIDES I never did get .

  17. 16:45. I was scuppered when I discovered 11A was not CAPITAL LETTER, which made a right mess of the grid. Held up like Guy by reading “bum” as “burn” too. The NW corner took ages to crack even with the wrong letters crossed out. I liked BESIDES when I eventually saw it and IGNORANCE for the great surface. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  18. 20.48, but I didn’t enjoy it very much. This setter’s loose definitions rather irritate me.

  19. 18 minutes or so. DHOTI was remembered from previous crosswords, and I needed the checkers to get LEISURE CENTRE. Like others, I wasn’t sure about INEPT, but it couldn’t be anything else and clearly it works that way round.

    FOI Earnings
    LOI Midway
    COD Whitehall

  20. 27 or so

    Last 7 minutes on NEGATIVE. Always forget NATIVE for local – couldn’t parse it even when a third alpha trawl revealed the answer. Blind spot.


    Thanks all

  21. 27:13. I made hard work of this. Eventually completed the journey unscathed.

    COD: WHITEHALL. I also liked NEGATIVE,

  22. 15 minutes, trying to go as fast as possible for once as had an appointment. No problems, except add another for the font petition.

  23. I think that the Royal Engineers and REME remain two separate corps. RE does the big jobs, bridges and roads etc. REME repairs everyone’s equipment – at least that’s the very rough distinction!

    1. Absolutely! I think that the Corps of Royal Engineers would be very surprised to learn that they were “long ago” incorporated into a completely different Corps.

  24. I struggled, but in hindsight I can see no good reason why I should have done. After the Lord Mayor’s Show I suppose….

    TIME 13:34

  25. Enjoyed this, not too hard. I tend to be rather sensitive to loose definitions, so either this didn’t have any or I just wasn’t noticing them.
    As already mentioned, RE and REME are two separate army corps.
    MER at INEPT, a clumsy clue. I have never understood why it is considered OK for setters to use a capital where it should not be, as in Congress, but not OK to omit one where it should be. Bizarre.

    1. The way I think about this (as it was explained to me by verlaine once) is that you should think of wordplay as an assembly of completely distinct elements. Any noun (such as ‘congress’) can be written with a capital letter, most commonly at the beginning of a sentence. So you can take ‘Congress’ from the beginning of an imaginary sentence, snip it out and plonk it in the middle of any clue. You can’t do the opposite with proper nouns because they are always capitalised.
      We’re completely accustomed to this semantically: in its context in the surface reading ‘congress’ can’t mean ‘sex’, so it’s a semantic interloper that has been notionally snipped out of another sentence.

      1. Sorry old chap, but this makes little sense to me. in less syntactically rigid languages it’s fine to rearrange clauses and other sentence elements (e.g. Latin, Ancient Greek). However English absolutely depends upon word order to make sentences intelligible. Yes, there are minor exceptions like inversion of subject and verb, but generally this holds, so if the object of a cryptic clue is to hide the answer within a grammatically coherent sentence, then it is not OK to have random capital letters on words whose intended meaning does not require them.

        Then again, most of this just flies over my head in practice, so I simply accept that in this Wonderland of the cryptic crossword, logic is not entirely dependable, and just get on with solving!

        1. But the language of wordplay is not English, and it doesn’t consist of grammatically coherent sentences. It’s quite common for instance for a verb in the surface reading to represent a noun in the wordplay: see 13ac.

          1. I think I was there when Verlaine explained that: second beer in train, hamburgers etc on the way. What made sense to me was that if the word “west” clued the letters “mae” or defined an answer such as “actress” it had to be capitalised, but if it was a direction indicator or clued “w” or “bridge position” it could be or could not be capitalised at the whim of the setter. It’s not English it’s crosswordese, so the rules of English gramar don’t apply, but the setter is trying to make it look like English, so he or she tends to try to put words which, for crosswordese, need to be capitalised in places where English would capitalise them.

            1. Surely the word “West” always has to be capitalised, come what may? (or Mae?)
              Sorry, I like to give setters as much slack as I can – more than some here do – but there is no discernable logic to this. The bridge position is West, not west

              1. You don’t capitalise it in sentences like ‘the sun sets in the west’. Or at least I don’t!
                The logic is perfectly clear to me (and helps me to remember the rule) but you don’t really need it.

                1. I do. I was brought up to capitalise all points of the compass: North, South, East, West .. and the Sun, if that particular one.

                  1. A quick search of the Times website throws up the phrases ‘a wild west sector’ and ‘west London’, so the Times policy (which we might consider some kind of authority in this case) seems to be not to capitalise other than in proper nouns.

                2. I’m with keriothe on this. Chambers, at least, gives no capitalisation for any point of the compass, (including compounds like north west etc.)

  26. 29:53

    Slowed considerably towards the end by the NW corner where I had nothing for ages. Thought it would be some type of CENTRE but didn’t/couldn’t think of LEISURE….. until it leapt out of the gloom.

    That opened it up, filling in SETTLER and EARNINGS and giving the notion that surgeon might be some anagrist – something I had overlooked….

  27. 23 mins. The only problem with a clue like that for LEISURE CENTRE is that you need to biff it, and then get what the cryptic is on about, rather than use the cryptic to get the answer. LOI THEBES, COD BESIDES.

    1. Re LEISURE CENTRE, I couldn’t agree more. I meant to mention it in my comment but then forgot.

      1. Couldn’t agree less. Once I’d got CENTRE from the checkers it followed easily enough that the first word must have a middle letter of S and be a place where sport is played. LEISURE followed instantly.

  28. The first six words of 1d sum up my feelings about this puzzle. A few decent clues, one very good anagram-based one for SCROUNGE, and a few poor ones, particularly the one to LEISURE CENTRE (vitually unsolvable until you have some crossing letters) 12d (groan) and 16d, which has a very vague definition.
    32 minutes.

      1. Which btw is ‘GET THE HUMP’, for all of us ‘Bingo Number’ averse –
        Anti-Back-Scrollers League members. President Meldrew

  29. 40:01. FOI 5ac TABLEAU in the north-east, then fairly steadily clockwise round the grid until I ground to a halt in the North-west.
    At 11ac, CENTRE wasn’t a problem, from crossers, and LEISURE swiftly followed, but it still looked like a clue impossible to solve on its own. Spotting DHOTI from the “I” helped to open the corner up. I finished with OUTSOURCE and BOOR. I liked POTTERY. I’m another with the burn/bum problem

  30. I can’t think why I found this almost as easy as yesterday’s (22 minutes), but when I looked the SNITCHES were at 86 and 51. Must be feeling unusually relaxed about things, because the things that irritated people didn’t irritate me at all. I thought the clue for LEISURE CENTRE was rather good.

  31. 14’03”

    10 minutes on the top half, before finally thinking of “hot” and entering DHOTI then BESIDES (excellent subterfuge in that one!). The rest just flew in.

    I thought LEISURE CENTRE was a stretch but fair, and required the three crossers in CENTRE before seeing it. These sorts of lateral thinking clues are always welcome here.

    Favourite clue: THEBES, as I like to see some Greek references in the cryptic.

  32. Got a good start in the NW with BOOR going in first. LEISURE CENTRE arrived surprisingly quickly. The SE caused me most trouble. NEGATIVE finally provided the key and I finished with EXTREME, then MIDWAY. Spent way too long trying to fit Congress in the middle of 23d. 21:39. Thanks setter and Jack.

  33. The comments above say it all, really. Burn/bum, NEGATIVE not the same as gloomy, same problems in the NW as Jack. Failed to lift and separate on 1A, so BESIDES was last one in. I am terrible at those cryptic clues that require you to place a letter somewhere and describe the result, as in LEISURE CENTRE. As soon as I got the answer, I understood, but couldn’t work it out from the clueing at all.

  34. Quick solve, no problems. LEISURE CENTRE – see the S definition and it cries out “reverse cryptic indicating letter S.” Solved with only the L and U in place. No problem also with INEPT’s clueing: block/obstruct/stop/impede etc. work both ways for me – either part can go inside or outside. Slight MER at INEPT’s definition – for me heavy-handed is overbearing and inept is incompetent. Though I see the dictionaries say heavy-handed is also clumsy.
    Liked WHITEHALL and POTTERY, does GET THE HUMP really work? Presumably he was born with it, didn’t ‘get’ it.
    Fonts: More than occasionally I cut and paste unreadables into another program with clearer fonts/kerning i.e. designed for usability.

  35. I rather agree with Wil Ransome, 11a LIESURE CENTRE just came to me with very few crossers, and was OK with the misleading 23d INEPT “obstructing” as I was going at a rate and didn’t worry about it. Liked 27 POTTERY.
    burn/bum not a problem on the paper version as far as I am concerned.

  36. 7m 10s, finishing on MIDWAY, remembered from a film of the same name that I didn’t watch. Count me amongst those expecting ‘obstructing’ to be doing the opposite to what it was, but it is fair enough, and can be added to the list of words that can mean X in Y or Y in X (I think I’ve seen ‘blocking’ doing both, which makes sense).

  37. Did not finish. Time against me today. I wasted much of it on the surgical burn/bum.
    Please change the font!

  38. Finished speedily (for me) in 24.05 whilst keeping an eye on Englands potential opponents in the knockout stages of the World Cup. A bit presumptuous I know, but if they can’t despatch Wales later they shouldn’t be at the World Cup.
    Everything slotted into place nicely for me with this one, without anything holding me up unduly. NEGATIVE was my LOI after EXTREME came to mind. Like others I don’t think GET THE HUMP quite works but only a minor quibble really

  39. After a week of missing the 15×15, due to a spot of bother locally, l found this terribly Monday-ish, with the aforementioned loose definitions somewhat troublesome. I too thought the woeful 11ac might be CAPITAL LETTER rather than LEISURE CENTRE.

    FOI 24dn FLEE
    SOI 12dn GET THE HUMP Gee! How very wokeless! Quasimodo, the name rings a bell!?
    LOI 28ac EXTREME
    COD 20dn PEN-NAME
    WOD 3dn DHOTI

    At 11ac I was reminded of Chris Barrie’s ‘The Brittas Empire’. The utterly formlessness Gordon Brittas was a very unlikely hoot! Sign me up for the ongoing font debacle.. What a burner! Meldrew

  40. I thought this was easier than yesterday.
    Held up by DHOTI (seen before in puzzles) and LEISURE. No complaints.
    Liked BESIDES and SETTLER and several others.

  41. Going along nicely til the final 3- had a break reread 21 and saw MIDWAY (nho battle)- eventually saw eg for one and NEGATIVE immediately appeared and then with the starting letter given EXTREME was LOI. All suitable parsed- the sign of a very fair crossword. Thanks as ever to blogger and setter.

  42. 12’25”. Missed the whole bum/burn thing, as well as the obstructing thing. Liked POTTERY. Thanks

  43. I enjoyed this, and no quibbles with any of the clues, and completed in 36:19. For 12dn for a while I had pencilled in HIT THE ROOF, wondering if this was something Quasimodo had done that I wasn’t aware of! Happily I then saw UNION & eventually managed to think of what was probably obvious to most people. Thanks Jack & setter.

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