Times Cryptic 28466

Solving time: 20 minutes


My PB is somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes and it’s vary rarely I visit that territory but I achieved it both yesterday and today. The puzzle didn’t seem especially easy as I worked through it but it all just gradually fell into place. I was unaware of any obscurities here but possibly there are some which I happened to know.

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 Strange how Humpty Dumpty ended up (3,3,4)
The main definition is followed by a cryptic hint with reference to the nursery rhyme
7 Vital Kremlin embraces dialogue (4)
Hidden in [embraces] {vi}TAL K{remlin}
9 Architect catching large fish (8)
FOUNDER (architect) containing [catching] L (large)
10 Intended one to pay for losing knight (6)
FI{n}ANCE (pay for) [losing knight – n]
11 Request with regard to investing £1000 (3,3)
AS FOR (with regard to) containing [investing] K (£1000)
13 Reportedly gave up after former wife eclipsed (8)
EX (former wife), CEEDED sounds like [reportedly] “ceded” (gave up)
14 In favour of authorities restraining university press (6,6)
FOR (in favour of) + THE STATE (authorities) containing [restraining] U (university). First estate, the clergy; second estate, the nobility; third estate, the commoners; fourth estate, the press. The first three date from the French revolution but the fourth was added later.
17 Way in which one might pay for treatment? (6,6)
Cryptic with reference to the street (way) in Marylebone occupied principally by expensive private medical practitioners.
20 Rancour of nurses so absurd (8)
Anagram [absurd] of NURSES SO
21 Me and my dog? (6)
Two meanings
22 Extraordinary   escape (3,3)
Two meanings, the first in similar territory to 1ac
23 Regret returning with sailors to get this train (8)
RUE (regret) reversed [returning], OS + TAR (sailors – Ordinary Seaman). This is the high-speed passenger train service that operates through the Chunnel.
25 Guys who make you laugh? (2-2)
HE + HE (guys)
26 Director of show starring me dancing (10)
Anagram [dancing] of STARRING ME
2 Rest after busy period (4,4)
FULL (busy – I have a full/busy day ahead of me),  STOP (rest). ‘Period’ is of course American for ‘full stop’.
3 Leading character in Troy, as often written by Homer? (3)
TAU = T{roy} [leading character] in the Greek alphabet [as often written by Homer]
4 “Duck!” woman cried out (5)
Sounds like [cried out] “Ida” (woman). I wonder if younger generations know of this duck since eiderdowns, which used to be on nearly every bed, fell out of fashion.
5 Bald Cockney is so oppressive (7)
{h}AIRLESS (bald) [Cockney]
6 Biography about girl: lesson for aspiring artist? (4,5)
LIFE (biography), C (about – circa), LASS (girl)
7 Doctor detects rare formula known only to a few (5,6)
Anagram [doctor] of DETECTS RARE. The clue might have benefited from a question mark.
8 Dirty old man having look around church (6)
LEER (look) containing [around] CH (church)
12 Two extras to add to that (11)
FURTHER + MORE (two extras). I thought at first this was going to be a reference to extra runs in cricket.
15 A type of antI gather (9)
Two meanings, not unrelated
16 Honour suffering of European veteran (8)
Anagram [suffering] of E (European) + VETERAN
18 English getting behind in Japan perhaps (7)
E (English), ASTERN (behind a ship)
19 Gypsy coming back with beer and spirits (6)
ROM (gypsy) reversed [coming back], ALE (beer)
21 Republican at heart of fraud? Get away! (5)
R (Republican) in the middle of [at heart of] SCAM (fraud)
24 Family member from India on board? (3)
I (India – NATO alphabet) contained by [on board] SS – Steam Ship

97 comments on “Times Cryptic 28466”

  1. 30 mins, no pinks or aids. Not far off a PB. No unknowns either. And first on the blog too!

    Last two were WAY OUT / MORALE, where I didn’t know any slang for gypsy. Plenty of options : FAR OUT was close.


    1. I think it’s backwards to say Rom is slang for gypsy . Rather Rom is the more appropriate term for the people and if anything gypsy is slang that Roma find offensive.

      1. Just looked at this. Rom is generally reserved by Romanis for a respectable married man. Romani or Roma is more generic covering all “gypsies”. Romanis may resent the word gypsy as somewhat offensive and of course wrong; they originated in India not Egypt.

  2. Yes, this was a snap.
    Luckily, this Yank had heard of Harley Street, I think in the phrase “Harley Street psychiatrist.”

  3. 13:11
    This puzzle has one of the lowest SNITCH numbers ever. Biffed FOURTH ESTATE, parsed post-submission. I liked FULL STOP. Did Homer write anything?

    1. We don’t know, do we? The total tonnage of what we don’t know about Homer is remarkable, including when and where he was born, how long he lived, when and where he died, whether he was blind as some claimed, whether he wrote either the Iliad or the Odyssey, or anything else … the only generally agreed “fact” that I am aware of is that he didn’t write both, as they are considered to be by different authors.

      1. I was under the impression that we did know that he didn’t write either; but what do I know?

        1. True … rather remarkable, for someone with at least 10 biographies written about him!
          But Herodotus, who lived a mere 400 years later (perhaps), thought he existed..

          1. 400 years is quite a long time in literary history. We know very little about John Webster, for instance, and a lot of people think Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare.

    2. I think Kevin’s point is that the Iliad and Odyssey were most likely composed and transmitted orally through many generations before they were ever written down.

  4. PB… almost certainly. Should have timed it. Definitely way under 10 minutes, which is very rare for me. Had to guess HARVESTER but nothing else held me up. Probably liked OFF THE WALL best, even if a write in half way through the clue.

  5. Harley Street was my last in with fingers crossed, but the rest of this went in very quickly indeed – 5:22.

  6. 8:34, one of my quickest, which meant I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity of posting here today!

    Saw EIDER early but was unable to justify it, and inexplicably had TAO for a while, but not too many other hold-ups.

    Thanks setter and Jack.

        1. Thanks Martin, inspired me to look up how to do it. 👍

          (Problem is, I don’t really like emojis!)

          1. I claim no special expertise. In Chrome, under ‘edit’, there is an ’emoji & symbols’ option.

            1. Using a standard PC press the Windows key (next to Alt) and semicolon. That will give you pop-up with a lot of options and there are other groups of symbols etc available via the icons at the bottom of the pop-up

    1. I had TAO for a while (“Leading character in Troy as often”…seemed reasonable to me) but that would have lead me to a strange creature called a ‘fluonder’ or a ‘floonder’

      1. Me too. I felt sure that Tau was spelt in various ways, of which TAO was a leading contender, but apparently wrong.

  7. This was the postponed Monday puzzle, innit!? Being ‘off my Cornflakes’ at the present, l managed to string it out to 26 whole minutes. I have only taken the EUROSTAR once, to Paris and back, in 2002. We had a first class luncheon.

    LOI 19dn – la BOHEME
    COD 11ac ASK FOR
    WOD 21dn SCRAM!!

    I was held up by 15dn, entering CARPENTER instead of ‘The Gleaner’, which l have subscribed to online for many years. Marley Meldrew

    Ooops a daisy! On review l note 19dn wasn’t BOHEME but MORALE!! So put mown as a DNF

  8. 24m 42s but I put FAR OUT for 22ac.
    3d TAU. ‘Scuse me for being thick but where does the AU come from. The T I get and that TAU is a Greek letter but AU?
    19d: Wasn’t aware Rom was a word. I didn’t even think of Roma. I went straight to Romany.

    1. Similar thoughts led me down the TAO path, but it’s simply just that Homer’s (Greek) version of “T” is TAU.

    2. TAU is the name in Greek of the first letter of ‘Troy’. Except that (in The Iliad, at least) it’s not called Troy at all, but ‘Ilion’! So perhaps the answer to 3dn should be IOTA.

  9. Rats!! I breezed through this with no trouble, and entered my LOI VENERATE at 10:15 – deep into PB territory (previous 12:38). Too excited to do a typo-check, I trusted it to luck…
    …and duly found HARLEY STREEY to be my undoing.

    At least I have plenty of time to for a wander over to the Somali brekkie district before starting work – thanks J and setter

  10. 8:27. Not PB territory but certainly quick by my standards. Like galspray I put in TAO in place of TAU initially despite knowing how the Greek letter is spelled. I was also tempted by Martin’s FAR OUT but it didn’t seem quite right for “exit”. LOI was MORALE which I thought was going to take longer, with neither the definition nor any word for gypsy jumping out at me. As it was, MORALE came to me just before I was going to resort to alphabet trawling.

  11. 26 minutes. Another to have been tempted and held up by “far out” for 22a as my LOI. At least the correct answer came before I completed what would have had to be a lengthy alphabet trawl. Good to see a couple of “extras” at 12d with not an actor or cricketer in sight and I liked HARLEY STREET.

  12. 14 minutes with LOIs FLOUNDER and then TAU. COD to HARLEY STREET. I always say that the last time I watched Coronation Street was when Ida Barlow was run over by a bus in 1961, so EIDER was no problem. A pleasant puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  13. In looking for a WAY OUT I was a bit too FAR OUT, and in haste managed a typo with a HARVESTRR to compound things. Pretty straightforward apart from that. LOI MORALE, a struggle to jam together roma and ale for a time.

  14. I could see that Far Out didn’t really parse, but I was so eager to finish in good time that I forgot to come back and think again. So fast time, but two pink squares. There’s a moral there somewhere.

  15. 8:32. Most time was spent on my LOI FULL STOP which I was rather slow to see. Like others, I was tempted by TAO for 3D, but saw the answer before writing the wrong one in. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  16. A FULL STOP on birds? No such luck
    FURTHERMORE we endure EIDER duck
    We’ve EXCEEDED our quota
    Of feathered biota
    I got to 4 down and thought “SOURNESS”

      1. I read through the clues and have cause to doubt the veracity of this statement! 😃

  17. Under 10 minutes here, so a PB for me. My only question mark was over TAU, but realistically it was the only option. It wasn’t until reading this blog that I learned the FOURTH ESTATE refers to the press. I considered ‘full time’ for 2d – it’s kind of a rest at the end of a game, after all – before realising the definition was at the other end and getting FULL STOP.

    FOI Talk
    LOI Eastern
    COD Furthermore

  18. Equal PB, 11 minutes without a pause, apart from a sip of coffee. I agree with the comment about ROM / ROMA not being slang, but the clue doesn’t ask for anything more than a synonym for gypsy which is. LOI was the rather feeble HE-HE.

  19. 10 mins, fastest ever. Writing them in almost as soon as reading them. Only MORALE made me think a while.

  20. Biffed in carelessly REVENATE and then realised the error. Otherwise easier and quicker than yesterday. FURTHERMORE was LOI. Had NHO ROM, but biffed it in, thinking it must be related to Romany.
    Nice puzzle.
    Thank you, as always, for the informative blog.

  21. What others have said… v quick, helped by 1ac and 7ac being write-ins. Hesitated for a mo over far/way out, and morale, otherwise couldn’t get them in fast enough..

  22. 10:27. Done with pen and paper for a change which I’m sure improved my time. I had GET OUT for WAY OUT which affected my MORALE and pushed me over the Ten Minute Barrier.


  23. Done in 2 12minute spurts, so easily a PB, though I don’t time myself as a rule and use paper rather than online. A minor pause over TA? but the fish soon sorted that out. LOI WAY OUT; luckily it came to me before a alphabet trawl became necessary. Liked FOURTH ESTATE.

  24. 14:36

    Bit off a doddle but that suited me today. I had TAO for a while but came to my senses. I lked FULL STOP and EUROSTAR. I’m a regular user of the latter and I think it is a reasonably good service. Fastest Paris – London journey time is under 2hrs 20 minutes. One wouldn’t really want it any faster.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  25. Another close-to-PB for me also today, 5:18 – not much slower than my QC time. Made me think about relative difficulty, as the main puzzle has a bigger grid, so I did a quick calculation of seconds-per-clue:

    QC 4:33 for 26 clues = 10.5 spc
    Main 5:18 for 28 clues = 11.5 spc

    I don’t know if that’s a good indicator or not – I always use the QC as a mental warm-up before the main event and it takes a while to get going…

  26. I also detoured along the TAO route but was corrected by FLOUNDER. Sadly I was also FAR OUT at 22a. 11:36 WOE. Thanks setter and Jack.

  27. Lots of PBs today, no surprise as the SNITCH is so low. My 19 minutes wasn’t a PB, but wasn’t far off, and all went smoothly, with no hitches. I failed to appreciate the elegance of FULL STOP, thinking it must be a CD, and does anyone write ‘he-he’? Hee-hee perhaps.

  28. Not a hard puzzle but I wasn’t keen on some of the definitions or bits of wordplay. 3d is hardly a cryptic clue. ‘Eclipsed’ is a rather loose definition for ‘exceeded’. If a player’s performance is eclipsed it is surpassed by a long margin. Best clue was the one to FOURTH ESTATE.
    20 minutes, but a wrong answer at 22 with ‘far out’. I see I’m not alone, but I’m annoyed with myself for not seeing the right answer quickly.

  29. 8:28 – a PB by over a minute, and I spent about a minute checking it because I knew it’d be a PB and didn’t want a pink square! Only thing I wasn’t sure about was ROM as gypsy rather than ROMA, but figured it must be correct. Enjoyable! Thanks setter and Jack.

  30. 14:36 and nothing much to add, apart from instantly writing in FREE TIME at 2d for some reason. The uncooperative crossers soon sorted that out.

  31. I would have broken 5 minutes but for not spotting my LOI sufficiently quickly.

    TIME 5:06

  32. 05:45, notwithstanding that I am generally built for comfort rather than speed these days, so definitely a sprint which will leave me thinking it’s Monday for the rest of the day.

  33. As many others, I had FAR OUT. I think my hippie days had an influence there somewhere… and I had been hoping for a PB.

  34. Well after seemingly doing better than most solvers of the QC with usually similar times to me, I did not fare as well on this. I was quite happy to finish with all correct and parsed in 30.55, but then find a glut of PBs have been achieved by so many. My time suddenly looks pedestrian at best.
    My main hold up was with 12dn and 16dn where I must have spent at least 5 minutes trying to work them out. Enjoyable all the same though, and well done to all who got a PB.

  35. Nothing to add but I like to post a comment when I complete without error.
    FOI Fiance
    LOI Harley Street
    COD Off the wall

  36. Relative garbage. Last time the snitch was in this region I got a PB. Nowhere near today. Maybe I’d put undue pressure on myself. 🙂

    FLOUNDER was my LOI, HARLEY STREET my favourite.


  37. 12:09

    Held up a little by TAO/U and FULL STOP and from biffing STATE SECRET (from all checkers except the first!

    Got there in the end but no PB today

  38. I bought a copy of the Times en route to the sea front. After a sunny walk beneath the cliffs I sat in my car for 15 or 20 minutes and had completed this apart from 25a. As I parked in Waitrose car park, the penny dropped. I had inserted Romany for 19d (but where did the beer and spirit come in?). Once that had been corrected, 25a fell into place.

  39. 3m 19s, which is ten seconds short of a PB. I thought I was definitely on for a PB, and maybe even a sub 3 minute time, but my last two – FULL STOP & VENERATE – took frustratingly long to fall into place.

    Very easy, but admirably concise in the clues.

    1. 18:50 for me, pretty much as fast as it gets. Easy, but enjoyable. Very concise as commented above….does anyone track this? Less than 6 words per clue average today.

  40. 4:45 No hindrance in writing answers but still quite surprised to break 5 min barrier. 30 secs quicker than the QC! Liked FOURTH ESTATE; felt OFF THE WALL a bit too much of a gimme but off to good start, followed by good middle, and then good end. Many thanks to setter!

  41. 20 minutes plus 90 seconds for proofreading, and for me that’s a PB. Still, not unenjoyable and with a few clues that held me up a little (such as ASK FOR, while I had only the O). I escaped the FAR OUT trap. I liked the sailors in the EUROSTAR and the FOURTH ESTATE.

  42. I normally only do the QC but sometimes try the biggie if comments indicate it to be on the easier side. Was pleased to finish this with all correct and only problems in parsing four answers.

  43. 22 minutes plus change for a relatively trouble-free outing today. Particularly liked HARLEY STREET with FOURTH ESTATE coming a close second. The guy in my avatar raises a glass tonight to Kirstie Alley, the wonderful Rebecca in ‘Cheers’, who left us today.

  44. As I worked through this I thought it seemed quite easy, right up until loi Morale, which took far too long to sort out. I don’t yet bother to time myself on the 15×15, as usually it would be too depressing, but I certainly wish I had done so today. Invariant

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