Times Cryptic 28484


Solving time: 40 minutes. I enjoyed this puzzle whilst solving but when I came to blog it I realised how many clues involved containment and found the process somewhat monotonous. There are 9 in the Across clues or 10 if the two in 9ac are counted separately. A further 5 await the solver in the Down clues.


I lost a lot of time wavering over DICK TURPIN and ULTIMATE as I was unable to parse them and was not going to write in the answers until either I’d understood them or the arrival of the full complement of checkers made the answers inevitable. In the event, both were parsed post completion of the grid after the clock had been stopped.


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 After drink, get hold of boxed item (8)
PUNCH (drink), BAG (get hold of)
9 Suggestion hip party’s crashed by sister filled with energy (8)
IN (hip) + DO (party) containing [is crashed by] NUN (sister) containing [filled with] E (energy)
10 I’m not sure poking champion knight shows brains (6)
UM (I’m not sure) contained by [poking] ACE (champion), then N (knight – chess)
11 Give independence to a segment of trade: I see? (10)
Hidden in [a segment of] {tra}DE, COLON (:), I SE{e}. Tricky!
12 A doctor crossing miles for rounds (4)
A + MO (doctor) containing [crossing] M (miles)
13 English chump’s inspiring soft soap (10)
E (English) + ASS (chump) containing [inspiring] TENDER (soft). Be thankful if you’ve never see this depressing saga.
16 Maybe leave half-baked, likely loser out of golf (7)
UNDERDO{g} (likely loser) [out of golf – g, NATO alphabet)
17 Puzzled about whiskey firm’s budget (3-4)
LOST (puzzled) containing [about] W (whiskey – NATO alphabet) + CO (firm)
20 Artist went quickly through colour outline of tattoo (10)
TORE (went quickly) contained by [through] TINT (colour) + T{atto}O [outline]
22 Drinker’s remark hasn’t succeeded in a perfect way (2,1,1)
TOA{s}T (drinker’s remark) [hasn’t succeeded  – s]
23 Notes anagram: I left one to be resolved (10)
Anagram [to be resolved] of ANAGRAM I L (left) I (one). Another example of a partially indirect anagram. This word’s last two outings were both in August 2018.
25 Asian from China bordered by north-east India (6)
PAL (China – CRS plate/mate) contained [bordered] by NE (north-east) + I (India – NATO alphabet). Helped by having NEPAL clued with reference to Cockney rhyming slang ‘China’ only last Thursday.
26 Raze inhabited area? Cockney tried to enter it (4,4)
{h}EARD (tried e.g. a case in court) [Cockney] contained by [to enter] TOWN (inhabited area / it)
27 Mirror covers Number Ten’s first open policy (8)
GLASS (mirror) contains [covers] NO (number), then T{en’s} [first]. Oh for those happier time!
2 Remarkable Gallic figure on grassland (8)
UN (Gallic figure  – French for ‘one’), COMMON (grassland)
3 Stopped woke Republican getting established (4,2,4)
CAME TO (woke), R (Republican), EST (established)
4 Conductor of bus expelling us, along with numbers of Germans, we hear (10)
B{us} [expelling us], AND (along with), then LEADER sounds like [we hear] “Lieder” (numbers – songs – of Germans)
5 Soldier loves touring Greek island playfully (7)
GI (soldier) then OO (loves) containing [touring] COS (Greek island). It’s a musical direction from the Italian.
6 Area on African flower not quite indigo (4)
A (area), NIL{e} (African flower – river) [not quite]
7 Uncovered menu with duck salad ingredient (6)
{m}EN{u} [uncovered], DIVE (duck)
8 Bath’s here, fixed by a little plumber finally (8)
SOME (a little), {plumbe}R [finally],  SET (fixed). The historic city was restored to Somerset in 1996 after spending 22 years in the newly-invented county of Avon,  now abolished.
14 European country admitting to unhealthy passion (10)
E (European), ROMANIA (country) containing [admitting] TO
15 Two detectives, the second stopping sour outlaw (4,6)
DICK (detective #1), then PI (detective #2 – private investigator) contained by [stopping] TURN (sour – vb)
16 Closing university behind walls Cambridge University put up (8)
U (university), LATE (behind) contains [walls in] MIT (Cambridge University – Massachusetts Institute of Technology) reversed [put up]
18 Put on ballets in odd places, maybe part of York (8)
SHAM (put on), B{a}L{l}E{t}S [in odd places]. This street appeared here as recently as 2nd December when it was the subject of much discussion.
19 Designing coat for Tony seized by Chuck (7)
T{on}Y (coat) contained [seized] by SLING (chuck)
21 Customary part for soprano put on line (6)
NORMA (part for soprano), L (line). More musical GK needed here, but if one knows that  Norma is the name of an opera one can probably assume that her role is taken by a soprano.
24 A lack of agreement in retreat (4)
NO OK (a lack of agreement)

50 comments on “Times Cryptic 28484”

  1. DNF
    I could make no sense of 16ac even though I had all the checkers; or at least thought I had–I didn’t understand ULTIMATE until after I gave up. I biffed several others–DECOLONISE, EASTENDERS, EROTOMANIA, SHAMBLES–parsing post-submission. I also biffed DICK TURPIN, but couldn’t parse it; somehow I missed PI. It helped that ACUMEN and SHAMBLES were fresh in memory. I liked the use of the colon in 11ac, although the surface leaves something to be desired.

  2. As I had ongoing distractions and was going to take my time with this anyway, I decided to follow a precise strategy to open up the grid: I first worked the four four-letter answers, one in each quarter, and then found a crossing word around each of them, getting the longest in two cases.

    The surfaces are here clever and amusing. “Conductor of bus expelling us…”! What did we do?! (I absent-mindedly wrote in BANDLIEDER at first.) The brilliance of the device for DECOLONISE (when I finally got that one) distracted me from the surface’s awkwardness (unusual here) pointed out by Kevin. Delighted to see TINTORETTO and (a much later entry) GIOCOSO. The clue for NOOK was awfully familiar, but I’ll say no more now.

    Except that it’s sad to remember the hopeful days of GLASNOST.

  3. Just shy of an hour, with LOI UNDERDO, holding out for some time.

    I had BANDMASTER for some time on the basis that “mass DER” felt it could be a number of Germans.

    Did not see the colon in DECOLONISE. Also, I thought NORMA referred to Marilyn Monroe, who might be classed as Soprano, although on reflection, she’s more a Mezzo. I think this is an example of Ninja Turtling?

    I was looking at 8-letter countries, to insert TO into, and tried to make SLOTOVENIA into something kinky. Also played around with an anagram of “passion” (= unhealthy). This one stayed blank for a long time.


  4. 32m 07s but I made a mess of 16ac. Like Kevin, I couldn’t make sense of it so just put UNREADY.
    Apart from that, I enjoyed this puzzle, containment clues notwithstanding.
    Thanks, Jack, for DICK TURPIN.
    I enjoyed GLASNOST and GIOCOSO as well as MIT for ‘Cambridge University’ in ULTIMATE.
    COD, though, to DECOLONISE for the clever use of the colon. For once, I spotted the device!
    Thanks, again, Jack!

    1. UNREADY is just what I put in; couldn’t see anything else (like the actual solution, for instance).

        1. And I nearly did the same. UNREADY was the only word that surfaced after my alpha-trawl. I tried to forcibly parse it: ‘unbready’ might refer to a half-baked loaf, perhaps? I got up to open a window, as it’s getting warm this afternoon, and upon resuming the puzzle UNDERDO leapt out. Bodily motion causing neuronal reshuffle? It might be worth trying in the future.

  5. I’ll put your basket all safe in a Nook,
    Your shawl I hang up on the willow,
    And we will sigh in the daisy’s eye
    And kiss on a grass green pillow.

    25 mins mid-brekker. I liked it too. Very minor eyebrow raise at the colon.
    I liked ‘Cambridge University’.
    Ta setter and J.

  6. 40minutes with LOI the unknown GIOCOSO. COD to DECOLONISE. I was particularly proud of my role in the CEGB’s public affairs presentations when Private Eye described us as like the KGB but without the GLASNOST. A decent puzzle, I thought, as I did it.

  7. I had DICK TURPIN early on with just D and the enumeration to go on, but couldn’t see how it worked with the rest of the clue. Did not know GIOCOSO but followed the wordplay dutifully. I lived in Bath when it became part of Avon instead of Somerset, and it felt very artificial. Glad it has gone. My LOI was ULTIMATE since I was trying to put CU in for “Cambridge University” instead of twigging it was MIT (could also be Harvard).

  8. Just under 37 minutes of excellent challenge. Lots of clever cluing, including the Cambridge University, the golf loser and the hidden colon. Is the latter (a hidden using punctuation) a first – it is for me I think?

    My New Years’s resolution will be to watch only the second half of Spurs games.

    Thanks Setter and Jack.

    1. Clues using the punctuation have been around for yonks, but they don’t occur frequently enough to not remain a surprise.

      1. Yes I have seen them before, but I don’t remember ever seeing a clue using punctuation as part of a hidden word. Probably just my memory, but it certainly made me sit up and tip the hat!

        1. Oh, sorry. I had two similar clues in mind at this time. This was a new twist as far as I can recall too! The one I mixed it up with is more garden-variety.

  9. About 30 minutes. It seems UNDERDO occurred to me a fair bit quicker than to other people here, but I compensated for that by taking an age to get ENDIVE, even though that was considerably simpler. TINTORETTO and EROTOMANIA were constructed from wordplay. The clever ‘Cambridge University’ device completely passed me by, as I had the U, saw ‘closing’ and immediately thought of ULTIMATE – in a similar vein, I thought of DECOLONISE once I had enough checkers and then saw that it had to involve the punctuation, rather than the other way round.

    FOI Ammo
    LOI Endive
    COD Ultimate

  10. Just under the hour with at least ten mins spent on today’s demons, UNDERDOG and ULTIMATE.

    Definite MER at the colon. I can’t work out if it’s brilliant or too clever by half.

    Never did parse Turpin so thanks Jack for that. Like Kevin, SHAMBLES (for once) remembered from a recent outing.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  11. Well eleven’s a brilliant clue
    So, dear setter, my hat’s off to you
    My proposal, it’s clear
    For The Clue Of The Year
    Is there maybe some poll we could do?

    1. If we do I support 11a because it totally bypassed me; I pondered for ages seeing the DE – something – SE but not the blasted COLON, and is a clear win for the setter.

  12. 7m 13s, finishing on ULTIMATE after being hoodwinked by that lovely Cambridge University reference. COD to UNDERDOG.

  13. Another impatient UNREADY here, and ULTIMATE not parsed. GIOCOSO nho, got from wordplay only.
    I’ve seen the DECOLONISE device elsewhere, so now if reciting a clue I and my wife always read out the word ‘colon’.

    Otherwise 23′, thanks jack and setter.

  14. No accurate time as I was interrupted twice, but it would have been around an hour. Technically a DNF as I mis-typed TA A T, but otherwise all good. Really enjoyed the challenge with a few NHOs and the brilliant use of the colon, but all fairly clued I thought. Like others I took ages to reject CU for Cambridge University, eventually spotting MIT once the crossers were in. Great work-out!

  15. 15:38. LOI EROTOMANIA. I forgot to go back and parse DICK TURPIN, but one detective in the wordplay was enough to support the biff. Nice puzzle. COD to the clever DECOLONISE. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  16. 44 mins with one annoying pink (COME TO REST). Enjoyed this a lot and pleased to spot the COLON quickly

    Thanks Jack and Setter

  17. Thought I was in trouble here, with the NHO GIOCOSO, TINTORETTO and was 14d going to be etoromania? However my answers were correct which left my LOI UNDERDO! I thought my ignorance of German numbers 1,2,3 etc was going to be my downfall with BANDLEADER so was very pleased when I twigged along with = and.
    Agree DECOLONISE very clever- don’t think I had even noticed the colon until solving.
    Thanks setter and blogger.

  18. 48:29 and reassured to see many found this difficult as well! A lot of hard staring at 5-6 clues – ULTIMATE, UNDERDO and TINTORETTO made a very difficult triad.

    LOI DECOLONISE. One day – I don’t know when – I’ll spot a punctuation-based clue without working back from the answer.

    Thanks S & jackkt.

  19. 36 minutes with DICK TURPIN entered because it had to be, but it took me ages to parse it (after I’d already entered it and the final verdict had popped up), since for some reason ‘PI’ is always slow to come to mind. It seems that some people enjoy those clues that rely on a punctuation mark, but others regard them as somehow unsound. They often strike me as rather nice.

  20. 11:06. Bottom half much easier than the top, generally a mixture of biffing and paying close attention to wordplay to get anywhere near the answer and/or avoid a spelling mistake (TINTORETTO, GLASNOST, GIOCOSO, ANIL, EROTOMANIA).
    I liked the colon device.

  21. No accurate time recorded, as I got called away mid-solve and forgot to stop the clock, but somewhere in the teens, I imagine. Enjoyable puzzle, in which, like others, I did a lot of posthumous parsing, but a late penny drop is better than none at all.

  22. 20:50. TURPIN was unparsed but unmissable once I got my penultimate, EASTENDERS, (after de-inventing the truly unhealthy passion of ROOTOMANIA). Lots of worthy stuff to enjoy throughout.

  23. 26 mins. Never thought of Cambridge, Mass, biffed. LOI UNDERDO, very nearly chucked in UNREADY.

  24. 35 minutes but I’m another who flung in UNREADY. I’m increasingly prone to error.

    It took me a while to get the puzzle. I repeatedly got the dreaded .404 page not found’.

  25. 32 minutes. Sucked in yet again by the ‘Cambridge University’ and disappointed to miss the COLON in DECOLONISE, especially as a punctuation mark as part of the wordplay appeared in another place only a day or so ago. We’ve had GIOCOSO before and wordplay was helpful, with COS as the “go to” ‘Greek island’ for crosswords.

    Favourite was the geographically spot-on (almost) wordplay for NEPALI; v. clever.

  26. I started this one in York, and got 80% of the way through before being turfed out of my daughter’s home, as they were all off to Manchester for one of those flying in a vertical wind tunnel experiences, which Cath had organised some months earlier as a family present! Cath was a bit miffed, as the recent rear end shunt she received means that her whiplash injuries precludes her from taking part. I await the grandkids (and usually height averse son-in-law’s) take on the “flight!” Anyway on arriving back in Middlesbrough, I immediately solved 2 of the clues that had been holding me up; TEAR DOWN and MARGINALIA. NOOK followed and having written out the letters I had for 16d horizontally, spotted ULTIMATE, and even managed to parse it. That left me with 27a, where I had unfortunately become fixated with the NESS ending I’d postulated, and even when I spotted GLASS as the mirror, was unable to lift and separate correctly and finally biffed an unparsed GLADNESS. I saw GLASNOST as soon as I saw the pink squares. Drat!. DICK TURPIN was also unparsed. The whole thing took 43:41 with that 1 error. Thanks setter and Jack.

  27. I thought this was a tidy puzzle. Giocoso was new to me (and my dictionary) but guessable from jocose. Thanks for the blog.

  28. 59:13, and I thought this was an enjoyable and fairly tricky offering. I thought 11ac was great. Currently sat in the RUH at Bath, but still 8dn was one of the last in! Thanks b & s

  29. It was fortunate for me that all of my biffs were correct. I didn’t enjoy this much.

    TIME 12:50

  30. Defeated by 16dn and 23ac, but otherwise all correct and parsed. I was entirely on the wrong continent in seeking out the Cambridge link, and just didn’t see the anagram of anagram at all. A good crossword though.
    My clue of the day goes to INNUENDO. When I see or hear that word I am reminded of a dear friend of mine now sadly departed, who on hearing the word used would say ‘Ah yes, Innuendo, an Italian suppository!’

  31. 33:47

    Now that all of the fuss and bother is dying down, managed to focus much better on this offering.

    Only one unparsed was POI ULTIMATE which needed all of the checkers and working out where the definition lay. Wouldn’t have known MIT was anything to do with a different Cambridge.

    Enjoyed the DECOLONISE trick.

  32. Got halfway through quite quickly then totally bogged down and needed tools to finish. Would never have got GIOCOSO by any other means. Awarded COD to TO A T early on but now it’s been explained then DECOLONISE has to have it.

  33. A fair challenge overall, though it took me ages to find the answer to 16ac.

    FOI ammo
    LOI underdo
    COD glasnost.

  34. For reasons which will be well understood in these parts MIT occurred to me immediately (not to mention that ‘university’ instead of ‘college’ is a dead giveaway, Cambridge-wise), but the only crosser I had was the second T which the Institute didn’t fit around, and I wasted a lot of time.

    Ten or so years ago there was a period where Tintoretto appeared seemingly twice a week for several months running; I’ve got a brain-worm about him which pops out whenever a longish artist seems possible.

    Nice blog, Jack. Really nice puzzle, setter.

  35. Finished this late last night. I was busy most of the day, and only managed a few clues each time I looked at it. LOI was GIOCOSO, from the wordplay, it could be nothing else. The device at 11a passed me by. I like the MIT bit of 16. A few more anagrams wooed have been nice

  36. Yes, very clever, but I never managed several of the clues: like many, the colon device completely passed me by ( I will look out for this in the future!)
    INNUENDO first in, quickly followed by AMMO, then TINTORETTO; slowed down considerably after that, and I’m sure I never would have got UNDERDO, nor TEAR DOWN, nor ULTIMATE. Lost heart then, especially as Containment clues are a bug-bear of mine, but liked MARGINALIA andGIOCOSO, as I just trusted the cryptic and just hoped that it was a musical term.

  37. Got about 1/3 done, then looked up a couple to kickstart the rest. Thought that wasn’t going to work, then saw BANDLEADER and ACUMEN and finished with only GIOCOSO missing. Loved the colon though didn’t see it at the time, it was one of my IGIBIDGIs sorry BIFFs
    Like many others put in UNREADY

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