Times Cryptic 28496


Solving time: 40 minutes


I made good progress throughout but was then slowed by a few trickier clues towards the SW. I’m still not entirely convinced by  one of these at 21ac and I was not helped by forgetting (if I ever knew) the nationality of Noriega

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 Carrier in second group (8)
BACK (second), PACK (group)
5 Fearful image has captured mischievous spirit (6)
PIC (image) contains [has captured] HOB (mischievous spirit). I knew HOB anyway but it’s perhaps more widely known with reference to ‘Hobgoblin’, now also a range of excellent beers from Wychwood brewery in Oxfordshire.
10 Greek lovers held hands, piano playing captivating couple at the beginning (7,3,5)
Anagram [playing] of HELD HANDS PIANO containing [captivating] C{ouple} [at the beginning]. My way to this was via the ballet of the same name by Maurice Ravel.
11 Surprised where kisser kissed? (10)
GOB (kisser – slang for ‘mouth’), SMACKED (kissed)
13 Initially dead easy reversing vehicle for lorry driver? (4)
D{ead} + E{asy} + R{eversing} + V{ehicle} [initially]. Not the guy in the cab but the fuel in the tank.
15 Cash for bread or gravy, for example (7)
Two examples of synonyms for cash / money. ‘Bread’ we meet here every week but ‘gravy’ may be less well-known. It appears in the expression ‘gravy train’, slang for a source of easy financial benefit.
17 List includes duck, domesticated bird (7)
ROSTER (list) contains [includes] O (duck)
18 Firearms originally loaded in location of shooting gallery? (7)
F{irearms} [originally], UNFAIR (loaded – as in a loaded question)
19 Gut fish from right to left — still on this side? (7)
DRAW (gut  – hang, draw and quarter) + EEL (fish) reversed [from right to left]. Situated on the side sheltered from the wind.
21 Way to pass capital of Ethiopia, heading for Australia? (4)
E{thiopia} [capital of…], A{ustralia} [heading for…], ST (way – street). I’m assuming that ‘to pass’ is just indicating the position of ST relative to the rest of the answer but I’m not sure there isn’t a better parsing here that I have failed to spot.
22 Where the monarch’s head is exactly right (2,3,5)
A cryptic hint followed by a straight definition
25 Cold April, May, messed with old US economic approach (6,9)
Anagram [messed] of COLD APRIL MAY OLD
27 Salt container bound with cloth (6)
TIN (container) contained by [bound with] RAG (cloth). A rating is a non-commissioned sailor.
28 Apparent conclusion of leadership picked up (8)
{leadershi}P [conclusion], RESUMED (picked up)
1 Old artist after black, where red and white available? (7)
B (black), O (old), DEGAS (artist). These are Spanish wine shops.
2 Top speed briefly rising (3)
PAC{e}(speed) [briefly] reversed [rising]
3 Noriega was one — with family members fuelled by obsession (10)
PA + NAN (family members) containing [fuelled by] MANIA (obsession). Manuel Noriega was the de facto ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989.
4 Set up in advance, social function (5)
Hidden and reversed [set up in] {advan}CE SOC{ial}. I did this stuff at school but it’s long forgotten now except that cosec is short for cosecant.
6 Horse or bear? (4)
Two meanings. The horse comes up a lot. ‘Hack / bear’ as in ‘cope with’ – I can’t hack it.
7 Killer exercise for fast runner in Japan (6,5)
BULLET (killer), TRAIN (exercise)
8 Article that’s sharp at the edges? (7)
A (article) is contained by [that’s…at the edges] CLEVER (sharp)
9 Rattling of triangle necessary? (8)
Anagram [rattling] of TRIANGLE
12 Sweet nuts left filling hole (6,5)
BANANAS (nuts – crazy), then L (left) contained by [filling] PIT (hole)
14 Holidays where love drifts aimlessly (10)
HONEY (love – forms of address), MOONS (drifts aimlessly)
16 Seasoned mixture cooked, a piece of bacon shortly thrown in (8)
A + RIN{d} (piece of bacon) [shortly] contained by [thrown in] MADE (cooked)
18 Slip, perhaps, if climbing tree (7)
IF reversed [climbing], ELDER (tree). Cricket.
20 Coloured walls in Sussex town, maybe cold? (3-4)
DYED (coloured) contains [walls in] RYE (Sussex town). Rye has come up before and is famous as one of the Cinq Ports.
23 Case of happy individual dropping off son, wildly excited (5)
H{app}Y (case of], PER{son} (individual) [dropping off son]
24 Vessel holding first of wine, hock (4)
PAN (vessel) containing [holding] W{ine}[first]. Pawned goods are said to be ‘in hock’.
26 Militarise division (3)
Two meanings

62 comments on “Times Cryptic 28496”

  1. I filled in several with no crossers first, just for the exercise, and then the first quarter I finished was the SE. I got to the SW last, but there each answer came quickly, though the clue for EAST remains a little vague. (Quibble: I wouldn’t have underlined “Where the monarch’s head is,” as it is a cryptic hint rather than a dictionary definition.)

    1. You’re ON THE MONEY yourself! And so was I when solving as that was how I had it marked up on my print out. My mind must have wandered.

  2. I had EAST the same way, though Ethopia is a bit far north to be a direct eastward path to Australia.
    I struggled with this one, completed in 17:31, more than three yesterdays.

  3. 17:25
    Biffed some, parsing post-submission (PANAMANIAN, BULLET TRAIN) or not (MARINADE, DAPHNIS AND CHLOE). It took me a long time to come up with lovers other than Hero & Leander –even toyed with Pythias and Damon. Took me another long time to think of a Japanese runner; I never use the term BULLET TRAIN, which I dislike. I liked DRY-EYED & FUNFAIR.

    1. I forgot to ask you yesterday- but curious why you dislike the term ” bullet train”?

      1. I’m not sure why, actually; it’s a sort of Dr. Fell term for me. (I do not like thee, Dr. Fell; / The reason why I cannot tell;/ But this I know, and know full well, / I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.) I don’t know where it comes from; it’s not a calque on Japanese.

        1. I see, that’s reason enough. I can sympathize as I often find myself disliking something and can’t explain why!

  4. 57 minutes. EAST was entered unconfidently (same comments as above) and I took a long time to see the 10a anagram. I thought ‘Noriega’ was from Nicaragua until the checkers convinced me otherwise.

    The wordplay for 8d makes sense, but I think of a CLEAVER (eg a kitchen implement used to HACK) as having only one sharp edge (not ‘edges?’) so it doesn’t quite work for me as a cryptic def; just being pedantic and probably wrong at the same time.

    1. Well, to continue in a pedantic vein, it’s an &lit, because there’s wordplay, of a piece with the definition. Of course, definitions are often rather loose in &lits, sometimes loose enough to cast doubt on the classification. But the same sort of flaw would equally affect a CD.

    2. I didn’t like either of these, for the same reasons. CLEAVER is a bit too clever by half, and the plural ‘edges’ confuses. Even having had it explained (for which thanks, jackkt), EAST I find pretty bizarre. Spent about 20 mins on the rest of the puzzle, and a disheartening further 40 to get these two (EAST might have come faster if I’d got FIELDER sooner).

  5. Thought this a good challenge. Spent much time thinking I’d never get the Greek lovers, nho at all, but managed with nearly all the crossers. CLEAVER LOI, unparsed.

    33’34”, thanks jack and setter.

  6. 47m fail – found this a tough challenge, and had to take two bites at it, either side of breakfast, breaking about 35m and 60% in. Suitably nourished, my out-of-form solving skills were somewhat improved, and figured out DOLLAR DIPLOMACY to move towards completion at a reasonable pace…
    …except for LOI S-N-N-M which I couldn’t see after 2 or 3 minutes, nor make sense of the clue – so I gave up. Then discovered I’d put CESOC in 4d early in the solve. Yeah, I had one of those early-January-should-have-stayed-in-bed days. Thanks J and setter

  7. 1 hour and 11 minutes. Oh dear. It was a struggle today. DNK the Greek lovers and spent time on the anagram and, generally, the answers came slowly. Lots of great clues though. I liked GOBSMACKED and FUNFAIR

  8. 51 minutes with LOI FUNFAIR. There was all the fun of the fair in this puzzle too. Mind you, it’s as well my childhood family cat was called CHLOE or I’d have never known the lovers. COD to BODEGAS for the penny-drop moment. Good stuff. Thank you Jack and setter.

  9. 18:29. I was held up for several minutes at the end as I’d written in DAPHNIS AND CHLOE in incorrectly, making 3D impossible. Eventually I spotted my mistake and found the nationality needed for 3D, my LOI. Like our setter I deduced the Greek lovers from the Ravel ballet. I liked FIELDER and DRY EYED best. Thank-you setter and Jackkt.

  10. A high quality puzzle with many excellent definitions and devices. Jack, your MARINADE is missing an A – should be A RIN(d) inserted in MADE. I share the MER about EAST.

    just over the half hour for me, a sub-par effort (in the golfing sense) that makes up for yesterday’s grim struggle. COD to the clever CLEAVER. Thanks elegant setter and Jack.

  11. The Stones had a little red ROOSTER
    The UK had a red and white booster
    But neither could fly
    Right up to the sky
    They clearly don’t make stuff like they usedta

  12. 42.02, but, once again, I did not find the puzzle very enjoyable or satisfying. I think that the clue for 21a is just awful.

      1. I’m not sure slang equivalents qualify as synonyms either. I’d argue that a synonym has to be accepted universally, whereas a lot of slang is idiomatic to the region where it is used.

        That’s unless of course one is doing the mephisto with the aid of Chambers, where strange Scottish slang is standard.

  13. Just over 40 mins then ground to a halt with the lovers. Unforgivable really as my daughter’s name is…….. Chlöe.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the rest. DNK the DOLLAR thingy or COSEC but the clueing was generous.

    I think I have mentioned before that, as I understand it, the term « derv » originates from the army whence the diesel tanks were marked » DERV », Diesel Engined Road Vehicles for the use of.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

      1. Interesting that derv is spelled so, not DERV at least in my dictionary.
        I think the acronym came from HM Customs And Excise (as was).

  14. 26’30” but felt it should have been quicker. Not on flying form. Old pineapple-features Noriega used to reside at his excellency’s pleasure a few hundred metres from where I now sit. He was jailed at La Santé prison in Paris. Can’t remember why. Money-laundering I imagine. On Panama, highly recommended is the late David McCullough’s book on the building of the canal. It could so easily have been Nicaragua, which was in many ways the more logical route. Stumped for far too long at the end looking for an obscure currency that went S-N-N-M. The ending made me look for something Hebrew with an -IM plural. CLEAVER was clever.

    1. Yes the building of the canal is interesting. One of the founders of my NYC law firm (William Nelson Cromwell) was deeply involved and came away with a pile of bread and gravy. In that case of DOLLAR DIPLOMACY the money all flowed one way – towards the US.

      1. I have been caught out in a quiz by the question “Which compass point most closely describes the heading of ships emerging into the Pacific from the Panama Canal?”. Unless you’ve actually looked at the map, the answer is definitely not the one you’d guess (if you’re me, at any rate)…

        1. Absolutely correct. The Pacific end of the canal is east of the Atlantic end. There’s a jink in the isthmus.

  15. All rather a struggle, but several clues which were very nice once the answer was in. Eventually I crawled to a finish at 79 minutes, after having to get a piece of paper and write things down, something I don’t usually do when solving on a tablet. DAPHNIS AND CHLOE should have been quicker since I know the Ravel music quite well. CLEAVER entered without knowing why, but very good now it’s explained. Had never heard of DOLLAR DIPLOMACY, but it seemed likely enough.

  16. 22:01. Great puzzle. I thought “way” doing double duty in EAST was slightly iffy, unlike the similarly(ish) constructed CLEAVER, which was clever – at the edges and elsewhere.

  17. 23.52.
    Got off to a good start with DAPHNIS AND CHLOE GOBSMACKED and DOLLAR DIPLOMACY but it got steadily trickier from then on. Liked BODEGAS, Didn’t like EAST. COD CLEAVER

    After this I put on “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” where Mr. Dylan waxes lyrical about Ruthy: “In her honky-tonk lagoon, Where I can watch her waltz for free, ’Neath her Panamanian moon.”

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  18. DIPHNAS sounded slightly more plausible to me than DAPHNIS, in a last second switch. The things you learn.

  19. 23:33

    After fifteen minutes I was left with five to solve. Even with all checkers in place, had never heard of the lovers so did check up on them before submitting.

    DOLLAR DIPLOMACY was something else I’d never heard of and it took the D from MARINADE to settle on the correct anagrist.

    Thanks for an entertaining grid and blog.

  20. 34:53. Blimey, talk about being off the wavelength! That was like pulling teeth, and my NITCH and WITCH are off the charts. I’m not sure why.

  21. I was also super slow on this one. Over an hour. And I didn’t find it a very enjoyable solve. I did like GOBSMACKED, but definitely not EAST. I lost a lot of time trying to include US in the anagram fodder for 25ac, along with “o” for old. Without any contradictory checkers, I was convinced the first word was going to be SOCIAL. Overall I was just glad to get to the end. Thanks s & b.

    1. I did the same with 25ac, and I’ve never heard of DOLLAR DIPLOMACY so it took me ages to sort it out.

  22. Never saw how 8d CLEAVER worked – v clever.
    Thought 21a EAST was ok if a bit complicated. Nothing wrong with complicated.
    NHO Dollar Diplomacy.

  23. 09:25, so no great hold-ups, the major one being the fact that even in a playful crossword sense, heading east past Ethiopia does not mean you end up in Australia.

  24. Three goes needed here, and with the same problems as a few others. Like Richard H I got the wrong anagrist for 25a, which held up DOLLAR DIPLOMACY, and I didn’t parse CLEAVER either. Eventually managed to dredge up DAPHNIS AND CHLOE from somewhere, and EAST went in with a slightly disgruntled shrug. I’d never have got SYNONYM were it not for the checkers. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Arm
    LOI Honeymoon
    COD Funfair

  25. I found this one on the tricky side. CAP and BODEGAS were my starters and the NE, apart from CLEAVER, which I suspected but didn’t parse until just before I submitted, filled up nicely. DAPHNIS AND CHLOE also arrived much later. DOLLAR DIPLOMACY was held up by having used the wrong anagrist. I added OUS instated of just OLD, so although I had DIPLOMACY, DOLLAR arrived much later too. FIELDER, EAST and RATING were last 3 in. 34:43. Thanks setter and Jack.

  26. Oh dear. Over an hour, but I did have a nap in the middle. NHO DAPHNIS AND CHLOE, another unknown clued as an anagram. Google did inform me that they were Roman though….. Found SW hardest, but in fact once I got going down there, it was reasonably straightforward.

  27. My lack of a knowledge of the classics meant that I had to rely on the construction of the clue to get DAPHNIS AND CHLOE , but I fortunately got the right combination of letters. I share Jackkt’s thoughts about the solution to EAST, wondering if I had missed something. Fortunately I knew Noriega’s nationality so that was a write in.
    I would have finished in under forty minutes if it hadn’t been for my LOI SYNONYM, but I eventually crossed the line in 41.32. I think it was tough enough for me to be satisfied with my time which was inside target anyway.

  28. 33 mins with lots of stop start but no complaints. The cluing was very fair. I guessed cleaver without working it out but having read the blog, I think that’s my COD.

  29. Solved by revisiting over the course of the day, each time getting appropriate penny drop moments. Enjoyed it. Knew DAPHNIS AND CHLOE from Ravel’s music rather than any other source.
    COD HYPER (nice surface)

    1. Likewise for me. Strange how it sometimes happens that way. Today I think I had maybe four visits at the end of which I’d done about a quarter of the puzzle. Then decided to take a last look for the day and polished off the rest in 10 minutes. No real idea what the total time was, but, assuming the grey cells were constantly grinding away in background, it’s about 8 or 9 hours.

  30. Made fairly good progress in 40 minutes, except for the SW corner which held me up for another 15 minutes and I still had a blind spot on RATING. No complaints about the cluing of 21ac. For 3dn I already had P_N in place and I thought we might be heading for something to do with pineapples until later checkers put me right.
    FOI – DERV (as I usually look out for these early on)
    LOI – (if I had found it) RATING
    Thanks to jackkt and other commentators.

  31. I was dreadfully tired today after a bad night and struggled with this after returning from work at midday. Eventually I went for a nap and the last 7 or 8 then fell fairly quickly, though I wouldn’t say I was on the setter’s wavelength. 10A from the Ravel, luckily, as my Classical knowledge is sketchy. But a check revealed that the story was actually written (by a Greek, Longus) during the 2nd C AD in the Roman Empire, as opposed to Ancient Greece – goodness knows how Ravel got hold of it…
    My LOI was SYNONYM, fooled by the gravy reference – should have recalled ‘gravy train’. Didn’t like CLEAVER or EAST. FUNFAIR was good. COD to BODEGAS, which held me up for ages.

  32. DNF – didn’t know anything about Noriega and so kept wanting to put in pyromaniac despite there being no r in the anagrist for the lovers – who I had absolutely no clue about- so threw in the towel with those 2 left.
    Was also bothered by a cleaver having edges plural. Surely it only has 1 sharp edge,

  33. All correct. A bit if a struggle, and HONEYMOONS I had to leave unsolved all afternoon. I had to check the Greek lovers on Google, and the economic policy was a new bit of knowledge too.
    I found this a slog.

  34. Generally enjoyable, but NHO ‘Dollar Diplomacy’ nor our Greek lovers, both clued only with an anagram.

  35. What a slog! DNF also…combo of oncoming cold (?), obscure clueing and lack of both classical knowledge and American fiscal policy. So found this hard work: had forgotten hob as a mischievous spirit, which is where my woes began, but did not end there. Gave up a third of the way down, and came here for the answers and reasoning. TIAD (tomorrow is another day).

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