Times Cryptic 28544


Solving time: 30 minutes. I was unsure of a couple of answers but they turned out to be right.

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 Plot prepared by criminals, leading to robbery at sea (10)
CONS (criminals), PIRACY (robbery at sea)
6 One who wrote of love endlessly, in detail at first (4)
{l}OV{e} [endlessly], I{n} + D{etail} [at first]
9 State having abandoned function backed a routine singing style (10)
COLORA{do} (state) [having abandoned function  – do / party], then A + RUT (routine) reversed [backed]
10 Republican overwhelmed by giant drink (4)
R (Republican) contained [overwhelmed] by GOG (Biblical giant)
12 Old fish market scandal over presentation of accounts? (12)
 ‘Old’ perhaps because it relocated in 1982, but it keeps the name so perhaps it’s not necessary to add the qualification.  The cryptic hint plays on the habit since ‘Watergate’ of adding the suffix -GATE to refer to almost any sort of scandal, in this case BILLINGS (presentation of accounts).
15 Expert in body of stories — first about cat (9)
ANA (stories) + 1ST (first) containing [about] TOM (cat)
17 Weapon used by bird of prey in brutal onslaught (5)
Hidden [in] {bru}TAL ON{slaught}
18 Capital husband invested in food retail outlet (5)
H (husband) contained by [invested in] DELI (food retail outlet)
19 Haggard chap with singular description of horse without jockey (9)
RIDER (Haggard – author), LES (chap), S (singular)
20 Unsettling experience involving lab specimens and wine (7,5)
CULTURES (lab specimens), HOCK (wine)
24 Man on board’s obscene material spoken of (4)
Sounds like [spoken of] “porn” (obscene material)
25 Various items: a lot seen around one’s place of confinement (10)
MANY (a lot) containing [seen around] I’S (one’s) + CELL (place of confinement)
26 Splendid introduction to radio — live (4)
R{adio} [introduction], ARE (live). I wasn’t sure of the synonym but the dictionaries have convinced me it’s fine.
27 Fine woollen cloth Irish found in Kentucky pool (10)
ERSE (Irish) contained by [found in] KY (Kentucky) + MERE (pool). NHO this but the wordplay was helpful so I’ve no complaints.
1 Audience’s drink finds clown! (4)
Sounds like [audience’s] “cocoa” (drink). Coco’s real name was Nicolai Poliakoff. He died in 1974, so not one for any youngsters around here perhaps?
2 It may be Blue or White, nothing else to begin with (4)
NIL (nothing), E{lse} [to begin with]
3 Stingy priest clutching the writer’s promissory notes (12)
PARSON (priest) containing [clutching] I’M (the writer’s), then IOUS (promissory notes)
4 Charge pounds to see a musteline mammal (5)
RATE (charge), L (pounds). I had no idea about ‘musteline’ but I knew the name of the creature. Mustelines also include weasels, stoats, mink and martens.
5 Working doctor with niece regularly wearing tiara (9)
Anagram [working] of DOCTOR N{i}E{c}E [regularly]
7 Poems about a sick French king’s palace (10)
VERSES (poems) containing [about] A + ILL (sick)
8 Followed loch, showing persistence (10)
DOGGED (followed), NESS (loch)
11 How obscure coteries all stray, ultimately? (12)
Anagram [obscure] of COTERIES ALL, then {stra}Y [ultimately]
13 Garden designer touches down with something that may be cut (10)
LANDS (touches down), CAPER (something that may be cut). To cut a caper is to act or behave playfully.
14 One sits out with everyone on river (10)
W (with), ALL (everyone), FLOWER (river). Originally a woman sitting out at a dance for lack of partners, but now more generally any person at a social function who receives no attention, or a shy or socially awkward person.
16 Curious airs displayed by chosen member of ancient ethnic group (9)
Anagram [curious] of AIRS, then ELITE (chosen)
21 Trick old copper in outskirts of Hastings (5)
O (old) + CU (copper) contained by [in] H{asting}S [outskirts]. I knew ‘hocus-pocus’ as a magic word so took on trust that ‘hocus’ could mean ‘trick’.
22 Church body a Welshman set up (4)
EVAN (Welshman) reversed [set up]. The nave is the main aisle or ‘body’ of a church.
23 Extremely happy and profitable promotion (4)
H{app}Y + P{rofitabl}E [extremely]

86 comments on “Times Cryptic 28544”

  1. Enjoyed this a lot.
    Decided to polish off the four-letter answers first, and use those for jumping-off points into the thick of things. I made rapid progress, slowing down only for the last few answers, and spending the most time piecing together the heretofore unknown—if not merely forgotten—KERSEYMERE.

  2. 14:28
    DNK ‘musteline’, of course; for that matter wasn’t sure what a RATEL was. ODE marks HOCUS as archaic; I knew it from Dickens in the sense ‘lace (a drink), give a Mickey Finn’. I wasted time on 27ac trying to get …KYMERE.

  3. 07:56 Having briefly owned a ferret, and for a much longer time had a scar from its bite, I knew about musteline. Thankfully took a pause to parse “kelseymere”, giving me the right answer.

  4. A 26 minute DNF. A silly “brig” at 10a, thinking it may be some sort of ‘drink’. At least I learnt about KERSEYMERE.

    1. I thought of BRIG right away, and spent some time wondering if there were such a drink before going to the alphabet, where luckily G comes early.

    2. Exactly the same mistake here – DNF after 30 mins with BRIG instead of GROG, which is inexcusable for a retired Naval officer. I knew the maritime jail meaning obviously, and sailors do have a plethora of names for drink, both the grog type and for the sea, and just assumed that brig could be one of them. Otherwise, it was all easy enough except KERSEYMERE, which was close enough to CASHMERE to ting a faint bell.

  5. DNF. Not knowing KERSEYMERE I went for KERSEYLAKE. This left me with the church body as IADA, with Dai as the Welshman, hoping that the body was some sort of organisation, like RADA. The pink squares were no surprise!

      1. Me too. Evan wouldn’t come to mind. I also didn’t get COLORATURA. Once I’d arrived at California, I found I couldn’t leave it. All the rest done in less than 15 mins.

        1. I think a few of us took that route, AV1. Channelling the Eagles there :))

  6. 19 minutes, held up by KERSEYMERE and COLORATURA, my last two in and painfully constructed when previously a sub 10 was beckoning. COD to WALLFLOWER. This was mainly straightforward apart the two that weren’t! Thank you Jack and setter.

    1. Exactly the same experience here, held up – and ultimately defeated! – by the two NHOs, COLORATURA and KERSEYMERE, despite the rest going in swimmingly. I shall have to Google those, add them to my dictionary-sized list of NHOs, and promptly forget them.

  7. Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim.

    12 mins pre-brekker. NHO Kerseymere, but even that was tweezy.
    Ta setter and J.

  8. 25m 54s I found this enjoyable. My only NHO was KERSEYMERE but the checkers got me there. Curiously I can’t find the word in either of my main online resources, Collins and Chambers, but it is in dictionary.com

      1. I didn’t spot that I had ‘thesaurus’ underlined and not ‘ English dictionary’.

      1. The online Chambers is not the same as the dictionary. The app is the same as the latter. All these different versions are quite confusing!

        1. I can’t cope with chambers online; I only have the full paper version, not only comprehensive but also reassuringly heavy. If you hit someone with it, they don’t get up .. 🙂

          1. The app is the same, and a bit handier for doing Mephisto while travelling!

          2. Sounds like part of a plot for an episode of ‘Morse’ or ‘Endeavour’!

  9. 8:28 but 1 wrong…. I should have known BRIG wasn’t a drink. Like others, NHO KERSEYMERE but the wordplay was clear.

  10. Quick today, but a nice crossword with some very neat clues, some good surfaces.
    Nho the usual suspects, kerseymere and musteline, but both clues still eminently solvable. Ratel is another name for the honey badger.
    Nile can be green, as well as blue or white … 🙂
    When I was 12 I was taken to see Bertram Mills’ Circus in Arrow Park, Birkenhead, which included Coco the clown and Charlie Cairoli, just as famous at the time. Even at that age they didn’t seem very funny to me; but I did love the animals ..
    When the Billingsgate market moved out to Poplar the old Victorian building by the Thames was acquired by my employer and used as a standby data centre and offices, in case of (say) a bomb going off in Bishopsgate.. the only time we ever used it for its intended purpose.

    1. This sort of thing used to be amazingly common. I was involved with a company many years ago that had it’s ‘disaster recovery’ centre a few hundred yards from the main office, heading in the direction of the City. It was too much effort and expense to move it somewhere a bit less daft.

      1. I was told at one of the companies I worked for that their offsite data storage was at Iron Mountain, which sounded reassuringly out in the boonies, possibly in Middle-earth. It was only much, much later that I realised that that was the name of the actual firm, which could well have been just down the street.

      1. And interesting example of the capitalisation rule. The surface would have worked better without capitals but that’s verboten because ‘blue Nile’ isn’t a Thing.

          1. Fair point but then that doesn’t fit the grammar of the clue (because ‘Nile’ on its own isn’t used to indicate a colour and anyway there’s no such thing as Nile white).

    2. I was brought up just down the road from Arrowe Park, the site also of the third World Scout Jamboree. Small world.

  11. I found this rather too easy to be likeable. 30 mins approx, which is v quick for me. I hope that doesn’t sound too arrogant. There were too many write-ins, and definitions which weren’t well-enough hidden. E.g. having a couple of crossers I wrote in Billingsgate almost without reading the cryptic part. Though I tripped up on NAVE, initially trying APSE (Ap I believe more or less equates to ‘Mc’ in Welsh names), but Miscellany soon put that right.
    Thanks nonetheless to all concerned.

  12. Very fast 7:44.

    Was even faster until I hit KERSEYMERE which I wanted to start JERSEY. Luckily I had all the checkers and the cryptic was straightforward. Entered with fingers crossed and glad to see no pink square.

  13. 11:13. I wouldn’t call this very difficult but I had to pay very close attention in several places not to end up with a pink square:
    – very tempted by BRIG
    – KERSEYMERE constructed from wordplay and a leap of faith
    – close examination of anagrist to avoid CORONATED
    – thinking IADA looked sufficiently unlikely not to put it in on first pass
    On top of all that I found on checking my answers (which in the circumstances I did carefully) that I had typoed PARSOMONIOUS/BOLLINGSGATE so all in all this felt like a narrow escape.
    I’m familiar with the mustelids and the ratel/honey badger (a regular visitor to crosswordland) but didn’t know that the latter was one of the former.

  14. About 15 minutes. Like others I considered ‘brig’ before going for GROG, and I relied on the wordplay for the unknown KERSEYMERE – no problem with the ‘mere’ part as I already had NAVE. Also spent a while trying to justify ‘navy’ for 2d (thinking the definition was just ‘It may be blue’) before figuring out NILE, and only then did I get the tricky COLORATURA.

    FOI Ovid
    LOI Grog
    COD Culture shock

  15. All done bar KERSEYMERE in only 20 mins, but NHO it and didn’t have time to work on the wordplay to figure it out. Might not have got there. RIDERLESS was easy but still enjoyed it.

  16. I must have seen KERSEYMERE before – Mephisto or AZED probably – but it was still SLOI. A chocolate eclair puzzle – delightful but quickly over.

    TIME 6:27

  17. No problems until I came up against KERSEYMERE, of which I’d never heard, but the wordplay was kind enough. CORONETED struck me as an odd word (although now I look at it perhaps it isn’t); and musteline was only a vague indication to me, but it must have appeared before because I got RATEL quite quickly. Took HOCUS on trust because of hocus-pocus. 22 minutes.

  18. Reasonable effort at 14:19, but a BRIG from me spoiled it somewhat. When I saw the pink squares, GOG the giant sprang immediately to mind. Oh well.

    The NHO KERSEYMERE was OK to construct, because I’d already picked the correct Welshman.



  19. 20:19
    Enjoyed this.
    A few gimmes, e.g. NAVE and DELHI, two new words, KERSEYMERE and musteline, and some witty cluing, e.g CULTURE SHOCK and BILLINGSGATE.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  20. I whipped through this one very swiftly by my standards finishing in 21.20, but with two big question marks against two unknowns. The first turned out to be ok with KERSEYMERE, but my LOI 9ac was wrong where I ventured COLORETORA as the singing style. Never mind, better luck tomorrow!

  21. Everything that Keriothe said above, bar the typos – I write mine in, but so nearly left CORONATED! I was slightly disappointed with this puzzle. The first few were so simple as to be straight out of the quickie, but the later ones that required more thinking through still didn’t give that delightful PDM – the clues were often poor surfaces (1D) and many long ones went in on reading the first couple of words. Obviously NHO KERSEYMERE, but it went in anyway, so finished in a quick time and all correct.

  22. Same as others, quick solve with the LOI KERSEYMERE from the wordplay alone; even Mrs piquet had never heard of it. 21 minutes.
    NILE was a good clue, and I agree as above, it can be a green colour but there is no Green Nile.

  23. A pleasant 17 minutes worth, though some answers came without too much thought required. Like others, NHO KERSEYMERE but the clueing was helpful. Like Wil I was rather puzzled by CORONETED, but you can’t really argue with an anagram.
    FOI – GROG
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  24. Thought I’d done well at 18 mins only to find that COLORATORA isn’t a thing. Well I wasn’t to know, it fitted the cryptic…
    Was tempted by BRIG until GOG appeared, and my LOI was RARE, but I suppose that in some RARE cases it can mean SPLENDID.

    1. ‘Time has told me, you’re a rare rare find. A troubled cure for a troubled mind’

  25. 18:39
    I spent far too long trying to decide whether DEHLI or DHELI looked correct, until I decided to wait for 14d, which proved to be a good strategy.

  26. Identical time to yesterday’s – 23 minutes. KERSEYMERE was unfamiliar, and COLOTURA is tricky to spell, otherwise few problems. Enjoyable clues.

  27. 10’02” with few issues.

    I don’t think I’ve ever written the word COLORATURA before, but knew how to say it. Nearly entered BRIG in hope, but reason prevailed. Am doing Latin so knew that mustela is Latin for weasel – but also knew RATEL, honey badger, remembered not least because it has so many anagrams.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  28. NHO the fabric and I’d forgotten about ERSE being Irish (and also ANA bring stories). I got COLORATURA wrong as I was convinced it started with CALI- wrong state.
    We go again tomorrow

    1. I should have got 9a- it features in a ‘Thomas the tank engine’ video, which I watched many times with my son.

  29. I followed Guy’s tactic and solved the 4 letter clues first, so MERE was the obvious ending for 27a. Needed the wordplay and crossers for the rest of it though. BRIG was my first thought for 10a but was quickly discarded and GROG soon came to mind. COLORATURA was a late entry but rang a faint bell and the wordplay was helpful for the spelling. KERSEYMERE was LOI. 19:03. Thanks setter and Jack.

  30. 25:45 but with one wrong. I’d had my fingers crossed when I pressed submit, but that was for KERSEYMERE, and it was OK. like others, I had written in CORONATED but, unlike some others, I left it there

  31. No real problems today. Brig didn’t work but grog wasn’t long following. Ratel went in from wordplay. NHO coloratura and it took some working out for my LOI.

  32. That was quite annoying because at 20 mins I had all but 9ac (NHO KERSEYMERE but gettable from the clue) and even had the TURA bit of (NHO) COLORATURA but ended up just typing in random letters till it came out. Came her to find how it worked, COLORA-DO, well of course…

  33. 18:43. Same experience as others with the fine cloth and the inverted Welshman, narrowly avoiding something something lake at the last minute.

  34. 20:31

    Slowed down after 11 mins or so for the last half-dozen – eventually spotted that doctor was part of the anagrist, giving CORONETED and COLORATURA which led to ANATOMIST, ISRAELITE and the unheard-of KERSEYMERE. Amazing how one answer can lead to the rest tumbling in quick succession.

    Thanks setter and Jack.

  35. I really enjoyed this as it was on the easier side of the scale, but still a good mental workout with a couple of NHOs and some lovely, clever clues – 12, 19 and 20 across made me chuckle. Needed divine intervention for KERSEYMERE though, don’t judge me ha. 16 a – sadly “meearsarealight” wouldn’t fit haha.

  36. On the whole, I had no trouble with this one and it didn’t take long at all – I don’t time them, but it was around 20 minutes. LOI was ‘KERSEYMERE’, which I have never heard of and, unusally for me, solved purely from the wordplay, made easier by having every other letter filled in by then.

  37. OK, at less than an hour, this counts as another easy one, but still challenging enough when you are wet behind the ears when it comes to the 15×15. I was particularly pleased to get the nhos Kerseymere and Coloratura, especially as I could parse both of them. In fact the parsing side (that would be the right 😉) went really well, with Ana, Ratel and Rider remembered from previous puzzles. My only difficulty was not knowing cut the caper – I did think the reference to pruning a caper bush was a bit weak. . . Invariant

  38. A wavelength thing undoubtedly today for me but Hurrah! After all these years finally broke 11m at 10.56. A PB some 8 years or so after the previous one. Thank you, setter and Jack.

  39. This was not my favourite puzzle.

    Largely straightforward, but then you have a relative obscurity like kerseymere crossing with a name.

    I was in the camp of those who went for Kerseylake, since “a Welshman set up” seemed to justify the a. Why don’t I like this? Because I just have a thing about names.

    The Les in riderless being a classic example. So the clue is very very straightforward, but then you have this random chaps name.

    And I have taught many an Evan over the years, not one of whom was Welsh. I get bored with Ian denoting a Scotsman too.

  40. A new on if 13:02 except for a typo on coloratura- I’m having it anyway 😊 everything flew in today and thought I was on for a sub 10 until held up by Israelite / kerseymere

    I liked the surface of billingsgate so I’ll give that COD.

    Thx j and setter

  41. As I wrote in BILLINGSGATE, Michael Portillo took me there on one of his journeys (Yesterday Channel this lunchtime; probably repeated this evening). But he was no help with KERSEYMORE, unknown but worked out via the cryptic.
    My solve was either side of a visit to the dental hygienist. I am being taught how to use a toothbrush.
    LOI was COLORATURA. I knew it was a word, but not the meaning.
    I remember disaster recovery centres and plans. Had to do it for real once, when Tiger Tiger and the surrounding area was roped off by the police (near Piccadilly).

  42. This was very easy (26 minutes or so), despite KERSEYMERE and the traps at 22dn (but the E of NAVE gave me the MERE in KERSEYMERE) and 10ac (BRIG was tempting, but not a drink). I would have preferred a bit more misdirection and wit in the clues. By the way, my online premium OED says the name KERSEYMERE is a variant of CASHMERE, so that’s where it came from.

  43. 11.30 , my fastest for a while. Like most others didn’t have a notion about Kerseymere but it was fairly clued.

    Nice fun puzzle so thanks setter and blogger.

  44. Easy puzzle even for a newbie to the 15X15 like me. Never heard of kerseymere but the parsing was very clear.
    Never did parse Ovid properly but did remember Latin lessons where he was thought to be rather racy and not quite suitable for tender ears .

  45. All going brilliantly, with a time of 13’57”, but I had to go and wreck it with COLORATORA. With ROTA for routine, instead of RUT. I knew it looked wrong! Otherwise totally straightforward.

  46. I also had to guess at HOCUS from hocus-pocus and convinced myself that BRIG must be some kind of drink from its nautical association. NHO KERSEYMERE. I was going to grumble about the American spelling of CORONETED but I was wrong on that too. For all that I polished it off quite quickly and thought it was a good puzzle. Thanks for the blog!

  47. I went to VERSAILLES yesteryear
    And DELHI, which wasn’t so near
    The NILE was alright
    I’ve seen an ISRAELITE
    But BILLINGSGATE market? No fear!

    1. Not a fan of fish either, AstroNowt? (“Neither the birds of the air, nor the fish of the sea…”) 🤔

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