Times Cryptic 28550

Solving time: 46 minutes


A steady solve for the most part with only one answer unknown to me – the pipe at 28ac – but since it was a hidden answer it delayed me hardly at all. One other answer was biffed as the wordplay meant  nothing to me until I looked it up afterwards. Most enjoyable.

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 Warning to dispose of uranium particle that’s charged (6)
CA{u}TION (warning) [dispose of uranium]
4 Not mandatory to answer, OK? (8)
If a question is ‘not mandatory to answer’ it is PASS-ABLE
9 Look into doctor, say — that’s nice to hear (7)
LO (look) contained by [into] MEDIC (doctor, say)
11 Appetiser and dessert — rest is sent back outside unfinished (7)
RES{t} [unfinished] and reversed [sent back] containing [outside] TART (dessert)
12 Very large award set to be reduced (5)
OBE (award –  Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), then SE{t}[reduced]
13 Muscle into a capital place for water sports (9)
QUAD (muscle) contained by [into] A + ROME (capital)
14 Route requiring soft touch to enter ferry harbour at first (6,4)
LIGHT PAT (soft touch) contained by [to enter] F{erry} + H{arbour} [at first]
16 Member steps under the bar briefly? (4)
LIMB{o} (steps – dance – under the bar) [briefly]
19 Excursion in direction of ancient city (4)
TO (in direction of), UR (ancient city)
20 Carriage left chaps in debt, with billions lost (10)
PORT (left) + MEN (chaps) contained by [in] DE{b}T [billions lost]
22 Maybe try to get gold coat for ship? (9)
MINE (maybe try to get gold), LAYER (coat)
23 Inspector concerned with craft heading the wrong way (5)
RE (concerned with), then SUB (craft) reversed [heading the wrong way]. The inspector features in a series of books by Ian Rankin.
25 Superhuman kid playing with Lego (7)
Anagram [playing] of KID LEGO
26 Essence of chapter missing from long book (7)
EPI{c} TOME (long book) [chapter missing]
27 Notices a flailing paddler (8)
Anagram [flailing] of NOTICES
28 Smokes his hash partially with this? (6)
Hidden in [partially] {smoke}S HIS HA{sh}. Alternatively called a ‘hookah’.
1 Stop using computers? Don’t be ridiculous! (4,3,2)
COME OFF (stop using), IT (computers)
2 Still ignoring limits of French and Spanish accent (5)
{s}TIL{l} [ignoring limits], DE (of in French). Should have been a write-in, but I needed the wordplay to remember it.
3 Brave to not open shop outside hotel in part of city (3,5)
{b}OLD (brave) [to not open], DELI (shop) containing [outside] H (hotel)
5 Scouts, as a rule, messed up part of basic training (7,6)
Anagram [messed up] of SCOUTS AS A RULE
6 Search with detective, Norwegian, say (6)
SCAN (search), DI (Detective Inspector). This is listed as ‘informal’ in Collins but has come into popular usage in recent years when referring to Scandinavian novels, often detective fiction, and TV adaptations of them. The correct word as advised by SOED should be Scandian, or less commonly Scandic.
7 Strip vehicle of sports equipment and phone (9)
BAT (sports equipment), MOBILE (phone). A great definition with reference to cartoon strips in which the hero first appeared.
8 Spooky European lake (5)
E (European), ERIE (lake). A windfall from the chestnut tree across the border in QC Land perhaps?
10 Rue cooking cheesy samples? (6-7)
Anagram [cooking] of CHEESY SAMPLES. ‘Rue’ as in the French word for street.
15 Ancient creature‘s fertilizer held by one academic (9)
GUANO (fertilizer) contained [held] by 1 (one) + DON (academic)
17 Two bachelors embracing the short lady — that’s David’s wife! (9)
BA + BA (two bachelors of arts) containing [embracing] TH{e} [short] + SHE (lady)
18 US college groups picked up kind of marine creature (8)
FRATS (US college groups) reversed [picked up], then -ISH (kind of). Bunged in from definition and checkers as I hadn’t remembered the American slang for student fraternities.
21 A large tree from the mountains (6)
A, L (large), PINE (tree)
22 Tricks graduate with dodgy CGI (5)
MA (graduate), then anagram [dodgy] of CGI
24 Shows a yellow card to rugby players hiding ball (5)
BOKS (South African rugby players – short for Springboks) containing [hiding] O (ball)

57 comments on “Times Cryptic 28550”

  1. Never parsed STARFISH or MINELAYER (duh!) but BATMOBILE was worth the price of admission on its own. 21’

  2. This went so smoothly that it was very frustrating to come up at the very end against the crossing of REBUS (wordplay clear, definition obscure) and BOOKS (rugby!). But I eventually worked it all out.

    SCANDI was a new one!

    1. REBUS as Inspector is not obscure on this side of the pond. There are 24 books in the series published 1987-1922 and some of them have been adapted for TV.

  3. 29 minutes. I had no idea of the parsing for STARFISH and was fortunate to pick the correct ‘muscle’ for 13a, otherwise the unfamiliar AQUADROME (there’s a big one in Basingstoke according to Google) would have held out for a while. I’ve read a bit of SCANDI noir crime fiction but it was a bit too cosy for me.

    Zap! Pow! I agree with ulaca about BATMOBILE.

    Thanks to Jack and setter

  4. 16:40. I had a couple unparsed on submission – MINELAYER and STARFISH but I was fairly confident that nothing else fitted the checkers (though out of curiosity I checked afterwards and man-slayer, monolayer and startish fitted). I also couldn’t see the definition of BATMOBILE – very good setter!
    On a related note, I’ve been doing the Listener crossword for 2 or 3 years now and last Friday’s was by far the easiest I’ve come across, taking around an hour to finish where often they can take me all weekend. So if anyone fancied giving it a go but was put off by its opacity, this is the puzzle for you!

  5. No time, as I did most of this in a hospital waiting room, waiting (duh).
    Inspector REBUS appeared here once not too long ago, and I actually remembered him; thinking of the Reeboks took a lot longer, as did accepting the definition. I used to have a hookah, but NHO SHISHA. Also DNK SCANDI, my LOI. I finally thought of MOBILE for phone, and from that it was a short step to BAT, and another step to see how BATMOBILE actually worked; brilliant, COD of course.

      1. Thanks, it did; a semi-annual CT scan showing no signs of anything interesting.

  6. 12:08 – loved this, an easier crossword but full of lovely clues. I enjoyed FLIGHT PATH particularly. Thanks for parsing STARFISH for me!

      1. Point taken, but it’s rather too literal for a cryptic crossword. All the source dictionaries use the word ‘street’ in defining ‘avenue’ e.g. Collins – a broad street, often lined with trees, and Chambers – a wide and handsome street; used in street names generally. ‘Rue’ serves two purposes here, one of which is to indicate the location as France.

  7. 37 minutes with RHS much harder than LHS for me. LOI STARFISH was a biff. I wouldn’t have thought of FRATS until the cows came home. SHISHA was unknown too. POI was BATMOBILE, which is my COD.. A game of two halves, as Gary Lineker will be saying again. Thank you Jack and setter.

  8. 38 minutes with my LOI OLD DELHI taking 15 minutes, sigh
    Yes the Batmobile made me smile and was my last but one. Also NHO AQUADROME but not hard to work out. I’m a fan of the Rebus books so that was easy (he’s in court on trial for murder at the end of the last one…)

  9. 19′, very enjoyable.

    BATMOBILE LOI, nice clue.

    No trouble with REBUS, most memorably played by Ken Stott. Books set in Edinburgh, highly recommended.

    BATHSHEBA was David’s third wife.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  10. The same that oft-times hath
    Charm’d Magic casements, opening on the foam
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
    (Ode to a Nightingale, Keats)

    20 mins mid-brekker. NHO Shisha. LOI Starfish which it had to be, but which took some parsing.
    Thanks setter and J.

  11. 28 mins so definitely on the WL today. Last two in IGUANODON and MINELAYER (if there’s a minesweeper, there must be a minelayer, right?) held me up a bit. Luckily SHISHA was a hidden, as Jack says, as I didn’t know it either.

    I really liked BATMOBILE and CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES of course!

    Thanks Jack and setter. Very enjoyable.

  12. 13:14. I don’t think I’ve come across SHISHA but it had to be. No problems with 23A – I’m reading a REBUS novel at the moment. LOI AQUADROME. I liked GODLIKE and PASSABLE but COD to BATMOBILE. Nice one. Thanks setter and Jackkt.

  13. started well, 1 dn being a gift. Biffed a few (shisha?) but never got Batmobile and kicked myself for it. Champs Elysees took a while (rue threw me) but COD for me. Thanks setter and blogger.

  14. Chapeau to the setter for some cracking surfaces and the best definition for many a moon in ‘strip car’. I also really enjoyed FLIGHT PATH and MINELAYER when the pennies finally dropped. If you have to go to Dubai (would anyone go if they didn’t have to?) most cafés and many restaurants offer shishas for customer use – annoying if you are at the next table because they reek. Thoroughly enjoyable without scaring the horses and all done in under the half hour, which is very quick for me. Thanks Jack for elucidating me on NHO Rebus and teasing out all the ruses.

  15. Quick again today, and no nhos. Doha is full of shishas. They also call them something else, but I forget what; which means it will appear in a crossword shortly ..
    Ah, remembered: narghile. There are also hookahs and hubble-bubbles

  16. DNF – my first entry into the OWL club for a while, with a stupid ‘iguanadon’ rather than IGUANODON. I have a feeling I’ve got that wrong before as well.

    For some reason I parsed SHISHA as an anagram – indicated by ‘smokes’ (is that an acceptable anagrind?) – of ‘his has’ (‘his hash’ partially) rather than the straightforward hidden it clearly was.

    I had to trust that a CATION is a particle and I didn’t see how STARFISH worked, but otherwise this was a gettable and enjoyable puzzle, so thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Batmobile

  17. Super puzzle, whizzed through in 14 minutes until left with the old city at 3d, for which nothing sprang to mind for a while; time to go out, so came here so see. Loved the BATMOBILE and was familiar with the Rankin oeuvre. Thanks for explaining STARFISH jackkt.

  18. 24:03

    Very enjoyable puzzle. COD is a toss-up between CHAMPS ELYSEES and BATMOBILE. I like REBUS, both the clue and the cop but I do think it’s a bit niche. CATION and IGUANODON are both new to me.

    Thanks to the setter and Jack , particularly for explaining STARFISH.

  19. Holy Iguanodon, Batman! It’s unfortunate that I spell it Iguanadon. And I think I made the same mistake the last time the dinosaur appeared, which was more recently than 140 million years ago. I ended up deep in the guano.
    Wasn’t Batsheba Batman’s third wife?
    17:57 ruined by a pink dinosaur.

  20. 10:25. I started slowly on this, then sped up, then slowed down again at the end. My last two in were FLIGHT PATH, where I thought soft touch was just PAT, and the CHAMPS ELYSEES. ‘Rue’ seems a bit reductive as a definition for that particular thoroughfare!
    I have fallen into the trap enough times to remember that I don’t know how to spell this particular dinosaur so I handled the GUANO carefully.
    Very nice puzzle.

  21. 44 minutes with IGUANADON, which I’m sure isn’t the first time I’ve made that mistake. I’d never heard of an AQUADROME, but knew it would be something along the lines of astrodome. Nor the SHISHA, but pretty obvious.

  22. 29 mins. Stared at the letters for the Rue clue for a long time before the eureka moment, good clue. Yes, I had IGUANADON last time round, but fortunately remembered it. No idea about FRATS so I just bunged it in.

  23. A funny mixture of very easy and rather tricky. I raced through half of it, then found myself becalmed. Never did parse MINELAYER, so thanks for that. They slowly fell into place with BATMOBILE as my LOI and the big smile of the day.

  24. 17:37 with another IGUANADON – annoying as I could have parsed it from the cryptic if I had bothered to check. Mystified by STARFISH until coming here but cottoned on to the excellent BATMOBILE just before submitting. Great puzzle and good to be reminded to be humble about the many words I think I know how to spell but actually don’t.

  25. Started well with 1ac, then failed to get on the wavelength until I hit the down clues. I hoped the long anagrams would give me some help, but the answers were well disguised. All very clever. Found STARFISH but did not parse it correctly as I thought the first part was just a homophone (picked up) for STAFF, which sounds a bit like a College group, even if it is not exclusive to the US. So thanks for sorting that out for me. I was nearly done but was held up for ages by BATMOBILE, which took my total time to 27 minutes. Another very smart clue.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  26. 17:03

    Managed to skirt the IGUANODON trap (A or O as sixth letter) making decent progress around the grid. Some unparsed and one unknown:


    FLIGHT PATH – saw the F and H, otherwise from definition
    DEPORTMENT – got the MEN part only
    MINELAYER – no idea what was going on here
    STARFISH – managed the ISH part only

    LOI: BATMOBILE after a lengthy pause, and suddenly MOBILE (phone, of course, doh!) popped into my head.

    Very good, setter. Thanks Jack

  27. Everything went in pretty smoothly until I got to Batmobile. In the end the definition was much harder to grasp than the simple parsing. Thanks all.

  28. Lovely puzzle. BATMOBILE and CHAMPS ELYSEES both worth the price of admission! Was glad SHISHA was a hidden. From TILDE to BOOKS in 20:48. Thanks setter and Jack.

  29. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you for parsing BATMOBILE and STARFISH- my last two in- as I entered them on the grid with fingers crossed!

  30. Not timed, but thoroughly enjoyable and all parsed. COD is a toss-up between batmobile and starfish for me. For some reason I had difficulty remembering the order of the last four letters in Champs Elysees, but got there eventually.

  31. 50.21 PB! I rarely tackle these and they usually take me days. STARFISH was unparsed. After an Easter holiday day trip to an AQUADROME forty years ago they are associated in my mind with drizzle. The answer still took ages. Last two in were OLD DELHI and OBESE.

  32. There I was, staring blankly at 10d, thinking “Well, “rue” only means one thing, unless they mean a French street-” Bosh! PDM Right between the eyes! 😀 Clue of the Month haha

    1. For what it’s worth ‘rue’ also means two things in English: to regret and a type of plant.

  33. 13.05

    On the quick side for me

    I sometimes wonder whether my memory is better than my ability at solving these things as the many previous comments about the misspelling of the dino immediately sprang to mind

    Otherwise an excellent fun puzzle with two stand-outs. The RUE edged it pour moi. Formidable!

    Thanks all

  34. Solved a few then went for a bracing seaside walk, with the waves crashing against the rocks. After that the rest fell into place. The only Basthsheba I knew was Miss Everdean but it was the only name I could think of with 2 bs in the right places.

  35. I enjoyed this one, and I was on the right wavelength finishing well inside target at 33.15. I initially wrote in IGUANADON, but took the trouble to carefully check the parsing and got it right before stopping the clock. Like others, failed to parse STARFISH but was confident of the answer. LOI was my COD which was BATMOBILE.

  36. Quite pleased to finish this one, given some of my struggles in the SE. No idea how Starfish parsed, but given the crossers it just had to be. Likewise Starter. Batmobile and Flight Path were good, but I prefer Epitome for CoD, possibly because it took me a lot longer to see what was going on. Invariant

  37. 13.50 so a bit more switched on than yesterday.Relieved to see starfish was right as I hadn’t worked out the frats bit. Other than that, unremarkable but enjoyable.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  38. 25 minutes which is good for me. I also had to biff “Starfish” – shouldn’t have been necessary as I was on holiday in Spain last week and saw many cathedral/church references to “Cofrades” = brotherhoods/fraternities = frats.
    Agree with the many comments about this being a very enjoyable puzzle.

  39. Too difficult for me – gave up a bit early when I knew that I would never have heard of 1a and could only think of Lento for 1d. So no Arabic or Tabooed.
    15 minutes and a big DNF – grrr
    Thanks all

  40. Very enjoyable puzzle- not least because I was to follow instructions on how to spell IGUANODON and BATHSHEBA, both of which I would have spelt differently!! Thanks for explaining STARFISH and my LOI with fingers crossed- MINELAYER- which was hindered with my lack of certainty as to the spelling of ELYSEES!
    But enjoyed nonetheless so thanks setter and blogger.

  41. 20:49 early this evening. I found this puzzle testing and struggled with several clues.
    A couple of biffs (22 ac “minelayer” and 18 d “starfish”) led to what was an unsatisfying solve from my poit of view. Credit to setter for stretching me all over the place!
    LOI 7 d “batmobile” had me stymied for what seemed ages – talk about a PDM!
    Several potential CODs – 7d, 10 d “champs elysees” and I liked the surface of 17 d “Bathsheba”.
    Thanks to setter and to Jack for his blog and elucidations.

  42. 20 minutes or so but with a misspelled IGUANADON. Truth is I can never remember either whether it’s GUANO or GUANA. Some lovely clues, especially the BATMOBILE.

  43. No problem with SHISHA having puffed on one, it’s one of the tourist rights of passage in Cairo. But could only guess the dreadful STARFISH. Thanks for the blog.

  44. Lots to like in this delight of a puzzle, with my CODs being BATMOBILE (lovely PDM) and CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES ( very good surface, considering many cheesy Croque Monsieur are served in the roadside cafes there!). Started very badly with an unknown CATION (not a scientist) holding me up ( even though I’d thought of caution it didn’t look likely!), but the easy 1d helped there. Once I had a foothold, off and running, but STARFISH, BOOKS and REBUS held me up ( but well acquainted with the Ian Rankin books). NHO MINELAYER, SHISHA , but both generously clued. Thanks Jack and clever setter.

  45. assault course appeared in the Sunday puzzle printed in yesterday’s Australian, so a write in from near coincidence. Thanks for the elucidation of strip car (forehead slap). Enjoyed being reminded of the excellent Rebus tv show.

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