Times Cryptic 28628


Solving time: 45 minutes.

Goodness me, what a lot of long clues today! No wonder it took me so long to solve as there was a lot of detail to unpack in the parsing. Those who were able to swiftly pinpoint the definitions will have had a great advantage here. I had all but four answers in 35 minutes but then ground to a halt and had to work hard for the remainder. TINPOT was my last one in.

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 Unqualified doctor bales out (8)
Anagram [doctor] of BALES OUT
6 Next to calm host when starters don’t appear (6)
{c}ALM + {h}OST [when starters don’t appear]
9 One’s performance needs backing of leading couple for capital (4)
SOLO (one’s performance) with its leading couple of letters reversed [backing] becomes OSLO
10 For suspect diverting us, it lists possible courses to take (10)
PRO (for), then SUSPECT with ‘US’ moving [diverting] becomes SPECTUS
11 Duty I had with waterway as one who ferries people (10)
TAX (duty), I’D (I had), RIVER (waterway)
13 Collected information at short notice? The reverse! (4)
AT + AD (short notice) reversed
14 Despondent county players (8)
DOWN (county), CAST (players)
16 Inferior tea, each put out, ready to serve? (6)
T{ea} [each put out], IN POT (ready to serve)
18 Poor friend facing test (6)
PAL (friend), TRY (test)
20 Honour, in general, person who’s supposedly never wrong (8)
OM (honour – Order of Merit), contained by [in] CUSTER (General). With reference the saying: The customer is always right.
22 Fruit that you wouldn’t expect to find in tree? (4)
A literal and a cryptic hint with reference to the kiwi bird being flightless
24 Republican’s opponent, single-minded type full of cunning (10)
MONIST (single-minded type) containing [full of] ARCH (cunning). SOED: monism – a theory or system of thought which recognizes a single ultimate principle, being, force, etc., rather than more than one.
26 Someone acting as priest casting stone in short tirade? (10)
ST (stone) contained by [in] MINI (short) + RANT (tirade). This took some constructing from wordplay.
28 A number of Germans  produced fiction (4)
Two slightly cryptic things going on here . LIED in German is a song, and in English a song may be known as a number. If you lie you make things up as does a writer of fiction.
29 Cold? Not even slightly so (6)
C (cold), HILLY (not even). The definition is reflexive, referring back to ‘cold’
30 Where typist can access letters in crucial committee (8)
KEY (crucial), BOARD (committee)
2 Steps taken by Brazilian leader — a star (5,4)
BOSS (leader), A, NOVA (star). The dance is a variation on the samba that originated in Brazil in the late 1950s.
3 Citizen from central England or fellow from Exeter, say (7)
A citizen of Oxford or a member of the University characterised here in the cryptic part of the clue as a fellow from Exeter College, Oxford.
4 Case that QC and JP are in, but not barristers (5)
Cryptic definition, and yet another clue referring to typing, printing and keyboards etc that we seem to have had a surfeit of recently, this being the second in this very puzzle.
5 Key part of Freudian analysis? Say nothing (3)
EG (say – for example), O (nothing)
6 Structure some text grasped by clever setter and solver (9)
PARA (some text) contained [grasped] by APT (clever) + US (setter and solver). I was a bit dubious about ‘apt/clever’ but Collins has it.
7 Old weapon academic found in ancient kingdom (7)
MACE (old weapon), DON (academic)
8 Arrest for dangerous action during shooting (5)
A literal, and a cryptic hint referring to film stunts
12 One’s surrounded by containers in part of Rome (7)
I (one) contained [surrounded] by VAT + CAN (containers)
15 Unbalanced state affected my mastery (9)
Anagram [affected] of MY MASTERY
17 Manoeuvre to reverse driving error (9)
Anagram [manoeuvre] of TO REVERSE
19 One appearing in case before or after five? It’s not important (7)
I (one) before V (five) contained by [appearing in] TRIAL (case), or if you prefer, the one can go after five
21 Play   game on board (7)
Two meanings, the second being a newer version of a strategy board game called Reversi. NHO it by either name but the play was enough on its own.
23 Husband standing below flag of European nation (5)
IRIS (flag), H (husband)
25 Hear again about something improved by conversion (5)
RE (about), TRY (something improved by conversion). A try in rugby is worth so-many points and it can be ‘converted’ to earn more points by subsequently kicking the ball through the top of the H.
27 Question repeated in Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Alaska (3)
Hidden repeatedly in Tex}AS K{ans}AS K{entucky and Al}ASK{a}

61 comments on “Times Cryptic 28628”

  1. Fun puzzle, TINPOT was also my last in. Had a few interruptions so did not record a time.

  2. 31 minutes. TINPOT and MINISTRANT were also my last two in. Done while waiting in the huge taxi queue at Heathrow. Another good puzzle in my opinion.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  3. TINPOT was also my last one in. Easier than yesterday, though I didn’t understand what “try” had to do with “conversion”—of course! Rugby!

  4. 12:54
    LOI none other than. I misread ‘fiction’ as ‘friction’ at 28ac, and wasted time seeing if eins/zwei etc. might connect with ‘rub’ (drei; rub with a towel?). Wondered at first about RETRY, but vaguely remembered ‘try’ in rugby, and thought that rugby might have a conversion like American football. I didn’t notice at the time, but the clues are rather long, aren’t they?

  5. TINPOT third-last in, just to break the run. Then another few minutes for APPARATUS and finally CUSTOMER, where the only general I could think of was Lee and the only person who’s always right is the pope.
    Liked it – CHILLY, TINPOT nice. Not so keen on NHO game othello (a brand name?); and the play is one I’m never sure if it has an H or not.

  6. 20 ac echoes the verdict on Custer at the end of the American series on the Civil War: “George Armstrong Custer went west too, carrying with him his belief in his own invincibility. In 1876 the Sioux and Cheyenne proved him wrong”.

    1. Readers of the Flashman books will be aware that against the odds, Flashman took part in the Battle of Little Big Horn, and survived it. His verdict on Custer was properly damning, and quite right too ..

  7. 42 minutes. A welcome change from the previous two weekday puzzles with few obscurities; I even remembered OTHELLO as a ‘game on board’. Needed all the checkers for MINISTRANT and had embarked on an alphabet trawl for my LOI STUNT before the intended sense of ‘Arrest’ appeared. I liked UPPER (easier than the UC bit of one of yesterday’s answers) and our trans-Tasman flightless feathered friend at 22a.

  8. Enjoyed this one very much, feeling in the zone and with no major delays until I found myself facing LOI -I-I-TRANT at 20m. Unaware that “stone” could be ST, I flailed around for a few minutes, finally entering a dumb guess in a fit of frustrated pique…
    …and it was correct.

    25:17, and plenty of time for a Somali brekkie before work – what’s not to like?

      1. Hi Brenk1

        The ingredients are
        – BEER (pronounced “bear” with the R rolled a bit) which is spiced fried liver with peppers
        – ANJERO – pancake-style flatbread – a bit like Ethiopian injera, but thinner and sweeter

        I happen to live close to Manchester’s Somali community and eateries, which offer this classic combination starting from 04:30AM (because so many Somalis are overnight cab drivers and shift workers). Have it as a treat when I finish the 15×15 earlier than usual. Yum!

  9. DNF. I took academic to be ACAD in 7D which had me looking for an ancient kingdom M_N to produce an old weapon. I took a guess at MACADON. Unlike yesterday where I felt that if I’d taken more time I’d not have managed CALLA anyhow, today I feel I could and should have got to MACEDON. Oh well, roll on tomorrow.

  10. … Their final blazon, and to prove
    Our almost-instinct almost true:
    What will survive of us is love.
    (An Arundel Tomb, Larkin)

    Under 20 mins pre-brekker. I thought it very gentle. Eyebrow flickers at ‘central’ England for Oxonian and clever=apt. Another with LOI being the tricky Tinpot.
    Ta setter and J.

    1. I think as Oxford is classified as Midlands – it’s certainly not south, so I felt it was OK.

  11. 11:07. Mostly straightforward but TINPOT and, my LOI, MINISTRANT took longest to come. I liked the ‘diverting us’ wordplay for PROSPECTUS. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  12. 29 minutes with LOI TINPOT. COD to BOSSA NOVA. I was a bit unsure about APT/CLEVER too but it worked. I’d no idea that OTHELLO was a game. It was certainly the first play ending in O to come to mind, and didn’t detain me long when no others did. A pleasant puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  13. After yesterday’s quintuple FAIL I was pleased to get the all clear at 21.20. A lot of that was down to biffer’s luck, there were so many that I could not parse (OXONIAN, APPARATUS, OSLO, TINPOT to name just a few) and I am deeply obliged to jackkt for explaining WTH was going on with all these and many more. In these circumstances I am reminded of Edmund Hillary, when asked about kooky claims that the missing George Mallory had beaten him to the Everest summit by a couple of decades. To conquer a mountain, he said, you have to get to the top and get back down again. It’s essentially the same with crosswords, it’s not just being right but knowing why. My LOI, KIWI, took me three annoying minutes.

  14. I liked EGO, but nearly wrote in MUM (until I got the checkers), which fits the clue almost as well.
    This felt more like. Monday puzzle, as I had it done in about 30 minutes.

    1. MUM was the first thing I wrote in. Although I wasn’t very sure about it even at the time.

    2. Me too. If Oedipus’ Mum/wife had had kept mum, Freud would’ve had nothing to hang one of his theories on.

  15. Normal service resumed after yesterday’s débâcle, 32 mins. Thanks to our blogger for enlightenment on several unparsed clues, OSLO, CUSTOMER, and OTHELLO, not knowing the board game. NHO MINISTRANT either but followed the wp.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  16. One major quibble. In Brazil bossa nova is a style of music. It is not a dance. The bossa nova dance as such was an American invention that lingers on in pap like Strictly Come Dancing.

    1. Collins says “a dance similar to the samba, originating in Brazil” .. which does let the setter off, whatever

      1. I appreciate that, but Collins- like Chambers – is still wrong, as Wiki will verify: “However, unlike samba, bossa nova has no dance steps to accompany it.”

  17. Put LIES for LIED and promptly CRIED, so a DNF here (sob).

    CHILLY made me genuinely chortle out loud on the train, so COD I guess.

  18. 21.24, rather spoilt by a typo. Must get my glasses fixed. I couldn’t work out what Exeter had to do with OXONIAN, briefly surmising that an Exeter was a sort of bovine, accounting for the ox and the fellow accounting for Ian. Perhaps I should watch more of the notoriously Oxbridge biased University Challenge. I also floundered around CHILLY, and I still think “not even” is a little odd for hilly. I did like TINPOT.

  19. 07:23
    With more than a minute spent on LOI TINPOT otherwise I’d have beaten my record. Lots of biffing and only really had to pause at MINISTRANT, STUNT and TINPOT. I used to play OTHELLO when it first came out (late 70’s?) but could never work out what was happening until the last few moves when it was too late to do anything about it.
    Unfortunately I failed to submit (FTS?) yesterday’s which I’d completed in about 21 minutes taking the entire length of my Central Line tube journey.

  20. An enjoyable workout, with no quibbles, though I claim no expertise on Brazilian music and dance. Agree about the length of the clues. Despite this, a lot of answers came surprisingly quickly, though I was held up again in the NE corner. 27 minutes overall.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  21. 14a DOWNCAST I had downbeat, not sure why, then corrected by misspelt 15d ASSYMETRY which messed up 18a PALTRY as the last letter is the Y not the extra S.
    Recovered from these bishes.
    I don’t like the KIWI answer as not being in a tree would be insufficient data to choose between fruits. I was thinking UGLI for a while. But there are few _I_I fruits so that is OK then I suppose.

    1. It’s true that the literal definition is vague, but even leaving aside checkers the clue has to be taken as a whole, and further information is given by way of the cryptic second part. The remaining 8 words are there for a reason so it needs thinking through.

  22. 19:10. Gentle start to the week. No unknowns or quibbles for once, though I wasn’t too convinced by OXONIAN being clued as someone from Oxford or, er, someone from Oxford.

  23. I liked this and took 31 minutes, but have to admit that I used a list of capitals because the obvious Oslo didn’t occur to me, and even went so far as to enter ‘bagidriver’ and look it up to see if it existed, which was very stupid. Apt/clever a bit of a stretch I thought, although if it’s in Collins then OK I suppose. The lengths of the clues didn’t strike me: when I checked it seemed they were all, except for one, of ten words or fewer, and that one was only of eleven words. I know that it’s nice if they’re really pithy, but none of these clues went on and on.

    1. In judging the length of clues I tend to go by the amount of space they take up on my printout. 13 of them stretch to a second line (including enumeration) and 11 others only just fail to do so. One might consider the length of words, not just the number of them.

      1. No doubt that’s a better method — I remember a setter I was talking to at a S&B once talking about the number of characters — but a word count is quicker and gives an impression.

  24. A good couple of mins on today’s happening clue TINPOT – even then I biffed it after an alphabet trawl – so thanks Jack for explaining that IN POT = ready to serve! Didn’t twig Exeter College, DNK APT = clever, MINISTRANT constructed. A fun puzzle.


  25. An enjoyable solve. I could not work out what Exeter had to do with 3d even though I am an alumnus of that college. Oslo used to be a city in Czechoslovakia.

  26. Enjoyed this. And I still think my first answer of MUM for 5dn is funnier, even if it doesn’t work as neatly. Pretty pleased with 8.03. At least I managed to submit it with the right button today.

    Thanks Jack and Setter.

  27. 27:44

    Used to play OTHELLO when it was known as Reversi on an IBM PC at sometime back in the 80s, so no problem there. Needed all checkers for MINISTRANT and APPARATUS (still not sure about APT = clever). Didn’t know MONIST either but what else could have surrounded ARCH with those checkers.

    Some unparsed though:
    OSLO – no idea what was going on
    KIWI – ditto
    OXONIAN – didn’t see the Exeter college link

    CUSTOMER took a long time to come to mind, then I was stuck in the NE with only PROSPECTUS written in. It took ALMOST to break the deadlock. LOI MACEDON. Liked TINPOT

    Thanks setter and Jack

  28. TRIVIAL. Had quickly parsed this as IV for 4 or VI for 6 ,both times each side of 5 but i now see it doesn’t parse correctly.

  29. As a rugby type I enjoyed retry.
    I wonder how many people including players know where the terms try and conversion originated?
    When rugby was a version of football you only were awarded points for the kick at goal. So the ‘try’ was the opportunity to ‘convert’ into a goal.
    I think.

  30. I struggled to get sarted with EGO, OSLO and TAXI DRIVER the only lonely filled squares for a while. Eventually made progress in the LHS but the RHS resisted my blandishments for some time. TINPOT yielded last of all. 24:16. Thanks setter and Jack.

  31. 28 mins. I’m sure we’ve had the same clue with TRIVIAL before somewhere. Guess what my LOI was?

    1. By coincidence I was only yesterday looking at a recent clue for TRIVIAL by Radian in the i, 2019 in the Independent, which used the same idea. Perhaps that’s where.

  32. ABSOLUTE was the first one I got
    Solved most of the rest like a shot
    Not DOWNCAST, I’m impressed
    ALMOST nothing was guessed
    And the last one I solved was TINPOT

  33. 27′ 48″
    Eased right down final furlong……
    …..because this TINPOT, BIRD-brained FRUITcake gawped at KIWI for a good 3′ seeing only the furry fruit not the bird.
    Compliments to the setter and Jack, I liked this a lot, and am chuffed to have parsed all whilst going along.
    Isn’t Exeter known as the Welsh college for some reason- it’s got a rather pleasing (neo?) Gothic chapel and I think it was Harold Wilson’s home as an undergrad.

  34. Just to be different, TINPOT was put in well before the end, once OVERSTEER went in, and I liked it a lot. My LOI was the simple PALTRY, but that was because I had stupidly misspelled ‘ASSYMETRY’, giving -A-T-S. I rather pride myself on my spelling – but I’ve noticed it’s much harder to spell correctly when writing downwards, so that if I make a mistake, it’s on those rather than across clues. I also liked the deceptively simple CHILLY and LIED. Couldn’t parse OSLO, and for 22A I had PINE until TRIVIAL hove into view, thinking the tree must be the definition and would be missing an ‘apple’. Well, it made sense to me… Another of those crosswords where half went straight in before a major slowdown for the rest.

  35. 45 minutes, like Jack, and I liked this puzzle a lot better than yesterday’s, though on reflection there may have been the same number of clues most of us didn’t really understand. But biffing worked wonders, today, and there were many very clever clues requiring careful reading (and careful thinking). TINPOT was my LOI, too, although I had the T at the beginning very early on. My OTHELLO began life ending in …GO (for the game), but the crossing H directed me to OTHELLO for the play and the game just disappeared. I liked the general in CUSTOMER and the cluing of US in APPARATUS. Oh, yes, and the many ASKs in the clue for that entry.

  36. I’ve been here there and everywhere today, and didn’t start this until late afternoon/early evening. Maybe a later start suits me because I finished this in 26.45, which by my standards is fairly nippy. I don’t think anything held me up to any great extent, and even my LOI APPARATUS was only delayed because I was initially unsure of the parsing. COD goes to TINPOT.

  37. 48m DNF as inserted TANNOY in desperation at 16ac. Connotations of tannin?! or T+ANNOY – put out the ea(ch) from tea and to put out is to annoy albeit that’s using “put out” twice and the answer is complete bullocks.

  38. 12.53. Very steady progress with no real hold ups. And no quibbles from me about today’s answers. Ministrant was a bit unusual but easily parsed.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  39. The college that Harold Wilson went to (the ‘Welsh’ college) was Jesus College not Exeter and Oxford is indeed in the South East not the Midlands, though ‘central England’ is technically fair enough I suppose. I got ‘teapot’ fairly early but I was stuck with 4 left, in part due to me putting in ‘ugli’ instead of ‘kiwi’!

    1. Thanks for the correction Lurker,
      But now I’m racking my brains as to whether it’s Jesus or Exeter that has the Gothic Chapel.

      1. Me too,
        Tried to shoehorn ugli in early on, but on returning there was another I.

  40. Gave it my standard hour and had 1 wrong (OXOLIAN) and 4 left (TINPOT, MINISTRANT which I later added) but gave up on CUSTOMER and OTHELLO. For some reason the latter wouldn’t come to me even though I knew the clue wanted the name of a play. It really is one of the better ones and with the final O, the name Iago which is one of the characters was swirling around my brain.

    Was never sure about OSLO, IRISH along with APPARATUS.

  41. Very much like L-Plates, struggled along for about the hour…no idea why I didn’t twig to the ‘doctor’ anagrist in 1a! Which put me squarely on the back foot- a bad start. A few then went in relatively easily, but a hasty MACHETE at 7d ( working on Mace being the ancient kingdom and ‘het’ being a word unknown by me for an academic. Oh dear) and a misspelling at 15d caused a lot of head-scratching over clues that should have been relatively simple: PALTRY etc. NHO MINISTRANT nor the game of OTHELLO, but should have guessed the latter from the word “Play” : so altogether not my finest hour!

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