Times Cryptic 28670


Solving time: 31 minutes

I found this quite easy to solve but several clues required some careful thinking through when I came to write the blog.

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 Accra poorly placed as capital (7)
Anagram [poorly placed] of ACCRA, then AS. Capital of Venezuela.
5 Deceive rogues, netting £500 (7)
SWINE (rogues) containing [netting] D (500) + L (£). I wondered if there should be a reversal indicator for L D here, but concluded that in speech £500 translates as ‘five-hundred pounds’ (D, L) in which case the abbreviations are correctly placed for insertion.
9 Cooked a nice dahl — or another dish perhaps? (9)
Anagram [cooked] of A NICE DAHL. ‘Perhaps’ just adds to the surface reading. /
10 Accident finding king in pain (5)
R (king) contained by [in] PANG (pain)
11 This might make bears threatening (5-8)
This is a reverse anagram [RATTLING] of BEARS
13 A diminutive woman clinging on to piano for support (8)
A, P (piano), PRO (for), VAL (diminutive woman)
15 Something witty repeated back: can you beat that? (3-3)
MOT (something witty) + MOT [repeated] reversed [back]
17 Dissemble merely to cover brand image (6)
Hidden in [to cover] {diss}EMBLE M{erely}
19 Failure of old Labour (8)
O (old ), MISSION (labour as in the labours or tasks of Hercules)
22 Return to office to check official account (13)
REIN (check), STATEMENT (official account)
25 Present reporter’s award for bravery (5)
Sounds like [reporter’s] “MC” (award for bravery – Military Cross). EMCEE as a verb meaning to host or present an event is in Collins.
26 River providing habitat for varied insect life (9)
EXE (river in Devon) containing [providing habitat for] anagram [varied] of INSECT
27 Trust bishop will stop using bad language (5,2)
B (bishop) contained by [will stop] SWEARY (using bad language). If you swear by something you trust and believe in it
28 Don’t prod stinging creature caught on vacation (5,2)
LEAVE (vacation), then BE sounds like [caught] “bee” (stinging creature)
1 Indian’s faith having died out (4)
CREE{d} (faith) [having died out]
2 Appears to surprise solicitor at first in court (5,2)
ROCK (surprise), S{olicitor} [at first], UP (in court – up before the judge)
3 Conservative-supporting branch in uphill struggle? (5)
C (Conservative), LIMB (supporting branch). A limb of a tree is one of its main branches supporting the lesser branches or branchlets.
4 One often depressed in Nasa drinking den? (5,3)
The cryptic hint refers to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
5 Main course? (6)
SEA (main), WAY(course). Hardly cryptic but I suppose it scrapes through by appearing to refer to food.
6 Ridiculously posh opium set becoming reckless (9)
Anagram [ridiculously} of U (posh) + OPIUM SET. I’m not keen on indirect anagrams and would have preferred to see the U clued as a containment.
7 On way back I attack Journal correspondent (7)
I + RAID (attack) reversed [back], ST (way – street). Is a diarist a correspondent? Perhaps in the world of newspapers and magazines.
8 A battle for Bond? (10)
Two meanings
12 Follow instructions, as would-be cleric must (4,6)
A literal and a cryptic hint
14 Supervisor accepting fault at last for driving error (9)
OVERSEER (supervisor) containing [accepting] {faul}T [at last]. I checked that ‘oversteer’ can be a noun.
16 University housing area put at risk (8)
IMPERIL (put at risk) containing [housing] A (area). The construction needed to make this work is a bit convoluted as at first glance it appears that ‘put at risk’ is the definition. The university is Imperial College London which specialises in science, engineering, business, and medicine.
18 The pain of Marcel Proust? (7)
Cryptic relying on ‘pain’ being French for bread. The definition’s a bit loose, but with a checker or two in place it came to mind quite easily.
20 Great anger when Charlie ousted by Tory leader (7)
INCENSE (anger) becomes INTENSE when C (Charlie) is replaced [ousted] by T{ory} [leader]
21 Save cathedral city — but only just (6)
BAR (save), ELY (cathedral city)
23 Jolly cunning to turn up with old flame? (5)
EX (old flame), then ART (cunning) reversed [to turn up]. ‘Jolly’ is used here as an intensifier, so ‘jolly cunning’ = ‘extra cunning’.
24 Seduce English scholar (4)
BED (seduce), E (English) as in ‘The Venerable Bede’

59 comments on “Times Cryptic 28670”

  1. Pretty easy one today. My only MER was defining BRIOCHE as “pain”. Brioche is just brioche, and pain is something different. At 5D I was sure I was looking for another word for seafood (with one less letter). Only later did I realize it was more obvious.

      1. But those are all English recipes. More common is Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” which, since she was speaking French, was actually “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” with not a “pain” in sight.

  2. Enjoyable, not too taxing except for the last two: with B & E in place it had to be BAGUETTE, but apart from not fitting the I put the kybosh on that. LOI emcee where MC as bravery award unknown.
    COD to CARACAS, unexpected. Or the reverse SABRE-RATTLING.

  3. 20:40
    Slow to get some of these, like APPROVAL, EMCEE. DNK ROCKS UP, SWEARY.

    1. I thought ‘rock up’ was quite new, but sources online date it from the 1950s ‘rock and roll’ era, when ‘rock up’ became a variation on the long established ‘roll up’. I also gather that strictly speaking it means to arrive unannounced or uninvited rather than merely ‘arrive’.

      1. That one never crossed the pond. And. yes, the element of “surprise” is implied in the phrase, though it doesn’t make it officially into the definition here.

      1. Virtually every day. I don’t know any way better to say it.
        Even some things that might be everyday in another country, in some one or other of their senses, which sometimes might take some time to enumerate.

          1. Yes, hello?
            I just did an extended riff making that point. I could correct my original slapdash post, but then your very observant reply would seem to make no sense.

  4. Missed a couple : EMBLEM, where I was trying to get words for dissemble to include AD (= brand image). And it was “merely” hidden. And for BRIOCHE Marcel Proust’s Madeleine sent me hunting for a fancy word for the feelings of nostalgia.

    The IMPERIAL/IMPERIL construction doesn’t work for me. Fortunately they have different letter counts, if it had been a substitution like INTENSE/INCENSE I would have been more INCENSEd.

    Caught is now a homophone indicator? As well as a containment indicator, and just c as on a cricket scoreboard. Never did parse LEAVE BEE, with “on vacation” also providing misdirection.

    EMCEE is an odd word, where the abbreviation is spelt out, and then becomes a word, and then (I learnt today) becomes a verb. Other examples: Seabees (Construction Battalion). Any more?


  5. 20:04. Going by the SNITCH I was off the pace for the second day running. This was largely due to struggling to finish a handful of clues, particularly the TAKE ORDERS/EMCEE crossers. EMCEE is a bit tricky given its unusual word form but TAKE ORDERS seems easy with hindsight. Some days you just can’t see them.

  6. 22 minutes. EMCEE as a verb was unusual and I was also confused by the Yoda-speak word order for IMPERIAL. No problems with BRIOCHE once, like isla3, I realised “baguette” didn’t fit. Can’t say I’ve ever used the word SWEARY before; the ecclesiastically related B for ‘bishop’ and ELY for ‘cathedral city’ helped out as crossers.

    I like ROCKS UP as an everyday term; (usually) all very friendly and casual.

  7. 11’32”, no issues.

    I was reminded that when Marie Antoinette said “qui’ils mangent de la brioche” it had dire consequences, and was mistranslated as “let them eat cake”.
    I really liked the clue, although I spent some time singing / humming “Proust in his first book wrote about, wrote about…” before the penny dropped.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  8. Some really good clues here, I was surprised to get it done in 24.14 because it seemed more challenging than that. For me. Thanks for several explanations Jack, I thought at DIARIST we’re not talking about a journalist but someone who writes a journal, hence diarist. I was a bit miffed by the cap J on journal and the cap L on Labour in OMISSION’s clue, though I get the misdirection in the latter. Liked SABRE-RATTLING and EXISTENCE, probably because I successfully figured them out. I’m somewhat befuddled by IMPERIAL. Now I understand via jackkt it’s a particular university in London, OK, but I thought ‘imperil’ was housing ‘area’ not the other way round.

    1. Think he was upset about “correspondent”, who writes to/for others. A diary/journal is more often just for yourself.

      1. Yes, that was in my mind and I still think mine is the most likely reading, however it occurred to me later that it’s traditional for some people to start their entry ‘Dear Diary’ so I suppose in that sense it’s like writing a letter as a correspondent would.

  9. Sons, be welded each and all
    Into one imperial whole,
    One with Britain, heart and soul!
    (Opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, 1886. Tennyson)

    20 mins mid-brekker. I liked it. Nice surfaces and misdirection.
    I’m not really keen on mixing abbreviation with genuine anagram fodder, especially if they are pseudo abbreviations like posh=U.
    Ta setter and J

  10. Spot on 30 minutes with LOI the venerable BEDE. I took a while to get going but then things fell into place steadily. A decent puzzle with COD to BRIOCHE. Time for breakfast. Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. 28 minutes, I was slowed down quite a lot at the end by the two crossers OMISSION and IMPERIAL. As someone else said, the Yoda speak on IMPERIAL confused me because I saw IMPERIL quickly but because it wasn‘t the answer got a mental block for several minutes.
    Thanks Setter and Blogger much appreciated as always
    PS COD definitely the BRIOCHE, be it strictly speaking pain or not

  12. After 75 minutes I gave up with two missing. I had EMCEE written to one side from ‘Present’ but because I just couldn’t make anything of 18dn and I didn’t spot the homophone I left it out.
    I should have given up earlier with a more respectable time as I had no chance with BRIOCHE and didn’t make the bread connection. My knowledge of Marcel Proust borders on zero.
    The rest I did parse along the way.
    Thank you jackkt and setter.

    On edit: I had realised he was French post solve and that’s all I needed to know.

  13. 13:23. Nice one. I liked SABRE-RATTLING and EXISTENCE best. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  14. 43mins. I thought I would be faster, speeding away as I did in the NW and quite a bit in the bottom half. Then ground to a halt in the NE.

    Finally, my last three in were REINSTATEMENT, EMCEE and lastly, BRIOCHE which I’m still kicking myself for not seeing the French « pain ». Doh.

    Some great surfaces, I especially liked « one often depressed ». Good fun.

    Thanks Jack and setter. PS is anyone having constant probs accessing the Time puzzle section with message « error 502 » ?

  15. One error in 23:24. I had the bill in the SPACE BAR, (SPACE TAB), which made me depressed.

    COD: BRIOCHE. I was looking for some sort of ache for pain, preferably of the nostalgic variety. But – – I A C H E yielded no such discomfort; only regret at the time lost turning into that particular cul de sac. An enjoyable puzzle and as that famous, beautiful and diminutive chantress, Norman Lamont, once trilled, “Je ne regrette rien.”

    1. Had to look up the Lamont/Piaf connection. I hope he sang the line. The story brings back one of the great visual images of my life, the song and the little lady together absolutely charging the stage.

  16. Спасибо?
    Another very decent puzzle, with good surfaces and touches of humour, doable by me in 15.15. While I’m aware that equating BRIOCHE with bread can lead to severe neck problems, I believe I giggled out loud.
    I did spend a while trying to work out how APRO meant diminutive, since VAL is a common enough woman (or indeed male Doonican): how easy it is to miss those innocuous link words like with and, in this case for.
    I arrived at LEAVE BE with bee being vacated and didn’t notice I was using vacation twice.

  17. DNF, with a silly invented ‘take briefs’ rather than TAKE ORDERS. Also failed to parse the ‘pro’ bit in APPROVAL, not realising that ‘diminutive woman’ went together, and wasn’t fully confident about SEAWAY.

    COD Caracas

  18. I was going to say that all my life I’d thought that Imperial College isn’t a university in itself, but part of the University of London (thus criticising 16dn) but I see that this was the case until 2008, when it became a university on its own. Had missed that. 35 minutes for a puzzle that didn’t present any major problems; I didn’t like ‘diminutive woman’ for ‘Val’ — I know it’s short for Valerie but surely it’s also a name in its own right (just as Jack has become such, many parents now calling their sons by this name instead of James or John). So it just seems gratuitously misleading.

  19. 34.55. Spent an age in the SW where I got APPROVAL but had no clue why. Just baffled how PRO could mean diminutive. Also read far too much into the clue for TAKE ORDERS. BRIOCHE couldn’t be anything else, which left the weird EMCEE verb.
    Game of a three quarters and a quarter.

  20. Harder than yesterday’s, though I got off to a good start in the NW corner. ROCKS UP is a new expression for me. I had several question marks where I didn’t see the wordplay, clarified by the blogger.
    I thought the inversion at 16a was poor. The unpunctuated wording leads to ‘put at risk’ as the definition. That sort of deception is not clever, just sneaky.

    37 minutes

  21. 15:23, so rather slow against my usual benchmarks, but enjoyed the struggle. Managed to pull the ever-deceptive EMCEE, which it has taken me years to get used to as a word, relatively quickly, but then became horribly bogged down in the SE corner for no apparent reason. I’ll blame my lack of clarity on being distracted by the Lionesses on the other screen, rather than my dimness, anyway.

  22. Not too much to frighten the horses today. Thought “EMCEE” a bit weak; it’s just two letters spelt out, so making that the wordplay seems a bit trite.

  23. 4m 58s, not a tricky puzzle but with some delights: EXISTENCE & APPROVAL my favourites.

    I was writing BAGUETTE for the pain, until I realised it was a letter too long.

  24. 31 minutes for me, which is pretty good by my standards. I came here today because I ran out of time and missed yesterday’s apparently easy biggie (too busy enraptured by the cricket all day). Thanks both.

  25. Again not much of a brain-scruncher, though a tad wrinklier than yesterday’s. Maybe a Friday monster is in the wings. Rogues seems a bit soft for swine, mission slightly forced for labour, jolly skirting the anachronous for extra. They all “work” in a kind of outer-ring way. But it’s the accuracy of the crossword mind that makes it what it is.

  26. 30:52

    Enjoyed though I felt I was a bit slow coming up with some of the answers. Pencilled in BRIOCHE early, thought EMCEE was very good once I’d ‘got’ it, and IMPERIAL was a nice LOI.

    I didn’t like SEAWAY much.


  27. 17.30. Sweated on seaway and agree about its lack of cryptic appeal. Last two in were brioche and emcee.
    Rocks up had an attraction but sabre rattling was my fave.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  28. Busy morning, but maybe 35′ over a few visits. Got a bit stuck in SE corner with EMCEE and BRIOCHE (which should have come quicker). Like others thought VAL didn’t need the diminutive, it’s a much more acceptable name than DEE from yesterday. SEAWAY felt a bit weak but enjoyed SABRE RATTLING. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  29. 21’8”
    Good pace throughout, stayed on gamely.
    My homemade SNITCHAWICTHOMETER calculated a Witch of 70, so I’m cock-a-hoop.
    I was fortunate to tune in to the setter’s wavelength today, and all parsed en route.
    Lots to like; thanks Jack & setter.

  30. 16.53

    Liked it – some very smooth surfaces such as for BRIOCHE and SABRE RATTLING

    Thanks Setter and Jackkt

  31. 11:39. Bit of a sting in the tail with this one, a few hold-out clues at the end.
    A couple of MERS at BRIOCHE and ‘correspondent’. To me if it’s got eggs in it is, by definition, a cake. But on the other hand if it’s leavened with yeast in it is, by definition, bread. So in conclusion BRIOCHE is… BRIOCHE.

  32. I enjoyed this and managed to finish it, over a couple of sessions.
    LOI BRIOCHE- well done setter. I missed the French bread and did think of Madeleines and a number of other things before the PDM.
    I have never read Proust and doubt I will start now. I wonder what his current reputation is.
    EMCEE late in gave me the letter I needed to see BRIOCHE quickly.
    Lots to like including IMPERIAL.

    1. I’ve never read Proust but it’s next in line for me after I finish a Kafka biography. I’m 76 and have somehow missed reading Remembrance so think I’d better not put it off any longer!

  33. I thought this was going to be another easy puzzle and was quick out of the blocks but the last few slowed me down. I finally put in SEAWAY, although I wasn’t convinced, and the clever BRIOCHE took a while for the penny to drop. Messed up early on removing D from credo to produce an abbreviated Caribbean native (?) entered with such confidence that I never reviewed it. Silly me.

    Thanks setter, and Jack for sorting me out.

  34. Did not find this an altogether satisfying exercise, for the reasons outlined by others, especially joekobi and Mike Harper. Did not like the clueing for 13 ac or 16dn either. 30 minutes, punctuated by supper.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  35. 25:57. I did not like the word order in IMPERIAL, but it could only be that answer. Held up in the SW corner wondering if Baguette could be spelled with one t, before finally seeing BRIOCHE.

  36. Interested to read the comments. Plenty of testosterone flying around, clearly, with people keen to outdo each other on the solving time – of course, we only have their word for it! I only buy the Times twice a week, as I enjoy pondering a few clues now and again, without worrying (or timing) how long it’s taking me to solve the whole Crossword. It’s not a competitive sport, you know – or am I missing something?

    1. The clue is in the name of our site. This may be of interest. It’s taken from the ‘About’ link at the top of our webpages where you can find further information if you wish:

      Times for The Times was started in 2006 by Peter Biddlecombe, an elite solver who had twice won the Times Crossword Championship. Many of the early commenters were also elite solvers, so there was an emphasis on posting solving times, and some degree of competition within the group. As the blog became more popular, a wider variety of solvers joined in, and more bloggers were recruited to provide full coverage of the puzzles provided in the Times. So while each blogger often still posts a solving time, the blog is no longer the province of the world’s top cryptic solvers, and both the blogs and the comments reflect a wide variety of solving ability.”

      Having been a blogger here since 2007 I can say that I have seldom observed much by way of competition between between contributors and the majority of those who post their solving times are trying to better their own performance rather than ‘trying to outdo each other’ as you put it. I would also add that most of the speed merchants and many of our other contributors solve online on The Times website where their solving times are recorded and are available for inspection.

  37. This was a clever, witty crossword which I failed to finish, as I spent a long time with 1a put in as CASCARA (having confused the plant with the capital), and not ‘seeing’ the French Connection with Proust and ‘pain’ – d’oh! Thrown off track completely by APPROVAL ( why should Val be singled out as “diminutive?), and EMCEE, which I still don’t get. However, CODs to SABRE-RATTLING and EXISTENCE. GOOD FUN.

Comments are closed.