Times Cryptic 28704 – Sat, 9 Sept 2023. Poor Yorrick – punnished enough?

There was much biffing and grinding in this one. That is, clues where one could “biff” the answer and then wonder why, and others where one could grind through the wordplay and look with wonder at the emerging answer. My COD was clearly the punning Yorrick number!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC. Italics mark anagram indicators in the clues, and other ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations. {Curly brackets} mark omitted letters.

Answers, and their components in the explanations, are in BOLD CAPITALS. No red this week (thanks for the feedback).

1 Churchill maybe organised maritime intelligence away from home (8)
RAN (organised) + DOLPH{IN}, with IN (home) away. Winston didn’t fit!
5 Red book he carries about (6)
MALE carries B + C (circa; about).
9 One seeking favour clubs together with the bank we use? (8)
C (clubs) + OUR TIER (the bank we use!).
10 What to find in Switzerland, with a lease? (6)
CH (Switzerland’s international car registration) + A LET (or, a lease).
A &semi-lit definition.
12 Roving arch-felon, he initially met one among the Welsh Marches (3,2,7)
(ARCH FELON HE M)*. The M is M{et}, initially.
It’s a marching tune.
15 Ten rupees to secure chief’s divine flower! (5)
IO (ten) + R (symbol for rupees), securing CH (chief).
It’s the fluid that flows in the veins of Greek gods.
16 Not from New Cross — Kentish Town (9)
TO (not from, as for a train route) + N (new) + BRIDGE (cross).
I had to look twice to make sure the clue meant Tonbridge, not Tunbridge – although I think the second is formally Royal Tunbridge Wells.
18 Lots of bones in chronic fatigue, so long a problem for typists? (9)
ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome) + TATA (so long) + RSI (repetitive strain injury – a problem for typists).
19 Narrow margin reflected by minute particle (5)
M=minute + ESON (NOSE, reflected; a narrow margin, in a horse race say.)
20 What exposed Yorick’s tricks? (12)
When the penny dropped, I laughed in delight. Yorick is the dead court jester whose skull is exhumed by the First Gravedigger in Act 5, Scene 1, of Hamlet.
24 Old nurse to use a stretcher? (6)
EX + TEND. Treat the answer as a verb.
25 Agree to forge police certificate finally (8)
COIN (forge – as in, to coin a phrase) + CID + {certificat}E, finally.
26 Lethargy of men left, with time advancing (6)
OR (men; specifically, other ranks, as opposed to officers) + PORT (left). Advance the “T” to the front.
27 In one hand, a yellow parrot (8)
A, in IMITT (one hand), then OR (yellow).
1 Reduction in daycare raised — or suggesting it? (4)
Hidden (reduction) backwards (raised).
2 Most countries turned against this country’s northern capital (4)
NU=UN (most countries), turned + UK.
I followed the wordplay, but struggled to believe this was really the answer! It’s the capital of Greenland.
Why only “most” countries, BTW? The Vatican and the Palestinian State are ‘only’ observers of the U.N., and the Cook Islands and Niue are non-member States.
3 Not hotter after exercising or running (2,3,4)
4 Absurd matter concerning one who sends old packs (12)
PUS (matter), packing RE (concerning) + POSTER (one who sends) + O (old).
6 Hate rating personnel? Nothing stops it (5)
AB (naval rating) + HR, stopped by O.
7 Cobblers under more obvious suspicion (10)
BALDER (more obvious) + DASH (suspicion, as in a dash of flavoring). Not just preposterous, but balderdash! Was the setter having a bad experience?
8 With odd penchant for wearing cape, Yankee’s meant to grab attention (10)
C (cape) + (PENCHANT)* + Y (Yankee, in the phonetic alphabet).
11 Before noon, tea, alcohol and curry in cubicle (8,4)
CHA=tea + N=noon + GIN + GROOM.
13 Critical examination with books has got to French art student, ultimately (6,4)
LIT (literature) + MUST (has got to) + ES (French verb, equivalent to “thou art”) + T ({studen}T, finally).
14 Athlete’s attempt to join club (4-6)
SHOT (attempt) + PUTTER (golf club).
17 US group make track primarily for artist (9)
REM (1980s US group) + BRAND (make) + T (T{rack}, primarily).
21 Act of self-harm — and love — to raise tongue (5)
Obvious answer, elusive wordplay! It’s O.G. (own goal: act of self-harm) + NIL (love), all backwards (raised, in this down clue).I was sidetracked, thinking the O at the end was “love”. No doubt I’d have got there quicker if I’d followed the old advice to write the answer backwards!
22 Maybe reading newspapers in which one finds fault (4)
R (reading is one of the three educational “R”s), then I + FT (both being newspapers). Rift valleys are associated with faults in the earth’s crust.
23 Change one of Queen Victoria’s letters in full? (4)
V.R. (Victoria Regina), with the first letter spelled out in full.

26 comments on “Times Cryptic 28704 – Sat, 9 Sept 2023. Poor Yorrick – punnished enough?”

  1. When choosing wine I’ve always found it hard to go wrong with Syrah or Malbec, but here I did, so DNF. RED for WINE is common enough in Crossword these days, so I must blame my two weeks holiday. Knew NUUK. Couldn’t parse VEER, which now looks so easy. I couldn’t let go of O=LOVE so failed to parse LINGO. Thanks for the tip, I’ll write it down if I remember next time!. Thanks Setter and Branch.

  2. Yeah, I marked this as “Hard!”
    Oh, that Churchill. Righto!
    Had to give up very soon on MALBEC being MAOIST…
    NHO the march (of course).
    Got the town strictly from wordplay too, as the geographical precision of the clue didn’t help this Yank.
    It’s not an infraction, admittedly, but I always frown to see nonstandard spellings promulgated; SKULDUGGERY (properly spelled) has nothing to do with skulls, y’know. (Although it seems the word’s actual origin remains undetermined…)
    The clue for VEER doesn’t literally say we’re looking for both the queen’s initials, only the VEE. My LOI, if memory serves. And clever enough.
    I also especially liked CHALET… and ICHOR… and—oh, I’ll just stop counting.

  3. Something over a half-hour, with MALBEC and LOI VEER holding me up a bunch. I got RANDOLPH long before I ‘got’ RANDOLPH; didn’t care for defining ‘dolphin’ as ‘intelligence’. Fortunately, we had the TONBRIDGE/Tunbridge thing once before, which is how I learned of Tonbridge. NHO NUUK, but, as they say, it had to be. I didn’t understand METATARSI, not knowing either ME or RSI. For some reason, I thought MEN OF HARLECH was a song, not a march. I liked IMITATOR, SKULLDUGGERY, CHANGING ROOM, but COD to VEER.

    1. We just revisited “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, with its cameo appearance by the super-intelligent dolphins. So, no problem with that for us!

      1. It’s not a question of their having intelligence, but of their being intelligence. Granted that Collins has a definition as an intelligent being or spirit, so that the setter has in some sort covered his proverbial; I still think it’s a poor definition of ‘dolphin’.

        1. I take your point, but rather liked the clue, seeing a nice advertisement against speciesism.
          A couple weeks ago, I was sort of hoping orcas would attack the Nation cruise (just kidding! But we have a story up now about the deleterious environmental effects of such outings).

          1. A few weeks ago, some 700 km NE of Australia, sharks sank a Russian catamaran attempting a circumnavigation.

            1. Go sharks! Did they learn from the orcas? The orcas learned from one that had been traumatized and was avenged by them.

            2. I assume it was the Russians attempting the circumnavigation. When you said sharks, I of course imagined great whites, not cookie-cutters.

              1. Great whites are cold-water sharks: Southern Ocean of Australia. And Perth, where I live. NE of Australia, up near the equator, is warm water – no great whites. One of those things which I kind of know from osmosis, picked up from… ??? Who knows?

  4. Hard, but had almost all the knowledge for once – ME unknown but knew Nuuk, Men of Harlech (it’s the tune of one of Australia’s football clubs, I remember noticing at about age 6), Tonbridge. Failed to parse LINGO and IMITATOR, but they had to be. Quite liked it.

  5. 30 minutes for all but 5ac where I resorted to aids. If I’d thought of ‘red = wine’ I might have got there but it’s one of those chestnuts (along with ‘white=wine’) that seems to catch me out from time to time. My knowledge of wine is very limited and I’m not sure I would have recognised MALBEC anyway. I’m pretty good on beers though and I’d noticed when looking for words to fit the checkers at 5ac that one of them was Lambic.

    1. The only reason I know MALBEC is because it showed up in a New Yorker cartoon a year or so ago.

  6. Jeepers. I was less a DNF than a BS: barely started. Got just two – 3 & 6 down – in about forty minutes of head scratching. And now studying the blog for enlightenment, there are leaps of logic that I doubt I’ll ever learn. Well done to everyone who completed it.

    1. Much in the same boat as you, SBeginner, (minus the cookie-cutters, thankfully!). When I’m non-plussed by the first two acrosses, I can see the writing on the wall, (end of mixed metaphors, promise!). But I kept going and CHALET and COURTIER showed themselves, quickly followed by MEN OF HARLECH ( the enumeration got me there), METATARSI (completely biffed) and the LOL SKULDUGGERY. The pen was inactive thereafter…
      Appreciated the setter’s superior GK and skill, but too hard for me.

  7. DNF, another entry to OWL Club with ‘Muson’ rather than MESON… didn’t parse it at all and just thought it sounded likely, so I bunged it in.

    Didn’t parse PREPOSTEROUS (would never have seen pus=matter) and likewise didn’t understand the ‘to’ in TONBRIDGE – it would be helpful if I could remember ‘not from=to’. Wasn’t really familiar with CATCHPENNY either, but the cluing helped.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Shot-putter (nothing spectacular, just a nice example of a how a good cryptic clue works)

  8. 17.23

    Nice and smooth – just like a good MALBEC my LOI as I have the same blind spot as Jackkt when seeing ‘red’.

    Thanks Branch and setter

  9. 38% done in 38 minutes. Much too hard for me. I did think of NUUK but didn’t believe it. I’m not just impressed that people finished it, but that they did so in very reasonable times.

  10. Many thanks for the blog which I looked at around the 30 min mark with only a few clues solved. I have now added ‘Lit’ and ‘b’ to OT/NT for book, know that red sometimes means wine, curry can mean groom, yellow can be OR, not just gold, chief can be abbreviated to CH… and the meaning of CATCHPENNY! 😂 Many thanks. I’ve attempted a few Saturday QCs but this felt trickier than usual – no less enjoyable though. Loved SKULLDUGGERY. Many thanks. More practice required. R

  11. 47’5″
    Very fortunate to get a clear run, stayed on fairly gamely.
    I agree with Bruce’s summary; it all looks so simple in hindsight, but with an empty grid it was tricky to find a foothold.
    Great grid, clever clueing and slick surfaces.
    Early on I realized a case could not be made for IAMBIC so left it till last and it sort of fell out of the sky for me; I do not recall ever drinking Malbec and know nothing of its provenance.
    Commiserations to those it flummoxed; there but for the grace of God went I.
    Bravissimo/a setter, and thanks to Bruce and all here.

  12. Oh dear. Big fat fail. As usual the four letter clue beat me. I couldn’t unravel the cleverly confused surface in NUUK and DNK the capital. Bravo to you Mr/s setter. You know who you are. I did however finally see it was THAT kind of red in MALBEC. I had been working around Mao and Helium and all sorts of nonsense and missed the b…dy obvious. If I can’t see an answer I seem to delve deeper and deeper into wild theories.
    DNK CATCHPENNY which might mean something more like ‘meant to grab quick sales’ than grab attention but perhaps that’s near enough the same thing.
    I solved this on the beach on a record breaking sunny September day. Normal
    service has resumed this weekend, grey and foggy.

    Thanks setter and branch.

  13. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this particularly tricky – the hardest Saturday puzzle for months, IMHO. Having started on Saturday morning, I finished at about five to midnight on Sunday evening, when I took one last look before going to bed and finally saw NUUK and VEER.

    A slight moan about NUUK. I generally assume ‘capital’ means the capital of a country unless otherwise indicated in the clue (eg ‘US capital’ would suggest the capital of a state). Greenland isn’t a country, but an ‘autonomous territory’ of Denmark. On that basis, all kinds of obscure towns and cities could count as a ‘northern capital’ – the primary settlements in provinces of Canada, the Faroes or Shetlands, Norwegian or Russian islands, etc.

    Anyway, that’s my excuse for spending most of the weekend trying to get Oslo or Riga to fit.

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