Times Cryptic 28716 – Sat, 23 Sept 2023. Living in an anagram universe

Theoretical physicists think the universe might be a hologram (whatever that means). Maybe so. Certainly getting the two long anagrams quickly at 9 and 23 across made this puzzle a much more amenable universe! The rest went fairly smoothly. The wordplay gave me the NHO answer at 10ac without worries. My COD was the alchemistry reference at 5dn. 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.

1 One defends a sport I introduced into Georgia (8)
6 Attempt to apprehend popular revolutionary outlaw (6)
BASH to apprehend NI (“in”, revolutionary)
9 A cute astro gal turned out to provide aid for astronomers (4-9)
10 Old pistol recalled a measure of heat (6)
O LUGER, backwards (recalled).
Something to do with British gas oven settings, it seems.
11 Cheat to secure conclusion of decisive game (8)
CRIB (cheat), BAG (secure), {decisiv}E.
13 Meaning to give time over to play guitar or violin? (10)
IN{t}ENT, with T giving over to STRUM (play).
15 Expression of annoyance contributing to set-to at home (4)
16 Support an alternative for sandwich filling? (4)
I suppose, if you don’t like JAM “A” in your sandwich, I could offer you JAM “B” instead!
18 Daughter with competence lacking hint of femininity? That’s a shortcoming (10)
D (daughter), EF{f}ICIENCY.
21 Centre of Leeds pedestrianised on the outside without concerns (8)
(centre of  leEds), with CAR FREE (pedestrianised) on the outside.
22 Fellow getting ahead of family to make a point (6)
23 Bat, in a theatrical way, amused fielder inordinately (3,10)
It’s German for “bat”, and it’s an operetta.
25 Indefinite number — more than required — entering Kentucky is problematic (6)
KNOTTYN + OTT, entering KY (Kentucky).
26 Working well in short dress or more revealing costume (8)
ON + OK, in MINI.
A pox on whoever was responsible for that garment! (The Monokini, not the mini.)
2 Fishy person, say, is linked to church being enthralled by Greek god (7)
IS CE enthralled by PAN.
Someone born under the sign of Pisces is a Piscean. With my tendency to ignore all things astrological, I didn’t realise that. I put the answer in thinking it just somehow meant “fishy”.
3 One ranks distance travelled on board (6,5)
LEAGUE (distance travelled, not necessarily while wearing “seven league boots”!), TABLE (board).
4 Lizard in odd parts of Greece found on floor (5)
G{r}E{e}C{e} (the odd bits), KO (floor, at boxing).
5 Speaker’s prompt in announcing: “Reverse of alchemical process ending in failure” (7)
Alchemy aspired to transmute base metals (copper, say) to gold. So, AU TO CU would be the reverse. Add E from {failur}E.
6 Regarding certain missiles, function is something spasmodic (9)
BALL (social function), IS, TIC (something spasmodic).
7 Problem shaking off second horse (3)
8 Great deal, importing article from France, is deception (7)
SIGHT importing LE.
12 Commentary on memoir possibly means to improve control (11)
BIO{graphy}, FEEDBACK.
14 Don’t stress about floor covering around piano (9)
17 Stop having what music stage often has? (7)
there’s often A BAND ON the stage.
19 Fashion, if on the up, encompasses feminine area of influence (7)
MODE (fashion), IF, all backwards (on the up, in this down clue), encompassing F (feminine). A MER at seeeing F{eminine}, but it’s in Chambers.
20 Red fleece, with edges pinned (7)
CON (fleece), with RIMS pinned.
22 Pub against providing joint of beef (5)
BAR, ON (against, as in ‘he placed it on/against the wall’, I guess).
24 Consume fuel source, releasing power (3)

24 comments on “Times Cryptic 28716 – Sat, 23 Sept 2023. Living in an anagram universe”

  1. I forgot to record my start time but I think I found this quite hard, and anyway I used aids for my LOI, BIOFEEDBACK as I knew the word would be unknown and I was unable to get to it via wordplay, so it counts as a DNF.

    I had no problem solving 5dn from the definition and a full set of checkers but I had absolutely no idea what the rest of the clue was about.

    REGULO settings would be known to anyone in the UK who used a gas oven for much of the 20th century as cookery books used to refer to Regulo 1-9 in recipes – so much more user-friendly than the electric oven equivalents which were just given in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. Regulo settings haven’t changed but are now simply called Gas Mark 1-9.

    1. 5d was the first I “solved” but couldn’t parse it so waited for checkers. I think I once knew that alchemists did as Branch described and as you probably also once knew, but now know only that it is obsolete and discredited science like geocentricity and phrenology. I suppose it is fair for setters to assume we have infinite memories

  2. 19D. I think “f” for feminine is quite common in dictionaries. I just had a look at some English-French/German/Latin dictionaries and they all use it.

  3. 20′ online, then I don’t know how long over lunch. DNK REGULO. JAMB required an alphabet trawl. I liked JAMB & AUTOCUE (fortunately, we’ve had that before; it’s Teleprompter in the US).

          1. I suppose I should defer to the Macquarie, but my instinctive spelling omits “er”. Indeed this usage appears in some software and commercial terms.
            For what its worth, the phrase “cue prompt” abridgement is even more familiar.

  4. I only recall working through this without trouble while other things were going on – which usually means a little more time to think in addition to a little more distraction. I liked Autocue a lot, and Jamb after the alpha-trawl and PDM. thx bruce

  5. 106 minutes over several days. I found this very tough. All parsed except for KNOTTY, which isn’t complicated in hindsight. Last one in was the lovely JAMB. Thanks to branch.

  6. DNF, defeated by BIOFEEDBACK (would never have occurred to me), BODKIN (straightforward parsing but I didn’t know the point meaning) and BARON (again parsable, but I didn’t have the B from Bodkin and didn’t know the beef meaning).

    Had absolutely no idea how AUTOCUE worked, so kudos to everyone who parsed that. NHO REGULO but was helped by the cluing. STAR-CATALOGUE was an “OK, I guess that’s a term” moment.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Banish

  7. Enjoyed this as the answers flew in, subject to a slow start and a few tough ones at the end, making average time overall.FOI STAR-CATALOGUE, although NHO, LOI MONOKINI also NHO, COD CRIMSON. Thanks for AUTOCUE, Branch, easy when you know how!! Thanks setter and blogger.

  8. I can see I finished this in 30 minutes with LOI BIOFEEDBACK. Don‘t remember much about it TBH!!!
    But thanks setter and blogger, as always

  9. Late to the posting party with, sadly, the same ol’ to add: DNF, completely bamboozled by 5d. With no idea what the clue was talking about I plumped for ARTICLE. Having read the explanation – what? There is no way even after a million more years of doing these that I would have got that. Biffed 20d, and 22d which is still a mystery to me. Baron is a joint of beef? Really? So much to learn… Did know REGULO though so that’s something! Thanks to blogger and setter.

    1. AUTOCUE is the type of clue that you might get the answer by looking at the crosser letters and guessing a word that could fit the definition in the clue. Then, if you care enough, you write the answer down and reverse engineer the wordplay. Getting the answer from this type of wordplay seems beyond normal humans! So, don’t despair.

      JAMB, on the other hand, I had to stare at seemingly interminably till I saw the wordplay. I didn’t have faith in the answer without that.

    2. Ditto again, SBeginner! Bunged in ARTICLE as it fitted and I’d no idea what the supposed clue was on about. But I did ‘sort of’ know BARON, as here in the hills of Victoria we have a famous restaurant called The Baron of Beef, so twigged that must be a joint…also familiar with REGULO from many years using a gas oven in the UK.

  10. Suffering from a stinking cold, so forgot to check in until this evening. I found this a bit trickier than Sunday’s but there were some clever surfaces eg 13A and 23A. NHO MONOKINI or STAR CATALOGUE. PISCEAN was a PDM. Worked out BARON from the definition, but not convinced by ‘on’ as ‘against’. Thanks to setter and to Brnchn for providing the parsing for AUTOCUE, which completely baffled me.

  11. Very much completed with the help of the blog, specifically in the parsing of AUTOCUE and JAMB, and the answers for FIEFDOM and MONOKINI. Otherwise a very slow but satisfying solve which took several sittings and many minutes. NW went in very easily. It was the rest that took the time! PDM over DIE FLEDERMAUS which made me smile so gets vote for COD. Many thanks branch.

  12. Took so long the start of the next race delayed; stewards miffed!
    Well over an hour, in fact, for I finally unravelled the BAT only to be driven BATS by BIOFEEDBACK.
    In the end I had take it down to the bar and stare at it for another 20′ over a beer until it became clear. I do not recall coming across it, but trees and fungi having root-baased ‘telephones’ has come up on Radio 4, or my craving houmous is my body’s biofeedback for ‘Gimme garlic now! ‘,
    Apart from that proving KNOTTY, all parsed and nothing unknown, so I’m chuffed.
    Steven Fry might have been a little cavalier with the phrase ‘Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental’ in his ‘novel’ The Liar; within a stone’s throw of the site of Newton’s alchemy there is no pub in Bridge Street, Cambridge with the name The Rack of Lamb, the landlord being a one time Regimental Sergeant Major called Bob. There is, however, one with the name The Baron of Beef, and its landlord was one Regimental Sergeant Major Bob Wass, aka The Beast of Bridge Street. It was my local from 1991 until the Beast’s retirement, when our roles reversed and I was his barman in The Eagle, of Crick and Watson fame.
    “I haven’t seen you in a month, Mr. Wass.”
    “No, I’ve bin in ospi’ul, havin me bleedin toe off. I’ve still got me old service revolver – I shouldda used that to blow the bloody thing off years ago.”
    I’d better stop there; tales of Bob Wass are legion but not publishable here !
    A baron is almost the entire cow, if the pub sign was anything to go by !
    Great crossword, setter, loved it; thanks to you and Bruce.

  13. Didn’t get Régulo. Not helped by having leader table instead of league. I knew it felt wrong but couldn’t get why. Cod autocue which I loved. Also liked jamb – it made me laugh out loud when I saw it. Challenging puzzle

  14. (Also replied to SBeginner). Few PDMs in this, which helped me struggle on bravely, such as DIE FLEDERMAUS and JAMB, and PISCEAN as my husband was both that and a “fishy person”. The rest was often a struggle too far, like AUTOCUE and BIOFEEDBACK (NHO). Liked UNDERPLAY and CAREFREE.

  15. Slowed by confidently entering REFRAIN for 17dn, until DIE FLEDERMAUS emerged, then reached JAMB via lamb, my second thought for a sandwich filling ending in B (crab was the first).


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