Times Cryptic 28718


I had all but four answers as I reached my half-hour target but needed another 16 minutes to work through the remainder

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 European resort, flipping empty (8)
SPA (resort), then DRAIN (empty) reversed [flipping]
6 Kid given lead part in today’s service (3,3)
TEASE (kid), T{oday’s} [lead part in…]
9 Injunction applied to key report (4)
BAN (injunction), G (key – music)
10 Worthwhile publicity heralding new lifeboat (10)
PR (publicity – Public Relations), anagram [new] of LIFEBOAT
11 Memorabilia from fantastic vacation around Northeastern state (10)
Anagram [fantastic] of VACATION containing [around] RI (Northeastern state – Rhode Island)
13 Initiation perhaps concerned with accepting sex (4)
RE (concerned with) containing [accepting] IT (sex)
14 Big group essentially occupying squats from time to time (8)
PER SE (essentially) contained by [occupying] S{q}U{a}T{s} [from time to time]. SOED: (Math. & Linguistics etc.) a set which includes another set or sets M20.
16 She worked with men to create trap (6)
Anagram [worked] of SHE MEN
18 Type of medicine and some other balms (6)
Hidden in [some] {ot}HER BAL{ms}
20 Bishop back to take on the rest (8)
B (bishop), REAR (back) containing [to take on] THE
22 Northern city folk picked up from an offshore territory (4)
Sounds like [picked up] “Mancs” (northern city folk – people  from Manchester aka Mancunians). Manx relates to the Isle of Man.
24 Engineer on-site a lot, in a jam? (4-2-4)
Anagram [engineer] of ON-SITE A LOT. The jam is a queue of traffic.
26 Intimate, strange cognitive dissonance at the end (4,6)
Anagram [strange] of COGNITIVE {dissonanc}E [at the end].  Edit: Thanks to aphis99 for helping me focus on the definition here with ‘intimate’ as a verb meaning ‘proclaim’ or ‘make known’.
28 Front of handbag has grey clasp (4)
H{andbag} [front], OLD (grey)
29 Sharp tip of talon removed from bird (6)
BITTER{n} (bird) [tip of talon removed]
30 Heartless movie injected with fresh Disney imagination (5,3)
M{ovi}E [heartless] containing [injected with] anagram [fresh] of DISNEY
2 Pharmacy initially needing licence to supply bromide (9)
P{harmacy} [initially], LATITUDE (licence). A figurative definition here: bromide – something or someone boring, commonplace, or conventional; especially. a soothing platitude or trite remark (SOED).
3 Outfit for going out in? (7)
Cryptic definition relying on ‘going out’ meaning ‘falling asleep’
4 According to a sales assistant, goods finally turned up (2,3)
A, then REP (sales assistant) + {good}S [finally] reversed [turned up]
5 Pair of daughters united by love (3)
D (daughters), U (united), 0 (love).  I wonder how many people like me immediately thought DOD?
6 Volunteer force that is protecting flags from an island nation (9)
TA (volunteer force), IE (that is) containing [protecting] WANES (flags). ‘Territorial Army’ is now called the ‘Army Reserve’, but historically the abbreviation is fine.
7 A couple of animals, or nine cats, for instance? (7)
A, NAG + RAM (couple of animals), with ‘NINE CATS for instance’ as a definition  by example. Amazingly this was my LOI!
8 Written up, anecdote contains constant flair (5)
TALE (anecdote) reversed [written up] contains C (constant)
12 Soldier maybe is about to stay somewhere in France (7)
ANT (soldier maybe), then IS containing [about], BE (stay)
15 Half-hearted resentment over dismal show (9)
SPL{e}EN (resentment) [half-hearted], DOUR (dismal)
17 Work detail supported by current colleague in particular (9)
SPEC (work detail), I (current), ALLY (colleague)
19 Fight to establish comfortable position (3,4)
BOX (fight), SEAT (establish). I struggled a bit here but I suppose both ‘seat’ and ‘establish’  as verbs can mean to set something up in a particular place. A box seat in a theatre is likely to be more comfortable than a cheaper seat.
21 Small children possibly caught dipping into church donations (7)
C (caught) contained by [dipping into] TITHES (church donations). ‘Donations’ suggests money or goods given willingly rather than as a form of tax which is what a tithe was.
23 Politician taken in by excellent cover story (5)
LIB (politician) contained [taken in] by A1 (excellent). Another historial abbreviation, in the UK at least.
25 Marketing ploy from e-tailer isn’t occasionally scrapped (3-2)
{e}T{a}I{l}E{r} I{s}N{t} [occasionally scrapped]
27 Millions following one singular doctrine (3)
I (one), S (singular), M (millions}. Another suffix which like ‘ology’ has become a word in its own right.

79 comments on “Times Cryptic 28718”

  1. 20:47. Felt on my game and on the wavelength this evening. Needed a good chunk of time to carefully work out the lower-left corner, with its BITTER, MANX, ALIBI combination. BREATHER was my last one in, hard to parse.

  2. I liked Breather and I really liked the nine cats – let me just pause to say “Wow” – and I found a couple of the synonyms to be OK, but only after I’d squinted a little. Nice Tuesday. Wow again. Thx jack

  3. Epic fail here. Never heard of SUPER SET, but really just beaten by a better team on the day, Gary.

  4. Excellent puzzle, which I found very tricky. Lots of well-hidden anagrams, including nine cats/instance, Victoriana and cognitive dissonance. Filling in bits and pieces here and there, occasionally stalling, until it all came together in a rush.

  5. Started at the bottom with MIND’S EYE and all its crossers, and three-fourths of this was so easy it seemed I was going to breeze right through. But I eventually slowed to a crawl with several blanks still left in the SW (though I had ALIBI early). GIVE NOTICE I’ve always taken to mean giving a more forthright statement than INTIMATE seems to imply, but the anagram is very neat (as is “nine cats”!). BOX SEAT might have come more readily if I’d ever been in one. I finally guessed the wordplay part of MANX, which seemed the only possible answer by that time anyway, as it was my LOI. But BITTERN isn’t hard at all and yet it took me a while to spot the bird. It was a long day.

  6. 25:44
    This was something of a struggle. Biffed MANX, VICTORIANA, & TAIWANESE, never parsed them. DNK NOSE-TO-TAIL but it was obvious with a few checkers. A SUPERSET needn’t be large: the set of all Disney dwarves is a superset, of which Dopey is a subset. Liked GIVE NOTICE–although like Guy I take ‘intimate’ to mean more ‘suggest’ than’ clearly state’ (“‘You’re fired!’ he intimated” sounds rather like Ring Lardner’s “‘Shut up!’ he explained”.) COD to ANAGRAM.

    1. I think it is fine to say a SUPERSET is large, even though it can be the same size as the set of which it is a superset. Trivially (in mathematician speak) the empty set is a superset of the empty set since it contains all the elements (none) of the empty set. And the empty set is not large, nothing is smaller.

      1. I don’t follow you. Is it fine to say the empty set (qua superset) is large? I didn’t say a superset is not large, merely that (as with the 7 dwarves) it needn’t be.

      2. Indeed, and mathematical groups are sets with certain operations, so are more than just sets, supersets or not. Does the set of all crossword quibbles contain itself?

  7. About 35 for me, excellent puzzle I thought, even if I’ve never heard of people from Manchester being called Mancs. Thought ANAGRAM was totally brilliant once jacckt explained it, as were TAIWANESE, BREATHER, VICTORIANA and several others. GIVE NOTICE, SPLENDOUR and SUPERSET held me up at the end.

  8. I loved this puzzle until I got to the last two and could neither see BOX SEAT nor MANX. I thought BED REST for a comfortable position, but couldn’t justify the wordplay except for EST for established. Then, after ages of coming up with nothing bunged in LAND for territory to put myself out of my misery. So no surprise when all that came up pink. So DNF.

    1. 22:52 Nearly a DNF for me too, as I usually give up after 20 mins of operose slog, though I eventually did work out that Manc must be an abbreviation for Mancunian, and a box seat must be some kind of comfortable sitting place. In my experience seats in theatre boxes are usually the same as those in the rest of the theatre, though I suppose the mere fact of being in a box makes the experience more comfortable. COD to the magnificent nine cats!

  9. Having biffed AS PER, I was left with the SW corner after around 6 minutes – and THAT turned out to be a tricky proposition. I needed almost a minute to realise that spleen was resentment, but that allowed me to plod through the rest. It took me a little while at the end to realise that ‘intimate’ wasn’t an adjective.

    COD MANX (as an adoptive “Manc” it caused an audible groan)
    TIME 9:46

    1. I thought of ‘spleen’ right away. But then I needed more than a minute to stop looking for SPL– (half of ‘spleen’)–and to become conscious of what ‘half-hearted’ meant.

  10. St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass, …

    Very enjoyable tussle for 40 mins over brekker and beyond – but finally done up like a kipper by Manx/Box Seat.
    Nine Cats was worth the effort on its own.
    Ta setter and J.

    1. Dear Myrtilus, please forgive the intrusion but I have lost track of a poem you cited earlier this year and wondered if you could help. It was, by the sound of it, a 20th century poem and it made reference to music and other delights no longer being the same now that ‘she’ was gone. It was a lot less lame than that description sounds. I made a note at the time to look it up but failed to do so quickly enough and have, of course, now lost the note. I tried the old slog through past blogs without success. Do you recall the poem and if so can you tell me what it is? Regards, Lindsay

      1. Hi
        I think it was (Music I Heard, Conrad Aiken).

        PS IMO, The first two lines are great. Maybe the first verse is good. But it does get a bit ‘lame’ after that.

        1. Thank you! That’s it! Now that I’ve read the whole thing I tend to agree about the later verses, but I’m delighted to have the opportunity to read the full poem and will do my best to hang on to it this time if just for the sake of the magnificent opening. Thanks again, really appreciate it. LO

  11. 23’04” LOI BOX SEAT, because I wasn’t sure about the SEAT. Didn’t understand the NINE CATS till it was explained here, so thanks. Is SPLEN half-hearted SPLEEN? But EE is not the centre, or heart, of the word. Or do we take ‘heart’ to mean here ‘a bit of the inside’?

    1. I think we take ‘heart’ to be LE, and half of that is L (or E, of course, but not today), so SPLEN. If the half-hearted word were ‘splen’, then heart would be L. At least I think that’s how it works.

      1. Yes, thanks for clarifying that, Kevin, and I have added an underline in the blog which I hope makes it clearer there too. I should have taken this into account previously, but although I had the correct parsing marked up when I solved the puzzle I overlooked my note when writing the blog and just assumed that EE was the ‘heart’ with no further explanation being necessary.

  12. I got the answer ANAGRAM but still perplexed about nine cats. Could someone spell it out/elucidate me please

  13. 17:44. So far this week I’ve been back to my usual pattern of getting stuck on one clue at the end. Today’s was GIVE NOTICE, where like others I was misled by thinking intimate was being used as an adjective. With just the consonants to fit in, I thought I was probably looking for an unknown Latin phrase.

    ANAGRAM was excellent.

  14. 43 minutes with LOI MANX after I finally twigged BOX SEAT. I am most definitely not a Manc. It’s not as if any trains go there. COD to ANAGRAM. My strap line is ‘the last Victorian, the first baby boomer’, so I suppose I still do see VICTORIANA as memorabilia and not as antiques. Good puzzle and quite tough. Thank you Jack and setter,

  15. Just under half an hour. Didn’t know that bromide can mean a PLATITUDE and thought ANTIBES was somewhere in the Caribbean, but otherwise this was fairly straightforward. Took some time to see GIVE NOTICE, as for a while I was trying to get ‘vice something’ to work. Thanks to the commenters above for explaining the ‘half-hearted’ bit in SPLENDOUR, which I was going to query.

    FOI Duo
    LOI Platitude
    COD Breather

    1. ANTIBES went in happily because of Graham Greene’s love for the place, and for his happy/sad short “May We Borrow Your Husband” set in the Antibes off season. I think I thought it was in Portugal – until today!

  16. 47m 36s
    COD: ANAGRAM. I would say that if you have nine cats you may well find yourself in the cute/quirky segment of the nightly news.
    Thanks for the blog, Jack.

  17. No time as several interruptions though I would guess around 50mins. Sped through most of this and thought I was on for a good time . I then got completely bogged down in the SW. Once I finally saw SPLENDOUR, the penny dropped re GIVE NOTICE and BOX SEAT and LOI MANX followed fairly QUICKLY.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  18. Superb puzzle with the worldie ANAGRAM as the jewel in its splendid crown. Thank you classy setter, and Jack for the unravelling of the NHO bromide/platitude. I was delayed for ages by guessing NEGLIGE which made VICTORIANA impossible until the penny finally dropped.

  19. Last week we had a query about puzzles getting harder through the week: if that’s true, we’re in for an interesting few days. I don’t think this was a stinker, but it was very, very good and demanded concentrated effort (“for a Tuesday”). The SW sector almost defeated me, with MANX, BOX SEAT and BITTER resisting strongly. BITTER deceived me into taking the tip of T(alon) from a bird, and I only stumbled on it when I somehow thought of BITTEN and tried to justify it.
    I’m not wholly convinced by the half-hearted SPLEEN: normally the half-hearted ruse relates to two identical letters in the middle of a word.
    Not being versed in (is it still?) “modern” maths, SUPERSET took ages to arrive, and hasn’t yet arrived in Chambers.
    Add my voice to the chorus of approval for ANAGRAM. Well played setter, and well blogged Jack!

  20. 50:52 for an enjoyably tricky one, perhaps spending too much time teasing out the parsing. NHO Mancs but it had to be MANX. I assumed “nine cats” had to be an anagram but didn’t understand what for, so thanks for the explanation. Good one. I also liked BREATHER, TAIWANESE and SPLENDOUR.

    I assumed the BOX SEAT on a horse-drawn coach. Collins has “in the box seat” meaning in the best position, but does not seem to explain the derivation

  21. 30 minutes all told, but I did think I was going to get a great time until I hit the wall 3/4s of the way through.
    VICTORIANA took me far too long, as did ANTIBES.
    Last in was GIVE NOTICE thanks to trying for ages to make some sort of Latin concoction as I never knowingly make life easy for myself.
    Oh well, some nice clues with ANAGRAM and BREATHER the standouts.
    Thanks to the setter and blogger.

  22. 34:49
    Tough going but well worth the effort, Stand out clues were GIVE NOTICE,ANAGRAM and MANX. Held up by trying to think of some chemical bromides.

    I’m never sure if SPANIARD is now regarded as offensive – as I believe JAP is. And what about TURK?

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

      1. A good question. “A Spanish person” I suppose. Spaniard does avoid having to distinguish between men and women (“What is a native of England, or of France, called?”). I think the reason I ask the question is because the word Spaniard, for me, somehow invokes memories of buccaneers and the Spanish Armada and thus I assume it might have been derogatory.

    1. You’d better believe ‘Jap’ is offensive! Is, and always has been.
      There is a tendency in English (noted by Quirk & Greenbaum, don’t ask me for a citation) to prefer adjectives to nouns of nationality/ethnciity: he’s Jewish/*a Jew, Dutch/*a Dutchman, Swedish/*a Swede. Spanish/*a Spaniard, etc.

  23. Saw that 3D was a cryptic definition, and had the T and E crossers at the end, so went for “layette”, which obviously made SPANIARD and BANG impossible until I realised my error.

  24. DNF
    Only my fifth attempt at a 15×15, and one I probably should have avoided after just relatively recently mastering the QC.
    Solved a meagre 5 clues and, after stepping clue by clue through jackkt’s excellent blog, only managed another 6 ‘on my own’.
    Respect to all you 15×15’ers!
    Thanks again jackkt.

    1. Stick with it Jack. I can’t speak for anyone else but when I first started a few years ago I struggled massively and I’d have been happy with solving a few clues on a tougher crossword. With time and experience you get better at dissecting the clues and this blog is a huge help.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement Rowlie!
        The blog was a huge help with the QC – and I can see it’ll be essential for me for the 15×15 😊

        1. Stick at it skipper, I’ve been doing these for about 7 years and this was on the hard side for me. Read this blog every day and the explanations from this superb community will help a lot. Lots of us on here would have been happy with half a dozen clues on a hard crossword when we started.

  25. 33 minutes, with the last 2 in MANX and BOX SEAT taking the last 5 minutes of that, I had a total brain fail there. Thanks for the blog, I didn‘t know the MANCS thing.
    AFAIK a SUPERSET doesn‘t have to be large, if A is a superset of B it just means A contains B.
    Great puzzle
    Thanks setter and blogger

  26. I thought this was terribly difficult and it took me 75 minutes, with electronic help for SPLENDOUR because I had reached a stage with two to go and was irredeemably stuck. Really quite easy, was fixated on poor = dismal. Everyone seems to be full of praise for ANAGRAM, and it defeated me for quite a while and then when I saw it it was obvious. But it doesn’t seem original: I sense that I’ve seen it before somewhere, certainly the nag and ram bit. A very good crossword despite its causing me such trouble.

    1. Not original in so far as the answer anagram being clued as a reverse cryptic, seen it a few times before. But the anagram chosen to clue it was exemplary, sent a frisson of delight up my spine. When I finally saw it.

  27. 32:45. Unusually difficult for so early in the week, if that is still a thing, but the only real query was BOX SEAT where I eventually – just – saw the “establish” definition. TAIWANESE was last to fall in a generally hard-to-topple bunch.

  28. 12:19. Quite a tricky one. I have been caught out several times in the past by a version of this ANAGRAM clue, so I’m pleased to say that I cottoned on quickly today.
    MER at ‘injunction’ for BAN, since injunctions can be positive or negative. I guess they are more often negative, so I will concede the point before someone asks me the difference between an injunction and specific performance.
    The phrase ‘in the box seat’ is (according to OED) originally Australian/NZ and derives from the high seat at the front of a coach, allowing the driver to see clearly over the horses. Originally meaning ‘in a controlling position’ it has come to mean more broadly ‘in a favourable position’. There is a rather charming US equivalent – ‘in the catbird seat’ – with a completely different derivation.

    1. Thanks for this. All very informative but to my mind any seat on any form of transport involving horses is unlikely to be comfortable!

      1. Now you mention it ‘comfortable’ doesn’t really match the origin of the phrase, or indeed the definitions in the usual dictionaries:

        Collins: in the best position
        ODE: in an advantageous position
        OED: in an advantageous or dominant position
        Chambers: a commanding or favourable position

        I wonder if the setter has inadvertently expanded the meaning, perhaps with the theatrical term in mind.

        1. Jockeys can be in a comfortable position in a race (even though they are riding a horse). I think all four of these definitions describe “comfortable” in this sense

    2. For many US solvers box seat will evoke the better seats in baseball stadiums. These are the tier nearest the field, stretching from not much further out than first base then around behind the plate to not much further out than third base, AND, often railed off into blocks, or boxes, of eight

  29. 53:02

    Game of two halves for me. Limped around the board several times completing only 51% in a 34-minute pre-prandial slog. Replete on a lunch of egg and bacon, smashed the rest out of the park in just 19 mins of my protein-powered afternoon walk!

    Thanks setter and Jack for the break down

  30. 13:35
    Nice anagrams in GIVE NOTICE and VICTORIANA. I’m also convinced by the half-heartedness in SPLENDOUR – I’ve never seen the operation applied to a word without a double letter at its heart.
    LOI SPANIARD, LOL (as opposed to audible groan) MANX .

  31. A real struggle for me today – happy to eventually finish in 55 minutes with anagram and tea set being annoyingly slow to come to my brain.

    One clarification – I think box seat refers to the phrase “in the box seat” meaning being in an advantageous position. It is widely used in sporting commentary and I believe comes originally from the driving seat in a coach, nothing to do with theatres.

    Enjoyable puzzle – thanks J and setter

    Sorry – just seen keriothes explanation above, lost marks for repetition 😊

  32. 23.26. Bit of a plodding effort. LOI Spaniard, too much time spent thinking about a European resort rather than a national. The rest all made sense .

  33. 47’05”
    Early pace, lost ground back straight, ran on when the rest had flown.
    Nevertheless, I’m chuffed to be under 50′ on what was a very nicely constructed challenge.
    All parsed bar ‘as per’, which got forgotten and was simpler than I suspected.
    Back to Worcestershire, who are in the BOX SEAT for promotion; theirs if they can turn 200 into 300.
    Well done setter and thanks Jack.

  34. Three quarters done at 40 mins, but many blanks. Got ANAGRAM, though, what a brilliant clue, though I think we’ve had something like it before.

  35. I remember a similar one from Paul in the Guardian (no. 27,914)

    What cinema promotes is of some importance (7)

  36. Bit of a curate’s egg for me. Some impressive clues but difficult to get on the setter’s wavelength I found. Not sure dismal and dour mean the same, think using IT for sex (it used to be at least sex appeal) is a bit lazy, share the concerns about tithes being thought of as donations, didn’t much like ISM as a word in its own right, and someone from Manchester being referred to as a Manc…really? Never heard it. But got there in the end. Nine cats was good, had me puzzling for ages about some mediaeval instrument of flagellation.

    1. ‘Dismal’ and ‘dour’ can both define ‘gloomy’ but I agree they can each have other shades of meaning which may not necessarily coincide exactly. ‘It’ for ‘sex’, ‘ism’ as a word in its own right, and ‘Manc’ are all in Collins so the setter has support for using them.

  37. Thanks for explaining SPLENDOUR (LOI, biffed from crossers) and the superb ANAGRAM (entered from definition only).

  38. Started this just before midnight after a day spent hot footing it to Macclesfield to rescue my daughter’s father in law who has been targeted by scammers pretending to be from Microsoft and browbeaten into allowing rogue software to be installed on his computer. A traumatic few days with the bank being on the ball and stopping the frauds being completed. The scammers held him virtual hostage by calling continually for hours at a time and demanding he transfer money. Ruthless bast*rds! He lives on his own and is becoming quite forgetful, and certainly not up to resisting the psychological onslaught. He is now with my daughter and son in law in York for some respite and care. DUO went in first. Held up in the SW by MANX and LOI, BOX SEAT. Another held up by BED REST which I didn’t put in as it obviously didn’t parse. Managed to parse everything eventually. 30:59. Thanks setter and Jack.

  39. ANAGRAM made me smile a lot, but I’m glad I gave up on MANX and BOX SEAT as they both let down an otherwise enjoyable puzzle. Thanks for explaining what the setter was possibly thinking!

  40. Thanks for the blog. Thought I was going to be beaten as I was really struggling with SPLENDOUR and SUPERSET, went away and then saw SUPERSET straight away! Strange how that happens. ANTIBES entered with fingers crossed and that’s a new definition of BROMIDE to remember.

  41. Interesting to read all the comments here: most of which I wholeheartedly endorse. A challenging puzzle, full of clever clues, most of which I unashamedly biffed. (Tried to parse but not all successfully.) Had to cheat on SPANIARD, as I didn’t lift and separate the European from the resort (bah!), but once I had that, things started to move, with BANG a comparatively easy get, along with RITE, but for some reason I had HISTORIANA ( which is nonsense) but still helped me be sure of TAIWANESE and NIGHTIE. BREATHER was another that escaped me (didn’t see the REAR) along with TITCHES, which I thought was just a last-century derogatory term for children like myself who were “vertically challenged”😳. Really enjoyed MINDS EYE and ANAGRAM of course.

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