Times Cryptic 28728 – Sat, 7 Oct 2023. Eat, drink and BIFF many

It was possible to biff several answers, only later to raise a smile when I understood their wordplay: 11ac or 25dn was probably my favourite for wordplay, although it took a while to understand the wordplay at 25ac, my LOI! 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 Saw book on establishment figure? (7)
PROVER (one who establishes … a theorem, perhaps!), B (book). First smile raiser.
5 Where one naturally is somewhat absorbed by what goes over one’s head (7)
A BIT absorbed by HAT.
9 Prepare to hold new suite short of one place for visitor (5,4)
GROOM to hold (SU-TE)*. Take the I (one) out of SUiTE before doing the anagram.
10 Leader of Costa Rica changed around (5)
C{osta}, (RICA)*
11 Code word is distributed when key part goes to terminal (5)
DEALT (distributed), with the central (key) letter moved to the end. Rather original!
I had a moment’s doubt about whether DELTA is a code word, but Chambers tells me that, in international radio communication, it’s a code word for the letter D.
12 Describe energy policy inspired by court (9)
E + LINE, inspired by DATE.
14 Popular entertainment magazine’s left without article (9,5)
SPECTATOR’S (magazine’s), {A}PORT (‘aport’; a vaguely familiar nautical term meaning ‘to the left’).
17 Accompanying article direct, but irrelevant (6,3,5)
BESIDE (accompanying; they are beside me), THE (an article), POINT (direct; they pointed me to the right place).
21 Explain the significance of rabies initially spreading between domesticated animals? (9)
R{abies} spreading INTER (between) + PET. You might suggest ‘animals’ should be ‘pets’, and I wouldn’t argue.
23 Transfer possibly secured as Oxford receives backing (5)
LACED (how Oxford [shoe] is secured), backing.
24 The author had written about story-teller briefly in action-packed epic (5)
I’D (the writer had), about LIA{R}.
25 Remove qualification about wearing best clothes (9)
Russian doll clue: ELITE=best, around (clothes) MA=qualification, around (about) IN=wearing.
26 Disregard information about half-cut academic (7)
GEN backwards (about), LECT{URER} (half-cut).
27 In the absence of leader, staff handle request urgently (7)
1 Each year an idol enters temple (6)
A GOD enters P.A.
2 Drink too much perhaps where meeting takes place (7)
Cryptic hint pointing to woodwork joints, perhaps.
3 Spellbound‘s opening credits using only central character (9)
ENTRANCE (opening), plus the middle letter from {cre}D{its}.
4 Satellite company receiving wider coverage (11)
CAST (theatre company), receiving coverage of  BROADER.
5 Get in the way of sacking a poor performer (3)
HAM{PER} (meaning, get in the way of),
sacking [meaning, deleting]
PER (meaning, A – as in two pounds A/PER item).
6 Meat packing company in embargo (5)
BA (CO) N.
7 Rent business causing disruption is source of cyclical upheaval (7)
8 Parody attempt to win cycling match (8)
This raised an eyebrow rather than a smile.  When I was solving, I put this in thinking it was an anagram of VESTA (match) in TRY.
On reflection, I’m not sure it’s the done thing to have the anagram of a replacement word. Any better ideas welcome!
13 Least constrained and abundant form of plant life (11)
LOOSEST, RIFE. Another plant I’d NHO.
15 What’s associated with wind and frost potentially? (9)
(WIND FROST)*. Whole clue is definition.
16 Forgetfulness of wife leaving violin bow out (8)
(VIOLIN BO-)*, leaving out the W.
18 Compiling crosswords is getting harder (7)
two meanings.
19 Briefly screen observers in gallery after reporter’s arrest (7)
sounds like NIC{K} (as spoken by a reporter), TATE.
It means to wink or blink.
20 Customer’s legal right framed by court (6)
LIEN framed by CT.
22 Crest of bird having no role (5)
25 Take in common feature of greatest weather threats (3)
a triply hidden answer!!

24 comments on “Times Cryptic 28728 – Sat, 7 Oct 2023. Eat, drink and BIFF many”

  1. There’s nothing wrong with TRAVESTY, and no anagram.
    VESTA’s merely “cycling,” not all reordered.
    This one was hard for me, as VESTA is so very UK.

    My favorite here was 25D.

    1. To my simple mind, “cycling” just seems like a sort of anagram, but I’m sure you’re right!

      1. It might be classified as a very… mild anagram. It’s one way to reorder the letters, after all.
        But “cycling” tells us precisely how to reorder them, and an anagram, for our purposes, has to be worked out without such instruction.

        1. I became aware of the cycling device meaning ‘move the last letter to the front’ only quite recently and was just getting used to it when in a puzzle earlier this week a Guardian setter used ‘cycling’ as an anagram indicator, so now I no longer trust it to mean what I had thought. Interestingly Chambers doesn’t include ‘cycling’ in its extensive list of anagrinds despite it being exceptionally suitable for the purpose, unlike many of the words in the line-up. ‘Recycle’ is there, however.

          On the same clue I suppose ‘to win’ is the containment indicator, but I’m not sure I’m happy with it as such.

          1. I don’t find “cycling” so apt for an anagram in which all the letters are jumbled and not, precisely, “cycled” by moving what’s in back to the front. (I think it wouldn’t have to be just one letter.) This is the only way “cycling” is used by my friends Joshua and Henri, for their Out of Left Field cryptics (available via Patreon).

    2. It could be Vesta an old name for a match – Vesta matches were named after the Roman goddess of fire.
      Cycling vesta could give you avest Tr avest y

      1. That’s what I took it to be (as suggested in the blog). The only thing in dispute seemed to be “cycling.”

  2. I had difficulty working out what “without article” referred to in 14A. I hadn’t thought of APORT meaning left.
    I’d wondered if magazine meant “THE SPECTATOR”, which I think is its name (in contrast say to PRIVATE EYE, which has no “THE”).

    1. Yes, I think it is “The Spectator”. So, yours seems like a valid reading for 14ac, too!

      1. I think Peter W is right. Why would the setter use the rare word ‘aport’ when ‘port’ makes better sense? We’d have had just ‘Popular magazine’s left’ so that it could be parsed as Spectator’s port; as we have it it’s [The] Spectator’s port.

  3. 13:55 (which puts me at 107 on the leaderboard)
    I wondered about ‘without article’, and I prefer Peter W’s reading. Biffed BROADCASTER, INTERPRET, ELIMINATE, & TRAVESTY, parsed post-submission. I’m fine with PET: the inter-pet spread of rabies. I liked the surface of 18d, and the deletion of PER in 5d, but COD to EAT.

  4. 37 minutes with an error on LOOSESTRIFE, caught out yet again having been reminded of it in a puzzle only last June.

    DECAL was unknown, just as it was last time I mentioned it in 2019, but at least the wordplay was friendly this time.

    1. If you’d ever made model aeroplanes ‘decal’ would have been very familiar as the transfers with which to apply the markings.

      1. Many decades ago I used to make up Airfix kits but as far as I remember the transfers were just called transfers.

  5. 43m 28s
    What goes around…..regarding 3d, ENTRANCED: #26019 11Feb2015, “Where to expect fourth queue for “Spellbound” (9): ENTRANCED. One of the several clever clues I have made a note of in my little black book.

  6. Done and dusted in approx 40 minutes though left with a few fluffy bits. One I needed the dictionary for: NHO 19d NICTATE. Then biffed 1ac PROVERB & 25ac ELIMINATE – the words fit but I couldn’t work ‘em out. Oh, and also 23ac DECAL, I realise in hindsight and with the benefit of the blog. Enjoyable puzzle, though, so thanks to all.

  7. Pretty easy until the last 3 – NICTATE, DECAL and ELIMINATE. I couldn’t for the life of me work out the parsing of this latter, so it went in with crossed fingers. NICTATE was a barely remembered word worked out from the parsing and cleverly disguised by the setter. It took me some time to discern the meaning of ‘briefly screen observers’ even after checking the existence of the word. Great PDM. DECAL I’ve never heard of – Airfix models didn’t form part of my 60’s girl upbringing. I was more interested in doll’s houses and Magic Garden. However, lovely clue once I’d worked out what was going on.

  8. Struggled to parse eliminate and spectator sport. Guessed nictate from the clue which then gave me the pdm on loi (and dnk) decal. Thanks for the explanations.

  9. 24’50”
    Smartly into stride, kept on gamely.
    Clearly I was fortunate to be tuned in to the setter’s wavelength; a Nitch of 67 and all parsed and familiar.
    There were some devious constructions here; EAT, DECAL and DELTA were particularly satisfying when the pennies dropped.
    Lots to like; thank you setter and Bruce.

  10. I’m finding these crosswords much more difficult now that I’m forced to do them in the afternoon or evening ( due to different delivery methods of the newsagent!) which leads me to think that my ‘brainpower’ diminishes during the day! All of which is to say that I had a hard time with this (unlike most other solvers) and DNF. But I did like DECAL ( always on the lookout for shoe-related answers when I see ‘Oxford’) and EAT.

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