Times Cryptic 28754


Solving time: 29 minutes

I found this easy. Judging by some of the clues I think we have an American setter again, or at least an Americanophile.

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 Pole in need of a whiskey quietly stops one with a punch (8)
P (quietly) contained by [stops] SOUTH (pole) + A + W (whiskey – NATO alphabet). A left-handed person, especially a boxer or baseball pitcher.
6 Pan tiny bit short — vegetable eyed? (6)
POT (pan), ATO{m} (tiny bit) [short]. A crazy surface and a strange definition with reference to the eyes commonly found in potatoes.
9 Network: asset accessed by sweetheart once (6)
PLUS (asset) contains [accessed by] EX (sweetheart once). In anatomy a plexus is a network of nerve fibres or blood vessels.
10 Special forces on ship touring an American state (8)
ARK (ship) + SAS (Special forces) containing [touring] AN
11 Exercise heading for disaster after hopes finally dashed (4)
{hope}S [finally), PE (exercise), D{isaster} [heading]
12 Monopoly card  tears (10)
I had this as a double definition but I’ve had to revise the first to a cryptic hint because the Utility company on the Monopoly board is called ‘Water Works’ (two words). One tends to think of Monopoly cards as being either Chance or Community Chest but of course every purchasable property has a corresponding Title Deed which might also be described as a card.  ‘Turning on the waterworks’ as euphemism for ‘crying’ appears to date back to the 17th century.
14 Drunken repartee in place of game presented at Christmas? (4,4)
Anagram [drunken] of REPARTEE.  A great definition, the game in question being a partridge.
16 Team    was singing its own praises (4)
Two meanings
18 Skirt, part of uniform I discarded (4)
Hidden in [part of] {unifor}M I DI{scarded}. Back to normal after the extremes of mini and maxi skirts
19 Open to elements of in part sullenness, gutted (8)
OF contained by [in] ROLE (part), S{ullennes}S [gutted]
21 Spinner, figure remarkably on the money (10)
CENT (money), anagram [remarkably] of FIGURE
22 Desert: relief with river passing through (4)
R (river) contained by [passing through] AID (relief). ‘Desert’ needs to be an adjective here.
24 Remain still, or hit back, breaking leg (8)
TAN (hit) reversed [back] contained by [breaking] STAGE (leg)
26 For example, Princeton or Ivy League‘s after-show party? (6)
HAIR (show), DO (party). It was easy enough to work out what was going on here but the hair-style in question is not listed in any of the usual sources and not widely known in the UK, I imagine, so I wonder what the clue is doing in The Times of London. My AI assistant advises:  The Ivy League haircut is a popular choice for students and alumni of Princeton and the Ivy League in general because it is a classic, sophisticated, and versatile haircut that is associated with success and achievement.
27 Flash  deputy (6)
Two meanings
28 Half of weekend worker has saved is for evil lover? (8)
SAT (half of weekend – Sat / Sun), then ANT (worker) containing [has saved] IS
2 Bloomer adding beef to sauce (5)
OX (beef), LIP (sauce – cheek)
3 One flogging a dead horse, possibly, Rex admits it’s wrong (11)
Anagram [wrong] of REX ADMITS IT’S. A rather fine cryptic definition. When Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger died in 1965, Rogers had the hide professionally stretched over a foam likeness of the horse and mounted in his signature rearing pose. For many years Trigger was on display at a Roy Rogers museum, but following closure he relocated to a TV station headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee where he remains a popular tourist attraction.
4 Possible security requirement, weapon owned by parent? (8)
PA’S SWORD (weapon owned by parent)
5 Be dominant or ineffectual, eating dirt, exciting people (4,3,8)
WET (ineffectual) containing [eating] EARTH (dirt), ROUSERS (exciting people)
6 Soldier scoffing knockout Indian dish (6)
PARA (soldier) containing [scoffing] KO (knockout). A delicious variation on a bahji, usually containing cauliflower in my experience.
7 One of each from two and eight, numerically? (3)
T{wo} + E {ight} + N{umerically} [one of each from…]
8 Ungrateful leader on horseback entering without armoured fighters? (9)
H{orseback} [leader] contained by [entering] TANKLESS (without armoured fighters)
13 Dancing colonialist’s rhythmic movement (11)
Anagram [dancing] of COLONIALIST’S
15 Awesome course briefly in focus (9)
EPIC (awesome), ENTRÉ{e} (course) [briefly]
17 Mates who demolished a trifle (8)
Anagram [demolished] of MATES WHO
20 Sensational   magician (6)
Two meanings
23 Try avoiding work in Asian river (5)
INDUS{try} (work) [try avoiding]
25 Excessive sentimentality as thug in the end rubbed out (3)
GOO{n} (thug) [in the end rubbed out]. Another Americanism to finish with.

59 comments on “Times Cryptic 28754”

  1. It would have been easier for me if I hadn’t had to work it online… Now I actually have a time for completion, down to the second, but I’m not going to report it! Ha. I am sure it would have been done much sooner with a printout and my Ultra-micro Uniball pen.
    I am not impressed by the WIZARD. The adjective meaning is based on the noun sense, so the two definitions are too close together to be interesting.
    Roy Rogers’s son Dusty reported that “Dad said, ‘Son, when I die, just skin me up and put me on top of Trigger and make me happy.’ The joke was that Dale would sleep with one eye open ’cause she was afraid she’d be mounted and put on Buttermilk.”
    I really liked OSCILLATION, thinking electronics and the physics of music.
    WEAR THE TROUSERS is sexist, innit?
    “Princeton” and “Harvard” are a change from “Barnet”!

    1. Re ‘sexism’, this crossword is British, where people still find pleasure and humour in things which others are more keen to censor and police.

      1. It’s obviously sexist, but also quite outdated—which is also not unexpected here. Women have been wearing trousers for a coon’s age. But the wearing of the trousers as a sign of authority goes back to old gender stereotypes, no way around it.

        I wouldn’t censor it. It is comically quaint, and good for a laugh still. Part of the language. I can’t speak for the distaff side, though.

        1. I suppose we can’t get away from gender stereotypes (did Elizabethans wear the breeches and hose?) but I believe the phrase is used almost exclusively of empowered women, so perhaps more of a nuanced sexism.

      2. I suspect tolerance or otherwise for casual sexism (and other prejudices) divides more along age lines than nationality. I like to think of myself as a proud member of the tofu-eating metropolitan elite wokerati but I am often not quite up to scratch as far as my kids are concerned. It’s called progress.

  2. 22:00
    I started off very slowly and didn’t pick up speed until the end. Biffed POTATO, STAGNATE, & WEAR THE TROUSERS, parsed post-submission. NHO the hairdo. I liked PEAR TREE.

  3. I mostly liked some of the cryptic and twisted twisted definitions. I sort of knew crew as a possible past tense of crow, but only sort of. I also sort of knew the hair style, but if asked, since it goes on men and not women, I’d call it a haircut rather than a hairdo.

    thx jack (you might have too much underlined at 7d, but I’ll admit I still don’t see exactly how the definition and cryptic separate there)

    1. That 7d is an odd clue, to be sure, with some of the wordplay providing the definition but the other half only telling you how to find it.

      1. I’d hazard it’s an &lit, the entire clue is both definition and wordplay. When you take one 2 and one 8, numerically, you get 10 altogether. When you take one (letter at the start) of each of two, eight and numerically you get TEN spelled out.

          1. The clue is instructions to get TEN in two different ways?
            Add one each of TWO and EIGHT, NUMERICALLY.
            Or take the first letters of TWO EIGHT and NUMERICALLY, lexicographically (squiggly red line says that’s not a word).
            My answer above was probably misguided in trying to separate out definition and wordplay.

            1. That’s how it works, yes. The entire clue is wordplay, secreting a definition (the sum) in it. But all the clue is not a definition of TEN. Cryptic instruction on how to spell a word is not a definition of it.

            2. I think this is a kind of reverse semi&Lit. Usually in a semi-&Lit the whole clue serves as a definition but some of it (often a single word) is not part of the wordplay. Here we have the opposite: the whole clue is wordplay but only part of it is the definition. Very unusual, but why not?
              (I struggle to read ‘one of each from two and eight’ as an indication for TEN, because it somehow suggests that you’re not putting them together and of course you need both)

  4. Very slow, tired after a few busy days. Great puzzle. NHO the hairdos, and couldn’t see ENTRÉ{e} from ENTRE_, of all things, but otherwise no problems. Just slow to see things. COD to TAXIDERMIST.

  5. Took 37:17 held up by putting TULIP at 2dn and wondering how TU was beef but thinking it “had to be”. NHO OXLIP but realised eventually…
    Hey I’m always doing the xword on my phone don’t complain 😉
    I understood 7dn differently, I took 1 from eight and 0 from two (the numbers) to make 10. But I think jackkt’s way is right!
    Btw I’m never sure if the past tense of crow is crew or crowed.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  6. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
    To have a thankless child!
    (King Lear, obvs)

    25 mins pre-brekker. I liked the very clever, “flogging a dead horse” and “place of game presented at Christmas” and Waterworks.
    But not keen on TEN. I liked Hair Do – very clever but shame about the definition, making this my LOI.
    Ta setter and J.

  7. 28 minutes with LOI EPICENTRE. I’d no idea about the HAIRDO but the crossers gave it away. Mind me Urdu, as Cilla said after a visit to her stylist. COD to WATERWORKS. Maybe a few too many Americanisms but we did get an Indian dish too. Thank you Jack and setter.

  8. Enjoyed this in a sort of ‘same wavelength’ type way. Didn’t know either of the haircuts but H____O gave it away.

  9. 16:52. I made steady progress with this, finishing with the half-known PLEXUS. I thought it seemed likely from the definition given ‘solar plexus’ but before I saw the parsing I did contemplate whether ALEXIS could have been a sweetheart once. Anyway, with all present and correct I’m off to get an Ivy League HAIRDO to reflect my success and achievement.

    1. I also contemplated ALEXIS, but since the only one I could think of was Carrington, I figured that the character was not so much sweetheart as b*tch, as indeed in a previous incarnation.

  10. 39 mins so medium difficulty for me. A couple bunged in without really understanding what was going on, TEN and HAIRDO. PAKORA dragged up from the depths somewhere.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  11. Very quick for me but I ended up “clicking and hoping” on HAIRDO. I’d never heard of the haircuts and I still don’t understand why HAIR = SHOW. I’d convinced myself it was a posh (Ivy League?) way of saying AIR.

    Loved the definitions of TAXIDERMIST, PEAR TREE and SATANIST – some wonderful misdirections.

    1. I thought at first that “show” must be AIR but this left the H unexplained. Then I remembered HAIR the musical. A show

        1. Happy memories of organising an outing of students from the Baptist College to see Hair at the Bristol Hippodrome. An education from some, and a disappointment for others, who thought it less outrageous than they hoped.

  12. For no really explicable reason I struggled on this one today, limping across the line in 18:21.

    At the 10 minute mark I only had a handful, then the RHS pennies all started dropping at once – left wondering at WATERWORKS for a while, and only when I resorted to writing the letters down on actual paper did PEAR TREE reveal itself (before I’d written them all down, strange how the minnd works sometimes).

    Count me in on the TULIP club (after I’d spent a long time trying to justify JUS=sauce with no checkers – told you, one of those days); although I’m comfortable with TEN and actually thought it was quite clever.

    Still, at least it was all green without a visit from the typo fairy (unlike the quickie….)

  13. 10:35. A fun crossword. I liked PEAR TREE, TAXIDERMIST and TEN most. I finished in the SW corner ending with CENTRIFUGE. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  14. More a Monday than Monday’s, at least for me with 25′. SE corner held me up with SOMEWHAT taking far too much time and HAIRDO being LOI only after getting the H crosser and biffing. Agree WIZARD is rather weak and quite a few write-ins elsewhere. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  15. As often appears to happen to me, this apparently easy puzzle really had me on the ropes – whereas ‘harder’ ones often don’t. Gave up on the SW corner after 40 mins, lacking both EPICENTRE and STAGNATE. Could have looked at them all day and not seen them. D’oh.

  16. Just under half an hour. Didn’t parse ROOFLESS, WEAR THE TROUSERS or HAIRDO, had to hope that PAKORA was right, and tried to justify ‘tulip’ for 2d before SOUTHPAW set me straight.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Sped
    LOI Second
    COD Pear tree

  17. 36 minutes with LOIs SOUTHPAW and PASSWORD. I liked PEAR TREE with its game.

    I always like ARKANSAS. When I saw it written down I used to think it was pronounced as it was spelled, including the other state – Kansas – with which it possibly had a connection. You would sometimes hear about ARKANSAS, pronounced as it should be, which I thought was another state. I’ve no idea how it was spelled

  18. 20 minutes all told, with no unknowns and nothing too difficult in my opinion.
    The only clue I tried to make more of was 11A which for a relative gimme slowed me down somewhat.
    No trouser-related complaints from me.
    Thanks to both setter and blogger.

  19. 17.29, with both PLEXUS and HAIRDO taken on not particularly precarious trust. The only PLEXUS I know of is the solar one, and I’ve always assumed it was linked to the local muscles. Our local market stall sold the best Indian food anywhere, and their PAKORAs were mostly potato with a liberal sprinkling of caraway and other spices.
    I could have helped myself to a speedier time if I’d put the S where it belonged rather at the end of OSCILLATE: I freely admit (now) it looks stupid. I liked TEN at least trying to be different, and it worked sufficiently well for me.

  20. Sub half-hour, so the morning’s excuse for not doing the things I should be doing has just evaporated. Got TAXIDERMIST but was struggling with the parsing (‘“flogging?”’ I was thinking, “surely that should be “flaying”?’) until I realised that taxidermists have to sell ‘em as well as stuff ‘em…

  21. 17:55 but…

    …a sausage-fingered WWAR rather ruined the effect. Still, I’m pleased with the time. POTATO was an odd clue; thankfully thought of PLUS for PL(EX)US quite quickly; no idea about Ivy League HAIRDOs.

  22. Everyone seems to have found this pretty easy, but I didn’t, eventually finishing in 55 minutes. Feeble. Couldn’t see the OSCILLATION anagram even though I had plenty of checkers and I knew it was an anagram. TEN and HAIRDO were mysteries. PAKORA nho, although the wordplay was easy and I had a suspicion it was the right answer. Was hung up on passport not PASSWORD. Slow to realise that the Monopoly card was a card in the wider sense.

    WIZARD goes back a long time and most of the people here won’t be at all familiar with it as a WW2 (?) version of ‘rad’ or ‘def’ or just ‘really good’. It was dated in my childhood, although in the 50s one came across it occasionally.

    1. Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings series has plenty of ‘Wizard!’ exclamations in the first few books. It amused me in my schoolboy years that the protagonists discussed whether the opposite of ‘Wizard’ (good) should be ‘Ozard’ (bad)…

  23. 25 mins. Yes I had TULIP for a while too, and my PASSPORT caused WATERWORKS not to come, or maybe it did?

  24. 13:55
    Readers of Anthony Buckeridge’s ‘Jennings’ books will be familiar with the schoolboy slang term WIZARD (and possibly with its opposite ‘Ozard’, derived from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, obvs).
    Radio 4 repeated a programme this morning about Lloyd George, “the little Welsh wizard”.
    Surprised to have WEAR THE TROUSERS as my LOI.

  25. 8:35. I thought that was excellent, with lots of nicely disguised definitions and some neat tricks. ‘Place of game presented at Christmas’ and ‘one flogging a dead horse’ were especially good.
    I didn’t know the hairstyle, of course, and it seems that the Princeton and the Ivy League are actually the same cut, which makes the definition a little bit odd.

  26. I didn’t find it quite as plain sailing as our Blogger, but I managed to finish with all correct and parsed. The only exception was the parsing for 25dn where I had GOO[f] instead of GOO[n]. I readily agree that the latter was correct. No time to record as I kept falling asleep when solving (no reflection on the setter’s ability to keep me entertained), but I would estimate at about 45-50 minutes. I particularly liked the WATERWORKS clue, which had me scratching my head for some time.

  27. 23:12. Fat-fingered my way through this on an iPhone. I like to think I would have been faster with pen and paper, but the top half – at least – seemed pretty tricky. I think I had solved just two after 7 minutes and resorted to filling the grid from the bottom.

  28. 21.02

    Didn’t feel a smooth solve but wrestled it into submission. Some excellent clues as mentioned and I quite liked WATERWORKS

    Thanks Jackkt and setter

  29. A steady solve for me although the SW corner held me up at the end. Had no idea about Princeton and Ivy League but the crossing letters made the answer easy to guess.
    Liked the WEAR THE TROUSERS clue even if the term is out of date now.

  30. 15:52. Held up, for no discernable reason other than, perhaps, being in a noisy office, by EPICENTRE, STAGNATE and WIZARD. Hadn’t heard of the American Barnet(s).

  31. An enjoyable romp from SOUTHPAW to HAIRDO. NHO the hairstyle. Liked TAXIDERMIST. 17:35. Thanks setter and Jack.

  32. Like others held up by a hasty PASSPORT which added a couple of minutes at the end trying to find the Monopoly card.

    I struggled to begin with but finished within my target time – a mark of a good puzzle in my view.

    Nothing else to add to others’ comments so I shall just thank the setter and Jacckt for their efforts.

    Time: 27 minutes

  33. 37’24”
    Cracking early pace, lost ground and failed to quicken closing stages.

    I was quite pleased when I began to slow because this was a puzzle which was too fine to biff excessively; but I did parse the strides and the absent tiles in retrospect. I’m guessing the southpaws , northpaws (?) and jabbers have biffed the Snitch down to 88, as I thought the going a bit stickier than that.
    What’s not in Arkansas, given that Kansas City is not in Kansas?
    My stomach is churning as Afghanistan have Australia in a bit of bother, and now the pakora has made me hungry too.
    I loved the very imaginative definitions here, particularly the waterworks; bravo/a setter and thank you Jack.

  34. A pleasant stroll and certainly simpler than yesterday, all done in 23 minutes. Perhaps there is a US vibe, as suggested by our blogger, but it was not overwhelming, and the HAIRDO was generously clued. No problem with TEN, which I thought a clever clue, even if it does not fit into one of the generally accepted categories.
    FOI – MIDI
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  35. I suppose I might have got HAIRDO from the crossers, if I’d had the crossers, but I misremembered the river as IDRIS, which I couldn’t then parse, and so had 23D and 26A uncompleted. A disappointing end to the puzzle, as I hadn’t the faintest clue what relevance Princeton or Ivy League had to the answer, having never heard of the cut. Beehive, crop, mohican or mullet might have been more apt to any non-American, but it does look very like an American setter. While several had TULIP for 2D, my first guess was OXEYE, but then I thought of the obvious OXLIP, which enabled the baffling NHO PLEXUS.

  36. 21.11 TEN and GOO were unparsed and HAIRDO cost me several minutes at the end. I had a nightmare with the QC today but a PB on the 15×15 has cheered me up. Thanks Jack.

  37. 16.50 with LOI waterworks. So obvious- eventually!
    NHO the Ivy League hairdo but apart from that pretty plain sailing.

    COD roofless.

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