Times Cryptic 28760


Solving time: 22 minutes

Pretty straightforward fayre but with two unknowns in the SE corner that prevented me finishing within 20 minutes.

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 One leaving tutors takes girl round a former African province (9)
TRA{i}NS (tutors) [one leaving], then VAL (girl – random female #1) containing [round] A
6 Of good taste, and reputed to have soft heart (5)
SAID (reputed) with P contained [to have (soft) heart]
9 Coach further, and keep, outside right (7)
RETAIN (keep) containing [outside] R (right)
10 Character transfixed by horse’s carrying capacity (7)
TONE (character) contains [transfixed by] NAG (horse)
11 Shawl originally for independent care home’s use (5)
F{or} + I{ndependent} + C{are} + H{ome} + U{se} [originally]. I spotted the wordplay device immediately and remembered the answer because it caught me out on its last appearance on 25th October.
13 Napier’s function, to record a beat, do we hear? (9)
LOG (record), A, RITHM sounds like [do we hear] “rhythm” (beat). And for once I remembered who Napier was.
14 Dollar cakes with room for moving around (9)
Anagram [moving around] of CAKES ROOM. This can refer to dollars or pounds sterling.
16 Gelatinous substance from a river crossing Georgia (4)
A + R (river) containing [crossing] GA (Georgia). Extracted from SE Asian seaweeds and used in cooking soups etc.
18 Sound demeanour for one who’ll succeed (4)
Sounds like “air” (demeanour)
19 A second-rate dyer, one avoiding the hard stuff (9)
A, B (second-rate), STAINER (dyer)
22 Row about this writer’s old American car (9)
LINE (row) containing [about] I’M (this writer’s) + O (old) + US (American)
24 Stress shown by Conservative wearing new suit (5)
C (Conservative) contained by [wearing] anagram [new] of SUIT. Rhythmical or metrical stress. I had this as an unknown but the archive confirms I have met it before. I probably didn’t recognise the definition this time round because on its last outing in October it was defined by its alternative medical meaning of a stroke.
25 Largely superfluous note about Motown (7)
DE TRO{p}(superfluous) [largely], then TI (note – music) reversed [about]
26 End of shocking scam over Greek character’s dumplings (7)
{shockin}G [end], then CON (scam) reversed [over], CHI (Greek character). Small dumplings made with flour, semolina, or potato.
28 Ultimately unfriendly deed, pinching hotel vessel (5)
{unfriendl}Y [ultimately], ACT (deed) containing [pinching] H (hotel)
29 My man, the French tragic dramatist (9)
COR (my!), NEIL (man), LE (the, French). I took a bit of a punt on NEIL here as I never heard of this guy, Pierre Corneille, despite being pretty good on playwrights generally. The archive records his appearance in 4 previous puzzles,  a 15×15 in 2006 before I switched from The Telegraph to The Times and discovered TfTT, 2 x TLS puzzles and a Jumbo in 2013, none of which I attempted.
1 A repeated phrase in Eliot initially identifying taxes (7)
A + RIFF (repeated phrase) contained by [in] T S (Eliot initially)
2 Small island rowing crew talked of (3)
Sounds like [talked of] “eight” (rowing crew)
3 In the main, it’s a source of upheaval (8)
Cryptic definition
4 Female flautist’s second record (5)
ANNA (female – random female #2), {f}L{autist’s} [second]
5 Drawn to suits, soldier in written works promises to pay (9)
GI (soldier) contained by [in] LIT (written works) + IOUS (promises to pay)
6 Home Counties woman, one married in Barcelona, say? (6)
SE (Home Counties – those around London in SE England), NORA (woman – random female #3)
7 Post spy outside English royal house (11)
PLANT (post), AGENT (spy) containing [outside] E (English).  I was struggling to see ‘plant’ and ‘post’ as synonyms but Collins offers this example: plant – to station; post – to plant a police officer on every corner.
8 Fantasist of dismal aspect touring Maine (7)
DREAR  (of dismal aspect) containing [touring] ME (Maine)
12 Alluring companion exciting Mairi’s cat (11)
CH (Companion of Honour), anagram [exciting] of MAIRI’S CAT
15 Practical about boxer given something to chase endlessly (9)
RE (about), ALI (boxer), STIC{k} (something to chase) [endlessly]
17 Beginning of work involving Italian singer (8)
BAR ONE (beginning of musical work) containing [involving] IT (Italian)
18 Break cover, initially appearing in sloop-rigged vessel (7)
LID (cover) + A{ppearing}[initially] contained by [in] HOY (sloop-rigged vessel)
20 Pause telepathic communication during ceremony (7)
ESP (telepathic communication – extra sensory perception) contained by [during] RITE (ceremony)
21 Safety device choosy users primarily promote (3-3)
C{hoosy} + U{sers} [primarily], TOUT (promote)
23 Mercian king hiding in walled garden (5)
Hidden in {wall}ED GAR{den}. Known as ‘Edgar the Peaceful’ he reigned 957-959.
27 Pass school regularly (3)
{s}C{h}O{o}L [regularly]

76 comments on “Times Cryptic 28760”

  1. I fairly flew thru this, barely lifting my pen.
    Yes, I’m back on paper! Maybe that explains it (though I finished this week’s Mephisto online).
    I started with the last clue, COL, filled in that quadrant and moved up steadily section by section without skipping around.
    Biffed a bunch (parsed most of those while writing). Easiest 15×15 I can remember.

    CORNEILLE is remembered in the term “Cornelian dilemma” (dilemme cornélien, choix cornélien or conflit cornélien), where one must make a moral choice—between, say, love and honor or desire and duty—and the situation offers no option that will be without negative, even tragic, effects.

  2. DNF
    Should have been done and dusted in about 15′, but I never noticed that for my FOI, RETRAIN, I’d typed RETRAIR; after wasting a few minutes trying to do something with A_R_L, I threw in the towel. Idiot.

  3. One this way, one that way: I knew Corneille but could not have spelled him without the cryptic; I knew Motown but couldn’t have called up de trop without the answer.

    Thanks, jack. I was sorry, as I’m sure you were, when I took your direction and went back to look to find that Ictus and Fichu appeared in different past puzzles

  4. 8:39 which is a quick one for me. Couldn’t parse DETROIT but the definition was a gimme. Also took a punt, albeit a confident one, on CORNEILLE. And took a while to find EDGAR, despite having been told where he was hiding.

    The rest went in without incident. Thanks setter and Jack.

    1. Well done on the speedy time. I wasn’t quite so confident about the NHO CORNEILLE; remember Neal Blewett, a cabinet minister back in the days of the Hawke and Keating governments.

  5. DNF. Made heavy weather of this and deserved a fail. In the end, I didn’t look at the anagram fodder carefully enough and (not for the first time) spelt PLANTAGENET incorrectly .

  6. To save Myrtilus later, I see that this is our letter inclusion/deletion setter. I count 9 including the usual initially (twice), primarily, originally, endlessly etc. It leads to a tedious crossword.

    Editor please have a word. Thanks.

    1. I had planned to say that I suspect it is the start/end letter fiend, but that if it is, he/she has started to tone it down a bit. A small step in the right direction.

  7. I spent a year in the 1980s teaching English at the Lycée Thomas Corneille in Normandy – Pierre’s less illustrious brother, but that helped me to a fast time.

  8. 20 minutes, so a speedy one for me. NHO CORNEILLE, but NEIL seemed a safe bet, or HOY, but sailed through it. LOI SEAQUAKE where I just wasn’t sure it was a thing, and left it to last

  9. 13:00. I flew through much of this then slowed considerably on the LHS, particularly in the NW. My last entry, SEAQUAKE, alone took several minutes, forgetting the old advice “if you’ve got a U try a Q before it”. I was also a touch worried about AIT, wondering if it should have a Y in it, like its alternative of EYOT.
    Nice to see myself appear today (not my real name of Pootle, but my pseudonym, Neil).

    1. I often get an appearance but is this is the first time I remember seeing my brother Neill show up albeit that he needs to take another bit of the wordplay.

  10. I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
    (Aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven, Yeats)

    25 mins pre-brekker, with the last few trawling through man-names to fill the NHO dramatist. I plumped for Neil.
    Ta setter and J

  11. We had a teacher of English at school whose name was NEIL. He asked us one day if we knew what it meant – to which came the reply ‘on your knees’.

    11’46”, nho CORNEILLE, biffed DETROIT and PLANTAGENET.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  12. 24 minutes with LOI SMACKEROO clear from crossers after I ventured SEAQUAKE. CORNEILLE was unknown but somehow seemed the most likely. I assumed a HOY was a sloop-rigged vessel. I had the knowledge otherwise, once I managed to read it as Mairi and not Main.. COD to BARITONE. A workmanlike puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  13. 12:54. I pondered the man’s name in 29A, my LOI, for a while before plumping for NEIL and was relieved to see I had guessed right as I’d never heard of the dramatist. I failed to parse DETROIT, not thinking to separate the DE TRO?. The meaning of SAPID and HOY the boat were two other things I learned from today’s crossword. Thank-you Jackkt and setter.

  14. Well I spent 33 minutes of which the last 10 or so (really!) were spent staring at SEA*U*K* convinced it was something to do with seasickness… Until I finally rethought.
    Hopefully I can do better the rest of the day 🙂
    Thanks setter and blogger

  15. Pleasant solve with SEAQUAKE my LOI, and was pleased my guess using Neil was correct for the dramatist.
    On a coach to Oxford so will look at the jumbo from Saturday next.

  16. 34 mins for an odd crossword that seemed a cross between a QC and a Mephisto in parts.
    A number of write-in’s and a couple of head scratchers.

    LOI the unknown CORNEILLE worked out from wp. Like others FICHU and ICTUS remembered from the past.

    Quite enjoyable though. I likes LIMOUSINE.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  17. Just under 20 minutes. Didn’t parse DETROIT, only remembered FICHU and ICTUS from previous crosswords, had to hope that Neil was the man in question for CORNEILLLE, and for HOLIDAY didn’t know that a hoy is a vessel.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Ait
    LOI Corneille
    COD Charismatic

  18. 6:56. Plain sailing this morning. I knew CORNEILLE (the third most famous French playwright of the 17th century) and biffed 18dn without even registering that I didn’t know what a HOY is. ICTUS rang a vague bell but I waited for the checkers.
    I think I have finally, after getting it wrong many, many times, learned that LOGARITHM isn’t spelled with a Y.

    1. “HOY? Where’s that?!” Ha. I see that I biffed HOLIDAY too, and also didn’t even notice.

  19. 20:38

    Found this a fairly mechanical solve . A few chestnuts and several straightforward charade type clues. That said, I somehow got it into my head that 1a was Nyasaland, which held me up for a while. I though “drawn to suits” was clever .

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  20. 25 minutes with fingers firmly crossed for CORNEILLE. There were a few other unknowns (SAPID, FICHU, and ICTUS) but they were fairly clued so no complaints.

    Looking back I don’t know what slowed me but I didn’t quite feel as on the wavelength as yesterday.

    Thanks to setter and blogger both.

  21. Would have been a (for me) v speedy 15 mins, but held up for ages by SEAQUAKE and SMACKEROO. Ended up at 40 mins.

  22. Another who whizzed through in 13 minutes until left with the unknown dramatist. Only word I knew that fitted was CORBEILLE which is French for basket. Came to see here rather than guess a ‘man’. Was trying to fit NATAL into 1a until the light dawned.
    If it’s SAPID, why isn’t the opposite INSAPID not insipid?

  23. 13.15, so pretty slippy by my standards. Not having knowingly encountered CORNEILLE, I did my research (thanks Google) to find that there’s two of them, the “famous” Pierre and his 19 years younger brother Thomas. Only Pierre is down as a tragedian, but I reckon Thomas’s “La Mort de l’empereur Commode” probably qualifies.
    A welcome return of FICHU after 3 weeks: it seems setters know to spell it out to avoid irritated comments.
    Not much impressed by SEAQUAKE, a not-very-cryptic CD, but I’m still smarting from yesterday’s H/CANNIBAL disgrace in the Quickie. At least I managed not to spell LOGARITHM with the more logical two Os

  24. Not so straightforward for me, over 40′ needing two visits, the second one being much more fruitful after a hotel breakfast (sunny Tenerife). Quite a few NHOs, (ICTUS, CORNEILLE) and FICHU only remembered from last month, before which it was also NHO, my vocab is improving…. Also a few unparsed until my visit here, BARITONE, DETROIT albeit they were write-ins (never thought of bar one). Agree SMACKEROO sounds dated, and for me doesn’t only mean dollar? Thanks Jackkt and setter

  25. Everything was going so quickly and I was on for a PB, which in my case is nothing very special but must be about 14min., but then came up against four in the top left. Wasn’t aware that TRANSVAAL was no longer — I think some rugby or cricket teams still go by that name? SEAQUAKE an unknown, although I suspected a CD; in this case I agree a rather feeble one. SMACKEROO wasn’t in Chambers (I eventually used aids because I couldn’t believe that a word fitted), only smasheroo. Although I’d just heard of it I couldn’t see why ‘dollar’. Perhaps because it’s, according to Collins, American English. TARIFFS my other hold-up, but fine now I see the answer. So in the end 34 minutes.

  26. 06:16, everything falling into place without delays. All required knowledge checked and confirmed as appropriately “general”, even if, like everyone else, I can’t remember the last time I heard somebody outside a 1930s screwball comedy refer to smackeroos…

  27. 25’30”
    Fortunate to get a clear run, stayed on well.

    Lucky indeed! A-level set texts; Beaumarchais was a piece of cake as The Marriage of Figaro, albeit sung in Italian, was a favourite, but, had I been a Salieri fan, Horace would not have been such a chore. I remember nothing of it, save its author. Thanks Pete Crow, you’ve finally proved useful.
    Lucky also that all fell within my ken, so all were parsed and no biffs nor unknowns, and a double digit Witch, by the skin of my teeth.
    I did get a bit panicky in the home straight, thinking I needed a forgotten letter for Napier’s constant (chump!) and a Japanese term for the K blank of 3d (chump squared!).

    Enjoyed this; thank you very much setter and Jack.

  28. DNF. Cheated to get genuinely NHO CORNEILLE, but cheating machine offered only CORbEILLE which doesn’t parse, so I left it blank.
    I liked that the boxer in 15d has two refs; Ali whom we know well and the barking STICk-chaser we also recognise.
    A bit surprised to encounter SMACKEROO, but it is perfectly legit.
    Took a while to parse C U TOUT.
    Surprised by the new (to me) def of ICTUS. Fichu an old friend but only ever met in crosswords.
    Recognised the HOY when it finally showed up from Hornblower novels.

  29. 17:49, but I bunged in SMACKAROO without consulting the anagrist properly. Drat! Had to construct CORNEILLE from wordplay. Thanks setter and Jack.

  30. 9:20. All pretty smooth apart from crossing figures for CORNEILLE at the end. Seemed entirely plausible. (Happy to have spelt LOGARITHM right, unlike a during a notable recent live solve where I convinced myself it had two Os.)

    1. Zabadak said the same thing about the spelling of LOGARITHM. It might help to remember it’s an anagram of algorithm.

  31. Easy, unless you haven’t heard of TRANSVAAL and fail at the game of ‘guess a random woman’s name’, as I did. NHO CORNEILLE either, but at least I guessed the right random man’s name for that one.

    Combination of two of those, plus the weak cryptic definition for SEAQUAKE, meant that this wasn’t one of my favourites. ‘Drawn to suits’ was nice, though.

  32. Twas nice after a flooded journey
    To complete this viewing Lake Vyrnwy
    But the random man Neil
    Somehow makes me feel
    That I’ll shortly consult my attorney

  33. It took a while to get going on this, with only FICHU, AIT and COL at the first scan, but then I fell into the way of it and things started to show. I would have been miffed if SMACKEROO had been anything other than an anagram, as it wasn’t a term that come easily to mind, but no problems with it clued as above. I would say that Corneille is pretty much on a par with Racine in terms of renown and not far behind Moliere for C17th French playwrights, so I’m surprised he seems to be largely unheard of here. Certainly I bifd it and post-parsed. NHOs were SAPID and SEAQUAKE. For the former the clueing was generous enough – for the latter, I had to resort to aids, as I was thinking of seasickness and even though the ‘Q’ rule popped into my mind, I discounted it! Didn’t parse HOLIDAY, so thanks Jackkt, for clearing that up.

    1. I was slightly surprised at how unknown CORNEILLE is around here, but I would have thought that Racine is significantly better-known. And Molière is in a different league!

      1. Agree. He’s a giant of French literature (though his plays are bloody boring to modern sensibilities), so a name you’d think would be better known here.

  34. 19:15

    A few unknowns for me – SAPID, ICTUS, CORNEILLE, SMACKEROO – but all reasonably clued. LOI was SEAQUAKE which after a few minutes staring blankly, remembered the ‘If U then Q’ mnemonic.

  35. Plodded my way through this, using the blog here and there to make sense of some of the clues (as I step up to the 15×15). No problems with SMACKEROO or CORNEILLE but NHO SAPID or ‘hoy’. Remembered FICHU from a recent puzzle and half-knew ICTUS and AGAR.
    I’m still struggling with the parsing of LITIGIOUS and often get in a mix up with this sort of clue. I wonder whether someone could enlighten me. So, GI seems to be contained specifically by IOUS, not by LIT + IOUS. Where is the wordplay for this or is it a 15×15 thing that I just have to get used to?!
    Many thanks for the excellent blog.

    1. I see your point regarding LITIGIOUS, and instinctively I would think like you and read it as LIT + GI + IOUS. However, it needs to be read as GI (soldier) in LITIOUS (written works promises to pay). In this way the GI could be placed anywhere within LITIOUS – the parsing is ambiguous, maybe deliberately. It would be interesting to know if the QC has less ambiguity in the parsing. I guess it would make sense if that was the case.

      1. Thank you. There is definitely less ambiguity in the QC, so it sounds like it’s just something I’ll have to get used to. Good to know that the parsing could be deliberately ambiguous – something to take into account.

        1. Any indication ‘X in Y Z’ can be interpreted as either ‘[X in Y] Z’ or ‘X in [Y Z]’. In the latter case you can put the X anywhere in the string of letters that results from [Y, Z]. This sort of ambiguity is common to more or less all containment clues, since they don’t usually tell you exactly where to do the containment. I don’t think it’s any different in the QC.

          1. Thanks. I didn’t know this about containment clues but have not had too much problem in the QC. So, in PLANTAGENET, for example, I was expecting the outside ‘e’ to fall within AGENT due to proximity (and it did), but now understand that I need to consider that it could equally have occurred anywhere within PLANT + AGENT… Good to know. Many thanks.

            1. I always struggle to see how ‘transfixed’ can be a containment indicator. Not only because transfix and contain aren’t synonyms, but even allowing for crossword-land licence, the subject and the object of the clue are usually reversed-as they are here.
              If the ‘character is transfixed [contained] by the horse’ then the character is the object and should be inside the horse which is the subject.
              But apparently it’s always been done this way.

              1. To transfix is to impale, so if thing A is transfixed by thing B then thing B is by implication inside thing A.

  36. Drawn to suits, soldier in written works promises to pay
    LIT + I (GI) OUS
    You’re right, it is in IOUS, but it’s also in LITIOUS as a whole.

  37. DNF with…

    …a different typo to my fellow DNFers. Misspell would be more correct. I saw LOGO- and was more concerned with whether it was then an I or a Y.

  38. 29:15 A very rare sub-half hour finish for me. Initially had SEASURGE for 2d, which delayed my seeing SMACKEROO. Finally sorted that, so SEAQUAKE was my LOI.

  39. Submitted off leaderboard because, even though I’d got the rest done in under 10 minutes, I couldn’t for the life of me see Seaquake.

  40. 46.00 I found this tougher than most. The wrong kind of EYT held me up for a while. The silliness of SMACKEROO made me laugh. HOLIDAY and DETROIT were unparsed and CORNEILLE was a punt. I was pleased to finish it. Thanks Jack.

  41. 26 minutes, so extremely easy, but I rather enjoyed it nonetheless. SMACKEROO was one of the clues I liked, although I never actually say that, and REALISTIC (with the STICK being chased endlessly. So a few smiles here and there to make it a pleasant, if not very challenging, solve.

  42. Bottom half flew in; top half slower. NHO SAPID, but it had to be. 17’17”. Many thanks to all.

  43. Even though I could see it was an anagram I needed all the crossers before getting SMACKEROO, my LOI.
    Another enjoyable puzzle for me but I think I always say that when I finish with all correct.

  44. Mostly plain sailing, apart from the SMACKEROO, which I’ve not heard since the 60s from my dad, who I had assumed had made up the word (as he was wont to do). It was also an unlikely-looking anagram …I rest my case. Luckily remembered SAPID, FICHU and ICTUS vaguely, but research failed to find a name for a “sloop-rigged vessel”, so I just biffed in HOLIDAY with a shrug. A few too many to-guess names of both genders for my liking ( she said as she failed to get the French tragic dramatist – had only the shell of that one). Should have been happier, as by far the fastest for this week, but somehow not.

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