Times Cryptic 28778

Solving time: 51 minutes

As my timing suggests, I did not find this particularly easy but it was an enjoyable solve and I was never in any doubt that I would complete it.

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 At sea crew initially persisted in bad manners (10)
Anagram [at sea] of C{rew} [initially] PERSISTED
6 Bar allowed female to take up new position (4)
Free [allowed] becomes REEF when F (female) takes up a new position. Last Tuesday we had REEF defined as ‘bank’ and Pip commented:  Reef is rock or coral and a bank is sand. I think the same can be said of ‘bar’. REEF defined as ‘bank’ also appeared in The Guardian puzzle last Friday.
8 Destroy with moving victory at beginning of winter (8)
DEC 1 (beginning of winter), MATE (moving victory at chess). I think by now we all know the original meaning of decimate, but usage allows for changes of meaning and ‘destroy’ is fine. The astronomical first day of winter in the northern hemisphere is December 21, but according to the meteorological calendar, the first day of winter in the UK is always December 1. Every play in chess is a move, so with a bit of a squint one might claim that a checkmate is a ‘moving victory’.

Incidentally, I was surprised yesterday when several experienced QC solvers including at least two TfTT bloggers were caught out by MAR I clued as Beginning of month.  I wonder if they fared better with this one. 

9 The ways of one’s ancestors, might one say? (6)
Sounds like [might one say] “roots” with reference to the distinctive ethnic or cultural identity of one’s ancestors
10 Composer dropping in for something to eat (4)
CHOP{in} (composer) [dropping ‘in’]
11 P for Porsche fanatic? (10)
P{etrol} [head]. A reverse-type clue. The definition is by example as a petrolhead may be into any type of car, or cars more generally.
12 Sailor’s hat boy and I found in lake (9)
PAUL (boy) + I contained by [found in] TARN (mountain lake). I haven’t checked the whole archive but TARPAULIN as a hat has come up at least once previously, in a 15×15 in December 2019. On that occasion it was defined simply as ‘old hat’ but the clue used ‘sailor’ in the wordplay to provide TAR. I didn’t know it then either but as with today’s clue the answer was easy to construct.
14 Music producer’s boss claiming £50 (5)
CEO  (boss – Chief Executive Officer) containing [claiming] L (£ as in  L.S.D.) +L (50)
17 Bore with complaint on way back (5)
RD (way – road) reversed [back], ILL (with complaint)
19 Uncompromising student once having say about home (9)
OB (student  – Old Boy), then STATE (say) containing [about] IN (home)
22 Regime in which Mary Poppins would feel at home? (5,5)
23 Sex before church is a sin (4)
VI (sex – 6 in Latin), CE (Church of England)
24 High official, namely one accompanying queen (6)
VIZ (namely), I (one), ER (queen). I know this title from Aladdin, Sinbad, Arabian Nights etc where there was usually a Grand Vizier around.
25 Stupidly I take men a hallucinogen (8)
Anagram [stupidly] of I TAKE MEN
26 Nicaragua guerrilla nursing a fever (4)
Hidden in [nursing] {Nicaragu}A GUE{errilla}
27 Stopping work and hitting the sack (10)
Two meanings of sorts
1 Single-minded reactionary resolved to protect old volunteers (9)
DECIDED (resolved) containing [to protect] TA (old volunteers – Territorial Army, now Army Reserve) reversed [reactionary]
2 Help!” victim called out (7)
Sounds like [called out] “sucker” (victim e.g. of a swindle]
3 A politician drowning in beer and scotch (5,3)
A + MP (politician) contained by [drowning in] STOUT (beer)
4 Bitter at 27 time? This might help (8,7)
Cryptic with reference to the second meaning at 27ac. Edit: ‘Bitter’ as in ‘bitterly cold’. 
5 Blunder by scientist ultimately creating a monster (6)
{scientis}T [ultimately}, ERROR (blunder). ‘The Terror’ in the title of many a horror film turns out to be a monster of some sort.
6 A possible clue for when crude (5-4)
A reverse-type clue by which ‘when’ might be clued as an anagram [ROUGH] of HEWN. As recently as 19th November we had: When cryptic maybe is crudely fashioned (5,4).
7 Seeing something, I cry out loud (7)
Sounds like [out loud] “I bawl” (cry). I suppose seeing something is to ‘eyeball’ it, but I associate the word more with staring hard, often aggressively. Edit: Ah! Thanks to Kevin for pointing out what I missed, that an EYEBALL is a ‘seeing something’!
13 Papa alone, so I organised a dance (9)
P (papa – NATO), then anagram [organised] of ALONE SO I.  Chopin, mentioned at 10ac, wrote around 20 of these.
15 Ask too much of English king in public (9)
E (English) + REX (king) contained by [in] OVERT (public).
16 Witness from trial, breaking schedule, turned up (8)
TEST (trial), contained by [breaking] ROTA (schedule) reversed [turned up]
18 University terrified by head of department leaving (7)
{d}READING (terrified) [head of d{epartment} leaving]. Considering almost every sizeable town or city in the UK has a university I’ve never understood why Reading appears to have some sort of favoured status amongst Times setters.
20 A cardinal holding island back? That’s ludicrous (7)
A + NINE (cardinal), containing [holding] IS (island) reversed [back]
21 One generating a lot of interest? (6)
Cryptic. A moneylender, especially one charging an excessive rate of interest.

74 comments on “Times Cryptic 28778”

  1. I started out on KETAMINE and didn’t hit any harder stuff working my way up until I had all the lower-half Acrosses filled in. Overconfidently, though, I had put in BISHOP for the high official “namely” by the Queen—should have realized “namely” disqualified that from being a DD—and SECURITY BLANKET, so had those in my way for a little while. The NE remained blank above CELLO till the end stretch, and I was actually on the verge of cheating for my LOI, PETROLHEAD, when the answer suddenly hit me.

    I suspect the popularity of READING among setters has to do with the opportunities it offers to wordplay.

  2. 33:04
    This took me forever (I’m a sore thumb on the SNITCH). DNK TARPAULIN (ODE marks it ‘historical’), PETROLHEAD. It took me a long time to understand ‘reactionary’; I’d earlier put in DEDICATED, then took it out. EYEBALL was my POI; even when I parsed it, I couldn’t see how ‘seeing something’ (as opposed to ‘see something’) could be the def. I finally figured an eyeball is something that sees, ergo… (of course, an eyeball doesn’t see; we see with our eyeballs; but anyway). REEF was my LOI; and I was so relieved to parse it and submit the damn thing I didn’t think about the (in)appropriateness of ‘bar’. It certainly didn’t suggest anything reef-like to me; the best I could come up with with just the R in place was ‘rail’.

  3. For REEF, Collins has “ a ridge of rock, sand, coral, etc, the top of which lies close to the surface of the sea.” BAR: “an offshore ridge of sand, mud, or shingle lying near the shore and parallel to it, across the mouth of a river, bay, or harbour, or linking an island to the mainland.” If a bar were always sand, why would we say “sandbar”?

    EYEBALL is a “seeing something.” Cute.

      1. Not sure what that’s meant to prove, but I see that the town is home to Sand Beach.
        The word “bar” may have come to mean most usually a sand formation, but my point was that it originally didn’t, apparently, and by that token need not always. Likewise, as I pointed out, a REEF can also be made of sand—according to Collins, anyway. Which may be why someone some time felt compelled to coin the term “coral reef”—to distinguish such from other reefs.

  4. 25 minutes. Yesterday 1/1 on the leaderboard at 00:20 GMT, today 5/5 at 00:25 GMT; normal service has been resumed. Solved steadily, helped by seeing the cryptic defs without too much delay. After last week, I wondered if REEF might provoke some debate. I took ‘Seeing something’ as a noun à la Kevin and Guy’s parsing but didn’t stop to think much about it. Is an ITCH a ‘sin’? Apparently not.

    I liked the PETROLHEAD and ROUGH-HEWN reverse clues.

  5. A bit of a struggle at 45 mins for me, not helped when (like Guy) I chose a (financially speaking) security blanket as the answer for 4d overthinking in the region of someone bitter about being forced into retirement, alternatively Linus’ ever-present blanket, when the actual meaning was much more straightforward. Liked 6d and the witty 22a.

  6. Really liked this and enjoyed the struggle, getting home in about 45. Many thanks to Jackkt for explaining some that bamboozled me, including DEDICATED, DISRESPECT and REEF. PETROLHEAD and ROUGH-HEWN my CsOD.

  7. I will do such things—
    What they are, yet I know not, but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth!
    (King Lear)

    20 ish mins mid brekker. Gentle, neat and tidy – except I took a while to parse “moving victory” and I thought Petrolhead might not be enough wordplay for some.
    Ta setter and J

  8. 45m 34s
    Re 6ac, my two penn’orth is that a bar is made of sand, mud or shingle while a reef is far more solid, coral, say. When Tennyson wrote ‘Crossing the Bar’, I’m sure he didn’t have coral in mind when he wrote “no moaning of the bar”.

    1. Indeed. That’s why they move from year to year. And THAT’s why they’re so dangerous, as the charts are usually unreliable.

  9. 53 minutes. LOI TARPAULIN, unknown even if I have seen it before. The bottom was much easier than the top, despite at first putting TESTATOR rather than ATTESTOR The two reverse-engineered clues needed all crossers, one of which they shared. Anyway, there is an all-electric Porsche now, I gather. I had LEFT (F in LET) before EYEBALL saved me. I never felt on wavelength with this and yet couldn’t retune. Thank you Jack and setter.

  10. DNF. Clever crossword. REEF is, to me, clearly a mistake. A bar is always made of loose material.

        1. My local bar is full of spit and sawdust.

          Now, spit is an interesting word as it means a loose bar of shingle …

          I’ll get my tin hat.

  11. Well, that’s better. 32 mins with the only one unknown, TARPAULIN for hat, but as Jack says, it’s not hard to work out from the cryptic.

    LOI DEDICATED once I’d finally seen how it worked. Wasn’t sure about REEF but in it went once I had R-E- and I knew I had to put an F somewhere!

    I liked ROUGH-HEWN & PETROLHEAD (of which I am one).

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  12. The debate above never crossed my mind, as REEF by several definitions and assorted wordplays has featured, perhaps to excess, in my crossword diet recently. Also ROUTES/roots, READING and VI for sex. Is there a crossword editors’ club where such things are discussed?


    On a roll today, 11’39”.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  13. 13:50. I failed to parse REEF, and took a while to see how DEDICATED worked, but everything else went in fine. I liked PETROLHEAD, VICE and EYEBALL among others. Thanks-you Jackkt and setter.

  14. 20 minutes or so. Didn’t really understand ELECTRIC BLANKET beyond the ‘time to go to bed’ bit… how is it ‘bitter’? I feel like we’ve had something very similar to EYEBALL recently, which helped, and I didn’t know TARPAULIN as a sailor’s hat. Bunged in a silly ‘rogue state’ at 22a before realising my mistake and correcting to NANNY STATE.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Disrespect
    LOI Reef
    COD Polonaise

      1. Thanks, John. It was in my head to explain that in the blog but then I forgot. I have added a comment now.

  15. 66 minutes the last few minutes spent on VIZIER and USURER.
    I needed the blog for the parsing of DISRESPECT. I just couldn’t get away trying to think of a name for a sea crew and initial P.

  16. 30 mins but at about 20 minutes I had a pretty empty grid. As always when they started to fall I wondered why it had taken me so long.

    No real unknowns today, REEF was a previously complained about answer so that went in ok. TARPAULIN took a while, as did PETROLHEAD.

    A nice middle-of-the-road puzzle in my opinion so thanks to both setter and blogger.

  17. 14:35
    I knew PETROLHEAD from ‘Top Gear’; DNK TARPAULIN as a hat, but easy enough to work out.
    The “Bitter” meaning cold in 4dn is, I think, a Tyneside expression – I’ve heard “It’s bitter out” in the Geordie sitcoms ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ and ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’.

    1. Remembered from ISIRTA: community joke telling time: “Cold on the embankment tonight.” “Bitter – don’t mind if I do.”

      1. On which subject did anyone else have SLEEPING DRAUGHT as an initial stab at 4dn? Seems to fit perfectly, until it doesn’t…

    2. Also very much a Scottish word, my good lady has been using it on an hourly basis this last few weeks.

  18. Certainly tougher than yesterday, maybe just under 40′ having had a few distractions. First passes gave me nothing in the top half but reasonable success in the bottom. PETROLHEAD came to me immediately but didn’t feel I had enough wordplay to commit to it. Top half was stubborn, in large part because I didn’t see the anagram material for DISRESPECT until after I’d ground out most of crossers.

    After finding V, W, X, Y, Z I was also distracted by thinking we might have a pangram, so tried to squeeze J and Q from somewhere.

    LOI REEF, for much the same reason as other, I did enjoy NANNY STATE. thanks Jackkt and setter.

  19. 18.47, mostly extended because I couldn’t get 1a without all the crossers. It just didn’t occur that “persisted” might be anagram fodder.
    I had a strong feeling of déjà vu about this one, maybe because of the looming REEF debate, but CHOP, SUCCOUR and TERROR all felt very recent. and probably produced the “seen it before” sensation which then attached itself to many other clues.
    I did appreciate “moving victory”, though, which came across as fresh.

  20. 19:22
    An enjoyable battle. Knew that REEF was roughly akin to bar (as crossed by Tennyson) and that was good enough to me. Learnt something new about TARPAULIN. PETROLHEAD was easy enough despite being about as far from one as one can possibly be. Was convinced that EYEBALL was incorrectly clued but know realise that “SEEING SOMETHING” is very clever.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  21. 56 minutes. A real struggle. The top row – DISRESPECT and REEF – remained unsolved until the end until I had battled up to the crossers from below

  22. Bottom half straight in, top half trickier. Overall: average time. Last 2 PETROLHEAD and EYEBALL, deciding with disgruntlement the clue was referencing a thing that sees, a la Kevin.
    But all in vain: I can spell neither VIS (sic) nor VISIER (sic), though I know both words.
    No strong feelings on the reef, but they are hard and solid.
    As others say, an enjoyable challenge.

  23. Quite please with my 26 min time only to discover that I put ATTESTER, thinking that ETA was the schedule and wondering where the R came from. More haste, less speed methinks. Much to enjoy here

  24. I agree with Jack about the mysterious way in which Times setters so often clue READING as a university — it isn’t even one of the Russell Group of 24 universities. Guy: yes it does indeed offer opportunities for wordplay, but I think Jack is not saying that he can’t understand why it’s in the grid, but saying that setters overdo the university definition. 54 minutes, after grinding to a halt on the PETROLHEAD clue, which I eventually used aids for. It remains a bit unsatisfactory, perhaps because very strictly speaking I think it should say ‘petrol’s head’.

    1. I don’t think we do see READING defined as a university that often. We see it an awful lot the other way round because – as GdS says – the double meaning creates misdirection opportunities.

      1. I’ve definitely seen it as ‘university town’ semi-regularly, including in the Times, although this is the first I recall where it’s just been ‘university’.

  25. 9:52. I started very slowly on this but picked up speed towards the end of the acrosses.
    MER at bar/REEF but both Collins and ODE say a REEF can be made of sand which is good enough for me.

  26. 20.10 but somehow managed to type USERER. Terrible. Was doing well on this one especially as managed to crack the ROUGH HEWN and REEF crossers but 1ac took ages as I was looking for something in DISSENT despite my first thought on how it worked being the correct one.

    Nice puzzle, thanks all

  27. 25 minutes but another with a careless attester. An eyeball is indeed a seeing something, yet it lies awkwardly without the article. Some unflagged Latin in rex and sex. But I guess it’s all within the bounds. 1 down was clever.

  28. I found this a fairly gentle ride until it was time to complete the NW corner, at which point I ground to a prolonged halt. Was not helped by plumping,like others, for SECURITY BLANKET at 4dn, thinking of mewling infants being dragged away from the telly. I thought there were some clever clues here and it was an enjoyable challenge, eventually finished in 42 minutes.
    FOI – CHOP
    COD – STAMP OUT, if only for the image in the clue.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  29. 49:12 – LOI DEDICATED, biffed without understanding. Not come across reactionary as a reversal indicator before. FOI ROUGH-HEWN, but moved from there to the SE corner and gradually worked my way upwards. COD DECIMATE.

  30. 31:44 – slow to start and consistently tough, though on review I am not entirely sure why. I think this is the third crossword land outing for REEF clued as a bar, if memory serves, so if I see “bar” now it is my first thought rather than the usual ban etc. The sailor’s hat was a new one on me but not easily forgotten, I suspect (hope).

  31. 23.56 for me – with the unknown POLONAISE my fingers-crossed LOI. “Seeing something” and “moving victory” were both lovely.

    Thanks setter (John Halpern/Paul, perhaps?) and blogger.

  32. A nice puzzle. I took Tarpaulin on faith, and then took forever on the Rough-Hewn / Reef crossing to finish. I’m well-practiced at the “if there’s a U, try Q in front of it” trick, but I always forget the “if there’s an H don’t forget G in front” – which led to a long and fruitless S/C/T alpha-trawl. Thanks, jack

  33. I found this tough. After 45 minutes I still had 10 clues in the top half empty. After a break I changed security to ELECTRIC (clever when you see it), then PETROLHEAD and the rest fell in. Some with a shrug. Didn’t recognise the reversal indicator ‘resolved’ or the ‘moving victory’ or indeed the anagram in 1a. So thank you for sorting that all out Jack. I assume the predilection for READING University is because of its excellent reputation? Just saying.

  34. FOI was CHOP, followed by SUCCOUR., after which the top half stayed sparsely populated. STAMP OUT did hove into view before I decided to move to pastures south. This proved profitable and I was fairly soon back up north where ROUGH HEWN and PETROLHEAD helped, along with EYEBALL. REEF seemed a better option than the CLEF I’d been toying with, and ROUGH HEWN confirmed that. I sloughed off doubts about sand and rock. DISRESPECT finished the job although I failed to spot the anagrist. 22:16. Thanks setter and Jack.

  35. 31:27

    Slow to the table today, but a clear round without too much bother. It helped that REEF had come up so recently, but it was the top left that held out the longest – I needed SUCCOUR to get TARPAULIN (unknown def as for many others). Didn’t get the bitter jump to ELECTRIC in flight, so thanks for clearing that one up for me.

  36. Like many other I did not know that meaning of TARPAULIN but took it on faith. I also went down the SECURITY BLANKET route without real justification except it fitted the enumeration and sort of fitted the definition such as it was. Struggled with the DEDICATED/DECIMATED cross which were my last two in.

  37. Felt on the setter’s wavelength today, with many answers going straight in, even TARPAULIN, whose meaning as a hat I didn’t know. Like others, I finished at the top, with DISRESPECT going in unparsed and REEF LOI after ROUGH-HEWN, which I liked. Perhaps I’m beginning to get the hang of these cryptic definitions, though I didn’t like PETROLHEAD. Only sat down to this after supper, so late to the table, so to speak.

  38. Slight holdup with the asinine and vice crossers having forgotten both the Latin 6 idea and that a cardinal can be a number. But otherwise a relatively smooth solve. Thanks all. Time 31 mins

  39. 29:36 so JUST inside the half hour.
    For spelling usurer I remembered the Usurians from Dr Who, in Tom Baker’s time! I’ve got a feeling Petrolhead came up before in the not too distant past, or I wouldn’t have got it. Tarpaulin as a hat was new to me but eminently guessable.

  40. 25.38 with the help of a couple of remembered recent answers. Rough hewn was the first and reef the LOI. I think it was only last week we had reef for bar in a clue.

    Not particularly easy but hiatus followed by spurt was my experience today. Liked the puzzle with nanny state my COD. Happy memories of seeing the original film between finishing primary school and starting secondary.

    Ths setter and blogger.

  41. Started late last night and got nowhere. Amazing the difference a night’s sleep makes.

  42. Strangely enough, this one was the easiest of the week for me ! Typically untrue to form, I sailed through the bottom half, only coming to a pause half-way up. Had P?T?O?HEAD and still didn’t see it: thing’s automotive are not my strong suit. Also missed that 1a was an anagram ( there are a lot of synonyms for “bad manners”). Then the clever DECIMATE hove into view, followed quickly by my COD ROUGH HEWN; CHOP and SUCCOUR helped complete the top half . Altogether a satisfying solve for me, with many clever surfaces .

    1. Summernats has just ended, which was a sort of memory jogger for me. A synonym for petrolhead has been coined by the ACT Fed Police chief: moron tourist. His suggestion of a border iq test was almost as whimsical as his description of dealing with sporadic incidents as ‘whackamole’.

      This weekend of burn outs and racing is a nightmare for the police, but brings in millions . Where are the eco anti car activist protests?

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