Times Cryptic 28796


Solving time: 40 minutes

I found this mostly straightforward but I lost time over the Scottish team.

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 Greek expert on the Underworld put to shame (8)
DIS (underworld), GR (Greek), ACE (expert)
6 Economies turned round firm producing fine plaster (6)
CUTS (economies) reversed) [turned round], CO (firm)
9 Unreal, being aboard sinking boat with Atlantis appearing anew? (13)
IN SUB (aboard sinking boat), anagram [anew] of ATLANTIS. SOED: Not existing in substance or reality; not real, imaginary, illusory.
10 Girl with needle full of red blood? (6)
VI (girl), RILE (needle – annoy)
11 Spies must capture Bloom up to tricks in the country (8)
CIA (spies) containing [must capture] anagram [up to tricks] of BLOOM
13 Constant thundering and in Lancaster maybe small downpour (10)
C (constant), LOUD (thundering). then S (small) contained by [in] BURT (Lancaster maybe)
15 Bush with sharp spines: son’s lost much blood (4)
GOR{s}E (bush with sharp spines) [son’s lost]
16 Books of past and series of unremembered days (4)
Hidden in [series of] {unremember}ED DA{ys}
18 Rugger international in which French score, holding second Scottish team (10)
VINGT (French score – 20) containing [holding] S (second), contained by [in] LION (rugby international). ‘The Lions’ is the nickname of various teams representing England and/or Great Britain internationally at Rugby Union or Rugby League . I also just discovered that ‘The Lions’ is the nickname of Livingston F.C. but this is probably not known widely enough for the setter to have  made use of it in the clue. Edit: There’s more about the town and the team in my first comment in the discussion.
21 Lower price in competition for some sirloin (8)
Two meanings. A sirloin steak is sometimes referred to as an ‘undercut’.
22 Pause in bar after piano — nothing played fast (6)
P (piano), REST (pause), 0 (nothing). Musical direction.
23 Move swiftly around English supporter with Ford in pedestrian zone (5,8)
ZING (move swiftly) containing [around] E (English) + BRA (supporter) + CROSS (ford)
25 Rabbit shot with rook appearing in stories (6)
GO (shot) + R (rook) contained by [appearing in] ANA (stories). Fortunately the rabbit came up here very recently as I only knew it previously as a goat.
26 Early bird succeeded coming in to trap fish (8)
S (succeeded) contained by [coming in] NET (trap) + LING (fish). A mildly cryptic definition here.
2 Nancy’s milk at home one’s knocked back first (7)
LAIT (Nancy’s milk – French) + IN (at home) + I (one) reversed [knocked back]
3 Sign in East Street with one copper left in crowd (11)
E (East) + ST (Street) + I (one) + CU (copper) + L (left) contained by [in] GATE (crowd e.g. at a sports event)
4 Doctor consumed by drink making gentle progress? (5)
MB (doctor) contained [consumed] by ALE (drink)
5 Delilah in French bank, caught making entrance (7)
EN (in in French), TIER (bank) with C (caught) contained [making entrance]. An unsignalled DBE for those who are concerned.
6 Unmarried person going topless? Seemingly not! (9)
I you have a SINGLET ON you are not ‘going topless’.
7 Shooter‘s identity questioned in Bow reportedly? (3)
Sounds like “who’s he”  (identity questioned) as pronounced by a Cockerney
8 Working dog on run — one seen with blackened face? (7)
COLLIE (working dog), R (run). Colliers mine coal; collie is a leading breed of working sheepdog
12 Dictatorial American soldiers encased in concrete (11)
GIS (American soldiers) contained by [encased in] MATERIAL (concrete – both figuratively)
14 Battle aircraftman taking ladies perhaps into Welsh lake (9)
AC (aircraftman) + LAV (ladies perhaps) contained by [taking…into] BALA (Welsh lake)
17 New online journal by daughter sent up inhabitant (7)
N (new) + E (online) + ZINE (journal) + D (daughter) all reversed [sent up]. I was going to say I never heard of ZINE but of course in comes from ‘magazine’ via ‘fanzine’ etc. Collins gives it a more specific meaning, saying that it’s produced cheaply and written by amateurs.
19 Animal doctor near frisky warhorse (7)
VET (animal doctor), anagram [frisky] of NEAR. An escapee from the QC perhaps.
20 Figure duck disturbed cat and left shortly (7)
0 (duck – nil), anagram [disturbed] of CAT, then GON{e}{ (left) [shortly]
22 Communications from pair propping up the bar? (5)
The cryptic hint refers to goalposts and crossbar
24 Briton appearing occasionally in short history (3)
B{r}I{t}O{n} [appearing occasionally]

55 comments on “Times Cryptic 28796”

  1. DNF
    Couldn’t get VIRILE; thought of Di, thought of Fi, never thought of Vi. I also never thought of Burt; I spent a long time wondering what Lancaster was doing, thinking maybe its rainy climate had something to do with it. Parsed post-submission. DNK the Scottish town (looks more English to me, but), and was not sure what LION had to do with rugby, although it stirred some vague sort of memory. At 14d ‘ladies perhaps’ led me to confidently type in WATERL until I saw the problem. Didn’t (don’t) see what ‘bar’ is doing in PRESTO. ‘Vingt’ and ‘lait’? Usually, our French knowledge is limited to ‘le’ and ‘en’.

    1. It’s not necessary, but I think the double meaning of “pause in a bar” makes the surface more diverting.

      1. No, I had no idea about it either before looking it up just now, but Chambers has sense 10 of REST as a noun as: “An interval of silence in music, or a mark indicating it”

          1. I thought that was obvious. Didn’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence by spelling it out. PRESTO is from musical notation, in the first place.

            1. Indeed. I’d intended my ‘musical direction’ comment to apply to the whole clue. Perhaps I could have made it clearer but one can never tell when writing the blog which details will become issues in the discussions that follow.

  2. This went comfortably quickly, though I had to take a break to eat (no big Xmas dinner here, just a sandwich) before I could finish. I was pleased to get the NHO Scottish town with no trouble (thanks to the French). BALACLAVA was my antepenultimate one in, DENIZEN POI and then I finally got VIRILE.

    It seems to me that BIO, “short hisory,” is “appearing regularly” in Briton, but the clue doesn’t say that.

      1. The clue doesn’t indicate where the word BIO is appearing regularly. It says, “Briton appearing regularly.”

  3. Just as a footnote to my blog, I inadvertently typed ‘Scottish town’ in my intro instead of ‘Scottish team’ as in the clue to 18ac, which I have now corrected. As it happens in this case the team is named after the town in which it is based . Both are pretty obscure as far as I’m concerned but ‘town’ might have got me there a little faster.

    LIVINGSTON is a New Town in West Lothian designated as such in 1962 and taking its name from an old village that became part of the new development. The football team dates from 1943, originally founded as an amateur works team called Ferranti Thistle (Ferranti being an substantial engineering company) based in Edinburgh. In 1974 the team moved to the Meadowbank stadium in Edinburgh and changed its name to Meadowbank Thistle. In 1995 it relocated again to Livingston New Town and became Livingston F.C.

  4. 25 minutes. When I saw that _I_I_E at 10a at the very end, I just about went into panic mode, but decided to concentrate on the ‘needle’ bit first which gave RILE and then the answer; otherwise I would have been stuck on DI (or FI as Kevin points out) + a futile alphabet trawl. Maybe DELILAH isn’t a definition by example after all; I like the Collins sense 2 of Delilah as “a voluptuous and treacherous woman; temptress”.

    I was thinking of a bomber for ‘Lancaster maybe’ but BURT was even better.

  5. 14’50”, helped by brain being awake (insomnia). Really liked UZI (makes a change from dropping an ‘h’). Constructed LIVINGSTON, nho. VIRILE LOI.

    Happy St Stephen’s Day to all.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  6. … damps there drip upon
    Sagged seats, the creeper-nails are rust,
    The spider is sole denizen;
    Even she who voiced those rhymes is dust
    (An Ancient to Ancients, Hardy)

    After 25 mins pre-brekker, I was left with Di-nettle, which became possibly DiRile and finally Virile, but the brain-cogs were slow to turn.
    Ta setter and J

  7. VIRILE my LOI, was worried which girls name I’d need but suddenly the answer popped into my head. Nearly carelessly misspelled COLOMBIA, but was definitely on the wavelength for this one.
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  8. 14:29. LOI VIRILE… and I see I’m not the only one with that. I liked POSTS. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  9. 28:50, so just made it inside the half hour. NHO LIVINGSTON but luckily got it quite fast from thinking of vingt. LOI was VIRILE. Before that I got INITIAL which was a lucky biff as I saw my self imposed half hour target time looming. COD definitely the UZI.
    Thanks setter and blogger
    Hopefully everyone had a good Xmas and can relax now.

  10. 32 minutes, pre-brekker, with my stomach still groaning in travail at yesterday’s intake. COD to INITIAL, taking a while to reach French milk while running through my short list of known Nancys. (Astor, Spain, Sinatra, Reagan, Pelosi, Sikes, Tickle-your-fancy so far.) Enjoyable puzzle.Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. Another spending time at the end with VIRILE, hoping I didn’t need to remember what Disney called the Sleeping Beauty. Didn’t spot BURT, nor the parsing of GESTICULATE or ZEBRA CROSSING or PRESTO until after, nor the Q that mysteriously appeared in place of an O in contrasting pink. Otherwise 15 odd minutes.
    There’s no snow as I look out, deep, crisp, even or otherwise, and I can’t make out any peasants gathering winter foo-ooo-ell, but happy St Stephen’s anyway. Gift boxes welcome.

  12. Mostly a breeze. Main hold-ups for me were LIVINGSTON, BALACLAVA, VIRILE and ANGORA (LOI) with a minute or two to understand POSTS. I was sure that the first I of VIRILE meant that the girl was going to be the frequent DI.
    20 minutes.

  13. 18:50
    A nice mixture of clues for the hard of thinking this morning. I liked “French score”, disliked “full of red blood”.

  14. 22:25
    A fairly straightforward solve and the sort of crossword where parsing wasn’t always necessary once a few important checkers were in place. Looking back I think I probably should have been a tad quicker but I’ll attribute my languor to the turkey and trimmings, plus a libation or two.

    Thanks to both setter and blogger, and I hope everyone had a Happy Christmas.

  15. Liked this one, mostly straightforward but a bit quirky and a couple that made me think.
    I’d heard of Livingston as a new town, nho the team but that didn’t matter. It looks as if it has an e missing, but apparently not.
    In 17dn it is not necessary to separate the E and the Zine, Jackkt; an Ezine is an online journal, and has its own entry in Collins. Some of them are very professional, so I hear.

  16. 21:40 but failed on the gun with a misremembered UBI. STUCCO was FOI and, apart from UBI, VIRILE was last correct one in. Thanks setter and Jack.

  17. 44 minutes on a nice crossword with no major problems. CLOUDBURST and DENIZEN were both entered without understanding and parsed afterwards — indeed the latter of these I entered but then couldn’t parse so I removed it, then put it back again when the long across clue showed it had a Z. I was going to say the same thing as JerryW about e-zines, which are definitely a thing, although I’m not sure about the hyphen. Guy’s distaste for the BIO clue is justified in my opinion, because ‘occasionally’ isn’t the same thing as ‘regularly’. But we often see this. Which doesn’t mean it’s OK.

    1. “Occasionally” isn’t the problem. It’s that it says “Briton” is found in “short history.” It’s the other way round.

  18. 25:11. LIVINGSTON was just too much to unpack and reassemble, so it went in unparsed when the crossers made it obvious. Didn’t see the shot=go in ANGORA, but it went in ditto, and the Hollywood Burt in CLOUDBURST also passed me by. I liked SINGLETON, but I think we’ve seen it before.

  19. 7:33 Nice wee puzzle for a Boxing Day morning. No problem with Livingston as a town, though I wasn’t particularly conscious of it being a (presumably football) team. I biffed quite a lot, including the rabbit, the plaster, and the stripy road markings. Lots of clues to be admired, but my COD was the one for SINGLETON, as it made me laugh. The UZI clue was quite clever, but I think fails ultimately because the stress is on the wrong syllable in the Cockney interrogation. Happy Christmas everyone.

      1. That’s true, so long as you have the “fink ‘e is” there, but the clue doesn’t really suggest it should be there, and it doesn’t work for me (as an erstwhile Essex boy) when it’s just “‘Oo’s ‘e???” with the stress on the “‘e”.

  20. Delayed LIVINGSTONe as I went there once (not sure why) and thought it had a final E. Finally worked the parsing out and accepted my memory was faulty as Lions rugger or otherwise don’t have one.
    Missed BURT, which is a shame really. Just avoided the COLuMBIA trap.

  21. About 25 minutes. Didn’t parse SINGLETON or INITIAL (forgot the Nancy trick), and held myself up with BALACLAVA by thinking it might be spelled with a K rather than a C. In turn, that slowed down UNDERCUT, which turned out to be simpler than I thought it would be – ‘lower’ set my cow senses tingling, and the ‘in’ made me think there might be an insertion.

    Thanks setter and blogger, and happy Christmas!

    FOI Presto
    LOI Undercut
    COD Cloudburst

  22. 8:42. No problems today, although I narrowly avoided COLUMBIA. A mistake I’ve made before.
    I can’t see anything wrong as such with 24dn (‘regularly’ is just a subset of ‘occasionally’) but ‘regularly’ would no doubt have made the clue more precise without harming the surface.

    1. The clue says “Briton” is found in the “short history.” It’s the other way round. Or how am I to read the clue?

      1. The wordplay is just ‘Briton appearing occasionally’, a slightly oblique way of indicating that only occasional letters of the word appear.

        1. I find that just wrong, not “slightly oblique.” It doesn’t say what it wants to, IMHO.

            1. But the whole word BRITON is there! It’s something else that appears in it!
              I give up.
              Anyway, “just about OK” doesn’t cut it, in my book.
              Bah, humbug. (I have another question for you, but not here.)

              1. ‘In’ is just a link word.
                You could even read it as ‘[the string of letters] B-r-i-t-o-n [only] appearing occasionally’, if that makes it clearer. It’s a bit awkward I’ll grant you but works for me.

  23. Fairly straightforward 25′. Thought of Livingston right away, but hesitated as I didn’t think it was usual Times reference material… (I took my two boys to the very first home game there, we lived close by, but didn’t go back!). Couple of biffs (NHO DIS as underworld, “ZINE” never came to me). Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  24. 22.15

    Slightly delayed by inserting UZE. VIRILE and ANGORA (fingers crossed as only knew the goat) last two in

    Thanks all

  25. On a roll today – 25 minutes. Love it when I get 1ac straight away – it always helps.
    One usually hears Denizen in relation to “Denizen of the deep” – i.e. a sea creature and, in Turkish, Deniz = Sea, which I always find interesting.

  26. Apart from the usual slight sneer at East Londoners an easygoing enough post-festive offering. 24 minutes. ‘O lurcher-loving collier, black as night’ said W.H.Auden in a rare memorable 20th-century epithet. Raised eyebrows at zing but I guess it’s a verb as well as a noun.

  27. 38:00

    A slow post-Xmas trudge through the snows of the setter’s mind. I ended up mostly stuck in the SW corner plus VIRILE which took an age to see. Forgotten that ANGORA was a rabbit and only saw 17d once the first three checkers were in.

  28. Put DIVINE instead of VIRILE. I couldn’t parse it of course but that didn’t stop me.
    And entered USI even though I thought UZI, which wasn’t very clever.
    Apart from that it was great.

  29. Nice to see I’m not the only one held up by VIRILE, LOI. It was only when I considered the definition could be ‘full of red blood’ that the answer came to me, as ‘rile’ had already been considered for needle. Otherwise a fairly straightforward solve. Liked the clueing for LIVINGSTON and SINGLETON, but missed the French pointer in 2D until I’d bifd the answer!

  30. 12 minutes on the button, having recalled that ANA can be ‘stories’ and that ANGORA was a word, if not one I would have associated with rabbits. I was having a slightly tricky time until INSUBSTANTIAL fell in and opened up the grid.

    Thanks jacktt and setter.

  31. Agree that BIO is good enough. Can be BIO or RTN, so there is some ambiguity (that’s my attempt at a joke btw), and the link word is just that, as popularly deployed in these and other cryptic puzzles.

    Liked a good few with BURT’s clue coming top.

  32. 16.42 with last one in uzi, which made me giggle. Nothing too difficult so no need to stop being festive, hic…

  33. 47 minutes after the dinner guests went home, not too hard but with tricky bits. No idea about LIVINGSTON, but I almost understood the wordplay (for some reason I saw LIN in place of LION) and decided it seemed plausible enough. For 10ac I started with DIVINE, since DI is my standard short girl, but VINE as a needle seemed far-fetched and eventually I did think of VIRILE. My COD would be UZI.

  34. Felt pleased with myself for seeing DI Grace as an ‘expert on the Underworld’ who conveniently included a Greek reference. So excited that I overlooked the ‘s’. Hopefully I’ll remember ‘Dis’ in future….

  35. Took my time with this pleasing crossword:needed the down crossers to get DISGRACE, after remembering the underworld, and stupidly wrote in SILICA instead of STUCCO ( no hope of parsing that!), which left me with an ungettable L?I for the shooter. Had a laugh when the penny dropped though. Couldn’t fathom the rugger team ( didn’t think of the French score= VINGT – even though I knew it), a blank at the hidden EDDA, which is why a tentative CITIZEN went in ( wondered what happened to the D) after I saw ZEBRA CROSSING. But the rest went in after careful thought, so was fairly happy with it, all up. COD UZI (regardless of stress), LOI VIRILE, as like others, couldn’t see past DI.

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