Times Cryptic 28800 – Sat, 30 Dec 2023. No fireworks.

Plenty of fireworks on New Year’s Eve, but this puzzle was relatively gentle. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable finish to 2023. 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 in bold and 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.

1 Trying standard formation initially stops poor results (9)
Tricky construction: SF = S{tandard} F{ormation} initially, goes inside (stops) (RESULTS)*
6 You and I getting into bed upset nerd (5)
WE (you and I) in BED, upset.
9 Insect by a sack almost something to worry about (7)
BUG, A, BOO{t} (give them the SACK/BOOT).
10 Eyeshade briefly seen on professional rider (7)
PRO{fessional}, VISO{r}.
11 It sometimes charges money (5)
12 Youngster with some fish and goat (9)
SCHOOL (fish), KID (young goat).
14 Is ignoring problem? Take legal action! (3)
{is}SUE = problem.
15 Chivalrous in speech behind castle at regular intervals? (11)
FORT, sounds like (in speech) KNIGHTLY.
17 Venture potentially dangerous road manoeuvre? (11)
Hint … passing another car on the wrong side might jocularly be called under- rather than overtaking.
19 Briefly toot buzzer (3)
20 Crime-fighter put bugs on post office — the boss flips? (6,3)
P.O., LICE, GOD flipped.
22 Group of musicians zip it at last (5)
NONE (nothing/nada/zip), {i}T.
24 King to detest besieging an Asian chief’s territory (7)
K, HATE containing (besieging) AN.
26 View old tie (7)
27 Travel around Grand Canyon feature? (5)
RIDE around G.
Need to split Grand from Canyon.
28 When running aboard, met total heartthrob (9)
1 Solemn person crying half-heartedly? (5)
SOBBER, minus one of the middle Bs (half-heartedly).
2 Music found in magazine under newspaper (7)
RAG (newspaper), TIME (magazine).
3 Loudspeaker to replace dog? (9)
SUB (replace), WOOFER (dog).
4 Sick of loser getting foreign currency — it’ll never succeed! (5,6)
(OF LOSER)*, RAND (S.A. currency).
5 Lifted mate’s drink (3)
PAL, lifted.
6 Couple with brief moment in Italian cathedral (5)
It’s approximately just the Italian equivalent of “cathedral”, apparently.
7 Pass close to nice group of trees, avoiding hotel (1-6)
E from {nic}E, T{h}ICKET.
8 A potentially strange pet, old boy (5,4)
(PET OLD BOY)*. Definition by example.
13 Passing infatuation is extremely close (4,2,5)
HANDING (passing), LOVE.
14 Card game with item for prodding attractive man? (4,5)
Whimsical hint.
16 Violent gaming — it’s a growing issue! (9)
18 Idiot lord in court turned up fat (7)
DUL (LUD, as in M’Lud when addressing a judge, turned up), LARD.
19 Ring at first issued to foreign criminal (7)
BAND, I{ssued}, TO.
21 Fashion of London gangsters mentioned (5)
Sounds (when mentioned) like KRAYS. Reg and Ron Kray appeared only recently.
23 Principle essential to private network (5)
Hidden as indicated.
25 Occasionally defied a religious festival (3)
DEFIED. Alternate letters (occasionally).

15 comments on “Times Cryptic 28800 – Sat, 30 Dec 2023. No fireworks.”

  1. 32 minutes but I must have lost at least 5 of those by carelessly settling for SCHOOL LAD at 12ac on the basis that ‘goat’ and ‘lad’ (as in ‘a bit of a lad’) might be used to describe a man of a certain type. I have never liked children being referred to as ‘kids’ so SCHOOL KID didn’t spring readily to mind. That error set me on the wrong track by placing an incorrect checker in 7dn and I eventually resorted to aids, but E-TICKET would probably never have occurred to me anyway.

  2. 33:31
    Took me a long time, but I don’t remember where, although I flung in BUGBEAR at 9ac, and didn’t know UNDERTAKING, which I gather is some sort of driving no-no. DNK SUBWOOFER, but no problem. I liked BLOOD TYPE and HAND IN GLOVE.

  3. SUBWOOFER was a problem for me, as, not only did I not know it, but I didn’t know BUGABOO either. After settling (with some unease) for ‘bugaloo’ (LOO[t] for ‘sack’), I was stymied for the electronic thingie – hi-fi not being a strength of mine.

    Much like Mel Smith, in this classic Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch: https://youtu.be/DvswW6M7bMo?si=8QTaqIFnLhwASi9c

  4. Forty minutes give or take, steady progress without any real problems though can’t say I knew BUGABOO or RHINO. Well, I must have, vaguely, to get them. But they’re not familiar terms. A satisfying end to the year. Happy New Year, all, and thank you.

  5. For once I have no question marks on my printed version (and only one letter circle) which means it all went very smoothly. No problems with undertaking as it’s a common term hereabouts. The opposite of overtaking where a driver cuts inside the faster lanes on a motorway for a few seconds advantage.

    1. Especially if s/he’s confronted by a cohort of CLCs (centre-lane cruisers, as we called them in my repping days).

      Ford Cortinas, Vauxhall Cavaliers, a Ford Orion, if you were lucky when you needed to hire a car…Those were the days.

  6. A strange mix of very easy and hard. I never really felt on the wavelength with the longer clues even when knowing what was required. With 8D, for instance, I was sure that A was the answer, yet it still took ages to get the anagram. Did not like BUGABOO. Bugbear is the word that seemed obvious. I’ve heard of bugaboo, but it’s not a word I’ve heard any British person use. Ultimately I failed with LOI KHANATE, where I had khatane, which parses just as well, if you don’t know the word. It didn’t occur to me to try it the other way around; if I had, that would have sounded potentially more likely.

  7. 26.58 A sub-K on the 15×15! I never expected that. The GIGANTISM anagram took a while. BUGABOO and SOBER were last two in. Was that the last prize crossword? I completed probably a third of them last year but, unsurprisingly, I never did win. Thanks branch.

  8. 28.07

    Another good standard Saturday puzzle. E-TICKET was good. Didn’t know BUGABOO but did know the woofer.

    Thanks Bruce and setter

  9. Knew woofer but had forgotten sub-woofer (which I would have hyphenated, wrongly apparently.) Failed to get the joke in HANDING LOVE (biffed), and was foxed. DOH!

  10. Nothing too tricky here but a few to think carefully about. I’m not sure I knew DWEEB was a real word. I forgot about zip/NONE although we’ve had that meaning for ‘nothing’ before. Wasn’t sure about passing/HANDING or sack almost/BOO so thank you for that branch. Liked the ‘A potentially’ BLOOD TYPE. Some of the anagram fodders were hard to spot immediately.

  11. No marks on my printout at all, a very smooth solve.
    Bugaboo made my Americanism antennae twitch, but wrongly it seems … Collins says it is of Celtic origin. I would use bugbear myself..

  12. 25 minutes, plus one more for a proofread, so I found this rather easy. I liked DREAMBOAT and SUBWOOFER for their humorous associations, not that there was any difficulty about them.

  13. Started off well out of the blocks with SUBWOOFER (‘tho I’m not a techie) and the easier-to-spot anagrams (GIGANTISM) , but held up by HAND IN GLOVE – which I’d forgotten- and KHANATE (NHO). Held up by the unknown BUGABOO (would know it as bugbear) as was trying to fit in a three-letter word for sack that wasn’t bag. No other unknowns, thankfully- all done and dusted in 45 mins roughly. But went more smoothly than the usual Saturday.

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