Times Cryptic 28824 – Sat, 27 Jan 2024. Shapes half seen.

There were lots of things here that I at best vaguely remembered. It all finally swam into focus without excessive difficulty. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable workout.  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.

Across
1 Thirty-two pieces in this musical composed (5,3)
CHESS SET – CHESS is the musical. SET is composed.
9 American manoeuvres kept secret (2,6)
IN CAMERA – anagram (manoueuvres) of AMERICAN.
10 Details about loch needed for depressed Scots region (4)
GLEN – GEN about L (loch).
11 Sandy, Broadway composer, leaving diamonds for dancer (6,6)
GINGER ROGERSGINGER (sandy, as of hair), ROdGERS, leaving D=diamonds.

Famous partnerships abound in this clue:

  1. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers:“I did everything Fred did, only backwards and in high heels.”
  2. Richard Rodgers, of the famous musical partnerships Rodgers & Hart, and later Rodgers & Hammerstein.
13 Person, mellow, back in wine shop (6)
BODEGABOD (person), AGE (mellow, verb).
14 Parrot biting hard — cat finds point in orbit (8)
APHELIONAPE (parrot) biting H(hard), LION (cat).
A word I half knew, at best. Furthest point in a planet’s orbit from the sun. The equivalent for the moon from earth is the APOGEE, a more familiar word for me.
15 Disgraced religious figure rehashed new idea (7)
STAINEDST (religious figure), then an anagram (rehashed) of (N IDEA).
16 Make false accusations in case, losing case essentially (7)
ASPERSEAS (cASe, losing its outside letters or, yes, its “case”!), PER SE (essentially; a Latin phrase).
Again a half-known answer. ASPERSION is much more familiar. The wordplay took a bit of head-scratching too.
20 Having litres to drink, help brought in as specified (4,4)
LAID DOWNL (litres), AID, DOWN.
22 Expert returned fruit to each diner for starters (6)
GIFTEDGIF (FIG, returned), then first letters (starters) of To Each Diner.
23 Is trafficking humans for the business community? (12)
TRADESPEOPLE – a wry hint: TRADES PEOPLE.
25 Hairy type having news-value occasionally (4)
ESAU – every second leter of NEWS-VALUE.
26 Get in bed, beginning to enjoy game (8)
CRIBBAGECRIB (bed), BAG (get), Enjoy.
27 Duke with debts hiding note wasn’t confident (8)
DITHEREDD (duke), In THE RED (with debts, hiding N=note).
Down
2 Border soldiers in the damaged landing zone (8)
HELIPORTLIP (border) + OR (men), in an anagram (damaged) of THE.
3 Determined to have fire in south attended to (6-6)
SINGLE-MINDEDINGLE (fire) in S + MINDED.
I thought an INGLE was a fireplace, but seems it can also be the fire.
4 Really old individual breaking leg (5-3)
STONE-AGEONE breaking STAGE (leg).
Clever surface.
5 Asian to take place giant guards (7)
TIBETANTITAN guards BE (to take place).
6 What singers do that’s amazing in school? (6)
SCORCHCOR (that’s amazing) in SCH.
People who singe, not people who sing!
7 Old footballer training with the French (4)
PELEPE, LE.
8 Path round university hospital in lakeside location (8)
LAUSANNELANE round U + SAN.
12 Happy to do what Jason wanted? (6,6)
GOLDEN FLEECEGOLDEN (happy, as in “thanks, I’m golden”) + FLEECE (do, as in a scam).
15 One holding shortened baton in biannual event (8)
SOLSTICESOLE holding STICK.
17 Initial letters clue? (8)
SIGNPOSTSIGN (initial), POST (letters).
18 Observe flood surrounding City close to Monument (8)
SPECTATESPATE surrounding EC (postcode for the city of London) + monumenT.
19 Zero desire to protect the old with limited vision (3-4)
ONE-EYEDO (zero) + NEED (desire) to protect YE (old word for “the”).
Note to setter: I’m fond of saying, it’s important to distinguish needs from wants! So, I’m not on board with “need” = “desire”.
21 Wayward son is a legendary Gaelic poet (6)
OSSIAN – anagram (wayward) SON IS A. Never heard of him. See more here.
24 Central Line for Cockney has eleven stops (4)
AXISXI (cricket or football team) stops ’AS, with the traditional Cockney dropped aspirate.

22 comments on “Times Cryptic 28824 – Sat, 27 Jan 2024. Shapes half seen.”

  1. 23:53
    I assumed there was a musical entitled ‘Chess’, but NHO. Mostly straightforward, although I had trouble recalling OSSIAN; I couldn’t get past Caedmon, who was of course not Gaelic. I’m sympathetic, Bruce, to your want/need objection, although there is, for instance ‘Your hair wants/needs cutting’; but ‘desire’ is out. I liked a lot of the clues: SCORCH, SOLSTICE, GOLDEN FLEECE, ASPERSE, SIGNPOST.

    1. Chess was a musical by Tim Rice, who was never as successful on his own as he had been with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

      1. Anyone who can make a musical out of the game of chess has my wholehearted admiration.. and it has some fine songs too, eg “I Know Him So Well,” which was No. 1 for four weeks.

  2. 30 minutes, so I had no problems despite the items I was intending to report as NHOs:

    A little research in the archive revealed that APHELION was in a puzzle blogged by me in October 2019, OSSIAN appeared in December 2022 when I also didn’t know it, and ASPERSE as a verb had an outing in February 2020.

    I have no means of checking if ‘happy / GOLDEN’ has come up before but I can’t say it’s a usage I was aware of.

    1. There’s a play by Shaw, “In Good King Charles’s Golden Days”, which I think can convey the golden/happy equivalence. Also maybe the classical concept of a Golden Age?

  3. Some tricky clues here. Took me till some time after the solve to get why “sandy” at 11ac equalled GINGER. They’re just not two words I associate. At 14ac it took a while to stop circling round “polly” for “parrot”. (Plus NHO APHELION.) At 26ac CRIB wasn’t my first thought for “bed”, nor GOLDEN for “happy” at 12d, nor, like others, NEEDS for “desire” at 19d. Also 16ac knew of “aspersion” but not “to asperse”. However, once these minor deficiencies were overcome, made it to the end, though it took around an hour. Back in the slow lane but at least I got there! Thanks, all.

  4. 38.08 Relatively gentle. I know of the musical Chess because a song from it, One Night in Bangkok, was a hit in the 1980s. 21d struck fear into me. What do I know about Gaelic poets? But once I had the checkers OSSIAN bubbled up from somewhere. Last one in ASPERSE was new but guessed from the noun. Thanks branch.

  5. This puzzle wasn’t really on my wavelength and required quite a bit of lateral thinking. APHELION was today’s unknown word, and took some time to unravel. I will probably remember its meaning with reference to Helios in future, as I’m sure it will reappear. ASPERSE also unknown, though guessable from the known aspersion, and I couldn’t parse it, so thanks, Branch, for that. I wasn’t very impressed with either GOLDEN FLEECE or GINGER ROGERS as clues, but I did like AXIS and SCORCH, both of which took ages and the crossers before the penny dropped. Finally, my (I think) LOI was DITHERED, which had to be, but Mr Ego had to parse it for me. I was fixated on IOUs for debts. A good, solid workout.

  6. No probs with this one.. I agree that need and desire are not the same thing at all, as I frequently had to explain to my children.
    I’m not interested in musicals per se, stage or fillum, but I have a lot of respect for Ginger Rogers, who on several occasions had to have a new pair of shoes every day because the blood soaked through .. if her Wikipedia entry does not impress you, nothing will.
    I also regard Chess as an underrated musical with some fine songs in it. Like Abba themselves, originally sneered at, I imagine it will be admired eventually. The sheer fact of the existence of a successful musical about the game of chess is remarkable enough.

    1. I think need and desire overlap in the realm of romantic love or just simply infatuation. A lot of literature has been driven by lovers who can’t live without each other. Think of George Harrison’s song “I Need You” or The Four Tops’ “Baby, I Need Your Loving”. I may strongly feel I can’t go on without the object of my desire(thus to me a need), whereas parents or friends might say come on, grow up, there’s other fish in the sea, you’ll meet someone else etc( therefore not a need, just merely a want).

  7. No major problems with this, with APHELION the only unknown and helpfully clued. A cousin of mine has a son called OSSIAN, which helped a lot. Like the blogger, I’m much more familiar with aspersions rather than ASPERSE.

    FOI Pele
    LOI Spectate
    COD Stone-age

  8. 23.51

    OSSIAN felt a bit like “how do I clue this last one?” but lots to like otherwise, particularly SCORCH

    Thanks Setter and Bruce for the blog

  9. 27’50”
    Good early pace, stayed on well.

    Given the lateral thinking required mentioned by alto_ego, I was surprised on reading through it that I got there so quickly; I must have done it shortly after my morning coffee.
    All very enjoyable, but as I’m nuts about sundials APHELION and SOLSTICE were my favourites.

    Bravo/a setter and thank you Bruce.

  10. This puzzle, which took me 38 minutes, was very much to my liking, precisely because of the lateral thinking required and because an encyclopedic knowledge of the dictionary was, for a change, not required. This was a cryptic puzzle as it should be — deceptively misleading but never unfair. There were many clues to like: SCORCH (by singeing) would be my COD, but DITHERED, AXIS, ASPERSE were not far away. Thank you, setter!

  11. I found this hard. It may be my imagination but it seems as though the Saturday puzzle is alternately tricky or easy. Perhaps that is more a reflection of my weekends. After an initial flurry with, among others PELE and ESAU going in, I plodded along here. DNK ASPERSE as a verb and had a vague idea, clearly wrong that some sort of solstice also occurred in Spring and Autumn. APHELION was new to me so needed the crossers to see the e went before the cat. Wasn’t sure about the musical. Liked the pdm for TRADESPEOPLE. Gave up on DITHERED and came here for the parsing. So thank you for that.

  12. Lots to like in this, strangely dated, crossword. Especially, for me, GINGER ROGERS ( reminding me of her famous quote – thank you branch). Several NHOs: OSSIAN (guessed ), APHELION and LAUSANNE ( should have!). Felt very confident when 1a went straight in – knew the musical and guessed the number of chess pieces. Then GINGER hove into view, and PELE (one of the few sportsmen I’ve heard of), and a guessed-at BODEGA gave me some aids around the grid. Oh, and enjoyed remembering “ …and ESAU was an hairy man” !
    Lovely cluing (not abstruse), so I could have done better, but loved the PDMs.

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