Times Cryptic 28838

Solving time: 22 minutes. Dead easy. I imagine there will be many PBs recorded today as this is a biffer’s paradise with 14 answers defined by the first word of a clue. 8 of these are consecutive in the Down section. I would expect a little more variety to be on offer, even in an easy puzzle.

I noticed we have two 5-letter types of tree/wood in symmetrical positions in the grid (4dn and 21dn).

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 Bachelors visiting famous footballer ruin external wall-coating (6,4)
B + B (Bachelors) contained by [visiting] PELE (famous footballer), DASH (ruin – one’s hopes, for example). A rather unattractive method of facing external walls of buildings which seems to be out of favour these days. Also available with a hyphen and as a single word in its verbal form.
7 Bloke with yen for evidence of 21 across? (4)
BOD (bloke), Y (yen). The cross-reference is to MURDER at 21 across.
9 Underworld goddess mostly associated with old doctor’s sacrifice (8)
HECAT{e} (underworld goddess) [mostly], O (old), MB (doctor). Collins: Hecatomb – in ancient Greece or Rome, any great public sacrifice and feast, originally one in which 100 oxen were sacrificed.
10 Shade sister found outside a church (6)
NUN (sister) contains [found outside] A, then CE (church)
11 Particular house in warm and friendly environment (6)
HO (house) contained by [in…] COSY (warm and friendly) [… environment]
13 Lament retired academic unknown by most of the proverbial crowd, it’s said (8)
THRE{e} (proverbial crowd – two’s company etc) [most of…], DON (academic) reversed [retired], Y (unknown). Perhaps not a word known to all but fortunately I’ve come across it before.
14 Bury receiver, ringing about distortion of signal (12)
INTER (bury), FENCE (receiver of stolen goods) containing [ringing] RE (about)
17 Doctor visited Rio, taken in by ecological variety (12)
Anagram [doctor] of VISITED RIO contained [taken in] by BY
20 Blue berets rushed round back of farm, suffering no hurt (8)
UN (blue berets as worn by United Nations troops), HARED (rushed) containing [round] {far}M [back]
21 Dispatch old racehorse from the East (6)
RED RUM (old racehorse) reversed [from the East]
22 One who manages without current reproducing device (6)
COPER (one who manages) containing [without – outside] I (current)
23 Download tip backing team: it may be found in a book (8)
APP (download), END (tip), then XI (team) reversed [backing]
25 Report gladly at first on prohibition (4)
BAN (prohibition), G{ladly} [at first]
26 Thinner lad working in undeveloped area (10)
Anagram [working] of THINNER LAD
2 Stylish being finally leaving for pub — a rogue, possibly? (8)
ELE-G -ANT (stylish) becomes ELE-PH-ANT when being [finally] leaves and is replaced by PH (pub – Public House). We had a ‘rogue elephant’ reference in a puzzle as recently as 2nd February.
3 Stole keys, pinching ring (3)
B + A (musical keys) containing [pinching] O (ring)
4 Tree identified by European of skeletal build (5)
E (European), BONY (of skeletal build)
5 Judge a champ right to corner leader of rebels (7)
A + BITE (champ) + R (right) containing [to corner] R{ebels} [leader]
6 Obstruction old peasant originally negotiated in athletic event (9)
HIND (old peasant), then N{egotiated} [originally] contained by [in] RACE (athletic event). ‘Old’ may be relevant here as HIND seems to have started out meaning a simple peasant or rustic but with the passage of time it became used for farmworkers of higher rank and with advanced skills.
7 Puzzle touring Aintree bars (11)
Anagram [touring] of AINTREE BARS
8 Clarify MacDiarmid’s last poem about City area (6)
{MacDiarmi}D [’s last] + ODE (poem) containing [about] EC (City area of London)
12 High-handed with regard to deportment (11)
OVER (with regard to), BEARING (deportment)
15 Manhandle head of gang in from entrance, perhaps (9)
G{ang} [head of…] contained by [in] FROM, then ARCH (entrance)
16 Articles granny pens primarily in Greek (8)
A + THE (articles), then NAN (granny) contains [pens] I{n} [primarily]
18 Reserved protégé knocked over in pub (6) – enumeration error, this should read (7)
WARD (protégé) reversed [knocked over] and contained by [in] INN (pub). Not a word I was aware of but its meaning seems obvious enough. I note that the enumeration error also appears in the e-paper, so presumably it’s in the printed edition too.
19 Marketplace stocking new fur (6)
AGORA (marketplace ancient Greek) containing [stocking] N (new)
21 Chap fencing in quiet wood (5)
MALE (chap) containing [fencing in] P (quiet)
24 Disappointing score upset trendy musical in the end (3)
IN (trendy) reversed [upset], {musica}L [in the end]

87 comments on “Times Cryptic 28838”

  1. The rogue held me up until I considered ELEGANT. Sadly, my memory isn’t pachydermal, as I had completely forgotten the recent occurrence. Also held up by trying to shoehorn ‘heptathlon’ at 6 down. Knew THRENODY, which definitely helped.

    I got very few on the first pass, then it all came tumbling down. 12:54

  2. 11:52
    Dead easy, indeed, although I managed a technical DNF with 1ac, where I had a vague (and incorrect) recollection that it was PEBBLE-WASH, and looked it up. I thought HIND simply was an old word for ‘peasant’; happy to be corrected. Biffed a bunch, of course. It took me a while to think of Hecate; couldn’t get past Proserpina. Also took some time to see ‘doctor’ was an anagrind.

      1. That would explain why I thought so. But I meant (v. ‘simply’) that I didn’t know the other meanings. ODE has ‘(Archaic), chiefly (Scottish), a skilled farm worker’ and ‘a farm steward or bailiff’.

  3. This was so easy that I had time to wonder if hind the farm worker was related to hind the deer; it is not, but I was pleased to learn that the peasant farmer is related to the annoyingly overused window into the Danish soul: hygge. Thx, jackkt

    1. While on holiday I read a book about the ‘Scandinavians’ by an expat Brit who went to live in Denmark. Mentioned that word (and other related insights into the Nordic mindset) quite a bit.

  4. 10:04. Greetings from the Dominican Republic! I have discovered a time warp here that means I can solve a puzzle the day before it is published. As Jack suggested I found this a straightforward puzzle though not near PB territory. I was grateful for my crossword experience here, with THRENODY only being familiar from previous puzzles – a quick search tells me it last appeared here a little over half a year ago. The rogue ELEPHANT also seemed very familiar which is not surprising given Jack confirmed we only saw it on February 2, hence today feeling like Groundhog Day

  5. DNF. I’d have said easy-ish rather than dead easy, having to guess at the NHO PEBBLE DASH. My incorrect attempt was the same as Kevin’s, which somehow makes it feel less wrong.

    Pleased to dig up THRENODY and HECATOMB from the depths of somewhere.

    11:42 if not for the error.

    Thanks setter and Jack.

  6. Looks like I’ll have to be the first to say I didn’t find this the walk in the park that everyone else did. It took an eternity to get started and I ended up doing it backwards, FOI was the last down clue, NIL. I’m another who thought for a while that PEBBLE WASH might be a thing. That, HECATOMB and the ELEPHANT held me up for 7 or 8 minutes in the NW and I staggered home in 35.54. I remembered THRENODY from Lionel Asbo. Is that Ninja Turtling?

    1. Perhaps you and others were thinking of ‘stone-washed’: Collins: Stone-washed jeans are jeans which have been specially washed with small pieces of stone so that when you buy them they are fairly pale and soft.

      1. I was probably thinking of an interior wall finish known as a wash, where the wet paint is wiped with a sponge and you get a textured, patterned effect that takes a long time to achieve and costs a lot of money and probably isn’t worth it.

  7. LOI PEBBLE-DASH, happy that it was my first guess. Also never heard of HIND as a peasant, but took it on faith, everything else seeming so clear here.

  8. On the wavelength today and found it much as Jack suggests, though I tend not to be a biffer and mostly worked out the parsings as I went along. Only hind and INDRAWN unknown, I think. Oh, and not a p.b.; my 19 minutes seemed quite leisurely.

  9. I also found this very easy, finishing in 14:54, not quite a record time for me but getting close.
    Tuesday is the new Monday!
    Nothing to add really.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  10. 17:07
    Mostly straightforward but my last in was HECATOMB as an alphabet trawl was required as Newbridge Comprehensive School didn’t go big on the classics. Otherwise more Monday than Monday’s offering.

    Thanks to both.

  11. 23 minutes with LOI HECATOMB, after finally seeing the ELEPHANT in the room. Otherwise a steady solve. Thank you Jack and setter.

  12. St. Agnes’ Eve—”Arbiter” chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    (Eve of St Agnes, Keats)

    25 mins pre-brekker. Very quick once I got going after puzzling over Elephant.
    I suspect this was the start/end letter fiend. I counted 9.
    Reminded me of an old Clue Writing entry.
    Jumbo jet losing both wings in the plane crash (11)
    Ta setter and J.

      1. I had a couple of bitters in a boozer not twenty yards from one of Keats’ short-term billets last night; judging by the poem reproduced on the back wall of the inn next door, he didn’t much care for the area.

    1. Great surface, but doesn’t it clue for an extra ‘e’? Surely ‘crashing’ THE PLANE gives ELEPHANT without any assistance from the wingless jet?

    2. Sorry – it has just been pointed out that you were cluing for ELEPHANTINE (hence the ‘(11)’ which I had missed). I was running along the rails of today’s answer ELEPHANT.

  13. 18 minutes. Yes, pretty gentle. HIND was the only what I thought was unknown, but which yet again turned out to have been forgotten. I had to spend some time at the end working out the parsing of the biffed INTERFERENCE and ELEPHANT but I didn’t have too many other problems.

    RED RUM as MURDER reversed is more than just a bit of a crossword chestnut, but at least he was at home with ‘Aintree’ cracking a mention at 7d.

  14. 8.23, probably a PB (the app doesn’t say, as far as I know). I didn’t biff much, but it all went in smoothly. Either I didn’t do the previous puzzle or I’ve clean forgotten ‘rogue elephant’!

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  15. 21:32
    I learned the word ‘hecatomb’ many years ago when I read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. He noted that his room at the Hôtel des Trois Moineaux was infested with bugs, which he killed ‘in hecatombs’.
    Thanks, jack.

  16. 10’28”, no issues.

    Having bought a house or two in my lifetime I know that PEBBLE DASH is ghastly to look at and a real turn-off for potential buyers. I’ve seen the profile of some streets ruined by it. Rant over.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  17. DNF as I thought THRENODE would fit better than THRENODY. Confusing my variables with my non-variables. Was a tough one in many parts for me, tbh, with no classical Greek background to speak of. I figured CATACOMB wasn’t going to work, but only when I got ELEPHANT did the penny drop.

  18. 38 but including a break.
    couldn’t parse hindrance.
    COD murder, famous grand national horse and scene in The shining.

  19. 8:30. Held up by trying to justify an incorrect CATACOMB for 9A until the ELEPHANT helped out my memory of Hecate. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  20. Not as easy as I was led to believe, and I didn’t much enjoy it. Maybe I was already in a bad mood after the unenjoyable QC.

    TIME 8:03

  21. 18:22

    Another here wandering down the CATACOMB route until ELEPHANT trampled all over that. If you’d asked me what a HECATOMB was etc etc etc. See also THRENODY. I had the fortune to grow up in a PEBBLE-DASHed house so no problem there – all in all a comfortable solve but about double my PB.

    1. HECATOMB sticks grumpily in my memory from when it was clued elsewhere as a cryptic definition. Horrid! This treatment is at least more solver-friendly.

      1. Amazing how those kinds of clue can make a word embed itself firmly in your mind – I had a similar experience with CALUMET many years ago.

  22. DNF, defeated by MAPLE (I put ‘copse’, despite having no reason to think ‘cose’ could be a man – somehow I never thought of anything else) which in turn stymied MURDER – having already got BODY quite early on, I didn’t think any further about the cross-reference in 7a which would likely have helped.

    HECATOMB and THRENODY were words I knew without being sure what they mean, and I didn’t know hind as an old peasant for HINDRANCE, but this was otherwise a straightforward solve until I shot myself in the foot.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Biodiversity

    1. I put copse in first as well but managed to convince myself cose didn’t fit the chap bit in time.

  23. 18:18. I didn’t find this as easy as most of you did. Like johninterred I got lost for a while in a CATACOMB.


  24. Easy, yes, but I’ve seen easier.
    Nho hind in that context, thought it was just a doe, a deer, a female deer…
    Plenty of pebbledash still around these parts, makes me shudder to look at them. It seems that if you paint it all white, you can pretend it isn’t pebbledash any more.

  25. Probably a PB if it had been timed, but I never rush, and stop to parse the biffs, so still around 20 minutes. UK solvers got an advantage with PEBBLE DASH, my FOI, but clearly restricted to the UK, for which you may count yourselves fortunate, as it’s a hideous abomination.
    Only unparsed one was 6D, as I didn’t know hind. Everything else known, HECATOMB from previous crosswords. LOI APPENDIX. Now off to Quick Crossword land for, reportedly, more of a challenge.

  26. Yeah, sure, easy and a biff fest, except that I carefully parsed most of the clues and should have parsed THRENODE properly: it’s more than annoying that it’s a genuine alternative for the one with the Y. And there was me congratulating myself for taking the extra 30 seconds to proof read, picking up a typo. Suddenly I don’t like Tuesdays.
    Biffers might like to know that HEPTATHLON doesn’t fit 6d.

  27. Pebble Dash was a write-in for me and anyone else brought up on a West of Scotland council estate. Struggled with HINDeRANCE for a little while since I couldn’t parse it properly but eventually came to the required spelling. THRENODY a purely crossword-word for me. Should have spotted “doctor ” as an anagrist pre-solve rather than post-solve. LOI NHO INDRAWN to put me just inside an enjoyable 30′. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  28. Hecate, HECATOMB and ELEPHANT were the only things that held me up at all, and my 23 minutes was probably longer than it need have been. Red Rum and MURDER indeed a crossword chestnut.

  29. Not dead easy if you didn’t know THRENODY or HECATOMB. Wordplay was helpful, thankfully. Agree everything else was pretty straightforward, though ELEPHANT held me up for a while.

  30. 27 mins. Yes straightforward but not a write in for me. Knowledge of words only found in crossword land were helpful. I liked the ‘proverbial crowd’. Glad to drag Hecate up from somewhere. Thank you for the Orwell reference (and memories of my own bottle-washing days). A book I greatly enjoyed. I often quote his discovery that finally running out of money completely was in fact a relief as he no longer had to worry about the eventuality.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  31. Done in 28 mins, but needed a “reveal” for ELEPHANT (complex clue, NHO Rogue variety). After this unblocking NW corner unraveled quickly.

    I’ve been doing these too long, because I immediately biffed THRENODY from the definition. I’m sure as a choirboy I remember it appearing in the text of a Hymn, in Ancient and Modern.

  32. 18:07 – can’t say I found this as easy as perhaps I ought to have done. I’d say it was middling. HECATOMB unknown and INDRAWN took some untying, though many went in with barely a glance at the clue.

  33. My wife and I have been starting our day every morning since the start of the year by taking a crack at the Times Cryptic. Today, for the first time ever, we completed the entire puzzle! Just under 51 minutes.

      1. Yes, we also do the Quick Cryptic, although not everyday. We’ve managed that a few times separately and together.

  34. Bifferoo to the next clue. Not my best ever, but under 10 is always a red letter day, and I was only 5 seconds slower here than today’s QC.

    Crossers helped after a relatively bare first look at acrosses and downs. Heard of THRENODY, and Hecate, so HECATOMB went in smartly. ELEPHANT LOI.


  35. 25:20 and all green despite LOI HECATOMB going in with fingers crossed. I associate Hecate with witchcraft rather than the underworld but perhaps there is an overlap there. Great fun. I liked CHOOSY

  36. 17.50 but nearly thwarted by elephant. In the end just banged it in and crossed my fingers. Note to self pub doesn’t have to be bar or inn🙁. No problems with the rest faves threnody and hecatomb- mainly because they sound nice.

  37. Unfortunately in my rush for a good time I found I’d put UNMAIMED unparsed. Unfortunate….

  38. Well I was quicker than usual perhaps finishing in 29.35, but after Jackkt’s suggestion that it was dead easy, I’ve got to say I found it tougher than expected. There were too many unknown words such as HECATOMB and THRENODY to allow me to be totally confident that I had it right, but as it turns out they were.

  39. A rare finish (22:19), so this must be pretty easy. Being a dilettante classicist definitely helped today but I spent a loooong time on LOI ELEPHANT, which I just couldn’t understand and which in the end I biffed when the “rogue” penny dropped. Thanks for explaining it, Jack!

  40. 12.08

    Straightforward if your Greek is up to snuff. The ELEPHANT clue puzzled me at the end but now I quite like it. Not as neat as Myrtilus’s effort of course.

    Thanks all

  41. Yes, very easy indeed. I don’t take much notice of time when doing crosswords but if I did I’m pretty sure this would have been a PB.

    The only thing that held me up was the enumeration error. I solved INDRAWN in my head but was going so fast (by my standards) that I was only looking at the grid when inserting answers. Because I was apparently looking for a word with six letters I mentally shrugged and slid over to the next easy clue without even checking the grid. Only in the later stages did I notice that the answer fitted, so INDRAWN was then quickly DRAWN IN. (Sorry).

  42. I dnk HIND but the cluing was clear and had no problems with anything else except 9ac. Dnk either HECATE or HECATOMB so, whilst the OMB bit was fine, I had to dnf. Another one to try and stick in the memory. Thanks Jack.

  43. A biff-fest indeed with several “done but not parsed”: NHO that meaning of Hind, did not see the anagram for Biodiversity (but it couldn’t be anything else with the checkers) and a query at App=Download. I see the connection but are they really synonyms?

    Otherwise very friendly and at 17 minutes, possibly around my PB – and certainly the first time I have completed the 15×15 in less time than it took me to DNF the same day’s QC. A Good Day.

    Many thanks Jack for the blog

  44. Despite a DNF, this was my best attempt at the big boys crossword. Biffed happily from Pebble Dash onwards. Parsed most of them later although needed JAKKT blog for some.

    Defeated by lack of classic knowledge and vocab on Hetacomb and Threnody despite having worked out the ‘nody’ part.

    Thanks all

  45. 13:58 today so joined with the general easy trend. Held up only slightly by the NW where I desperately wanted catacomb to be the answer until the elephant penny dropped. Many QC escapees today that went in with nary a thought.

    Thanks J and setter

  46. PEBBLE DASH went straight in. A familiar sight where I grew up. The only unfamiliar word today was INDRAWN but the worplay was clear. CATACOMB was first thought at 9a, but came straight out when I remembered Hecate. ELEPHANT was a late entry. Years of doing these puzzles seems to have imprinted THRENODY on my brain, so I wasn’t held up by that. DECODE, BODY and BRAINTEASER were the last 3 in. 11:08. Thanks setter and Jack.

  47. “Dead easy”?! Does that explain why I actually finished it. I rarely do. Even then I had to check that some of my answers were real words. Still satisfying to complete. Thanks to jackkt for the explanations.

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