Times Cryptic 28842 – Sat, 17 Feb 2024. Time and again.

This week I used a timer again: 33′ 04″. Slower than last week. My last few in were 6ac, 22ac, and 13dn. None of them impossible, so it was probably just me!

Thanks, setter. Kudos for the tricky wordplay at 12ac. Very enjoyable.  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.

1 Certain links might come thus unrehearsed? (3-3-4)
OFF-THE-CUFF – cryptic hint about cufflinks.
6 A partner to call often “little flower” (4)
BECK – cryptic reference to the expression “beck and call”. I wasn’t confident a beck is a stream, but so it is.
8 Footballers’ actions informal because of victories (5-3)
THROW-INSTHRO’ (through=because of, informally), WINS.
9 Primate giving blessing to graduate (6)
BABOONB.A. BOON (blessing).
10 Goes through customs (4)
USES – two meanings: a verb and a noun.
11 Damning evidence dodgy US monk’s smuggling in goods (7,3)
SMOKING GUN – anagram (dodgy) US MONK, containing (smuggling) IN + GG (2 x G=good),
12 Cut reflected risk delaying ultimately large proportion of arrivals (5,4)
BIRTH RATEBIR (RIB=cut of meat, reflected), THREAT (risk), with the E (ultimate letter of largE) delayed to the end of the word. Tricky stuff!
14 Amount of power which is released from trap (5)
WATTS – sound like WHAT’S, when spoken (released from trap).
17 Series of calls for applause (5)
ROUND – two meanings: a round of bidding at bridge for example, or a round of applause in the theatre.
19 One’s parking at close around the corner (9)
IMPENDINGI’M (one is), P (parking), ENDING.
22 Call artist’s work very thrilling (4-6)
PAGE-TURNERPAGE (call), TURNER (artist).
23 Figure nation has energy shortage? (4)
STATSTATe, short of Energy.
24 Fair to be arranged with agreement all round (3,3)
NOT BADTBA (to be arranged), with NOD (agreement) all around. Actually, Chambers defines TBA as “to be advised/announced”. Close enough, perhaps.
25 After a fashion bargain — as ensemble shows! (2,1,5)
IN A SENSE – a hidden answer, hard to see! bargaIN AS ENSEmble.
26 40 city breaks for flipping keen sightseer! (4)
LYNXXL is 40 in Roman numerals. Insert NY, then flip the answer. Lynxes proverbially have sharp eyesight. I don’t know if that’s actually so, but apparently their eyes are strikingly reflective.
27 Just once, late in the day, husband meeting with journalist (4-6)
EVEN-HANDEDEVEN (evening, or late in the day), H (husband), AND (with), ED.
1 Be more than rendered unconscious by anaesthetic! (9)
OUTNUMBEROUT (rendered unconscious), NUMBER (anaesthetic, with a silent B).
2 Refrain of concern across the globe (7)
3 Awful year without a single female representative (8)
EMISSARY – anagram (awful) YEAR without/outside MISS.
4 A French skater limps on, somehow, competing poorly? (15)
UNSPORTSMANLIKEUN (a, in French) + anagram (somehow) SKATER LIMPS ON.
5 Structure: fine thing carelessly dropped, briefly (6)
FABRICF (fine), A BRICk (the thing you drop).
6 Excellent news from maternity ward? One’s making notes (4,5)
BABY GRAND – musical definition + cryptic hint.
7 Sauce bottle without question old, brought up for game (7)
CROQUETCRUET (sauce bottle) without/outside Q + O backwards/brought up.
13 One inclined to go off England, finally, ex-Briton, strangely (9)
TINDERBOX – anagram (strangely) D EX BRITON. The D is from englanD.
15 Perform unprepared quote if speaking about promotion (5-4)
SIGHT-READSIGHT sounds like “cite”; RE, AD.
16 Salesman, pest to household, bringing disgrace (8)
18 Speeches offering political alternative? (7)
20 Keen on study returning, spoke not enthusiastically? (7)
21 Payment outstanding for cow (6)
SUBDUESUB (payment), DUE (outstanding).

18 comments on “Times Cryptic 28842 – Sat, 17 Feb 2024. Time and again.”

  1. 34 minutes, apparently with few problems judging by the lack of workings on my print-out. I remember a satisfying PDM when I managed to spot how BIRTH-RATE worked, and the definition was pleasing too.

  2. Enjoyable, and done in 55mins, the last ten of which were spent on 6a, 22ac, 24ac. 5d, 7d. 24ac LOI – no idea why it took so long to see it. Thanks, all.

  3. A good, fun puzzle with no unknowns;
    even this football antipathetic could dredge up THROW-INS. A couple were unparsed, so thanks to Branch for the explanation of BIRTH RATE and IN A SENSE, where I completely missed the hidden. BECK is very common in the north of England to refer to a stream and they are often named as such – Troutbeck, for instance, in the Lake District, is a well-known example.

  4. I had GAITS for WATTS, despite mulling over the latter for 10 minutes, reasoning that the power of greyhounds (released from traps) could be measured in their gait somehow. Trap as mouth never occurred to me, although now I see it as absolutely fair.

  5. Don’t remember too many problems with this. BECK as a stream is more familiar to me from these crosswords than anywhere else and only went in once the checkers were in place, and cruet (in CROQUET) is one of those culinary words where I couldn’t have said with any confidence what it is.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Off-the-cuff
    LOI Beck
    CODs Subdue / Baby grand

  6. I found this one really tough. I forgot to pause the timer but it took two hours or so over several sittings. BIRTH RATE, FABRIC and WATTS were biffed. Thanks branch for the explanations.

  7. No time but didn’t find this so hard, LOI was WATTS which I put in without understanding, came here today for the explanation!

  8. This was hard (58 minutes) and absolutely delightful with many tricky clues requiring just the right approach to solve them. CROQUET was the only answer I wasn’t able to parse, though. I am whiling away a seven-hour train journey to see my very youngest grandchild, so I am perhaps not impartial if I chose BABY GRAND as my COD. I also liked my LOI, PAGE-TURNER.

  9. No problems, nice puzzle.
    The OUT part of OUTNUMBERED is clued by “rendered unconscious,” not just “unconscious.” The latter option would, of course, suffice in another context, but “rendered” has to be accounted for here.

  10. Only a few clues went in without much thought OFF THE CUFF, FORBEAR, EMISSARY, INTONED. The rest needed a certain amount of head scratching. Even then the SW was empty until aids gave me …ROACH (not in common use in the UK?) to add to my REP… An alphabet trawl produced PAGE TURNER and I finally put in ROUND, which I had thought of some time ago but had to convince myself was the answer. Now I had enough crossers to unravel the anagram TINDERBOX to reveal the X and that we really were just playing with Roman numerals. I had previously been mucking about with some elaborate and unlikely cryptics. I suspect all this was actually straightforward and I should possibly not be confessing to my laboured efforts.

    Thanks for your thoughts Bruce.

  11. A late comment to thank you for all these Saturday blogs.

    I had trouble seeing CRUET as “sauce bottle” in 7d. Then the following day, doing Mephisto, I had to look up “cruels” (an old Scottish word for scrofula) in my Chambers Dictionary. And right below was “CRUET: a small jar or bottle for sauces and condiments for the table”.

    (I’d always thought of cruet as a set of containers for salt, pepper and mustard -maybe vinegar and oil – for the table, as per Collins).

    1. Yes! Me too, Peter: to us in the Sarf of Engaland a cruet set did NOT include sauce – only salt and pepper. (My excuse for not getting it)

  12. This took me hours. Not sure why so hard. Got baboon straight off and then was stumped. Some nice clues though. Watts was the only one I didn’t understand. Baby grand was my favourite. Glad I persisted. Finished today

  13. Took more than an hour: and several clues not fully understood when parsed even. But I admit: fair but tough. Especially liked OFF-THE-CUFF (because it went straight in and gave me (as it turned out false), hope. Also SMOKING GUN, as it clarified for me the meaning: “damning evidence”. Many more …
    COD BABOON, where I very nearly put BONABO!

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