Times Cryptic 28850


Solving time: 35 minutes

Not a particularly hard puzzle but the clues are interesting and varied in tone and construction so that it was a pleasure to solve and blog it. How did you do?

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 Incompatible staff given role following appeal (5,5)
POLE (staff), SA (sex appeal), PART (role)
6 Saccharin oddly dropped as energy drink ingredient (4)
{s}A{c}C{h}A{r}I{n} [oddly dropped]. The word has come up before, even as recently as this month in a Sunday puzzle, but it’s the first time it has been clued as anything other than a berry or fruit.  Collins has: açaí – a berry that grows on palm trees in the Brazilian rainforests. Because it is rich in nutrients, it is used to make energy drinks.
9 Leader of Soviet revolt stifles resistance, causing shock (10)
S{oviet} [leader of…] + UPRISING [revolt] contains [stifles] R (resistance)
10 Maybe Russian in bar almost drinking litre (4)
SAV{e} (bar  – except) [almost] containing [drinking] L (litre)
12 Seeking Parisian in Angola’s capital gobbling sandwiches (12)
EN (Parisian ‘in’), then DEVOURING (gobbling) contains [sandwiches] A{ngola’s} [capital]
15 Most stout and claret drained, with partners tucking in (9)
HUBBIES (partners) contained by [tucking in] C{lare}T [drained]
17 Two kings with large housing areas in African village (5)
K+R (two kings) + L (large) containing [housing] A+A (areas)
18 Something played in prom breathtakingly (5)
Hidden [in] {pr}OM BRE{athtakingly}. I’d heard of this 18th-century card game but have never played it.
19 Useless and, for Marx, boring socialist worker, say (9)
UND (‘and’, for Karl Marx who was a German) contained by [boring] RED (socialist) + ANT (worker, say)
20 Dissolute rake seized by school head — odd character! (12)
Anagram [dissolute] of RAKE contained [seized] by FISH (school) + NESS (headland)
24 Humorous use of language, not unknown in press (4)
IRON{y} (humorous use of language) [not unknown – y]
25 Showed the way job’s secured in design originally (10)
POST (job) contained by [secured in] anagram [originally] of DESIGN
26 I’m grateful after unwrapping some yarn, say (4)
{t}HANK{s} (I’m grateful) [after unwrapping]. This is a circular loop of yarn or thread etc, sometimes of a specific length.
27 Left the setter twinkling rings, getting amount paid (10)
INSTANT (twinkling of an eye) contains [rings] L (left) + ME (setter)
1 Hard drink turned up in market (4)
H (hard) + SUP (drink) reversed [turned up]. If you market a product you may promote or push it in a sales campaign.
2 Colourful bird from which bank of Liffey? (4)
‘Which bank of L{iffe}Y?’ gives us a choice of L OR Y
3 Reason clock stops working in American’s holidays (6,6)
The cryptic intro got me to the answer. Although its meaning is self-explanatory I wouldn’t have considered ‘spring break’ as a lexical term, but my AI assistant now renamed Gemini advises: ‘Spring break’ in America is a time-honoured tradition for students, a week-long escape from classes and exams. It typically falls between March and April.
4 Silly sports coats and old hat (5)
PE (sports) contains [coats] ASS (silly). We don’t often see ‘silly’ as a noun.
5 Brought up-to-date wine plugged by European tax-free? (9)
RED (wine) contains [plugged by] NO VAT (tax free) + E (European). VAT = Value Added Tax.
7 State commercial breaks Italy broadcast cease to work (4,2,1,3)
CAL (state), then AD (commercial) is contained by [breaks] anagram [broadcast] of ITALY
8 Ask to box good fighter, turning up to prevent cheating (10)
INVITE (ask), containing [to box] G (good) then ALI (fighter) reversed [turning up]
11 In France, noble ruler’s excessively liberal means of punishment (7,5)
DUC (in France, noble – duke), KING’S (ruler’s), TOO (excessively), L (liberal)
13 Rich person in Ithaca developed test for believers (3,2,5)
TOFF (rich person) contained by [in] anagram [developed] of ITHICA
14 Eastender’s ashamed, inhabiting urban area in disrepair (10)
{h}UMBLED (Eastender’s ‘ashamed’] contained by [inhabiting] TOWN (urban area)
16 Going out with no one, southern Frenchman’s upset (9)
NO + I (one) + S (southern) + SERGE (Frenchman) all reversed [upset]
21 Group‘s reason for not playing badminton? (5)
NO NET (reason for not playing badminton?)
22 What might swell looker sport as well as yuppie’s jackets? (4)
S{port}T + Y{uppi}E [jackets]? Styes affect eyelids so we have to interpret ‘eye’ (looker) as more than just the eyeball itself.
23 Polish detective in film (4)
DI (Detective Inspector) contained by [in] ET (film). ‘Polish’ in the sense of put the finishing touches to.

57 comments on “Times Cryptic 28850”

  1. This seemed very fresh and it took me some time to see where the setter was coming from on a bunch of these. INSTALMENT gave me pause because the Brits typically double consonants where we Americans have only one, and it’s “installment” over here. EGRESSION and INVIGILATE are odd too!

  2. I took 35:36
    The top half of the puzzle went quickly enough, but the bottom half, esp my LOI EGRESSION, was definitely not so easy!
    Thanks setter and jack

  3. 19.43 Some answers almost NHO, but ringing a distant bell, so entered with hope. I have not seen that grid used before, how rarely is it used?

  4. DNF after 11:21, as I dunked when I should have ducked. Maybe they’re called dunking stools at school fetes? Maybe not.

    No real unknowns otherwise. ACAI has gone from unheard-of to ubiquitous in the last decade. Similarly INVIGILATE has become a widely-used term in the era of remote education. And SPRING BREAK is well known from countless US popular culture references (possibly the more low-brow type, which gives some of us an advantage over the more erudite solvers here).

    Enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Jack and setter.

  5. 25:50
    It seemed that I was biffing the whole puzzle, but it was only 4 or 5 clues, which I only parsed post-submission. I learned INVIGILATE from an English colleague decades ago, when we were invigilating final exams–I would have called it proctoring. The setter likes inclusion clues: drinking, housing, boring, inhabiting,, …

  6. Smooth down the Avenue glitters the bicycle,
    Black-stockinged legs under navy blue Serge,
    Home and Colonial, Star, International,
    Balancing bicycle leant on the verge.
    (Myfanwy, John Betjeman)

    25 mins pre-brekker left me with the Instalment/Egression crossers. And I took a while to see Instant, then Serge.
    Nice one.
    Ta setter and J.

  7. 28:13 all told, with LOI ENDEAVOURING.

    Quite enjoyed the challenge of this one, with a good variety of semi-hard words and tricky parsing.

    INSTALMENT was a PDM when I realised it wasn’t ‘moment’ that twinkling was pointing to. KRAAL was a HMB moment, but the wordplay justified it and the final button showed no pinks.

  8. 64m 48s
    In 2d I biffed LYRE. Well, they are quite colourful birds.
    In 16d, I became fixated on Emil as my Frenchman for a long time.
    And in 17ac all I could think of for some time was PAARL but that’s a town and it didn’t fit the clue anyway.

    1. I thought of Paarl too, my logic being that two kings in a card game could be a pair, therefore PR… but as you say, Paarl isn’t a village.

    2. LYRE was my first thought, too; but they’re not called lyres, but lyre birds. And it doesn’t work, anyway. I only knew LORY from a Saki story.

      1. I knew they are lyre birds and have even seen one in the wild, but I had not heard of a LORY. The Aussie bird, the Lorikeet I know, but not the LORY.

    3. A quibble, Lyrebirds are brown and white, not particularly colourful. Males only stand out if they are displaying their wonderful tails. Even then you often need to locate them by their display of vocal mimicry.

  9. 17:35. Started very slowly indeed, then revved up a bit.

    I grew up in a household of teachers so invigilating was well-known.

    Really fun puzzle, with the HUBBIES my favourite.

    Thanks Jack & setter.

  10. 38 minutes with LOI EGRESSION. I’m not at all erudite, but still needed all crossers for SPRING BREAKS. I didn’t know ACAI either, so that was an ACT OF FAITH. COD to REDUNDANT. I found this quite tough. Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. Held up in that NW today. 50 mins. All finally became clear when I got POLES APART. LOI SURPRISING.

    I liked CALL IT A DAY.

    Thanks Jack for the explanations as I had a number unparsed.

  12. 24:55 but like Galspray I DUNKED where I should have DUCKED.

    Otherwise there were quite a few unknowns for me (LORY, ACAI, KRAAL, HANK, OMBRE) but all fairly clued so no issues there.

    EGRESSION and ENDEAVOURING held me up at the end.

    Thanks to both.

  13. About 25 minutes.

    Didn’t know HANK or KRAAL but the wordplay (and the K at the start of the latter) helped a lot; likewise OMBRE, which I thought was some kind of instrument; and I misparsed ACT OF FAITH, as I didn’t look at the anagrist properly and thought the rich person was Offa (well, I guess you need a lot of money to build a dyke?!).

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Poles apart
    LOI Invigilate
    COD Ducking stool

  14. 31′. Almost entered POI “lary” as “colourful” (not sure that spelling is acceptable anyway) but then saw the mechanical parsing. LOI EGRESSION was a biff based on all the crossers, didn’t see the parsing. Also couldn’t work out PASSE where I thought “sports coats” at least gave me the “SS”. Otherwise straightforward enough and enjoyable as I await my tardy plumber. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  15. 9:59. I liked this one, contrary to some earlier comments I found I couldn’t biff very much: I didn’t parse every clue fully by any means but I invariably needed some part of the wordplay to get to the answer.
    I have obviously consumed my fair share of a certain type of American movie because SPRING BREAK is perfectly familiar to me.
    As galspray says you see ACAI all the time these days, and not just in crosswords. It’s one of those foods that people say are ‘rich in antioxidants’, which is basically a scam. Still I’m sure it doesn’t do any harm.

  16. 25 minutes. I’m not sure I’ve ever knowingly used EGRESSION before, but it made sense from the def and I finally worked out the wordplay. I didn’t know SPRING BREAKS were a thing and needed crossers to be sure. Otherwise not too difficult with INVIGILATE my favourite for reminders of times past.

  17. 20 minutes, with a lot spent on my last two, EGRESSION (the Frenchman’s always either René or M) and INSTALMENT, where settlement wouldn’t go away. I notice I missed the parsing of both REDUNDANT and INVIGILATE, both of which came as a surprise when I read Jack’s informative and carefully constructed blog. And I only saw HUBBIES when I wrote in the answer, expecting to find EW or NS somewhere. Good and well crafted exercise for seasoned solvers.

  18. Took me a while to get on the setter’s wavelength, but finally finished in 42 mins. Liked CHUBBIEST and NONET.

  19. 20 mins. I remember KRAAL from a book about safariing in Africa that I read over and over again (as one does at that age) when I was 5. AÇAI I used to sell in my health shop days.

  20. Is Serge a Frenchman? There was the rugby player Serge Blanco, but I thought it was short for Sergei, which surely isn’t French. It was hard to believe that there was such a word as EGRESSION, but I went with it because everything fitted, so long as I was wrong about Serge. Pleasant, 44 minutes. Lots of clues which were only obvious after solving, the sign of a good crossword. I’m glad I didn’t have to check out the capital of Angola.

    1. Luanda is that capital. I have to say, all the Angolans I’ve come across have been absolutely lovely.

    2. Serge is the French equivalent to Sergei, just as Sergio is the Spanish. Think Serge Gainsbourg, or Sergio Garcia.

          1. Wouldn’t be surprised. What I know of him is that, angry at missing a putt, he spat in the hole. Totally unapologetic about it, too.

      1. Thanks, yes that should have been fairly obvious. I was thrown because I was at school with someone who was of Russian extraction (at least I thought he was) and he was known as Serge, which seemed to me to be short for Sergei.

  21. Gave up on DEVOURING. Ok so I was just impatient after 30 mins but I have things to do this morning. I went through so many synonyms for eating I had to have a second breakfast. Fun otherwise and even the unknowns clear.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  22. 24.49

    Couldn’t get FISH for an age and NHO SPRING BREAKS but it sounded right.

    Thanks Jackkt and setter

  23. 23:22 – entertaining stuff without particular problems although some of the surfaces were a bit stodgy I thought. SPRING BREAK from having once carelessly arrived somewhere where one was in full and chaotic swing. Admitted defeat and scarpered the next day.

  24. A good test, all done in 32 minutes. I liked the international flavour, with Soviets, Russians, Parisians, French etc, ending with a deceptive Polish. I managed to dredge up KRAAL from a primary school geography lesson. NHO EGRESSION as such, but the clueing was fairly generous.
    FOI – ACAI
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  25. All done in 19:58, but sadly, like Galspray and Rowlie26, I carelessly DUNKED where I should’ve DUCKED. POLES APART dropped straight in, but LOI, LORY took a lot of thought and was almost LORI until I read the clue again and saw where it was coming from. Thanks setter and Jack.

  26. I found this difficult and was forced to resort to aids, failing to see INVIGILATE, EGRESSION, SIGNPOSTED and INSTALMENT. Heaven knows why, as in every case I could see the way the clues were constructed. But e.g. SERGE for Frenchman eluded me, as did POST for ‘job’. I shan’t go on …
    Enjoyable nonetheless. COD NONET.

  27. 26:30
    I lked this a lot though, like GideAndre, it took some time to get on the setter’s wavelength. Even then things proved a little tricky. Never hear of ACAI, SPRING BREAKS or EGRESSION. COD a toss-up betwen LORI and CHUBBIEST.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter.

  28. Another DUNKER here but also put PULLS APART, which is just embarrassing. Otherwise a tricky but enjoyable puzzle.

  29. 37’03”
    Slowly away, never nearer (trainer reported the old hack has had a hacking cough).

    However, I was pleased to get round in only fractionally over par, with only a question mark next to acai.
    When I finally got going I enjoyed wrestling with the misdirection in this a lot.
    Thank you setter and Jack, and Myrtilus for the Betjeman.

  30. Like the QC earlier, I started well and slowed towards the end. It took me a while to get my LOI ENDEAVOURING, even with all the checkers. I was pleased to cross the line well inside target at 35.15, only to be faced with a wrong answer for 11dn, where, like others I failed to duck preferring to dunk. The second in a row I have failed by a single letter, which was something I used to do on a regular basis for some reason. I hope I’m not back in the habit of doing that, it is very frustrating!

  31. 34:12

    A slow but pleasant solve which I had to leave halfway through to do some work. When I returned, I cleaned up the SE corner which left most of the NW. LOI was 12a. SPRING BREAKS was a bit meh.

  32. This was a toughie for me. Most of the short ones went in quickly, but many of the long clues took ages to decipher. As with many others, LOsI were the crossing INSTALMENT and EGRESSION, NHO, though I know egress. ‘Amount paid’ seems very vague for instalment, to be honest, and I was fixated on a word meaning glisten. I had ENER at the end until the crossers proved otherwise and even with No1 in place, I didn’t think of SERGE for ages. Amusingly, I also took a long time over INVIGILATE, despite doing that in schools since my retirement 6 years ago!

  33. Late on to this, we are having our lime trees pollarded and I have been helping to cut up and transport the logs. Hopefully I shall be able to move again, tomorrow..

    I didn’t find this particularly straightforward. Egression/instalment last in, and I see I put lyre, heaven knows why since it doesn’t parse at all. But I am not strong on colourful birds ..

  34. Late in the day after golf, enjoyed this one, all done in a good time with a hold up on my LOI EGRESSION as the only word that fitted. I don’t understand why people went astray with DUNKING when the clue gives DUC for the French duke.

  35. I’m always late in the day – evening post-work solver. Which means it’s often hard to add anything to all that’s been said already! Enjoyed that, and did ok – 15’49”. COD STYE.

  36. I found this tough taking 37 mins before finally cracking it before it cracked me. LOI egression when I finally realised rene is not the only Frenchman . Lots of others took a toll but liked tumbledown and hank was my COD. Phew!…

  37. I liked this a lot, especially because when I first looked at it I thought: “Oh dear! Another impenetrable one”. Came back to it in short bursts ( between household tasks) and found it SURPRISINGLY easy! I’m beginning to believe in the theory that the subconscious works on these clues while we’re not aware that’s happening, and returning to ‘difficult’ clues often results in a shoo-in. I have to admit to a fair(?) bit of biffing, based purely on definition, but the result was a happily filled grid within -for me- the minimum of time. CODs to CHUBBIEST and NONET. Only wrong guess was LYRE, as I’d NHO LORE.

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