Times Cryptic 28866 – Sat, 16 March 2024. Haardvark.

I struggled with this, and came in at a slow 43′ 46″. Many clues needed graft, and even those where the answer seemed clear needed careful reading and untangling. Still – all very satisfying. Thanks, setter! 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 Lie next to reptile, we hear: one’s got too close! (9)
TAILGATER – sounds like (we hear): TALE (lie), GATOR (reptile).
6 Port that’s cheap is flat — oddly left out (5)
HAIFA – every second letter (oddly left out) of: c H e AI F l A t.
9 Fighting to promote one connected with union (7)
MARITAL MARTIAL (fighting), with the I (one) moved to the left (promoted). One where I had to think a bit to determine which side of the clue was definition.
10 Were all given share of lifebelts, apparently, to join navy (2,2,3)
GO TO SEA – well, what’s going on here? If O means lifebelt, it might be saying “[we] GOT O’S EA[ch]”. If that’s it, kudos setter!
11 I shouldn’t have done that first degree (3)
DO’H – again, what’s going on here, I wondered?

We all know what “do’h” means. Thank you, The Simpsons.

I didn’t know that the notes of the musical scale could be called degrees; DO  or DOH is the first degree in that context – doh, re, mi. So, two definitions of DOH.

12 Are armed guards urged on this recklessly? (4,7)
RIDE SHOTGUN – anagram (recklessly): URGED ON THIS.
14 Raise, or rear, young animal (4,2)
BUMP UPPUP (young animal) leapt out of the clue. It took a helper before I saw BUM=rear.
15 Run in second of marathons? Trot maybe around the others? (8)
ARRESTEDA (second of mArathon), RED (Trot, after Leon Trotsky) around REST (the others).
17 Where the bills are piling up (8)
HOARDING – two definitions. At last, a straightforward clue.
19 Maybe make of fool of Yankee that’s drunk (6)
WHISKY – and yet again, what’s this? Perhaps there’s a typo in the clue, which was meant to say something like, maybe make a fool of Yankee.

WHISK[ing] is part of the process of making a fool, I believe, and certainly Y is Yankee in the phonetic alphabet.

If you have a better idea, please share it with us in the comments!

22 Cross road, or also avoid, somehow (3,8)
VIA DOLOROSA – anagram (somehow): OR ALSO AVOID.

It took me time to see through the cunning definition. It’s the road to Calvary, of course, along which He carried the Cross.

23 The present Dawn has to give Dan (3)
NOW – DAN has, as you can see, NO “W”. Ho ho.
25 King standing after he passed on priest’s dagger (7)
OBELISKOB (he passed on), ELI’S (priest’s), K (king).
27 Precursor to deluge, it was said, gun getting damp (7)
MOISTEN – It was Louis XV wot said it: après moi, le déluge. So, MOI + STEN.
28 President’s earlier a failing, ungrateful character (5)
REGANREaGAN was the president (earlier A failing). Regan was one of Lear’s ungrateful daughters.
29 Signal for one to knock hard after ring? (9)
TELEGRAPHTEL (ring), E.G. (for one), RAP (knock), H (hard). For archaeologists, a “tel” can be a mound, which I suppose might have a ring-shaped perimeter. More likely, I think, is that this is TEL. for “telephone”.
1 Retiring from magazine, largely to go on papers? (5)
TIMIDTIMe (Time Magazine, largely), ID (papers). Time was founded in 1923, and is still going!
2 Islamic prophet left departing sign that man must follow (7)
IBRAHIMLIBRA (sign of the zodiac, with L departing), HIM (that man).
3 Finally reach bypass: closed! … (3,6,2)
GET AROUND TOGET AROUND (bypass), TO (closed, like a door perhaps).
4 … furthermore has got directed to visit Spanish city (6)
TOLEDOTOO (furthermore) has got LED (directed) to visit [i.e. inside].
5 Recording of note: good first track (8)
REGISTRYRE (note: do, re, mi …), G (good), IST (first), RY (track).
6 One foolishly talked through part of speech — a travesty! (3)
HAT – hidden (part of): speecH A Travesty. Talking through one’s hat is to talk nonsense.
7 Broadcaster’s prompt expected soon? (2,5)
IN SIGHT – sounds like (broadcaster’s): INCITE (to prompt)
8 Any diary entry for August? Not normally — save for this? (1,5,3)
A RAINY DAY – anagram (not normally): ANY DIARY A. The final A is the entry for August. Proverbially, one saves for a rainy day.
13 Catching up with court case (11)
14 Conduct a sextet: take some minutes about it (9)
16 Profiting from popular compact (2,6)
IN POCKETIN (popular), POCKET (compact, as in “pocket rocket”).
18 Rascal, one defended in part by curate? (1,3,3)
A BAD EGG – the famous “curate’s egg“.
20 Performer viewed with pride, possibly, a rising talent (7)
SINATRASIN (pride, for example), A, TRA (ART=talent, rising).
21 German commander is gracious, reflecting about French wife? (6)
ROMMELROL (LOR’=gracious!, reflecting), about MME.

Lor’ seems like an exclamation straight out of Georgette Heyer.

24 Secure chain for lifting equipment (5)
WINCHWIN (secure), CH.
26 Pub popular when granted extension? (3)
INN – extend IN (popular) by a letter: IN-N! An unfamiliar wordplay device.

27 comments on “Times Cryptic 28866 – Sat, 16 March 2024. Haardvark.”

  1. Thank you, branch, for explaining the wordplay in many of these clues which I was lucky enough to biff with no real understanding. Thanks also to setter for such intriguing mysteries. COD for me was the curate’s egg.

  2. I found this difficult, and put in a number of answers I couldn’t justify: GO TO SEA, for one, D’OH (DNK degree), & WHISKY (I finally inferred that whisking is part of fool-making; never had a fool that I can remember). I liked IBRAHIM & ROMMEL. (As I recall, the French Academy has decreed an end to the Mme/Mlle distinction, saying that Mme.applies to all women, married or no.)

  3. 59m 10s
    Thanks Bruce. I share your puzzlement over GO TO SEA and D’OH.
    On the other hand I did like WHISKY as well as VIA DOLOROSA, MOISTEN, HAT and A RAINY DAY.

  4. 46 minutes. I got all the answers right and had everything other than ‘cross road’ in 22ac parsed correctly as it turned out. But too many of my explanations were speculative so that I needed to do a lot of checking after I had stopped the clock.

  5. Really enjoyed this, but could not for the life of me parse GO TO SEA. I applaud and am convinced by your ingenious explanation. Thanks for the whole blog as usual.

  6. If your explanation for GO TO SEA is right (and there’s no reason to think it isn’t)… wow! I didn’t have the faintest idea how that worked.

    I’m more familiar with hearing ‘out of pocket’ rather than IN POCKET, I nearly biffed Abraham rather than IBRAHIM, I keep forgetting OBELISK as a dagger rather than a garden frame, and likewise I forgot that notes in a scale can be degrees, though with the D and the H it was clear that DOH was right.

    I agree as well that the first ‘of’ in the WHISKY clue is a typo.

    Lots of clever clues here that took some teasing out. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Inn
    LOI Whisky
    COD Now

  7. I was all set with a “no comment” for this one but now, having read the blog, I’m actually immensely encouraged. It wasn’t just me, it was actually really hard! So I’m chuffed to have got as many as I did: all of the lower half and a half-dozen in the top half. OK, some of ‘em were guesses, but even so. Blanks were 1, 9, 10, 12, 15ac – though I don’t see how I didn’t get MARITAL and GO TO SEA given that I had the MAR and the T and SEA! Down blanks were 3, 4, 5, and 7. Phew! Thanks, all.

  8. This was rock hard. Very glad to see it wasn’t just me! I’m still baffeled by GO TO SEA, NHO “apres moi…”, failed to parse at least 3 or 4 others. Thanks for the explanations!

  9. I enjoyed this a lot – particular stand-outs were REGAN, VIA DOLOROSA, SINATRA and the excellent anagram for RIDE SHOTGUN. All done in a reasonable time, some obvious (6a, 8d), some pieced together (IBRAHIM). I didn’t get the parsing for GO TO SEA or DOH, as I’ve never heard of ‘degree’ as a description of the intervals of the tonic sol fa. I’m wondering if it’s a US usage.

    1. ‘degrees’ of the (musical) scale is common knowledge among musicians.

      My first thought on 12a (“Are armed guards urged on this recklessly?” 4,7) was “With abandon” (with a band on, as in armband, and/or a military band) but it soon became clear that wouldn’t fit.

  10. As with other solvers, chuffed to have manage to solve this correctly, but have been awaiting this column to understand the wordplay on five of the clues.

  11. DNF

    Most of it in just over 30 but could make nothing of _H_S_Y fooled by wanting a synonym for drunk not something drunk, and not seeing that sort of fool. Shame about the typo but clever clue

    And really liked RIDE SHOTGUN

    Thanks Bruce and setter

  12. A bit of a marathon for me at just under the 3/4 hour. Lots of clever stuff and PDMs. Failed to parse the MOI bit of 27a and DOH, but managed the rest. Liked ROMMEL and OBELISK. WHISKY was LOI and took an age! Thanks setter and Bruce.

  13. Difficult yes, but managed to complete it after several attempts. Odd thing is that I never noticed the typo so WHISKY came relatively early on.

  14. Are we really expected to know that Regan was an ungrateful shakespearian daughter? Too difficult for me.

    1. Shakespeare appears commonly in the Times crosswords. That’s how it is. The key theme in Lear is his relations with his ungrateful daughters.

  15. Done in 41 minutes. WHISKY went in without noticing that the clue was (probably) misprinted. IN POCKET was my LOI.

  16. I came here for an explanation of ROMMEL – an easily biffed answer. I should have got the reversed LOR. And the TEL part of TELEGRAPH also confused me. I just didn’t see it – but, again, the answer was obvious. Although it was a slowish solve I enjoyed this puzzle very much. 47 minutes

  17. Found this pretty tough at the time: reading the blog a week later I now appreciate/enjoy the clues a lot more!

    Thanks to reading your Saturday blogs for a couple of years now, I’d managed to work them all out…apart from the “BE” in 14d “BEHAVIOUR”. (I can now see that “TAKE” = “BE” as in when asked “Are we there yet?” or “How long till tea’s ready, Mum?”, the response “it will take an hour” means the same as “it will be an hour”).

    Hadn’t noticed the first “of” in 19ac WHISKY. But then when I looked up “FOOL” in Collins, I misread their “whipped” for “whisked” in the definition for the dessert.

    Nice to see the “Curate’s Egg” cartoon reproduced in the blog. It looked a rather better drawing than I remembered, which prompted me to click through the link. Fascinating to learn that there was a rival magazine to Punch called Judy, who did the joke five months before George du Maurier redrew it!

    1. Wonderful to hear that the blog helps! I love the succinct presentation of some of my fellow bloggers, but I think Saturday is a good day to provide a bit more explanation.

  18. I took 57 minutes, but it was a lot of fun with all sorts of very devious clues. I couldn’t decide whether 11ac would be DOH or DUH, but fortunately plumped for the right answer for the wrong reason. I agree that the clue for WHISKY makes much more sense if the first “of” is meant to be “a”. But my COD would be MOISTEN for its cluing of “MOI”.

  19. Ran out of time so DNF, not helped by having carelessly written Via DolorosO and not checking the anagrist so that stopped me getting 13d OVERHEARING, and the confusing 19a WHISKY. Otherwise most of the clues parsed, but some remained biffs (esp 29a TELEGRAPH.)

  20. Thanks branch. Really needed the blog for this one. Very tough. Cheated on WHISKY (kicking myself now of course) and needed your explanations for MOISTEN, TELEGRAPH, GO TO SEA, A BAD EGG and NOW. DNK the deluge quote, or anything about the curate’s egg (thanks for the link). Liked BEHAVIOUR, REGAN and VIA DOLOROSA (COD as I was misdirected for such a long time!). Blog very much appreciated.

  21. Had register instead of registry. Who knows why as er for track didn’t make sense. But it meant I didn’t get the across clue at 15. Not heard of the Louis XV quote so mystified by the moi in moisten but it had to be. Liked Via Dolorosa very topical. Agree with your explanation re go to sea although a bit tenuous. Some very interesting clues here that really needed working at even if answer seemed obvious. Thanks for the explanations

  22. I too thoroughly enjoyed this challenge: it was fun, and difficult, but not impossible, and had the ‘right’ degree of (un)general knowledge to be interesting, eg Shakespeare (always happy to see him), Sinatra (ditto) and the Simpsons all in one crossword! Bravo! FOI VIA DOLOROSA (very clever definition ); CODs to DOH, RIDE SHOTGUN and REGAN.

  23. Thanks for the blog. Quite a few unparsed for me without it, though all entered correctly. Had this one tucked away, so didn’t get to it for a while. Syndication in The Australian means there’s always a delay anyway. I liked TAILGATER, and was a bit lucky with REGAN. All the note business I missed – would have helped! Thanks to branch and setter. Toughest in a while.


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