Times Cryptic 28872 – Sat, 23 March 2024. Grammar-man vibrations

It was amusing to see an obscure grammar concept appear for the second day in a row. Its appearance here built neatly on the day before. Nice synchronicity, setters!

How did all you solvers get on with this one?

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 Staff hypocrisy banning union at last? It stinks (7)
POLECATPOLE, CAnT (banning N=unioN at last).
I didn’t know polecats stink, but apparently so.
5 I worry about child’s cooperation (7)
LIAISONLIAI (I+AIL=worry, about – i.e. backwards), SON.
9 Retribution tempting, with king having ousted bishop (9)
RECKONINGBECKONING, with R (rex/king) having ousted B (bishop).
10 Not cryptic, the jumbo, perhaps, we hear (5)
PLAIN – sounds like (we hear): PLANE (jumbo, perhaps).
11 Defence such as has been applied to port? (13)
FORTIFICATION – cryptic hint.
Port wine is fortified by adding distilled spirit to it.
13 Train company tours are affected (8)
EUROSTAR – anagram (affected): TOURS ARE.
15 Property east of Paris demolished (6)
ESTATEEST (“east” in French … in Paris, or elsewhere), ATE (demolished … a meal).
17 Traitor repeatedly turning tail, the rotter (6)
TARTARRAT (traitor) twice, backwards (turning tail).
I’m not sure tartar on your teeth actually causes tooth decay (rot), but it may at least facilitate it.
19 Old saddles falling apart: that’s completely useless (4,4)
DEAD LOSS – anagram (falling apart): O SADDLES.
22 Finally, a litotes (3,6,4)
NOT BEFORE TIME – “litotes” actually appeared as an answer in the daily cryptic the day before, so everyone had a prompt! You can refresh your memory here, and learn more here. As you can see, “not before time” is a litotes. Perhaps I should have underlined the whole clue as a cryptic definition?
25 Where the younger person goes out to lunch? (5)
POTTY – Perhaps it’s a double definition. “Out to lunch” is certainly “potty” in one sense. I tend to take the first part as a cryptic hint – and a clever one, at that! You needed to separate “goes” from “out”.
26 Note hairs ruined flower (9)
HORTENSIA – anagram (ruined): NOTE HAIRS.
I was about to say, NHO this plant, but turns out I know it well by the name of hydrangea!
27 Fuss about right drill for attack (7)
TORPEDOTODO (fuss) about R (right) + P.E. (drill)
28 SNP leader in a stew — trouble brewing here? (7)
HOTSPOTS in HOTPOT.
Down
1 European apparently doing well at Open, making cut (4)
PARE – PAR(European).
Edit: as Guy explains in the comments, the European is doing well in the golf tournament – because s/he’s (wait for it) BELOW PAR.
2 Underworld boss, a prisoner concealing larger letters (7)
LUCIFER – LIFER concealing U.C. (upper case).
3 Singers appearing in the papers, I hear (5)
CHOIR – sounds like (I hear): QUIRE = one-twentieth of a ream of paper. Not a word I hear much these days. Does the UK still use quires?
4 Daughter in triad operating somewhere in the Caribbean (8)
TRINIDAD – anagram (operating): D IN TRIAD.
5 Posh girl upset by model runs away (4,2)
LEGS ITLEG (GEL, upsetby SIT.
6 Estimated amount initially increased by two pence (9)
APPRAISED – A (Amount, initially), PP (two pence), RAISED (increased).
7 Briefly attempt to restrict dictator’s power (7)
STAMINA – STAb briefly, to restrict AMIN (Ugandan dictator).
8 Straightforward refusal? Rubbish (2-8)
NO-NONSENSE – NO (a refusal), NONSENSE (rubbish).
12 Somehow get it on with Liberal MP in Crucible (7,3)
MELTING POT – anagram (somehow): GET IT ON L MP.
14 Deposit related to excess fare that’s required by motorist (5,4)
SPARE TYRE – two definitions, or at least one definition to do with cars, and a cryptic hint to do with obesity.
16 Almost all of group in on mischievous study (8)
RESEARCHRE (on), SEt (almost all of group), ARCH (mischievous).
18 A Turner, one way or the other (7)
ROTATOR – palindrome (one way or the other). And an &lit clue.
20 Discloses a lot of campus nepotism making a return (5,2)
OPENS UP – hidden in (a lot of) camPUS NEPOtism backwards (making a return).
21 Spooner’s question of identity for attention seeker (3-3)
YOO-HOO – I struggle to imaging Spooner saying it: WHO – YOU?
23 Awkward relations holding writer up (5)
INEPTIT (relations, of the sexual kind), holding NEP (PEN, up).
24 Racket involving heroin in foreign capital (4)
BAHTBAT involving H. As usual, “foreign capital” is money, not a city.
Is a racket a bat? Loosely, perhaps.

11 comments on “Times Cryptic 28872 – Sat, 23 March 2024. Grammar-man vibrations”

  1. The E(uropean) is under PAR, so doing better than normal in the Open (fewer strokes). Being under or below par is only good in golf, of course.

    In the United States, POLECAT is also used to mean “skunk,” but apparently every kind of critter so-called is rather odiferous.

  2. 25:21
    I have no notes on this one for some reason. I wondered, like Vinyl, if a Tartar could be called a rotter; the dental tartar never occurred to me. I liked SPARE TYRE, STAMINA and especially PARE.
    Litotes is really a rhetorical concept rather than grammatical. It’s also one of the methods Doug Piranha used to torture his victims.

    1. Dental tartar is most definitely a rotter. It’s the one thing my dentist frequently tells me I need to have removed by booking an appointment with the hygienist. I believe the problem is that it causes gums to recede thus exposing tooth material more vulnerable to decay.

      Enjoyed this weeks. Two clues I biffed were 11 & 16, which thanks to the blog seem somewhat obvious.

  3. 34 minutes, so on the very easy side for me for a Saturday puzzle. Because the answers were going in smoothly I didn’t linger long enough to understand the niceties involved in parsing PARE and TARTAR correctly. I’d like to think I’d have understood them fully on a blogging day but somehow I doubt it.

  4. Didn’t encounter any real problems here bar a second thought to figure out that the TARTAR rotter at 17ac was of teeth, not the Tatars. And needed the blog to explain 16d’s RESEARCH. But other than that, done in 35 minutes or so – a decent time for me. Thanks, all.

  5. 28a is very apt in the light of the recent news about the erstwhile leader of the SNP! Prescient even.
    2d LUCIFER wouldn’t come to me for ages, was going for more abstruse underworld bosses, Greek, Roman, Mafia.

  6. Wasn’t sure how TARTAR was right (forgot that it can be something that rots teeth); didn’t remember the paper meaning of quire, though CHOIR had to be right; read POTTY as a double definition.

    No real problems otherwise. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Eurostar
    LOI Tartar
    COD Liaison

  7. Thanks for the link to the previous day’s puzzle. I hadn’t looked at that one at the time. That’s helped me with my previously shaky understanding of litotes.

    I enjoyed TARTAR once I realised it referred to the teeth. At first I was trying to associate its meaning of a “fierce, bad-tempered, and strict person” with rotter.

    I also missed the “E under PAR” in 1d (thank you Guy!). I must remember to pay particular attention when “apparently” appears in a Saturday clue. Last week it was used it that “go to sea”/ “got o’s each” clue.

  8. Didn’t comment on this one, as I was tied up all weekend with a house move, but just heard I won one of the prizes! Pretty chuffed, as also I thought this was a great puzzle at the time.

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