Times Cryptic 28884 – Saturday, 6 April 2024. A fine afternoon’s diversion.

I actually don’t remember much about this one, but I think it was mostly straightforward. The exception as always was the obscure foreign word clued as an anagram. (Even with all the helpers, I had no idea!) Apart from that – thanks, setter. 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.

1 What’s milky when shaken? Drink from barley (4,6)
MALT WHISKY – anagram (when shaken): WHATS MILKY.
6 Republican embraced by a very old Victorian PM (4)
ARVOR, embraced by: A + V (very) + O (old).
ARVO is an Australian expression meaning “afternoon”, used in Victoria [and everywhere else too, of course].
8 Dessert, one with butter, is in belly that needs reduction (8)
TIRAMISUI + RAM + IS, in TUm (belly, that needs reduction).
9 See Mister Duck back at university in decorative coat (6)
ORMOLUORMOL (LO=see + MR + O=duck, back) + U.
10 Baker runs away, finished before noon (4)
OVENOVEr (“finished”, with R=runs away) + N=noon.
This clue is a bit hard to disentangle, but a good guideline is that the definition is usually at one end or the other. So, the answer couldn’t be OVER, despite the tangled syntax.
11 Old carpet torn to bits that enshrouds a feline (7,3)
LEOPARD CAT – anagram (torn to bits): OLD CARPET, containing (enshrouding) A.
NHO this. Not the same as a leopard, it seems: see here.
12 In city invaded by many, not about to show strength (9)
INTENSITYIN + cITY (not C=about), invaded by TENS = many (at least, compared with ones and twos).
14 Tree in flatland did you say? (5)
PLANE – sounds (did you say) like PLAIN.
17 Perform tango beat in reverse (5)
ENACTT + CANE in reverse.
19 Gym expected to involve eager teacher (9)
PEDAGOGUEP.E. + DUE to involve AGOG (eager).
22 Mineral in cup one dropped put on tray finally (10)
CHALCEDONYCHALiCE (I=one dropped), DON, traY finally.
It’s a mineral akin to quartz. Perhaps you knew that.
23 Sting’s perpetrator has formerly been head of police (4)
WASPWAS, head of  Police.
24 Stole about a pound in Panamanian money (6)
BALBOABOA about + LB=pound (weight, not money).
25 Choice made by European reading in church (8)
26 Speak without distinction in France on consuming litres (4)
SLURSUR (“on”, in French) consuming L.
27 Not using cipher to frame article, free from suspicion (2,3,5)
IN THE CLEARIN CLEAR (not using cipher) to frame THE (an article, grammatically).
I biffed the answer, thinking the definition was “not using cipher”. But, that doesn’t work.
1 English novice coming up to measure exotic rock (9)
METEORITEMETE, ORIT E (E=English + TIRO=novice, coming up).
2 Greatest king in line grows old over time (7)
3 Close broadcast with no current issue (8)
HEIRLESS – sounds (when broadcast) like: AIRLESS.
4 Snap, having volatile mentor thump foes (4-2-3-6)
5 Sultanate supporting the old guard (6)
YEOMANOMAN supporting YE(“the”, old)
6 Animal limb bad — bother bandaging that? (9)
ARMADILLOARM (limb), ADO bandaging ILL (bad)
7 Birmingham team at home displaying wicked character! (7)
VILLAINVILLA (Aston Villa, a Birmingham football team), IN (home).
13 Reportedly unknown gauge in king’s weapon (9)
EXCALIBUR –  sounds like (reportedly): X (unknown, in algebra) + CALIBRE.
15 Spot seen on decent batter? That’s something remarkable (3-6)
EYE-OPENEREYE (spot), OPENER (a more than just “decent” cricketer, who opens the batting).
16 Trojan beauty having pull over some ancient Iranian (8)
GANYMEDEG (gravitational force), ANY (some), MEDE (ancient Persian).
18 Language in Lithuania never one for translation (7)
NAHUATL – anagram (for translation): LTHUANA.
There are no I’s in the anagram fodder because “never  one”.
Even with the helpers, I had no idea where to put the remaining letters.
20 French farmhouse stocked with smuggled rock (7)
GRANITEGITE stocked with RAN.
21 Write about “the greatest” Gurkha? (6)
NEPALINEP (PEN, about), [Muhammed] ALI (“I am the greatest“).

19 comments on “Times Cryptic 28884 – Saturday, 6 April 2024. A fine afternoon’s diversion.”

  1. No time, I assume because I finished this over lunch . DNK LEOPARD CAT, LECTION, (but that was easy to guess). I just thought an OPENER was the first batter in cricket; dnk he was decent. Luckily I knew NAHUATL (the language of the Aztecs and their descendants); I can see how that would have been tricky otherwise. Also lucky to know how to spell EXCALIBUR; the clue tells you how to pronounce it, no clue as to how to spell it. I liked ORMOLU & INTENSITY.

  2. For a Saturday puzzle I could hardly believe how easy the top two-thirds of this was as the solutions almost wrote themselves in. I suspect the setter took a break and returned to his task in a different frame of mind because the lower half contained a bunch of obscurities that gave me a lot of trouble.

    Towards the end I made one mistake and had to use aids for another clue, so after 35 minutes this has to count as a DNF.

    The error was at 18dn, NAHUATL, a language that has come up only once before outside Mephisto and Monthly puzzles, 3 years ago to this very day. I was on blogging duty on that occasion and I complained then as today about obscure foreign words being clued as anagrams. The problem was compounded this time by the answer intersecting with two other words unknown to me, or at least long forgotten, CHALCEDONY and BALBOA. It turned out I had derived both of them correctly from wordplay, but I didn’t know that for sure when I was playing around the anagrist at 18dn.

    16dn was the answer I eventually looked up. I didn’t know GANYMEDE as a Trojan beauty (I could only think of Helen), nor MEDE as an ancient Iranian.

    LECTION as a church reading was also unknown as was LEOPARD CAT although I had no difficulty solving that one.

  3. A DNF after the usual 40-ish minutes, having to look up NAHUATL which NHO. Guesswork employed for OVEN, CHALCEDONY and METEORITE – got ‘em but couldn’t quite work out how. ORMOLU is one of those words I’ve only ever encountered in crosswords… Thanks, all.

  4. DNF, inexplicably defeated by NEPALI – I got the Ali bit and even thought of pen, but didn’t think to reverse it. Gah.

    A few unknowns here for me: GANYMEDE, where the only bit I understood was ‘any’; CHALCEDONY and ORMOLU went in based solely on wordplay; and I ninja-turtled BALBOA from Rocky.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Arvo

  5. Wasted a lotta time searching for politicians called ARVO, DOH! They’re all Finnish or Latvian.
    NHO Leopard cats, thought it sounded green paintish, but no it is a thing.
    Never knew Ganymede was Trojan and would have been inclined to place the Medes in Iraq rather than Persia. Wasn’t it the rule of the Medes and Persians? I thought the Medes were in Mesopotamia, whereas the Persians were more or less in Iran.

  6. Meh. N- whatever – tl came up a while back as the language that included axolotl, and maybe some Incan dude (Cloacacotl?), but I confidently said no word can end in TL so failed. Also failed on a wrongly spelled excaliber, the cryptic was no help. Also on Ganymede, unknown as a Trojan, Mede unknown as a Persian, so no chance.
    Not my favourite ever puzzle.

  7. This was a mixture of easy and obscure – eg INTENSITY – took ages to parse TENS = lots. 6a made me laugh – it cropped up a while ago during discussion about adding o to make an Aussie word, ref smoko. LOI GANYMEDE, as didn’t know he was Trojan. NHO BALBOA, ORMOLU faintly remembered. Liked 19 and 22a, but I thought the crossing of 18d and 24a was rather unfair.

  8. 37 minutes. When I started this, I was surprised how easy it was, until suddenly it wasn’t. Lots of obscure words (ORMOLU, ARVO, CHALCEDONY, GANYMEDE and so on), but fortunately with decent wordplay, which I really needed for ORMOLU, for example. A number of very good clues, of which I liked MALT WHISKY the best, for the amusing surface reading.

  9. DNF, obviously, referring to the blog for NAHUATL, BALBOA and NEPALI (which I should have got). Didn’t know LEOPARD CAT so this was a guess, pleased to build the unknown CHALCEDONY from the wordplay, and failed to parse METEORITE and INTENSITY. Favourite clue was ARVO which made me smile, although I did fall into the PM trap to start with. Many thanks for the blog branch.

  10. Some interesting general knowledge, which I enjoyed learning in this one.

    Thank you for the explanation/confirmation for “many” = “tens” in 12ac INTENSITY, and “pull” = “G” in 16d GANYMEDE.

    Thanks also for pointing out that LEOPARD CAT 11ac is not the same as leopard. I had completely missed that until I read your blog! I’d assumed it was just another (more formal) name, but I see now they’re different species and genus.

  11. I found this a bit easier than the usual Saturday offering, solving it in around an hour, although I had to Google the Panamian currency and Nahuatl.

    NHO Chalcedony or Ormolu, but they were workoutable from the wordplay and the crossers.

    Overall I enjoyed this one but I always get a bit irritated by such obscure words. Would a clue about Rocky have been so hard to do for Balboa??? Or something involving wordplay around a Spanish City to make it more guessable?

  12. Agree withal the comments: unfair to cross two ‘unknowns’! Ashamed to say I had to look up MALT WHISKY, as I really should have seen the anagram, and although ORMOLU known (from ARS), too hard to parse. Big smile at ARVO, as I live in Victoria and use the term frequently (especially in texts).


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