Times Cryptic 28910


Solving time: 31 minutes

I found this fairly straightforward.

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]. “Aural wordplay” is in quotation marks. I usually omit all reference to juxtaposition indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Philosopher and squad, not working (5)
PLATO{on} (squad) [not working – not ‘on’]
4 Issues stall inexperienced, singular partnership (9)
NEW (inexperienced), S (singular), STAND (partnership). Collins: stand – in cricket an extended period at the wicket by two batters.
9 Registering game opponents, incapably drunk (9)
E + N (game opponents – in Bridge: East / North ), ROLLING (incapably drunk)
10 “The real” Star Trek character? (5)
Two definitions. Although its origin is in some doubt  “the real McCoy” is used to describe something authentic and of high-quality. Dr McCoy aka “Bones” was a character in Star Trek.
11 Advocates being called here for a drink? (3,3)
“Called to the bar” signifies joining the ranks of barristers, and those qualifying may be termed ‘advocates’ especially in the USA and Scotland. Drinks are available at the other type of bar referred to here.
12 Composer and lass eating cheese with last drop of Chianti (8)
GAL (lass) containing [eating] BRIE (cheese), then {Chiant}I [last drop]. There was more than one composer in the Gabrieli family, but Giovanni (1554-1612) was the most famous of them. Here’s a sample of his work.
14 Upset stomach, with bad days drinking cola (9)
Anagram [bad] of DAYS containing [drinking] PEPSI (cola). Does somebody at The Times have shares in this product?
16 European flag at front of hotel (5)
IRIS (flag), H{otel} [at front]
17 Hard branch of maths? On reflection, it’s the circumference (5)
H (hard) + TRIG (branch of maths) reversed [on reflection]
19 Controller of number of vehicles you subsequently overheard (9)
REG (number of vehicles), then aural wordplay [overheard]: U + LATER / “you” + “later” (subsequently)
21 Codebreaker admitting to providing private education (8)
TURING (codebreaker – Alan) containing [admitting] TO
22 Film villain‘s casual task (6)
ODD JOB (casual task). Harold Sakata played ‘Oddjob’ in Goldfinger, the first Bond film I ever saw and by far the best, although I admit I have seen no more than a couple of them since Roger Moore hung up his Walther PPK – or was it a P99?
25 Big cat initially gets into line (5)
G{ets} [initially] contained by [into] TIER (line)
26 Most shocking of places? (9)
27 See guerrilla interrupting schedule (9)
CHE (guerrilla) contained by [interrupting] ROSTER (schedule)
28 In a reserved way, have a fling with heartless lady (5)
SHY (have a fling – at a coconut perhaps), L{ad}Y [heartless]
1 The Conjuror‘s Grid — is it a Potter novel? (15)
Anagram [novel] of GRID IS IT A POTTER
2 Give the thumbs up to a virtual classic (5)
A, GREE{k} (classic) [virtual – almost]
3 Cricket side go off holidaying (2,5)
ON (cricket side), LEAVE (go off)
4 En famille, regularly supplying cover (4)
{e}N {f}A{m}I{l}L{e} [regularly]. Cover on the tip of a finger for example.
5 Two happy dogs heard in city on the Murrumbidgee (5,5)
Very dubious aural wordplay [heard]: WAGGA / “wagger”  x 2 (two happy dogs). I foresee complaints from our down under correspondents because it’s not pronounced like happy dogs.
6 Asian warrior is carrying a strange article around (7)
IS containing (carrying) A RUM (strange) + A (indefinite article) reversed [around]
7 Pseudoscientist’s revolutionary mark in a register (9)
CHE (revolutionary) + M (mark) contained by [in] A + LIST (register). It’s a bit unfortunate that after having CHE (guerilla) in a schedule at 27ac we now have CHE (revolutionary) in a list!
8 Poor Roger badly hit by blatant overcharging (8,7)
Anagram [poor] of ROGER BADLY HIT BY
13 Harsh cord with neat woven binding (10)
Anagram [woven] of NEAT containing [binding] STRING (cord)
15 Important to plan way to judge private clubs (9)
ST (way – street), RATE (judge), GI (private – army rank), C (clubs – cards)
18 Hoarder ordered seafood (4,3)
Anagram [ordered] of HOARDER
20 Run(g)s (7)
A double definition of sorts neatly combined into one. ‘Runs’ as ladders in tights etc, and ‘rungs’ as the horizontal crossbars of ladders for climbing.
23 Dockland structure rather black? (5)
JET-TY a word meaning ‘rather black’ perhaps as defined in the Uxbridge English Dictionary
24 No nonsense seaside entertainer on here? (4)
PIER{rot} (seaside entertainer), [no nonsense]. The definition is reflexive.

81 comments on “Times Cryptic 28910”

  1. 15:55
    I also found it pretty straightforward, although I never figured out how PIER worked and just biffed from ‘seaside entertainer on here?’ Also biffed STRATEGIC, wondering for a while how to account for GIC. Biffed the two long downs, 1 and 8, never bothered to check for anagrist. DNK HARD ROE, DNK STAND, had to assume it meant something like ‘partnership’. I see that ODE says it’s another word for ‘partnership’ in cricket; needless to say, I didn’t know that ‘partnership’ is a cricket term.

    1. There are two batters in at any one time in cricket, and the total runs added before one gets out is their ‘partnership’ or ‘stand’.

        1. That’s for the Nightwatchman. Although England’s hardly ever lasts until the next day.

  2. Around an hour. Very straightforward. FOI WAGGA WAGGA. I saw the homophone problem immediately.
    The pronunciation is approximately WOG UH WOG UH or WOG A WOG A. There is no “wag” sound and no “er” sound. My son earlier in his career had many trips there as part of his work.
    Only part which slowed me was lower right corner related to EPICENTRE, ODDJOB and JETTY.

      1. Is anyone else finding the SNITCH site down? I went because this is probably in my ten fastest at 16:52. Guessed 1d very fast, which helped – though why anyone needed to create such a pompous word is a mystery. Thanks for a fun puzzle setter, and to Jack for explaining the baffling PIER.

  3. DNF. As a non-trekkie I convinced myself I had no chance at 10ac, so just chose the most likely vowel and went with MICKY. As soon as the pink square appeared I realised that I had actually heard of the MCCOY character, and obviously knew of “the real McCoy”, so just a bit sloppy really. 12 minutes otherwise.

    I love a dodgy homophone, not so sure about blatant mispronunciations though. Still 5dn was a bit of a giveaway so no complaints.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  4. Was it in Portnoy’s Complaint that the hero had a fantasy girlfriend he referred to as Thereal McCoy? Anyway a quick time for me, 16.16, helped enormously by biffing the conjuror at 1dn almost immediately which gave me lots of starts. NHO HARD ROE (it doesn’t sound too good) and challenge just about any normal person to get PIER by following the wordplay, not biffing it. So we had two cricket clues, two Che Guevaras and two mispronounced Waggas (a lot of people call it just Wagga but the locals get rather snippy and correct them).

    From Absolutely Sweet Marie:
    To live outside the law you must be honest
    I know you always say that you AGREE
    But where are you tonight, Sweet Marie?

    1. As the saying goes, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Hence, “Love and Theft” (the quotation marks are an integral part of the title). I just now looked this up, which I’d heard before: « “To live outside the law you must be honest”: Jonathan Lethem points to a very similar line by the screenwriter Stirling Silliphant in the 1958 film The Lineup: “When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty.” »

      Keep ’em comin’. LindsayO!

      1. Absolutely fascinating, thank you Guy. In 58 Bob would have been in his inquisitive/acquisitive/ impressionable prime, and he knew a good line when he saw one. I’ll do my best but feel free to jump in if the urge takes you!

        1. By strange coincidence, guitar-playing on that song is one Charlie MCCOY. From his wiki page he is quite a guy.

          1. I believe he also supplied that virtuoso guitar backing on Desolation Row. I heard somewhere that Dylan pretended not to notice and let him go back to Nashville without saying a word to him.

              1. Yep, and of course he was on Blonde on Blonde as well as Les says. I don’t think there is a single muso from those days who didn’t reckon Dylan was a really weird cat, but they kept coming back and doing it all over again. Apparently he never spoke to Mick Ronson on the rolling thunder tour either…

    2. Interesting re Wagga Lindsay. All the Riverina expats I’ve met are quite religious about only using the single-word version. Same with Kurri Kurri, but definitely not Woy Woy and Bong Bong!

      My personal favourite is Curl Curl, which I lived just a headland away from until recently. But it’s only ever rendered as Curly.

      1. Very interesting! I have been corrected quite sternly by WW (or is it W?) locals about the WW thing and I’ve never known anyone to say just Kurri. But Curly is Curly is Curly…

  5. I found the clue for LADDERS rather original.
    Hadn’t heard of the English seaside Pierrots, looked that up. Had PIER in my mind a long time before putting it in.
    Nor had I heard of HARD ROE. (“Hard row to hoe,” now, I’ve heard of. Ha.)
    It was fun figuring out WAGGA WAGGA, another NHO (so wouldn’t know how it’s actually pronounced).
    I was hung up at the end trying to justify AGREE. To my mind, “virtual” does not equal “almost,” and none of our usual dictionary sources backs that up. Is “having the essence or effect but not the appearance or form of” the same as “almost”? Like, not quite all there? Come on… “Greek” does not necessarily mean “classic,” either, nor does “classic” mean “Greek.” Oh, well…

    1. SOED: classic – Of or pertaining to the standard ancient Greek and Latin authors or their works, or the culture, art, architecture, etc. of Greek and Roman antiquity generally.

      ODE: virtualalmost or nearly as described

      Both of the above are the first definitions listed.

      1. It’s Greek and Latin antiquity, not simply “Greek,” which is why I (being aware of the allusion) put in “necessarily.”

        I looked only in Collins and Dictionary.com (and, for good measure, Merriam-Webster), expecting, actually, to find something closer to the clue than what I came up with there, although I don’t use “virtually” that way myself but only in the sense I cited. I don’t have the SOED or the ODE.

  6. 16:58 – fastest I’ve managed (by a considerable margin) since becoming an irregular solver due to the demands of gainful employment. Wasn’t confident when Initially unable to get 1a and 4a – but 1d jumped out immediately and I was on my way. DNK GABRIELI or HARD ROE, PIER had to go in unparsed. Chuffed that I wasn’t caught out by the diocesan SEE – unlike the last 19 occasions. Result! – thanks J / setter.

  7. 15:34 so this was another „Tuesday is the new Monday“ type of puzzle for me.
    NHO WAGGA WAGGA but on the assumption it was the same word twice, I had all the letters except the initial W so it wasn‘t hard. The W gave me my LOI NEWSSTAND, didn‘t get why STAND was a partnership so thanks Jack for that.
    COD EPICENTRE which I thought was clever.
    Thanks Jack and setter

  8. 9:50. I failed to parse PIER but otherwise found the puzzle fairly straightforward. I tried CHABRIER at first for the composer but only the cheese fitted the wordplay. I liked the novel double definition for LADDER. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  9. 15:53. Didn’t find this as easy as some, with the SE providing a fair bit of resistance before I had a sudden flash of inspiration, spotted ODDJOB, then the rest fell fairly quickly.

    WAGGA-WAGGA made me smile, as I had no idea how it was pronounced. Didn’t much like LADDER.

    Thanks Jack & setter.

  10. With blackest moss the flower-plots
    Were thickly crusted, one and all:
    The rusted Nails fell from the knots
    That held the pear to the gable-wall.
    (Mariana, Tennyson)

    20 mins pre-brekker with a few eyebrow raises. Classic=Greek, cover=nail, and I didn’t know Pierrot had a seaside association – until now.
    Ta setter and J

  11. 31 minutes. LOI NEWSSTAND. I have seen PRESTIDIGITATOR before, fortunately. HARD ROE was a construct. I’ve watched STAR TREK on the same number of occasions as I have STAR WARS, ie never, but I have frequently heard of the real McCoy without knowing anything about him or her. In fact, the only bit of scifi that’s ever really caught my attention was A for Andromeda, introducing Julie Christie. I was fifteen, I guess, and I don’t think it was the storyline which engaged me. Che was working overtime today. COD to WAGGA WAGGA. An interesting puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

  12. 12’12”, not stretched. Took a while to parse AGREE. Never parsed PIER. The aforementioned WAGGA WAGGA LOI.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  13. 36 mins with LOI ROCHESTER taking a while as I had carelessly whacked in STRATAGEM at 15d, clearly failing to parse the “private clubs” . Clever cue.

    Enjoyed today but I do AGREE with comments above re the dodgy homophone. DNK HARD ROE(but I had heard of soft roe so it made sense) or the composer, worked out from wp. Senor Guevara is having to earn his crust today!


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  14. 16:04 with a silly error for DYSPEPSIA
    (I wrote in DISPEPSIA and didn’t bother parsing or checking my work, more fool me)

    Otherwise quite straightforward fare, albeit I couldn’t parse PIER, and both PRESTIDIGITATOR, HARD ROE, and GABRIELI were unknowns.

    Helpful checkers for the unknowns.

    Thanks to both.

  15. Quick today although several things passed me by, such as how to pronounce the happy dogs and how to parse the PIER. There is no connection I am aware of between pierrots and coastal locations, other than that piers often have performers of one kind or another; so a little mer at that. Wagga Wagga is a fun clue, as long as you don’t let the facts get in the way. I had no idea how it was pronounced, so enjoyed it.

    Interesting (and definitive) article about the real Mackay/McCoy:


  16. About 25 minutes.

    Didn’t parse PIER; knew GABRIELI in large part because of the Gabrieli Consort who are regularly featured on Radio 3; NHO PRESTIDIGITATOR but it was the only reasonable-sounding answer with all the checkers in place; wasn’t entirely sure how a NAIL is a cover, but the fingertip example clears it up; was in the happy position of having heard of WAGGA WAGGA but not knowing how to pronounce it, so the issues mentioned above didn’t occur to me; and didn’t know what HARD ROE is, but once I’d got the clue the right way round (i.e. realised that ‘seafood’ wasn’t the anagrist but the definition) it made sense.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Irish
    LOI Prestidigitator
    COD Daylight robbery

  17. 9:15
    NHO LOI GABRIELI, but I have a dozen different MCCOYs in my collection of doctor action figures.
    Earworm of the day: Noël Coward’s ‘Parisian PIERrot’. The first pierrot troupe in Britain performed at Henley Regatta in 1891, but by the turn of the century many seaside resorts had several.

  18. 11.00 but with an idiotic and uncorrected MACOY. Dr Spock will be amused. Otherwise plain sailing, ignoring the wordplay for AGREE and STRATEGIC and any potential arguments about WAGGA WAGGER. Welease Woger! I quite liked LADDER for novelty.

      1. I’m sure you’re right. I never watched the programme but I gathered when researching for the blog that he was a doctor.

      2. I rather hoped somebody would bite: we seem to be having a day picking up on dodginess, so I thought I’d open up another opportunity!

  19. Despite a few unfamiliar words I found this surprisingly easy. I didn’t understand EPICENTRE, and I didn’t know GABRIELLI, though the wordplay was easy.
    28 minutes

  20. 15.43, but, again, it would have been quicker if the page did not keep jumping to a different puzzle when I entered letters. I had to be careful with the spelling of ‘prestidigitator’.

  21. I always do the Quick Cryptic before the main one, so I was interested in the fizzy drink connection.

  22. 24m 26s
    Poor form, I thought for the setter to include CHE twice.
    I’m still astonished that Vinyl has never heard of Oddjob!! Surely one of THE best known movie villains!

  23. I never knew that there was any other pronunciation but “wagger-wagger” and couldn’t think what Jack was saying, so have learnt something; also have learnt that there is such a thing as HARD ROE, although it seemed a sensible guess. And I also noticed the duplication of Che. Nail = cover was a mystery but ihtb and clear enough now. Nice (in the sense that at first one can hardly believe that those letters give the answer) anagram at 8dn. 19 minutes.

  24. I didn’t parse PIER, and had not associated Pierrot with the seaside at all – in fact, I mostly associate him with costume parties in Wodehouse.

    Alas, in my hurry I didn’t check the anagram for 1d properly and had an A for one of the Is. More haste, less speed.

  25. 11:11 but another MACOY to keep z8 company. I was so relieved to come up with the name of a Star Trek character that I immediately stopped thinking.
    Fortunately I didn’t know how to pronounce WAGGA WAGGA so it didn’t cause me a problem.

  26. A quick 16′ for me here, very much QC territory for much of it. After a few years doing these I’ve now stopped getting irate at the rhotic/non-rhotic issue (well almost… ). Didn’t parse PIER but a reasonable biff and needed a few crossers before WAGGAx2 came to mind. Nice to know there were bigger pronunciation issues with this than just the missing “R”. Like others, ODDJOB brought back memories of our old fleapit. thanks Jackkt and setter.

  27. I didn’t find this as straightforward as our esteemed blogger. I sat through many episodes of Star Trek in the days when it was almost all that was on the 3 stations available and never thought to question how the Dr spelled his name, so MaCOY went in wrongly. It took a while to remember that other colas are also available and even tried to make the IKEA clue at 15d more complicated than it needed to be. Thanks for unpicking PIER and NEWSSTAND Jack.

  28. 14:40 – all straightforward except for NAIL, which I couldn’t account for, unless as a verb in its “vulgar slang” meaning (as dictionaries primly insist), equating to the type of covering man horses do to lady horses.

  29. 18:35 with one pink square. Another MACOY, which I would not have spelled like that if I’d thought about it. Or perhaps I was influenced by some subconscious awareness of the original real MacKay? No, I don’t think so. I particularly liked the clever clue for EPICENTRE

  30. I knew Wagga Wagga from the Monty Python Australian wine sketch, Eric Idle at his absolute best.

  31. Fairly straightforward solve today in 32.14, where I was only troubled by trying to parse PIER, but was unsuccessful. I don’t recall hearing of HARD ROE, and as a Star Trek fan, MCCOY (or bones) wasn’t a problem.

  32. A mixture of QC and bif-fest, all done in an unusually (for me) quick 18 minutes. Long anagrams always help. NHO HARD ROE, but there was no alternative, and ‘soft roe’ made it likely that ‘hard roe’ was a thing. Good to see the UED getting an outing at 23dn.
    LOI – PIER
    Thanks with jackkt and other contributors.

  33. 24:32

    Right on the money with the Snitch of 69 (for me = 24:30), but several others seem to have sailed through this more easily – probably didn’t help not knowing 1d off the bat. Glad that the Star Trek reference was to the original series – wouldn’t have had a chance otherwise.

    NHO GABRIELI (built from cryptic), HARD ROE nor PRESTIDIGITATOR (with all checkers except P in place, worked out the most likely arrangement of the remaining letters. Consequently bunged in PLATO and AGREE as my last two without parsing either.

    Assumed NAIL must be a fingernail or toenail. No idea of how the Australian town should be pronounced. LADDERS was mildly puzzling but bunged it in anyway.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  34. 15:14
    Good fun. Sailed through this with GABRIELI being the only unknown. I had NAIL meaning cover in the sense that I’ve nailed/solved it.

    For some strange reason, Ely in Cambridge is twinned with Wagga Wagga ( even stranger, to me, is the twinning of Northampton and Poitiers).

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

    1. One can only assume that both Wagga Wagga and Northampton were keen to acquire a bit of extra polish by association ..

      1. Possibly. Having lived in both I would have thought Ely and Poitiers would make a much more suitable match. To square things up I tried to find a justification for pairing Wagga Wagga with Northampton. It turns out that Arthur Orton, the famous Titchborne Claimant, originally came form Wagga Wagga. After protracted legal proceedings a jury eventually decided that Orton’s claim was a load of cobblers,which, as it happens, is the nickname of Northampton Town FC.

        It may not be enough to convince the Town Twinning Commission but it passed the time till Midsomer Murders started on Canal Plus.

  35. I sailed through this, but neglected to proof read before submitting, thus leaving the glaring error at 19a where I’d blindly typed REGULATER without actually looking at it or absorbing the instruction in the clue that LATER is “overheard!” Drat! 17:11 WOE. Thanks setter and Jack. PRESTIDIGITATOR seems to have embedded itself into my consciousness!

  36. 18.08 Second fastest ever for me helped by PRESTIDIGITATOR going straight in. My PB involved a hangover too. PLATO and AGREE were biffed and GABRIELI was new. ROCHESTER was LOI. Thanks Jack.

  37. That made up for Monday, went past in a flash.
    Failed to parse STAND = partnership.
    Usual pointless grumble, the most shocking place in an earthquake is an area much deeper than the EPICENTRE…..good clue otherwise.

  38. 17 mins. Many write-ins here, ENROLLING and AGREE being the last to go in. GABRIELI didn’t look right but as I’d NHO’d him, I bunged it in

  39. Was I the only one who bunged enlisting in at 9 across which then made agree and on leave possible to solve? 13 minutes to get all but these 3 then another 5 minutes of alphabet trawling until I realised my mistake.

    Enjoyable puzzle – thx J and setter

  40. 20:50

    Not sure why I was comparatively slow. Only LOI EPICENTRE took me over the 20’ mark, but everything else was even paced, if slow.

    Thanks all.

  41. Much easier than yesterday, and completed in less than thirty minutes. Pretty quick for me.
    The two long anagrams went in first without needing much thought, giving starts or finishes for all of the acrosses. The rest followed at a gentle but steady pace leaving only the virtual classic and the seaside venue unparsed.
    Not as entertaining, and definitely not as challenging as yesterday’s excellent puzzle (the subject of my maiden contribution to any crosswording site).

  42. Done in 28 minutes – quite quick for me – got PRESTIDIGITATOR and DAYLIGHT ROBBERY and WAGGA WAGGA straight away which helped – This may just be a mental block but can anyone explain why “See” is the definition for ROCHESTER? Worked it out easily enough (CHE in ROSTER) but can’t understand that part?

  43. 31:24 which is a very good time for me. I have a long flight coming up and hoped it would take me longer. Maybe I’ll spin up the Bank Holiday Cryptic.

    I had heard of WAGGA WAGGA, and that helped open things up, along with the pretty easy PRESTIDIGITATOR, which I spelt right first time.

    AGREE looks like a weak clue, as both “virtually” and “classic” look a stretch. I was worried about run(g)s, and thought we might be on a “scrambled eggs” clue. LOI EPICENTRE, as I was trying all sorts of “elect-“ words for “shocking”. Odd to see CHE twice in the same puzzle.

    COD JETTY. Classic Uxbridge Dictionary.

  44. 11’44”. 1d was first to go. Always good to get a long sidey like that. After that it tumbled quite swiftly. Didn’t get the seaside reference to PIERROT, but after reading comments above see it now. Many thanks.

  45. Tackled after supper and after finishing the Bank Holiday Jumbo and QC crosswords. A thoroughly pleasant puzzle, which tasked me just enough, but without too much frustration. I was foiled in the parsing of PIER, but bunged it in anyway, and didn’t understand the definition of NAIL as a cover, though it had to be. I must, in the distant past, have heard of WAGGA – so good they named it twice! – as it came to seem a probability with a couple of crossing As and Gs. GABRIELI was no problem – Giovanni and his uncle Andrea were featured recently in Composer of the Week on Radio 3, even if I hadn’t known the former’s work. The rest all fell into place one by one, with LOI EPICENTRE. COD to STRATEGIC, which I worked out from the bottom up.

    HARD ROE, for those who are unfamiliar, is the eggs of the cod, or whatever, whereas soft roe is the sperm. I used to be given both as a child. The former came in the form of a fishcake, and tasted quite fishy, as you might expect. I liked it. There are plenty of foods we ate in Britain in the sixties that people no longer consume, sometimes for good reason – luncheon meat, or spam, for instance, though I’m sad at the unpopularity of offal nowadays.

  46. After doing very badly yesterday it was good to finish today’s successfully, even if I couldn’t parse everything. Thanks to jacktt for the explanations.

  47. 1 pink square, from a fat fingered DAYLIHHT.

    Today there seems to be a surfeit of PEPSI, and of Señor Guevara.

    Last two in were PIER, after I finally got how it worked, followed by EPICENTRE.

  48. All complete and all parsed apart from nail.

    Nail equals cover? Really? So if we didn’t have nails, would we consider our fingers as uncovered? Pah.


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