Times Cryptic 28928


Solving time: 65 minutes

As my solving time reflects I found this hard mainly due to my own incompetence today but I was not helped by several oblique, even loose, definitions in the clues. My LOI was wrong because I ran out of steam and went for something that fitted the checkers even though I knew it wouldn’t parse.

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 European back after short time in ship (11)
MIN (short time which can be taken two ways), E (European), SWEEPER (back – footballer)
7 Business with British pen friend? (3)
CO (business), B (British). A male swan; pen is a female.
9 Bold account given in German car by old American (9)
AC (account) contained by [given in] AUDI (German car), O (old), US (American)
10 Hello: a greeting abroad taken the wrong way? (5)
A+ HOLA (greeting abroad  – Spanish for ‘hello’) reversed [taken the wrong way]
11 Old stage artist having brandy served with water in Charente? (7)
MARC (brandy), EAU (‘water’ in Charente – region in south-west France). Marcel Marceau (1923 –  2007) the famous French mime artist and actor. A very loose definition which might have been tailored to make a far more interesting clue.
12 Making smooth  transition from day to hours of darkness? (7)
Double definition
13 Attempt to influence shy lad lacking in love (5)
LOB (shy – throw), B{o}Y (lad) [lacking in love]
15 Dire Straits, never having succeeded, terribly cross (9)
Anagram [terribly] of DIRE {s}TRAI{s} [never having succeeded – s]
17 Mars scheme socialists devised with case for employment (3,6)
RED PLAN (scheme socialists devised), E{mploymen}T [case for…]
19 One Bee Gee’s heart of gold (5)
{m}AURIC{e} (one Bee Gee) [heart]
20 American animal in races covered by Herald? (7)
TT (races – Tourist Trophy) contained [covered] by CRIER (herald – as in  Town Crier]
22 Done in one second: paint liberally applied (7)
PAST (done) contained  by [in] I (one) + MO (second)
24 Milan side  put in grave position? (5)
Double definition
25 Where in Scotland Indiana author stays for vacation? (9)
IN (Indiana), VERNE (author) S{tay}S [for vacation]
27 Poet’s 12 has lamentation with a thousand lost (3)
{k}EEN (lamentation) [with a thousand – k – lost]. Collins: e’en – poetic contraction of evening (12ac). SOED:  keen – an Irish funeral song accompanied by wailing in lamentation for the dead.
28 Skilful manipulation somehow realigned me (11)
Anagram [somehow] of REALIGNED ME. Sleight of hand.
1 Biggish bird that was duck kept by old woman (3)
0 (duck) contained [kept] by MA (old woman). I realised when I came to write the blog that the definition includes ‘that was’ which tells us that the bird we are looking for is extinct, so not as loose a definition as I had originally thought.
2 Promotion by Northern Irish making deep point (5)
N (northern), AD (promotion), IR (Irish). ‘Northern’ and ‘Irish’ need to treated separately here.
3 Some losing heart before battle in France, telling no-one (7)
S{om}E [losing heart], CRECY (1346 battle in France)
4 English test player receiving ball hit square? Good delivery! (9)
E (English), LION (test player) containing [receiving] O (ball) + CUT (hit square). A square cut in cricket involves hitting the ball at right-angles. My LOI and I got it wrong. I’d taken over an hour by that stage and had enough so I bunged in ‘evolution’ as the only word I could think of that fitted the checkers and hoped for the best.
5 Thrash with stick (5)
Double definition – beat / gum. I’m not sure if giving someone a pasting has travelled beyond these shores.
6 Ruling that restricts a chemical substance (7)
REGENT (ruling) contains [restricts] A
7 Getting round in, Richter’s ordered a treble? (9)
O (round) contained by [getting…in] anagram [ordered] of RICHTER’S. Trebles sing the upper parts in church choirs.
8 Scaramouche in imitation silver dress back before ten (11)
COD (imitation) + AG (silver) + GARB (dress) all reversed [back], then 10 (ten). Both are words for an empty idle boaster. The answer was completely unknown but gettable from wordplay. I understand the reference to Scaramouche in Bohemian Rhapsody is to the masked clown character who makes mischief in Italian traditional theatre.
11 Pair perform, beset by spite and improper conduct (11)
PR (pair) + ACT (perform) contained [beset] by MALICE (spite)
14 Bishop surprisingly dominant in game (9)
B (bishop), anagram [surprisingly] of DOMINANT
16 Film director ultimately one always after introduction to Ronnie Barker (9)
R{onnie} [introcuction], ET (film), {directo}R [ultimately], I (one), EVER (always). This one took some working out. The definition when eventually identified was once again very loose.
18 Wrong letter printed   excluding metaphors? (7)
Double definition – typo / literal meaning
19 Make false accusations when blue (7)
AS (when), PERSE (blue). I knew ‘aspersion’ but not ‘asperse’. Nor did I know the colour.
21 At home, wearing hairpiece, having second thoughts (5)
IN (at home) contained by [wearing] RUG (hairpiece)
23 Drinks up: sot finally swallowed tablet (5)
ALES (drinks) reversed [up] with {so}T [finally] contained [swallowed]. A word that never sticks in my mind. It’s an upright pillar often with an inscription.
26 That which may make us brown  paper? (3)
Two meanings – tanner / newspaper


58 comments on “Times Cryptic 28928”

  1. I didn’t find this too hard, although I don’t have a time since i went to the supermarket in the middle. I think the only unknown for me was PERSE the color. Luckily we had ASPERSE recently although obviously gettable from the much better known aspersion. I know the meaning, but I’m always surprised that LITERAL means a typo. I tried to justify ROTWEILER for a time at 16D since it fitted the checkers I had at the time, I’d realized the answer was going to be a dog (barker).

  2. This looked harder at first than it turned out to be. I put in MINESWEEPER reluctantly, before the possibility of a football definition for “back” occurred to me. Found some clues very ingeniously elusive, like the one for COB, which I got rather late. (On the other hand, seeing “Mars” and having the D and one other crosser—the L or the N, I forget—gave that away.) I went with the definition for ELOCUTION and didn’t even get started in parsing it—cricket, eh? Likewise, took most of ASPERSE on faith—didn’t remember(?) the color word.

    The appearance of “Bee Gees” and “Dire Straits” (now, surely many of you have heard of them!) in a clue reminded me of the latest Sunday puzzle I’ve blogged—and then I noticed one of the answers, CHORISTER, from the same puzzle, where it was amusingly defined as “Sonic Youth” (a band no one else seemed aware of).

  3. 18:54
    I didn’t find this hard in the sense that I finished in better than my average time, but did find it hard in the sense that I couldn’t parse several post-biff. E.g. MINESWEEPER, ELOCUTION, AURIC (I’m supposed to know the names of the BeeGees? I barely know the BeeGees, and that’s enough for me). DNK PERSE, but assumed it meant ‘blue’ (in some sense). DNK CRITTER was US English.
    This setter also likes first-and-last -letter clues: case for employment, stays for vacation, some losing heart.

  4. Around 50 minutes. Enjoyed it. Found it reasonably straight forward. Couldn’t parse AURIC, ALOHA, CHORISTER or EEN.
    COB, ALOHA, AUDACIOUS, MOA, INTER and LOBBY were very quick. INTER is almost same as recent clue. Knew Mars as RED PLANET and put it in when I saw communist in the clue. LOI E’EN.

  5. Lovely puzzle – in parts! Thought it very tricky, but I struggle on most days anyway. I managed everything except reagent, marceau and failed to parse auric. COD to elocution for good delivery – not about cricket after all!
    Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  6. Found this most enjoyable – just the right degree of challenge to keep me thinking, without the dreaded bog-down. MINESWEEPER went in without parsing because I had 4 checkers, NHO PERSE, and I spent the last few minutes ear-worming Shirl’s mighty voice …(AURIC) Goldfinger! 30:23 – thanks J and setter

  7. 15:04. I don’t seem to be on the leaderboard, presumably I clicked the wrong thing on submission.
    I felt I was making heavy weather of that, failing to spot a few things that seemed obvious once I had.
    I’m very surprised that BRAGGADOCIO only has one C. Looks wrong.
    I had to take the name of the Bee Gee on trust.

    1. I agree cCs in BRAGGADOCIO. Also a bit surprised about 2 Ggs. Given a choice I would have reversed them.

  8. My heart sank a bit when I started reading Jack’s blog as I’d just finished this one off by putting something in that fitted the checkers even though I knew it wouldn’t parse. Happily, though, that was me getting ASPERSE right rather than another one wrong. This one took me 33 minutes, so not too hard, not too easy. The presence of a few things I wasn’t sure of—that “Scaramouche” meant BRAGGADOCIO or even how to spell the latter, say—didn’t slow me down too much, but I barked up a couple of wrong trees here and there especially in the bottom half.

  9. About 50′ with some interruptions and similar experiences to others. AURIC took a while as I’d forgotten Maurice and wondered what “Baric” might have to do with gold… Never heard of “perse” but with all the checkers couldn’t be anything else. Minesweeper also needed all the checkers as well as a direction change since I’d been trying to squeeze all sorts of Europeans into the answer (couldn’t get Monegasque out of my head after first two checkers even though it didn’t fit, nor parse..). Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  10. 34 minutes with LOI ASPERSE, not knowing the colour. Not casting nasturtiums, but did anybody? I didn’t like AURIC as a clue in this otherwise excellent puzzle, perhaps because of the way it forced you to separate Barry from his late brothers. I enjoyed parsing BRAGGADOCIO although it added five minutes to my time. I think that makes it COD. Thank you Jack and setter.

  11. 22:34 but I forgot I’d lobbed in EVOLUTION and thought I’d check it later. More fool me.

    Otherwise I was happy to have teased out BRAGGADOCIO and LEGERDEMAIN, I don’t know my Bee Gees so AURIC went in from checkers, and PERSE was an unknown but it had to be.

    In spite of falling at the last I enjoyed that one.

    Thanks to both.

  12. 10:27, on the wavelength this morning. Didn’t know PERSE, and glad I took the time at the end to properly parse BRAGGADOCIO, which I might otherwise have spelled with an extra A. Remembered Maurice, just about.

    Thanks setter & Jack.

  13. 13:59 Surprised to find that scaramouche and BRAGGADOCIO are synonymous until I remembered that I didn’t know the meaning of either of them.

    Enjoyed IRRITATED and AURIC but I’ll give COD to ELOCUTION because of the cricket reference. Needed the checkers to solve it though.

    Thanks setter and Jack.

  14. I am in another county today and the air has cleared my head – finished this in 9’34”.

    Had to construct BRAGGADOCIO, nho PERSE. Two of the Bee Gees (named for the initials of their leader) are now deceased, hence can appear in the Times crossword – maybe they now form part of the upper voices in a heavenly choir.

    Thanks jack and setter.

    1. Yes, sadly two of the brothers have gone now.

      In 1980 they were subjected to this somewhat cruel but very amusing parody of their style by ‘The Hee Bee Gee Bees’ aka Garry, Norris and Dobbin Cribb*: Meaningless Songs (in very high voices).

      *aka Angus Deayton, Michael Fenton-Stevens and Philip Pope. The song was by Philip Pope and Richard Curtis.

  15. About half an hour.

    Didn’t know perse=blue for ASPERSE; didn’t parse MINESWEEPER; keep forgetting the stick meaning of PASTE; and took a while to separate ‘film’ from ‘director’ and get RETRIEVER, helped enormously by the V from INVERNESS.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Chorister
    LOI Paste
    COD Cob (can’t recall seeing the ‘pen friend’ trick before)

  16. Quickish but one or two problems to sort out .. fortunately I had bunged in eloquence so when the red planet arrived I knew it was wrong. Irritated!
    Nho Perse. Maurice Gibb took a while to arrive, I am more used to the likes of Maurice Chevalier or Maurice Ravel hereabouts.
    No problems with cobs and pens, had that only the other day in the last jumbo I blogged. As I said then, there is a pub not far from me called The Swan, and the loos were labelled COBS and PENS. This led to fairly frequent confusion…

  17. Surprised to find I’m wearing a PERSE polo shirt today: I’ll see if anyone else today can correctly identify the colour PER SE. Otherwise this took me 18.50, so tricky in parts. I did the parsing for BRAGGADOCIO to avoid LITERALs. ELOCUTION and MINESWEEPER similarly demanded attention to parsing to emerge intact, all fine examples of the setters art of both obfuscation and enlightenment.
    I look forward to Inter Inverness working their way into the Champions League.

    1. You may well know this, Z, but, when Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC, known for short as ‘Caley’ but, then a non-league side, beat the mighty Celtic in a Scottish FA Cup tie some years ago, the headline next day in the Scottish Sun was (deep breath) ‘SupercaleygoballisticCelticareatrocious’.

      1. I’d forgotten this, so thanks for the reminder. Lame puns in football headlines are a tiresome cliché and one of my pet hates, but this one was clever and funny.

        As for the puzzle, I didn’t find it very hard at all, although I got bogged down a bit on ‘MALPRACTICE’ because I had lazily assumed I was looking for an answer that ended in ‘ACTION’. My usual solving “method” consists largely of biffing based on checkers and a word suggested by the clue as a whole then, when I can be bothered, parsing; this doesn’t work very well when the answer is a word I don’t know, but since there were no such words in this puzzle, that was no problem today.

  18. I didn’t find it hard, was on song and all done in 14 minutes, enjoyed it all, hardly a bad clue in it. AURIC and MARCEAU were esp. good.

  19. 29:44 so not super-hard but also not easy from my point of view
    Had no idea of the names of the BeeGees so was completely puzzled by AURIC, a word I only know from Goldfinger
    LOI was REAGENT and before that MINESWEEPER, those two held me up a bit at the end
    But I definitely enjoyed this puzzle
    Thanks setter and Jack

  20. 40m 34s
    Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?”
    AURIC Goldfinger: “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die”
    Thanks, Jack, especially for ELOCUTION and ASPERSE.

  21. Found this easier than yesterday’s despite several unknowns, such as PERSE. In most cases I just threw in words from the word patterns.
    31 minutes.

  22. DNK ASPERSE, IMPASTO or EEN, and gave up trying to figure them out at 45 mins. Was never really on top of this puzzle, and found it irritating – though liked the pen friend.

  23. Had little trouble with this though I failed to or couldn’t parse a couple of answers. Parsing of NADIR escaped me entirely. Should’ve remembered MAURICE Gibb. DNK ASPERSE as a verb, though I guessed it from ‘aspersion’. Certainly never heard of the colour ‘perse’. Enjoyable but I suppose about right for a Tuesday.

  24. No very major problems, although the parsing of ALOHA was a bit iffy, since I get confused by all those greetings. PERSE seemed to be the sort of word you see in heraldry, but evidently not. I guessed correctly, anyway. BRAGGADOCIO/Scaramouche taken on trust once I had the checkers, although I thought the first O was an a until I examined it. 33 minutes.

  25. 21.22 with a typo

    Couldnt see a word that would fit 1ac for a very long time and it was my last one in after getting the last checker from REAGENT. Tough to put the ship in from the w/p even though I was discussing SWEEPERS with my brother the other day. Also NHO PERSE but it had to be. Overall toughish but fair.

  26. 1a as I hate football it took me a long time to make back=sweeper.
    19a AURIC (industries), like Denise above thought instantly of the Goldfinger film. Had forgotten mAURICe’s name especially as it doesn’t begin with B, but no problem.
    25a failed to separate all the bits and so biffed. Rather disappointed as all the bits were there. I should have persevered: “could do better” like my school reports.
    28a was fixated by 1000=m so missed (k)EEN, and remained foxed. DOH!
    2d failed to separate Northern and Irish, so again foxed.
    16d also biffed. Had so many letters it couldn’t be any other Barker.
    19d assumed NHO PERSE=blue colour. For a change I hadn’t forgotten, I don’t think it has come up before.
    Otherwise quite easy. 8- )

  27. Got there in just under the hour. NHO perse but ASPERSE went in anyway. No problems with the rest, although couldn’t parse MINESWEEPER or RETRIEVER. I liked the Bee Gees back in the day so no problem with AURIC. Also have fond memories of Kenny Everett playing all three brothers… Many thanks for the blog.

  28. 29 mins – I wondered if there was a particular type of bee called an eoric, and could not see how per se could mean blue, both of which provided lengthy diversions in what otherwise seemed like a fairly straightforward and fun puzzle

  29. An enjoyable romp with only PERSE unknown, hence ASPERSE was LOI. Off to a quick start with MOA and just kept going. 12:52. Thanks setter and Jack.

  30. Three thoughts regarding ‘perse’
    1. NHO
    2. Did the compiler actually know it, or was there a dictionary trawl involved in setting the clue?
    3. It’s an easy NHO word to learn and use (unlike many we get in this postcode). If the all of us, around the world, oblige and insert it into our conversation over the next couple weeks, are there enough of us, well enough connected and well enough dispersed, to bring it into common use by the end of the summer?

    1. Use … just possibly; common use, no way.
      Also not a very useful colour; from Wiktionary:
      perse (countable and uncountable, plural perses)
      1 A very dark (almost black) purple or blue-gray colour.
      2 A cloth of this colour.

      1. After posting I went to the shop. There was a lady there who had, and I’m not making this up, a perse purse. I commented. Just saying. We’re off to the races.

  31. Snuck into top 100 by skin of teeth. Quite hard, but not unduly so. Finished a harder puzzle yesterday in less time.


  32. Decent progress throughout but tripped up at the end by the crossing 19’s. Had a guess at asperGe as NHO asperse or perse – turns out an asperge is a vessel for scattering holy water. Should maybe have got auric from ‘of gold’ but I had no idea what was going on here and dnk one of the Bee Gee’s was called Maurice. Thanks for unravelling.

  33. Having seen Jackkt’s heads up that this was a toughie, I was surprised to finish marginally inside my target at 44.15. I started at a gallop, slowed to a trot, and virtually came to a standstill with my last two 23dn and 28ac. Eventually I recalled STELA as a tablet, but not, as I was seeking, one you might swallow. I was then left with skilful manipulation to solve. After rearranging the letters I decided LEDGERDEMAIN seemed the most likely, even though it didn’t look particularly likely as a word. I was pleased to finish with all correct, but with fingers crossed for BRAGGADOCIO which was carefully constructed from the direction given in the clue.

  34. I found this a struggle and could not parse several until I came here. 34 minutes and a pink square when I put in braggadacio (my understanding of the spelling even though I could not see how cad quite equalled false.

    As a cricket fan, MER at cut = hit square. A cut can be a stroke covering about 90 degrees of the pitch and of course you can also hook or pull a ball square on the other side of the wicket. Seems to be one of a few imprecise instructions today.

    Saw AURIC very early but could not commit to it as I didn’t see the Bee Gee link and asperse was a pure guess based on it must be the same as aspersion.

    Thanks setter and thx for the hard work Jack, not an easy one to blog I’d imagine

  35. 16:22

    One of those days when everything falls right, though I missed a whole load of parsing whilst in flight:

    MINESWEEPER – from checkers
    COB – the wordplay was easy enough, but didn’t ‘get’ the ‘pen’ reference – very chucklesome
    AURIC – POI – couldn’t remember the names of the Gibbs off the top of my head – kicking myself now, of course! Thought it might be something to do with a particular type of bee…
    RETRIEVER – got as far as IEVER and bunged in the rest
    PERSE = blue – who knew?


    Thanks Jack and setter

  36. 16 mins, however when I try to submit, it just goes back to the clock ticking on. Tx for the explanation of AURIC (BeeGees not my forte).

  37. 27:39
    I did not find this too hard. LOI was ASPERSE. NHO perse as a colour (the two schools in Cambridge of that name are named after someone with the surname Perse, but the Perse’s uniform does contain a bluish purple).
    Biffed AURIC, with no knowledge of whether the Bee Gees included a Maurice. In common with other commenters, I had initially assumed I was looking for a type of bee.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  38. I found this pretty straightforward today, much easier than usual. I suspected this might have been clued on the easy side to cater for many non-regular solvers who are having the rest of this bank holiday week off. 20 minutes for me – I know this is slower than the times posted by some regular solvers, but this is better than my usual 30-40 minutes.

  39. A pleasant puzzle, all done in 25 minutes before my post-prandial snooze. For some reason this was my kind of puzzle and progress was steady. Failed to parse ELOCUTION until I found it here, so thx for that. I agree with others that BRAGGADOCIO looks odd but it’s in the ODE.
    Thanks to jackkt and other contributors.

  40. 50 minutes, some of it hard, some of it easy. I was going to complain about the seemingly very obscure EEN, but that was before the blog explained what 12 was referring to (and then it would have been very easy). I especially liked COB today. And I was very grateful that the wordplay for MALPRACTICE helped us transatlantic people with the spelling at the end.

  41. ‘Goldfinger.’ ‘ First name?’ ‘Auric. That means golden, doesn’t it? He certainly is that. Got flaming red hair.’ On the Brothers Gibb, don’t forget the tragic fourth brither Andy who had a strong of solo hits in the late 70s then died just after his 30th birthday. 18’53”. A second ahead of K.Gregg, whose times I seem regularly to share more or less. Many thanks.

  42. 39.22 I found this tough and I was delighted to finish though I fat-fingered MINESWEEPEA at the end. BRAGGADOCIO, AURIC, ASPERSE, CRITTER, PASTE and MINESWEEPER were all biffed and never parsed. Thanks Jack.

  43. Failed with my LOI ASPURGE but after a good start found this hard going so was surprised that was my only mistake.

  44. I thought I knew how to spell BRAGGODOCIO, but I didn’t . Hence a pink square. I’ll be more careful the next time it appears. Spoilt a quick time.


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