Times Cryptic 28941


Lots of inventive and well disguised definitions in today’s offering.

I’m filling in today for Pip, our usual Wednesday blogger. Hardly a chore as I loved this one both for the defs and for some amusing wordplay and surfaces. Not as hard as some Wednesdays have been recently but still needed a bit of work to see what our setter was getting at.

There’s a little something hiding in the grid with a few possibly linked answers but I’m not convinced.

I finished in 35:10. Hope you all enjoyed this one as much as I did.

Definitions underlined in bold, deleted letters indicated by strikethrough.

1 Enormous cut in arm (8)
WHACKINGHACK (‘cut’) contained in (‘in’) WING (‘arm’)

Held out as my LOI.

6 Quarter of bushel on floor in imperial currency (6)
KOPECKPECK (‘Quarter of bushel’) after (‘on’) KO (‘floor’)

Monetary unit of Russia, equal to 1/100th of a rouble. PECK as in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”. I had to look this up, but a US peck is equal to 8.81 L of dry volume and an imperial peck to 9.19 L. KO as an abbreviation for “knock out” for ‘floor’ as a verb.

9 Not entirely round fruit (4)
PLUMPLUMp (‘Not entirely round’)
10 Winding path to reed grass (4,6)
DEEP THROAT – Anagram (‘winding’) of PATH TO REED

I was taken in by the surface, even though ‘grass’ in crosswords usually doesn’t refer to the botanical variety. Now apparently a general term for someone providing inside information about dodgy dealings in an organisation where they work, not just related to the famous Watergate informant.

11 Spirit in host, pure sadness (10)
MELANCHOLYELAN (‘spirit’) contained in (‘in’) MC (‘host’) HOLY (‘pure’)
13 Pull on ends of short rope around well (4)
TOKEshorT ropE (‘ends of short rope’) containing (‘around’) OK (‘well’)

In my innocence, I’m not sure I knew this word (yes, really) which refers to smoking cannabis.

14 Pet like a snake, say, suitable? (5,3)
HISSY FITHISSY (‘like a snake, say’) FIT (‘suitable?’)

First of the misleading definitions. I haven’t heard of this sense of ‘pet’ much outside the realm of crossword land.  Not just a good def, but my wordplay of the day for HISSY for ‘like a snake, say’.

16 Reckon caught in it, one’s hooked (6)
ADDICTADD (‘Reckon’) C (‘caught’) contained in (‘in’) IT (‘it’)
18 Name of consecutive characters leading India (6)
GANDHIG AND H (‘consecutive characters’) in front of (‘leading’) I (‘India’), with the whole clue also as the definition; a semi-&lit.

My COD. Rajiv succeeded his mother Indira as Prime Minister of India after her assassination in 1984 (and was himself assassinated in 1990).

20 Remedy temper quaffing a load of ale (4,4)
MAKE GOODMOOD (‘temper’) containing (‘quaffing’) A KEG (‘a load of ale’)
22 Bird inedible, did you say? (4)
FOWL – Aural wordplay (‘did you say?’) on FOUL (‘inedible’)
24 Little short is featuring new actor (4,6)
TONY CURTISTOY (‘Little’) CURT (‘short’) IS (‘is’) containing (‘featuring’) N (‘new’)

A larger-than-life character, died 2010. One of his other claims to fame is that he is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and as a painter one of his works was shown in the Museum of Modern Art.

26 He’s forming new gutter, sometimes? (10)
FISHMONGER – Anagram (‘new’) of HES FORMING

Another misleading def – nothing to do with drains.

28 I love and I appreciate that Greek character (4)
IOTAI (‘I’) O (‘love’) TA (‘I appreciate that’)
29 Physicist with deal for the lecturer? (6)
PLANCK – Aural wordplay (‘for the lecturer?’) on PLANK (‘deal’)

One sense of ‘deal’ is “a plank of softwood timber, such as fir or pine, or such planks collectively” (Collins). Max Planck (1858-1947), the German physicist and Nobel prize winner.

30 English author, really empty, leaves say? (8)
GREENERYGREENE (‘English author’) ReallY (‘really empty’)
2 Awful cheat, vile type (9)
HELVETICA – Anagram (‘Awful’) of CHEAT VILE

Type here short for “typeface”.

3 Reach politician while visiting island (7)
COMPASSMP (‘politician’) AS (‘while’) contained in (‘visiting’) COS (‘island’)
4 A little plain, dictionary description of language (5)
INDIC – Hidden (‘A little’) in ‘plaIN DICtionary’

Languages including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi etc.

5 Horse has half gone – whoa! (3)
GEEGEE GEE (‘Horse has half gone’)
6 Where brothers famously given lift, a couple of predators (5,4)
KITTY HAWKKITTY and HAWK (‘a couple of predators’)

Another original definition. Referring to the first flight of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk NC on December 17th, 1903. Interesting fact: the events for which they are famous occurred more than 300 years apart but Kitty Hawk and the Fort Raleigh historic site on Roanoake Island are (just) within sight of each other.

7 Glandular decay in professional (7)
PAROTIDROT (‘decay’) contained in (‘in’) PAID (‘professional’)

PAROTID and ‘professional’ both in the adjectival sense.

8 Funny attempt (5)
CRACK – Cryptic definition

One sense of ‘attempt’ is CRACK (to have a crack at) which can also be a joke or ‘funny’ comment. I’m sure there are better ways of explaining this. An alternative parsing would be as a double def, as ‘funny’ as a noun can mean a joke or crack, not a usage I’ve come across.

12 Judges etc and boy leading an empire (7)
OTTOMANOT (‘Judges etc’) TOM (‘boy’) in front of (‘leading’) AN (‘an’)

‘Judges etc’ as Judges is an example of a book in the Old Testament. TOM as your random boy’s name.

15 Pirate getting bit of a shock maybe finding gun (9)
FLINTLOCKFLINT (‘Pirate’) LOCK (‘bit of a shock’)

Captain Flint from Treasure Island.  The ‘bit of a shock’ is a bit of a chestnut with ‘shock’ as in “hair”.

17 Ludicrous rhetoric around opening of serenade for singer (9)
CHORISTER – Anagram (‘ludicrous’) of RHETORIC containing (‘around’) Serenade (‘opening of serenade’)

Here a ‘singer’ really is a ‘singer’, not a 10a.

19 Free pin and hold the main clicker? (7)
DOLPHIN – Anagram (‘Free’) of PIN and HOLD

Another original definition, from the sounds made by our cetacean friend – the question mark is definitely needed here.

21 The Lord has inspired king, in embracing a Roman emperor (7)
GORDIANGOD (‘The Lord’) containing (‘has inspired’) R (‘king’) IN (‘in’) containing (’embracing’) A (‘a’)

I had only heard of GORDIAN as in the attributive for “knot” which is nothing to do with the ‘Roman emperor’. Not just one emperor, as the Gordians came in three varieties. The first two – father and son – ruled together for a total of only twenty-two days in 238 AD before Gordian II was killed by rebels, following which the grief-stricken Gordian I hanged himself. Two more emperors were then murdered before Gordian III at the age of thirteen became emperor in the same year. He ruled until 244 AD before he was killed in a campaign against rebels. Makes the Boris, Liz and Rishi shenanigans seem pretty tame.

23 Window that is in airport, unclosed (5)
ORIELIE (‘that is’) contained in (‘in’) ORLY (‘airport, unclosed’)

A bay window which does not extend down to ground level. When I did French at school, I remember learning that ORLY was the main Paris airport at the time. Yes, it was a while ago.

25 Form hole, digger ultimately going in (5)
CARVEdiggerR (‘digger ultimately’) contained in (‘going in’) CAVE (‘hole’)
27 Show old vehicle (3)
GIG – Double definition – our first (pure one) of the day

A two-wheeled open horse-drawn carriage.

59 comments on “Times Cryptic 28941”

  1. BR thanks for the blog. I, too, can see that there is something going on. Hopefully, I will be put out of my misery soon.

  2. I made very heavy weather of this and needed 66 minutes to fill the grid. Nevertheless I was enjoying the inventiveness of the clues and always felt I would get through them if I stuck at it long enough, and so it proved.

    The NE corner was the trickiest part with its difficult vocabulary DEEP THROAT (heard the expression, didn’t know what it was), PAROTID, KOPECK and my LOI KITTY HAWK where the reference in the definition evaded me until I had all the checkers and the answer just had to be.

    GORDIAN from wordplay and I knew of the knot but not of the emperor.

    I rarely name a COD, but I thought the clue to GANDHI was outstanding.

    As a footnote, I might have got to KOPECK sooner if when I’d seen ‘bushel’ I’d immediately remembered the song from Guys And Dolls as performed here by Doris Day.

  3. GANDHI was my LOI and I thought it was brilliant once I worked out how it worked once I got DOLPHIN my POI. GORDIAN from the wordplay and the knot, although it seems the knot is named after a place not an emperor. I didn’t know the word PAROTID but the wordplay was clear. The OTTOMAN clue was good but once you know you are looking for an empire there aren’t too many to choose from (and once you realize it starts OT then you don’t even need to think about the rest of the clue). When I got to HISSY FIT, the checkers I had fitted PUSSY CAT so wasted time trying to justify that beyond the “pet” bit. Fun crossword.

  4. 49 minutes with LOI GORDIAN, from the erroneous knot. PAROTID was an unknown construct. I remembered PECK from the imperial weights and measures listed on the back of Silvine exercise books way back, when the Tony Curtis curl was a thing. Kopeck then made the half remembered Kitty Hawk possible. I only knew Deep Throat from Watergate. Planck has been a constant in my life since my Physics days. What with Graham Greene and Gandhi, quite a range of subject matter all told, challenging but enjoyable. Thank you BR and setter.

  5. I stopped at about 13′ and went to the gym, and worked on this over lunch and then a glass of tea, so no time, but a lot of time. FOI KOPECK, nothing much after that. Lots of good clues; especially liked DEEP THROAT, HISSY FIT, PAROTID, & COD GANDHI. One MER: Isn’t ‘Gee!’ the opposite of ‘Whoa!’?

    1. I see what you mean about GEE and ‘whoa!’. The usual sources give the “command to stop a horse” sense of ‘whoa’, but only the ODE gives the sense which I think is intended here: “(informal) used as a greeting, to express surprise or interest, or to command attention”. The Merriam-Webster app also has a similar definition for this sense.

  6. Dnf, stopped after 21′ without the (now obvious) FOWL and DOLPHIN. Must be more patient. Liked GANDHI, a lot. And HISSY FIT was good too.

    Thanks BR and setter.

  7. Half an hour, finishing with a very uncertain KOPECK.

    Didn’t know the grass meaning of DEEP THROAT; had to trust the wordplay for TOKE; was about to write ‘Tiny Curtis’ for 24a, thinking he might have been a contemporary of Tiny Tim or something, until I remembered TONY CURTIS and realised that would account for the ‘new’ in the clue; NHO PAROTID but the clue was kind; and didn’t parse OTTOMAN despite thinking that ‘Judges etc.’ might be referring to the Old Testament.

    A nice puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Plum
    LOI Kopeck
    COD Helvetica

  8. An excellent puzzle. I only had three answers after my first pass (and I wasn’t 100% sure about PLUM if I’m honest!) but perseverance paid off – and my fat finger was on its best behaviour. Apart from my COD, I also enjoyed the reminder of Watergate (and not Linda Lovelace), the pet like a snake, and the clever anagram for a gutter.

    TIME 12:46

  9. I never felt quite on the wavelength here, so pleased to make it through unscathed. 21:23. The NE corner was particularly tricky, as I’d fully forgotten the significance of KITTY HAWK, have only just heard of the KOPECK & certainly don’t know my bushel components, and PAROTID was an NHO.

    Films, and particularly older ones, aren’t my strong suit, so only careful accounting of each word avoided a TINY CURTIS…!

    Did anyone else try ARMSPAN? An MSP when (it’s) inside ARAN.

    Think I’ve seen variations on GANDHI before, but it still raised a smile. DEEP THROAT and HISSY FIT (once I corrected to COMPASS) both very good.

    Thanks both.

  10. At 21.29 this was clearly challenging, and after around 15 minutes I had blanks all over the place. DOLPHIN and the very clever GANDHI (I only thought of Mahatma while solving) opened things up and everything else fell in a bit of a rush.
    Even though BR says there’s something extra in the grid I can’t see it, though there’s a lot of empire-y stuff. Please can somebody spill the beans?!
    GEE still gives me pause for thought, though I can hear Bill and Ted’s “whoa!” pretty clearly, if not their “gee!”. Yet to reach Chambers.
    Other than that, it’s rare to get a crossword where every clue is a polished and challenging gem. Bravo setter and bravo BR for an entertaining substitutionary blog.

  11. 30.31. I found this deceptively tricky. Like jackkt, I was always pretty confident that the clues would eventually yield, as they were all so good and fair, but they took a little unravelling. Like our substitute blogger, to whom I am grateful, I enjoyed this puzzle very much.

  12. Really enjoyed this, and seemed to be ‘on it’ throughout; though it was objectively harder than yesterday’s, I finished in 40 mins. Loved DEEP THROAT and HISSY FIT. DNK PAROTID, but it fit the wordplay.

  13. Thanks, BletchleyReject, for filling in for me with a fine blog. I’m back in civilisation today and quite enjoyed doing a Wednesday puzzle without the need to parse everything. I thought this was quite tricky but I’m probably out of practice! DEEP THROAT and KITTY HAWK had me floored.

  14. 14:30. I can only add to the chorus of praise for this excellent puzzle. For me it was at that perfect level of difficulty where many clues seem completely baffling initially but then they yield steadily to focused effort. I never felt I was completely stuck and there were lots of lovely PDMs.
    I can’t see anything going on in the grid, but I don’t think I’ve ever spotted a nina in my life.

  15. I thought this was outstanding. Superb literals including some stellar definitions (gutter, main clicker etc). Thanks classy setter and BR for staunch service.

  16. At 18A, fell into the trap of thinking that the consecutive letters were G, H, and I and so entered GHANDI.

    The DOLPHIN came to my rescue eventually.

    1. Me too, can’t spell Indian words. Arguably they don’t have real spellings only conventional ones. TE Lawrence (Of Arabia) deliberately spelt every place he mentioned differently every time for a similar reason, annoying his publisher. Prob he was just showing off, but it is impossible to translate every Arabic char with a roman one.

    2. Another Ghandi, overtyping without noticing the D in dolphin. Made LOI Helvetica very hard to get, even having written down the anagrist on first read of the clue. Eventually half an hour later cooking dinner Helvetica popped into my head and I revisited Ghandi..

  17. Yes this was very clever!! I took 41 minutes on this and that included what must have been a full 15 minutes when I was completely blocked and got nowhere. Then finally I got 1ac WHACKING then it was “of course” HELVETICA then “oh yes” HISSY FIT and again “of course” captain flint and so on, and I was quickly through. As many said already it’s the cunning wording of the clues that blocks you, I really needed to free my mind up for this one!!
    Many thanks setter and blogger

  18. In response to a few comments above, I don’t know if there are too many beans to spill in relation to the “little something in the grid”. If you look at the ninth column, you’ll see the uncrossed letters spell PLAYER. I couldn’t see another relevant Nina in the uncrossed letters, and the only possibly related words I could find in the answers were WING in 1a, LOCK in 15d, ‘professional’ in the clue for 7d and an ‘actor’ at 24a. At a considerable stretch, there is also the name of an American football team (in the singular) at 19d.

    Sorry, not much I’m afraid; it may all be a coincidence, or I may be barking up the wrong tree. If I’ve missed more references or if someone else has any better ideas, I’m all ears.

  19. 37:40 – Terrific – inventive workout with plenty of difficulty but no dead ends and lots to enjoy on the way.

  20. DNF but very enjoyable albeit over what must have been 60′ not counting many interruptions. HISSY FIT did for me, not knowing this definition. Lots to like though once answers fell into place. Like Amoeba I had Tiny for a while before the surname came to me and I couldn’t get ” curve” for form out if my head for a while. Thanks BR and setter

  21. 47:59

    Terrific puzzle in the end, so glad I persevered after having only nine entries at the half hour mark.

    DEEP THROAT was the one that opened it up for me and then it flowed.


    Thanks all

    1. ‘DEEP THROAT was the one that opened it up for me and then it flowed.’
      You might want to rephrase that.

  22. 43:07

    Slightly tough to get into but enjoyed once in the swing. Finished in the SW corner – needed that DOLPHIN to help everything else fall into place. LOI HISSY FIT (once I’d got the F from FLINTLOCK).

    Thanks Bletch and setter

  23. If anyone one wants to see what in my opinion is an extremely bad example of a themed puzzle, take a look at today’s Guardian. It’s by their setter Sphinx who some may know is an acclaimed TV writer and actor. My view is that he should stick to his day job and leave setting crossword puzzles to the professionals.

    1. What was your specific gripe Jack?

      I just had a go – it was pretty difficult, and it was loose compared to a Times puzzle – I mean, I got everything, but some of the parsing escapes me. I thought there were some good clues though.

      I had no clue about the theme, but it seemed to be trying a bit hard to be clever, though I often get that impression with the Guardian puzzles, and I only really have a crack now if I have a lot of time, unless it’s one of Don Manley’s puzzles.

      1. The Times is very often guilty of the same thing- ‘trying too hard to be clever’. And it can be loose as well-today’s offering being an example. Random airports and planks of wood which might, or might not be deal. Plump/round is a bit iffy too, as is cave/hole albeit less so. And there’s a superfluous ‘English’ in the greenery clue.

    2. That’s rather unfair to the point of insulting-albeit I’m sure he/she will recover from the crushing blow of such gratuitous and lofty opinion. ‘Amateur setter not as good as a professional’-well who’d have thunk it?

      While The Times crossword is probably better than most, I can assure you that it too has seen better days (as a 40-year veteran, I’m allowed to say that). But God forbid anyone similarly criticising The Times’ setters. I would tentatively and humbly suggest however, that they are indulged somewhat on here?

      There, I’ve said it. Hard hat at the ready. . .

  24. DNF after 45 minutes. I eventually filled the grid except for 6dn, where I had fixed on JACK for lift at the end and could not persuade myself that I was barking up the wrong tree. Also held up for too long with WHOPPING at 1ac until the penny dropped. That apart, I agree with others about the ingenuity of the puzzle, in particular the anagrams.
    FOI – IOTA
    Thanks to BR and other contributors.

  25. POI, 6a koPECK, whilst the bushel is variable (being volumetric) the peck is always a quarter of it. From Wiki:
    “A bushel (abbreviation: bsh. or bu.) is an imperial and US customary unit of volume based upon an earlier measure of dry capacity. The old bushel is equal to 2 kennings (obsolete), 4 pecks, or 8 dry gallons, and was used mostly for agricultural products, such as wheat. In modern usage, the volume is nominal, with bushels denoting a mass defined differently for each commodity.”
    So pretty useless in the real world then.
    14a HISSY fit. I remember a James Bond film in which our hero deals with a snake, using a lighter I think, and says “Hiss off” but my niece and nephew (10-ish y.o.) both assumed he said Piss Off!
    2d HELVETICA, was struggling, and then found it wasn’t in Cheating Machine. So tried to cheat but didn’t.
    27d GIG; took for ever finding this even when I had ??G. Doh!

  26. DNF after 45

    Persevered but an unparsed (but fitted the checkers) CUTTY SARK meant KOPECK was impossible even though I was getting there with it. PAID for professional just wouldn’t come either. In any event I couldn’t get beyond SHOCKING which I knew wasn’t right. Setter 3-0 Dvynys

  27. Another who really enjoyed the puzzle. What everyone else said. Though a few unparsed, due to tiredness and general lack of intelligence: how is PLUMB round? Why does TONY mean little? And didn’t spot the FISHMONGER anagram.
    Planck a favourite, as mathematician and physicist. Won a Nobel prize for black body radiation, discovering quantum physics without realising it! Einstein was given Planck’s quantum physics Nobel prize, even though he didn’t believe in quantum physics – “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.” And Einstein’s two major achievements, Special Relativity and General Relativity, yielded precisely zero Nobel prizes.
    Always wanted to clue Planck as:
    Physicist has fundamental idea about rate of light radiation
    Plank as fundamental idea e.g political position
    c as rate (speed) of light radiation
    Semi-&lit definition, his fundamental ideas about the rate (watts per second not metres per second) of light radiation from black bodies won him his Nobel, and were the basis of quantum physics.

      1. Sorry, they were questions I asked myself during solving, fully answered by the blog. They emphasised my poor attempt at solving the puzzle, due in part to tiredness.

  28. 27.15 with all parsed, but I’m never confident with clues like 22a, – finding it difficult to be sure of the correct choice between FOWL and FOUL .

    1. If in doubt, remember that the definition (in this case “bird”) is almost always at the beginning or end of the clue.

  29. Just nice for mid-week, and I’m 100% on board with the comments regarding clever definitions and PDMs. Thanks BR, nice blog.

  30. Thanks for explaining Flintlock as I didn’t know Cap’n Flint and I missed the (clever) lock/shock reference. But, with all the crossers, it was clearly Flintlock.
    Addict was my LOI as I spent a while trying to justify Adduce and Abduct.
    45 minutes in total – good fun. Particularly liked Dolphin and Oriel.

  31. My word I struggled here. Scraped in under the hour with the superb Gandhi LOI. The whole SW corner held me up for ever – why didn’t FOWL leap out as a write in straightaway? Had forgotten the other meaning of deal which did come up recently so although I “knew” it was Planck I could not justify putting it in. COD to the superbly disguised anagram for Dolphin.
    Thx BR and setter

  32. Back on wavelength after yesterday’s hiccup.

    I enjoyed this one very much. Didn’t quite get little = TOY, but had the CURT and the IS, and GK filled in the rest. Also wanted to put in CUTTY SARK as Dvynys above, but resisted. DOLPHIN was LOI after FOWL.

    GANDHI very good.


  33. 31.52. Does anyone else find Wednesday’s puzzle one of the regular hard solves?

    Lots of lovely clues, whacking and deep throat being my favourites. Close contender was Kopeck . Struggled for a while with the Roman Emperor before lighting on Gordian. I was deterred by remembering the Gordian Knot which preceded Roman emperors .

    Thx setter and blogger.

  34. Tackled this after a trip across the NY Moors to meet up with old colleagues for lunch in Malton. Tricky stuff indeed! Got there in 34:00 (the puzzle, not Malton!). Didn’t solve a clue until I got to IOTA, but then gradually clawed a foothold. GANDHI and TONY CURTIS were last 2 in. Thanks setter and BR.

    1. Dolphins make clicking sounds for sonar navigation, and they are found in the sea, the (bounding) “main.”

    2. Main=sea in crosswordland. Dolphins live in the sea and make a clicking noise. At least, that’s how I got there.

      Edit: I see I cross posted with guy.

  35. I rarely look at the Times 15 x 15 – usually the Saturday Jumbo cryptic and sometimes the QC. I thought this was very good, lots of variety and ingenuity. As for some others, COD Gandhi. Grateful thanks.

  36. I started slowly but was all done in 18:41 with lots of pennies dropping in quick succession – I like crosswords like that.

    Thanks for unpicking TONY CURTIS – it was a high-speed alphabet trawl for me once I’d decided the answer probably wasn’t someone called Tank.

  37. I enjoyed all 45 minutes of this (well, not the first few, since I got off to a slow start, but with the down clues things improved). Many good misleading clues, so I am quite satisfied with not being misled too much. The wordplay was impeccable every time and there were many clues I couldn’t have come close to solving without it. FLINTLOCK was my LOI (after having had …HOOK and not known what to do with it). For 10ac, I started out with DOPE THREAT as a possible synonym for “grass”, but it didn’t seem too likely and DEEP THROAT eventually rang louder bells. My CODs would be GANDHI and MELANCHOLY (I at first thought the host would be an ARMY, but it wasn’t).

  38. I’d say that ‘pull on’ is a far more obscure synonym for ‘smoke’ than ‘TOKE’ is and I suspect DEEP THROAT would be clued very differently in the Private Eye! Finished in around 27 mins though, so not too bad.

  39. Just to add that in 26 ac a fishmonger is indeed a gutter from time to time which defines the anagram.


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