Times Cryptic 28952


Solving time: 32 minutes

A fairly straightforward 15×15 on my watch this time.

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 Computer devices after backing up becoming smoother (6)
UP reversed [backing], MICE (computer devices). A light volcanic glass used as an abrasive for  cleaning and polishing. Some sources also have ‘mouses’ as the plural.
4 Shakespeare’s first to reverence his justice (7)
S{hakespeare’s} [first], HALLOW (reverence). Justice Robert Shallow appears in two of Shakespeare’s plays. I didn’t know this but the wordplay gave me confidence.
9 Equipment I had fixed (5)
RIG (equipment), I’D (I had)
10 Earlier, a shot in court (9)
A, FOREHAND (shot in court – tennis etc)
11 Predictable blow, traffic having to twist and turn (5,4)
TRADE (traffic), WIND (twist and turn)
12 Like a chimp pair, regularly in tree (5)
P{a}I{r} [regularly] contained by [in] ASH (tree)
13 Dull, short book, one of a collection (4)
MATT{hew} (book) [short]. A reference to The Gospel According to St Matthew which is part of the New Testament, so ‘one of a collection’. Matt. is an official abbreviation so this is not actually a deletion clue.
14 Thought blue team a different colour (10)
CON (blue – Conservative), SIDE (team), RED (different colour – to blue)
18 Using drone in conflict is decisive (10)
Anagram [in conflict] of USING DRONE
20 Hack work, first chapter (4)
CH (chapter), OP (work). ‘First’ indicates position.
23 Cargo in galleon’s restricting progress (5)
Hidden in [restricting] {car}GO IN G{alleon}
24 Drink in fresh coffee at last, having done this? (9)
COLA (drink) contained by [in] PERT (fresh), {coffe}E [at last]. The definition is reflexive.
25 Drained state of pint seems to require refreshing (9)
Anagram [to require refreshing] of PINT SEEMS
26 Group of hotels, the third becoming the last in the country (5)
When the third letter of CHAIN (group of hotels) becomes the last we have CHINA
27 Being legless, repents moving about (7)
Anagram [moving about] of REPENTS. The definition needs to be read as ‘legless being’.
28 Enthusiastic about entertaining good music (6)
EAGER (enthusiastic) reversed [about] containing [entertaining] G (good)
1 One sharing job perhaps is to leave with watch (4-5)
PART (leave), TIMER (watch)
2 One starting a new life being married, I concede (7)
M (married), I, GRANT (concede)
3 Mock royal receiving grand old man (6)
COD (mock) + ER (royal – the late Her Maj) containing [receiving] G (grand)
4 Rebuke son without emotion (5)
S (son), COLD (without emotion)
5 City article held back for broadcast (8)
A (article), then aural wordplay [for broadcast] DELAIDE / “delayed” (held back)
6 One king guarding another that is less discreet (7)
LEAR (one king) containing [guarding] K (another king) + IE (that is). SOED: leaky – fig. (of a person) unable to keep a secret.
7 Accompanied by daughter to take inside measurement (5)
WITH (accompanied by) containing [to take inside] D (daughter)
8 Island, I gather, having many features (8)
MAN (island), I, FOLD (gather – e.g. in dress-making)
15 Summer clothing small — take it off? (8)
S (small), UNDRESS (take it – clothing – off)
16 Protest against repeated cold snaps (9)
Anagram [snaps] of REPEATED C (cold)
17 Complete confusion of business meeting swamped by papers (8)
AGM (business meeting – Annual General Meeting) contained [swamped] by QUIRE (papers)
19 Butterfly, one passing over (7)
Two meanings
21 Leader shortly taking band for audition (7)
HEA{d} (leader) [shortly], RING (band)
22 Disreputable and unsteady, speaking drunkenly (6)
Tongue-in-cheek aural wordplay [speaking drunkenly]: LOUCHE / “loose” (unsteady)
23 Old songs left for silly people mostly to collect (5)
GEES{e} (silly people) [mostly] containing [collect] L (left). We had a discussion here a while ago about glee clubs, barbershop singing and the like. ‘Glees’ as songs originated in the 17th century.
24 Pressure on girl at last to consume tuck (5)
P (pressure), {gir}L [at last], EAT (consume). After ‘gather’ and ‘fold’ at 8dn we now have ‘tuck’ and ‘pleat’!

54 comments on “Times Cryptic 28952”

  1. LOI for me was quagmire, resorted to an aid. Annoyed not to have solved but sometimes one either gets it straight away or not at all.

  2. Well, it looked like it was going to be another Monday puzzle when I started but that feeling soon left me. NHO Louche but knew it had to end in something like ‘ish’. NHO the Skipper butterfly either. COD to pumice.
    Thanks Jack and setter.

  3. 23:26
    My mind wasn’t working when I did this. Couldn’t remember SHALLOW until I had a checker or two, and couldn’t for the life of me see how RESOUNDING & SUNDRESS worked, and wasted a couple of minutes on them before submitting off leaderboard, when the scales fell instantly from my eyes.

  4. About 60 minutes. Unlike yesterday there are a number I could not parse. My thanks to Jack in this regard. Several of the four letter clues needed a guess amongst possible answers but I guessed correctly. LOI GLEES I initially had wrong so I put a question mark and left it to last.

  5. 12:22. I started very slowly on this, then sped up a bit, then slowed down again, with the NE corner causing me quite a lot of difficulty.
    The appearance of AFOREHAND without any indication that it’s archaic seemed a little off to me.
    Good puzzle.

    1. Opinions seem to differ about AFOREHAND as Collins on-line has it as ‘archaic’ in all sections but Chambers doesn’t say so, and ODE doesn’t list it at all.

      1. In Chambers AFOREHAND is a subsidiary entry under ‘afore’, which is labelled as archaic/dialect. They don’t repeat the designation for subsidiary entries but it is implied I think.
        ODE doesn’t list it because it’s explicitly a dictionary of current usage!

        1. Thanks for pointing out the qualification in Chambers, but having read it in full it also adds ‘or dialect’ which might suggest that AFOREHAND is still in common usage in certain parts. In any case I’m not sure it has ever been Times policy, official or by convention, to indicate every archaism.

          As for the ODE, I’ve never seen that stated before and would be interested to know where I can find it. It seems odd because ODE contains many words it designates as archaic, and one example that comes immediately to mind is CATE(S) which turned up in yesterday’s puzzle.

          1. Here is an old reference to the purpose of the dictionary. They don’t make so much of this in its current incarnation, where it is one of various language dictionaries, but I would assume that the approach remains the same. It distinguishes it from other Oxford publications (the OED and its offshoots).


            I don’t know about policy but to me this is a very clear archaism that ought to have been indicated. So much so in fact that, having spotted the possible use of FOREHAND in the wordplay I initially rejected it as a possibility.

            1. Thanks for the link, although the listing of so many words designated ‘archaic’ would seem to indicate that it’s not ODE policy to exclude them despite any implication in the sales description.

              We may have to agree to differ about archaism indictors in Times puzzles. I expect there have been occasions when I have suggested that there should have been one, but on the other hand I’m not sure how much help they really are. I don’t think it would have benefited me yesterday with CATE, because whether it’s an archaism or modern street parlance, I didn’t know it so I just had to take it on trust.

              I guess it’s subjective as I’d have rated CATE as both archaic and obscure whereas AFOREHAND is simply a variation on ‘beforehand’ and after the same fashion as ‘aforesaid’ and ‘aforementioned’ used every day in legal documents and contracts and both with individual entries in ODE, neither of them marked ‘archaic’.

              1. ‘Aforesaid’ and ‘aforementioned’ are common current usages in English. AFOREHAND isn’t. I don’t think we need a dictionary to tell us this.
                Obviously ODE have some sort of policy on archaisms, I confess I struggle to see how CATES makes it into a dictionary of ‘English as it is currently used’ while AFOREHAND doesn’t!
                In the end this is all subjective of course and a matter of pragmatism. As I said, I considered that FOREHAND might be part of the answer, but dismissed the possibility when I saw that BEFOREHAND didn’t fit. I only put the actual answer in, with some reluctance, when I had all the checkers including the A from MANIFOLD. So in my case this unindicated archaism actually impeded my solving, which is why I personally think it ought to have been indicated. I won’t be writing in to complain about this though: as I said in my original comment I just think it’s ‘a little off’!

      2. The repeated problem of picking and choosing your dictionary. Is it archaic or not, or is it even a word in the first place? If you swear by the ODE it isn’t.

        If one has to consult three different dictionaries and you’re still not sure where you stand having done so, words such as this should not be appearing in The Times crossword.

  6. Not hard, but MATT took me a while at the end, thanks to the long-winded wordplay.
    (Too bad I won’t live to see it, but Bible books should outlive their usefulness one of these days…)
    I first heard of ADELAIDE via the eponymous song on John Cale’s first album, Vintage Violence (I bought his new one—in digital download—today).

  7. 10:58. No real hold-ups today, though I did pause a short while at the end, not being able to see the cryptic for MATT. Ultimately I just biffed it with fingers crossed. I didn’t realise that GLEES were old songs. I think I knew them from the American TV series Glee which I’ve never seen but I presume relates to singing glees.

  8. I needed an alpha-trawl to see PUMICE, which then made my LOI a shoo-in. I was another who initially thought this would be Mondayish, but was quickly proved wrong.

    TIME 9:50

  9. 13:03. I took a couple of minutes at the end to see MATT. DNK the Shakespearean judge, of course, so trusted to thw wordplay. I liked LEAKIER best. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  10. Mostly straightforward but a few recalcitrants at the end required a bit of work, leaving me with a time of 33.01. Some of these, such as REGGAE and DEPRECATE, turned out to be much easier than I originally thought once they were explained by Jack. Most enjoyable, even if some of the defs seemed a bit, er, louche.

    From Mississippi:
    The EMPTINESS is endless, cold as the clay
    You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
    Only one thing I did wrong
    Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

  11. 35 mins stuck on LOI GOERS! Well, that’s what I bunged in in desperation having NHO GLEES. So a DNF really. Oh, and I had LEARIER too. What a mess.


    Thanks Jack and setter.

  12. 12:15, glad I paused at the end to think of HALLOW, as WALLOW had been my first idea. Never heard of the judge but the wordplay worked.

    Thanks both.

  13. No time as I am ‘supervising’ a team of electricians in our apartment block who always seen to be the wrong side of some door or other. Certainly more than half an hour COD to AFOREHAND. There goes the bell again. Thank you Jack and setter.

  14. 20:54
    I was slightly slow in seeing a couple of the anagrams (RESOUNDING, DEPRECATE) but otherwise this was a steady solve with no unknowns, aside from the Shakespearean Judge.

    I liked QUAGMIRE.

    Thanks to both.

  15. DNF, back in OWL club (where I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one!) with ‘learier’ rather than LEAKIER.

    Didn’t know SHALLOW the justice; not familiar with TRADE WIND as a term but the cluing was kind; no other major problems.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Quagmire

  16. Looks like I’d better weigh in on David L’s side – cute wordplay maybe, but my LOI, Quagmire, wouldn’t have been my LOI and I’d’ve been finished about five minutes sooner if quagmire meant confusion. Thanks, jack

    1. Going by the specific words used in Collins there’s a crossover in the sense ‘embarrassing situation’, but this is perhaps a little tenuous.

      1. Wiktionary has def 2 of 2:
        “(figuratively) A perilous, mixed up and troubled situation; a hopeless tangle.
        Synonyms: predicament; see also Thesaurus:difficult situation
        a) The paperwork got lost in a quagmire of bureaucracy.
        b) Those election results are a quagmire for any coalition except one of national union.”
        so confusion not too far a stretch perhaps? Anyway it didn’t trouble me at the time, but then I didn’t think very deeply.

        1. It didn’t trouble me either, for the same reason, but I do think there’s a difference. A quagmire is definitionally something that’s hard to get out of, that you get stuck in. ‘Confusion’ – unless qualified by something else – doesn’t really have that meaning.

  17. Pleasant 15.44 solve where few of the clues were instant write-ins. My last was ADELAIDE, simply because I didn’t venture far enough south with my city list.
    Back in the day, Desert Island Discs automatically included the Bible and Shakespeare in your castaway library otherwise everyone would have chosen them. Times change, and it seems SHALLOW and even MATThew are not universally recognised characters. One wonders what will replace those two sources as go-to references.
    Here at least, His Bobness is proving pretty reliable!

    1. Well, if the books of the “scripture” were taken solely as literature, I’d have no more objection to them than to the works of the Bard.

  18. After yesterday’s rush to be done in under 20 minutes and failing by 13 seconds, today was a rush to finish in under 30 minutes and again failing, this time by 12 seconds. So it was a surprise to see that the SNITCH was at 105. Why, I wonder? It certainly wouldn’t have been my last two in, which were pretty obvious: ADELAIDE and LOUCHE, which I wanted to begin with sh-. PERCOLATE struck me as odd: Jack says that the definition is reflexive, which I don’t understand. It just looks to me that it is wrong and should be PERCOLATEd.

    1. My reading was, you PERCOLATE and having done that you drink this (the coffee – and that’s the reflexive bit).

      1. Oh I see — ‘reflexive’ just referred back to the coffee. I thought it was something about the present tense as opposed to the past. It still looks wrong to me.

  19. 28:40 – with most of the delays around ADELAIDE, QUAGMIRE and SHALLOW, but generally slow on the uptake today.

  20. Good puzzle. 26.35 but with another LEARIER, whch I still think is a valid solution. QUAGMIRE and MATT took a long time; the latter because I thought there are sure to be people who collect MOTHs and tried to parse this somehow. EMPTINESS was COD; there’s somethng vaguely poetic about it.

    Thanks to Jack and the setter

  21. 38 minutes. Much harder than yesterday’s with a few tricky bits. NHO Justice Robert SHALLOW and had a mental freeze on ADELAIDE which even with a thawed brain I still couldn’t parse properly. LOI with help of all crossers was AFOREHAND which certainly sounds archaic to me though we do live in crossword land and I wasn’t fussed there was no “once” or similar indicator.

  22. 40:46

    I found this hard to finish, stuck on several around the grid:

    NHO SKIPPER as butterfly nor Judge SHALLOW, the latter making 4d, 5d and 6d less accessible.
    PUMICE took me far too long to spot, which gave me MIGRANT and after an age trying to justify it, MATT.
    24d/22a crossing – could not eliminate GAUCHE from my mind until I stumbled across COLA as the possible drink.
    Finally, didn’t think of silly people as geese, though did think GLEES might be the right answer from those checkers plus L.

    Bad day for me, but thanks for the blog Jack, and well played setter!

  23. I really struggled with this one, though the SNITCH says it’s not that difficult. Finally limped over the line at 58 mins, baffled by PUMICE and SHALLOW, which both went in unparsed. ADELAIDE took an age to see, and NHO SKIPPER so that went in with fingers crossed. Either my IQ dropped sharply over the weekend or this was just off my wavelength. Thanks for explanations.

  24. Not a clue about MATT or the Shakespearean SHALLOW, so a biff and reliance on wordplay for those two after much hemming and hawing.

    Generally slowish for me, certainly not straightforward, but I did finish, unlike yesterday.


  25. 28.35 WOE

    I knew of GLEE but somehow didn’t associate it with the answer; could make nothing of silly people and bunged in a desperate GAELS. Nice puzzle – favourite was LOUCHE as I like that slightly offbeat “drunk” w/p

  26. 12:39

    Not that quick today, as I was pleasantly distracted watching back Afghanistan vs Bangladesh in the cricket. What a result for our Australian friends! I’d love to have seen the faces of the sandpaper cheats when this happened.

    1. Oh, please! Isn’t it time to move on from the sandpaper incident? I’m sure it has no place in this forum anyway.

      1. Not while the culprits still play test cricket. Cheating is cheating is cheating: there’s no statute of limitations.

        And who appointed you the content arbiter here anyway, Norm0?? It’s not as if I’m the first person to comment on outside events (indeed, I can recall plenty of flak coming in the opposite direction when England have done poorly!).

  27. Way off the pace today not helped by a double NHO at 23d and a biff at 4ac and just noticed reverence and not reference in 4ac. My old chemistry teacher would write on the board RTBQ! before our exams.

  28. No time recorded as it was done in two sittings. I would estimate about 40 minutes. I had two thirds completed quite swiftly, but was delayed at the end by QUAGMIRE and finally ADELAIDE. I was unsure of GLEES, and my parsing was GEE[k]S, although I readily concede the stated parsing is correct.

  29. 40′ or so after a long and hot golf match. Clued QUAGMIRE from the parts (if there’s a U try a Q) but agree the definition isn’t great. Never heard of POI GLEES but it parsed and I took comfort from the TV programme and SHALLOWS also put together without knowing the bard reference. Also never thought to DEPRECATE = to protest, but it does. ADELAIDE was LOI after an alphabet trawl and a loud DOH (in reality another word)! so my COD. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  30. 29’29”. Phew, crept in under the half hour. As others, not entirely happy about PERCOLATE. Felt the clue really invited PERCOLATED or PERCOLATION. Missed the QUAGMIRE quagmire, but agree it’s not quite the same as CONFUSION. Many thanks to all.

  31. 36:42
    Last two in were EMPTINESS and QUAGMIRE, which required my remembering the old rule of “see a U, look for a Q”.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  32. Very slow going despite there not really being anything out of the ordinary. QUAGMIRE took ages at the end, so 53 minutes. Never heard of SKIPPER butterflies and I didn’t know Justice SHALLOW, but it seemed Shakespearean enough. GLEES made sense because there were glee clubs when I went to school and they sang. Incidentally, I find the discussion of quagmire and confusion above a bit too pedantic — they don’t have to be exactly the same thing, do they? You just have to be able to interchange them in certain, possibly very special, situations and for me they seem to be close enough. Every English word has nuances, so absolutely precise matches are really quite rare, I would say.


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