Times Cryptic 28957 – some might say you lack a blogger

Hello everyone.  Ulaca is away this month, so I have the pleasure of standing in.

Although slow to start I soon warmed up to finish in 14:34, and that was having been held up a little by at least one of the anagrams.  It was much simpler to write up than expected too.  So I’m not anticipating any problems from the seasoned solvers among us.  Scanning the clues again to pick out a COD, I can’t choose but do notice lots of commendably smooth surfaces.  Thanks setter!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are usually in italics, specified [deletions] are in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a First of comedians gets a lot of laughs (6,2)
CRACKS UP — The first of Comedians + RACKS UP (gets a lot of)
6a Judge beginning to swear, surrounded by fools (6)
ASSESS — The initial letter of (beginning to) Swear surrounded by ASSES (fools)
9a Time taken to resolve complaint? (13)
CONVALESCENCE — Cryptic definition, the complaint being an illness
10a Arrested by church, father turning red (6)
CERISE — Inside (arrested by) CE (church), SIRE (father) reversed (turning)
11a Speculator, one believing gold to be within his grasp? (8)
THEORIST THEIST (one believing) with OR (gold) going inside (to be within his grasp)
13a Case cracked: 500 held by French city authority (10)
ASCENDANCY CASE anagrammed (cracked) + D (500) inside (held by) NANCY (French city)
15a Revolutionary Soviet leader beheaded in square (4)
NINE — In reverse (revolutionary) [l]ENIN Soviet leader without the first letter (beheaded)
16a One fuming after bet knocked back? (4)
ETNA ANTE (bet) reversed (knocked back)
18a No swearing about these descendants of the Vikings? (10)
NORWEGIANS — An anagram of (… about) of NO SWEARING
I wanted this to start with NORSE, but NORSEMEN was too short, and NORSEWOMEN didn’t quite have the requisite letters.  Never mind that this would leave “descendants of” unneeded …
21a Joint squad carrying out visit to begin with (8)
DOVETAIL DETAIL (squad) containing (carrying) Out Visit to begin with
22a Figure has Sumerian features (6)
ASSUME — Hidden: hAS SUMErian features the answer
23a Traders here swapping cattle for sheep? (5,8)
STOCK EXCHANGE — An exchange of stock could involve swapping cattle and sheep
25a Drug finishing off naive novelist (6)
GREENE E (drug) following (finishing off) GREEN (naive)
26a Entertainer dean sues mistakenly (8)
DANSEUSE — An anagram of (… mistakenly) DEAN SUES
2d Supporters missing top game (7)
RACKETS — bRACKETS (supporters) without the first letter (missing top)
3d Donates rice crackers, being kind (11)
CONSIDERATE DONATES RICE anagrammed (crackers)
4d Trap initially set a long time back, capturing knight (5)
SNARE Initially Set plus the reversal of (… back) ERA (a long time) surrounding (capturing) N (knight)
5d Quickly reaching northern city (7)
PRESTON PRESTO (quickly) + N (northern)
6d Model in sports car going under bridge (9)
ARCHETYPE ETYPE (sports car) going under ARCH (bridge)
7d A setter’s offspring, might one say? (3)
SUN — Sounds like (… might one say?) SON (offspring)
8d Leave this young fellow’s hat (7)
STETSON STET (leave this) + SON (young fellow)
12d Investigation extinguishing party’s revival (11)
RENAISSANCE RE[con]NAISSANCE (investigation) taking out (extinguishing) CON (party)
14d Criminal not masked? I’ve no idea (4,3,2)
DONT ASK ME — An anagram of (criminal) NOT MASKED
17d Nick right to be upset with old addict (7)
TROUSER RT (right) reversed (to be upset) + O (old) + USER (addict)
19d Laid-back cardinal holding large guitar (7)
RELAXED RED (cardinal) holding L (large) and AXE (guitar)
20d Book of Songs (7)
NUMBERS — Two definitions, the first biblical
22d A second layer devoid of colour (5)
ASHEN A + S (second) + HEN (layer)
24d Broadcaster’s outstanding offering at Eisteddfod? (3)
ODE — Homophone of (broadcaster’s) OWED (outstanding). 
Eisteddfod, the Welsh festival, is one of those things I knew but couldn’t remember the meaning of until prompted by the wordplay

72 comments on “Times Cryptic 28957 – some might say you lack a blogger”

  1. 19:03
    I found this fairly straightforward, though not quite as easy as some Mondays.

    My apologies that the SNITCH will be a bit strange today, as there is no leaderboard. This crossword is marked as a competition crossword, with the results not available till Wednesday. So, the SNITCH has no data to process, and as I’m writing this it shows zero.

    If regular reference solvers post their times in the blog and I’ve linked their TfTT names to their solver names, the SNITCH will show this in the detailed data even if it doesn’t calculate an overall score.

    1. hallo..does anyone know why I can’t download this puzzle? when I try to email to PC to print it says page unavailable!

  2. 26 minutes with the last 5 spent on DOVETAIL – Aaaah!! That sort of joint!!!

    It was as well that the wordplay at 13ac was clear because I’d never have thought of ‘authority’ and ASCENDANCY as synonyms, but a little research confirms my ignorance.

    Re 4dn, I may having a senior moment because I’m wondering if indicating reversal in a Down clue using ‘back’ is okay? It maybe common practice and I’ve never thought about it before, but having asked myself the question I find I’m unable to answer it.

  3. I finished in about 25, held up by CONVALESCENCE, ASCENDANCY and PRESTON. A DNF in the end because I missed ODE having no idea what was going on with the clue so thank you Kitty. TBH I was slightly surprised to see this blogged today at all because it was one of those tedious efforts where you can’t see the answers until a later date, in this case unspecified. So it all felt a bit strange but thanks all.

  4. 14’43”. Would perhaps have quicker if the online format hadn’t changed, a bit frustrating this morning.


    Thanks kitty and setter.

  5. 29:01

    Delayed only because of gremlins in the online offering (with server unavailable at one point). Even when I submitted I was informed that my competition entry had been submitted (!?) so I think there are some minor issues at TImes Towers because I had already tried switching it off and on again.

    LOI DOVETAIL. (spent too much time thinking this must start with CO- for ‘joint’)

    Thanks to kitty and the setter.

  6. 17:33
    DOVETAIL was my LOI, too, and I had a similar reaction to Jack’s. My POI was TROUSER; took time to recall a barely known verb. DNK E-TYPE, but since ‘bridge’ was ARCH, ‘sports car’ had to be the rest. MEEER at ‘bet’=ANTE, another one at ‘authority’=ASCENDANCY. No problem with ‘back’.

    1. I’m surprised by your MEEER at ‘bet / ANTE’ as it’s a crossword chestnut I remember meeting for the first time some 60 years ago. It’s in common usage in all sorts of gambling e.g. horse racing, but seems to have originated in poker in the USA.

      1. Poker is all I know, and in poker the ante is the money you toss in before the cards are dealt, that entitles you to play; it’s not a bet. I have no idea about its use in other gambling, and am happy to lower my eyebrow.

        1. Not claiming to be an expert but I’d have thought the ‘ante’ as you described it with reference to poker is a mandatory bet. The stake placed after cards are dealt I would term a ‘bid’, but ‘bet’ covers both.

  7. 10:35. After a recent run where I’ve struggled with one clue at the end, several times failing to finish, I feared the same fate again today when left staring at R_C_E_S and being unable to think of anything that fitted. A couple of alphabet trawls threw up nothing then in a flash of inspiration RACKETS came to me. With hindsight I’m not sure why this gave me so much difficulty. I guess RACKETS is not a common sport; I’ve never known anyone who plays it.

    On submitting I was surprised to be told it was a competition entry. I hope the prize is a good one!

  8. 7:19 Not exactly sure of my PB but this is very close to it, assuming no typos of course. Think it would have been my fastest ever if not for a brief but critical struggle at the end to see DOVETAIL.

    The only other hold-up was knowing there was a word that was “something like” DANEUSSE or DANSEUSE but needing the checkers to settle things.

    Thanks to the gentle setter and to Kitty for stepping up.

  9. Hi Kitty. Not seen you for a while. 16 minutes with LOI DOVETAIL. COD to STOCK EXCHANGE. Why Preston became a city when bigger towns around it didn’t, I don’t know. Perhaps bus stations matter more than cathedrals these days, or maybe it was the support given to the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. OK, davidivad1, it’s sour grapes. Easyish but pleasant. Thank you Kitty and setter.

    1. Hi boltonwanderer. My natural inclination is to hide in dark corners (though I can be tempted to emerge blinking into the light for a time if somebody mentions magic words – “The George”, for example).

  10. 6:50
    No online problems, so possibly fastest ever combined time for my Monday morning newspaper constitutional (Fiendish Sudoku, Easy KenKen, Polygon word, Daily Quiz photo, cryptic crossword): 14:00.
    COD and hoorah for PRESTON, my home city! (Don’t despair, boltonwanderer, your time will come.)
    LOI SNARE (after a protracted CONVALESCENCE)

  11. 14:13 here. A confusing start to the week, was wondering whether I’d managed to get the day muddled up somehow.

  12. This was a fine example of the type of puzzle that drew me into the world of cryptic crosswords 60 years ago.

    I know many of you here don’t do the Quick Cryptic, but you really should look at today’s – it’s an excellent example of the late Richard Rogan’s brilliance. 20A alone is guaranteed to raise a smile. Mind you, my grin vanished pretty quickly when a typo reared its ugly head.

    Here, I biffed RENAISSANCE and am thus grateful to Kitty for enlightening me.

    TIME 5:41

    This may just creep into my 10 best times on SNITCH, so hopefully the “false Saturday” problem will be resolved during the day.

  13. 15:30
    Mostly straightforward enough fare but RACKETS/CONVALESCENCE held me up at the end, and I stymied myself by initially typing in NORSE at 18A, and thereafter being left with a mad collection of letters to unscramble.

    I liked the intersecting TROUSER and DOVETAIL.

    Thanks to both.

  14. 35:58
    I know it’s a time with no aids as the tempting “check” button is not available today.

    Also went for NORSE—


    I thought we didn’t blog prize crosswords until the entry date is over? I’m sure that somewhere, right now there our neutrinos using the blog to create fake entries.

  15. 26:48 for me for this enjoyable Monday offering. Etna held me up, though I have skidoo’d on its magnificent high slopes. COD to the nice surface of 1a, and my LOI was the tricky DOVETAIL. Thanks setter and excellent stand-in blogger.

  16. About 20 minutes.

    Didn’t parse DOVETAIL; took ages to see ETNA; and for some reason thought the axe for guitar in RELAXED was just ‘ax’, so I was wondering how reed=cardinal – once again, it’s good we don’t have to show our working. No major problems otherwise.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Nine
    LOI Etna
    COD Stock exchange

  17. 4:12, which is one second outside my PB. It would have been nice to see an all-green grid so the rogue competition thing is a bit annoying. I can’t see any mistakes in my grid though, fingers crossed. I even appear to have avoided a couple of my very favourite silly mistakes: getting ENC(E/Y)/ANC(E/Y) word endings wrong and spelling DANSEUSE with a C.

  18. 7.06 – struggled a bit with my LOI – DOVETAIL – as couldn’t get the wordplay for a while

  19. 13.04, just in case the SNITCH needs to know.
    DOVETAIL was the holdup, only parsed after submission, because I didn’t get any coloured squares today and wanted, as far as possible, to be sure.
    GREENE (the Times go-to novelist) is an interesting entry: I think the parsing works either way. Mine was GREEN for drug with finishing/ending off naivE. I’m aware that almost any word can become a euphemism for a drug, but in this case Chambers confirms, though with an s, presumably: “(in pl) low-grade marijuana (slang)”.
    I look forward to my prize.

    1. An interesting feature in GREENE, which I didn’t notice. (Well, why would I when I have already seen it one way? I could claim it’s because I’m innocent, but some people here have met me!) I see you have company though in Long Time Lurker below.

      I wouldn’t have been sure about “finishing off” to indicate a last letter, but your given equivalent “ending off” has convinced me.

  20. About 20 mins.
    Pleasant puzzle. Don’t understand why it’s a competition puzzle.
    Thanks, K.

  21. 8 minutes 46 seconds – this is a new PB for me! I have only managed sub-10 a couple of times, so I start the day with a spring in my step!

  22. I could see that this was an easy one, but still I laboured over DOVETAIL and RACKETS, and used aids because I was getting nowhere with them and finished in 41 minutes. RACKETS is basically squash in a huge court, courts which could only be built by the well-heeled. Strange then, that squash, which is really a shrunken version of rackets, was invented at Harrow School, which could afford to build its own rackets court.

  23. Around 60 minutes. As usual too much literal reading of clues. Interesting here Books of Songs refers to 305 songs, odes, poems from ancient China, 11 to 7 centuries BC. Difficult to see clue in cryptic form after this. Kept looking for definition as arrested instead of red. NHO
    TROUSER as verb. Kept reading Revolutionary Soviet leader literally but put in NINE for square.

  24. 20 minutes ending with ODE. The sports car took me a while to twig, must remember that one. Well done Kitty.

  25. 18 minutes. I couldn’t parse RECONNAISSANCE or my LOI DOVETAIL, but otherwise not too difficult. ARCHETYPE was my favourite today.

    I agree with Busman about today’s QC which took me longer than this one; well worth doing.

    Thanks to Kitty for filling in

  26. About 15 mins but surprised that online I was asked to submit my answers. Must have thought it was Saturday or Sunday.

    Not much to scare the horses though I did unnecessarily complicate Preston, wondering why there wasn’t a question mark for Pressed on! Oh the embarrassment on seeing presto!

  27. A time I would have been delighted with a couple of years ago, but today my WITCH is decidedly orange.

    DOVETAIL was LOI and a bit of a penny drop. CONVALESCENCE needed all the checkers.


  28. 12 mins. Seemed laboured but the time suggests it wasn’t difficult- just a bit mentally sludgy – and was a quicker solve than today’s QC, the above comments about which I second. Not entirely sure what 9 ac is doing here. It barely qualifies as a cryptic definition and wouldn’t be out of place in the concise.

  29. The Club Site is treating the puzzle as a normal weekday one now. From CRACKS UP to DOVETAIL in 15:48. Took awhile to see ETYPE! Thanks setter and Kitty.

  30. A pretty quick time for me at 19.49, but over three minutes on my LOI which you won’t be surprised to hear was DOVETAIL.

  31. 24:58

    Somewhat slow cf the usual suspects above. Thoroughly enjoyed it though.

    Thanks Kitty and setter.

  32. Nice blog, Kitty, and thanks for Renaissance. Reading the above, it seems most people found this straightforward except for one – and a different one for each person – very simple clue which they got crosswise with. Me too, and my crosswise was the easiest of the simple clues, Snare.

  33. 19:42

    A shade off the pace perhaps but pleased to get round in 20 mins. Think I should concentrate more on ensuring I have a pencil and paper handy when starting such puzzles as I am sure I would have solved the anag at 3d far sooner if I had been better prepared.

    Thanks Kitty and setter

  34. q4.43, so quick for me. DOVETAIL last in. 7dn is a type of clue I find ambiguous, never sure to which bit the “might one say applies”. I could easily have gone for SON, but went with SUN.

  35. I wonder if the wise people of this blog could enlighten me on RACKETS v RACQUETS. This was my LOI and I confused myself as to which was the game and which was something with which to hit the ball and whether it made a difference on which side of the pond I live!

    1. OED says that RACQUETS is North American, but then the most recent citation is clearly English: ‘Rex had been asked to play a trial match with Holland Hibbert to decide which of them would play racquets for Eton at Queen’s Club’. Make of that what you will!

  36. I enjoyed this one for the most part; held up by three or four clues, but got there in the end.

    However, I’m not sure about the clue to “TROUSER”; “nick” in the clue suggests an answer that has something to do with theft, but “trouser” as a verb simply means to receive or to earn, without any implication that the money concerned has been stolen.

    Happy to be put right.

    1. Collins says: ‘to take (something, esp money), sometimes surreptitiously, undeservedly, or unlawfully’. This accords with my experience of the word: there is usually an implication of skulduggery of some kind.

      1. Thanks for that. Yes, I’ve seen that definition. The on-line OED definition is “to take or earn an amount of money”. I guess meaning of some words changes over time. I worked in the City most of the last twenty years; when people used the verb “trouser” (not one that I would use myself),it was always as a synonym for “earn”.

  37. About 20′ in two visits, initially as a comp puzzle but which had changed back to normal on my return. All pretty straightforward, held up mostly in SW corner where the TROUSER/DOVETAIL crossing took note time than it should have. Thanks Kitty and setter.

  38. Thanks for parsing RENAISSANCE, I couldn’t get “do” for party to fit in anywhere.
    TROUSER as a verb is much used in Private Eye to imply earnings of dubious rectitude.
    It took me more than a country moment to think of RACKS UP for “gets a lot of”
    Thanks Everyone

  39. 38 mins. LOI DOVETAIL. Definitely unparsed, so ta stand-in blogger. I found this a bit tricky in parts for a Monday. I had to work quite hard on some clues that, on reflection, are not too difficult. Perhaps the fact that a) I’m on holiday in Italy, and b) I’d had a rather good lunch might be mitigating circumstances!

    I liked ARCHETYPE. The car of my dreams.

    Thanks kitty, great job, and setter.

  40. 26:42
    Held up by LOI CONVALESCENCE. Could not parse RENAISSANCE . Otherwise a steady solve with no issues.

    Thanks Kitty and setter

  41. Failed on DOVETAIL and ETNA and not convinced by ASCENDANCY/authority equivalence. I also parsed GREENE with ‘green’ as the drug rather than ‘e’. It works either way but I’m the one who added the Goldie Looking Chain quote for ‘green’ to the Wiktionary entry.

  42. Thanks all for your comments, and extra thanks to those who have answered questions and supplied detail/discussion.

    I did this on the newspaper site so although I clocked the absence of a completion message I just assumed I had a typo and cracked on with blogging hoping to uncover it. Then, as everything seemed ok, I shrugged and just assumed a mistake somewhere … and (as usual) looked carefully at early comments in case of corrections.

    I’ve been back at work today after two weeks off, so a bit glazed over. Definitely ready for another holiday, but sadly I think that won’t be until October.

  43. Lucky Ulaca! I found this more straightforward than many recent Mondays, and as I accidentally printed the QC on top of another page, I decided to skip it for once, being a bit behind. Seeing the comments above, I’ll reprint it and have a go. DOVETAIL LOI of course, and Renaissance unparsed. 3a needed all the checkers to see – in fact the NW corner was the last section to complete, apart from the joint.

  44. 12’30”. Slight pause wondering where on earth was the town of PRONTON. But it didn’t last. Many thanks.

  45. I had exactly the same experience as Jack, finishing in 24 minutes with the last several spent on DOVETAIL.
    Also Graham Greene held me up a bit, I was very annoyed with myself for that
    Why is this marked as a competition crossword???
    Otherwise nothing to add
    Thanks setter and (I think??) new blogger

    1. Kitty’s been blogging for TfTT since 2019 (I checked the “Current Bloggers” roundup, linked above under “About.”

  46. Most annoying i put Son. I am alwys doing this…work out and then put the wrong one on paper. Would have been my fastested ever in 13 mins. So 22 remains. Enjoyed it though.

  47. 39 minutes, but mostly because I was unsure of 2n: is RACKETS really a game? Are bRACKETS really “supporters”? But it all seemed more likely than ROCKETS or anything else, and there were no other problems. For 11ac I first had INVESTOR (in vest, or, get it?), but of course that made 6dn impossible so it didn’t survive too long. No problems with ASCENDANCY, which I rather liked, or DOVETAIL once I found the OV (and not just V) in it. Nice Monday puzzle, not as much of a stinker as they often have been recently.

  48. “Time taken to resolve complaint” is a very weak clue for “convalescence” if it depends only on the fact that “complaint” can mean illness. (The French edition of Portnoy’s Complaint was called “La Maladie de Portnoy”.) I looked to the blog for a better explanation but found none. Am I missing something?

    1. Not sure – but I got it quickly. Medical family background perhaps, but the idea/phrases like “convalescence period”,”a week’s convalescence”, and “I’m convalescing” were there in the mental mixture, along with “recuperation” too.


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