Times Cryptic No 28074 – Saturday, 4 September 2021. Mini Mysteries.

This puzzle was rich in general knowledge unknowns, at least for me, including: an order of monks, a flowering plant, an obscure foreign language, both the handle and the peak at 6dn, and more. I didn’t help myself by biffing SAVOUR at 9ac either – even though it was at best a dubious fit! More knowledgeable people may have found it easier!

Thanks to the setter for a very challenging puzzle. How did you all get on?

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.
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Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions and commentary are in (brackets).

1 Notoriously surreptitious tirade by convict on the inside (10)
FLAGRANTLY – LAG = convict + RANT = tirade, in FLY = surreptitious (another unknown usage!)
6 Vagrant starts to head off before others (4)
HOBO – first letters of each word.
8 Heartless fool stopping 23 about cure (8)
ANTIDOTE – ID(i)OT, in ETNA backwards.
9 Enjoy something saucy (6)
RELISH – double definition.
10 State of symmetric pair of Autobahn sections (4)
UTAH – (a)UT(ob)AH(n). You need to following the bouncing ball to see what is going on here!
11 Matt O’Brien trained flowering plant (10)
MONTBRETIA – anagram (trained) of MATT O’BRIEN. I’m happy to admit, I looked it up.
12 Blackmail divorcee, perhaps twisting, getting caught (9)
EXTORTION – EX=divorcee. TORTION sounds like TORSION=twisting.
14 Defeat following no-score draw between sides (5)
FLOOR – F=following, L & R are the sides, O-O is a no-score draw. Soccer would be a great game if they introduced scoring. Goalkeepers must be 20% taller than when the game was invented … time to make the goalface wider and higher!
17 Finish off project number one for Bronski Beat (5)
THROB – THRO(w), with the finish off. B from B(ronski). Bronski Beat was a band, but I’d never heard of it, of course.
19 Dog, rushed into duties, recalled across river (2,7)
ST BERNARD – RAN=rushed + R=river, inside DEBTS, all backwards.
22 Cheap show by awful medium entertaining me, later us (4,6)
DIME MUSEUM – ME + US, separately inside an anagram (awful) of MEDIUM.
23 Regularly observed Neptunian mountain (4)
ETNA – each second letter of nEpTuNiAn. The mountains second appearance this week.
24 Finish, as do Gog and Magog (6)
ENDING – both words (wait for it!) END … IN … G!
25 Where to find third man to duel if ill (8)
OUTFIELD – anagram (ill) of TO DUEL IF.
26 Boss of film company refusing one Oscar (4)
STUD – drop the I and the O from STUDio.
27 Subordinate settles in courtroom clothes (10)
UNDERVESTS – UNDER=subordinate, VESTS=settles, as a legal term: for example, a pension “vests” on a certain date.

1 Pretentious uniform United hire out around November (9)
FLATULENT – FLAT=uniform, U=united, LET=hire out around N=November.
2 Allure cheers up area (7)
ATTRACT – TA=cheers’, up. Then, TRACT.
3 English couple backtracking after a company order (8)
ACOEMETI – A + CO=company + E=English, then ITEM backtracking. An order of monks that apparently kept divine service going 24/7.
4 Hope to stop at this one theft, hoarded for distribution (3,3,2,3,4)
THE END OF THE ROAD – anagram (for distribution) of ONE THEFT HOARDED.
5 Solvers bagging second in arts degree in a foreign language (6)
YORUBA – YOU bagging R from aRts, + BA. Never ‘eard of it!
6 Handle left on extremely lofty north Lakeland peak (9)
HELVELLYN – HELVE is an axe handle, it seems. Add L=left, LY=extremely L(oft)Y, N=north. I was no chance of getting the V without peeking, since I knew neither the handle nor the peak.
7 Old president overseeing pledge of intended code of chivalry (7)
BUSHIDO – (President) BUSH + I DO.
13 Agreed over leg measurement in turn up (2,3,4)
OF ONE MIND – O=over, then ON=leg side at cricket + EN EM=a printer’s measurement, in FIND.
15 Animals spared and set free (3,6)
RED PANDAS – anagram (set free) of SPARED AND. At first I thought the anagram letters would be SPARED + SET.
16 Trucker loading tonnes into ship after moving cover (8)
TEAMSTER – the ship is a STEAMER. Move the ‘covering (leading)’ S, and insert T=tonnes.
18 Lock-keeper from Tehran travelling around India (7)
HAIRNET – anagram (travelling) of TEHRAN, around I=India.
20 Reassert case over including player (7)
ACTRESS – backwards (over) hidden (including) answer.
21 Oriental art work ultimately attracting deep breath perhaps when removed from case (4,2)
KUNG FU – K from (wor)K, (l)UNGFU(l). An art of the martial kind.

35 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28074 – Saturday, 4 September 2021. Mini Mysteries.”

  1. ….as befits a blogger (enjoyable ? Really ??!!) I do not feel so constrained. I thought this was an appalling puzzle.

    Why do people do the Times Crossword ? My personal expectation is to find cleverness, trickery, misdirection, and humour — all of these factors being produced in a manner that provides enjoyment.

    What I do NOT expect is a requirement for exceptionally arcane general knowledge, and the use of a plethora of words that belong in a barred grid (last Sunday’s Mephisto was an easier solve than this !)

    By the time I resorted to using aids for ACOEMETI and DIME MUSEUM, I was actually quite cross. No time noted, no COD, no more of this garbage please !

      1. I neglected to thank you for the blog Bruce. It was a far more enjoyable production than the puzzle.
      1. The Wikipedia entry on General Knowledge leads with:

        Not to be confused with Common knowledge.

        General knowledge is information that has been accumulated over time through various mediums

        So perhaps GK can be arcane, but common knowledge can’t!!

        Edited at 2021-09-11 06:39 am (UTC)

  2. This puzzle was most definitely not for me and after I’d encountered the first couple of obscurities I became utterly disheartened by it. In the end I gave up and resorted to aids just to fill up the squares. Enjoyment level zero. The Jumbo was a shocker too. Only the Guardian prize gave any pleasure last Saturday morning. Hoping for better today.
  3. What Jack and Phil said. I didn’t have a problem with (NHO) DIME MUSEUM, but used aids for HELVELLYN, which I may have actually forgotten, although it was a DNK as near as dammit. But MONTBRETIA, for heaven’s sake! I actually worked it out, then verified it, but still. I finally–just before coming here–came up with LOI ACOEMETI, but couldn’t believe it enough to look it up past my ODE. Feh.
  4. What Jack and Phil and Kevin said. Too many crossing obscurities to be enjoyable or solvable without aids. Had considered acoemeti, yoruba, yoruma, yormau, yorbau but none of them sounded like words. Helve and also helvellyn outside my GK. Liked the red pandas, throb (had heard of the band) and extortion.
    1. Yoruba is one of the major languages of Nigeria, with around 50 million speakers, or about twice as many as Igbo (Ibo), which has appeared here a couple of times. Still, with that clue it would help immensely to know of the language beforehand.
  5. Resorted to Chambers Word Wizard for the monkish order and the plant, and I got the name of the peak utterly wrong (though I should have known there was no HOLDERLYN). I guess the rest was all right, but damn.

    Edited at 2021-09-11 05:55 am (UTC)

  6. What Phil said.
    Crossing the order of monks with an obscure plant anagram was going too far.
    Thanks brnchn.
    1. Is montbretia obscure? I didn’t think so. It’s that stuff with orange flowers that seems to be impossible to get rid of. Every year I dig it up and every year it pops back. Also known as crocosmia and a bloody nuisance. Quite pretty though…
  7. 65 minutes with cheats used as others have. At least I didn’t fall off STRIDING EDGE climbing Helvellyn which I biffed without knowing the handle. I checked MONTBRETIA, knowing of AUBRETIA, having already done so for ACOEMENTI and DIME MUSEUM, both totally unheard of. Is UNDERVESTS also an Americanism, along with the several others? I’ve never worn one. I knew of Jimmy Hoffa so did get and parse TEAMSTER, and I was happy enough with HOBO. COD to ENDING, bur it certainly wasn’t a very happy one. Thank you Bruce and to the setter for an interesting experience.
    1. NHO. Our vest is your waistcoat, your vest is our undershirt. Why would you wear something under your vest?
      1. Why, indeed, would you wear a vest ? Unless you were an explorer in colder climes (English) or a bridegroom (American).
    2. Montbretia is an orange iris-type plant (Aka Crocosmia)Aubretia is a pretty blue/purple alpine. Completely different in every way.
  8. …I used aids for ACOEMETI and TEAMSTER.
    In other words, I found that very hard as other commenters seem to have done.
    Regarding ACOEMETI, the day before, on the Friday, we had EUDAEMON. The one trying to out-obscure the other?!
    I’m almost tempted to believe they are both names of cars by Lamborghini.
    Is KUNG FU really an art? Well, I suppose it’s a martial one.
    Thanks for explaining VESTS as in UNDERVESTS.
    Thank you, Bruce; No thank you, setter.
  9. I disliked this crossword, which gives the impession of being set by an American. Which would be fine if it were the New York Times but not in the Times of London, please.
    Teamster, dime museum, hobo, undervest etc etc.
  10. Oddly enough I actually knew the plant, if not its spelling, as my Mother used to grow them and was always talking about them. That said I still needed aids to get ACOEMETI and YORUBA. Didn’t really believe UNDERVESTS when I derived it, but what else could go in the space! Heard of a dime novel, so DIME MUSEUM went in on that basis. Knew of the TEAMSTERs. HELVELLYN not a problem for anyone familiar with the Lake District. Battled for 50 minutes before looking up the already mentioned last two. Not the most user friendly puzzle! Thanks Bruce.
  11. What everone else has said. It was a hopeless puzzle. The joy of a great difficult crossword lies in everyday words and phrases deviously clued by fiendish misdirection with smooth surface readings. This one was back to front, with its difficulty lying in obscure, unheard-of words clued in an unremarkable way, with some really dodgy surface readings (e.g. 6, 8, 10, 20, 22).
    Thanks, Bruce.
  12. Well, ok, tough to the point of brutality, but I have climbed HELVELLYN, worked in Hackney alongside several YORUBA, for once knew the plant, and decided DIME MUSEUM and UNDERVEST were at least possible, the last surely a vest that goes under something rather than something that goes under a vest.
    But I won’t claim I either knew or didn’t look up the unlikely ACOEMETI: I would hope such a word would never appear in competition conditions. No fun, really and well elucidated B.
  13. A day trip to Cambridge last Saturday gave me two train journeys to look at this puzzle.
    I see from my paper copy I only managed to complete about two thirds, mainly the bottom half.
    I scribbled Underpants but never found the UNDERVESTS -who knew?
    I was pleased to remember BUSHIDO and work out MONTBRETIA and the DIME MUSEUM (unknown but seemed plausible).
    The NW was mainly blank. I infer from the comments above that my failure was not totally due to drinking too much red wine.

  14. Couldn’t find Acoemetae nor Acoemeti; an obscurity with the setter using the even more obscure spelling option. Hmph. Took lots of repeat visits and aids to NOT get 3d.
  15. I finished this without any major problem but, as with others, didn’t really enjoy it. I’ve been up HELVELLYN so “lakeland peak” starting with H was a write-in, even though I didn’t know the handle. I knew there was a plant called aubretia so MONTBRETIA seemed plausible. Never heard of DIME MUSEUM (despite living in the US) but the wordplay was clear. I think I looked up the monks to check that the unlikely word existed. I’d no idea what an UNDERVEST was. Living in the US, TEAMSTER was another write-in. As pointed out by others, this puzzle had an American feel to it (although I doubt many Americans have heard of the lakeland peak).
  16. 39:21. Awful, for all the reasons already expressed. I forced my way through it but rather the resented the setter for having taken up so much of my day. I looked up the more ridiculous answers before submission but they were what I had arrived at as the most (albeit not very) likely combination of letters so I’m awarding myself a finish.
    Unlike some others I really enjoyed the jumbo, which was also very hard but in a much more satisfying way. I look forward to that discussion!

    Edited at 2021-09-11 05:46 pm (UTC)

    1. I have to disagree. I did the jumbo first, and 49ac was so terrible (it must be an error, right? Then why has it not been corrected a week later?) that this puzzle, for all of its obscurities, was a relief
      1. Yes 49ac is clearly an error. The answer is obvious though so however the error arose you could solve the puzzle. The rest of it was great, I thought. Really hard, mind.

        Edited at 2021-09-12 11:16 pm (UTC)

  17. I didn’t have a moment so I skipped this puzzle altogether! This has to be an Anglo setter with 6db
    HELVELLYN, 11ac MONTBRETIA;; 25ac OUTFIELD (Third Man); 20dn ACTRESS (ACTOR State Side); 18dn HAIRNET and 27ac UNDERVESTS!

    Do not be fooled by Americana such as 6ac HOBO; 10ac UTAH; 16dn TEAMSTERS; 22ac DIME MUSEUM and 9ac RELISH.

    I filled it in and perversely quite enjoyed it! Meldrew

  18. I’m very very late in posting about this one, and only came because I was a DNF – more accurately a barely started – and have came here for illumination. Reading your comments has been extremely reassuring, though. It was clearly not just me, but was an exceptionally challenging puzzle. Phew. Thanks as ever to blogger and all who take the time to comment; it really does help we poor struggling beginners.

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