Times Cryptic No 28374 – Saturday, 20 August 2022. Seize the clue.

A few clues caused momentary brain seizures – particularly 20ac, as discussed below, and 24dn. Overall, though, the solve flowed rather smoothly, with pauses for thought at 28ac and 14d. I enjoyed the reference at 13ac! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC, with anagram indicators italicised.

1 Chat’s dropped at change of service provider? (10)
CONVERSION – CONVERS(at)ION. Religious services of a different denomination!
6 Comeback of Friends is a hit (4)
SLAP – PALS backwards.
10 Model soldier absent without leave at last (7)
PARAGON – PARA=soldier + GON(e). Groundhog day: there was an almost identical clue the week before.
11 Disorder a long way in the past involving Republican (7)
12 Holding on to leaflets, refusing to abandon environmentalist politics? (9)
EVERGREEN – a somewhat cryptic definition relating to trees producing new leaves all year round, plus a slightly cryptic hint.
13 Small step — taken after journey here? (5)
SPACE – S=small + PACE. A reference to Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
14 Chuck maiden in abyss (5)
CHASM – CHAS=Charles aka Chuck + M=maiden.
15 Denounces amount paid to bosses? (9)
EXECRATES – the bosses earn the “exec rate”, ho ho.
17 Unemployed joiner from Munich getting into Socialist Worker? (9)
REDUNDANT – RED=socialist + UND = “and” (a joiner word) in German + ANT.
20 More thinly sliced piece of fish, waiter, without delay! (5)
FINER – the answer was obvious but I struggled with the parsing. Perhaps it’s FIN=piece of fish + ER=(WAIT)ER minus WAIT=delay. An alternative: perhaps fish FINGER = piece of fish, “sliced” in half? Dunno.
21 Boob fear after losing leader (5)
23 Will this do for duvet day?” I wondered blearily (9)
EIDERDOWN – (I WONDERED)*. I wasn’t not sure what ‘day’ was doing in the definition, but apparently ‘duvet day’ is a thing! Perhaps it’s the British equivalent of an Australian ‘sickie’?
25 Royal lover infiltrating internal area (7)
INFANTA – FAN, in INT + A. She’s a daughter of the ruling monarch of Spain or Portugal, especially the eldest daughter not heir to the throne.
26 Taking regular bites from onion, Henry VIII perhaps making a pig of himself? (7)
OINKING – OnIoN + KING=Henry, for example.
27 Fake email going round, ensnaring humble folk with promise of vast inheritance? (4)
MEEK – hidden. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
28 Brainy, brewing beer in basement (10)
CEREBELLAR – (BEER)* in CELLAR. The cerebellum is a major structure of the hindbrain that is located near the brainstem.
1 Police beginning to excavate wooded area (5)
COPSE – COPS + E(xcavate).
2 One included among eminent women to manage rearing? (9)
NURSEMAID – an example of what I call a non-cryptic clue. PS: see the comments for the wordplay of this clever clue! (Thanks to vinyl1.)
3 Band showing promise in battle arena (10,4)
4 Because note is not fake (7)
SINCERE – SINCE=because + RE=a note to follow DO, or if you prefer, a drop of golden sun.
5 Crime of hot stuff dealer (7)
7 Morning everyone — on the way up, I’ll carry your bags (5)
LLAMA – AM=morning + ALL, “on the way up” in this down clue.
8 I maintain chair is mine (9)
PROFESSOR – double definition. The first is what is called an agent noun in these parts, I believe, and the second is of an academic.
9 Peevish employer’s report that may provide access to other work (5-9)
CROSS-REFERENCE – CROSS=peevish + REFERENCE=employer’s report.
14 Take your chances with fish I deem dodgy! (5,4)
CARPE DIEM – CARP=fish + (I DEEM)*. Familiar from the film Dead Poet’s Society.
16 Barber’s lotion, as blended with essence of myrrh (9)
TONSORIAL – (LOTION AS R)*. The final R is ‘essence’ of myRrh.
18 Mean, fit dogs hail from Rome (7)
AVERAGE – RAGE=fit “dogs” AVE=Roman greeting.
19 Do pleat, knitting jumper for the future? (7)
TADPOLE – (DO PLEAT)*. I liked the definition.
22 No cap for toy gun (5)
24 Queen coming up short in African country (5)
NIGER – REGIN(A)=queen, “coming up” in this down clue.

26 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28374 – Saturday, 20 August 2022. Seize the clue.”

  1. I think 20’s gotta take your first parsing (FIN as the piece of a fish and then [-wait]ER), rather than the second, which I admit to not understanding (and “sliced,” being part of the definition, can’t be instructions for the wordplay).

    I couldn’t get anything else for NURSEMAID either. It seems that the clue looks cryptic merely because of a roundabout way of expressing the literal, with no double sense in any of the words or any other wordplay that I can discern. “Eminent” remains somewhat mysterious.

  2. A lot of appearances of NIGER recently. More subtle advertising than ” visit Rwanda” on the Arsenal team shirts.
    A brilliant crossword! I loved the clever definitions in ” future jumpers” and ” holding on to leaflets” in particular.

  3. When I did this online, at least, –which would have been about 1am Greenwich time–21ac read ‘Fear boob after losing leader’. Which doesn’t work.

      1. In other words, the clue was incorrectly published and then silently revised, with no announcement (let alone apology) from the editor?

    1. Aha. Marked that on my copy, but forgot about it. “Boob fear” is sure an odd phrase (“Boob fears” would sound natural), but what could be done at that point?

    2. Thanks, Kevin. I thought it must be me. My notes say “clue poorly worded”….which it was.

    3. It was like that in my print version. I don’t think it makes too much difference to be honest which way round it goes

    4. It was also incorrect in the hard copy paper. I assumed it was one of those clues with the definition not at either end.

  4. 30m 16s
    Thank you, Kevin and Bruce for confirming what I thought, that the clue for 21ac -BOOB- was, initially, poorly worded.
    And thank you vinyl for NURSEMAID, plus thanks to Bruce for TONSORIAL and MEEK. Your first thought about FINER was right, too.
    I enjoyed 12ac EVERGREEN…that was the name of the Oregon-based airline I worked for for twenty years.
    I also liked ENGAGEMENT RING
    To add to the list of alternative translations of Latin phrases: CARPE DIEM: Fish of the day.

  5. 32 minutes with 1ac & 2dn between them accounting for the last 7 of those.

    I hadn’t noticed the ERROR in the clue at 21 because the answer leapt out at me as did the wordplay so I didn’t study it in detail.

    I wonder if the answer at 26ac indicates the puzzle was by one of our regular QC setters? Assuming they are not one and the same person he would seem to have a rival setter at The Guardian who came up with a delightfully humorous pig-themed puzzle earlier in the week.

  6. 28 minutes. I liked TADPOLE, NURSEMAID and COD OINKING. The beatitude reference brought a self-satisfied smile which probably means there’s no chance for me. Thank you B and setter.

  7. No especial issues with this; worked through it fairly smoothly. I even got the parsing of 20ac, though not 2d. Struck me as a bread-and-butter puzzle, by which I mean it stuck to relatively simple clueing – like a crossword primer. Very satisfying to feel the pieces slotting into place, making for an enjoyable 50 minutes or so. Thanks to all.

  8. 18.18

    Good stuff. Liked the surfaces for SPACE CEREBELLAR FINER and TADPOLE in particular.

    Thanks Bruce and Setter

  9. No major problems here. My LOI was AVERAGE; just couldn’t see it, until I could.
    Lots to like including the topical EXECRATES.

  10. 44 minutes. A lot of that spent on 21a for which I had the ‘Fear boob after losing leader’ version. My take on it was that as a deliberate ERROR, it was a clever cryptic def; in a way it was a pity it was subsequently “corrected”!

    A v. enjoyable Saturday puzzle As pointed out by Corymbia, the first of what turned out to be three appearances of NIGER in a one week period. I was yet another fan of the NURSEMAID &lit and also liked the ‘change of service provider?’ at 1a.

    Thanks to brnchn and setter

  11. Very enjoyable puzzle, solved in 35 minutes. Many good and subtle clues. I liked the change of service provider in 1ac, the wordplay for NURSEMAID (my LOI), which I did see once I had biffed the answer, LLAMA, CARPE DIEM, TADPOLE and FINER (without delay). My first entries were ERROR (from the corrected clue) and the RING of ENGAGEMENT RING — I didn’t see the ENGAGEMENT until much later and was looking for a BOXING RING (too short) or WRESTLING RING or something more martial, since I had the wrong definition part.

  12. Started yesterday, finished today, although eventually undone by EXECRATES, EVERGREEN and MEEK – no particular problems otherwise. Many thanks for the explanations, especially the parsing of NURSEMAID and PROFESSOR. Liked ENGAGEMENT RING and CARPE DIEM. Many thanks to setter for a puzzle that was largely doable for a more usual QC-er. Very enjoyable.

  13. Much happier at this level – but still a workout for me! Have to admit to biffing quite a few from checkers after a while as my time was running out, but enjoyed some of the surfaces immensely ( only one I didn’t get was INFANTA.)

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