Times Cryptic No 28434 – Saturday, 29 October 2022. A dissolute chancer – or a frog??

I was amused by 24ac – nice images of kissing frogs. That answer also unlocked the last few clues at the bottom of the grid, so all the more welcome! Medium weight for a Saturday, perhaps. 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 Shady group of men stealing pounds (5)
UNLIT – L=pounds, in UNIT.
4 Case after case of Soave having a soothing effect (8)
SEDATIVE – S(oav)E + DATIVE=a case of nouns in Latin, and other languages I assume.
8 Controlling business, what good person’s doing for Scot? (7,7)
HOLDING COMPANY – it took me ages to see this: S(CO)T has ST=saint, holding CO=company.
10 I’m amused about state doubling use of phone (5,4)
LOCAL CALL – LOL = ‘lots of laughs’ as a text abbreviation (… no, not ‘lots of love’, as Baby Boomers allegedly assume!). Put CAL=California inside, twice.
11 One might make quack medic rankle periodically (5)
DRAKE – DR + even letters of “r A n K l E.”
12 Land splits at that tropical island (6)
TOBAGO – BAG=land, in TOO=at that.
14 Great solvers are doing this (8)
CRACKING – two meanings. Superb, or solving puzzles.
17 Conservatism of troops before battle (8)
REACTION – RE=troops (Royal Engineers) + ACTION=battle.
18 Queen touring old wing of palace, perhaps (6)
20 Some miner I’d antagonised around the pits (5)
NADIR – hidden, backwards. (Some, around).
22 Rogue put on concert introduced by this person’s composition (9)
IMPROMPTU – I’M=this person’s + PROM=concert + (PUT)*. It took ages to sort this out, after I rashly assumed ROGUE=IMP. Not so: ‘rogue’ is an anagram indicator.
24 The one preparing to imprison dissolute chancer (6,8)
PRINCE CHARMING – (CHANCER)* in PRIMING=preparing. Beautifully disguised definition!
25 After cutting back, champion swallows a liqueur (8)
26 Poet’s always including the writer’s title (5)
1 Adding padding to English operas, following leading composer (12)
UPHOLSTERING – UP=leading + HOLST + E(nglish) + RING (Wagnerian operas).
2 Lakes surrounding isle with cooler shade (5)
LILAC – I=island surrounded by LL (two lakes), then AC=airconditioning/cooler.
3 Trouble with learner breaking wrecked car part (4,5)
TAIL LIGHT – AIL=trouble +L=learner, in TIGHT=drunk/wrecked. It’s a constant amazement how many expressions for ‘drunk’ our setters know!
4 Lashing out, striking husband making gesture (6)
SIGNAL – remove the H from the anagram: (LAS-ING)*.
5 Comedy turn by European? Catching it is boring (8)
DROLLERY – ROLL=turn + E(uropean), in DRY=boring.
6 Was a lush plant raised by newsroom chief? (5)
TOPED – POT=to plant. Turn that upside down, and add ED. Drunk again!
7 Trash from museum is filling luggage on vacation (9)
VANDALISE – V AND A=Victoria & Albert Museum.  Then put IS in L(uggag)E.
9 Struggle to suppress urge about food served up — it may be in a bun (6,6)
VEGGIE BURGER – EGG=urge, in VIE=struggle; then BURGER=RE GRUB, all turned up;
13 Leader of batsmen with runs smashed (9)
BLADDERED – B(atsmen) + LADDERED=stockings with runs in.

So many expressions for ‘drunk’!!

15 Crowd of one hundred playing golf, maybe (9)
CONCOURSE – C=one hundred + ON COURSE=playing golf.
16 See painter framing pleasant flowering plant (8)
LONICERA – LO=see + NICE + RA=painter.
19 Effect of smoking: positive experiences at first (6)
UPSHOT – UPS=positive experiences + HOT=smoking.
21 How rave begins, playing party music (5)
RONDO – R(ave) + ON=playing +DO=party.
23 Old poem found under page eleven or thirteen? (5)
PRIME – P=page + RIME=old word for poem. 11 and 13 are prime numbers.

39 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28434 – Saturday, 29 October 2022. A dissolute chancer – or a frog??”

  1. I think LONICERA must have been my LOI. NHO, but no doubt someone here had.
    Maybe forgot to parse HOLDING COMPANY last week, as I am blinded now by the clue’s brilliance.

    1. It’s just honeysuckle. I always read the tags when I buy plants for the garden. LONICERA was one of my great mistakes. I planted it about 20 years ago and have been trying to eradicate it ever since – one of the most invasive plants in the dictionary!

  2. 21:22 I see from the leaderboard that one ‘lili’ is in 1st place with a time of -53:24, earning 1163 points.
    DNK BLADDERED, LONICERA. Biffed VEGGIE BURGER, parsed post-submission. I never did figure out HOLDING COMPANY; now that I know, I’ll give it my COD; but I also liked SEDATIVE and VEGGIE BURGER.

    1. I agree with you about HOLDING COMPANY. I shall now put that in my lexicon of memorable clues.

    2. I wonder if ‘lili’ legitimately managed to start this puzzle before they finished it? The clocks went back last weekend, so in local time it would’ve been possible last Saturday to, say, start the puzzle at 1:30am (after the *first* one o’clock) and then finish it at 1:15am (after the *second* one o’clock.)

      You’d hope that time comparisons would always be done in an invariant timezone, but programmers don’t always think these things through…

      1. Brilliant! And probably what happened. Except your maths is a bit faulty 😉
        They should measure elapsed time by difference in UTC rather than difference in local time – that’s addressed to those that write the website rather than you.

        1. My twin brother who resides in The Gower, South Wales is ten minutes older than me, but when the UK clocks change, my birthday here in Shanghai, is celebrated 8 hours ahead of his!

          1. Even if he was younger than you you’d celebrate your birthday 8 hours (+/- 10 minutes) ahead of him?
            I once scored a time of 18 seconds on the club leaderboard! Neutrinos are fags (to quote MacManus in The Usual Suspects – though he was referring to L. H. Oswald). Wonder if it was the same thing, can’t remember if it was a change-the-clocks day. But living in Australia: midnight UK is 7 or 8 AM in Perth, so I usually do the puzzle very soon after it is published.

            1. Though having said that from memory I think I took 1 British Standard Time to complete it – 20 or 30 minutes, not one hour and 18 seconds.

          2. I’m in Swansea. Has your brother told you about the biblical weather we’ve been having? I’ve been here 40 years and I don’t remember such incessant rain. But Gower is gorgeous anyway…

  3. 66m 02s
    Thanks Bruce, especially for HOLDING COMPANY, LOCAL CALL, PRINCE CHARMING and UPSHOT. I wonder if UPSHOT is the next village along from Bagshot in Surrey…?
    I wonder if our setter thought of cluing 7d, VANDALISE, differently: AND inside VALISE?
    Now that I see HOLDING COMPANY that is definitely my COD and I shall enter it in my lexicon of memorable clues.
    My one mer is with 1ac:UNLIT. If I see a plural -poundS- I think that should mean two Ls. I believe the clue should have just said ‘pound’.

    1. On 1ac, I’ve a vague memory of having a discussion here quite recently about single letter abbreviations being used to clue both singular and/or plural, but I’m afraid I can’t recall the example in question nor the conclusion which may or may not have been relevant here. But in this example I would suggest that L for pounds is fine as it’s used with reference to British currency L (short for the Latin librae) = £ = pounds. Before decimalisation we used to talk about LSD which stood for pounds, shillings and pence.

      On the puzzle more generally, I completed it in 38 minutes. Along with other commenters , LONICERA was completely unknown to me but the wordplay was helpful so my ignorance didn’t delay me unduly.

      1. Thanks, Jack. Now that you mention it, I seem to remember some discussion about single letter abbreviations covering both. Guess I just felt like getting in an harrumph!
        Similar feeling about LONICERA.

  4. I’m guessing it’s just me as a newbie but these Saturday crosswords have felt quite chewy lately. I didn’t finish this until Sunday teatime over several sessions. HOLDING COMPANY, TOBAGO, IMPROMPTU all needing at least part explained today. Thank you.
    Finished and ended in the NE with FOI DRAKE and LOI TOPED which was a new word for me. If I’d known a long list of synonyms for drunk/drunkard was a prerequisite for successful solving, I might have seen BLADDERED earlier. The difficulty was in working out which bits of the clue went where even when I knew what I was working with. Kept me out of trouble all weekend. Onwards and upwards.

    Thanks as always setter and blogger.

      1. Years ago I planted a honeysuckle variety that turned out to have mean flowers and little scent but which rampages over everything and has now got inextricably entwined with the jasmine and the roses. It sounds sexy but is a damned nuisance.

        1. Asked Mrs W if she had heard of lonicera and she said “yes of course, it’s honeysuckle.”
          .. so all is clear; its just me

  5. Plants are generally a weakness for me but I knew LONICERA; it was one of my first in. We have had honeysuckle in the garden and the other name must have cropped up sometime.
    This was at the right level for me; a challenge but not extreme. Paused at the spelling of EMEER and struggled to parse CONCOURSE.

  6. How many rhymes will it take
    Before they eschew words like DRAKE?
    They’re vampires in disguise
    So to cause their demise
    I’m fetching my cross and my stake

    1. There be an old chap, quite a maverick
      Who on birds is particularly eccentric
      He believes they are vampires
      And often requires
      A stake, his cross – and plenty of garlic!

  7. Very enjoyable progress to begin with, as the clues made sense and the answers steadily slotted into place…until either I lost concentration or I hit a few that were more challenging. Whichever, it turned into something of a biff fest. I was bamboozled by the wordplay of 8ac – which I see now is just brilliant – 12ac, 22ac, 3d, 5d, and on 7d was distracted by VALISE containing AND and trying to make that fit the clue, which, of course, it doesn’t. Right word, wrong reason! I see it now. Interesting that CONCOURSE popped up again with the same definition as last week. And yes, I did know LONICERA; I must be more of a gardener than I’d realised. Thanks to setter and bloggers. Off to study terms for drunkenness now….

  8. Did this after breakfast at Stableside in York before heading to the Fox and Roman over the road for a day of crossword solving chatting and quizzing with a crowd of cruciverbalists. Just under 30 mins for me. Liked DROLLERY and PRINCE CHARMING. York was quite damp that day. Thanks setter and Bruce.

  9. Prince Charming LOI but COD. Correctly guessed LONICERA which sounded vaguely less unlikely than LOFINERA. Not a big fan of random guesses on obscurities.

  10. An hour’s worth of frivolity and drollery.

    FOI 2dn LILAC – well ‘ever so slightly’ as per Bunny in ‘Porridge’.
    LOI 14ac CRACKING and onevcan safely say ‘petermen’!
    COD 24ac PRINCE CHARMING – genial Harry Grout?
    WOD 16dn LONICERA – the invasive Japanese honeysuckle no less.

    BLADDERED at 13ac and 9dn VEGGIE BURGER caught the eye.

  11. Didn’t know LONICERA or EMEER so had to rely on wordplay for both. Wasn’t sure about LOCAL CALL either, as for some reason I didn’t figure out the double ‘cal’ bit. No real problems otherwise.

    FOI Drake
    LOI Lonicera
    COD Prince charming (as the blogger says, wonderfully disguised!)

  12. Many thanks for the blog. I’m trying the Saturday puzzle every week now, although am usually a QC-er. Managed a handful of clues (including LONICERA!) otherwise still very challenging but enjoyable nonetheless. Please can someone explain how TOO = at that in TOBAGO, and how ON = playing in RONDO? Thought HOLDING COMPANY was very clever. Also appreciated PRINCE CHARMING. Have added tope to my vocabulary – synonyms for drunk seem to be needed fairly frequently…Many thanks all.

    1. TOBAGO . BAG = land / ar that = as well as = TOO which is split by bag for the island in question.

      RONDO . ON = playing par example Aladdin is On at the Empire at Christmas, or I’ve had ‘The Penguin Cafe Orchestra’ON my iPad all morning! And no, I would never be a blogger not for all the tea in China!

  13. re : toped

    Unaware of the wiles of the snake in the grass/The fate of the maiden who topes/She lowered her standards by raising her glass/Her courage,her eyes ,and his hopes

    from ‘Have some Madeira m’ dear ‘ by Flanders and Swan

  14. Thanks for explaining holding company. Now I know it’s my cod. Although I was quite tickled by Prince Charming

  15. Lot of trouble with this, but now see the brilliance of some clues, especially HOLDING COMPANY and PRINCE CHARMING (which both eluded me, I’m afraid).
    NHO BLADDERED for ‘drunk’, but enjoyed figuring out LOCAL CALL and many others. As others, I will enter 8a in my list of VG clues.

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