Times Cryptic No 28446 – Saturday, 12 November 2022. Gentler Times ?

Looking at the answers gave me that sense of genteel nostalgia that perhaps was once the trademark of the Times crossword.

The Roman general stretched my memory a little. Otherwise, I thought this was middle of the range for a Saturday. The top left took me longest.

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 Dampen vibration noise in duct initially, condition unknown (8)
HUMIDIFY – HUM=vibration noise + I(n) D(uct) (both ‘initially’) + IF=a condition + Y=an unknown in algebra.
5 Roman general, one seen in old pictures in revolution (6)
SCIPIO – O + I + PICS, all reversed.  Read more about him here.
9 Where one may eat around event, one in Royal Academy (9)
CAFETERIA – CA=around + FETE=event + R(I)A.
11 Stable’s last went on horse wear — bit by bit! (5)
ERODE – (stabl)E + RODE=went on horse.
12 Japanese dish of cheese with filling of ramen (7)
EDAMAME – EDAM=a cheese + (r)AME(n). Made from soy beans.
13 What’s strong Italian wine in box, mostly new (7)
BASTION – ASTI in BO(x) + N.
14 Thiamine isn’t a bad treatment for allergies (13)
16 What’s conditional pass of an exam (13)
QUALIFICATION – two meanings. A conditional clause, or what you get when you pass your exams.
20 Perpetually young, without regular income, not with (7)
AGELESS – (w)AGELESS=without income.
21 Close up of Jock’s middle daughter in this? (7)
OCCLUDE – (j)OC(k) + D=daughter in CLUE=what we’re trying to solve here!

Unusual self-reference by the clue.

23 Funny quote which goes over someone’s head? (5)
TOQUE – (QUOTE)*. A brimless hat for women, or a chef’s hat, for example. (I didn’t know that second one!)
24 Ingenious astigmatism and verticals centrally give character to Mona Lisa’s smile? (9)
ENIGMATIC – middle of each word: (ing) ENI (ous) + (asti) GMA (tism) + (ver) TIC (als).
25 Doctor needs inch lower bed? (6)
DREDGE – DR=doctor + EDGE=to inch (forward or backward).
26 Terribly long aria in Britten opera (8)
1 Extractor of secrets from PM on TV (6)
HACKER – two meanings: a computer type, or the title character of Yes Prime Minister.
2 Madness as man finally turns to female criminals (5)
MAFIA – MA(N)IA, with the N changed to an F.
3 Take away vehicle, upsetting for bachelor in debt (7)
DETRACT – DE(b)T, with B for Bachelor changed to CART=vehicle, ‘upset’. A more complex variation on the theme of the clue before!
4 Might man in paper deal with Havering? (5,3,5)

Chambers defines: haver (intransitive verb)
2) To waver, to be slow or hesitant in making a decision

So, if someone won’t make a decision, you force the issue.

6 Football club’s revolutionary succeeded in field (7)
CHELSEA – CHE (Guevara) +S=succeeded, in LEA. Another pair of clues with matching wordplay.
7 Demand professional appearance (9)
PROVISION – PRO=professional + VISION=appearance.
8 Shrub over slope, climbing rose perhaps (8)
OLEANDER – O=over + LEAN=slope + RED=rosé, perhaps, ‘climbing’ => DER.

Does rosé count of a type of red wine, or not? If not then perhaps we can fall back on ‘my love is like a red red rose’.

10 Lima abroad perturbed to accept fool like His Excellency (13)
14 Beer’s replaced with aqua, Islamic style (9)
ARABESQUE – (BEERS AQUA)*. I know this word in the musical or dance context – I never realised it basically just means ‘Arab’. D’oh.
15 Club’s players holding title regularly hunkered down (8)
SQUATTEDT i T l E (title, ‘regularly’), in SQUAD=club’s players.
17 Island with church on mountain, something like Cos (7)
ICEBERG – I + CE + BERG. Types of lettuce.
18 Immigrant, perhaps in Norfolk resort without right (7)
19 Kingdom’s queen protected by 1000 agents (6)
MERCIA – ER=queen, in M + CIA.
22 Extremist sect destroying Conservative run area (5)
ULTRA – (C)ULT + R + A.

31 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28446 – Saturday, 12 November 2022. Gentler Times ?”

  1. Well, “rose” also means (dictionary.com) “the traditional reddish color of this flower, variously a purplish red, pinkish red, or light crimson.”

    ENIGMATIC was a stand-out. I also remember getting ANTIHISTAMINE at first glance at the anagrist. Didn’t know “Cromer,” and forgot to look it up later. But did check that there was a UK (TV) PM by the name of my LOI, HACKER.

  2. 16:01
    My experience of Saturday puzzles lately has been that they’re either easy or hard; this was an easy one. I couldn’t think of CROMER at the time, and certainly didn’t know it was in Norfolk, but it didn’t matter. DNK the PM on TV, but that didn’t matter, either. Whether or not rosé is a red, rose is a shade of red, so ‘rose perhaps’ is unproblematic. I didn’t know the ballet or music definitions of ARABESQUE, which does not mean ‘Arab’: it denotes as the clue says an ‘Islamic style’ in art, using intricate interlaced lines. See e,g, https://artofislamicpattern.com/resources/introduction-to-islimi/ PROVISION=demand? EDAMAME aren’t made from soybeans, they are soybeans. I liked OCCLUDE, ENIGMATIC, & DETRACT.

    1. Collins, for provision in British English: “6. a demand, condition, or stipulation formally incorporated in a document; proviso”

  3. 38 minutes. This wasn’t easy, especially the unknown Japanese dish, but there was other GK that I happened to know (the Britten opera, the ancient Kingdom, the PM on TV and the Roman general) so I was able to piece it all together eventually. These would have been tricky answers to construct solely from wordplay.

    Cromer in Norfolk is famous for its crabs. James Dyson was born there. John Hurt died there.

  4. 42m 08s
    I made no written comments about this one but I remember finding it enjoyable.
    After ‘Red Rum’ the previous week, I wondered if Jim HACKER might raise the hackles of the non-British solvers. I look forward to Malcolm Tucker becoming part of crosswordland!
    Thank you, Bruce, for explaining ENIGMATIC, MAFIA and FORCE THE ISSUE.
    LOI: ERODE. For a long time I failed to separate ‘horse’ and ‘wear’.
    DREDGE was very good but, now you’ve explained it, COD has to be ENIGMATIC.
    Bruce, I seem to remember a good restaurant guide published by the Sydney Morning Herald awarding TOQUEs instead of stars.

    1. Speaking of Malcolm Tucker I look forward to the first appearance of OMNISHAMBLES in a Times puzzle. It’s in Collins. But who could have known that it would become outdated so quickly since it doesn’t even begin to describe the scope of what’s going on these days, and not just in the UK but globally.

  5. Darn it. This one seemed quite tough to me but I managed to work my way steadily through it until getting stuck in the north-east corner. Had to resort to aids for 7d and 11ac to get me going again – though I do wonder why when they seem so simple now! 75 minutes this week, 15 of ‘em on that last bit, and really I suppose a DNF. Still, pleased to have parsed everything else. Thanks to setter and blogger for clue breakdowns.

  6. FOI INCOMER. I knew all the words in this, although Scipio had to be dredged up.
    My last two were QUALIFICATION and SQUATTED. Both are obvious once you’ve got them; clever clues I thought. A feeling of gratification ( which fits) followed.
    No big hold-ups; around the hour mark.

  7. ENIGMATIC Sir Humphrey well knew
    That Jim HACKER did not have a clue
    Poor Bernard is dim
    But we kinda liked him
    And our laughter’s because it’s all true

    1. We’re not laughing now, though! I’m thinking you couldn’t write a political satire these days that was beyond reality either side of the Atlantic!

  8. Just the right level of difficulty for me, with no unknowns. I figured HACKER would be unknown as a TV character in the States, but the crossers would have revealed the answer and so it proved. Thanks to Bruce and setter – good fun.

  9. Everything OK and not too hard for a Saturday (41 minutes) but I do dislike clues like 18dn, which leads to INCOME. Perhaps the setter felt that ‘without a right’ was too unnatural; it looks fine to me and does have the merit of being sound.

    1. The clue is sound as it stands, just in a different vernacular to what you prefer. I have long since given up worrying about a missing a!

  10. I finished in a tad over 19 minutes. MAFIA was FOI. SQUATTED and TOQUE were last 2 in after ARABESQUE opened up the SW. Had to construct SCIPIO and GLORIANA from WP. Thanks setter and Bruce.

  11. I found this gentle for a Saturday, taking me just over 13 minutes. Lots of fun clues, including LOI DREDGE. I liked ERODE, OCCLUDE, HUMIDIFY and ANTIHISTAMINE most. Thanks Bruce and setter.

  12. Many thanks for the blog which I very much needed with 4 still to go at the one hour mark (HUMIDIFY, HACKER, DETRACT and FORCE THE ISSUE – still don’t understand this one!). Very enjoyable. Thanks all.

    1. Chambers defines:
      intransitive verb
      2) To waver, to be slow or hesitant in making a decision

      So, if someone won’t make a decision, you force the issue.

  13. 31 minutes and really not very hard. Never heard of Hacker the TV PM, but the answer to 1 dn couldn’t be anything else. Strangely, I have heard of Cromer, since I know someone who lives there. Nothing else really a problem even though TOQUE was new to me and I also had to guess at GLORIANA. COD to OCCLUDE.

  14. I have left most recent Saturday puzzles with a word or two missing as time has run out. I completed last Saturday’s, which suggests it wa probably easier. I knew of a place called Havering, andir sound3 like a Dickens character, bur eventually I looked up haver which confirmed FORCE THE ISSUE, which I had biffed.. That is allI can remember about the puzzle. Could there be a facility to post a comment on the day which will not be published until the blog appears a week later? It does seem the Saturday blogs have fewer comments than others.

  15. Advance comments? Interesting idea!

    I suspect the logistics would be a big obstacle, and of course you would lose the interplay which is such a lively part of the discussion.

    I don’t know that there is a good solution. I’ve even tried putting puzzles aside till blog day, but even that was no good.

    1. I solve on the paper, and have hitherto dealt with this by keeping the paper, but, even when I remember not to recycle the paper, the interest is not always there a week later.
      Would the interplay get lost altogether or simply take a different form? Assuming it’s logistically doable, worth a try, perhaps?

      1. I’ll pass on the suggestion. I confess, I can’t see how it would work, and I’m not sure it would be a satisfactory setup … but others may be smarter than me!

  16. Several clues (and words!) beyond me: I tend to ‘overthink’ clues instead of building the answers up bit by bit, but OCCLUDE not seen, nor SCIPIO, nor even HACKER (though I remember the TVcharacter well). So an unsatisfactory effort from me, though I did enjoy remembering MERCIA, ARABESQUE and CROMER. ENIGMATIC my COD.

  17. One of the few advantages of solving the Cryptic from the reprint in The Australian, some 30 odd days after it is published, is not having to wait a week to read the blog. Not infrequently, the delay allows correction of misprints in our version, or, rarely, in yours.

    I routinely read the first clue, and if I cannot immediately solve it, proceed to the last down clue, in the hope that setters are methodical types who proceed from first to last and are less fiendish at the end. This often works, but not here, where the anagram eluded me until all checkers appeared.

    Thank you blogger and setter.

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