Times Cryptic No 28476 – Saturday, 17 December 2022. New setter, or old dog?

There seemed to be some fresh cluing in here; 5ac and 5 and 6dn caught the eye quickly. Was it really a different setter, or just some new tricks? Regardless, it went fairly easily but enjoyably for me. Thanks to the setter, old or new, for a very enjoyable puzzle. Happy Christmas! 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. I use italics to mark anagram indicators in the clues, and ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations.

1 Take out one side of car after collision (4,3)
BUMP OFF – in Britain cars have a ‘near’ side and an OFF side. Put that after BUMP=collision. Definition: what a hitman does.
5 Malign US agent sent back a third note (6)
DEFAME – FED sent back + A + ME (doh, re, me, …).
8 Deposit fruit and veg, by the sound of it (9)
LIMESCALE – LIMES=fruit + CALE sounds like kale.
9 Plays piano later than expected in concert series (5)
ROMPS – the concert series is the PROMS. The P in that word is to appear later than expected.
11 Fateful day during which learner fritters time away (5)
IDLES – L for learner, in the IDES of March. Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15), 44 BCE.
12 Noble band, all of similar age (4,5)
PEER GROUP – PEER=noble + GROUP=band.
13 Roguish head of syndicate around in convention (8)
RASCALLY – S(yndicate) + CA=around, in RALLY=convention.
15 Perish alongside retreating army corps (6)
WITHER – WITH=alongside + ER=RE retreating.
17 Time left before end of journey for cardinal (6)
TWENTY – T + WENT=left + (journe)Y. 20 is a cardinal number.
19 Hide product from diminished ruler with little experience (8)
SHAGREEN – SHA(H) + GREEN. I felt reasonably confident this word existed, but had no confidence what it meant. It’s untanned leather with a granulated surface.
22 Merest trace of canker in flatter flower (9)
23 Car‘s tremendous feat when energy’s added (5)
COUPÉ – COUP + E=energy.
24 Crow by last month on verge of extinction (5)
EXULT – E(xtinction) + X=by + ULT=the month before.
25 Divine nut cracked — that’s not called for (9)
26 Second copper stopping payment for grass (6)
FESCUE – S + CU, in FEE.
27 Did coach change route within Thailand’s borders? (7)
TUTORED – (ROUTE)* in T(hailan)D.
1 Kicking ball a bit, idler pocketed sports equipment (8,5)
BILLIARD TABLE – (BALL A BIT IDLER)*. Billiard tables do have pockets, of course.
2 Indistinct sounds from doctor wearing slippers (7)
3 Haven now out of bounds in its current state (5)
OASIS – (n)O(w) + AS IS=in its current state.
4 Tire European staff (8)
FLAGPOLE – FLAG=tire + POLE=European.
5 Go up into sanctum and fall (6)
DEEPEN – PEE=go. Turn it round, and put it in DEN.
6 Previous award I received, after warning of course (9)
FOREGOING – FORE=warning on (golf) course + I in GONG=award.
7 Gigantic insect covering a tiny distance (7)
MAMMOTH – A MM (millimetre) in MOTH.
10 Controlled plan’s beneath grand editor (13)
14 Genuine article in auction, not old, reproduced (9)
AUTHENTIC – THE=article, in (AUCTI-N)*, removing O=old from the anagram letters.
16 Appropriate work left in course of move (8)
SHOPLIFT – OP=work + L, in SHIFT.
18 Fire England’s opening pair so close to game (7)
ENTHUSE – EN(gland) + THUS=so + (gam)E.
20 Great line from Eastern queen on upcoming schedule (7)
EQUATOR – E + QU + ATOR=rota, upcoming.
21 Denounce Charlie dipping into exotic sauce (6)
ACCUSE – C=Charlie, in (SAUCE)*.
23 Envy beastly doctor in joint practice? (5)
COVET – CO-VET(inarian).

18 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28476 – Saturday, 17 December 2022. New setter, or old dog?”

  1. 22:26
    LOI BUMP OFF; ‘one side of car’ puzzled me until I finally inferred OFF. I liked ROMPS and DEEPEN.

  2. Like Kevin, I didn’t know the British terminology for sides of a car. I thought ‘off’ might refer to one side in cricket, making ‘ of car’ redundant in the clue, which would work just as well without it.

  3. Funny, a British sense for “side” was a bit of a mystery to me in a clue yesterday too… 
    Just looked this up. Collins says, “of, being, or pertaining to the right as seen from the rider’s or driver’s viewpoint (opposed to near)”—which I find a bit odd, since the driver’s seat over there is on the right—Oh, wait! That’s a definition in American English! I’ve never heard it.

    1. I’ve never researched it, but I always assumed the “near” side was so called because it’s near the side of the road.

      1. Well, sides are as close to the road (right on top of it), but the non-driving side is closest to the other lane on a two-way thoroughfare…
        Collins online doesn’t have a definition relative to cars under the heading “British English” (only cricket). Dictionary.com doesn’t specify UK or US but only “(of a vehicle, single animal, or pair of animals hitched side by side) of, being, or pertaining to the right as seen from the rider’s or driver’s viewpoint (opposed to near).” Which would seem to work only for the US.;

        So looked up “near” in Collins, and under British English, it has: “1. Also called: nearside
        a. the left side of a horse, team of animals, vehicle, etc.”
        So that’s the passenger’s side, not the driver’s—in England, anyway!
        I’m confused. Merriam-Webster (strictly American) has for “off”: “not left : RIGHT | the off horse.”
        Could it be that the location of the driver has nothing to do with it? I find that hard to believe.

      2. Exactly.

        Collins has:
        the offside – a. the side of a vehicle nearest the centre of the road (in Britain, the right side)
        b. (as modifier) the offside passenger door.

        the nearside – a. the side of a vehicle normally nearer the kerb (in Britain, the left side)
        b. (as modifier) the nearside door.

        COED has:
        offside (usu. the off side) – the side of a vehicle furthest from the kerb.
        nearside (usu. the nearside sic) – the side of a vehicle nearest the kerb.

        1. Thanks. The definitions in the Collins page I accessed weren’t nearly that clear. But, obviously (took me a minute to realize… I don’t drive, and am hardly ever in a car even), if the driver’s seat is on the left side of a car traveling on the right side of the road, or, rather, on the right side of a car traveling on the left side of the road, it comes to the same thing.

  4. 43m 53s
    Bruce, you have the wrong puzzle number in your headings. It should be 28476.
    I thought there were some very clever clues here. My COD podium finishers were ROMPS, BUTTERCUP and EXULT.
    My two LOIs were SHOPLIFT and SHAGREEN. I ran through a few rulers (Kin(g),Cza(r),Lor(d)) before Sha(h) suggested itself.

  5. 35 minutes. Nice puzzle. DNK (or had forgotten) FESCUE but worked it out and I now note that I said exactly the same when it came up last year. Missed the full parsing of EXULT.

  6. Enjoyable puzzle. Needed a long time to get LOI DEEPEN. Started with BILLIARD TABLE.
    Nothing in here I didn’t know but SHAGREEN from the depths. FESCUE commonly mentioned by American golf commentators.

  7. A nice medium-level puzzle and I enjoyed ‘out of bounds’ in 3dn. I wondered why there were a number of words that seemed to me to be unnecessary: in 5ac we have ‘a third note’, when ‘a note’ will surely do; in 22ac ‘merest trace’ when just a ‘trace’ will do; in 20dn ‘great line’ is perhaps unnecessary (‘line’). My feeling was that in 12ac the setter would really like the wordplay to be ‘noble band’ and the definition to be ‘band, all of similar age’. Otherwise it seems to be a rather loose &lit. of some sort. 38 minutes.

    1. It’s not uncommon for solvers here to complain about random things such as musical notes, points of the compass etc, so I don’t see it as a problem when a setter chooses to be more specific by cluing ME as the third note of the musical scale.

      At 20ac I think that ‘great line’ adds something to the surface of the clue, and to the definition as the Equator is a great circle, so once again the setter is being more precise than if he’d just put ‘line’.

  8. Once I got my teeth into this one, I enjoyed the challenge, and finished bar one, SHAGREEN, which was buried too deeply in my memory to drag up, even though I knew what was required ( my father collected antiques, and the word cropped up in that context I think). Other than that, I had to use aids to get FESCUE ( which also stirred a deep memory). Several CODs : BUMP OFF (the term OFF known from horse-riding days – horses have a near and an off side – left and right from the rider’s point of view). Others MUMBLES, TWENTY ( getting to know more about numbers from reading this blog), and BUTTERCUP.

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