Times Cryptic No 28524 – Saturday, 11 February 2023. Geographically possible.

References here to all parts of the globe. Reasonably straightforward, I felt. Some general knowledge required but nothing too taxing. 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. Italics mark anagram indicators in the clues, and ‘assembly instructions’ in the explanations.

1 Finally putting spotlight on boy vocalist (10)
SONGSTRESS – SON=boy + puttinG [finally] + STRESS=spotlight (v).
6 Leaders of agricultural co-ops are introducing berry from Brazil (4)
ACAI – first letters of each word [leaders].
9 Registered grand French monarch (3,4)
SUN KING – SUNK IN=registered + G. Louis XIV of France apparently chose the sun as his personal emblem. L’État, c’est moi. Not shy, him.
10 African animal returned to eat kill, cause of downfall (7)
UNDOING – UNG=GNU returned, eats DO IN=kill.
12 Unruly passenger blocked by old VIPs (10)
13 Engagement’s beginning with flash rock (3)
EMO – Engagement [beginning]+ MO=flash.
15 Honourable silence socially acceptable in part of Japan (6)
HONSHU – HON + SH + U=socially acceptable.
16 Hopeful when Private Eye published second of stories (8)
ASPIRANT – AS=when + P.I. + RAN=published + sTories (second of).
18 Ponder something of conundrum in a text (8)
RUMINATE – hidden (something of).
20 Beaming head off, do well at golf in the morning (6)
AGLEAM – eAGLE (heading off) = do well at golf, in AM.
23 Spoil sleeve when cycling (3)
MAR – ARM=sleeve, with the letter M cycling round to the front. (That’s the best I could come up with! Any other suggestions?)
24 A tiny girl’s furious complaint (10)
26 Time to enter cell — it’s free of charge (7)
27 Led journalist to the back of Poe’s house (7)
USHERED – USHER + ED. The Fall of the House of Usher is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
28 Pair of oafs each hiding baby’s first toy (2-2)
YO-YO – YOb hiding Baby’s first = YO. Two of them produce the answer.
29 In arrears, graduate banker is at last jailed (6,4)
BEHIND BARS – BEHIND=in arrears + B.A. + RS=bankeR iS, at last.
1 Band of commandos with horse (4)
SASH – S.A.S.=commandos + H.
2 Old lady extremely cold in buff (7)
NANKEEN – NAN + KEEN. I knew nankeen was a sort of fabric, so it’s not a surprise to find it’s buff in colour.
3 Business processing pilchards and hens (5,8)
4 Wild kid, full of spirit (6)
RAGING – RAG=kid, full of GIN=spirit.
5 Most cosy and intimate around noon (8)
SNUGGEST – SUGGEST=intimate (v), around N.
7 Dream of clock perhaps on top of abbey (7)
CHIMERA – CHIMER=clock, perhaps + top of Abbey.
8 I get in mood ridiculously early (2,4,4)
11 Eminent detective used insight at work (13)
14 Companion and I about to stop Gypsy reading palms (10)
CHIROMANCY – CH=companion (of honour) + I + C=about, stopping ROMANY=Gypsy.
17 Repetition that is catching start of hypnotic state (8)
ITERANCE – TRANCE=hypnotic state, with I.E. catching the T at the start of TRANCE.
19 Extremely eager dog restrained by gracious Queen’s lead (7)
MERCURY – EageR (extremely), + CUR, restrained by MY =gracious! Freddy Mercury, of course.
21 Nation raising tax on 50 per cent of realty (7)
ERITREA – ERIT=TIRE (tax), raising + REAlty (50 % of … )
22 Nightmares including tumbril on a regular basis (6)
INCUBI – INC=including + every second letter of t Bl.
25 Sums up case of Alfred Dreyfus’s framing (4)
ADDSAlfreD DreyfuS (framing letters).

19 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28524 – Saturday, 11 February 2023. Geographically possible.”

  1. 19d is a definite COD. But I parse it slightly differently. The dog is CUR, and gracious is MY. I didn’t twig to Freddie Mercury! I supposed that Queen’s lead might be another name for quicksilver and put it in. Thanks for the elucidation.

  2. M (E[-age]R) (CUR) Y, indeed.
    You have forgotten to account for the U and used the E twice, Bruce.

  3. 36m 26s. Good test but not too demanding.
    The way I see MERCURY it”s E[age]R CUR restrained by MY! (Gracious!) as Corymbia says. That, I believe takes care of it.
    NHO EMO.
    I can’t think of a better explanation for MAR, Bruce, but I don’t think it’s a good clue.
    Thanks for CHIROMANCY and BEHIND BARS.

    1. EMO shows up (all too) often in the NYTimes; I doubt that I’ve heard an example, at least knowingly.

  4. 21:07
    Biffed CHIROMANCY, INCUBI, parsed after submitting. Ditto for ITERANCE, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen.COD to MERCURY; also liked UNDOING.

  5. Two unknowns here, ACAI and EMO, both with helpful wordplay. MAR stood out as an unsatisfactory clue but easy enough to solve. 27 minutes.

  6. A brilliant puzzle, with few obscurities, and a very generous share of witty surfaces and devious misdirections, but, once cracked, there was seldom need to wait for crossers for confirmation. The time the setter must have spent putting together 9+10a and 19d in particular is much appreciated. FOI SASH, LOI MAR, after ages recalling 14d; COD, spoilt for choice but I’ll settle on FREDDIE at 19d. Enjoyed, Thanks, Setter and Brnchn

  7. Nice crossword, all very clear. Only nho being emo. I looked up a list of 30 emo bands and had not heard of any one of them. Feeling old …

  8. Got all but two in about 25 minutes. The hold-ups were NEUTRON and LOI ITERANCE, a word I wasn’t sure I knew but I could see why it could exist.
    Did not parse MAR. Knew EMO as a music type, but could not name any performers.
    Enjoyable puzzle.

  9. Good in parts. But not always very good it seemed to me. The surface of 7dn struck me as feeble: clock on top of abbey? And the definition of 3dn seemed a bit lacking: surely there are lots of businesses that fit. It hardly directs you.

    1. I just took a second look at the clue for SHIP’S CHANDLER, and you’re right.
      It would do for a more cryptic definition, which wouldn’t necessarily make it easier but could be more specific.

  10. DNF, defeated by the unknown NANKEEN. Didn’t twig the Freddie MERCURY reference, still not sure how MAR works, and had no idea about the Poe reference for USHERED.

    COD Laryngitis

  11. Liked this crossword on the whole, but felt let down by clues like 23a and 13a, which NHO. Enjoyed thePoe and the ‘Queen’ references, NHO AÇAI, but worked it out; COD to NEUTRON for surface reading.

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