Times Cryptic No 28553 — Nope

DNF. It took me about 40 minutes to get halfway through this puzzle, painstakingly. I didn’t have the heart to finish it, and something tells me I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d tried.

I shall now attempt to parse these genius clues.

1 It’d be out of place in crab menu (5,3)
CREAM BUN – anagram of CRAB MENU

And indeed it would. Got this one.

5 Ingredient in plaster put over spot in face (6)
GYPSUM – reversed, SPY in MUG


9 Settle amount in empty beer glass? (3)
OPT – O PT = zero pints


10 Bebop’s insiders interrupting one of Stones, who are troublemakers (4,3,4)
ROCK THE BOAT – {b}EBO{p} in ROCK (one of stones) + THAT (who)

I could see what was going on with EBO, but I couldn’t imagine what the definition was!

12 For an audience, musical collection bore a small organ (10)
13 Oh, endless joy to behold with desire (4)
OGLE – O + GLE{e}
15 Mutilate man’s title from edition being recalled (6)
DEFORM – MR (man’s title) + OF (from) + ED (edition) reversed
16 Incisor’s coating of enamel seen on outside of head (7)
SCALPEL – E{name}L after SCALP
18 Innumerable other ranks including private following uniform (7)
UMPTEEN – U + PTE (private) in MEN (other ranks)
20 Time lost to abacus at last in turning beads (6)
ROSARY – T becomes {abacu}S in ROTARY (turning)
23 Reflection of petrifying monster would show no such spirit (4)
GROG – GORGON reversed is NO GROG

I could only think of MEDUSA and BASILISK. Must remember GORGON.

24 Oil rig labourer to supplant sailor in rabble (10)
ROUSTABOUT – OUST (supplant) + AB (sailor) in ROUT (rabble)
26 Light support of container in case carried by Richard (11)
CANDLESTICK – CAN (container) + LEST (in case) in DICK (Richard)
27 A childcount / some 23? (3)
TOT – triple definition
28 No tension in parishioners clutching cross (6)
29 Maybe use too few items plucked from cushion or bolster (8)
1 Particular church rings Stepney’s boundaries (6)
CHOOSY – CH + OO + S{tepne}Y
2 Seen in context, remedy is immoderate (7)
3 Mum more properly binds leg for one in the long run (10)
MARATHONER – MA + RATHER around ON (leg)
4 Low-key coronation may be sorude (13)
UNCEREMONIOUS – double definition, one tongue-in-cheek
6 Perhaps Klein bottle volume with positive sign? (4)
YVES – put V in YES (positive sign?)


7 Temporary odds, absorbing for golfers? (7)
STOPGAP – SP (odds) around TO PGA

Not sure I get this one.

8 Protective one’s maintaining alternative line (8)
MOTHERLY – MY (one’s) around OTHER + L
11 Strange sins or original one (13)
14 More than one older lamb chop lasagne’s crust’s not kept well (10)
RAMSHACKLE – RAMS (more than one older lamp) + HACK (chop) + L{asagn}E
17 Of operations, precise as military ones (8)
SURGICAL – double definition, the second referring to “surgical precision”
19 Fire survivor’s tool ultimately seen in photos (7)
PHOENIX – HOE + {see}N in PIX
21 Maximally delay start of demonstration to shout from here? (7)
ROOFTOP – PROOF TO with first letter moved to the end
22 Not quite saying what’ll reduce cholesterol (6)
25 Digs / away from hills? (4)
FLAT – double definition

70 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28553 — Nope”

  1. Another Friday wrestling match. Got there in the end, with the nho Yves Klein last in. I spent some time wondering whether the volume of a Klein bottle would be zero or infinite. The misdirection of MOTHERLY was excellent, to name just one of many brilliant clues.
    60:38. For me the hardest puzzle to crack that I can remember. It’ll be interesting to see the snitch.

    1. Yes – I also got discouraged before I worked out which of those volumes a Klein bottle might have!

  2. STOPGAP was one I biffed, but I’d say ‘for golfers’=TO PGA, surrounded by SP (which I’ve finally learned).

    1. S/P is starting price. You can back the horse any time before the race, off course, with your (possibly illegal) bookie, but you don’t know what odds you’re taking until the race starts. You get the final on-course odds.

  3. Motivated by hearing it was impossible (!), I got there eventually! Whew!!

    Glad you found the definition in 10ac. I didn’t.

  4. Completed, and completely parsed, but it took some work and puzzling out. It felt “different”; either that or I was just way off the setter’s wavelength. MOTHERLY first in after postulating …..E BOYS for 10 ac and finding it wanting. That meant GYPSUM had to be, GYP means put one over, how can SUM be spot on face? Finally saw it, but the whole puzzle seemed to go like that e.g. STOPGAP, ROOFTOP obvious answers but I couldn’t parse them to start so didn’t put them in. For me that makes it a good, hard puzzle that’s a pleasure to crack.
    Thanks setter and +j

  5. 14:42 I had heard of roustabout without knowing what the word meant. Yves was my LOI, too. Currently second to Aphis on the leaderboard,will be interested to see how Verlaine, Magoo and Jason do.

  6. 33:44
    NHO Yves Klein (the only Klein I could think of was Melanie), and DNK Klein bottle; I needed the Y to see how it worked. Biffed ROCK THE BOAT, ROUSTABOUT, CANDLESTICK. I also put in DEFORM, thinking it was (from) + ed </–, realized that wouldn't work, and left it at that. Never did figure out ROOFTOP. So I finished with no errors, but a technical F.

  7. With some difficulty I had managed all but two answers as the hour passed. I then spent a further 10-15 minutes trying to solve 12ac and 23ac but without success so I called time and resorted to aids.

    I would never have got GROG but I was annoyed about the other clue because SWEETBREAD had crossed my mind simply as a word that fitted the checkers but I had dismissed it without properly considering how it might tie in with wordplay and definition. I actually knew what sweetbreads are, but thinking in the singular and perhaps distracted by the CREAM BUN at 1ac, I was focussed on confectionary rather than savoury items.

    I always thought ROUSTABOUT was something to do with drunken revelry so that was one of several mysteries that needed to be resolved by a dictionary post-solve.

  8. 59m 57s
    Hit and hoped with a lot of the clues but somehow all proved correct. Thank goodness for art history classes where I learnt that Yves Klein created his own shade of blue, International Klein Blue.

  9. 68 minutes. Grid filled correctly but I couldn’t parse ROSARY or ROOFTOP and had NHO YVES Klein. Definitely a Friday I was glad to finish without a pink square, even if it wasn’t properly solved.

  10. Wonderful puzzle, finished in 25′, with ROSARY unparsed LOI (I have several).

    I thought CREAM BUN was a strange start to a puzzle like this. The Klein bottle has always fascinated me.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  11. Unsurprisingly didn’t finish in my 30 minutes. Not really to my taste. TRANSGRESSION was a good anagram.

  12. DNF – not even close.

    That horrible feeling when you think you’re getting better at these blasted things but the reality is that these tough ones are not getting any easier and when I start to struggle, I then find I struggle on some of the easier clues too such as SCALPEL

    Anyway on to next week

    Thanks for blogging it J and thanks setter – one day I’ll be a match for you!

    1. Exactly my sentiments, Deane; thought I was off to a good start with the deceptively easy CREAM BUN, struggled a bit before I saw the parsing for GYPSUM, the struggle intensified from there on. Biffed in ROCK THE BOAT – again couldn’t parse, but got luckier with CHOOSY and MARATHON, which I could. I’m not so sure as you though that I’ll ever be a match for setters such as this. Look forward to seeing the SNITCH.

  13. 22:51. I took two attempts to finish this, with much of the NE unsolved at the first pass. On returning I quickly saw that a tentative ROCK AND ROLL should be ROCK THE BOAT and the rest fell into place.
    If only I could find a way to mentally reset mid-solve. If anyone has managed this please share your tips!

  14. We’ll have Manhattan
    The Bronx and Statin
    Island too …
    (Lorenz Hart) Altogether now, ear worm of the day.

    I think the setter had had a few Manhattans before setting this.
    I gave up with four left after 45 mins. Not my cup of tea.
    Thanks setter and PJ.

    1. Haha. But that’s “Staten,” of course.
      Probably a big cholesterol problem among Staten Island households… so many headed by current and former cops!

  15. 18:34. One of those that is just a little too tough to say that you enjoyed it, but nonetheless a really excellent puzzle. I had almost all the required knowledge and yet was hardly able to biff anything: these clues force you to engage with the wordplay even when you the answer is something familiar, which is always a sign of quality. The one thing I didn’t know was my last in YVES Klein, and I nearly gave up on the basis that I couldn’t think of an English word that would fit the checkers.
    Bravo setter, you fiend.

    1. A bit surprised, I am, that so few had heard of the French painter—et même toi !
      And I did enjoy it… though, having seen Jeremy’s opener, I regarded it with some trepidation when I got home late last night.

  16. 15:47

    Certainly tricky but my WITCH of 73 suggests that I was a little less bamboozled by it than others. It was the SE corner that gave me most bother but the K from CANDLESTICK helped with RAMSHACKLE and the rest fell from there.

    I enjoyed the tussle, there was some great misdirection.

  17. DNF again with STOPGAP and OGLE unentered after 1h30. I think my brain had given up by then. The only pleasure I got was TRANSGRESSION.

    Thanks J and too clever setter (for me).

  18. 18:39, which seems pretty good going for a proper Friday Beast. Happily I fell on the right side of finding the challenge tough but rewarding.

    1. Loved this. didn’t feel too hard but the NE held out for a while. Spent far too long thinking about Klein bottles..

      1. One of those occasions where I knew a Klein bottle was a thing, but didn’t know enough to be led astray by it. Sometimes a little knowledge is just what you want 😀

  19. Tried this first thing and was found wanting. I returned after a walk and did manage to finish it with a time on the carbon-dating scale. I assumed that Calvin Klein was something to do with Yves St Laurent. ROOFTOP could be quite easily done (QED), but not by me, one of my several biffs.
    Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  20. 69 minutes, interesting to now see other people’s reactions.
    FOI was underpin and I got the SE corner pretty fast. Then I slowed down but wasn’t doing too badly till I put TACTICAL instead of SURGICAL. That probably added quite a bit to my time. When I realised my mistake UMPTEEN became obvious. I got GROG without parsing it because I knew it had to be a TOT. Like the commenter above I couldn’t see past medusa! Got YVES with a long long pause, NHO Yves Klein even after googling him just now. LOI was then SWEETBREAD probably one of the easier clues but just took me a bit.
    A really clever and enjoyable puzzle and thanks to the setter for that one!

  21. Cracking crossword. Tough but fair. Some brilliant clueing. Really enjoyable. Was getting a bit ragged and put in snappel for 16 across. Realised I’d made that up. Got it. Good one Setter. Knackered me.

  22. Very hard (it took me 86 minutes) but full of good clues. The big disappointment is when I struggle as I did today and then come here and find the SNITCH is well below 100, fortunately not this time. To = for: well of course it does, I learnt at an early age in Latin that the dative was ‘to or for’, but it always seemed odd. Still does. I can’t think of a sentence where ‘to’ could be replaced by ‘for’ or vice versa. Now someone will give a perfectly simple example. MARATHONER seemed an odd word; yet it’s there in Chambers, and it was clued nicely (although I wasn’t comfortable with rather = more properly).

      1. Or how about something like:

        It’s a welcome sight / a boon / a blow to many / for many.


  23. DNF, but found it suddenly became easy.
    Started with 1a, and stopped for ages, nearly threw in the towel, but suddenly a few easy ones got me restarted, and lots of them were easy to biff but harder to parse. Failed to parse 5a GYPSUM, just biffed when I got the S.
    Like boltonwanderer I just assumed 6d YVES was something to do with Calvin Klein and Yves St L. In retrospect it is so minimal I must award my COD.
    While cheating at 23a GROG I was misled by reading that Medusa was aka GORGO, but that wouldn’t parse. Suddenly rumbled GORGON, so could see it.

  24. Cracking puzzle, spoilt only by never having heard of Yves Klein. The only Klein I know of is the guy who painstakingly stitches together my grundies.

  25. Hadn’t heard of YVES Klein, but he had to be. CHOOSY was FOI and GROG was LOI. Didn’t parse STOPGAP or ROOFTOP. A bit of a tussle! 38:23. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  26. DNF, defeated by SWEETBREAD (could have made it fit the checkers, but would never have guessed that it’s an organ) and ROUSTABOUT (never heard of it, nor of the ‘rout’ meaning of ‘rabble’).

    As others have said, this was very tough, so hats off to those who completed it. I might have expected clues like 1a “It’d be out of place in crab menu” and 11d “Strange sins or original one” to have a question mark at the end – the lack of one certainly slowed down TRANSGRESSION, as I thought I was looking for a long word that meant one as in united.

    COD Grog

  27. Very tough. Untimed, but at least 90 minutes. In any case I resorted to aids far to soon as I’d been distracted by negotiating with builders. COD PHOENIX. Congrats to blogger for your honesty. Satisfying despite the technical DNF.

  28. Started well then bogged down. returned to it three or so times. Did not get sweetbreads, never occurred to me even with all crossers in. Still don’t get the parse for Stopgap, biffed (and I play golf for my sins)

  29. As soon as I saw “Klein bottle”, I immediately thought of CKOne, put in “OMEN” and thought I was God’s gift to solvers 😀

  30. DNF, though I got further than I thought I would. It’s always a bit depressing when your first one in is the hidden 2D- usually means nothing else is handed on a plate! However, on revising the across clues I got 10A straight away, then YVES across it, which despite not having heard of the painter, seemed to be obvious with the E in place. The 2 long down clues were quite straightforward, but most of the rest crawled in at lengthy intervals, and I finally resorted to aids for 24A, which I would never have worked out and didn’t know the term. This gave me STATIN immediately and ROOFTOP, which led to ROSARY, so in the end I was left with 3 more unsolved – SWEETBREAD, STOPGAP (which I still think stinks) and SCALPEL. Considering the difficulty of the puzzle, I’m relieved to be in good company with distinguished DNFs.

  31. With the SNITCH presently at 153, I suppose I should be glad at having managed just over half this monster, but I’m not: I don’t mind being beaten, but I just hate having to leave so much white space. This one had a couple of hours of my time, but eventually, even with nothing pressing on the agenda, I lost the will. Very clever, no doubt, but not entertaining.

  32. Gave up on the hour with the SW corner unfinished. Knew it was bloody Medusa, or a Gorgon, but failed to understand the clue – infuriating to have not got it. I might well have mopped up the others if I’d had more time, but NHO of YVES Klein, so prob wouldn’t have got that one. Liked STOPGAP and RAMSHACKLE.

  33. 29:53 I was in just the right mood for this and I thought it was terrific.

    Thinking 4 down must start with UNDER held me up for a while as did “rock and roll” for 10 across
    MOTHERLY was COD and YVES was last one in -recently seeing that photo of him jumping out of a window probably helped.

    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter.

  34. 55:11

    Struggled through to the finish after a promising start. YVES Klein – another NHO artist to add to the list.

  35. A veritable tour de force illustrating the complexities and subtleties of the English language.
    LOI PHOENIX (and me a classicist)
    COD CREAM BUN? ROSARY? GROG?…I could go on.
    I eventually reached the finishing line, after biffing merrily.
    Plurimas gratias to setter and blogger.

  36. On the bright side, I managed nearly all the LHS – including Grog which was pleasing. Thanks for tips to all the rest – I read down the blog carefully and stop the screen at a clue (not the explanation) I can’t get – when I see which is the definition it can sometimes kick start the solve. Not today though.

  37. Got there in about an hour and a quarter, although it definitely helped that it was in three or four chunks. Very devious clueing that made it hard to guess from a definition, although I have to say I found a couple strained the bounds of a comprehensible surface reading – the clue for RAMSHACKLE for instance.

    I really appreciate plusjeremy’s openness in how hard he found it. I’m by no means a great solver so it’s nice to feel like I’ve climbed a very challenging hill.

  38. I only got started on this last night, just got back to it this afternoon, and was happy to get thru in a decent time for a hard puzzle—well, most of it (I couldn’t quite settle on an answer for O_T).
    Some of the most complicated clues were solved by first biffing and then analyzing.

    1. I biffed out and changed to opt with a silent eureka as my last entry, literally as I began logging in.
      A toughie, many thanks for the blog, and hat tip to the setter .

  39. After several hours (not rare for me), I finally finished, with no less than 10 answers I could not parse. Sadly I had balsam at 5a and thought Klein might be Allen, the former Beatles manager. NHO Yves.
    As a former roustabout, I got 24a immediately but is rout a synonym of rabble?

  40. A slow burner. On the initial run through the across clues I had nothing except UNDERPIN. Some of the down clues yielded their secrets more readily, but the parsing of some of the rest was testing, to say the least, and I finished only after 45 minutes of serious effort. But it was an enjoyable exercise. I remember visiting a gallery somewhere in France some years back and seeing a film of Yves Klein at work – definitely a challenge for the health and safety regs at the time, if there were any.
    LOI – OPT, having taken an age staring at O_T before the PDM arrived.
    Thanks to jeremy and other contributors.

  41. No time but finished it under interesting circumstances. Friday is always a busy day for me and I only had 10 minutes to start, when Mrs P summoned me for dinner. Chicken risotto with a beautiful Sicilian Fiano from an excellent winery by the name of Planeta.
    A relaxed solve thereafter while watching the footie, not too sure how I got there because it was a quite marvellously challenging puzzle.
    Many thanks to setter and to Jeremy . Now back to the half glass of nectar that remains.

  42. 41.43 in two sessions. Pretty tough I thought, and I don’t claim to have parsed them all

  43. Never heard of Yves Klein, but it had to be V in YES. Knew Alan Klein, connected with the Stones, but obvs not him. 35 mins in all.

  44. As a habitual DNF, I was mildly pleased to get close on a stinker and suffered nearly all of the problems identified by others. Would have got closer if I hadn’t put Clinical for 17d and misread heads for beads in 20a. Hey ho, onwards and…sideways.

  45. I managed this beast in two sessions, all without aids, but with one wrong answer. I had no idea about 12 across so bunged in stentorian, because it fitted the checkers. When I came here and saw the answer, I did indeed act like one. Many thanks to the blogger, and excellent setter

  46. 27:22. Hesitated for ages over ROCK THE BOAT as I couldn’t parse it, but just bunged it in at the end. Did not remember the French painter, thinking only of the fashion designer, but the wordplay was clear. I liked TRANSGRESSION. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  47. Over the hour

    Some clever, some excellent clues but – for me – far too many scored rather too high on the Clunkometer.

    OGLE was good as was the anagram for TRANGRESSION

    Commiserations Jeremy and thanks Setter

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