Times Cryptic No 28566 – Saturday, 1 April 2023. No fools here.


This puzzle appeared on April Fools Day, but the setter resisted any temptation, unless I’ve missed something. It was a regular Saturday puzzle, with no unknown foreign words or other obscurities. 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 Keen favourites returning to dance (9)
QUICKSTEP – QUICK=keen + STEP=PETS (favourites), returning.
6 Make fun of straw as cattle feed (5)
CHAFF – two definitions.
9 Late series of deliveries appropriate (7)
OVERDUE – OVER=a series of six cricket deliveries + DUE=appropriate, as in due diligence.
10 Five braces exercise stunted climber’s grip (7)
TENDRIL – a “brace” is 2, as in “a brace of partridge”, perhaps. And, 5 x 2 = 10.

So, TEN = five braces + DRILL = exercise, stunted. It wasn’t till I saw the answer and searched to explain TEN that I saw the significance of “five braces”. Delightful!

11 A painter put on this oddly decorative headgear (5)
TIARA – TI=ThIsoddly + A + RA=painter.
12 They’ve a will to reject schedule cutting taxes (9)
TESTATORS – ATOR=rota (schedule), to reject (backwards), cutting TESTS=taxes.
14 Fetch sheep from the east (3)
GET – TEG=a two year old sheep, from the east (backwards). I immediately thought “sheep” … TUP. Not a help!
15 Piano salesman managed to ring, perhaps before lunch (11)
PREPRANDIAL – P=piano + REP=salesman + RAN=managed + DIAL=ring, perhaps.
17 Put off, I publicly talk rot (11)
DETERIORATE – DETER=put off + I + ORATE=publicly talk
19 Chiefly American stone quarry (3)
PIT – two definitions. I didn’t know the first one was an American usage.
20 Respecting a head of state’s compliments (2,7)
AS REGARDS – A + S=head of State + REGARDS=compliments (give them my regards/compliments).
22 Abrupt attempt to bear right (5)
SHORT – SHOT to bear R.
24 Such as casing sculptor’s grinding down (7)
ERODING – E.G.=such as, casing RODIN.
26 Profoundly dull family extremely upset to relocate (7)
STUPEFY – (FY UPSET)*, where FY=FamilY, extremely.
27 Books young 50’s trendy carries or carried (5)
TOTED – TED=young 50’s trendy carries OT=books.
28 Compliant matron at heart fit for playing? (9)
TRACTABLE – TR=maTRonat heart + ACTABLE=fit for playing (in the theatre).
1 Leave pocketing old ring (5)
QUOIT – QUIT pocketing O.
2 Repeating it with energy, deliver rhetoric (7)
ITERANT – IT + E=energy + RANT=deliver rhetoric.
3 Fool to drop off a criminal with hostage (9)
KIDNAPPER – KID=fool + NAP=to drop off + PER=A (tuppence a/per bunch).
4 Are together with smashing drama lover (11)
5 Choose to raise second vessel (3)
POT – OPT=choose, but raise the second letter.
6 Dance trick first seen in girl’s audition (5)
CONGA – CON=trick + first seen letters from Girl’s Audition.
7 Monk with top-class clothing, theoretically (1,6)
A PRIORI – PRIOR=monk, with AI=top-class clothing it.
8 Water teeming down plain leaves no impression (5,4)
FALLS FLAT – FALLS=water teeming down + FLAT=plain.
13 Extensive water from river in heroic tales (small unopened book) (8,3)
SARGASSO SEA – R in SAGAS + S + hOSEA=unopened Bible book.
14 Sponsor honourable man keeping up party standard (9)
GODPARENT – GENT keeping OD=do (party), up + PAR=standard.
16 Unfermented juice below requirements? It’s inevitable (5,4)
NEEDS MUST – NEEDS=requirements + MUST=unfermented grape juice.
18 Dismiss those in attendance (7)
TURNOUT – with a space, TURN OUT=dismiss.
19 Wise words supporting cleric elevated by bishop (7)
PROVERB – PRO=supporting + VER=rev, elevated (in this down answer) + B=bishop.
21 Speaker’s to give precious coat to fellowship (5)
GUILD – sounds like (speaker’s) GILD=coat with gold.
23 Plant used for flavouring in healthy meal (5)
THYME – hidden in healthy meal.
25 Loony children’s game going around (3)
GIT – TIG=presumably what I would have called TAG.

19 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28566 – Saturday, 1 April 2023. No fools here.”

  1. 20:50
    Pretty straightforward, although I biffed SARGASSO SEA and only parsed it after submitting. ‘Tig’ appeared here a while back, probably as part of the wordplay; a NHO at the time. I didn’t think GIT meant ‘loony’; ODE has ‘an unpleasant or contemptible person’.

  2. At 53 minutes I didn’t find this particularly easy. I share Kevin’s reservations about ‘loony/git’ and have been unable to find any direct support for it in the usual sources. Maybe via another word such as ‘fool’, though I can’t see it myself.

  3. Same perplexity about loony/git.
    Funny to have GET and GIT in the same puzzle.
    First became aware of the latter thru the Beatles “white album” song “I’m So Tired,” where Lennon sings,
      I’m so tired
      I’m feeling so upset
      Although I’m so tired
      I’ll have another cigarette
      And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
      He was such a stupid git

    That’s the official lyrics, but he pronounces it “get.”

  4. 26 ac. Is stupefy the same part of speech as profoundly dull?
    As always, many thanks to both setter and blogger.

    1. I think ‘dull’ has to be read as a causative verb (make dull) here.

      1. I had the same doubts as Adrian about this one but eventually came to the same conclusion as you.

  5. Loony is an exaggeration of GIT, in common use here, but surely we are used to that? NHO TIG, but tried TAG>GAT so DNF. Otherwise An enjoyable puzzle with some tricky bits. I remember liking TURNOUT when the penny dropped.

  6. I had to choose between GIT/TIG and GAT/TAG, finally deciding that GIT was more likely, though I couldn’t account for the ‘loony’ definition. However, after consulting numerous online dictionaries, I finally found it a long way down in Merriam-Webster and concluded it must be an Americanism, but maybe not, from above comments. The rest of the puzzle was straightforward. I did briefly consider, and reject, PUT for fetch, but remembered teg, which then confirmed GODPARENT. Liked NEEDS MUST, in fact most of the clues were enjoyable and all done in one session.

  7. 18d should have a question mark as a hint that the two definitions aren’t exactly the same. Or ‘with lack of space, dismiss those in attendance’.

    10a is a bit of a clunker. It might be neat parsing, but that’s wasted when the surface doesn’t make any sense.

    1. Double definitions don’t require a question mark, and neither does this clue, though it isn’t actually two dictionary-status definitions. As the blog indicates, the first (verb) sense in the clue would have to be written as two words, but the second sense is the answer, as the enumeration (7) makes clear. A question mark would be confusing right after the actual definition.

      But I do like your alternative clue.

  8. Don’t remember any particular struggles with this one – I couldn’t tell you where the SARGASSO SEA is, but I eventually managed to parse it.

    FOI Tiara
    LOI Chaff
    COD Stupefy

  9. In my head the Sargasso Sea is not a sea, but a huge plate of seaweed full of eels, floating in the ocean … but on investigation I find it is indeed a sea, except in my imagination.. I am thinking my old geography teacher is to blame
    Apart from GITgate, I liked this crossword .. I agree a few of the surfaces are unconvincing but with a jumbo that is hard to avoid

  10. Was relieved to hit on my first in (POTS and half of 5d!) as this one looked like a stinker at first sight. Had to really work to get all done bar 3: DETERIORATE, TURNOUT and GIT/GAT, wrongly believing that the definition was PUT or PUT OFF for 17a, and NHO GIT as a “loony” – more as an annoying person.
    No great PDMs and the some of the surfaces a bit clunky, but enjoyed FALLS FLAT and SHORT.

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