Times Cryptic No 28572 – Saturday, 08 April 2023. May the force be 1ac.


I had a flashback to high school physics at 1ac. Otherwise,  I had no trouble “forcing” my way through this, except for 13ac which I hoped to figure out before it’s time to load this blog. Alas, I couldn’t do it. I had to get help!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable and challenging 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 Force chaps to infiltrate second corporation (8)
MOMENTUM – MEN=chaps to infiltrate MO=second + TUM=corporation. My physics teacher wouldn’t have been happy if I confused force and momentum!
6 Advocate coppers should have jurisdiction (6)
PREACH – P=coppers (pence, that is) + REACH=jurisdiction.
9 Disturbance in the Scrubs perhaps (4)
STIR – reference to the Wormwood Scrubs prison.
10 A change in how much beer you drink? About time! (10)
ALTERATION – ALE RATION=how much you drink perhaps (hence the question mark), about T=time. The clue has a pretty surface.
11 Embark with earl after travelling? That’s odd (10)
13 End of transition leaving you undecided? (4)
TORN – if you examine TransitioN from end to end, you will see that the “end” letter is (ta da) either ‘T’ OR ‘N’.

It’s unusual to think of the front as an end, but certainly you can read something from end to end or from front to back.

I was comprehensively stumped by this. I could see possible definitions at each end of the clue: TERM=end (which has come up in recent months), or TORN=undecided. I liked TORN better, so that’s what I submitted. But, neither option seemed to have any link to the rest of the clue. When the solution appeared, TORN was indeed the answer, and finally I found someone with the explanation.

14 Secret instruction that makes you cross (8)
BACKDOOR – instruction in the sense of cryptic clue: if you BACK “DOOR”, you produce “ROOD”=cross.
16 Released, being old and almost completely useless (6) 
EXEMPT – EX=old + EMPTy=useless,  almost completely.
18 Classmate ultimately failing to pass (6)
ELAPSEclassmatultimately + LAPSE=failing.
20 English banker getting axed — or estate manager? (8)
EXECUTOR – EXE=English river (banker) + CUT=axed + OR. Manager of a deceased estate.
22 This might make painter tell a tale (4)
YARN – two definitions. I thought painters (ropes) were made of fibre, but I looked up YARN in Chambers and there it was as definition 2: one of the threads of a rope, or these collectively. Score: setter 1, blogger 0.
24 MI6 in a position to provide support (10)
ASSISTANCE – SIS=MI6 in A + STANCE=position.
26 Implication millions lost — terrible for the Chancellor, say (10)
POLITICIAN – (I-PLICATIONS)*, with M=millions lost.
28 Hurt overthrowing most of city (4)
MAIM – most of MIAMIoverthrown (backwards).
29 Spiteful chap that is stalking Norm (6)
MEANIE – MEAN=norm (statistically) + I.E.=that is.
30 Troubled Euripides endlessly praying here? (4-4)
PRIE-DIEU – (EURIPIDE-)*. (Endlessly=without the last letter).
2 A new hotline must be organised at once (2,3,4)
ON THE NAIL – (A N HOTLINE)*, using N=new.
3 Set aside steel to be carried by European vessel (7)
EARMARK – ARM=steel (a sword for example) to be carried by E + ARK.
4 Route Greek cartographer crosses on way north (5)
TRACK – on way north (backwards, in this down clue), Greek cartographer crosses (hides) the answer.
5 Force offering amnesty from time to time (3)
MET – every second letter (from time to time) of  aMnEsTy. The Met is the London Police Force.
6 Do peers ever stick to their guns? (9)
PERSEVERE – (PEERS EVER)*. What a lovely anagram indicator!
7 Call English knight “señor” in Spain? (7)
ENTITLE – E=English + N=knight, in chess notation + TITLE=for example, señor in Spanish.
8 Papers read out loud for those singing (5)
CHOIR – sounds like (read out loud) QUIRE=24 (sometimes, 25) sheets of paper.
12 Less of a shock for one leaving here? (7)
BARBERS – cryptic definition. Not the best example of the genre, maybe.
15 Musical dramas back to back, merging in effect (9)
OPERATIVE – OPERA forwards + EVITA backwards, overlapping in the middle.
17 Ban for wielder of a quill? (9)
PROSCRIBE – PRO=for + SCRIBE=wielder of a quill. (A scribe might wield a pen instead. Hence the question mark).
19 Fixed payment sees writers hit back (7)
PENSION – PENS=writers + ION=NO. 1 (hit), back.
21 Vulnerable Cockney’s safe and sound (7)
UNARMED – UN(h)ARMED, with the H dropped.
23 A sub reportedly abandoned (5)
ALONE – sounds (reportedly) like A LOAN.
25 Cracking crime coming first in mountain region (5)
SINAI – SIN=crime + A1=cracking.
27 Spike half cut, the rogue (3)
IMP – IMPALE = spike, half cut.

14 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28572 – Saturday, 08 April 2023. May the force be 1ac.”

  1. 24:11
    I biffed TORN, meant to come back to it, but forgot to. YARN went in with a shrug. DNK the loan meaning of ‘sub’. I liked BACKDOOR, ELAPSE, & OPERATIVE.

  2. I see that I wrote “Ha!” next to TORN, and “?!” by YARN.
    My LOI was SINAI, which seemed ironic, as I’ve been to doctors at Mt. Sinai here in NYC more times than I can count (besides the original’s being a geopolitical hot spot…).

  3. 38 minutes. I didn’t have any particular problems with this but some of the answers took some grinding out, which slowed me down.

  4. DNF. 1h 35m, with an error on 12d where I had biffed “borders” as vaguely fitting the “one leaving here”

    As our blogger has pointed out, force and momentum are not at all the same. Since F=ma, and momentum=mv, this makes force equal to the rate of change of momentum.

    1. But in English as opposed to Physics momentum is much less clearly defined.
      Wiktionary, defn 2
      “The impetus, either of a body in motion, or of an idea or course of events; a moment.
      1843, Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Old Apple Dealer”, in Mosses from an Old Manse
      The travellers swarm forth from the cars. All are full of the momentum which they have caught from their mode of conveyance.
      1882, Thomas Hardy, chapter II, in Two on a Tower. A Romance. […] In Three Volumes, volume II, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, […], →OCLC, page 31:
      Their intention to become husband and wife, at first halting and timorous, had accumulated momentum with the lapse of hours, till it now bore down every obstacle in its course.
      2013 September 14, Jane Shilling, “The Golden Thread: the Story of Writing, by Ewan Clayton, review [print edition: Illuminating language]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)‎[1], page R29:
      Though his account of written communication over the past 5,000 years necessarily has a powerful forward momentum, his diversions down the fascinating byways of the subject are irresistible …”
      so I could allow it I think.

    2. The setter is not saying they are the same. He is just saying that momentum is a force, which it indubitably is. Try standing in front of a moving car. Or just look at Collins definitions … 😉

  5. I had TERM at 13a, unparsed but could think of nothing else.
    And I had ….WORD for 14a which prevented 12d being solved.
    So not a great day for me. Enjoyed the rest of the puzzle.

  6. DNF, defeated by ALONE, where for some reason I didn’t see sub=loan, thought it was referring to a boat, and put the non-existent ‘abote’.

    Didn’t know that quire can mean sheets of paper, but CHOIR couldn’t be anything else. Hadn’t heard of painter ropes either, but the same applied to YARN.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Alteration

  7. I liked this, which took me 40 minutes to solve and had some very clever clues. There was nothing obscure, but that didn’t make them easy. BACKDOOR and TORN were very good, as was 18ac (ELAPSE)

  8. I know I’m late but just wanted to say how great the clue for TORN is. It was my LOI and I remember thinking it through “which end is it? The T or the N? Is the answer Torn or Turn? Or possibly Term? I’m torn…” Genius.

    1. It made me laugh out loud when the penny dropped for me. I think my COD. Took far too long on this. Is a pension a fixed payment? It had to be the answer but complete missed No1 as hit.

  9. Weirdly, saw TORN straight away, but several others eluded me completely: ELAPSE, EXECUTOR, POLITICIAN , PROSCRIBE and MAIM. Big problem here is that I’ve never really understood the meaning of PROSCRIBE, as it is, I assume, the antonym of PRESCRIBE. Maybe at least two others would have fallen if…
    However, not unhappy, as 23 of 30 is NTB ( NotTooBad) in my book!

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