Times Cryptic No 28578 – Saturday, 15 April 2023. Sunset and evening star.

I liked the reference to the Tennyson poem, even though that clue, along with some others at the top right, took me longest to see! My definition of the day was definitely in the “greengrocer” clue at 26ac. Typical Saturday difficulty, I thought.

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 Extract conclusion from judge, in accordance with law (6)
ELICIT – E=conclusion from judgE + LICIT=in accordance with law.
5 Get out into open sea? It helps to keep net in position (8)
CROSSBAR – a cryptic hint, to do with sailors putting out to sea. Not a second definition, because the enumeration of that would be (5,3).
9 One couple holding hands with reason not to delay rising (10)
INSURGENCY – I=one + NS=North & South (a couple of card players, holding bridge hands) + URGENCY=reason not to delay.
10 Country that splits the difference between male and female adults? (4)
OMAN – MAN has 3 letters. WOMAN has 5. Split the difference to produce the 4 letter answer. Tricky!
11 Counterargument overused? Sorry (8)
CONTRITE – CON=counterargument + TRITE=overused.
12 Like some bears hiding quietly in tree (6)
POPLAR – P hiding in POLAR.
13 Near time for retirement? Not quite (4)
NIGH – NIGHt, not quite.
15 Ill during fast? Go here for medicine (8)
PHARMACY – HARM during  PACY. If this seemed familiar, the same form of clue for this answer came up as recently as April 3rd.
18 Doctor that is securing piano in pub for Scottish musician (8)
BAGPIPER – GP=doctor + I.E. securing P, all in BAR=pub, giving BA(GP I(P)E )R!
19 Prepare to swallow cold chop (4)
CHEW – C=cold + HEW=chop.
21 Show for all to see or hide from prying eyes (6)
SCREEN – two definitions.
23 One element or another returned with info (8)
NITROGEN – NITRO=OR TIN, returned + GEN=info.
25 So-called president died — like this, not in theatre (4)
ABED – ABE (Abraham Lincoln) + D=died. So-called because Abe wasn’t his formal name. He died in bed nine hours after being shot in the theatre, apparently.
26 Perhaps too haphazardly, it may be misplaced by shopkeeper? (10)
APOSTROPHE – (PERHAPS TOO)*. The definition plays on the the Grammar Police’s recurrent complaint about greengrocers using apostrophe-S when writing the plural of a word.
27 Convert I trusted remains of no value (8)
28 Pacific islands importing Southern fried food (6)
SAMOSA – S in SAMOA. Samosa has come up a lot recently, clued in many different ways.
2 Slowly, in play, followed some of Polonius’s advice? (5)
LENTO – a musical direction.

If you LENT O=nothing, you’d have followed part of Polonius’s advice to his son Laertes, who was leaving Denmark for France:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Not nearly as compelling, I think, as his next bit of advice:

This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

3 Winning campaign, something suitable for Royal Navy? (9)
COURTSHIP -COURT=royal + SHIP=navy (more or less). The definition is a campaign aiming to win someone/thing, not necessarily a campaign that was won. As pointed out in the comments, the idea is that a “court ship” might be suitable for a “Royal Navy”.
4 River in children’s game is one mentioned in Bible (6)
5 On a computer one’s wrong and right at the same time (15)
6 Something irrational in male saint that’s rejected top deity (8)
OLYMPIAN – PI=an irrational number, in hOLY MAN=male saint, rejecting top. It took me a while to see the answer. I guess I tend to think of Olympians as athletes, not deities.
7 Lots of liquid rising in vessel (5)
SLOOP – POOLS, rising.
8 Sudden fall of snow disrupted a mostly calm haven (9)
AVALANCHE – (A CAL- HAVEN)*. Drop the M from CALM, mostly.
14 Short-tempered monarch caught in ridiculously basic lie (9)
IRASCIBLE – R caught in (BASIC LIE)*.
16 Computer company’s splitting most of capital in large structure (9)
MACROCOSM – MAC=computer + CO’S splitting ROMe mostly.
17 Old actors embracing enclosure like mine that lacks depth (8)
OPENCAST – O + CAST embracing PEN. Local miners hereabouts call this mining technique OPENCUT.
20 Some pieces of sculpture European has left standing (6)
STATUS – STATUES, that European has left.
22 Tree much more mature than those in nursery? (5)
ELDER – a cryptic hint, I guess.
24 Spirit of things indicated, putting last first (5)
ETHOS – THOSE=things indicated. Put the E at the front.

34 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28578 – Saturday, 15 April 2023. Sunset and evening star.”

  1. Still not sure I see how OMAN works. The difference between WOMAN and MAN is WO, but only the first letter “splits.” I remember just bunging it in, probably thinking of the average of the numbers of the letters, but the clue doesn’t seem clear about that.

    As a decorated officer in the Grammar Police—I have heard a less polite term, and I said: That I’m not, though I do like the sleek black uniform (Hugo Boss, right?)—I had to reluctantly accept the use of “Oakland A’s” in the headline on a Dave Zirin story today about the selling of the Athletics.

    1. You’re letting your readers down, you’re letting yourself down… it should be the As. Though I imagine since the beginning of recorded history it has been the A’s, so precedent wins.
      How about Polonius’s above? Works for me, I’d have hated it if they wrote Polonius’, though it’s quite common to see similar.

      1. An apostrophe is indispensable in the rare case in which you need to pluralize a letter of the alphabet or some other unusual form which would become unrecognizable with a plural ending stuck on it:

        Mind your p’s and q’s.
        How many s’s are there in Mississippi?

        University of Sussex Website

        1. Isla has hit the nail on the head—we’re merely following precedent here, as a check in The New York Times (“The Paper of Record”!) confirmed for me.

          In another context, where I had my druthers, I would prefer putting quotes (either single or double, depending on one’s side of the pond) on both sides of the letter, as is done with a complete word.

        2. It’s not indispensable: you can (and I always do – I dislike the alternative) write the letter as a capital. Mind your Ps and Qs. Admittedly Ss in Missisippi looks a bit odd!

          1. I also often forgo the quotation marks, but think they’d be required on the job. It hasn’t come up lately.

          2. Back in the 1980s, in a paper on thermoluminsecent dosimeters I published in an American journal, I had written TLDs, which the editor insisted on changing to TLD’s. I did not contest this, assuming it to US usage, and a year or two later in a paper on Tissue Maximum Ratios wrote TMR’s. This time the editor changed it to TMRs. I remained confused.

            1. No need to be confused: both are widely accepted, it’s just a matter of stylistic preference. Publications will normally pick one and insist on it but that’s just house style, it doesn’t make it ‘correct’.

      2. The problem particular to headlines is that we cap most parts of speech, so “As” would be rather more ambiguous in the hed than in other text. But you got it, we’re just following precedent. (And I do cap “As” when it’s an adverb and don’t cap it when it’s a mere conjunction: So you could get something like this: His Heart Was As Cold as Ice. Someone asked me if readers will know why we do that. Well, only the few who care—who will also realize that we put periods in “U.S.” when they appear that way in a quoted source but not when it’s our own text, in our own house style.)

        For some reason, it is, or was, a somewhat widespread custom not to add the S for the possessive form of classical or biblical names: Socrates’, Jesus’. But some sources even today drop it from all names ending in S—which to me, of course, looks wrong, wrong, wrong, though I recognize that it’s all a matter of convention.

      3. This is one of my (completely unjustified, I freely acknowledge) bugbears: I see no reason whatsoever not to add ‘s to a singular word that ends in S.

        1. My year 11 English teacher nailed it, in my opinion. His advice:
          Take the word you’re turning into a possessive, add an apostrophe.
          Say it in your head with an extra S on the end.
          If that sounds like you would speak it, add an S.
          If it sounds cumbersome and ugly, leave off the S.

          Children’s play
          Polonius’s advice
          Jesus’ disciples
          Socrates’ suicide
          James’s younger brother (YMMV – some people might say it James’)
          Gauss’s law (this one really bothered one of my physics lecturers, 3 Ss in a row)
          But different authorities/companies have different style guides with different advice.

          1. I would always write (and say) Jesus’s, Socrates’s, James’s, Gauss’s. To me Jesus’ (for example) just looks incomplete, and like an error, but I acknowledge this is a matter of stylistic preference.

    2. If Zirin were writing about the team’s players, say, would you allow e.g. “the A’s’ catchers”?

      1. Ha! I might agilely dodge that bullet by spelling out the team’s name.
        But it doesn’t even have to be a possessive.

        1. Guy, can I ask your advice on a very slightly related item? When a sentence ends with a word in quotation marks does the end punctuation come after or before the final quotation mark? That is: ….. “hard truth”. Or “hard truth.” The same question when a closed bracket ends a sentence: …….(not that I know). Or …..(not that I know.) P.S. Thanks for your advice several weeks ago re my problem of pointlessly leaving a space causing a second quotation mark to be reversed !

          1. The question mark should go outside the quotation mark, and the period outside the closing bracket—as they belong to the sentence as a whole, not just the quoted or parenthetical part.

    3. If we’re negotiating something and you’ve offered me 100 but I want 200, then if we split the difference you pay me 150. So if I want WOMAN and you have offered me MAN…

  2. 18:22
    FOI OMAN, oddly enough. I can’t remember how I solved it; I probably just thought ‘man/woman, 4 letters, OMAN’. (The clue says ‘adults’, which would be men/women. Sign that splits the difference …?) I biffed OLYMPIAN, parsed post-submission. My COD, although I liked CONTEMPORANEOUS as well.
    Was Polonius true to himself?

  3. 39 minutes. Didn’t understand OMAN or ‘not in theatre’ re ABE, but otherwise this was quite straightforward.

  4. Thank you, Bruce, for OMAN, SCREEN, ABED, LENTO, OLYMPIAN and SLOOP. I couldn’t make sense of SLOOP so entered STOUP.
    I liked CROSSBAR a lot, especially as it took me back to my sailing days.

  5. Not so tricky. Couldn’t parse Tigris – from presumed ignorance, not knowing which character mentioned in the bible was known as R. Didn’t know the Tigris was mentioned in the bible so assumed the definition was the other end.

  6. Enjoyed this one, quite witty I thought. I liked the Abe clue and the w-o-man. 5dn also very clever.
    Being shot in the theatre does sound painful.. was it below the stage?

  7. DNF too tricky. FOI CONTEMPORANEEOUS then completed bottom half in below average time. Did litlle in top half. Thought of INSURGENCY, OLYMPIAN amd COURTSHIP, but only know CROSSBAR on a bicycle so didn’t put any in.

  8. DNF, with a silly ‘macroform’ rather than MACROCOSM even though I couldn’t account for the ‘for’.

    Got LENTO despite being shamefully ignorant of the advice from Polonius.

    COD Courtship

  9. 12:45. Good one. I got thoroughly stuck at the end of my solve with only OLYMPIAN and POPLAR left.

  10. A court ship is one that is suitable for a royal navy, surely? (rather than court=royal and ship=navy, which doesn’t really work and fails to account for “something suitable”)

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