Times Cryptic No 28596 – Saturday, 06 May 2023. IKEA flatpack day.


Some tricky wordplay today. You needed to read the instructions carefully. (Or, biff the answers!) 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 Ghastly male about to grab a taxi (7)
MACABRE – M=male + RE=about, grabbing A + CAB.
5 Comedian with cracking sets making a comeback (5-2)
STAND-UP – AND=with, cracking STUP=PUTS (sets), making a comeback.
9 Rigid feel disguised with delicate ornamentation (9)
10 Artist’s support facility close to Bristol (5)
EASEL – EASE=facility (he did it with ease) + BristoL.
11 Divorce settlement is potential result of a couple’s fight? (5,8)
SPLIT DECISION – a whimsical hint, and a definition relating to boxing matches.
13 Failure of mole’s second assignment (8)
OMISSION – O=mOle’s (second letter) + MISSION.
15 A charitable group located in British city (6)
BANGOR – A + NGO located in BR.
17 Hot beverages and cold juice mostly put back (6)
CUPPAS – C=cold + UPPAS=SAP PUt, back.
19 English sergeant maybe silent about current commendation (8)
ENCOMIUM – E=English + NCO=sergeant, maybe + MUM=silent, about I=electrical current.
22 Moved pistol in, protected by flipping clever bouncers (13)
TRAMPOLINISTS – (PISTOL IN)*, protected by TRAMS=flipping SMART (clever).
25 Quiet, cultured person (5)
26 A spot to get smashed with grub? (9)
GASTROPUB – (A SPOT GRUB)*. Actually, I went to a gastropub this week, possibly for the first time ever. I didn’t get smashed … I got food poisoning! So, not a recommendation.
27 Doctors introducing drug study somewhere in Germany (7)
DRESDEN – DRS introducing E + DEN.
28 Vote against acquiring gong, largely for religious festival (4,3)
NAME DAY – NAY=vote against, acquiring MEDAl.
1 Tee off minutes ahead of one female twosome (4)
MIFF – M + I + 2xF.
2 Influential people initially implicated after company write-off (7)
3 Northbound part of journey covered by airline for round fare (5)
BAGEL – BA=airline + GEL=LEG, northbound.
4 Complicated notice about judge’s case being thrown out (8)
EJECTION – (NOTICE)* about JudgE.
5 Wet turf on top of animal’s hideout (6)
6 A sheep circling around for something to drink (9)
AMERICANO – A + MERINO, circling CA=around.
7 To finish with, could you do some housework? (7)
DUSTINGcoulD, to finish with + yoU, ditto + STING=do. Hard to see, I thought.
8 Dad, possibly, and daughter entertained by Italian friend? (10)
PALINDROME – D=daughter, enterained by PAL IN ROME. Definition by example, since ‘dad’ is a palindrome.
12 The duty cop stupidly entered without looking (5-5)
14 Watchful dog almost yields from time to time (5-4)
SHARP-EYEDSHAR PEi=dog, almost + YiElDs, from time to time.
16 Where you can find students working together (2,6)
IN UNISON – IN UNIS=where you can find students (unless they’re in the pub!) + ON=working.
18 Vast expanse of promotional work that is full of attitude (7)
PRAIRIE – PR + AIR=attitude + I.E.=that is.
20 Popular sample I ultimately dismissed as tasteless (7)
INSIPID – IN + SIP + I + dismisseD.
21 Hit upon a new line of business? (6)
SLOGAN – SLOG + A + N=new.
23 Nasty film featuring Republican brawl (5)
SCRUM – SCUM featuring R.
24 Pieces from Beryl Bainbridge held up well (4)
ABLY – reverse (held up), hidden in (pieces from) BerYL BAinbridge.

27 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28596 – Saturday, 06 May 2023. IKEA flatpack day.”

  1. 23:44
    I thought of TEG, TUP, and RAM when I saw ‘sheep’ in 6d, but MERINO took a long time.I liked GASTROPUB, TOUCH-TYPED, SHARP-EYED, & IN UNISON.

  2. 53 minutes. But I managed to mistype SCUMM for SCRUM and didn’t notice so technical DNF, although I got all the clues correctly. I was surprised BANGOR was a city, since it isn’t very big. Having just Googled it, it turns out that it is a city for all sorts of ancient and weird reasons, and it is indeed one of the smallest cities in the UK (there are some really tiny cities…by land area one of the smallest is the City of London which really is a little more than a square mile).

  3. I wish I remembered more of the experience of working this. I feel compelled to comment because the Saturday blog typically gets fewer comments than even the typical Sunday’s (where, nevertheless, sometimes a hornet’s nest is kicked), and I want to do my part. There are no notes on my copy indicating any elevated eyebrows or querulous quibbles.

    The BANGOR I first think of is mentioned in the Roger Miller classic “King of the Road”: “Third boxcar, midnight train, / Deeeeeh-stination BANGOR, Maine.” So there’s one in Merrie Olde? Never knew!

      1. Wow—it doesn’t sound remotely Native American to me, so that’s a surprise.
        But I just now found out that the Maine town took its name from… (wait for it ) …“a Welsh song.”

    1. Guy, there’s no Bangor in ‘Merrie Olde’ (which implies England) but one in Wales and another in Northern Ireland.

      1. Yes, as I learned after writing what you refer to. The clue says “British city,” and the blog says BR, so my guess was not yet explicitly corrected. My later comment reveals that I at least knew by then that there’s one in Wales.

        1. The definition is “city”. “British” is part of the wordplay.

          So the answer could just as well refer to Bangor, Maine, if you like. 🙂

          1. Yeah, right, thanks. I must have seen that at the time. It’s been so long!

    2. FYI, from my aviation past, back in the day Bangor, Me used to be a refuelling point for planes heading to the west coast from Europe that didn’t have the oomph to get there in one go. Some eastbound flights stopped there, too. I remember one time in the 70s a B707 of the company I worked for arrived back at Gatwick with a ride-on mower in the forward hold that the Captain had purchased on his stopover in Bangor.

    3. Now I’ve an ear worm of the classic “Didn’t we have a luvverly time the day we went to Bangor…”. Unfortunately I can only recall that bit, and tumpty tumpty “lunch on the way”.
      Time to find the rest of the lyric.

  4. 27 minutes, failing to parse DUSTING (so thanks for that, Bruce) and not fully understanding SPLIT DECISION. Several other clues needed revisiting after I’d stopped the clock in order to unravel wordplay.

  5. 34m 30s
    Thank you for explaining CUPPAS, Bruce.
    A relatively easy puzzle. I particularly enjoyed PALINDROME and SPLIT DECISION.
    Thanks, Bruce.

  6. ~2 hours. STAND UP and DUSTING were biffed. Why is STING do? I enjoyed SPLIT DECISION, GASTROPUB and PALINDROME (groan).

    1. Sting=con trick or just overcharging. Do likewise can mean either of those.
      I loved The Sting film.

      1. Thank you, I’d forgotten those meanings of sting and they are both missing from wiktionary. It is an excellent film.

  7. 20.14

    Also really enjoyed this, with some fine wordplay.

    IN UNISON was very neat

    Thanks all

  8. No marks on my paper either, like Guy’s.
    Liked TRAMPOLINIST, not sure why.
    Learned what a NAME DAY is, I was unaware and would just have said Saint’s day.

  9. I don’t have a time for this and only a few comments, which were about the excellence of the whole puzzle and in particular 26ac (GASTROPUB) and 8dn (PALINDROME).

  10. Got off to a good start with 1a and 1d. CAB for TAXI was very friendly. On holiday but remember I liked the surfaces and buts of humour, and looking at the blog, believe I completed it. LOI either COLOSSI , NHO in that context or ENCONIUM, NHO at all. Thanks, setter and blogger.

    1. Entirely my sentiments, Ozned, with same two NHO, and the friendly start at 1a and 1d. About 30 minutes all up, with over an hour including interruptions. Enjoyed all the PDMs, or what David Astle calls “aha” moments.

  11. Couldn’t parse dusting so thanks for that. Last one in was split decision, tried to make it an anagram for ages. Favourite clue palindrome.

  12. Enjoyed this one – there were some lovely clues (DUSTING, GASTROPUB, DRESDEN, TOUCH-TYPED. I didn’t parse CUPPAS, so thanks for that.

    FOI Miff
    LOI Slogan
    COD Dusting

  13. 37 minutes, lots of nice clues but nothing excessively difficult, and no problems except understanding which dog was being referred to in SHARP-EYED. I liked TOUCH TYPED and perhaps the PALINDROME.

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