Times Cryptic No 28614 – Saturday, 27 May 2023. Easing toward Summer.

I found this easy for a Saturday, although there were a few pieces of wordplay I put aside to think about while writing this blog. 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 Somewhere to go in pants, garment covering legs (4,5)
LONG JOHNS – JOHN=somewhere to go, in LONGS=pants (as opposed to shorts, presumably). On edit: Kevin’s interpretation that LONGS=desires=pants makes a lot more sense.
6 Foundation taking book in present state (5)
BASIS – B=book + AS IS=in present state.
9 How to develop plot, one of several one has on hand (5)
DIGIT – to develop your garden plot, DIG IT.
10 Find out when church runs function — about one (9)
ASCERTAIN – AS=when + CE=church + R=runs +TAN=trig function, about I=one. Phew. Lucky it was biffable.
11 Defiant expression, being uncomfortable about article (2,5)
SO THERE – SORE=uncomfortable, about THE=grammatical article.
12 Subsequently having leading pair back on the side (7)
LATERAL – LATER + AL=the leading pair of LAter, backwards. Tricky!
13 Page author altered with biro, writer who really knows the subject? (14)
17 Female easily carried instrument in black box (6,8)
21 Awfully nice gal, so kind and innocent (7)
23 Three men in a rowing boat, perhaps, showing one way to deal with locks (4,3)
CREW CUT – boat races usually have crews of four or eight. The whimsical idea is that a CREW might be CUT from four to three!
25 Secure award for bravery husband put on seat (4,5)
WING CHAIR – WIN=secure + G.C.=award for bravery + H=husband + AIR=put on (broadcast). I went down some blind alleys before I saw this.
26 Semi-circular area, approximately (5)
CIRCA – CIRC=”semi” CIRCular + A=area. Cute.
27 What hotel can represent in resort in excellent location (5)
NICHE – H=hotel in NICE=resort on the Côte d’Azur.
28 Guns not well positioned in middle of major thoroughfare (9)
ARTILLERY – ILL in middle of ARTERY.
1 Navigational guide read, lost at sea (8)
2 Man on board heard making laconic statement on retiring (5)
NIGHT – sounds like (heard) KNIGHT=man on (chess) board.
3 After short time replaced brute in one lively dance or another (9)
JITTERBUG – T=time + (BRUTE)* in JIG=lively dance.
4 Must, after picking up another European, stop on voyage (5,2)
HEAVE TO – HAVE TO=must, picking up another E=European.
5 Lay a fish upside-down in small river (7)
SECULAR – A + LUCE=(pike) fish, upside-down in S + R. I didn’t know the fish. Another that was luckily biffable.
6 Then again, holding one of our services is certainly not rare (5)
BURNT – BUT=then again, holding RN.
7 Calm surrounds bird landing after flight (9)
STAIRHEAD – STAID=calm surrounds RHEA=bird.
8 One line cast in burn, on the surface (6)
SINGLE – L=line, cast in SINGE=burn, on the surface.
14 Young person in charge securing support, appealing to viewers (9)
TELEGENIC -TEEN=young person + I.C.=in charge, securing LEG=support.
15 Shown phone conversation briefly in two languages (9)
PROVENÇAL – PROVEN=shown, as in a mathematical proof + CALL=phone conversation, briefly.

Why two languages, I wondered? It seems Provençal was a standard and literary language in France and northern Spain in the 12th to 14th century and was widely used as a vehicle for poetry; it was the primary language of the medieval troubadours. Nowadays, Provençal is a dialect of modern French.

16 Continental peninsula, dry area surrounded by sea (8)
BRITTANY – TT=dry + A=area, surrounded by BRINY=sea.
18 Arrange a couple of acts around old piece of music (7)
19 In bar, reading or writing piece of text (7)
EXCERPT – R=reading, writing (or arithmetic) in EXCEPT=bar.
20 Expert on selection naturally has centre half switched for draw at home (6)
DARWIN – DRAW IN, with the middle letters of the first word switched. Inventive! Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species.
22 Pronouncement of e.g. Yale or Oxford philosopher (5)
LOCKE – sounds like (pronouncement of) LOCK=Yale, for example.
24 Inserting last of answers, complete patient solution and show irritation (5)
CURSE – CURE=complete patient solution, inserting last of answerS.

29 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28614 – Saturday, 27 May 2023. Easing toward Summer.”

  1. 39 minutes. Like others, I didn’t understand the ‘two languages’ element in the PROVENCAL clue. Nor did I understand ‘three men in a rowing boat’ at 23ac. LUCE as a fish was unknown to me or possibly forgotten, but it doesn’t appear to have come up before.

    None of the above affected my solving significantly but I was generally a bit on the slow side.

  2. 22:14
    Ditto everyone on Provençal. And ditto Jack on the 3-man crew; I thought there were eight, forgot about the 4. Puzzled by NICHE; H can represent a hotel, but vice versa? I liked STAIRHEAD in that a flightless bird is used. But COD to LONG JOHNS.

        1. Kevin, if you’re not signed up to receive it you may have missed Mick Hodgkin’s bulletin today which discusses single-letter abbreviations and the NATO alphabet in particular. In the light of recent discussions here I found it very interesting. Here’s the link .

  3. Above the clue for LONGJOHNS, I wrote ‘Faraway toilet’ you’d be out of breath when you got there, and a smiley face. I did parse as comments above though.
    Like others, I didn’t know the reason for ‘two languages’ and ‘Three men in a rowing boat’ assuming it might have something to do with the novel.
    I BIFD AUTOBIOGRAPHER parsing after and needed the blog to understand the parsing of LOI CIRCA and EXCERPT.

  4. 78m 12s of which 30 mins was spent on PROVENÇAL. Far too obscure for a regular crossword in my opinion.
    Did like CREW CUT, though.
    Thanks, Bruce.

  5. Agree easier than usual. FOI LODESTAR, LOI CREW CUT COD LONG JOHNS. The second language delayed and still puzzles me. the only criticism of an otherwise excellent puzzle. The Langue d’oc might be a clue to this but I always thought this was spoken in the eponymous area to the west of Provence, not in Provence, which spoke the lamgue d’oui. Thanks, Setter and Brnchn.

  6. Breezed through the left hand side of this but came unstuck a bit on the right. Took me too long to see and then work out 6ac BASIS, 7d STAIRHEAD and 15d PROVENÇAL. But got there in the end in the customary hour or so. I’ll never be speedy! Liked 6d BURNT, for some reason. Thanks to all.

  7. 90 minutes. All done in an hour except for BRITTANY, which I would never have got if I hadn’t consulted a list of peninsulas.

  8. 28.33 but thought there might be such a thing as a WIND CHAIR and a distinguished cross. I can see now that that was a nonsense!

    Rather a good crossie I thought. Some nice surfaces. Take the point on the definition for PROVENCAL but the w/p was gettable.

    Thanks Bruce and setter

    1. He he. I thought of WIND CHAIR too. I eventually decided there was no such thing as a D.C.

  9. I mostly enjoyed this, but like others the definition for PROVENÇAL had me scratching my head. I also couldn’t work out what role “another” was playing in HEAVE TO. It seems superfluous to me and the lack of any explanation here hasn’t persuaded me otherwise yet.

      1. To have “another” of something, there has to have been a previous instance of it, no? So where was that in this clue?

        1. “Have to” has one e in it. You have to add another e (European) in order to arrive at “heave to”.

          1. You’re probably right, but referring back to a letter in a clued synonym seems kind of indirect and unfair to me. Oh well…

            1. At first scan, I suspected the definition was “stop on voyage”. Once I dredged the term up from memory (and the helpers), the wordplay was clear.

  10. 33 minutes. Didn‘t think about the Provencal thing at the time, but I think it can only be referring to the difference between medieval Provencal and the modern dialect. My Loi was actually SING(L)E, so everyone finds different things hard I think.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  11. Pleased to need help with PROVENÇAL, BRITTANY and NICHE only (had pencilled in ‘aitch’ thinking it must have something to do with NATO alphabet – it did, but not in the way I thought!). Liked WING CHAIR and LONG JOHNS. A better performance than usual for me. A very enjoyable hour. Many thanks Bruce.

  12. DNF – another ‘wind chair’ here. Enjoyable otherwise.

    COD Secular

  13. 57 minutes, but most of the puzzle was quite easy. WING CHAIR, DARWIN and NICHE gave me a little trouble, but STAIRHEAD accounted for the last 10 or 15 minutes of solving time all by itself (I had to think of the word in the first place and then find the calm and the bird in it). CREW CUT is very good, once you have it explained to you.

  14. Really enjoyed this: right up my alley, as we used to say. LONG JOHNS went straight in (not on), and thereafter the answers fell steadily. That is, apart from being completely foxed by 11a where I was working on a letter count of 5/2 instead of 2/5 ( bit dyslexic I think), and had determined that the expression had to be “stone me!”; which of course threw 2 and 3 d out. On eventually rereading the clue I performed the slap to the forehead (a lot of it about these days) and got it right. So all present and correct in about 50 minutes – with plenty of interruptions. CODs to LONG JOHNS ( are they still around?) and STAIRHEAD, though CREW CUT was pretty good too.

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