Times Cryptic No 28625 — I fought the law

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

55:25, making this one of the harder puzzles I’ve managed to complete. Very few clues gave up their secrets easily, but everything was solvable with a bit of chin-scratching. Many references to law, many comparisons and superlatives.

1 Returning explorer in charge of filling ship: a cutter (8)
SCISSORS – ROSS (explorer) + I.C. (in charge of) reversed in S.S. (ship)
9 Sealed informal refusal to stop nude rambling (8)
UNOPENED – NOPE (informal refusal) in anagram of NUDE
10 One’s certainly not quietly reflecting — give time to? (8)
IMPRISON – I’M (one’s) + reversal of NO SIR (certainly not) + P (quietly — piano, in music)

Great definition that had me fooled til near the end.

11 Need a key to set loose helpless viewer (5,3)
NAKED EYE – anagram of NEED A KEY

‘Helpless’ meaning, ‘without help’.

12 Most daring to draw on money, then skint on vacation (10)
DOUGHTIEST – TIE (draw) on DOUGH (money) + S{kin}T

Took me ages to think of a synonym for ‘draw’.

14 I would catch cold: never again? (4)
ONCE – ONE (I) around C (cold)
15 Heading for success within month: euphoric! (2,3,2)

I could not have been more angry at myself for missing this hidden!

17 Policeman, one with crowd, giving help to direct (7)
COPILOT – COP (policeman) + I (one) + LOT (crowd)
21 Message of note by journalist’s ending (4)
TEXT – TE (note) + X (by — as in 4×4) + last letter of JOURNALIST
22 Each week, finally husband wears shirt for work with suit (5,5)
BLEAK HOUSE – EA (each) + last letter of WEEK + H (husband) in BLOUSE (shirt)

A Dickens novel I haven’t read, that is apparently about a court case involving conflicting wills.

23 Muscles displayed by four dozen rugby players (3-5)
SIX-PACKS – 4 x 12 = 6 x 8

There are eight rugby players in a pack.

25 Appear to have finished scan (4,4)
LOOK OVER – LOOK (appear) + OVER (finished)
26 Island’s legal system blocking appeals by one (8)
SULAWESI – LAW (legal system) in SUES (appeals) + I (one)
27 Multicoloured trousers a boy took off (8)
PARODIED – PIED (multicolored) around A + ROD (boy)

I didn’t know ‘trouser’ in the sense ‘steal’.

2 Drop jokes etc, almost all personal (8)
COMEDOWN – COMED{y} (jokes etc) + OWN (personal)
3 No good for wife of brother to display fortitude (8)
STRENGTH – NG (no good) replaces W (wife) in STREWTH (brother!)

A mild oath.

4 Kilometre trails go from suburbs, always ending in city (4)
OMSK – K (kilometre) after last letters of GO FROM SUBURBS
5 Moslem, I hesitate to say, is more cheerful (7)
SUNNIER – SUNNI (Moslem) + ER (“I hesitate to say”)
6 Skin blemish to be somehow acceptable, we note down here? (10)
POCKETBOOK – POCK (skin blemish) + anagram (somehow) of TO BE + OK (acceptable)

I only realized upon blogging that I read this wrong, to my benefit. In the US, a POCKETBOOK is a purse, hence where you might keep a ‘note’. I hadn’t read the word ‘we’ at all, thankfully. In trying to make sense of it, I came to learn that for y’all a POCKETBOOK is just a notebook kept in the pocket.

7 Popular expectation, ultimately wild all round, is confounded (8)
INFERNAL – IN (popular) + last letter of EXPECTATION in FERAL (wild)
8 Sticking poster chap has torn (8)
ADHERENT – AD (poster) + HE (chap) + RENT (torn)

ADHERENT as an adjective, not noun.

13 One turned agonisingly from gang after attempts to get picked up (10)
THUMBSCREW – CREW (gang) after THUMBS (attempts to get picked up [as a hitchhiker])

Incredibly misleading clueing: none of ‘turned’, ‘agonisingly’, ‘picked up’ having cryptic meanings.

15 Least intelligent pupil previously useless in exam (8)
OBTUSEST – O.B. (pupil previously) + U/S (useless) in TEST (exam)
16 His return now would make him wealthier? Or poorer? (3,5)
TAX EXILE – double definition

A tax exile’s current tax return makes him wealthier. A return to his home country would make him poorer. (The word ‘would’ doesn’t quite work in the first meaning, but I still like the clue.)

18 Saw with difficulty through this unusual, frameless “door-window”? (8)
IRONWOOD – anagram of {d}OOR-WINDO{w}
19 He passed on one note out of habit? (8)
OBSOLETE – OB. (he passed) + SOLE (one) + TE (note)
20 Reveal cricketer has time for golf (3,4)
LET SLIP – LEG SLIP (cricketer) with T (time) instead of G (golf)
24 Sound made by small hole in bucket (4)
POUR – homophone of PORE (small hole)

67 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28625 — I fought the law”

  1. Apologies: This refers to yesterday’s puzzle.
    Very late I posted a link to a certain Midshipman. Great fun !

  2. Certainly the… chewiest of the week. Just because I don’t want to say “tough”… ha.
    I managed to parse everything before I came here except the rugby clue for SIX-PACKS.
    POI BLEAK HOUSE, because I haven’t read it, LOI OBSOLETE, probably because the definition is unusual.

  3. Really enjoyed that, very hard without being obscure or obtuse. Everything clear once entered – except perhaps TAX EXILE which still leaves me a little nonplussed. Edit: and having posted that the penny suddenly dropped: his (tax) return now makes him richer, his (physical) return makes him poorer. I missed that in the solve.

    Too many good clues to pick a COD, but BLEAK HOUSE gets it.

    1. That seems very similar to what I wrote in the blog. Is there a way I could improve the wording that would have been clearer to you?

  4. I don’t have an exact solving time because I forgot to note when I started, but assuming it was within 5 minutes of completing the QC I reckon I needed a few minutes under an hour. The last quarter of the time was spent on 4 clues that were reluctant to give up their secrets.

    DOUGHTHIEST and COMEDOWN were my last two in. I don’t know BLEAK HOUSE other than its title but remembered that one of Dickens’s novels involves a never-ending court case referred to as Jarndyce vs Jarndyce and assumed that must be the suit in question. I only knew of this because it has been mentioned in crossword clues a number of times over the years.

    1. Actually, Jarndyce and Jarndyce does end, when court costs have consumed the estate.

  5. 38:15
    I went offline at about 35′, with INFERNAL, COPILOT, & IRONWOOD to do, went off to the gym, and when I came back I saw almost instantly. Actually, I’d thought of INFERNAL from ‘confounded’ and typed it in, but couldn’t see how it worked so deleted it. Like Jeremy, I missed the hidden ON THE UP, but then unlike Jeremy, I always miss hiddens. DNK TAX EXILE. Biffed THUMBSCREW, parsed post-submission; what Jeremy says about the clueing. I also liked STRENGTH and INFERNAL. The setter uses one=I/I=one 4 times: 10ac, 14 ac, 17ac, 26ac.

  6. Gave it 50m but packed in about 8 clues short.
    – Failed to spot the anagram for IRONWOOD, expecting some classical architectural word
    – Couldn’t crack the NW despite getting SCISSORS straightaway at the outset. Feel slightly peeved not to have thought of COMED_ or DOUGH…
    …but really this was too tough for me, don’t think I’ve ever managed a 150-plus SNITCH. Thanks PJ and setter

    1. Exactly my thoughts, Denise, despite like you, thinking that getting SCISSORS in quickly was a good omen! Also peeved about the (slightly) more obvious ones not being more apparent to me.
      Ho hum; but a Snitch of over 150 is above my pay grade. Gave up halfway through.

  7. Off the wavelength today, stopped after 35′ with many undone. Had to come here for the parsing of BLEAK HOUSE, despite having read the book and seen a TV dramatisation. I also used to hitchhike a lot, but failed to get THUMBSCREW.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  8. 30:10. I struggled close to a finish, then like Kevin needed a break to reset. On returning I managed to knock off SULAWESI, POUR and OBSOLETE. POUR gave me the most trouble, as although I saw the definition for some time the only homophone I could think of was “poor”. Pore seems fairly obvious with hindsight. SULAWESI rang a vague bell, though having solved it I still thought the definition was “Island’s” and the island itself was probably called “Sulawi”

  9. Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
    Its Strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
    (To Sleep, Keats)

    35+ mins mid-brekker. A good test for a Friday. I liked it.
    Ta setter and PJ.

  10. A proper Friday puzzle, and I very much enjoyed it. I did biff a couple (TEXT and ON THE UP) but parsed both quickly enough afterwards.

    I bought a paperback copy of BLEAK HOUSE but every time I look at the bookshelf for my next reading venture the sheer size of it leaves me choosing another option.

    TIME 11:21

  11. I’ve only just gone to Snitch – 166, and Magoo took almost three times as long as me ! Now THAT wouldn’t happen at a Championship 😂

    1. I saw that Magoo was way down the list and assumed he’d left the timer running by accident while attending to something else.

    2. I’m guessing he was making a video for his YouTube channel. Doing a running commentary always adds a huge amount to the time. Cf SimonAnthony, who often posts much slower times on Fridays, the day they usually do a Times crossword video.

  12. 20:43

    Very tricky indeed. I’m slightly ashamed that I didn’t know the name of the world’s 11th largest island and had to rely on wordplay (a tricky job in itself involving discounting either or both of S.A. and IT for the appeals).

    I also struggled with COPILOT, having considered that combination of letters based on WP but not recognising what I saw as COP-I-LOT rather than CO-PILOT as a word.

    Enjoyable challenge.

    1. I must have thought “well COP-I-LOT isn’t a word” about 3 or 4 times before I finally got it!

  13. Really pleased with 15.48 as felt like a proper toughie.

    One of the challenges I set myself this year was to regularly complete 150+ SNITCH crosswords in under 20 minutes as I’ve been struggling to complete them at all let alone in under 20 mins

    This was technically a fail with a brain-fade of SALAWESI giving me a pink square but pleased with progress nevertheless

    No real idea about BLEAK HOUSE or IRONWOOD but the word play got me there

    Thanks J and setter

  14. I spent too much time trying to justify NAUGHTIEST. Was there an obscure unit of currency somewhere, the Naugh?
    Lots of tricky disguised definitions. An enjoyable workout.

  15. That’s no way to welcome a chap back from holiday. I surrendered after about fifty minutes as I ought now to be catching up on other things. I’d had to cheat on SULAWESI and wasn’t even close to IRONWOOD. Great PDM when crossers gave me SIX PACKS. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  16. 42:40
    A very good crossword. This is exactly what one pays one’s money for. Well done, setter.
    Thanks, pj.

  17. 90m 16s
    Tuff, tuff, tuff!
    Thank you, Plus Jeremy, for the parsing of BLEAK HOUSE , OBSOLETE and STRENGTH.
    I enjoyed SIX PACKS and THUMBSCREWS.
    Very pleased to have completed that without the use of artificial aids such as Word Wizard.

  18. 19:01. I found that very hard but I thought it was superb. Lots of really clever and deceptive stuff.

  19. 58 minutes with the last 10 or 15 spent trying to work out (NHO) SULAWESI. I thought the legal system might be LEX and was trying to work out something ending LEXI, before finally thinking what if it‘s just LAW and then putting SUES round it and I googled the result and there it was. Now I know!
    Apart from that, it was hard but not impossible. (Though I‘d never heard of Ross the explorer either, but scissors was obvious luckily) Exactly the kind of puzzle I need to keep upping my game.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  20. 1hr 2.17. This was a real struggle and I was very happy to complete it eventually without aids. Clue of the day to 22a as it referenced one of Dickens’s finest novels.

  21. This felt well above my pay grade, and I submitted off the leaderboard because after I cheated to get SULAWESI (would anybody pinpoint that in Where Is Kazakhstan?) I gave in to accepting help from Magic Chambers on more clues than I’m prepared to acknowledge.
    In retrospect, and perhaps on a more awake day, I might have done better, and the cluing was fiendish in many places but just this side of fair. I’m still not wholly convinced by “appeals” for SUES in the island: there’s a nodding acquaintance but not much more.
    I liked the SIX PACKS, but not “most daring” for DOUGHTIEST (another with a nodding acquaintance) and I was put off ADHERENT by the “chap’s” in the clue suggesting adHESion/ive would be more likely if you could still account for the “torn”.
    A chastening, and in my case, unsatisfying experience, but I can see that it’s a good, challenging crossword.

  22. Sulawesi sticks in my mind because it is such an oddly shaped landmass. Sort of looks like a scorpion.

  23. Like Denise Tremble, I gave up on the hour, exhausted and with half the NW corner unanswered. I had SCISSORS and had bunged in STRENGTH with no idea why, but could not see for the life of me IMPRISON, DOUGHTIEST or OMSK.

    Oh well.

    Thank Jeremy and extremely tricky setter.

  24. 17:55, just what you want on a Friday (or at least once in a while). Lots of clues which seemed impenetrable at first, but which were suddenly much more obvious once you’d turned the clue to look at it the right way. Solid entertainment amid the head-scratching.

  25. Having stared at the wonderful clue for Bleak House for five minutes, dumbly failing to find a justification, I came to the conclusion that this was going to take longer than Jarndyce and Jarndyce and then fell asleep. On waking I was chuffed to collapse over the line with reasons.
    IRONWOOD held out for an age, which was apt for it is well-named; there’s a fine specimen in the Cambridge Botanical Gardens (Trumpington Road end) quite close to a blushing Judas tree. There’s a story that the Master of Queens’ was telling the tale to a guest, and when interrupted with, “What? Hung himself from this very tree?”, unfazed replied, “No, Judas was an Oxford man.”
    A very fine puzzle; compliments to the setter and to Jeremy for a very deft explanation.
    Watch ignored in a huff after the hour mark, nap excluded:
    80′ – ish, probably more.

  26. 74 minutes. Just happy to have completed this with all parsed except for STRENGTH and quite a few more solved first, parsed later. I liked DOUGHTIEST, my LOI and a word I haven’t heard of in ages.

  27. Very worried about Galspray’s performance, well inside Magoo and gold medalist on handicap, AKA the WITCH.

    I pray this is not a foreshadowing of The Ashes. There are only so many catches you can drop and no-balls you can bowl, and they seem to be doing it all against India.

  28. 8m 24s, finishing on SULAWESI, which I didn’t know and had to piece together from the wordplay. Felt on the wavelength today.

    COD to THUMBSCREW, but COMEDOWN & STRENGTH were also great.

  29. 31:50. DNK SULAWESI which I assembled from the instructions after my LOI, TAX EXILE, finally eliminated SUDANESI. Terrific puzzle

  30. Oof! That was hard going. Pleased that I managed to finish and parse everything except STRENGTH. SUNNIER was FOI. OMSK came along after SCISSORS. COMEDOWN, DOUGHTIEST and POUR were the last to fall, with POUR taking an age and several alphabet trawls before I managed to lift and separate correctly. Fine puzzle. 45:17. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  31. Well, that’s the hardest puzzle SNITCHwise that I have ever completed, and I did it mistakenly via the club, removing the ability to check ideas, which I do when stuck on the harder puzzles.

    It was gettable though – I had all the vocab and GK, just not the ability to unpick the clues in good time.

    IMPRISON, OMSK and POUR gave me the most hassle, and when I eventually got the shorter 2, I was a bit disappointed in myself.


  32. Needed to self-trepan to let the steam out of my brain after that one !

  33. 59:37

    Snuck in just under the hour with LOI the guessed SULAWESI (NHO). No other NHOs though did have to look at COPILOT twice (another wondering whether there was such a thing as a COP-I-LOT).

    Failed to parse STRENGTH, wasn’t sure of OB in OBSOLETE, and only appreciated TAX EXILE on reading Jezza’s explanation. SIX PACKS bunged in without knowing how big a rugby PACK is (hated it at school, always stuck on the wing as I was quick, but no one ever passes to you).

    Enjoyed BLEAK HOUSE (good book!) and DOUGHTIEST. Lots of enjoyable moments when realising all of the pieces of a tricky clue fit…

    Thanks setter and Jeremy

  34. With barely half done, I finally gave in after 50 minutes, blaming the heat. A first-rate puzzle. Jeremy’s blog lead to a number of loud “doh!”s.

    I’ve never read BLEAK HOUSE but I strongly recommend the BBC 2005 Adaptation .

    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter

  35. Thanks, Jeremy, for explaining 21ac. I understood the TE and the T from the wordplay and had the X from our tax exile friend but couldn’t for the life of me see the ‘by = times’ bit (which normally presents no problem).
    As for the word ‘would’ in 16dn, as he is a tax exile, perhaps he isn’t required to file a tax return?

  36. 40 mins finishing with queries on OMSK and STRENGTH which I had to come here to understand. Thanks Jeremy!
    I thought this was a very tight, accurately clued puzzle. Whoever was the setter, hats off to you.

  37. Well beyond me today – managed about a quarter of it before deciding life is just too short. Even having read the blog – for which thanks, as ever – I wouldn’t have come close to a finish. Dinner is all prepped and ready for cooking though.

  38. Gave it 70 minutes and then gave up with SULAWESI and IRONWOOD defeating me. In spite of the disappointment in not making it, I enjoyed doing it and my COD definitely goes to BLEAK HOUSE. I remember the tv adaptation many moons ago starring Eric Porter which was superb, and a later version starring the lovely Gillian Anderson.

  39. Solved a few clues easily, then breezed through the rest without bothering to parse quite a few. Just fitted words in around the crossing letters. 30 minutes total. Too hot today to drag it out. Probably not a serious way to solve a crossword!

  40. Unfinished, 6 clues unsolved after 60 + mins.
    BLEAK HOUSE, good book, Dickens’ best IMO. Thought to be first detective novel. Thanks all.

    1. Further research shows that while The Mystery of Edwin Drood does get some mentions as one of the first detective stories, actually Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins are most often credited with this distinction.

  41. Crikey. Over four hours all told, but got there in the end.

    SE corner did not give up its secrets easily, especially OBSOLETE and IRONWOOD.

    COD to DOUGHTIEST, which I should have got sooner.

  42. I ‘m glad everyone else thought it was hard, too. It took me just over an hour, except for one clue, POUR, which took another 15 minutes or so. At first ROAR was the only sound word I could think of, but RAR couldn’t mean “bucket”, and finally I realized “bucket” was the definition and POUR had to be the answer, although I was wondering whether PUR could be the sound of a small (cat?) with a hole in it; I never thought of pore as a homonym (and it isn’t one for me). All the rest of the puzzle was also very hard, with many delightfully misleading and somewhat obscure clues (SULAWESI), but I got through them in the end. COD to THUMBSCREW, which I feel we have been put through (but it didn’t hurt that much).

  43. I learned SULAWESI as Celebes and still have maps and atlases with the latter. Apparently it was the Portuguese who called it Celebes as their approximation of the native Sulawesi.

  44. Around 50 but got the island slightly wrong

    Stuck in the NW for ages but punted SCISSORS and then saw how it worked.

    Thought some of this was a bit tortuous at the time but a couple of laugh out loud moments (STREWTH) made me realise this was actually rather good

    The clue for BLEAK HOUSE is brilliant as is the book which is one of the few Dickens I’ve finished, but loved. Maybe the best things in life all need a bit of perseverence…like this puzzle

    Thanks Jeremy and fiendish setter

  45. DNF, defeated by SULAWESI (never heard of it), OBSOLETE (should have got it) and TAX EXILE (the ‘tax’ bit was obvious, but even with the X checker I never got near ‘exile’).

    Didn’t have a clue what was going on with STRENGTH, parsed BLEAK HOUSE without knowing what it has to do with suits, and tried to justify ‘pockmarked’ for 6d until figuring out which bit was the definition and getting POCKETBOOK.

    A fine puzzle, beyond me in the end. Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Parodied

  46. This must be the toughest one for some time. I eventually got home, but the clock had stopped by the time I finished. And I misspelt my nho SULAWESI.
    On the blog I am not sure ‘trouser’ means ‘steal’. For me it is not criminal or immoral. If I trouser a few quid, it may all be above board. But I do not recall it being used before in a crossword to indicate words or letters contained within others.
    LOI – POUR
    Thanks to jeremy and other contributors.

  47. 26:34 with 8 minutes on my last handful. Tricky but lots to enjoy. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

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