Times Cryptic No 28662 – Saturday, 22 July 2023. Short and sweet.

I was struck by how compact the clues were in this puzzle. It reminded me of the Sunday Cryptics! And, all very gettable.

Strangely, as I posted this blog some hours in advance, the solution still hadn’t appeared on the Club site. I hope it will be there by the time the next week’s puzzle appears – and that their solution matches mine! Anyway, how did you all get on?

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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 Ruler’s wife cheers, breaking small bone (7)
SULTANA – TA=cheers, breaking S=small + ULNA=bone. My first thought was TSARINA, but that wouldn’t fit.
5 Tidy up Christmas tree sometimes (6)
SPRUCE – two definitions. Reluctantly, I think “up” must be part of the first definition. I say that because, as a verb, I would always say “spruce up”, but the dictionaries allow “spruce” by itself.
8 You might blow it by admitting to blunder on file (9)
RASPBERRY – RASP=file + BY admitting ERR=blunder.
9 Stick man (5)
STAFF – two definitions. No quibbles about these definitions.
11 State of liquor knocked back by queen (5)
NIGERNIG=GIN (liquor), knocked back + ER.
12 Firm with large advertisement for one working with horses (6,3)
13 Dessert stuffed with meat for American cooking event (8)
CLAMBAKECAKE=dessert stuffed with LAMB.
15 Creature missing a close friend (6)
BESTIE BEASTIE missing A. My first thought was to take an A out of BEAST, but where was the IE to come from? Aha – remember “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns?

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle!
7 Stick with statement from one who’s sickly? (6)
IMPALEI’M PALE, says the sick one.
19 Strengthen lock on entrances to building under threat (8)
BUTTRESSBUT = first letters (entrances) to Building Under Threat + TRESS=lock (of hair).
22 Fund, then sell, location of an early flight (5,4)
KITTY HAWKKITTY=fund + HAWK=sell. Where the Wright brothers took flight.
23 Excuse boxer liking both men and women (5)
ALIBI – (Mohammed) ALI + BI=likes both men and women. Not something you would have wanted to say to him, I suspect.
24 Turned source of water green (5)
NAIVEEVIAN=source of mineral water, turned backwards.
25 Actor in drag ate nuts (9)
26 Close pack when approaching dormitory at last (6)
STUFFY STUFF=pack (a suitcase, for example) + Y=dormitorY, at last.
27 Pupil runs into a certain Italian tower? (7)
LEARNER –  R=runs, into LEANER=one way to describe that tower in Pisa.
1 Bring about the release of cowardly youngster (6,7)
SPRING CHICKEN SPRING=bring about the release of + CHICKEN=cowardly.
2 Galas distributed an up-and-coming dish (7)
LASAGNA – (GALAS)* +  NA=an, up-and-coming (in a down clue).
3 Warning: this may contain bugs! (5)
AMBER – two definitions: the traffic light, or the fossil resin.
4 A resource for journalists is cut after going downhill? (5-3)
APRES-SKI A + PRESS KI(T)=resource for journos, cut.
5 Dog from Scotland reportedly in US space station (6)
SKYLAB – sounds (reportedly) like a Skye Lab (arf arf).
6 One getting stuck into new Listener that’s tough (9)
RESILIENT I=one, stuck into (LISTENER)*
7 Man permitted flowery wreath (7)
CHAPLET – CHAPLET. Not a word I knew.
10 Frustrated at first, I’d acquire cricket player’s stress reliever (6,7)
FIDGET SPINNER F=Frustrated, at first + I’D GET=I’d acquire + SPINNER=cricket player. On edit: apparently our community doesn’t waste our time with executive toys! Here’s what it is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidget_spinner
14 Tyrant, with complaint, preserved meat (5,4)
BULLY BEEF –  BULLY + BEEF. No explanation needed.
16 Some letters from chap caught underneath boat (4,4)
JUNK MAIL JUNK=boat + MAIL=sounds like (caught) MALE.
18 Public disturbance to support glib nationalist (7)
PATRIOT PAT=glib + RIOT=public disturbance.
20 Issue something treasonous with no introduction (7)
21 Last of sugar put into unhealthy-looking tart (6)
PASTRY – last of sugaR put into PASTY=unhealthy-looking.
23 Scout leader seen in fake lashes (5)
AKELA – hidden (seen in) f AKE LA shes. Akela was the mistress of my cub troop.

26 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28662 – Saturday, 22 July 2023. Short and sweet.”

  1. All correct for me, and I don’t remember any issues. If you were not in the cubs, AKELA might not have been very obvious, better known as the wolf mother in the Jungle Book. I think a CLAMBAKE is an east coast thing, but there is a famous Elvis Presley movie of that name or else i’d probably never heard of it.

  2. 12:35 but
    I don’t know what, or if, I was thinking when I flung in BULK MAIL at 16d. Other than that it was for me, as for Vinyl, the easiest Saturday ever; I have ‘meh’ written by my time. LOI NHO FIDGET SPINNER; having Googled it, I could add that I’d never seen one either.

  3. 45m 39s
    I found it a very good and straightforward puzzle but not quite as easy as vinyl found it.
    10d FIDGET SPINNER. NHO it. What have I missed?
    22ac KITTY HAWK. After an entire career in aviation, no problem there. I once came across a cargo airline by that name.
    Lots to like and some nice surfaces especially 19ac and 16d (“chap caught”: very good)
    26ac: STUFFY. I toyed with ‘steamy’ and ‘sweaty’ before stuffy suggested itself.
    In the COD category: APRES SKI, RASPBERRY and AMBER.
    Thanks Bruce.

  4. 26 minutes was probably a record for me for a Saturday prize puzzle.

    I missed the KI{t} element in APRES SKI and NHO FIDGET SPINNER but worked it out.

    This Was A Real Nice CLAMBAKE is a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel so I had no problem with that one. It’s set in Maine which fits the geography of Paul’s theory.

  5. Oh dear. I did not find this quite so easy. I needed crossers to understand what several of the clues were after even though they turned out to be quite straightforward in the end. So clearly half asleep.
    LOI AMBER (believe it or not)
    About an hour’s pleasant distraction.

    Thank you branch and setter

  6. Completed in 45 minutes. FOI 1ac SULTANA, and steady progress thereafter to the finish. Can’t remember LOI. Found this one very satisfying as the mental cogs whirred round to parse each clue. Particularly pleased with 19ac BUTTRESS and understanding the process to get there. Hadn’t realised this one was super-easy packed with “chestnuts”, which takes the shine off a wee bit. I thought I was getting the hang of it! Anyway, again, thanks for all the lessons learned here. And thanks, of course, to this week’s setter and blogger.

  7. All done and parsed other than APRES-SKI I don’t know how I didn’t see the wordplay as the PRESS bit was clear.
    I didn’t know the stress reliever but the wordplay was clear. I looked it up after so now I know.
    The only other one I had a question mark against was PATRIOT as I wasn’t sure if PAT=glib. I guessed it must but I couldn’t see it.

  8. DNF; I have never used the term BESTIE and never will, and couldn’t find it. DOH, but I can’t claim NHO. I just never think of informal/not “real” English words in Xwords.
    Big MER at a repeated (from a few months ago when I moaned about it) logic fail with 23a ALIBI. An alibi tries to prove I wasn’t there. On the other hand an excuse is offered when I am not denying the crime, but would like to be let off more lightly. Generally one will decide whether to use an alibi or an excuse, but not both. They can never be synonymous.
    On the other hand having met this logic fail before it took no time at all to solve.

    1. I agree with you about ALIBI, but sadly pure English is again ignored!

      Chambers has:

      alibi /alˈi-bī/
      The plea in a criminal charge of having been elsewhere at the relevant time
      The fact of being elsewhere
      An excuse for failure (informal)
      transitive verb
      To provide an alibi for
      ORIGIN: L alibī elsewhere, orig locative, from alius other

  9. 9m

    Lots of biffing, including FIDGET SPINNER – the crossword solving community’s capacity for ignorance of worldwide crazes continues to confound. Congratulations guys.

  10. Don’t remember any real problems with this one. Only NHOs were CHAPLET, junk=boat in JUNK MAIL and pat=glib in PATRIOT, but all three were clear enough.

    FOI Alibi
    LOI Skylab
    COD Spring chicken

  11. 23.07

    SPRUCE might be a chestnut but it didn’t occur to me to go beyond fir and pine. D’oh. I was also assuming RESILIENT was going to insolvent till I bothered to read the clue. Well over 5 minutes on those two at the end.

    Nice puzzle. Thanks Branch and setter

  12. 27’35”
    Quickly out of the stalls, stayed on.
    Quite challenging, despite, as Bruce pointed out, being quite minimalist.
    I knew I needed Wilbur and Orville’s gaff but couldn’t remember it until
    the fowl went in.
    Thank you Bruce and setter.

  13. All correct for me in 20:23, which makes it the fastest Saturday Cryptic for me, and the first time my time corresponds to a date that is not in the past.

    I can’t remember any issues with it.

    CHAPLET is familiar from the proms, where the bust of Henry Wood is always garlanded with a chaplet of laurel.

    Thanks branch and setter

  14. 38.41 With most of it done in ten minutes I expected to see some quick times. I didn’t much like NHO CHAPLET. With chap appearing in the clue for 16 it seemed too obvious, so I resorted to the dictionary. Trying to make sense of BULK MAIL held me up for a bit but it was SPRING CHICKEN and the SW that took most of the time. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to branch.

  15. About 55 minutes, so not all easy, and DNF as I also had BULK MAIL and never thought of JUNK MAIL, although I would have known that was better. I needed AMBER to get RASPBERRY and SKYLAB (which for the life of me I couldn’t remember) and those, in that order, were my three LOI.

  16. Enjoyed being able to solve and parse most of this. I was left with SKYLAB (known but not remembered) and JUNK MAIL (didn’t know ‘caught’ was a homophone indicator so had dismissed ‘mail’ altogether – oh dear!). Like Jack I knew CLAMBAKE from Carousel. Looking forward to recognising a chestnut when I see one though -hopefully that’ll be soon. Many thanks for the blog branch. Can I just ask – are Saturday cryptics generally more gentle than weekday ones? Thanks

    1. Certainly I’ve felt we’ve had a fairly easy run on Saturdays over the last few months.

      1. Trying to make step up from the QC to the biggie so will continue trying the Saturday/Monday 15×15 in the first instance. Many thanks for your reply. R

        1. The QC is terrific for seeing the different forms of clue.

          Stepping up, you need to look for those clue types in deeper disguise, and get to grips with the full range of Times Crossword vocabulary. (Crosswords as a foreign language!!)

          The blogs are a huge help for seeing what you might have missed. Good luck!

  17. Clues looked pretty impenetrable to me at first, but worked hard at the exact parsing to get SULTANA, then NIGER and STABLE LAD (led gently in by “large advertisement”). Nearly ground to a halt then, but the clever BUTTRESS, KITTY HAWK and ALIBI all showed themselves. Never did spring SPRING CHICKEN or SPRUCE (forgotten Christmas tree), nor CHAPLET (NHO, but the C might have helped with 5a). Did an alphabet trawl for ?U?K, but for some reason dismissed JUNK! One of my CODs, with ALIBI, CLAMBAKE and RASPBERRY.

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