Times Cryptic No 28721 — Nighty night

DNF. I finished more than half of this one, and then started falling asleep uncontrollably for five minutes at a time. Very very tired coming out of a bout of Covid in our family, so I’ll have to count this one as a loss!

In writing up the answers, I came to realize how much knowledge I would have needed to do well on this puzzle. Humbling!

1 Military drilling site suggested by a padre? (6,6)
8 Klebb maybe lurking inside shot pedestrian (7)
PROSAIC – ROSA (Klebb maybe) in PIC (shot)

Unknown to me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Klebb

9 Sad-eyed clown wants mole to perish (7)
PIERROT – PIER (mole) + ROT (perish)

Unknown to me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mole_(architecture)

11 Soothing medicine was our common bond it’s said (7)
LINCTUS – homophone of LINKED US (was our common bond)
12 Split’s one hole briefly seen in chair (7)
SEAPORT – POR{e} (hole briefly) in SEAT (chair)


13 One likely to whine, produce howl or jabber? (5)
BOXER – double definition (dog, pugilist)
14 Ravel in US performing for all to see (9)
16 Sort loth to engage with characters in book? (9)
NONREADER – cryptic definition

I thought this was genius (and it fooled me). Let me know if I missed some wordplay here.

19 Royal killer snake one caught in savoury jelly (5)
ASPIC – ASP (royal killer) + I (one) + C (caught)

Cleopatra’s killer, I believe.

21 Begin perhaps denying lead to British PM twice (7)
ISRAELI – {d}ISRAELI (British PM twice)


23 Warrior adds iodine to a drink when heading west (7)
SAMURAI – A + RUM (drink) + AS (when) reversed (heading west) + I (iodine)
24 In sylvan retreat you get seductive look (4,3)
GLAD EYE – GLADE (sylvan retreat) + YE (you)
25 Blues on the Clyde winter ultimately aggravates (7)
RANGERS – {winte}R + ANGERS (aggravates)

Through internet searching, I have learned that the football club wears the color blue, and that their home stadium (Ibrox) is on the river Clyde.

26 Player one among Royals we backed, found outside (5,7)
JAMES STEWART – JAMES (one among royals) + WE reversed in START (found)

I got this answer easily enough, but I was thrown because I assumed WE = “one among Royals”.

1 Reportedly charge thieves in capital city (7)
PHOENIX – homophone of FEE (charge) + NICKS (thieves)

I live in the US and this still fooled the pants off me.

2 Fast breeder maybe crunched carrot, conserving energy (7)
REACTOR – anagram (crunched) of CARROT around E (energy)

Didn’t know this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor

3 Canine Charlie and Henry avoid when old man’s about (9)
DACHSHUND – C (Charlie) + H (Henry) + SHUN (avoid) in DAD (old man)

Remind me how we get H = ‘Henry’ again?

4 Shocked expressions where parrot appears in G&S (5)
GAPES – APE (parrot) in G S
5 Cow having crossed Scottish loch (7)
OVERAWE – OVER (crossed) + AWE (Scottish loch)

Didn’t know this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Awe

6 Emperor snatching victory — Uncle Sam perturbed (7)
NERVOUS – NERO (emperor) around (snatching) V (victory) + US (Uncle Sam [euphemism for the United States])

I imagine some may raise an eyebrow at the definition.

7 Mesmerising term used on book cover (12)
SPELLBINDING – SPELL (term) + BINDING (book cover)

I imagine some may raise an eyebrow at BINDING = ‘book cover’.

10 Drink, then another: smack’s supplied with ecstasy for complete blackout (5,7)
TOTAL ECLIPSE – TOT (drink) + ALE (another [drink]) + CLIP’S (smack’s) + E (ecstasy)
15 Concerning help that’s available if needed (2,7)
IN RESERVE – IN RE (concerning) + SERVE (help)
17 Spiritual liberation Irish see, taken in by simpleton (7)
NIRVANA – IR (Irish) + V (see) in NANA (simpleton)
18 Interpreter for example needed in late summer abroad? (7)
EXEGETE – E.G. (for example) in EX (late) + ÉTÉ (summer abroad [in French])

Kept stubbornly wanting ‘late’ = OB.

19 Country stadium separately accommodating a thousand and one (7)
ARMENIA – ARENA (stadium) around M (a thousand) and I (one)
20 Shelter taken after river beginning to rise — bad sign? (7)
PORTENT – TENT (shelter) after PO (river) + R{ise}
22 Roman date involving Proba’s final thoughts (5)
IDEAS – IDES (Roman date) around {prob}A

86 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28721 — Nighty night”

  1. 3 Down: The henry (symbol: H) is the unit of electrical inductance in the International System of Units (SI)

  2. Not the hardest of the week, this Friday’s. I took the loch on faith, vaguely remembered Rosa after biffing, but otherwise all was known and nothing seemed “stretchy,” the word used so often for yesterday’s.

  3. Liked it. Mostly easy but then a giant DNF, didn’t think of player as actor so failed on Jimmy Stewart, the crossers weren’t kind enough. Liked the cleverly hidden bits and pieces like Begin and Split, and the whole clue for total eclipse.

  4. Goodness me, another very hard puzzle that I nearly gave up on overnight but managed to persevere and complete without resort to aids, although I came very close to doing so towards the end.

    The strange thing was, with 1ac going in straightway and all but one of its danglers too, I had thought for a while that I was in for an easy ride, but then I hit a wall and began to wonder if I would ever recover and pick myself up.

    The dangler that remained unsolved almost to the bitter end was PHOENIX, and the X-checker it provided gave me my LOI, BOXER. Prior to that I had been seriously considering ‘bayer’, thinking of animals howling at the moon. I felt that clue might be a triple definition but have been unable to make it so. If it’s not, why do we need ‘produce’ as ‘One likely to whine, howl or jabber’ would surely work just as well?

    I’m not familiar with IN RE meaning ‘concerning’ and gather it may be used more in legal jargon when most of us would just use ‘Re’.

    NHO Loch AWE, but took it on trust.

    JAMES STEWART was another very late arrival. That was the name of another actor too, a British one, but early in his career to avoid confusion he changed it to Stewart Granger.

    Like Vinyl1 I solved SPELLBINDING as a definition with a cryptic nudge and only spotted the wordplay after the event. SOED defines ‘binding’ as ‘the strong covering of a book holding the sheets together’, so I have no misgivings about it.

    1. I wondered this about BOXER. It still looks very odd to me and I can’t help feeling we’re missing something.

    2. I was also puzzled by BOXER. There’s a type of internal combustion engine called a boxer, which perhaps could produce a howl? Or a whine.

          1. They’re boxers, but both much smoother than the old Ferdinand Porsche ones, don’t clank and rattle as much. Think of the sound of a 1970 Bug or 911.

            1. It doesn’t seem from your replies that boxer engines are renowned for howling or whining, so it’s probably not that

  5. Whereupon it made this threne
    To the Phoenix and the Dove,
    Co-supremes and stars of love,
    As chorus to their tragic scene
    (The Phoenix and the Turtle, Shakespeare. Not his best work)

    25 mins mid-brekker. Neat and tidy. Mostly I liked Spellbinding.
    I got a kick out of Rosa Klebb too.
    Ta setter and PJ

  6. 24 minutes with LOI EXEGETE once NONREADER dawned on me. Rosa emerged from PROSAIC rather than the other way round. JAMES STEWART did come as a player at least. I’ve got two ear-worms today. TOTAL ECLIPSE has produced Bonnie Tyler of course, and SEAPORT Johnny Todd, as played as the theme tune from Z Cars which I once learnt to play with one finger on the piano. COD to PHOENIX. Oh hell, that will be three ear-worms by the time I get there. Enjoyable. Thank you PJ and setter.

      1. With this verse too.
        “Now the years are rolling by me,
        They are rocking evenly,
        I am older than I once was
        And younger than I’ll be,
        That’s not unusual.
        No, it isn’t strange,
        After changes upon changes
        We are more or less the same,
        After changes we are more or less the same.”

  7. 9:49. I was grateful that most of the required knowledge for this one happened to coincide with my own. The exceptions were EXEGETE, which was fine because I remembered vaguely that ‘exegesis’ meant something or other to do with explaining the bible, and Loch Awe, which was fine because what else could it be?

  8. 13:10. First time I’ve felt on the wavelength for a while, helped by knowing much of the GK today. However I did try to find a word for pedestrian with OLGA in it, misremembering Ms Klebb’s forename. Interestingly when I typed OLGA into my browser one of the top suggestions it came up with was Olga Klebb suggesting I’m not alone!

  9. Just under 26 minutes and very relaxing after yesterday‘s horror 😉
    Used to have family holidays in a hotel on Loch Awe when I was a child.
    LOI JAMES STEWART, took the last couple of minutes in fact, till I saw Start around we backed was stewart, then I cottoned on.
    Rosa Klebb I knew straight away, the lady with a poisoned knife hidden in her shoe!
    Thanks setter and Jeremy, gute Besserung

  10. I’m confused – don’t know whether to despair or celebrate. managed this in 25 minutes – took me nearly 30 for the quickie – what’s that all about? Thanks all!

  11. 20:30. Stuck for ages at the end by JAMES STEWART (I was trying to find something in CAST until an alphabet trawl got me to STEWART) and NONREADER where I was trying to grasp the (non-existent) wordplay. I’m another who wondered if BOXER could be a triple definition, but I can’t get it to work. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  12. 12:00

    I found this mostly straightforward, starting with PROSAIC and getting an immediate feel from that how the setter’s mind was working (e.g. using pedestrian in different parts of speech in wordplay and definition).

    Last two in were EXEGETE (I took a punt on that as opposed to EXETEGE) and J.S. I worked out STEWART from wordplay, and only figured out the first part once I’d landed on the right sort of player (footballers and musicians came to mind fist). I didn’t think the wordplay for JAMES was at all helpful.

  13. Slightly odd puzzle, I thought, with the very good PARADE GROUND to start and the painstakingly constructed DACHSHUND to follow swiftly. But approaching the end, what are we to make of NON(-)READER? I presume it’s a CD, as PJ says, but “sort loth” suggests something more. And surely a non-reader is not just loth to read, but doesn’t or can’t. And while I admire Jimmy Stewart as an actor (so many great roles) I was reluctant to cite him. “One among royals” is a very risky way to clue JAMES. I misremembered Rosa KLEBB as a McCarthy era spy (not all that far off!) and hazarded Loch AWE – are there any lochs that aren’t Scottish?
    My 19.43 rather confirms (for me) that this is no Friday cracker.

    1. I agree with all your points, Z… My other caveat was with OVERAWE, which I felt doesn’t carry the same meaning as ‘cow’. You can be overawed by a beautiful sight, but cow suggests a negative connotation as in intimidatory. I have to hold my hand up here and confess that I didn’t finish, being stumped by both OVERAWE and NON-READER, which was disappointing, as I thought much of the puzzle was terrific.

      1. I know Rosa (from the flics, not from the FT, see WT below), but I also know Maynard G, and I couldn’t remember if he is Krebbs or Klebbs, and she Krebb or Klebb.

    2. There are lochs in Maryland and Hawaii in the U.S, quite a few in Eastern Ontario and Alberta in Canada and also, somewhat improbably, in the Falklands and Greenland.

  14. Nobody seems to have heard of the Rosa Klebb who sets easy but rather good crosswords in the FT. Certainly I’d heard of her before I’d heard of the Bond villain. 30 minutes on a crossword where the required knowledge was to my taste. I thought the CD at 16ac was rather banal and wasn’t confident enough to enter it until I had some checkers. Wordplay there somehow, perhaps. In 21ac I couldn’t understand ‘twice’, but IHTB. Loch Awe was new to me and I had to check that it existed.

  15. 9:39 Well that was much more straightforward than yesterday’s offering, but equally enjoyable. I especially liked the disguised SPLIT and BEGIN. Overall COD to REACTOR for the lovely surface.

  16. Like Wil I thought 16ac was a bit meh, and only got James Stewart once I’d disposed of Jackie and Payne.
    Otherwise a decent crossword, no GK problems and on the easier side for a Friday.
    Rosa Klebb as played by Lotte Lenya, a memorable feature of From Russia With Love. A real scene stealer

    1. Lotte Lenya. Weill’s wife, a prominent German actress, and (I think) the original Jenny in Die Dreigroschen-Oper.

  17. 28:25

    Good fun. I must have a blind spot regarding dogs as I needed to come here to fully understand BOXER and DACHSHUND.

    EXEGETE and NONREADER were both new to me but reasonably gettable. I particularly liked PARADE GROUND, BEGIN and JAMES STEWART .

    Thnks to Jeremy and the setter

  18. I raced through this one completing most of it in 10 minutes, but I then laboured for another 10 minutes on the last few clues.
    PARADE GROUND, SPELLBINDING, and TOTAL ECLIPSE were write-ins so I had lots of starter and end letters to get me going.
    Only one unknown today and I entered EXEGETE with fingers crossed.
    A bit of a romp but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

  19. Mostly straightforward, but held up at the end by PHOENIX, BOXER and JAMES STEWART. I didn’ understand he clue to BOXER at the time, buy I suppose a boxer jabs when he punches, so just a double def. The only unfamiliar element was the Scottish loch.
    45 minute.

  20. 33mins and clearly not in tune with the setter. I’d never heard of Rosa Klebb, spent too long trying to think of/invent a Scottish word for winter, assumed BOXER was a triple definition but could only see two and a bit, and multiple other hindrances. It was easier than yesterday but not by much

  21. Two goes needed, with a fair bit of biffing.

    Add me to the list of people who hadn’t heard of Rosa Klebb; NHO the pier meaning of mole but remembered PIERROT from before; had to trust there was an ISRAELI called Begin; took ages to get JAMES STEWART, even once I had the surname; didn’t know the breeder REACTOR; trusted there’s a Loch Awe to get OVERAWE; can’t recall seeing ‘in re’ before for IN RESERVE; and eventually figured out EXEGETE from wordplay.

    Tough stuff. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Gapes
    LOI James Stewart
    COD Parade ground

  22. Don’t get how 16ac is anything other than a definition – I can’t see the surface reading which is any different from the cryptic definiton.

    1. I think the surface reading refers to characters as the people appearing in a book, whereas the cryptic definition has the characters as the letters making up the words in the book.

  23. All bar JAMES STEWART in around 30 minutes, then another 10 or so to come up with a desperate RACER STEWART. Bah humbug! Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  24. Loch Awe is actually the third largest loch, by area. It’s not my favourite though. That has to be Loch Lochy.

      1. Lol. There’s a hydroelectric power station at Loch Awe. Impossible to miss if you drive to Oban to catch the ferry to the Hebrides.

  25. 15:20
    Enjoyed the SEAPORT, which I once visited on a two-centre Croatian holiday: Dubrovnik first, Split second.

  26. Enjoyable 41 minutes. Much better than yesterday’s hmm-fest. Some lovely wordplay like the ‘Royal killer snake’ and ‘Begin perhaps.’ Thanks.

  27. 37:09

    More than 60% in around 15 mins, after which things slowed considerably, mainly down the LHS. Some of the answers took some teasing out, though I didn’t think too much of BOXER. Working in Glasgow (and having passed Ibrox several times) definitely helped with 25a but put paid to my IN RESPECT (which I hadn’t parsed anyway) – think I’ve seen IN RE here before somewhere, but not a fan. LOI trying to think of a STEWART with those checkers in the first word – it fell into place eventually.

  28. 42:57
    LTI were JAMES STEWART and EXEGETE. I had forgotten that player=actor, and its a long time since I watched “It’s a wonderful life”. I assumed that since there were at least seven kings of Scotland of that name it might be the answer.
    In 17d I spent a long time thinking of all the cities in Ireland that might have a bishop, but could not think of any short ones. Eventually biffed NIRVANA, but needed the blog to learn that SEE can mean V. It nearly always seems to mean ELY.
    EXEGETE needed an alphabet trawl through EXEGE_E before finally reaching T.

  29. Tough but got there, though bewildered by the final I on my last in till I remembered Begin and Sadat. Not at all keen on such as Rosa Klebb being given a free pass to the hall of Times’ fame; and a little shocked by the casual ‘loth’ and its apparently patronising assumption. Which I put down to the setter thinking that everyone can read but some don’t want to. Whereas…

  30. It’s definitely “the Arsenal” ( English premier league teams called “the…name”) speaking as a gooner (fan of the gunners)

  31. 51 minutes. I found this pretty hard going but enjoyed the ‘Split’s one’ and ‘Begin perhaps’ defs especially. Last in was JAMES STEWART which was hard to work out from the wordplay and the various possibilities for ‘Player’.

    I wonder if ‘Klebb maybe lurking inside’ gives a hint as to today’s setter; I believe she (Sarah Hayes), as well as setting for The Guardian and the New Statesman, is a member of The Times stable too.

  32. First time ever to finish a Friday so well pleased. Found it very straightforward until 1dn,13ac and 26ac but got there in the end.

  33. Sarah is on the Times panel as far as I’m aware, but her considerable abilities — I think she’s brilliant — were not on display here. You’ve had to scrape along with me.

  34. 48’10”
    Slight improvement on yesterday’s plod, fourth poor showing on the trot.
    But the upshot is the old handicap mark has just tiptoed over the 37′ mark; every little helps.
    Quite a struggle, but this was an enjoyable fight. NW corner provided the uphill finish for me.
    Well done setter and thank you Jeremy.

  35. Strange one, this. Biffed the PARADE GROUND with just the first D in, and ditto the two long downs, but thrown by BOXER ( why the “produce” in there?), and PROSAIC ( had forgotten who Rosa Klebb was). Also the strange, seemingly non-cryptic NONREADER – don’t think I’d have ever gotten that! Didn’t expect to see Jimmy Stewart again, and NHO EXEGETE; so all up a few gaps in my otherwise enjoyable solve. CODs to LINCTUS and PARADE GROUND, with a special mention to “Split’s one” and “Begin perhaps”.

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