Times Cryptic No 28853 — Just my speed

19:01. With my level of energy tonight, this was the sort of puzzle I was hoping for: not too easy, not too hard. Some longer ones were biffable, yet others I had to work out carefully from the wordplay.

1 Identify [with] friend wanting daughter (7)
COMPARE – COMPADRE (friend) without (wanting) D (daughter)

Not exactly sure how the definition works here, unless maybe it’s ‘identify with’?

5 A chap holding mug [and] tumbler (7)
ACROBAT – A CAT (chap) around (holding) ROB (mug)

Wordplay on the trickier side, but the definition was easy to see. Shouldn’t the clue have a question mark?

9 Defence and intelligence occupying two hospitals right now (9)
FORTHWITH – FORT (defence) + (and) WIT (intelligence) in (occupying) H H (two hospitals)

FORTHWITH? THEREUNTO? Do I smell a theme?

10 A lot of seedy old fruit (5)
MANGO – almost all letters in (a lot of) MANGY (seedy) + O (old)
11 Leaders from all sides in seven cities frantically needing capital, perhaps? (4-9)
CASE-SENSITIVE – first letters of (leaders from) ALL SIDES in SEVEN CITIES anagrammed (frantically)
13 Nearly everything presented by each politician [is] random (8)
ALEATORY – ALL (everything) without the last letter (nearly) + (presented by) A (each) TORY (politician)
15 Onset [of] publicity prior to opening (6)
ADVENT – AD (publicity) + (prior to) VENT (opening)
17 Rev about to appreciate something valuable (6)
NUGGET – GUN (rev) reversed (about) GET (to appreciate)

My last in.

19 Group of animals [and] horse featuring in my research material (8)
CHORDATA – H (horse) in (featuring in) COR (my) + DATA (research material)

I’ve seen this word before, fairly recently.

22 Car firm opens plant — it has ups and downs! (6,7)
ROLLER COASTER – ROLLER (car) + CO (firm) precedes (opens) ASTER (plant)
25 Place for putting last bits of rather sensitive inside information (5)
GREEN – last letters (bits) of RATHER SENSITIVE in (inside) GEN (information)
26 Black cuckoo breeding [is] invigorating (9)
ANIMATING – ANI (black cuckoo) MATING (breeding)

Did not know the ANI, which sounds like the plural of, well, something else.

27 Work outside home with fine metal sheeting (7)
TINFOIL – TOIL (work) around (outside) IN (home) + (with) F (fine)
28 Land drifting into sea (7)
ESTONIA – anagram of (drifting) INTO SEA
1 Venue with food around the centre of Stafford (4)
CAFF – CA (around) the middle letters (centre) of STAFFORD
2 It’s a wonder I’m up, right, and about to tuck into drink (7)
MIRACLE – reversal (up) of I’M + R (right) + (and) C (about) in (to tuck into) ALE (drink)
3 Tennis player’s trophy for winning a series of matches (5)
ASHES – ASHE’S (tennis player’s)
4 Agent initially expected to omit a line (8)
EMISSARY – first letter of (initially) EXPECTED + MISS (to omit) + A + RY (line)
5 How associate starts [generating] capital (6)

Despite knowing what the clue was getting at, I still had trouble here.

6 Rest putting article in prompt (9)
REMAINDER – putting A (article) in REMINDER (prompt)
7 Top of big tree enveloped by single blaze (7)
BONFIRE – first letter (top) of BIG + FIR (tree) in (enveloped by) ONE (single)
8 Piece of meat [in] one basket put out next to back of supermarket (1-4,5)
T-BONE STEAK – ONE BASKET anagrammed (put out) next to last letter (back) of SUPERMARKET

My first in, and a write-in at that.

12 Vehicle maker [in] decline — that’s true, according to reports (10)
WAINWRIGHT – homophone of (according to reports) WANE (decline) RIGHT (that’s true)
14 In addition, energy is included in the cost (9)
THEREUNTO – E (energy) in (is included in) THE + RUN TO (cost)

As in, ‘how much does the bill run to?’.

16 Dietary component in the main cut out (8)
THIAMINE – IN THE MAIN without the last letter (cut), anagrammed (out)
18 Vessel [created with] brass over long period (7)
GALLEON -GALL (brass) + (over) EON (long period)
20 Attorney initially raring to go wild [and] make an accusation (7)
ARRAIGN – first letter of (initially) ATTORNEY + RARING anagrammed (to go wild)
21 Small stroke [producing] messy handwriting (6)
SCRAWL – S (small) CRAWL (stroke)
23 Mustang possibly heading north through dry region (5)
TRACT – CAR (Mustang possibly) reversed (heading north) in (through) TT (dry)
24 Area with grand river and a mausoleum site (4)
AGRA – A (area) + (with) G (grand) R (river) + (and) A

58 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28853 — Just my speed”

  1. I thought CASH-SENSITIVE might be an English euphemism for needing money , which seemed to fit 11a well enough to proceed to the next clue. Doh! A relatively good 23minutes for a Friday with a pink blemish.
    LOI THEREUNTO- thanks for parsing this for me Jeremy.

  2. I don’t think the definition works at all for COMPARE. (Is this the same setter as yesterday’s, who didn’t know what SOI-DISANT means?) But I do think “with” is intended as part of the definition.
    We had virtually the same clue for ESTONIA just the other day.
    I thought the clue for GREEN was missing anything to indicate the G, perhaps trying to make “putting last” do double—no, triple!—duty, because the last bits after “of” spell REEN (ratheR senstiveE insidE informatioN), so thanks for clearing that up.
    I liked CASE-SENSITIVE, because I would (and I am), and CHORDATA.

  3. 34 minutes. THEREUNTO was the one that took me longest. I was sucked in by the surface, thinking of ‘cost’ as a noun and I wouldn’t have been able to say what THEREUNTO meant anyway. I remembered ANI for ‘Black cuckoo’ after seeing that the expected B for ‘Black’ didn’t work.

    I’m not sure about COMPARE and ‘Identify with’. What about “I compare myself to Homer Simpson” = “I identify with Homer Simpson”? Maybe.

    Favourite was WAINWRIGHT for the uncommon ‘Vehicle maker’ and the aptness of the surface.

    Thanks to Jeremy and setter

    1. Re COMPARE, I’m sure the setter was thinking along such lines, but to “compare with” (or “to”), one must distinguish something from something else, while identifying characteristics shared with that thing… In any case, COMPARE—sans “with” or “to”—does not mean “identify with.”

  4. This took me exactly an hour. The top half was mostly much easier than the lower half, the exceptions being WAINWRIGHT and ALEATORY which held out against my best efforts until the end.

    I raised half an eyebrow at ‘identify / COMPARE’ and ‘chap / CAT’ but swiftly moved on. CAT is usually a person with a specific interest in something, most notably jazz or something esoterically arty. It was a term that even as a teenager in the 1960s I would have considered as coming from a previous generation and out-of-date.

    I can never remember what ALEATORY means.

    My LOI was THIAMINE, a word I learnt from reading the back of breakfast cereal boxes, only Mr Kellogg spelt it without an E so I took a long time to think of it today.

    I vaguely recognised CHORDATA when I eventually worked it out from wordplay. You may have seen it somewhere else more recently, Jeremy, but its last appearance here was in the puzzle you blogged on 3rd March 2023, a year ago almost to the day.

    1. Jack, I think alea (from aleatory) has to do with a die, or dice, as in alea iacta est. So, I guess dicey as in unpredictable might serve as a possible memory jogger. I knew it because of being a French speaker, and aléatoire is a word one hears now and then, probably more often than its counterpart in English, I would say.

      1. As harmonic notes: Alea iacta est, said Caesar as he crossed the Rubicon – ‘the die is cast’. Slightly different meaning to ‘random’, more ‘it’s happened and we can’t go back’.

      2. I was going to say exactly the same thing about ALEATORY! It’s definitely much more common in French.

      3. I worked it out thanks to my Spanish language classes – aleatoriamente meaning randomly in Spanish.

      4. Helpful, thank you, as I can never remember what ALEATORY means, either, but do remember ‘alea iacta est’ from, er, reading Asterix books as a teenager, in French! I had to ask someone what it meant. The joy of re-reading those books was that one found a new double-entendre each time and learned a lot of French.

  5. something under 24′, 10 online then two sessions waiting to see the doctor and waiting to get my meds. I spent some time trying to make COMRADE work at 1ac. Couldn’t believe 8d was in the puzzle, and a Friday puzzle at that. ANI is a NYT chestnut (chestnut emeritus, perhaps; haven’t seen it for a long time), but today I leaarned it’s black. I liked CASE-SENSITIVE & THEREUNTO.

  6. 63m 07s
    I liked CASE SENSITIVE but my LOI and COD was 5d ATHENS. Old hands might say that sort of clue is a chestnut but it made oi larf.

  7. 17:26 Felt like a tough slog at the time, but it doesn’t look so bad in hindsight. I think WAINWRIGHT was the last to fall and I also spent ages fussing over the “obvious error” in GREEN, until the putt finally dropped.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  8. Another way he went, and soon among
    Rough Ashes sat he for his soul’s reprieve,
    And all night kept awake, for sinners’ sake to grieve.
    (The Eve of St. Agnes, Keats)

    25 mins pre-brekker left me struggling to work out what Runto was. Doh!
    I think the “into sea” anagram was used by Dean last Sunday, with ‘collapsed’ in place of ‘drifting’.
    Ta setter and PJ

  9. Odd mix today of QC escapees (CAFF, AGRA, GREEN & T-BONE STEAK ) and some very tough clues, All of which took me to 49 mins. Two NHOs, CHORDATA & ANI. Therefore, LOI ANIMATING took a while to fathom.

    Some fun clues too. I liked CASE-SENSITIVE, WAINWRIGHT & ROLLER COASTER.

    Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  10. 22:39. CASE-SENSITIVE took me ages to work out (I was another thinking cash, or perhaps cost). ALEATORY, CHORDATA, and precisely what THEREUNTO means were newish to me.

    Thanks Jeremy & setter.

  11. 12:28. Good fun. I liked WAINWRIGHT and GREEN best. THEREUNTO my LOI as I puzzled over the parsing of it for a while before putting it in. Thanks Jeremy and setter.

  12. Adios compadre, what will be must be. 54 minutes before I finally decided on COMPARE rather than COMRADE as LOI, courtesy of Jim Reeves. I also struggled with THIAMINE and CHORDATA. COD to GREEN, liking WAINWRIGHT too. I could have done with one of his guides for this puzzle. Maybe there are black cuckoos flying over Helvellyn, but I’ve never heard of ANI. Still, I’m pleased they’re mating. Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  13. 33mins so not particularly Friday-ish or my two cups of coffee had kicked in. Only ALEATORY unknown and ATHENS unparsed so thank you for that Jeremy.

  14. 21:11
    I almost put cash sensitive too but then luckily noticed there was no h in the anagram, and then realised case sensitive made it a much smarter clue.
    LOI was WAINWRIGHT where I had the WRIGHT part for ages but needed NUGGET to finally get the vehicle.
    I put in THEREUNTO without being able to parse it, because I got the cost part being rent stuck in my head. Thanks blogger for explaining!
    Thanks setter and blogger

  15. V similar experience to our blogger. Mostly fine, but some needed teasing out – ALEATORY, CHORDATA and my LTI – NUGGET and THEREUNTO (which was biffed), so thanks for explaining!.


  16. 29:18

    Good fun with new words, ANI and CHORDATA, learnt. Same MEH as other regarding COMPARE. Particularly liked CASE-SENSITIVE, WAINWRIGHT and GREEN. Must try and use THEREUNTO in a conversation soon.

    All being well I’ll be in ESTONIA this time next week, having done a whistlestop train tour through Lithuania and Latvia. Should be ANIMATING

    Thanks to Jeremy and the setter

      1. Certainly not! Part of a project to vist all EU capitals over the next two years. No real reason for this apart from a love of cities and trains.

  17. 16:59 but with a typo so DNF.

    I thought I was on for a record time until THIAMINE and THEREUNTO held me up at the end. ANIMATING went in with fingers crossed as ANI was new to me.

    Otherwise I thought this was relatively straightforward fare, with the unknowns CHORDATA and ALEATORY fairly clued.

    I’ve had a tough couple of days so nice to be more in tune, albeit with fat fingers.

    Thanks to both.

  18. I agree with the blogger’s assessment. My main problem was my careless entries, several of which, had letters in the wrong order, giving me problems with the crossing entries. THEREUNTO and MIRACLE were major offenders, delaying ALEATORY and ROLLER COASTER, I also started 26 with B, even though I thought ANI likely.
    More haste, less speed.

  19. For some reason I was “on the wavelength” today, went steadily through this in 20 minutes, unusual for a Friday. I wasn’t too happy with 1a, toying between COMPARE and COMRADE as I didn’t like compare to mean identify. But COMRADE for friend was harder to explain.

  20. 17.10. Always feels good to finish a Friday puzzle even if they aren’t as uniformly fiendish as they once were.

    No real problems though forthwith and thereunto were trickily archaic. Chordata was new, aleatory dredged up. Came across Estonia this week, was it the Sunday version?
    COD wainwright.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  21. Looking back at 1A, I’m not convinced either. Not really sure what I was aiming for, and “identify with” for “compare” definitely fails the substitute-it-in-a-sentence test. Hey ho.

    1. That is actually quite comforting to know. Nobody expects perfection; and clues like 5d ATHENS can be put on the other side, to balance the scales 🙂

    2. Thanks for dropping in and commenting. It’s nice to know when setters are reading our feedback. I never noticed the problem with 1A when solving. Thanks for clearing that up… and thanks for the great puzzle!

  22. DNF as I left the timer running. This meant I didn’t spend much time on the one I didn’t get – THIAMINE – but hand on my heart I don’t think I was ever going to resolve that one.

    Shame as I really liked the rest, especially FORTHWITH and THEREUNTO which were really on my wavelength. WAINWRIGHT was my PDM and also COD. Who else had SHIP and CART before plumping for the right one? Thanks setter & blogger.

  23. Missing NUGGET because I was lazy and biffed cartwright… which didn’t work and I should have thought it through and corrected. Ah well.
    I hate the word CAFF, for reasons I can’t really articulate.

    1. I also had CARTWRIGHT at one point, but couldn’t get anywhere with NUGGET. I suspected ‘rev’ = GUN, which made me go back to look more closely at ____WRIGHT.

  24. Annoyed after successfully negotiating this in 23.41 to finish with a typo, and I checked, I did, I did! A THEN S is a clue I’ve always wanted to set, and if I ever set a Listener it would probably be based on such cuteness.

  25. A stiff but enjoyable challenge. Those of you who normally eschew the QC might enjoy today’s tougher than usual test.

    TIME 13:31

  26. About 19′ for this puzzle, chewy in parts.

    Really liked WAINWRIGHT, reminded of the hill-walker.

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

  27. 26:11 – never really got into the swing of this. Similar to others was wrong-footed by cash sensitive, until the penny dropped at the last moment, and the NHO ani.

  28. DNF, defeated by CHORDATA and THIAMINE… they’ve clearly come up before, but I couldn’t remember either of them, plus data=research material didn’t occur to me.

    It was quite a quick solve until that point. In the same vein as the comments above re ALEATORY, I was helped by knowledge of the Spanish ‘aleatorio’; I had to trust that an ani is a black cuckoo for ANIMATING (though again, we’ve clearly seen it before in these crosswords); I wasn’t sure about THEREUNTO as I didn’t see cost=run to; I had the same question marks as others over COMPARE.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    CODs Case-sensitive / Athens

  29. For no good reason I had AKRA which made ANIMATING difficult, and I used aids and eventually realised my mistake. Also was slow on THEREUNTO and had thereonto, getting mixed up with rent. 49 minutes, with all those mistakes. Agree with many that compare and identify doesn’t tally.

  30. Nice crossword, enjoyed that.

    Only unknown was the black cuckoo but generously clued.

    Compare was my first one in, and it seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, but in retrospect it clearly is not. Yet I feel there must be some justification since it was the very first thing I thought of.
    Some great clues, Athens, case-sensitive, and thereunto.

  31. 23:52

    Some gimmes with ACROBAT=tumbler, ATHENS, ADVENT and ESTONIA. ROLLER COASTER and T-BONE STEAK too simply from a cursory look at the clue coupled with enumeration. Less sure with THEREUNTO, COMPARE and CHORDATA (but fairly clued). L2I THIAMINE and ANIMATING (DNK or forgot ANI=black cuckoo).

    Thanks PJ and setter

  32. DNF NHO 19a chordata I don’t think, but it feels slightly familiar. It wasn’t in my cheating machine, now added, so maybe was NHO. I should have worked it out; my is usually cor.
    Could not parse 14d THEREUNTO.
    22a ROLLER COASTER, what is “opens” doing for a living? It put me off a bit.
    I didn’t remember ANI in 26a either.
    8d didn’t spot it was ananagram, thought it was a bit weak, but it isn’t.

  33. 26 mins though I have to confess that although ANI was lurking in my brain somewhere I couldn’t bring it to the surface so I googled it. Having done that, all fell into place quite quickly. LOI WAINWRIGHT, even though we stay above Wainwrights pub in Langdale every year.

  34. I struggled mightily in the SE with THIAMINE, ANIMATING and LOI, CHORDATA accounting for a goodly portion of my 38:20. Having been ground down by not solving those 3, I moved back to the NW where MIRACLE, FORTHWITH, CAFF and ATHENS arrived in a rush, but I sadly put COMRADE in 1a without thinking enough. To add to my woes, when I submitted I had a typo at 18d. GALLEAN, grrhh!. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  35. This was a very nice puzzle – my favourites being Athens, Wainwright, Thereunto.
    I was slowed down in the SE corner and took 1 hour overall – Thiamine, Chordata, Animating proving tricky (Ani, the black cuckoo, was unknown to me and Chordata somehow finally appeared from the far recesses of my grey cells).

  36. Thereunto is a word whose meaning I could fill in from context if I heard it in conversation, but other than the Biblical meaning of, roughly, ‘at that place’ wouldn’t have been able to define. Thanks Jalna, jeremy

  37. 23 DNF

    Couldn’t find DATA so left with CHOR-A_A at the end though turns out I was also CASH SENSITIVE. I did think “Never heard of that before”. And for good reason.

    Also delayed in the SE but essayed a MATING and ANI emerged from the recesses

    Nice puzzle – thanks Jalna and Jeremy

  38. A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, with a slow but steady solve starting on the right and working clockwise to finish with LOsI THEREUNTO and COMPARE. Being the last in, I didn’t stop to worry about the definition once I’d got compadre. I took the Ani on trust, as I felt I’d come across it previously, though I couldn’t have said what it was. Liked CASE-SENSITIVE, WAINWRIGHT, TINFOIL and pleased to be given a straightforward parse for ALEATORY. Many thanks Jeremy and Jalna. Keep them coming!

  39. I think 5d ATHENS could perhaps be fixed by replacing “associate” with “accounting system”.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *