Times Cryptic No 28925 — I do love chives

32:09. Well it is a British puzzle, after all! Needed to take my time with several particularly UK-centric answers, which led to a slower solve. But a great puzzle overall, I thought, for a Friday. Some of these clues are among the finest I’ve seen.

1 Burning desire [of] dad to collar younger Arab (9)
PYROMANIA – PA around YR (younger) OMANI

Loved the clue. Great definition, which totally fooled me. I had forgotten about YR, and was instead thinking AB = ‘arab’.

6 In US law officer, it reflects rank (5)
FETID – IT reversed in FED
9 Archbishop, returning bow note, waves to Richelieu (7)
CRANMER – ARC reversed + N (note) + MER (‘sea’, in French)
10 Not only post, presumably, [that’s] slow (7)
11 For speaking out, dissenting voice is called before the union (3)
NÉE – homophone of NAY
12 It’s the march forming a line to the right (11)

Not exactly sure what’s meant by ‘a line’, but I surely know enough about the right-wing Thatcher to understand the answer.

14 Graft, to acquire spending money (6)
BUDGET – BUD (graft) GET (acquire)

Wasn’t sure about ‘graft’ = BUD but Chambers has to graft by inserting (a bud) under the bark of another tree as a definition for BUD. Very cleanly done.

15 Fifty-one assigned to cat? Over forty fewer? (8)
LIFELINE – LI (51 in Roman numerals) FELINE (cat?)

Let’s see, 40 fewer than 51 is 11. So over 40 fewer would mean at most ten. Do cats have ten lives? I thought they had nine…

17 Gave advice from a fan of marriage? Only the one time (8)
BESTOWED – “BEST TO WED” (advice from a fan of marriage?) with only one T
19 High Court writ dismissing case stops a corporation (6)
ATRIUM – {w}RI{t} in A TUM (corporation)
22 Book date with PTA for arranging simple course (5,6)

I stared at these letters for so long and couldn’t see any foods! That’s how you know you’re probably too tired to be doing crosswords.

23 Canon listing all works primarily (3)
LAW – first letters of LISTING ALL WORKS
25 Tips [for] improvements (7)
UPTURNS – double definition

Not familiar with the first meaning.

27 Quiet bore gets promoted (7)
PLUGGED – P (quiet) LUGGED (bore)

As in, “he lugged/bore the heavy weight”. And ‘promoted’ as in ‘advertised’. Very fooling.

28 Fresh case of Sauternes to have in for one (5)
SASSY – S{auterne}S in SAY (for one)
29 Carol’s bloke on lookout from place his young lady might be picked up? (9)
WENCESLAS – iffy [but, I think, excusable] homophone of WHENCE HIS LASS (from place his young lady might be)

Such a good clue.

1 New spade alone maybe with power to pull up tree (5)
PECAN – N ACE (spade alone maybe) P reversed
2 Tear around neighbourhood, nearly [causing] prang (4-3)
REAR-END – REND around ARE{a}
3 Say nothing [of] parent’s promise to pen article (4,3,4)
MUMS THE WORD – MUM’S WORD (parent’s promise) around THE
4 Country never without king or queen (6)
NORWAY – NO WAY around R (king or queen)

This clue bothered and fooled me. I was rather embarrassed to not be able to think of a six-letter country beginning with N.

5 Utterly disorganised prince turning back on elegance (8)
ANARCHIC – RANA (prince) reversed + CHIC

Had to biff this one, as I didn’t know this Hindi word for prince.

6 Passing fancy female, attorney spun around (3)
FAD – F + DA (attorney) reversed
7 Failing to conceal bottom, one[’s] skimpy costume (7)

This sounds vaguely familiar. Great surface though.

8 Group of players without a match? (5,4)
DREAM TEAM – cryptic definition

I must be missing something here.

13 Put in — or put up — pleasing dispatch in chair? (11)
ELECTROCUTE – ELECT (put in) + OR reversed + CUTE (pleasing)

Yet another great definition.

14 Bubble, say, flying low after delivery (4,5)
16 On returning, wasn’t keeping a single tool (5,3)
TENON SAW – WASN’T around ONE (a single) reversed
18 Part of state visit of queen maybe mostly to streets (2,5)
ST KITTS – KITT{y} (queen maybe) in STS (streets)

I can’t imagine calling the same animal ‘kitty’ and ‘queen’, but there you have it. Part of Saint Kitts and Nevis, in the Antilles.

20 One’s going to miss tracking European criminal (7)
ILLEGAL – I’LL (one’s going to) GAL (miss) around (tracking) E

Does ‘tracking’ mean ‘going around like a racetrack’?

21 Obstruct, confine or stifle (6)
DAMPEN – DAM (obstruct) PEN (confine)

Another expert charades-style clue.

24 Whiskey and fish deliveries one on strike couldn’t touch (5)

Great surface, although it barely conceals the true meaning! Must remember that what we call ‘balls’ in baseball are akin to ‘wides’ in cricket.

26 Little hope [of] end to downpour, indeed! (3)
RAY – {downpou}R + AY (indeed)

66 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28925 — I do love chives”

  1. About 90 minutes. Very hard but enjoyable. Wordplay very clever in many. Loved FETID, NEE, CRANMER, DREAM TEAM and more. Not the vaguest clue how WENCESLAS, ATRIUM, LIFELINE worked.
    Thanks to Jeremy for his explanations.
    Wides in baseball I think are when they are going to walk a batter and the pitches are deliberately pitched a yard or so from the plate and the batter.
    Your DREAM TEAM is a hypothetical team made up of the players from all the teams and as such cannot play a match. It’s like the US picking players as All Americans.

  2. Great puzzle today but beaten in the northeast. Liked bestowed and pyromania. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  3. Re THATCHERISM, a line is a policy, and not just in a political context. In the puzzle I blogged on Tuesday we had PARTY LINE defined in the clue as ‘Politicians follow this’.

    As for LIFELINE, I solved it from wordplay but still have no idea what the rest of the clue is getting at.

    I found this puzzle very hard, taking 62 minutes to complete the grid, but I enjoyed it.

  4. I really liked this—good thing, too, as it took me long enough!—though I admit I just shrugged at the math in the definition for LIFELINE.
    I wrote “ha!” next to BESTOWED and BUDGET.
    But yesterday we had EVISCERATION and today ELECTROCUTE.
    BABY BLUES is quite sad too…

  5. DNF but an excellent crossword. A DREAM TEAM has no match (ie equal). It’s XL(40) over ie LX (60) fewer (60 – 51), isn’t it? Loved burning desire, Carol’s bloke on lookout, dispatch from chair and little hope.

    1. I agree an excellent crossword and I get your explanation of the maths, Sawbill. I even thought a cat has nine lives and therefore eight lifelines. I tried to get the maths to work with both eight and nine but couldn’t.

    2. But 60 fewer than 51 is minus nine. I can’t believe we’re expected to convert Arabic numbers to RNs and then flip.

        1. Try this: 51 , LI in Roman numerals, when flipped over is IL which I think is 49 as an “I” before “V” denotes four (see a clock face). That deals with “over”. So we just have to consider the exact amount by which 49 exceeds 40. Voila.

          From personal experience it may be considerably more than nine lives. Mrs JdeBP’s ‘Georgie’ must be into double figures by now, largely thanks to the human slaves.

          The puzzle for me was a ‘humdinger’.

          1. I think…forty fewer than 51 is 11…which is XI….NOW over ….is. IX. = 9.

            Extremely clever…like a lot of the clues….

  6. Good puzzle but a fail after about 50 minutes with a careless CRAMMER at 9a. Some excellent clues with the surface for TANKINI and the def for BABY BLUES my favourites.

  7. Got my Oxford martyrs mixed up, shoving in the bishop Latimer instead of Cranmer at first. Finished many moons later when I finally realised BABY BLUES was an anagram.

    Very good crossword – worth persevering with. WENCESLAS was clever. 63 minutes.

  8. 18:56. Like our blogger, I thought this was excellent. Lots of tricky but fair clues. The first sense of UPTURN maybe more common in its adjectivable form (“an upturned vase”).

    Re: LIFELINES, 9 (or 8, as above…) is over 40 fewer than 51…

    I took ‘tracking’ in ILLEGAL to just be ‘following’.

    Loved BESTOWED. NORWAY probably didn’t need to take me so long at the end!

    Thanks both.

    1. But by that logic the clue could equally have read “over five fewer”… true, but imprecise, which is not usually what I expect from a crossword…

      1. 40’s the nearest round number, so that seems a fair one to pick. “Over five fewer” (or whatever) would be very random.

  9. I found that very hard and when I finished in 59:06 just now I was very pleased to be inside an hour.
    LOI was TANKINI which was really hit it and hope, so I was delighted and relieved that was right
    Before that I struggled stupidly with a few that should have been easy, notably with BABY BLUES UPTURNS and NORWAY. I think when a puzzle is hard one can get mentally blocked in general.
    COD for me was THATCHERISM
    As already said that was a great and challenging puzzle
    Thanks setter and Jeremy

  10. Liked this a lot, would have been upset not to finish – which I did in 28’30”.

    NÉE was LOI, after considering noe and nae.

    Really enjoyed WENCESLAS. Dare I look up what a TANKINI is?

    Thanks jeremy and setter.

    1. Tank top & bikini bottom. So not terribly revealing but Wiki advises it makes toilet visits easier compared with a one-piece.

  11. 25:25
    LOI NORWAY: I was thinking NARNIA until I got THATCHERISM. Not keen on “formed” as an anagrind and “by the right” might have fitted better with the marching theme, but otherwise COD.

  12. On dogsitting duties for the weekend, so no time to offer with multiple interruptions, but I was slow. DNF anyway, as I missed the unknown TANKINI. Some great clues, particularly CRANMER, WENCESLAS and COD BESTOWED. Better to marry than to burn! Great puzzle, deserving of my undivided attention.Thank you Jeremy and setter.

  13. I thought I’d made heavy weather of this, but it’s obviously tougher than I suspected. I knocked in my FOI immediately, but then failed to get any of the 5 down clues running from it. After 10 minutes I still had 9 missing answers, and it took me ages to polish them off. Some clever stuff here, and a sense of achievement in getting home inside 20 minutes.

    TIME 18:32

  14. Surprised to actually finish this, but all green in 38 mins is good for a Friday for me. One of the most enjoyable solves ever – hard to pick a favourite as there are so many clever surfaces, with many chuckles along the way. Well worth persevering with!

  15. 19:40

    Lovely, just right for a Friday. I lost count of brilliant definitions and WENCESLAS was excruciatingly brilliant.

    I don’t see an issue with the maths at 15. As Amoeba says, 9 is irrefutably over 40 fewer than 51 (42 to be precise. Something to do with the meaning of life, probably).

  16. 21:53. Very tough, very enjoyable. Like BUSMAN I felt like I was making very heavy weather of it but perhaps it was just difficult.
    I’m surprised nobody’s complained about the homophone. ‘Whence his lass’ isn’t how I pronounce WENCESLAS but it’s close enough AFAIC.
    I wonder if the setter decided on ‘over forty’ in 15ac just because he or she couldn’t decide if a cat has 8 LIFELINEs or 9.

    1. I think it’s acknowledged in the clue that the homophone is iffy! I’m okay with it if the setter gives a little wink in the clue.

      1. My view is that a huge percentage (somewhere 90%+) of homophone clues are iffy according to someone so that I would only expect a wink from setters if they have gone for something outrageous and actually amusing.

        I have recently stopped using the terms ‘homophone’ and ‘soundalike’ in my blogs and have started referring to ‘aural wordplay’ which I think better describes what’s going on – something akin to a pun that’s not intended to be taken too seriously.

    2. They definitely need nine, you could argue that they are already inhabiting the first one i suppose ..
      If my experience is anything to go by, they do need all 9.

      1. Yes the point is that a LIFELINE is something that rescues, but a cat doesn’t need to be rescued to get the first life. This is obviously a weighty and important question to which I will give much thought.

          1. 😁
            On a completely unrelated point, I find the use of ‘fewer’ here a bit grating. The completely bogus distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, which we were probably all taught at school, leads to some strange contortions at times. Personally I think ‘less’ would be more natural here.

  17. About half an hour.

    Completely misparsed ANDANTE: I didn’t think of ‘ante’ as before, and instead my logic was post=stake, and then stake=ante (as in upping the ante). Also misparsed BABY BLUES, as I missed the anagram and thought it was delivery=baby followed by blues=low (I know that doesn’t quite work), with ‘bubble, say, flying’ as the definition for the Baby Blues, some lesser regarded part of the RAF or something… it’s a good job we don’t have to show our working!

    Didn’t know bud=graft for BUDGET; my understanding of the maths for LIFELINE was the same as Amoeba’s; and missed how bore=lugged for PLUGGED.

    A really good puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Ray
    LOI Upturns
    COD Bestowed

  18. Hard one but got there in an hour or so with LOI NEE when “before union” finally dropped (unfortunately I didnt get the homophone, for some reason I’ve always pronounced it as in nee-d). NHO TANKINI, thankfully, but similar construction to mankini I suppose (and no, I don’t have one..). I get the DREAM TEAM parsing but don’t care for the clueing and couldn’t work out WENCESLAS nor LIFELINE but were nevertheless write-ins. Good morning’s work, thanks Jeremy and setter.

  19. Gave up on the hour with half a dozen missing. Wouldn’t have seen TANKINI. Had the TEAM part of DREAM TEAM, but don’t understand it. I assume simply that the dream team is the best possible one and therefore peerless. But seems weak.

  20. 28.55, and pleased to finish all green as several of these really clever clues were only nearly parsed. So with PYROMANIA, I was so pleased to be able to discard COLT (younger Arab, of course, always is) I forgot to see how it all worked. Still looking for the why of DREAM TEAM: Spurs had one in the early 60’s but played plenty of matches! I believe the 1992 US Olympic Basketball team was known as the Dream Team, and no-one could match them. Perhaps that’s it.
    For those worried about looking up TANKINI, fear not: it’s a relatively modest pairing of a tank top and bikini bottom, and won’t frighten the censors.
    Great stuff, like being allowed in to the inner circle of the elite while knowing it was only a special concession.

  21. 47.46. I don’t know why, but I was really off the pace with this one. ‘Wenceslas’ was a cracker. I’m relieved to learn from other comments that I was not a complete snail.

  22. 48.50, but pleased to finish correctly. Distracted by Narnia so NORWAY last in. A vague recollection of there being a line “once king or queen in Narnua, always a king or queen” which led me astray.

  23. DNF, had to cheat on 11a, NEE, 14a, BUDGET (DNK bud=graft,) 17a BESTOWED.
    Stunned by intersecting 14d BABY BLUES; had singular in my Cheating Machine but not plural so missed it for ages. Plural is in Wiktionary (and, now, in my Cheating Machine). I was totally unaware that mild post natal depression is called Baby Blues, and made it more difficult by missing the anagram for ages.
    5d ANARCHIC couldn’t parse; thanks Plusjeremy. I knew Ranee ands Rajah but not RANA, which is absent from Wiktionary in both English and Hindi, so it is arcane IMHO.
    To be picky (and really this isn’t even a MER) you could hit 24d WIDEs, and safe as you won’t be out.
    Overall a jolly Friday.

  24. I made very heavy weather of this, finishing (actually not finishing, because I never got WENCESLAS, couldn’t understand it at all and because it was a proper name my search never showed it), after eventually using aids freely, in 94 minutes. So many were entered with a shrug, not really understood as I did them, but after reading this I see they were often very clever good clues. No excuse, just dimness.

  25. Another good workout! I had to leave the NW after FOI, REAR END, as nothing else surfaced. I eventually got moving again in the SE with ATRIUM, and managed to build on it with the bottom half filling up nicely. WENCESLAS was a cracker! Back upstairs, FETID, FAD ANDANTE and DREAM TEAM dropped in leaving the tricky stuff. MUMS THE WORD opened up PYROMANIA and the NW yielded. THATCHERISM, LIFELINE (I’m with Amoeba here) and finally TANKINI finished the job. 27:39. Thanks setter and Jeremy.

  26. Lots of red on the SNITCH.

    I enjoyed this a great deal, bravo to the setter, and also to Jeremy for blogging. No obscurities, but clued deviously. Delighted to finish, even if some parsing was missing.



  27. Superb puzzle today, was mighty pleased to have “finished” in 32 minutes only to be pink squared in the NW.

    Somehow I’d read dissenting voice recalled which gave me on and decided one could be clued as the Union. Flaky but I did not go back to it which gave me paceo as clearly a tree I’d NHO😊

    So many clues to admire today but COD to budget, such a brilliant surface.

    Thx Jeremy and setter

  28. I put in NAE thinking it was something to do with Scotland pre-union ! How stupid! Otherwise completed fine in 52 minutes or so while awaiting an auction at Drouot. So not the best conditions. Thanks to all. It was a great puzzle!

  29. 52:58

    Very hard I thought with several unparsed/not fully parsed:

    NHO BUD = graft
    LIFELINE – couldn’t make the maths work
    UPTURNS – didn’t get the ‘tips’ at the time
    BABY BLUES – bunged in as couldn’t think of what else would fit the checkers, didn’t realise it was an anagram
    REAR-END – got the REND bit OK but was wondering what EAR had to do with the neighbourhood
    DAMPEN – took ages to get this!
    TANKINI – couldn’t get MANKINI out of my head for quite a while
    ILLEGAL – bunged in from checkers
    DREAM TEAM – no idea why they didn’t have a match – very good.

    Thanks for puzzling it all out Jeremy, and well done setter

  30. Well this for me was like i was back in the old days when I began The Times Cryptic: one hour and six clues I could not see. Mind you these days at least I spot the fish that only swims in crosswordland.

  31. Nowhere near finishing in far too long.
    But, thoroughly enjoyed the slow reveal of the clues I did get. Needed Jeremy’s superb explanations to appreciate the excellence of this very challenging puzzle.
    Thanks Jeremy, and setter.

  32. Took me more than 1 hour but completed – great puzzle.
    Thanks for the explanation for Dream Team which escaped me.

  33. Having been out off grid all day in a far flung corner of Scotland, I completed this off the Crossword Club, and am now waiting for the clock to register 30 mins, which is approx how long it took. Mind you, I couldn’t parse REAR END, because I was looking for EAR? as the neighbourhood, so tx Jeremy. I also didn’t quite get BESTOWED because of failing to separate GAVE and ADVICE, so tx again.

  34. I was defeated more by the definition than the maths for LIFELINE which seems to be a blemish on an otherwise tidy puzzle (do cats get lifebelts and lifejackets as well?). NHO TANKINI. Can’t think of a way to justify the use of “tracking” but it’s only a tiny grumble. Thanks for the blog!

  35. This was like yesterday’s (which at least kept my spirits up during the long slog): stopped after an hour, then came back and finished it correctly in another 18 minutes or so. A brilliant puzzle with subtle clues requiring careful reading. I especially liked BESTOWED and BABY BLUES, once I saw that was an anagram. NEE and “waves to Richelieu” were also superb. I’m not sure what the spade was doing in PECAN, since other suits have aces, too. And I also don’t get the arithmetic in LIFELINE, but that was easy to biff. So, a gem of a puzzle with a few minor blemishes.

  36. Great crossword, thanks for explaining lots of things I didn’t get, or did get but didn’t understand. Apologies if this has already been pointed out but I think 20d: “tracking” means the gal follows (tracks) the E.

  37. Surprised nobody has noted that ‘andante’ doesn’t actually mean ‘slow’… Best description is ‘moving along at an easy walking pace’. It’s gentle movement. Sure, it’s slower than ‘allegro’! But it’s never really understood as ‘slow’ in musical terms. That’s reserved for adagio / lento / largo.

    1. It crossed my mind to raise the matter but sadly all the source dictionaries employ the word ‘slow’ or ‘slowly’ in their definitions of ANDANTE so the setter is off the hook.

    2. That’s the origin of the term, though by the second half of the 19th century the term certainly began to connote a broader movement. A Mozart andante and a Mahler andante aren’t really comparable in terms of pace.

      Nevertheless, the term certainly means flowing, as you say, without any driving pulse. I think “slow” and “unhurried” could be considered synonymous.

  38. I think DREAM TEAM is a sneaky double definition. You can have, as Jeremy notes, one that is without equal (as coined/popularised by the 1992 USA Olympic basketball team) – but it can also be used as a synonym for fantasy sports and also for team of the week/season which makes it a group of players that never actually plays a match together.


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