August 20th, 2020

  • glheard

Times 27748: #isthetimescrosswordoninstagramnow

Time taken: 10:52.

I thought I was in for a tough time with this one, as a first run through the across clues didn't yield much, but I did pretty well on a first run through the downs and then it was just filling in the gaps. I thought this was an interesting mix of some old and new terms, I know we have had 25 across in various forms, but I think it is a debut for 6 down in the Times (I blogged it in Mephisto in March 2016).

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

1 Scold one that eats insects (5)
SHREW - double definition
4 Get to grips with hair round growth on head (4,5)
LOCK HORNS - LOCKS(hair) surrounding HORN(growth on head)
9 Killer mixed up a small portion (3,6)
RAT POISON - anagram of A, S(small), PORTION
10 City’s very fine road going west (5)
SOFIA - SO(very), F(fine) and then the A1(road) reversed
11 Low point of river, difficult to cross (6)
TROUGH - R(river) inside TOUGH(diffcult)
12 Wife, sent underground without resistance, avoided the worst weather (8)
WINTERED - W(wife) then INTERRED(sent underground) missing an R(resistance)
14 In turn, had nasty accident (3-3-3)
HIT-AND-RUN - anagram of IN,TURN,HAD
16 Ungrateful princess drops the Italian who is dying (5)
GONER - GONERIL(daughter of King Lear) missing IL(the in Italian)
17 Attacked, retreat in turn across country (5)
NUKED - DEN(retreat) reversed surrounding UK(country)
19 Church only mildly socialist? Answer me! (5,4)
NOTRE DAME - if you are slightly socialist you are NOT RED, then A(answer), ME
21 Hand over one old coin, receiving a pound: great! (8)
SPLENDID - SPEND(hand over) I(one), D(denarius, old coin) containing L(pound)
22 Called about what is to replace picture (6)
REHANG - RANG(called) surroundig EH(what?)
25 Recently rejected adopting one online business (5)
ETAIL - LATE(recently) reversed containing I(one)
26 With more reason, one enters far too confused a state (1,8)
A FORTIORI - I(one) inside an anagram of FAR,TOO then A, RI(Rhode Island, state)
27 Round gardens, sulphur smell is amiss (9)
SKEWWHIFF - KEW gardens inside S(sulphur), WHIFF(smell). I thought this should be hyphenated, and it is in Chambers, but in Collins this is given as a single word
28 Water may flow through this land in the sea (5)
DITCH - double definition
1 Take mild exercise that may make one taller? (7,4,4)
STRETCH ONES LEGS - double definition, the second more cryptic
2 Old-fashioned railway system runs for miles (5)
RETRO - METRO(railway system) with R(runs) replacing M(miles)
3 Rogue obviously used, or raised, weapon (5,2)
WRONG UN - WORN(obviously used) with the OR part reversed, then GUN(weapon)
4 Lean over border (4)
LIST - double definition
5 City hotel gone round by chief officer at lunchtime? (10)
CINCINNATI - INN(hotel) iside C IN C(chief officer) AT, I(one, lunchtime)
6 Link to a theme involves witch’s crossing close to midnight (7)
HASHTAG - HAS(nvolved) HAG(witch) surrounding the last letter of midnighT
7 Arbitrator shortly needs new approval for Russian votes (9)
REFERENDA - REFEREE(arbitrator) missing the last letter, then N(new), DA(yes in Russian)
8 A sort of strangled Danish that many of us speak (8,7)
13 One brief scare after female called for perfume (10)
FRANGIPANI - I(one), PANIC(scare) missing the last letter, after F(female), RANG(called)
15 Assume authority to book holiday (4,5)
TAKE LEAVE - TAKE(assume), LEAVE(authority)
18 A land we abandoned that was occupied by invaders (7)
DANELAW - anagram of A,LAND,WE
20 Chucked out, head off down (7)
EJECTED - remove the first letter from DEJECTED(down)
23 Under way a short distance (5)
AFOOT - A, FOOT(short distance)
24 Bark’s texture (4)
WOOF - double defintion

Times Quick Cryptic No 1683 by Tracy

This is one of the most efficiently and succinctly clued crosswords I have seen for a goodly while.  Excellent craftsmanship from Tracy, with barely a wasted syllable.  It took me just 11 minutes to crack, with much to enjoy along the way.  No COD, I liked them all.


Soil shortage initially ignored (5)
EARTH – {d}EARTH (shortage, initially ignored = drop the first letter).
8  Mongrel dog – what it wags cut short (7)
CURTAIL – CUR (mongrel dog) and TAIL (what it might wag).
10 Coach beginning to toil, damaged in rear (7)
TRAINER – T{oil} (beginning to) followed by an anagram (damaged) of [IN REAR].
11 Show lack of interest in Irish rugby (5)
SHRUG – Hidden word in (in) [Iri}SH RUG{by}.
12  Cromwellian’s plump leader(9)
ROUNDHEAD – ROUND (plump) and HEAD (leader).  Cromwell’s supporters in the English Civil War were Puritans, called ROUNDHEADs from their closely cropped hair, as opposed to the other side, the Royalists or Cavaliers.
14 My heart listened to (3)
COR – As in COR blimey / My!.  Homophone (listened to), sounds like CORE (heart).  If you haven’t seen COR clued by MY before (or vice versa), remember it well, it comes up surprisingly often.
15  Join band briefly (3)
TIE – TIE{r} (band briefly (drop last letter)).
16  Find out when positive (9)
ASCERTAIN – AS (when) and CERTAIN (positive).  Clues don’t come more efficient than this!
18  Come in to register (5)
ENTER – Double definition.  The second as in to register or enter a horse into a race, for example.
20  Revolutionary spoke about Conservative (7)
RADICAL – RADIAL (a spoke, as in a wheel) about (containing) C{onservative).
22  Credible number left in Lincoln (7)
TENABLE – TEN (number) and L{eft} inside ABE (Lincoln)
23  Good scope for one working in stable (5)
GROOM – G{ood} and ROOM (scope).


1  Attend a sanctuary, and withdraw (4,1,7)
2  Endless delight, of course, producing riches (8)
TREASURE – TREA{t} (endless delight) and SURE (of course).
Flimsy article, short (4)
THIN – THIN{g} (article, short)
Few panic catching cold (6)
SCARCE – SCARE (panic) catching (containing) C{old}.
Campaigner, more coarse, when held up (8)
CRUSADER – CRUDER (more coarse) containing AS (when) reversed (up).
Pretty fine tune (4)
FAIR – F{ine} and AIR (tune).
Drink can make me ill, a danger when mixed (5,3,4)
LAGER AND LIME – Anagram (when mixed) of [ME ILL, A DANGER].
13  Bitter speech from US prosecutor about island breed (8)
DIATRIBE – DA (District Attorney, US prosecutor) around (about) I{sland} and TRIBE (breed).
14  Unexpectedly find gamble working (6,2)
CHANCE ON – CHANCE (gamble) and ON (working).
17  Tooth decay – one probing is concerned (6)
CARIES – CARES (is concerned) containing I (one, probing).
19  Pitch in the direction of Geordieland? (4)
TONE – If one was facing in the direction of Geordieland, one would be facing TO N{orth} E{ast}, unless, of course, one wasn't in the South West.  However, wherever one was in the British Isles, one would still be facing towards the area we call the NE, if one sees what I mean.
21  Some homeless GI driving over to find accommodation (4)
DIGS – Reverse hidden (some and over) in {homeless}S GI D{riving}.

Times 27,749: A Fool And Its Cheeses Are Soon Partaken Of

Well this was tasty, tasty, very very tasty. A Friday smorgasbord of proper Timesy vocab and some truly superb constructions, a number of which I only fully appreciated in the post-solve write-up. In the heat of the solving I was most taken with 6dn and its "constituent of soap" definition, but 1ac is a belter now that its full intricacies have become apparent.

Full marks to the setter for this nutritious and substantial puzzle. Delicious without being at all fattening!

1 One serving cooked meal: it's eaten very warm (6,6)
MAITRE D'HOTEL - (MEAL IT*) ["cooked"] has "eaten" RED HOT [very warm]!

9 Hard nuts cracked by unknown group of stars (5)
HYDRA - (HARD*) ["nuts"] "cracked" by Y [the unknown that isn't X or Z]

10 Company at sea drink a nutritious substance (9)
COLOSTRUM - CO LOST RUM [company | at sea | drink]

11 Bit of smoke's back in top piece of lab kit (4-4)
TEST-TUBE - BUTT'S [bit of smoke's] is reversed in TEE [top]

12 Return of banknote, which may be in Leicester, say (6)
RENNET - TENNER [banknote] reversed. Leicester as in, a cheese.

13 Show competitors where to fly a kite? (8)
AIRFIELD - AIR [show] + FIELD [competitors] = where to fly a kite as in a plane.

15 Ideal sample of medicine, decoction from the east (6)
EDENIC - hidden reversed in {medi}CINE DE{coction}

17 This person's about to enter a shade abrasive (6)
PUMICE - reversed I'M [this person is] to "enter" PUCE [a shade]

18 Hostility's accepted if not a sin (8)
ENORMITY - ENMITY [hostility] has "accepted" OR [if not..]

20 Getting mobile, men are to call another way (6)
RENAME - (MEN ARE*) ["getting mobile"]

21 Material from the web, or feasible plan to keep a lot back (8)
GOSSAMER - GOER [feasible plan] to "keep" reversed MASS [a lot]. Web as in spiderweb, not the internet.

24 Maybe crude part in hissy fit? I'm not sure (9)
PETROLEUM - ROLE [part] in PET UM [hissy fit | I'm not sure]

25 Note wheels by motorway (5)
MINIM - MINI [wheels, as in car] by M [motorway]. I am slightly embarrassed to admit how long I just spent trying to work out how "nim" could be a slang word for a vehicle.

26 What may pick up fool with no work, feeling pressure to return (12)
DESSERTSPOON - reverse all of NO OP STRESSED [no | work | feeling pressure]. Fool as in the fruit pudding.

1 Sage Derby, say, swallowed by lady with issue (7)
MAHATMA - HAT [Derby, e.g.] "swallowed" by MAMA [lady with issue = children]

2 Overly broad daughter is cutting finger (14)
INDISCRIMINATE - D(aughter) IS, "cutting" INCRIMINATE [finger]

3 Tear a strip off a piece of meat (5)
ROAST - double def, the first as in "to criticise harshly"

4 Try to avoid payment for amphibian (8)
DUCKBILL - or try to avoid payment by DUCKing the BILL

5 Socially, oddly withdrawn and unctuous (4)
OILY - {s}O{c}I{a}L{l}Y

6 Constituent of soap tablet, equally gentle (4,5)
EAST ENDER - E AS TENDER [tablet | equally | gentle]

7 Spanish edict sister spies me breaking soon (14)

8 Repeat my words over a kind of medicine (6)
EMETIC - reverse the phrase "CITE ME" [repeat my words]

14 Put out half of modest income, sadly (9)
INCOMMODE - (MOD{est} INCOME*) ["sadly"]

16 Playing well, accompanying Queen's singer? (8)
INFORMER - IN FORM [playing well] + E.R.

17 Flourish every year, getting hit hard (6)
PARAPH - P.A. + RAP H. A flourish beneath one's signature... I've been doing one of these for decades and never knew it had a name!

19 Vehicle lifted pieces for workers on track (7)
YARDMEN - reversed DRAY + MEN [(chess) pieces]

22 Island nation's losing a part of Greece (5)
SAMOS - SAMO{a}'S, losing its A

23 Head from German city, going north, not east (4)
NESS - reversed {e}SSEN