Times Quick Cryptic No 2463 by Pedro

A good test containing some convoluted parsing, some general knowledge (GK) and plenty of good surfaces and clues – thank you Pedro. This took me 16 minutes to solve, one minute over my target, and I felt I had had a good workout in achieving that time.


  • Claim gold’s fashionable for chair (13)

PROFESSORSHIP – PROFESS (claim) OR’S (gold’s) and HIP (fashionable). According to Chambers, a CHAIR was originally the seat from which a professor delivered his or her lectures, although that sounds as dated as HIP for fashionable.

8 I’d returned in car with right financial expert (7)

AUDITOR – AUTO (car) containing I’D (returned, reversed) and followed by R{ight}.

9 Group of birds? Wrong to accept kittiwake’s wings (5)

SKEIN – SIN (wrong) containing K{ittiwak}E (‘s wings, first and last letters). A SKEIN is usually used to describe a small flock of wild geese.

10 Fruit they crushed with motorcar (6,6)

CHERRY TOMATO – Anagram (crushed with) of [THEY and MOTORCAR].

12 Make more of Times PA, in conclusion (6)

EXPAND – X (Times) and PA inside END (conclusion).

14 Practical book linking America and the French (6)

USABLE – USA (America) and LE (French for the) linked by B{ook}. I paused briefly over USABLE = practical, but it does work.

17 Senior Officer to be heading for Rome in just over four weeks (7)

OCTOBER – O{fficer} C{ommanding} (senior officer) TO BE (to be) and R{ome} (heading for Rome). 30 days hath October… – just over four weeks.

19 Rival to Edison engaged in debates later (5)

TESLA – Hidden (engaged in) in {deba}TES LA{ter}. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were mostly contemporaneous US inventors, although Tesla was born in Croatia 9 years after Edison, and out-lived him by 12 years.

20 Doctor writing stuff that’s a source of befuddlement to many (5)

DRINK – DR (doctor) and INK (writing stuff).

21 Change trip to work (7)

COMMUTE – Double definition.

22 Food shop absolutely getting goods supplied (8)

DELIVERY – DELI (food shop) and VERY (absolutely).

23 Stop question of identity getting answer (4)

WHOA – WHO (question of identity) and A{nswer}.



1 Fruit-tree – excellent example, but not large (4)

PEAR – PEAR{l} (excellent example, but not L{arge}. PEARL can define a prized example or paragon.

2 Ageing international player outside hotel, mate (3,4)

OLD CHAP – OLD (ageing) CAP (international player) containing H{otel}. OLD CHAP is roughly equivalent to Mate when addressing an acquaintance.

3 Go into heart of America – though not Colorado initially (5)

ENTER – {c}ENTER (heart as spelt in the US, dropping the C (Colorado initially).

4 Is deviant seeing Queen in corset? (6)

STRAYS – STAYS (corsets) containing R{egina} (Queen).

5 Pointer seems broken – how long before it moves? (8,4)

RESPONSE TIME – Anagram (broken) of [POINTER SEEMS].

7 Hear policeman out? One may get the picture (7,6)


11 Oboe, say, bringing in string, worked in studio? (8)

RECORDED – REED (Oboe, say) containing (bringing in) CORD (string).

13 Book van dished out Russian-born novelist (7)

NABOKOV – Referring to Vladimir NABOKOV, Russian – US novelist, this is an anagram of a fairly obscure foreign name, which I predict some will have trouble with. Anagram (dished out) of [BOOK VAN].

15 Chemical element is beginning to melt – but hydrogen absorbs that (7)

BISMUTH – BUT (but) and H{ydrogen) containing (absorbing) IS (is) and M{elt} (beginning to).

16 Old king and his daughter adopting rising company tradesman (6)

GROCER – GR (King George VI – old king) and ER (Queen Elizabeth II, his daughter) containing CO{mpany} reversed (rising).

18 Test of family with bishop coming out (5)

TRIAL – TRI{b}AL (of family, with B{ishop} coming out / being removed).

66 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2463 by Pedro”

  1. 17:17. BISMUTH, PINHOLE CAMERA, RESPONSE TIME all held me up several minutes. I didn’t understand the definition for the latter but see it now after reading blog. GROCER was my COD. Mr Rotter, are you giving October 30 days in a subtle attempt to “cancel” Halloween?

  2. Tricky this. Like vinyl it took me a bit to get a toehold. Wondering here if Pedro is also the setter for today’s 15×15. Thx, rotter

    1. There is one possible linking clue in each puzzle, isn’t there; no spoilers.

  3. Quite hard and I took one minute longer than our blogger. Further to curryowen’s comment: “Thirty days hath September, …”, at least I think that’s how the rhyme goes. I was also slow in spotting the RESPONSE TIME and PINHOLE CAMERA anagrams and bunged in BISMUTH without parsing. I liked the surface for CORSET and the inclusion of ‘debates’ in the wordplay for TESLA; he and Edison were not exactly friendly rivals.

    Thanks to TheRotter and Pedro

    1. Thanks BR, it must be down to that bottle of Merlot last night – of course October has 31 days, I was trying to eliminate my wedding anniversary rather than Halloween, but don’t tell Mrs R.

  4. I needed 15 minutes for this, just inside the dividing line between amber and red in my colour-coded solving times chart. I was particularly slow on the long answers apart from CHERRY TOMATO, and PEAR held me up for ages, eventually arriving as my LOI. I like the red answers, Rotter!

  5. I found this hard going from Pedro. Some tricky wordplay and long anagrams, but all fair and an enjoyable though far from quick solve. After my LOsI PROFESSORSHIP and STRAYS I thought I was home, but alas not. Trawling through the grid to find the error (there is only one A in NABOKOV) took me out to 15.49. Was also fooled by GROCER, here in Oz tradesmen (universally known as tradies) tend to be people who come to your house to fix things at exorbitant cost. Thanks for the blog Rotter, I never did figure out that CHERRY TOMATO was a granama.

  6. A rare DNF for me today, being defeated by the SW corner after a good 40 minutes. This was very hard and way off my wavelength.
    Thanks anyway to Pedro and Rotter.
    I’ll try again tomorrow!

  7. Didn’t even get close – after 3 or 4 passes I still only had TESLA, COMMUTE, WHOA and SKEIN and I threw in the towel with TIME and CAMERA added as part answers and no idea of the other half.

    Reading the blog I’m glad I did, this was a hard one and I certainly was not on Pedro’s wavelength.

    Cheers Pedro and Rotter – good job on the blog

  8. The setters seem to have up the difficulty this week and this turned into a bit of a slog.
    Got the SHIP part of 1a very quickly and then couldn’t get protect out of my head for claim which I knew made no sense. Eventually it was my LOI after finally seeing STRAYS.
    Dredged NABOKOV out of the depths which was a relief as the vowel order would have been tricky otherwise – the second dodgy anagram of the week after Izetti’s offering on Monday.
    Finished in 15.30 for my third missed target of the week.
    Thanks to Rotter

    1. Thanks to Sting, I Ninja Turtled Nabokov straight out of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” –

      “It’s no use, he sees her
      He starts to shake and cough
      Just like the old man in
      That book by Nabokov”

  9. I really enjoyed that, a testing but very satisfying puzzle. Lots of witty tricks. COD from a strong field to WHOA.

    All done in 11:23 for a Fun Day.

    Many thanks Rotter and Pedro.


  10. 35.34 corrected DNF. Failed on STRAYS … just didn’t get it and spent almost 10mins trying to figure out what it wanted until eventually I saw STRAY and added E/R for queen assuming it was a type of corset. Even now it’s taken me a few moments to understand what the “Is deviant” means as a definition.

    For the most part had really enjoyed it even though it had been a slow solve. Some laugh out louds and particularly like GROCER & BISMUTH 🤷‍♂️

    Overall enjoyment of the QC during Aug – currently trending about 4/10. They haven’t been quick or successful.

  11. Another tough one, and like Vinyl1 I was staring at a blank grid until well over half way through the across clues – FOI was Usable. But the bottom half seemed more approachable and once a couple of long down clues were in, the top half slowly gave way too. 18 minutes though from starting grid to chequered flag – I have spent longer on the first 4 puzzles this week than on all 5 most weeks.

    Having said that, I really liked the puzzle. Some interesting but not too obscure GK (Nabokov, Tesla, Bismuth), some excellent but getable anagrams, a friendly grid (only 5 clues starting with an unchecked letter), and a good workout (as my time shows). But it also set me thinking that measures of difficulty and measures of enjoyment are only loosely connected, if at all. Why was this a joy to do when one of the puzzles earlier in the week (which took me much the same time) was certainly not? It cannot all be down to which side of the bed I got out of …

    Many thanks to Rotter for the polychromatic blog – I like the greater use of colours our bloggers are starting to experiment with!

    1. I too was wondering why I enjoyed this today as I went through. And the answer struck me that it was about the surfaces.

      Some days I read clue after clue and simply have no idea what a setter wants and the surface is humourless drivel.

      Here the surfaces made sense as phrases and I felt when I went back I would have some anagrams to solve, or KE of Kittiwake’s Wings to insert or USABLE to sort out with its “American” and “the French”.

      I had some hope that even though my first pass was empty I would find answers.

  12. Taken to 23m by the SE which was a tricky end to a hard puzzle. Bunged in STRAYS without understanding the clue or the definition and got the pink squares that deserved from CHERRY TOMATp which also mucked up PINHOLp CAMERA. NHO BISMUTH, so that was hard!

  13. Hard, slow, but never quite ground to a halt. Clueing was more complex, I felt, than many QCs, but fair enough once the little grey cells were working hard enough and a fair few “oh yes, of course” moments, especially parsing GROCER.
    7D and 10A didn’t leap out as anagrams for longer than they should so that slowed me towards the right side.
    Well into the SCC but enjoyably so. Those others of my ilk will be equally glad to get there, I suspect, and a few may be a bit twitchy if they don’t, it will be interesting to see how this goes down overall.

  14. I made things trickier than they should have been by writing in BLOTS for 20A, wondering how the answer could be plural, but B{effudlement} LOTS fitted the wordplay. It was only NABOKOV that showed me the error of my ways after being befuddled by 11D assumed to be ending in BED. Nice crossword. I liked CHERRY TOMATO, SKEIN and EXPAND. Thanks Pedro and Rotter. 6:31 (eventually).

  15. Well, I’m glad to see that they are getting easier. . . At least I managed to finish this one, fully parsed, but in a time only just shy of 30mins and with fingers crossed for Nabokov (vs Nobakov). Like others, I found Pedro’s clues tricky but enjoyable, with a regular supply of pdms to keep things slowly edging along. CoD to 12ac, Expand, a nose ahead of the excellent Pinhole Camera anagram. Invariant

  16. Took over average time as this was the hardest puzzle for some time. However it was also the most rewarding – every clue a joy. NHO SKEIN as used, but kindly paarsed and easily biffable. MER at FOI AUDITOR, nowadays required to tick boxes rather than exercise professional judgement. LOI and COD GROCER having spent too long trying to get something from COLE D! Thanks Pedro and Rotter

  17. Hard work today but Cherry Tomato reminded me that knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit , wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

    1. Mrs R and I sometimes have custard with our vegetables – rhubarb crumble and custard.

  18. DNF. Also tried getting ER for Queen into a corset. And missed WHOA. Found the anagrams hard today, which slowed me down. Very enjoyable, but quite tough. Now on to the 15.

  19. 22:25

    Very tricky today, finishing in the SCC, but at least I had no errors for once.

    LOI was STRAYS.

    Thanks Pedro and Rotter

  20. After 14 minutes I had finished but with REMOLDED at 11d. This didn’t feel right so I spent a further three minutes thinking and came up with REWORDED. Somehow missed CORD completely.
    So a DNF for me today.
    Otherwise an enjoyable solve. No problem with the GK.
    COD to WHOA, my FOI.

  21. Like others, consider this to be another toughie. It took me 11.55 to finish with PROFESSORSHIP and PEAR being my final two. A really good puzzle I thought although there may be some adverse comment later on I suspect! I’ll mention no names …….

  22. 17:43 FOI PEAR and LOI GROCER. The QCs are taking me so long at the moment that I might have to double my target time.

  23. Tough but doable for me. I am constantly amazed at the anagrams especially PINHOLE CAMERA with the clue misdirecting me to look for a homophone.

    Great surfaces.

    Thanks Pedro and the Rotter.

  24. I repeat exactly the words I wrote after attempting Pedro’s last puzzle on July 3rd:
    Not a pleasure – struggled to do only just over half this. Misery.
    Did like (and enjoy) COD GROCER, though.
    NHO SKEIN (except of wool), CAP (international player?? what NHO sport is that?), BISMUTH.
    With respect, Rotter, may I suggest it’s that October will be with us “*in* just over four weeks” (weeks’ time)? That’s how I read it, but I agree I’m nobody’s grandmother (as my father used to say).
    Then you say “stays = corsets”, but the clue has “corset”. I presume that’s equally valid (i.e. “stays = corset”).
    No one seems to have commented that the blog is lacking any mention of 6d. I assume it’s HYENA, but may I request help with the parsing? H = hot, but how do we get to YENA?
    Thank you, John, for giving us back our 12 hours!
    To Countrywoman (below): yes TESLA was my FOI, too.

      1. Thanks Matthew, I have replied to an earlier comment in a similar vein, but the omission is all my fault.

        And Martinu, STAYS = corset or corsets, but I have never heard of a singular STAY in the intended sense.

        CAP applies to multiple sports for international representation, including football (soccer), rugby (union and league), cricket, rowing, etc., and in multiple countries, so I don’t think it is at all obscure. File it away, it will return!

          1. No, not an acronym-players in rugby and association football used to be awarded an actual cap on being chosen to represent their country for an international match. That practice has long been discontinued but the term has remained.

  25. Good stuff, and the hardest this week.

    Long anagrams were a slog as I have no paper to hand, indeed RESPONSE TIME was my LOI.

    Many excellent services, but I think OLD CHAP was my favourite today.


  26. 9:15

    Enjoyably chewy puzzle – no real problems with the GK, just that the clueing took a little unravelling. No surprise really as the one-grid-a-month Pedro is the setter that on average takes me the longest to solve, at just under 10 minutes. NW corner was the last to fall. FOI SKEIN, LOI AUDITOR

    Thanks Pedro and Rotter

  27. Not sure if these are getting harder or I am ready for a holiday.
    I also couldn’t see past protectorship, finally got it, and then pear and strays followed.
    COD to trio of bismuth, cherry tomato, and October.

  28. A toughish offering from Pedro today. I missed my target again. I started by popping -ORSHIP at the end of 1a, which gave me HYENA and then SKEIN, then I had to start some applied cogitation. The SE came together nicely, and then the SW. RESPONSE took longer to arrive than TIME. PINHOLE CAMERA eventually emerged from the mist, leading to CHERRY TOMATO. PROFESS- and PEAR finally completed the job. 12:00 Thanks Pedro and Rotter.

  29. Phew. Couldn’t get going until I saw TESLA, then managed a few more like CHERRY TOMATO and NABAKOV. PROFESSORSHIP made me smile when penny dropped. Very slow all round but pleased to finish all correct. LOsI BISMUTH and WHOA. Only heard of SKEIN of wool but biffed flock from the cluing.
    The blog was much needed so thanks, Rotter. (Cannot see link or NINA)
    30 days hath September
    April, June and November.

  30. Q: “How are you today?”
    Most civilised!

    Nearly six minutes on the clock before I solved my first clue (CHERRY TOMATO) and nearly 10 minutes were required to solve my last two (PROFESSORSHIP and STRAYS), but I still finished all correct in 41 minutes. So, decent progress through most of the clues, once I’d broken my duck.

    GROCER was very challenging (didn’t spot GR for ‘Old king’ until afterwards) and NABOKOV was only marginally more likely than NoBakOV. REED for ‘oboe’ was also almost beyond me.

    Finally, I would like to commend Pedro for his clue for BISMUTH. I DNK the element, but the clue broke it down into four simple elements and clearly indicated how they all fit together. Perfectly pitched for the QC, even for this SCC member.

    Many thanks to Pedro and Rotter.

  31. A DNF today. Just could not get STRAYS. Kicking myself for missing 2 glaringly obvious anagram indicators (policeman OUT, and seems BROKEN). I must be tired. I can’t fault the GK. Thanks, R, for the blog. I needed it.

  32. I started last night and finished before 08.00 this morning, but as I am currently in USA, managed the rare achievement of entering the club twice on successive days for the same puzzle. Celebrated with a glass of wine last night and a coffee this morning. Corner chair relinquished in favour of something more horizontal. That said, I found this very tricky and not any easier for sleeping in between start and finish. Tried to work CO rather than OC and didn’t see the surface of 4 weeks.
    Needed to find a pencil to write out the long anagrams. Difficult but not impossible, given that chronologically it took me two days. Thanks Pedro and multicoloured Rotter blog.

  33. Like others I thought I would be in difficulties when my first quick run through was not very productive. Then thankfully the microwave pinged and I spent three or four minutes preparing my lunch, and on my return they all flew in. It just shows that even while you’re doing something else, your mind is quietly working away in the background in a very productive manner!

  34. Third hard puzzle in a row but managed to finish this one, taking well over and hour and several visits. Parsed them all except EXPAND. Thanks Rotter for explaining that X=Times.
    I’m sure I’ve been told lots of times that a tomato is a fruit but it took a while for the penny to drop.
    Lots of good clues but I particularly liked USABLE, GROCER and WHOA.
    Thanks Pedro.

  35. Just 2 answers on the first pass of the across clues and only a few more on the downs. I found this very difficult, it taking me a full 40 minutes in 2 sessions. I seem to remember having the same sort of difficulties with the last Pedro puzzle. Couldn’t parse OCTOBER, PEAR or GROCER. Took an age to solve the long anagram at 5dn and longer still to even realise that 7dn was an anagram. Didn’t like the clue for 1dn. I understood that I needed to find a word meaning excellent example and drop the L to get a fruit but I think pearl is a bit of a stretch. Also ‘tree’ in the clue seems superfluous.

    FOI – 9ac SKEIN
    LOI – 1dn PEAR
    COD – 10ac CHERRY TOMATO for the surface

  36. Many on here would be delighted to finish in 7:01, but I’m not. Never got a rhythm going, and consequently it became a chore. There’s nothing WRONG with it, I just didn’t get much out of it to make the exercise worthwhile. No COD nomination either. Roll on tomorrow.

  37. 24.26 The top half yielded only ENTER on the first pass, but this turned into a steady solve until LOI STRAYS, which took more than ten minutes. I enjoyed the challenge. Thanks to Rotter and Pedro.

  38. Tough going today. Almost gave up after 25 minutes when I found myself dozing off, but I left the watch running and after I lost about 10 minutes somewhere, the answers started coming again. Eventually finished on STRAYS after 46:43. Not my finest hour. COD to GROCER. Thanks Rotter and Pedro.

  39. I mislaid my anagram hat, so found this one very tricky, finally finishing in 25:10, for my second SCC finish in a row. Was held up towards the end by only being able to see POTATO for _O_A_O, even though I knew it isn’t a fruit. 😬


    Thanks to Pedro & TheRotter

  40. A couple of people have commented about the multi-coloured nature of today’s blog. I’m reading the page on my phone in Dark Mode (white text on black background), and I don’t see any colours in the blog. So it’s probably not a good idea to rely on colour alone to convey any important meaning.

    1. An interesting point. I’ve never used Dark Mode other than on its first day when I tried it and found it strained my eyes. Obviously it restricts variety of formatting but unless I’m missing something the colours employed by Rotter today and by me on Monday and Tuesday don’t make any difference to how the blogs would have looked previously in Dark Mode as the newly red answers continue to appear in white.

  41. 43 mins…

    Took an age on this – but like a few others, I kind of enjoyed it which is why I probably kept on going.

    Main issues were trying to unjumble “Nabokov” for 13dn and oddly enough 16dn “Grocer” – I went down the electrician, carpenter route which left me somewhat puzzled – good clue though once I’d figured it out.

    For the record, Auditors are not necessarily financial experts.

    FOI – 8ac “Auditor”
    LOI – 4dn “Strays”
    COD – 1ac “Professorship”

    Thanks as usual!

  42. I found this hard today and didn’t get strays so DNF. I thought 11down unsolvable really but some of the clues were very clever and I did enjoy it.

  43. Total disaster today, just 5 solved (out of 24). Usually just need an aid with a couple, but today very little idea anywhere. Given the so called QC’s this week, time to give up and get a different paper.

  44. Feel a bit better about my time of 27 mins now I’ve read the above. Still made a few quite ridiculous errors (too embarrassed to reveal them) which held me up. I can’t say I enjoyed it as such, but I was satisfied to complete it.

    Professorship made me chuckle. The private university at which I work has a number of ‘pretend’ professors whose publication record is almost non-existent. When I was a student, the professoriate comprised only those with a long and distinguished record of publications.

    This QC was tough but fair, and I agree with those who praised Pedro for this puzzle. It demonstrates that a QC can be both hard and fair, a lesson another setter would do well to remember. I have no argument with the use of uncommon words when the wordplay required is clear.

    Thanks also to Rotter. Blogging after a bottle of merlot is a brave undertaking! I’d be under the table.

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