Quick Cryptic 2625 by Pedro

Solving time + Parkrun* time = 36:17

I see that I last blogged a Pedro back in 2017 so he’s not exactly new to the craft.  And today he’s provided us with another entertaining Saturday morning workout.

Galspray’s tip for the day (the first in a series, and feel free to file this under “the bleedin’ obvious”): When you’re struggling to find a way into a clue, just remind yourself that the definition will almost always be found at the start or the end of the clue.  Today we have thirteen definitions at the start, twelve at the end and one pure cryptic, in which case the whole clue is the definition.  Of course the definition can be comprised of any number of words, so identifying it can still be a battle.  But hey, if these things were easy everybody would do them.

Here’s how I parsed today’s puzzle.  Please leave a comment to let us know how you went.

(In the clues, definitions are underlined and anagram indicators are in italics.

In the explanations (ABC)* indicates an anagram of abc.  Deletions and other devices are indicated accordingly, I hope).

1 Decoration and high honour presented after pageantry (6)
POMPOM – OM (high honour, specifically the Order of Merit) after POMP (pageantry)
5 Religious group — or part (6)
SECTOR – SECT (religious group) + OR
8 Bugs one appearing in dodgy cabaret (8)
BACTERIA – I (one) in (CABARET)*
9 Return of opera-singer making you keen (4)
AVID – Reverse (return) of DIVA (opera-singer)

Safe to say this one’s a bit of a chestnut.

10 Satisfied to accommodate a carnivore’s food (4)
MEAT – MET (satisfied) containing (accommodating) A
11 The turn is interrupted by a performer (8)
THESPIAN – THE + SPIN (turn) “interrupted by” A
12 Computer program in expo curtailed name of old poet (6)
SAPPHO – APP (computer program) in SHOW (expo), curtailed

Sappho of Lesbos, who was born in either 610, 620 or 630 BCE, depending on your source.  But we’re all agreed that she died in 570 BCE.

14 Over-confidence? Core feature with endless peril (6)
HUBRIS – HUB (core feature) + RISK (peril), endless
16 Leading vessel sinks with it (8)
FLAGSHIP – FLAGS (sinks) + HIP (with it)

For flags=sinks, think in terms of flagging hopes or flagging spirits.

18 Large buffoon to stand idly by (4)
LOAF – L (large) + OAF (buffoon)
20 Stern former ruler I am to follow (4)
GRIM – GR (King George, former ruler) + IM (I am)
21 Sensible to restrict access to a lot of beer (8)
RATIONAL – RATION (restrict access to) ALE (beer)

Sensible?  I say let the people decide!

23 Extreme examples of curry powder, given to us for island state (6)
CYPRUS – CY + PR (“extremes” of CurrY and PowdeR) + US
24 Total of ten baseball teams I catch in US city (6)
NINETY – I + NET (catch) in NY (US city)

You see, there’s this game in America where they have nine players on each team.

The greatest and most admired of these teams is called the Yankees, but I’ll leave it to our good friend Paul to elaborate on this in the comments.

2 Hold forth in elaborate style, concealing name (5)
ORATE – ORNATE (in elaborate style) “concealing” N (name)

Just coincidental that the answer actually appears in the clue.

3 Worst and best hiatus in race? (3,4)
PIT STOP – PITS (worst) + TOP (best)

Think this was my favourite clue today.

4 Damage horse, having tail docked (3)
MAR – MARE (horse) with the last letter “docked”.
5 Small chappies moving about in rocket? (9)
6 Restrict piano study first (5)
CRAMP – P (piano) after CRAM (study)
7 Folding business that keeps producing figures? (7)
ORIGAMI – Cryptic definition

Very fond memories of this appearing out of nowhere on some afternoon TV show circa 1970.  We all had a crack at it but I was left behind by about the second episode.

11 Roughly 66 per cent ultimately get this word wrong (3-6)
TWO-THIRDS – T [ultimately (last letter of) get] + (THIS WORD)*

Another good clue, potentially misleading unless you have a few checkers in place.

13 Source of irritation largely dissipated (7)

Very neat surface and our only full anagram today.

15 Favour penning a couple of lines for part of cartoon (7)
BALLOON – BOON (favour) “penning” A + LL (couple of Lines)
17 Good American fan of Grand Theft Auto? (5)
GAMER – G (good) + AMER (American)

Possibly the best-known* video game from the olden days and apparently still around in some form or other.

*best-known = I’ve heard of it.

19 Father picked up paintings, say, in different places (5)
APART – AP [PA (father) inverted (picked up)] + ART (paintings, say)
22 Metal temperature at home (3)
TIN – T (temperature) + IN (home)

One from the beginner slopes to wrap it all up.

79 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2625 by Pedro”

  1. *Excuses for slow Parkrun:
    1. Returning from injury.
    2. Chose to do Cottesloe Parkrun instead of my usual. A solid chunk of this run is on the sand, which is my idea of hell. But wow, the dip in the Indian Ocean afterwards made it all worthwhile.

    1. No excuses needed. Well done for getting out there 👍

      Is Cottesloe in Perth area? The name of a beach rings a bell from when I was there.

      1. Yes it’s the most iconic of Perth beaches. Probably the only one that most interstaters could name.

        Now comes complete with shark netting around the main swimming area. Opinions vary on whether this is a good thing.

        1. As a native-born Perth boy who learned to surf on a Coolite at Slimy and then south of the groyne at Cove, I say it’s a good thing. Sharks are getting kind of cocky lately…

  2. I did all of this in bits and pieces without many hold ups but I guess my app didn’t pause because it gave me a time of 72 minutes. I think it was probably closer to 12 min

    No issues here. Loved PIT STOP.

    Grand Theft Auto VI is coming out next year. My brother played a lot of GTA, unluckily for my sons, because I know the content of said game and they can wait until they’re 18.

  3. 7.42, ending on BALLOON and HUBRIS. Most of it went more or less straight in but thanks Galspray for explaining what was going on with NINETY (‘I net’), ORATE (not a hidden) and HUBRIS. Enjoy that most delightful beach.

  4. 12 minutes with FLAGSHIP and RATIONAL as my last two in.

    Looked twice at GAMER as I don’t recall ever seeing AMER for ‘American’ before. Not difficult to see it but it came with surprise factor.

    1. Yes good point Jack, and I made a mental note whilst solving to mention that in the blog. Sadly a lot of my mental notes go missing these days.

    2. Ah, glad you said that! I went round the “US? AM? Why doesn’t this work?” circuit a few times.

  5. 12 minutes for me too. Again like Jack A MER at AMER for ‘American’ but I see it’s in Collins and Chambers.

    Enjoyable puzzle as usual from Pedro. I liked POMPOM, HUBRIS and the ORIGAMI cryptic def.

    Thanks to Pedro and galspray

  6. Oh dear. Unlike the above I waded through this as if through treacle, finally coming in all green in around 25 minutes. SAPPHO and THESPIAN were the main culprits but I also pondered long over ORIGAMI, which I’d initially biffed and couldn’t for the life of me parse. Nonetheless a very nice puzzle to end the week with so thanks to Pedro and to Galspray.
    It being a beautiful morning I shall attempt Parkrun, although there’ll be no dip in the ocean afterwards for me – a) because the nearest one is 10 miles away from the finish line and b) because it’s only 2 degrees C down here in Dorzetshire.
    Happy weekends all.

      1. Both completed within 55 minutes. Happy with that, although PR was a little slower than usual as I was running with a C25K 1st timer. A very enjoyable morning though.

  7. Surprised I didn’t know how many players in a baseball team but on reflection I don’t know how many in basketball or American football either. I do know it’s as many as you like with six to score in a cross country team though – good motivation if you’re sixth counter and fading when in with a chance of a team medal. NINETY held out to the end, even with all the checkers it needed to be stared at for a bit. All green in 13.19, so your 36.17 is going to need a 2024 best, Galspray – and even that might not be enough.

    1. Sounds like you’d be lapping me on the track M. But I think we’d go ok together if ParkSolve became an official team sport!

  8. Many thanks to setter and blogger.
    There are rhymes in the top two corners (****/****, ****/****) but not quite the same in the other two corners. (Apologies if already commented on.)

    Answers to another puzzle removed by management.

  9. Really enjoyed this one but found it quite chewy in places. Eventually taken over target as I’d transposed the ‘i’ and ‘r’ in TWO THIRDS making LOI RATIONAL a challenge.
    I was slightly surprised to see two types of ship appear as answers but both were nicely clued so it’s just an observation rather than a complaint.
    Finished in 10.45 with COD to NINETY for the PDM as I was unaware of the numbers in a baseball team.
    Thanks to galspray

  10. 4:24. Another who was surprised to see AMER for American. I tried in vain to think of a former ruler PR for 20A before I spotted George. Doh! LOI RATIONAL. Thanks Pedro and Gallers.

  11. 11 minutes but WOE, as for some reason the relatively straightforward Cramp became Clamp somewhere between brain and finger. Otherwise no serious delays though like a few others I was surprised at AMER for American. Such short-forms could offer setters a whole new universe of short word-components – Brit has now become well established, but will we also see GER for our German friends for example, among others?

    Many thanks Galspray for the blog, and a good weekend to all

    1. I put “clamp”, looked at it, couldn’t see how “clam” = “study”, got there eventually.

  12. 24.29 DNF with corrected GRIM for PRIM.

    Enjoyed PIT-STOP and TWO-THIRDS and can appreciate there was some clever stuff in here but I found it all more taxing than enjoyable. When I got an answer, I often had to engage brain to understand it rather than being able to react and move on. NHO SAPPHO and the whole of the SE except CYPRUS held out for a while.

    Can’t decide whether my LOI ORATE being in the clue is poor setting or a leg up to the beginners. Not that I think beginners would do too well with this one. Same concern about FLAGSHIP/SPACESHIP pairing.

    No official parkrun for me as recovery run after yesterday’s hills and can’t be bothered to get in the car to drive 4 miles to my nearest one. I will use Strava to tell me what the best 5K is on that.

    Edit: legs didn’t feel like they wanted recovery so it became a Steady run. QCpr of 48mins exactly

  13. If Parksolve becomes a thing I’d be refused membership of the SCC as an embarrassment to its good name!

    I was a bit slower than usual on this one, actually, getting gummed up in the bottom half. Having to know the numbers in a team for US rounders seems a bit thick and NINETY was LOI with crossed fingers. COD to PIT-STOP, which was worth the price of entry on its own.

    All done in 10:25, joined at the hip as usual with Plett. Many thanks Galspray and Pedro.


    1. When I first went to parkrun, the great thing was that it was as much about having a coffee and chat (and cake) afterwards. The cafe was always packed out and the queue out the door. The SCC will be pleased to have the increased trade on a Saturday morning from parksolvers.

  14. DNF. Pretty difficult. Could not get going at first and had to reveal one or two which I almost never do normally. Needed help with various inc SAPPHO, THESPIAN, etc.
    Thanks vm, Galspray.

  15. Another sub 10, 9:49.

    Really wanted GALLERY to work, on the basis of “there surely can’t be another anagram”. Also went with PRIM thinking a PR person could be a former leader. Actually, it’s depressing that it works the other way round. Many leaders graduate from PR to leader, step forward D. Cameron.

    Liked the two numerical clues TWO THIRDS and NINETY.

    THESPIAN is a word that is only ever used ironically.


    1. Birds of a feather Merlin 🧙‍♂️ I could only identify GALLERY as an anagram until I tried shifting the -APP- to the left 🦉

    1. I did have a bit of a MER regarding that, as I felt the clue should have had a question mark after it. I don’t think Leonardo da Vinci’s cartoons had any speech bubbles, for instance!

  16. 20:23. Was stuck around 18 minutes with seven or so left and was about to pack it in when THESPIAN miraculously came to mind and quick progress followed. POMPOM, PIT STOP, and FLAGSHIP were favourites among many super clues. I must take issue with galspray’s remark that the “greatest and most admired” baseball team is the New York Yankees. True cognoscenti/aficionados of America’s National Pastime would rightly bestow that honour on the Detroit Tigers.

      1. I read “The Yankee Years” recently as I quite like understanding what makes a champion! It’s a look at the successful team of the late 90s-early 2000s which made the World Series five times in six years under coach Joe Torre and since firing him has only been back once* . Part of that is down to how the sport has changed with the Moneyball approach.

        * the Detroit Tigers have appeared more recently

        1. Yes, Moneyball is a good take on the modern statistical approach to achieving success in sports. Baseball fans call this “sabermetrics”(term coined from the Society for American Baseball Research). I grew up across the river from Detroit so imbibed love of the Tigers pretty well from the cradle. And the dastardly NY Yankees were always Public Enemy #1!

          1. I read the Moneyball book some years ago, so familiar with Bill James and the Sabrmetricians. The film adaptation with Brad Pitt is surprisingly good for a potentially disengaging subject. Interesting to see how the Moneyball statistics approach has spread through all sports with varying degrees of success.

            I rate Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball, as a writer and his first book Liars Poker and The Big Short are a decent read. Again the latter has a good film adaptation.

            So did you take an interest in the other Detroit teams which, off the top of my head would be the Lions (most successful season in 30yrs); Pistons (very good in the 90s) and Redwings (? don’t know next to nothing about hockey) ?

            1. Oh yes, big fan of all Detroit teams, although last fifty years or so, since having to move to Toronto as a teenager, sometimes get tempted by the teams there.

          2. Ha! Yes, “evil incarnate” according to Paul in London. Was just trying to wind him up but he hasn’t dropped by to take the bait.

            Moneyball the movie has been recommended to me for years by so many people, presumably because I love sport and numbers. For some reason I never watched it until last week. Really enjoyed it, but personally I’d have taken the offer from the Sox!

      2. I didn’t do this on the weekend and would have missed it completely if I hadn’t been directed by a friend to the blasphemy in the comments.

        I’m glad to have done the puzzle – very nice Pedro, and thank you.

        Mostly well blogged, and thank you for that, too, galspary. But on the merits of that particular New York baseball team: there’s some as might agree with you, and then there’s others.

  17. I don’t think I’ve done a Saturday quick cryptic on a Saturday before, but I have my laptop, and some time to kill before heading out for a walk, so here we are.

    Severely hampered in the bottom right, due to inability to see “OAF” and “RATION”, and had no clue what was going on with NINETY (LOI with crossed fingers as per Templar above).

    Otherwise, I liked the puzzle.


  18. As a fairly recent solver of the Quick Puzzle, having added it to the 15×15, which I’ve been doing for some years, I found this quite tricky, and was trying to work out why. Had it been a 15×15 I would have just got on with it, but because it wasn’t, I felt a pressure to finish quickly that I don’t have with the longer one. I’m not a fast solver, and don’t bother to time myself normally, as it’s about enjoyment, not competition, but adding the word Quick to the title seems to increase the pressure to make it about speed. Talking of which, Gallers, there’s no way I shall be adding a Park run to my solve! I’m sticking to my weekday morning swim sessions – Saturday is strictly for lazing!

  19. No time but around 15, got stuck on rational and balloon.
    Dnk Sappho.
    Liked flagship, thespian, and pit stop.

  20. It’s all Greek to me, well a few anyway, what with SAPPHO, HUBRIS and CYPRUS!
    All done and dusted in 11:25. Off out to do my volunteering stint this afternoon – hope it doesn’t rain.
    FOI Avid (I’m getting a bit bored with the keen opera singer) LOI Thespian (they can be divas too I guess!) COD Loaf (why did I immediately think of a past PM?)
    Thanks Pedro and Galspray

  21. DNF had to use reveal for many clues. Saturday def getting harder. The first few were a walk in the park.

  22. Well, the anagram hat was definitely in the wash today, and I was reduced to hopping around the grid trying to find a foothold. Not helped by my incredulity over the nho Amer in 17d – Yank, Uncle Sam, US, AM etc, (I’m sure there are a few more choice four letter ones for orange example), but Amer ? Anyway, stumps pulled at the 30min mark with nho Sappho, Cramp and Thespian (. . .not an anagram then) extant. One to forget. Invariant

  23. I liked this puzzle from Pedro with lots of lovely wordplay.
    Completed after 48 minutes but needed the blog to parse Balloon and Ninety.
    COD: MEAT for the surface.
    Thanks Pedro and Galspray. I’ll try to remember your tip.

  24. Nice Saturday workout. No idea about NINETY so many thanks for the explanation galspray. Another to pause over AMER – not come across before. Couldn’t initially parse FLAGSHIP. Wondered whether ‘hip’ was some sort of Latin phrase for ‘with it’ (oh dear). Part of the reason I started cryptic crosswords was to improve my mental flexibility; I’m a naturally rigid thinker. It’s helping (honest) 😂
    Thanks all

  25. POMPOM went in first, then a steady stroll apart from 20a where I pondered whether Priam Rex could play a part, and GAMER where AMER for American came as a surprise too. Common sense prevailed when George raised his head. LOI was NINETY where the wordplay allowed me to deduce how many players form a Baseball team. No doubt Paul in London will shake his head and wonder how all his coaching went astray! 7:37. Thanks Pedro and Galspray. The only run I do on a Saturday morning is from the bedroom to the kitchen coffee maker and back, where I peruse the iPad and do the Concise!

  26. A somewhat below par 14:25 today. No Parkrun but a pre-solve 2 hr bike ride, on which I was also below par and grateful for Mrs T gamely towing me along for substantial stretches, seems to have deprived my brain of oxygen rather than stimulating it. No especial problems, knew of Sappho, just off the pace. COD to PIT STOP. Thanks to Pedro and Galspray.

  27. 18 minutes here. First work through I only got about 10 but then they slowly started coming together. Found it a satisfying puzzle to do as the word play was user friendly!

  28. My 1,001st QC today, so the first of a new era. My rules/goals of this new era are:
    1. Enjoy the journey and care less about the outcome.
    2. Delight in the setters’ craft, admire the ability of other solvers and enjoy the conversation here.
    3. Minor errors (e.g. inadvertent mis-spelling) should be overlooked if the clue has been properly parsed.
    4. It’s OK to throw in the towel after 40 minutes if the last couple of clues or so are proving an insurmountable obstacle.
    5. New target times (to be only loosely applied) are: a) <20 mins = Very Fast, b) 20-29 mins = Fast, c) 30-39 mins = Standard, d) 40+ mins = Oh well, never mind!
    6. Don’t worry about so rarely ‘borrowing’ the family point from Mrs Random, as it’s hers by right.

    Today’s puzzle:
    Very enjoyable. Smack on 30 minutes. DNK SAPPHO was a poet or the meaning of HUBRIS. Last few in were LOAF, RATIONAL, BALLOON and AVID.

    Thanks to Pedro and Galspray.

  29. 16:30, delayed a bit by CRAMP and AVID. For the latter, “wail” was taking up all the room in my head, and for the former the internal monologue went something like this:

    “Oh, ‘study’, eh? And the word starts with a C? Yes, I know that ‘study’ is somehow ‘con’ in your deranged universe, you lot have beaten me with that one before and you’re not doing it again. So, CON_ _, then.”

    Which I assume was intentional on Pedro’s part. I’ve come to the conclusion that crossword compilers are like sudoku setters and dental hygienists, being people who need another outlet now that it’s no longer socially acceptable to be employed as a torturer.

    Thank you to Pedro for the puzzle and galspray for the blog!

  30. 11:37

    Not a lot in from first pass through the clues so took a while to pick up some speed. No idea how many players in a baseball team – it’s called rounders over here 🙂 – so took a while to see what was required there. But hey, I’m squeezing this into a weekend away…

    Thanks all

    1. I found it on the tricky side, too. I much prefer doing these puzzles on newsprint rather than my phone. That way I can work out the anagrams on paper. There were three anagrams that I just could not see until I went to fetch pen and paper.

      I joined the Origami Society at school circa 1969, but never progressed much further than the flapping bird.

  31. 17:42 here. I was stuck on the last 7 or 8 for about 5 minutes with nothing clicking at all. I put it down, came back a few hours later and the answers came immediately. Weird.

    Thanks to Galspray and Pedro.

  32. 6.16

    Late entry

    I’ve been v much on the side of the slug recently so this was definitely a good time for me.

    Absolutely love the blog Galspray. Funnily enough came across one of your very first posts in 2011 when dabbling with a few from the past. I’m sure you used to say things like “Very happy to finish in 55 minutes”. Just goes to show what improvement is possible with practice.

    Anyways also very much liked this puzzle particularly PIT STOP but also ALLERGY

    On the subject of runs I’m about to get up and essay the Bath Half (start in 80 minutes). Would rather stay in bed doing crosswords but hey ho!

      1. Haha! Thanks. 2.11 at my age (58) more than acceptable as I’m a latecomer to this running lark. I did 2.01 in the same event last October but badly tweaked glute muscle and insufficient training meant I was just happy to get round. The winner did it in 64 minutes. I saw him set off, already 30 metres ahead of the pack after 100m. Incredible

  33. 29 mins…

    A day late due to being away. Can’t remember that much about it apart from being held up by 21ac “Rational”.

    FOI – 4dn “Mar” (I think)
    LOI – 21ac “Rational”
    COD – 24ac “Ninety”

    Thanks as usual!


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