Quick Cryptic 2649 by Joker

It’s tempting to say that no horses were startled in the solving of this puzzle, but perhaps that comes down to experience.  As usual there are some clever tricks in play and often it’s just a matter of whether you’ve encountered those tricks before.  And remembered them!

In any case I think we can safely say it’s an obscurity-free zone.  And almost an anagram-free zone, with only two on display.  Most of the clues are of the “A + B” or “A into B” variety.  Presumably that suits some solvers more than others.

4:39 for me today, and no Parkrun time due to a preference for staying in bed.  I know, I know.  Next week I promise.

Here’s how I parsed today’s puzzle.  Would be delighted to hear how you found it so please leave a comment.


(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).

7 Travel film ignoring India (4)
MOVE – MOVIE [film, without I (India)]

Drawing on the NATO phonetic alphabet for the I.

8 Ruined broadcast by one politician (8)
IMPAIRED – I (one) + MP (politician) + AIRED (broadcast)
9 Pieces for chess champion in peril (6)
MENACE – MEN (pieces for chess) + ACE (champion)
10 Bill to rent out computer (6)
TABLET – TAB (bill) + LET (rent out)
11 Prevailing feeling is low key (4)
MOOD – MOO (low) + D (key)

Low as in what cattle do.  One of the more fiendish clueing devices when you first encounter it.

12 During school period nine get together socially (8)
INTERMIX – IN TERM (during school period) + IX (nine)
15 Paraffin oil reek — nose is perturbed (8)

I didn’t know what paraffin oil was.  Google seems to suggest that kerosene is a North American term, but it’s certainly used in Australia.  Usually rendered as “kero” of course.

So UK solvers, did you go camping with a kerosene lamp or a paraffin lamp?  (I say “did” because it’s presumably all LEDs now).

17 Colour of writing material on piano (4)
PINK – P (piano) + INK (writing material)
18 In favour of suitable financial gain (6)
PROFIT – PRO (in favour of) + FIT (suitable)
21 Verse from American writer — and essay (6)
POETRY – POE (American writer) + TRY (essay)
22 Sleep after school, taking quiet second drink (8)
SCHNAPPS – SCH (school) + NAP (sleep) + P (quiet) + S (second)

I think we sampled some schnapps at the German wedding I attended last year.  Don’t really remember for some reason.

23 Perfume on the air roused to ecstasy (4)
SENT – Homophone (“on the air”) of scent (perfume)
1 Like some conclusions in favour of, say, an individual person (8)
FOREGONE – FOR (in favour of) + EG (say) + ONE (an individual person)

Slightly strange definition, but let’s be honest, when the adjective is “foregone” you know what’s coming next.

2 Communist holding chap to send back into custody (6)
REMAND – RED (communist) “holding” MAN (chap)

Is Crosswordland the only place where communists are still commonly referred to as reds?

3 Enjoy sage? Me too (8)
LIKEWISE – LIKE (enjoy) + WISE (sage)
4 Be furious seeing gratuities raised (4)
SPIT – Reversal (raised) of TIPS (gratuities)
5 Row about Doctor Wood (6)
TIMBER – TIER (row) about MB (doctor)
6 Charge when entering Tories’ first charity event (4)
FETE – FEE (charge) when T (Tories’ first) is entered
13 Enter unlawfully, inserting spring into lock (8)
TRESPASS – SPA (spring) in TRESS (lock)
14 Lacking knowledge of Tir-nan-Og at sea (8)

I was slightly bemused by the anagrist, but my research tells me it’s from Celtic folklore and refers to a rather delightful-sounding island.

Would welcome an explanation from any Gaelic experts out there as to why it’s Tír na nÓg in Irish but Tír nan Óg in Scottish?  Sounds dangerously similar to the Big Endian v Little Endian debate.

16 Rotten finish upset (6)
OFFEND – OFF (rotten) + END (finish)
17 Place with comfort and charm (6)
PLEASE – PL (place) + EASE (comfort)
19 Dress lacking fine diamond (4)
ROCKFROCK (dress) lacking F (fine)
20 What might be seen in faulty poster? (4)
TYPO – Hidden (seen) in faulTY POster

A nice all-in-one to complete proceedings.

60 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2649 by Joker”

  1. A really straightforward offering today but, as galspray says, still full of the kind of tricks and wordplay that await those who progress to the main puzzle. A great introduction to the world of The Times crossword.

  2. A nice end to the week, evading the SCC by about 1 minute.
    By employing my new ‘QC Success Calculator’ this gives me a success rate for the week of 81% so not brilliant. (I am expecting a ‘Could Do Better’ comment from Sir on Monday morning.)
    MENACE (so obvious when the penny drops) was my last one in with SCHNAPPS being my favourite. INTERMIX was the most satisfying.
    Thanks to Joker and Galspray. Now for Parkrun…..

  3. I suffered brain-freeze at the end of this one. I think the clock was on 9 minutes when only two unchecked letters at 7ac remained to be found. After a couple of abortive attempts at alphabet trawls I abandoned the puzzle with 15 minutes on the clock hoping that after a break the missing answer would leap out at me, but on returning to my task after a night’s sleep it failed to do so and I gave up on it and turned to my thesaurus for a synonym of ‘travel’. It seems crazy now, but 4-letter words with only vowels as checkers can sometimes be the hardest to come up with.

    1. I had exactly the same experience. Having worked steadily through the puzzle I was stuck on 7a for ages, took a break, tried again, and finally looked up the thesaurus and the first word I saw was MOVE. it’s so obvious I can’t believe I missed it.

  4. A gentle end to bruising crosswording week. Only the curiously tricky MOVE and LOI MENACE put up much resistant.
    Finished in 6.32 with COD to LIKEWISE.
    Thanks to galspray.

  5. 16:32 … classic Joker – all words known, simple wordbuilding, enjoyable clues.

    I was beginning to panic on my last few with only vowels for checkers in the NE and SENT (LOI). I got held up by the nuanced wording of PINK and FETE clues but not a bad thing to learn from. Liked the hidden TYPO.

    6/6 for the week completed taking my streak out to what I think is a best of ever 14-in-a-row. Considering Monday was 3rd fastest ever at 8mins – a total of 2hr27 shows the difficulty I had Wed-Fri with times of 42, 35, 28mins.

    QCpr time of 42:52 – jogged round behind my daughter!

    Edit: I realise it’s beyond this site’s scope but may I just say The Guardian has started an 11×11 Quick Cryptic on Saturdays which really is aiming at the beginners – although still one or two tougher clues in there. I managed it in about 3min35. Others may enjoy it.

  6. 9:51
    LOI was TABLET, which took a while to spot as a type of computer, despite the fact that I was solving it on a iPad!

    Thanks Galspray and Joker

  7. Hi all. Just returned from a break in Spain with a friend who couldn’t understand the idea that we needed 20-40 minutes without inane drivel each morning! Also looked a tough week, we started a few but rarely got properly started.

    Anyway back among the roundabouts and enjoyed lots of PDMs this morning. Nothing too hard as long as you grouped the right words together….. and then CLANG.

    All done in 32.11 with movie and menace holding out the longest. Men + ace could not have been more simply clued 😗

    Liked likewise.

    Thanks Joker and Galspray.

  8. ……and the first shall be last. I’m glad I’m not alone over MOVE which needed an alpha-trawl that added half a minute to my time – which I was pleased with after failing to solve any of the first four clues I tackled.

    TIME 4:13

  9. A very pleasant puzzle which I took at “Saturday speed” and therefore spent 12 enjoyable minutes over … I think. But I forgot to look at the screen on my tablet when I had completed the puzzle and so, courtesy of the glitch of the clock not stopping (STILL not solved – come on Times, get your finger out!) I can’t be too sure. It even made Rose Wild’s Feedback column today so perhaps (perhaps? please?) someone in Puzzles Central Control will act soon.

    But back to the puzzle. I feared the worst when I could do neither the opening across clue (7A) nor the opening down one (1D), but it got less tricky from there, and apart from briefly wondering if 12A was Informal (perhaps form = school period, but what is Al doing?), and mis-parsing Trespass (I got my Ss muddled and saw TRES-PAS-S, which left me wondering whether a Pas was a move in a dance with a spring in one’s step) all went well until I came back to the Difficult Duo in the NW. Foregone eventually emerged and then the dreaded alphabet search on -O-E. About 3 minutes later Move appeared …

    As for your questions, Galspray, this Englishman would usually say Paraffin but I did know what Kerosene is. And the difference between Scottish and Irish Gaelic spelling – just don’t go there. Neither language had a settled spelling for many centuries, and in fact Irish Gaelic still doesn’t, with (for example) several towns in the Republic having multiple alternate spellings even today. Scottish Gaelic has a more settled spelling – but they chose to agree on a spelling which to outsiders is bizarre in the extreme, where the letters bear very little recognisable relationship to the sounds. The island of Skye, for example, a simple one-syllable 4-letter name in English, is in Gaelic Sgiathanach – though actually the islanders prefer the rather more romantic Eilean a’ Cheò, which means “island of mist”. And rain, and high winds …

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

    1. Oh, thank goodness it’s not just our clocks not stopping. Must have missed this being mentioned before,!

    2. I wonder if this is a browser issue? Several of the puzzles (not just the crosswords) don’t work at all for me on Chrome (and haven’t done for years). I’ve just tried again, and it won’t accept any input into the grid, regardless of how hard I press the keys. I switched to Safari for my Times consumption, where everything works perfectly. Strange, as I use Chrome for everything else (including, for instance, the NYT puzzles) without any problems.

      A quick write-in for today’s puzzle – I rather fear that the setters have been browbeaten by the recent and continual puling about how difficult everything is, which is a great shame! Many of us, I’m sure, were very happy with the more difficult (but still quick) offerings, but there we are. I know, I know – I’ve still got the main crossword to challenge the little grey cells.

      Nevertheless, the crossword is still very much appreciated: thanks to Joker for today’s offering, and Galspray for the splendid blog.

  10. Couldn’t get anywhere in the NW so started with PROFIT and moved reasonably swiftly anticlockwise until arriving back in the Corner of Doom. At least I now had a few checkers, but they weren’t particularly helpful. My first-letter addiction then cost me dear, having to trawl both MOVE and LOI MENACE. A sluggish 09:09 ensued for 2.2K and an Undistinguished Day.

    I Ninja-turtled Tir-na-nog from the lyrics of “I’ve got a horse outside” by The Rubber Bandits (“He runs a bit like Shergar and he jumps like Tir-na-nog; He looks like Billie Piper after half an ounce of coke”). If you don’t know the song, aren’t offended by rude words and have a puerile sense of humour, I highly recommend finding the video on YouTube. It says “for a mature audience” but I’d say an immature audience; it makes me laugh a lot.

    Many thanks Joker and gallers.


  11. Thanks Galspray and Joker. A model QCC. Light, precise, more than a few a-hah moments. Seems to me that ‘impaired’≠’ruined’, but no harm done. Intrigiging point re Tír na(n) Óg: a bit of gÓogling suggests that the migrant “n” is a product of eclipsis [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_initial_mutations], although that still leaves open why it should be rendered differently in the two written languages.

  12. Not too bad, but had to start at the bottom and work up. LOI IMPAIRED, not that difficult but am feeling slow this morning.
    Has anyone used SENT in that sense since the 1950s, I wonder?
    Thanks vm, Galspray.


    Today at long last we have confirmation in Mick Hodgkin’s Newsletter that there is a female Quick Cryptic setter, namely Victoria Godfrey who sets for us as Alex. The BBC radio programme about cryptic puzzles referred to and called Gegs is available here if you have access to BBC Sounds.

    Mick’s article is also interesting although I was a little disappointed that in his ‘Hidden Themes’ section he mentions an Agatha Christie Nina in Tuesday’s Concise puzzle but not Felix’s Agatha Christie tour de force in last Saturday’s Quick Cryptic. Admittedly one is a Nina and the other is a theme, but the heading ‘Hidden Themes’ doesn’t appear to differentiate between the two.

      1. Have to agree. I’m certainly looking forward to some clues about hockey, netball, washing, cooking and cleaning 😜 Good on Victoria for getting the gig 👍

        1. Victoria has been an accomplished setter for 10+ years. In addition to ‘Alex’ she sets as ‘Vigo’ for The Independent and as ‘Carpathiam’ for The Guardian. Another pseudonym is ‘Butch’ but I don’t know where she uses that.

    1. I did not know of this newsletter! I have signed up immediately. Many thanks Jack for bringing it to wider notice.

  14. 5:52

    Gentlish Joker fare – bottom half seemed to go in more smoothly, winding up as for many others with FOREGONE which emerged from the shadows once one decided it was a build-an-answer jobbie; and MOVE – surprising how this fairly obvious synonym for a film temporarily foxed so many.

    Thanks Joker and Galspray for unravelling

  15. 19 mins…

    Definitely a lot of time spent on searching for anagrams that weren’t there. For 9ac, I was trying to make something out of “Master” until I got the last “e”. Only other hesitation was 23ac “Sent”, which was obvious from the first part of the clue, but not the second.

    FOI – 7ac “Move”
    LOI – 21ac “Poetry”
    COD – 9ac “Menace”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Sent was my loi for similar reasons to you. It’s only from Crosswordland that I’ve learned the sent=elation synonym albeit easily remembered with “heaven sent”. Felt quite a few of Joker’s clues were like that today; stuff I wouldn’t have known as a beginner – but a good reminder of many of the standard abbreviations/synonyms we use.

  16. I was puzzled by Tir-nan-Og as I always knew it as Tir-na-nÕg, also the name of the wonderful Irish singer-songwriters from the 70s and subsequently, Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly. Glad to now know of the Scottish variant. I love these kind of references in crosswords. It made no difference to the anagram, whichever way.

  17. In at 16.20, so good for me. I knew that paraffin and kerosene were essentially the same thing. In my youth, many moons ago, we had a paraffin heater to supplement our coal fires and kerosene was used in jet engines. Another use was in old tractors before diesel became the norm. As it was harder to ignite, there were two tanks, one petrol which was used to start the engine and a larger one containing paraffin which was switched on when the engine was warm. Where I grew up this was known as TVO or tractor vaporising oil – this brought back many happy memories of “helping” on a friend’s parents farm. Thanks to Joker for an interesting but fair test and Galspray for the blog.

  18. 9:39. Steady progress. It’s amazing how one or two checkers can help unlock something that seemed impossible.

  19. 15:38

    Pretty straightforward but biffed TENNER for the bill which caused a 5 minute hold up in the NE with LIKEWISE and INTERMIX taking ages before finally getting TIMBER and LOI TABLET.

    Another slow parkrun as I get over a cold for a combined QCPR 49 minutes.

  20. A comfortable sub-20, apart from Menance and Move. The former took several minutes before ‘lift and separate’ kicked in, allowing thoughts of Chess Champions to be put to one side. Move, on the other hand, was just beyond me today, and I knew Rode was the wrong tense even as I wrote it in. I’m glad it turned out to be something simple, and I hope the Editor can forgive what he was called for allowing the name of some obscure film to be used in a QC. . . Lots of good clues (apart from those two, of course), with my favourite 3d, Likewise. Invariant

  21. I liked this one. A few head-scratchers to keep me on my toes, but otherwise fairly plain sailing. Last three in were MOVE (a real forehead slap moment), MENACE and LOI LIKEWISE. I liked MOOD for the surface and misdirection, but COD to LIKEWISE. The knowledge out there always amazes me; I’m thinking of the discussion around 14d here – totally over my head 😆 Thanks for the blog galspray.

  22. 10.39 Mostly straightforward but FOREGONE, MOVE, LIKEWISE and MENACE took five minutes at the end. MOVE seems like it should have been obvious so I’m quite pleased to see I wasn’t alone in my confusion. The other three are charades, which the glossary says are the commonest type of clue. I still struggle with them. Thanks galspray and Joker.

  23. Like others, it took me ages to see MOVE. I had -O-E early on, but had to keep going back to it and finally saw it when I was about 75% of the way through the puzzle. LOI was ROCK, mainly because I was trying to use the clue to 20d to solve it. Doh! 6:38. Thanks Joker and Galspray.

  24. I found that all very pleasant, without the roadblock that I was expecting to encounter. 13:36, which is good by my standards. Thank you to the crossword gods for relenting after the last few days, and to galspray for the blog!

  25. 30:24, with all but the last three going in smoothly as the solving tools seemed to come to hand without thought, and quite a few smiles along the way. 5D held me up because “doctor” in a clue always frightens me–you have so many two-letter possibilities, and I still haven’t learned them. MD and DR of course are easy for an American but DM, MB, MO? others? And as we know, there’s nothing like a case of nerves to stop the flow of solving. Finally ground out TIMBER, TABLET, and MENACE by talking myself through the clues one word at a time, backwards.

    Great puzzle, thanks to Joker; and a stellar blog from galspray!

    1. Possibly GP (general practitioner) for doctor as well. I’m sure I’ve seen it although I can’t think of a word that might require it beyond DOGPILE 😜 but I think there’s easier ways to clue that!

      1. And here we are the day after with it being clued in the ST prize cryptic for another word!

  26. A nice way to spend my time waiting for my bread to prove and then bake. Some chewy challenges but everything above board. I managed 7a Move without much delay so seems odd so many thought it tricky – just the way my minds works I guess. Loved 11a Mood, but struggled with 12a Intermix and 3d Likewise – see what I mean?
    FOI 8a Impaired
    LOI 3d Likewise
    COD 11a Mood.
    Another great puzzle and excellent blog. Thanks to both.

  27. One of our faster run throughs today at a little over 9:30 (we’re amongst those having timer problems). No problems with MOVE (FOI) or MENACE. LOI INTERMIX IIRC. Thanks, Joker and galspray.

  28. North west corner was my last section but got there eventually.
    Thanks Joker and galspray.

  29. Wasn’t going to comment, as I’m on holiday in the US, so 5 hours behind, but FOI was MOVE! Funny how one person’s experience can differ so much from the next! No problem at all with this – LOsI were the crossers TIMBER and TABLET.

  30. A speedy 8:07 for me, of which a good minute was spent trying to anagram NINE and TERM together.

    Thanks to Joker and Galspray.

  31. Was on track to smash through the 6-minute barrier but got the Unlucky! message after entering LOI SCHNAPPS. Turns out I had a 20-down at TRESPASS, where the perfectly feasible alternative spelling TTESPASS was not accepted. Like alto_ego I had no problem with FOI MOVE, in fact this puzzle was pretty much a trouble-free zone across the board. It seems we’ve had some toughies in the past week or so, and this was a pleasant change from Joker. Thanks Galspray. I never knew kero and paraffin were the same thing. Kero was widely used but I remember mum and dad talking about a paraffin lamp. Those generations knew about the various uses for kero, metho, turps etc, I suspect a lot of that knowledge has largely disappeared.


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