Quick Cryptic No 2670 by Joker


A trickier-than-average offering from Joker, I thought. This one pushed me into the SCC, finishing in 21:22.

I wasn’t helped by the three long anagrams, each of which I needed to write down. My COD goes to SWORN, but OBOE, CONCEDE and CONSTABLE get honorable mentions.

Definitions underlined, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in strikethrough.

1 Relaxed time — unknown in TV hospital drama (8)
CASUALTYCASUAL (relaxed), T (time), Y (unknown, as in algebra).

For people outside the UK: Casualty is a BBC TV show that has been running since 1986 and is currently in series 42. For people in the UK, I imagine this was a nice gentle start.

5 Woodwind instrument made from old tree trunk, not large (4)
OBOEO (old) + BOLE (tree trunk) [without L for large].

A lovely surface too, since an oboe could conceivably be made from a small tree trunk.

8 Approve party in apartment (5)
ADOPTDO (party) in APT (apartment).

That’s “adopt” as in “The party convention adopted the manifesto”.

9 Choose a deep sounding type of flute (7)
PICCOLO – Homonym [sounding] of “pick a low”.
11 Titanium used with new metal (3)
TINTI (chemical symbol for titanium), N (new).
12 Flowering plant is decennial unusually (9)
CELANDINE – Anagram [unusually] of DECENNIAL.
13 Opening tea — nice exporting India! (6)
CHANCECHA (tea) + NICE [exporting I for India (NATO alphabet)].
15 Hound British bird of prey (6)
BEAGLEB (British), EAGLE (bird of prey).
18 Clashing with stand-in — so unfortunately (9)
DISSONANT – Anagram [unfortunately] of STAND-IN SO.
19 Exercises taking power and energy (3)
PEP – PE (Physical Education: exercises), P (power).

We had PEP for energy yesterday. Strange how often that sort of thing seems to happen.

20 Admit cipher is broken by one crew regularly (7)
CONCEDECODE (cipher) containing [broken by] every other letter [regularly] of oNeCrEw.

Another great surface, since organized hacker gangs refer to themselves as “crews”. So I’m told.

21 Support book event (5)
BRACEB (book) + RACE (event).
22 What finishes off lazy bistro who’ll cook egg only partly (4)
YOLK – Last letters [what finishes off] of “lazY bistrO who’lL cooK
23 Voracious bird round United States (8)
RAVENOUSRAVEN (bird), O (round), US (United States).

Not “US” inside a six-letter bird, then.

1 Disorganised coach is confused about it on reflection (7)
CHAOTIC – Anagram [is confused] of COACH containing [around] IT reversed [on reflection].
2 Choice of three directions given under oath (5)
SWORNSouth, West, OR North.

My COD, but I needed all three crossers before the penny dropped with an almighty clang.

3 High cynical tone confused (11)
ANTICYCLONE – Anagram [confused] of CYNICAL TONE.

A cyclone is an area of low atmospheric pressure. An anticyclone, unsurprisingly, is the reverse.

4 Drink — mine is raised on request mostly (6)
TIPPLE – PIT (mine), reversed [is raised, since this is a down clue] on PLEA (request) [mostly].

Tipple for drink has also been seen once before this week.

6 Left out, in flower and growing rapidly (7)
BOOMINGBLOOMING (in flower) without L [left out].
7 Wear from some bolero designer (5)
ERODE – hidden in [some] bolERO DEsigner.
10 Policeman penning note such as could be disputed (11)
CONTESTABLECONSTABLE (policeman) containing [penning] TE (musical note).
14 Football team’s magazine (7)
ARSENAL – Double definition.

Oh, that sort of magazine. Given that the team’s nickname is “The Gunners”, I’m slightly ashamed that this took as long as it did…

16 English make an impression with beheading sovereign (7)
EMPRESSE (English), IMPRESS (make an impression) without its first letter [with beheading].

This could have been made much harder by using a phrase other than “make an impression”. But I’ll take the crumbs of comfort.

17 Snapper in river a long time (6)
CAMERACAM (river), ERA (a long time).

I went through fish, turtles, crocodiles and eels before the light dawned.

18 Misleading attraction of Christmas month initially over year (5)
DECOYDEC (Christmas month), first letters [initially] of “Over Year“.
19 Quiet chap in post office (5)
PIANOIAN (random chap) in PO (post office).

That’s “piano” the musical direction, rather than “piano” the musical instrument. The latter is of course a contraction of “pianoforte”, the instrument’s unique innovation being that it could play both softly and loudly.

64 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2670 by Joker”

  1. 14:40. SWORN was my COD and I liked the anagrams for DISSONANT and ANTICYCLONE. I didn’t like “make an impression” leading to “impress”.

  2. Not for me today. I had never heard of Celandine (I’m normally OK with plants).
    I nho anticyclone or knew that Casualty was a TV show.
    Kevin mentioned the river Cam to me last week but did I remember it this week? No.
    Will I ever remember the weapons meaning of ‘magazine’? Stay tuned

    Edit: I also liked the surface for piccolo given that it’s the highest sounding instrument

  3. A challenge from Joker with some crafty misdirection and some anagrams that took a lot of untangling. 12.15 for me, with FOI OBOE and LOI PIANO (I always forget that use of the word, I got it from an alphabet trawl after plado and prayo both looked wrong). I found the bottom right and upper left hardest, with the NHO drama CASUALTY and ANTICYCLONE significant hold-outs. Thank you Doof for explaining what was going on with EMPRESS and revealing the trickiness in CONCEDE which I just biffed and moved on. I note there were no fewer than three musical instruments, for what that’s worth which would appear to be not much.

  4. I enjoyed this one and came in all green in 19 minutes. I wrongly biffed DISLOCATED which slowed me down in the SE. (When will I learn!) Otherwise it was a steady solve with only RAVENOUS and BRACE holding out for longer than they should. I was also distracted by looking for more woodwind instruments after we’d had PICCOLO and OBOE – bringing back memories of Mrs ITTTs words of encouragement to our daughter that her early efforts to learn the latter, which she took it up because it’s my favourite instrument, sounded like ‘somebody strangling a duck’.
    COD for me ANTICYCLONE. Most satisfying clue CONTESTABLE.
    Thanks to Doofers and Joker.

    1. Memories indeed. My sister played the oboe at school, never progressing beyond the duck strangling stage and we lived in a very small house!

      1. Eddie Izzard (in his heyday, before all the political stuff) used to compare playing an oboe to blowing into a weasel, and said the sound that comes out is remarkably apt. A lot of puff and effort for such a weaselly little noise.

  5. We’re having a good week, a Joker in 22.04! Mrs RH was inspired this morning barely giving me a chance to read some clues before saying the answer. Also being a bit a bit a Shakespeare buff she knew of celandine from Hamlet. I got my own back with anticyclone 😀

    We also thought COD to sworn. LOI camera, also tried various animals before moving on to press studs, until the PDM.

  6. 9 minutes for all but 6dn where after a further 4 I realised I had inexplicably written PICCALO at 9ac so I was never going to think of BLOOMING whilst the erroneous A-checker remained in place. There is no way I could have thought PICCOLO was spelt like that so I can only conclude my mind must have wandered whilst my pencil did its own thing.

    On a point of information, the unique innovation of the pianoforte (known in its early stages of development as the fortepiano) was that its keys were touch sensitive, i.e. the volume and tone were variable according to the player’s touch. Previous keyboard instruments could play both loud and soft but required mechanical intervention using pedals or stops.

    1. I’m helped with spelling of Italian words by remembering that you pause over double consonants, saying both of them. So when saying piccolo I think of pic colo rather than picol lo which doesn’t sound right.

      1. Thanks, I’d not heard that before, but if I’d engaged my brain even for a second I’d have realised that PICCALO was wrong. I see that Mendesest experienced a similar moment of aberration over this one.

    2. Jack, the clavichord pre-dated the pianoforte and was surprisingly touch-sensitive. A small metal tangent strikes the string in a similar way to the hammer striking the string on a piano but it stays in contact with the string if the key is held down. There is no plucking action (as on the more common harpsichord).
      Incidentally, the player could even increase the pitch of a note slightly by increasing finger pressure on the key (which stretches the string). A rocking finger action led to the effect known as ‘bebung’ (from the German ‘trembling’).
      I played one for decades.
      Incidentally, I managed today’s QC just within my 15 min target and enjoyed it. I biffed OBOE, though.

      1. Many thanks for the further point of information. I was going to say I didn’t know that until you mentioned bebung and that brought it all back to me from my studies 50+ years ago. I never had an opportunity to play a clavichord but I had access to a harpsichord at one time.

        1. I never got to grips with the harpsichord. I was trained as a church organist and I bought the clavichord as a small alternative for home use.
          I always coveted a pedal clavichord so that I could play my beloved Bach organ music properly. Sadly, I never had the money (or the space) to buy and house one.

  7. I do know how to spell PICCOLO, I truly do, honest. Regardless I entered ‘pickalo’ in fit of utter literal mindedness – later ‘corrected’ to ‘pickolo’ without noticing the K was still wonky. Not that it mattered because I typoed my way to ‘condede’ too. Needed that O to finally see BLOOMING and I was just slow on BRACE – pondering whether ‘brave’ could mean support for quite a while. Not all green in 21 with knowledge failures at CELANDINE (put the remaining letters in the right gaps and confirmed it existed online) and bole for tree trunk. Hard but fun.

  8. I appear to be the mirror image of our blogger today, as all the clues he found easy held me up, whereas the ones he took more time with went straight in. CASUALTY, for example, deemed “For people on the UK, a nice gentle start”, was my LOI and needed all the checkers! And I completely forgot the word Bole for treetrunk, which made OBOE unparsable.

    However things improved after those two, the long clues fell quickly (I even remembered the CELANDINE), and the only other minor hold-up was BRACE, where I took a moment to see what kind of support was called for. So a satisfying 10 minute solve in the end.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  9. Thought this was going to be gentle Joker today after getting off to a flier but it turned into a pink squared slog – I guessed the wrong order of vowels for the unknown (or forgotten) plant. It may be sour grapes but I do dislike clues where guesswork is involved.
    ‘Finished’ over target with the PIANO/BRACE pair.
    Thanks to Doofers

  10. Quite a lot of Biffing in this friendly grid. Didn’t parse OBOE but couldn’t be anything else, similarly the TE with Constable. Doh, Notes catch me out every time. NHO CELANDINE. No problem with CAMERA, had to end in era or age and Cam is close at hand. LOI BRACE. All in all, a fun morning stroll into the club around 30 minutes. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  11. 13:46 (English armies defeat French at Crecy and Scots at Neville’s Cross)

    CASUALTY and OBOE went straight in, then I slowed down. I’m another one who initially entered PICCALO, eventually corrected when BOOMING finally spotted. The CAM is my local river, nevertheless CAMERA was my LOI.

    Thanks Doofers and Joker

  12. I find myself unusually high up the leaderboard (though lagging behind Templar) despite an average time, so it must be a tricky one, and QUITCH agrees – the highest since early March.

    Glad I checked BRAVE because I could not make brave=support even when squinting quite hard, but luckily the correct letter came to mind quite quickly. CAMERA was my LOI. I liked CONTESTABLE and CASUALTY.


  13. A friendly puzzle – no excuses for failing CAMERA, TIPPLE and BOOMING. As one who used to play the PICCOLO I’m ashamed not to have got that, partly due to guessed BUDDING.

  14. Pleased to see I was in good company with misspelling PICCOLO. Wrote PICCALO too quickly and then tried to convince myself that BLAZING could mean ‘growing rapidly’. My first DNF for ages 😡. COD SWORN. Thanks Doofers for explaining ANTICYCLONE.

  15. Never seen 1a CASUALTY. Surprised to discover I’ve missed it for 38 years, half my lifetime. Thought of Drs Kildare & Finlay, neither of whom helped me. Eventually misremembered Emergency Ward 10 as Casualty ditto which ran from 1957 to 1967. Never watched that either.
    COD agree with blogger on 2d SWORN.
    UnEmpressed with 16d EMPRESS; too much clue in the answer.

  16. Unaccountably stuck at the end on RAVENOUS and BRACE, not helped by a carelessly bifd EMPEROR, but even after that was sorted, BRACE held out for several minutes. Being a Brit, CASUALTY was v familiar, so no unknowns here.

  17. I found this one tricky – finishing in 15 minutes. A lot of this probably down to the anagrams. Years ago, on the 15×15 blog, I asked how people came up with such fast times and (apart from doing them for years) someone responded that it helped to ‘see’ the anagrams rather than do letter circles. Maybe it’s this or laziness that I don’t get pen and paper for the QCs.

  18. Another quick start in the NW, followed by a (very) slow finish in the SE. Not helped by a careless Piccalo, until Booming made itself known. I sure I’ve come across Camera/snapper before, so why it took so long this time is beyond me. Loi Ravenous seemed impossible until Empress made sense of ’round US’, but I didn’t even have the consolation of standing room only on the coach thanks to a guessed Calendine. A tough one. Invariant

  19. 9:29

    With the Quitch currently at 113, my time seems about on par. Definitely trickiest of the week so far, not helped by initially entering SWORE at 2d which made me think several times over what 11a must be. CONTESTABLE took a long time to see as well before LOI BRACE.

    Thanks Joker, and Doofers for the clarifications

  20. Slow, quick, quick, slow. I put LOI Brave instead of BRACE – it kind of works!
    Slow on DISSONANT, ARSENAL, v. slow on ANTICYCLONE. And even dim on chestnut snapper/CAMERA.
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

    1. Glad I wasn’t the only one who put BRAVE

      fortunately(?) it wasn’t my only mistake as I went with CELANNIDE for the NHO plant

      1. Good to hear from you, Blue! I was keen on wild flowers as a child, luckily. The Celandine Fairy was one of the Flower Fairies, a book of my childhood.

  21. That all came together rather nicely, with only EMPRESS, COD CAMERA and CONCEDE requiring second visits. Funny how sometimes it just clicks. All green in 06:18 for a nosebleed on the leaderboard and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Joker and El Doof.


  22. I started fast with a lot of the top acrosses going straight in. Not so successful in the bottom half and then mopping up the ones left took an age, especially in the SE. All done in 20 minutes with CONCEDE and EMPRESS entered from the crossers with a shrug. Thanks for the enlightenment on those two Doofers. I had exhausted my repertoire of biting river dwellers before photography came to mind at 17dn and at 10dn with the crossers indicating it started CON… I failed to consider that the whole of the constable might be involved.

    FOI – 1ac CASUALTY
    CODs – 2dn SWORN and 9ac PICCOLO

  23. 18:48

    Plants were my nemesis when I started in 2016 and so it was again today with “calendine”.
    which I will award the stinker of the day (SOD) for being obscure word clued as anagram.

    QC version: Flower found in Graceland in Evansville.

    COD sworn.

    1. Must admit I nearly typed in CALENDINE too, but just as I was typing in the C, I realised what it must be…

  24. Off the pace today finishing in 13.39. My problems stemmed from biffing EMPEROR for 16dn which caused major holdups with BRACE and RAVENOUS. After eventually remembering that I hadn’t parsed it, it was quickly obvious on reassessing it that it was EMPRESS and the others swiftly followed on. It then turns out on checking the answers that it was a DNF anyway, as I went for CALENDINE as the plant. So the Joker has the last laugh!

  25. A gratifyingly fast (for me) 16 minutes today, helped by 1a and 5a being write-ins and onwards and downwards from there. But 2d misled me for ages: I thought three directions would be south, west and east so biffed swear: when 8a and 11a proved impossible the penny dropped and I switched to sworn! Chaucer and Shakespeare both mention celandine and I thought of the latter’s Dogberry as the constable interrupted by a note. Altogether enjoyable although Casualty maybe a bit UK specific for the global solving community

  26. A bit over 13 minutes. TIPPLE was my LOI and held me up for a few minutes at the end. I liked the non-piscine ‘Snapper in river’ at 17d and especially the S W OR N ‘Choice of three directions’ at 2d.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofers

  27. My knowledge of flowers let me down again and I ended up failing to put the letters in the right boxes for CELANDINE.
    Prior to that I put in CAMERA a fraction under 10 minutes so I gave this an average difficulty rating.
    I just hope my cricket knowledge will come in handy one day beyond on/off and the fielding positions.

  28. DNF – gave up around 21 minutes with 21a and 10d catching me out. Not a fan of ‘TE’ being used as an alternative to (what I assume is) TI. As someone who’s played an instrument for most of their life, I have never come across this before. I spent too much time thinking 21a was a double definition, given how short the clue was.

    I surprisingly found the rest of it relatively easy, but also got quite a few from the definition alone (TIPPLE, CONCEDE, etc.).

  29. Despite my name and playing the piano it took me a ridiculous amount of time to think of a three letter man to fit between P and O.
    Despite that I found the puzzle fairly straightforward with BOOMING and BRACE holding out to the end. 40 minutes overall.
    Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  30. 6.39 Except for CONTESTABLE this was a top to bottom solve. 38th on the leaderboard is by far my best position. I don’t know what happened. Thanks Doofers and Joker.

  31. 30 minutes, more or less on the dot.
    OBOE was my FOI and PIANO my last. Weirdly, CASUALTY required all of its checkers before coming to mind. It may be because neither Mrs Random nor I have ever allowed more than a few seconds of it to ruin our evenings and, for some long-forgotten reason, we only ever refer to it as ‘Causality’.

    In summary then, I would say that this was pitched at just the right level for a QC. Neither too easy, nor too difficult.

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

    1. My husband and I named it ‘Causality’, too, years ago. We’ve just started seeing it again, after a 20+ year gap and there are far better writers, offering fast-paced scenes and crisp dialogue.

  32. 33 minutes (appalling)

    A dire performance for a straightforward QC. Was heading for a great time until CONFESS rather than CONCEDE caused a variety of delays. I knew it didn’t parse but was too thick to spot the obvious alternative! I really am quite inept and still prone to regular bouts of idiocy. If I can’t achieve an adequate time for a QC of this difficulty, I may as well not bother. It was nowhere near as hard as the Snitch suggests IMHO. My day can be summed up in the ridiculous amount of time it took to get BRACE and RAVENOUS.

    I usually enjoy and do well with Joker. Not today. Stressful and frustrating in equal measure.

    A poor week/month/year continues. Nothing ever changes. My incompetence is permanent.

    Thanks for the blog.

  33. 27:53 but DN(really)F because of CASUALTY. Should have gotten it from the wordplay but failed to separate “relaxed” from “time” and instead looked up British hospital dramas. “Note” in a clue always puts me off as a little voice says, any letter from A through G, also N, as well as any weird variant of the musical syllable spellings that the setter finds useful, humph. I was so bruised by the time I got to 22A YOLK that I could not parse beyond “Y finishes off lazy” for minutes upon minutes. YELL? YELP? YALE? YULE? oh my poor brain.

    With all that, an entertaining puzzle with some lessons for the newish solver. Loved SWORN, OBOE, PICCOLO for the contradiction, CONCEDE (what a relief to know that our blogger is not part of a hacking crew!), CAMERA (for once, I wasn’t misled for more than a microsecond by thoughts of turtles).

    Thanks to Joker and Doof!

  34. All done-fairly straightforward, although CASUALTY took a lot longer than it should’ve done which would’ve given me PB

  35. Steady progress today once I’d corrected swear to SWORN. COD to PICCOLO (love a homophone). Thanks all.

  36. My daughter’s favourite program was CASUALY( she works in the NHS) so that went in as soon as I’d divined TY at the end. Lots of blanks on my first pass of the across clues, and several passes needed before I arrived at LOI, CAMERA. 9:21. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  37. Dnf…

    26 mins – but, as possibly expected, 12ac was incorrect. I’ve said it before, but I hate these plant clues. If you don’t have the GK, or the grid isn’t helpful, then it’s a random punt in the air: Celandine, Calendine, Calennide, Celannide – take your pick. Apart from crossing my fingers for that, the only other hold up was sorting out the SE corner, and the 16dn “Empress”, 23ac “Ravenous” and 17dn “Camera” combo.

    FOI – 1ac “Casualty”
    LOI – 17dn “Camera”
    COD – 2dn “Sworn”

    Thanks as usual!

  38. Bucking the trend once again, I thought this very approachable and took me less than a single leisurely Costa to complete. Had to draw Casualty & Celandine from the subconscious but they were, at least, there for me today.
    FOI 1d Chaotic
    LOI 21a Brace
    COD 2d Sworn – a typically precise Joker.

  39. I didn’t find it too bad. I did have to wait for all the checkers to solve CELANDINE and all but one of the checkers for DISSONANT. I guessed that a bole was a tree trunk and was delayed a little by my LOI and COD CAMERA. (I thought of a Caiman including the river Cam but ditched the idea when further checkers appeared). 7:55

  40. DNF Camera and had the A and E the wrong way round in a flower nho. Otherwise heading for a 30 min finish for this enjoyable and tricky QC.

    Thanks Joker and Doof

  41. DNF

    Done in 19 but NHO CELANDINE and neither the word play nor the checkers could tell me which way round to put the A and E at the start. Guessed wrong and that was two pink squares.

  42. I got most of it in about 15 minutes, and then spend the rest of the time unravelling the unholy crossing of CELANDINE and ANTICYCLONE for a total of 21:02.

  43. I found this another enjoyable puzzle. No problem with CELANDINE, they are one of the first flowers of the year to bloom in my local wood. The bluebells have been lovely although now begging to fade slightly.
    Thanks Joker and Doof.

  44. DNF as I had BRAVE not BRACE – a RAVE not a RACE as an event. Ah well. Managed the rest without too much difficulty – not usual for me with a Joker puzzle.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *