Sunday Times 4199/fastest ever

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
I think I actually did this in under 10 minutes which is by far a record for me. Either it was unusually easy or my neurons were all firing laterally. Or both. I think experience and practice is beginning to pay off since I recognized some v. familiar clues.


5 SCAR+A+B – I’ve seen this, or something v. similar, before.
10 ANTIPASTO – anag(“to pint as a”). I managed to enter antipasta and antipasti before 9D straightened me out (reminder to self: be more conscientious about ticking off fodder letters).
12 SORTS – double meaning: seen this or v. close before.
13 LOWER CASE – cryptic definition for small letters.
14 NIGHTSHIRT – nicely misleading cryptic definition: you’re “worn out” when you retire to bed (and from work) and you wear a nightshirt in bed.
17 OSLO – Inside CzechOSLOvakia. I’ve seen this clue before, as I’m sure most of you have as well.
19 SNAP – Another double meaning: also a v. familiar clue.
20 BATH+HOUSES – nice twist on the meaning of “harbours” (as a verb rather than a noun).
24 ENS(U)E – using some number of compass points is a bit of a cheat in my opinion: basically it could mean any string of any number of N, E, W, S in any order. U for bend is a classic cryptic idiom.
26 PI(LO)T – LO for “look” is another cryptic idiom: no one bothers indicating it’s archaic anymore it seems.
28 SUMMER – Another double meaning: and again a v. familiar clue.
29 GANYMEDE – anag(“need a gym”) – she’s one of Jupiter’s moons. nice surface and reminds me that I’m at the gym at the moment on a wireless connection writing this. However, no heavenly body within reach (mine or any others).


1 STARS AND STRIPES – Cryptic definition of the American Union Jack as it were. “Oh, say can you see…” is the start of the national anthem.
3 A+P+PO+SITE – P for piano (“quiet”) and the canonic cryptic river PO.
4 OUSE+L – The river + L for left. I’ve seen this clue before as well.
6 C+HAIRS – The verb “to chair”. Locks and tresses are often hair in cryptic (and it’s distressing to get a haircut).
15 GRAND SLAM – My favourite clue: cryptic definition for taking all the tricks in bridge (thus not letting your opponents get any).
16 HEAD+LOCK – The most senior teacher is the HEAD master/mistress usually and LOCK is a rugby position (I’m learning more about cricket and rugby and wrestling than I really want but…)
18 ROSEMARY – inversion (“swaps parts”) of “Mary Rose” – Henry VIII’s warship. Worked this out from the crossing letters and the only herb that could fit.
21 AUNTIE – Groan… weak cryptic definition of the BBC which we also had last week or the week before (OK – we had the Beeb and Auntie was in the clue I think.).
25 SUSIE – The last clue I got – for some reason, the initial letters were quite invisible to me: “Slip Under Stool In Eatery”.

3 comments on “Sunday Times 4199/fastest ever”

  1. Extremely easy puzzle for me. Tried it after reading a rather sarcastic message on the Times club bulletin board, so I had a tip-off. Many clues were ideas I’ve seen before. So done in 2:37 – faster than any 15×15 cryptic I’ve ever timed before, though I don’t think the handwriting would quite get past the beady eyes of a Times championship checker. With a few letters corrected, and one or two clues looked at twice, 2:20-2:25 seems to be theoretically possible.
    1. Blimey! My 6:06 seems quite sedate in comparison, but I was never consciously rushing – might have beaten 5 mins otherwise. Although I’ve done a Times puzzle faster before, this was the fastest for me since I started timing them accurately.
  2. I’m glad that Ilanc explained the clue to 1d. I bifd (bunged in from definition)it from the crossing letters and the “flying” bit but regret that I do not know the words to the US National Anthem.

    Here are the ones that Ilanc judged too obvious to need explaining:

    1a Change (a sponsor)* for the singers = SOPRANOS
    11a A medical man tours hospital for a specific purpose = A D H OC
    22a Wine on Scottish island – and French fish = RED MULL ET
    27a Solicitor employed during an election = CANVASSER

    2d He’s to cuddle Her Majesty = PET ER
    7d Practices on slow cars = RE HEARSES
    8d Doctor (researched globe)* for an exam = BACHELORS DEGREE (good anagram – took me longer than it should have – 40 years since I last sat one)
    9d Cry over value of a battle = BOS WORTH (cry = sob upside down = bos)
    23d Get some resT ON GAlapagos island = TONGA

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