Times Quick Cryptic 1176 by Mara

Clicked a few seconds over 10 minutes whilst working on LOI 20ac. A fair smattering of anagrams and a dog reference or two made this a pleasant solve. As I can’t see anything else in the grid, the two words appearing in the ‘unchers’ in columns 1 and 3 may be coincidental.


7. BRAISE – cook. (B)eautiful, boost (RAISE).
8. RINGER – bell. A ringer is also an exact likeness.
9. APSE – part of church. (S)ervice embraced by primate (APE).
10. STERLING – great (great/sterling service). Homophone of the Scottish city Stirling.
11. DISPIRIT – dampen. Anagram (treated) of STRIP ID to absorb iodine (I).
13. SOFA – comfy seat. Very (SO) big (FA)t shortened (without the last letter).
15. LEVI – OT character. In Bib(LE VI)llified.
16. DECISIVE – crucial. Month (DEC), is (IS) followed by I have (IVE).
18. PLETHORA – large amount. Anagram (shifted) of OTHER PAL.
20. TART – double definition – biting/acidic/tart and tart=pie.
21. AT ONCE – immediately. Make amends (ATONE) admitting (C)rimes.
22. GREASY – fatty. The ends of puddin(G) and dinne(R), piece of cake (EASY).


1. GRAPHITE – form of carbon. Greek character (PHI) found in fireplace (GRATE).
2. SIDE-SPLITTING – hilarious. Team (SIDE), disbanding (SPLITTING).
3. GEYSER – hot spring. Homophone (talked about) of bloke – geezer.
4. PRIEST – minister. Is interfering (PRIES), documen(T).
5. ENGLISH SETTER – dog. Anagram (agitated) of IN SHELTER GETS. I hadn’t heard of this breed a of setter – it has a white coat speckled with liver, brown, or yellowish markings.
6. NEON – gas. Anagram (spreading) of NONE.
12. ICE – something frozen. That is (IE) with cold heart (C in the middle).
14. FEVERISH – frantic (e.g. haste). Always (EVER) in the midst of swimmers (FISH).
16. DROVER – one moving sheep perhaps. Five hundred (D) with dog (ROVER).
17. CHARGE – double definition. Price/charge for some work, fill up (a glass/electric car).
19. LOTS – many. Plans lacking initially p(LOTS).

31 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1176 by Mara”

  1. Pretty straightforward, although I biffed 3d, forgetting that it’s pronounced differently in the UK (in the US it rhymes with ‘miser’; ‘geezer’ is a (disrespectful) word for an old man). 4:56.
  2. 7 minutes, so once again comfortably within my target 10. Only glitch was confusing STERLING and Stirling at 10ac but that was soon remedied when I looked at 4dn. Just as well the vowel was not unchecked.

    Edited at 2018-09-11 04:42 am (UTC)

  3. Having done the Concise first, I was surprised to find a long answer in common. No holds ups, so well under par today. I liked AT ONCE.
  4. No massive difficulties here but lots of fun. Finished in just over 20 minutes which is fast for me. I’m usually on Mara’s wavelength so whenever I see this setter’s name, I begin solving with a sense of “can do”. I particularly enjoy the double definitions clues like 20 across and 17 down. Does 8 across count as a double definition? Or not quite? Thanks so much, blogger and setter
    1. A good point. I hesitated to put ‘double definition’ for 8ac because ‘that looks the same’ didn’t seem to fit snugly enough as a straight synonym. It seemed more like a pun word play for the definition bell=ringer. Anyone else have a point of view? I’m always happy to be corrected.
      1. My POV (for what it’s worth) is that I try to fudge things if I’m not 100% sure of the category of a clue. In line with that, my take on this one would probably have been have ‘a straight definition (bell) with a cryptic hint’.

        Edited at 2018-09-11 01:12 pm (UTC)

  5. Straightforward but my heart was not really in it (that’s my excuse for an almost 4 kevin time). I liked dispirit, plethora and side-splitting. Took a while to parse sofa (doh). LOsI greasy and charge. John M
  6. After yesterday’s pb, this one made me realise it may still be a while before I join the elite ranks, as I clocked 50:40. It was a steady, if slow, solve for about 40 minutes until I was left with the 4d 8a combination. After a few minutes staring, I finally got ringer, but for some reason priest still didn’t come to mind immediately and I couldn’t parse it when it did. Couldn’t get the idea that the interfering part was telling me that ‘is’ was mixed up with something. Anyway, I got there eventually. I particularly liked 11a and am pleased that the number of setters I now know has doubled from last week (when I was only aware of red and Irish) having come across the English variety today to add to the Gordon one from a few days ago. Are there any more lurking out there I wonder.
  7. I post occasionally to encourage those (like me) who enjoy the struggle! First I put in double for 8 ac – it seemed to work quite well as an answer but I was uneasy about it and checked the blog. Oh dear! That corrected I struggled with the anagram of plethora, not a word I have used recently …. 45 mins. As always thanks to setter and blogger – it would be so much more frustrating if the answers were not explained! Frankyanne.
    1. Fankyanne – your comments and times are most welcome. Do bear in mind that we all started out simply being happy to complete (some of us counted our times using a calendar rather than a watch). I think it would be useful to have more posts from people starting and sharing their struggles. You’ll always find a sympathetic audience here.
      1. I agree, I don’t finish very many but thoroughly enjoy the struggle, the blog and comments.

        By the way, how long is a “Kevin”? and why?


        1. A Kevin is a flexible unit of time. One Standard International Kevin equates to how long it took our esteemed contributor Kevin Gregg to finish today’s QC.

          I confess that I am its originator. Kevin is a skilled and rapid solver and so I soon found (as a relatively newby) that a better measure of my progress than mere minutes was to see how many Kevins it had taken me, because that was related to the difficulty of the puzzle for a skilled solver. When I started it would take me at least 5 Kevins every time; now I often beat my target of 3 Kevins. On a red letter day it is 1-point-something and the Impossible Dream is to have a time of 0-point-something! But I suspect that I will never do that.

          Incidentally this is all meant in good humour and as a tribute to Kevin’s amazing skill; he’s never complained but if he did I would stop it immediately.


        2. There has been lots of debate over whether times should be listed (it is times for the Times after all) and it adds to the fun if you’d like a rough indication of how you did on a puzzle. Each puzzle is different – some universally easy or hard and then people get on the setter’s wavelength (or not).

          kevingreg is usually one of the first to post (I believe he’s based in US with a time zone which makes that work). His times are always quick but they do vary depending on the puzzle. So he’s become something of a yardstick (and an ambitious target to match!) as a comparison time. If he comes in at 3 minutes something then the puzzle was easy, if he takes 8 minutes then it’s hard. He took 4:56 today so he found it easy/middling. I’m usually 2-3 Kevins but once (on one of his off days) actually came inside his time.

          So when you do finish one – take a note of the time and calculate the number of Kevins (or anyone else) it took then try to beat your ‘Kevin score’ next time. Have fun!

          Edited at 2018-09-11 03:00 pm (UTC)

          1. I think Kevin is American, but from previous comments it appears he has been living in Japan for quite a while – which is also a convenient time zone for early commenting.
        3. On the subject of timings it may also be worth noting that those who solve on-line and choose to join in the league tables at the Times Crossword Club are recording the time it takes them to complete the grid correctly which doesn’t necessarily mean that every clue has been fully parsed.

          For beginners and those aspiring to learn how cryptic puzzles work I think this aspect of solving is at least of equal importance, and possibly even more so, and nobody should feel in anyway intimidated by the times taken from that source and reported here. If anyone’s interested, my times for QCs always include parsing except on very rare occasions where I mention it on the day.

          Edited at 2018-09-11 04:11 pm (UTC)

          1. As Jack says, the time taken to solve is secondary to knowing how to solve. (What would be the point of getting a puzzle right without knowing how one did it?) I’ve been doing Times cryptics for about 10 years, and I was hopeless when I started, happy to finish at all. (I might point out that I’m not that fast when you look at the club leaderboard; I rank 26 on this puzzle, for instance. Mohn2–see above–for instance, who is one of our regular bloggers, is incredibly fast. I find his times amazing; but not, I should stress, intimidating or discouraging.)
  8. About 25 minutes, lots of good clues, but I wasn’t on the wavelength again, or maybe work is getting in the way.

    Like jackjt, I was glad sterling had the e checker.

    I liked side splitting and neon.

  9. Another not so hard one for me. BRAISE went in first and PRIEST brought up he rear, with a bit of thinking required to see the parsing. 6:47. Thanks Mara and Chris.
  10. Agree that there were a lot of good clues here. COD to 21a followed by 22a.
    FOI was Ice and LOI Priest. Done in about 11 minutes.
    I am a regular dog walker and often see English setters and also Gordon setters which appeared in another puzzle recently. Not the most popular breeds anymore but very handsome dogs. David
  11. Well there are two of us and if we can finish over lunch we’re pleased with ourselves. Very few first letters here from Mara which made it harder and we can spend ages parsing clues as we go along. However we got there today in about 45 mins so are satisfied.
    1. Ah – but those ‘ages’ can be fun and satisfying in themselves. Pleased you had an enjoyable lunch.
  12. Good spot, Chris! Why do you call those letters “unchers”? Google has left me none the wiser …

    Fun puzzle, 2.5 on the Kevometer. FOI ENGLISH SETTER which gave a lot of helpful checkers and made up for the lack of first letters in the grid! LOI DROVER, I always thought that drovers were for cattle not sheep but I ken the noo.

    Thanks Chris and MAra.


  13. Caused myself some problems by putting ‘menist’ in for 4 down ( ‘is’ interfering with ‘ment’ – last part of document). Vaguely knew a menist was something to do with religion! But not a minister thereof and so while I was pleased with my construction it was plain wrong.
  14. Similar to Chris I finished in 10:18 with my LOI 3d GEYSER. 5d ENGLISH SETTER delayed me even when I had SETTER from the checkers. I also struggled with another anagram at 11a DISPIRIT. I’m beginning to think that unless the answer is obvious that I should skip the anagrams until I have all the checkers in place.
    1. I have the same thought sometimes but then get engrossed in anagram hunting. I don’t do a word circle for the QC anagrams and swirling 13 letters in your head is something of a challenge (which would be lessened with more checkers as you say).
  15. Another at the easier end of the spectrum but no less entertaining for it. COD and LOI 22a, my only real hold up. Completed and parsed in 8.23
    Thanks for the blog
  16. We are very slowly improving beginners now completely hooked on QC. Were doing really well (for us) until I convinced myself 22ac was cheese but then 17d impossible. Ah well, another day.
    Lesley & Ian
    1. Welcome and I hope you keep enjoying cryptic crossword land. Hopefully you’ll see by now why cheese didn’t really work. Normally, it’s obvious when you have the correct answer. A check with the parsing then allows you to ink rather than pencil in,

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