Times Quick Cryptic 1226 by Izetti

This is more the Izetti of old – when simply the name above the grid would cause a shudder in even the most seasoned blogger. Yes, OK, I’m being too dramatic and it was no-one else’s fault that I messed up down in the SW but 17dn, 7dn and loi 5dn may pose a challenge for many (except the sub 4 minute-ers of course). The clock had ticked past 16 minutes before I’d finished.
So many of the clues which I struggled with turned out to be so simple and elegant – to the extent that I enjoyed writing the blog as much as wrestling my way through the grid.
A quick, personal welcome to the newly formed SCC (slow-coach club – great work oldblighter/sonofjim!). I remember the trepidation with which I approached my first post some years BQC (before Quick Cryptic) where the only game in town was the 15×15 but was (and still am) delighted by the friendliness of the group. I learned that no question is stupid (and I asked a few!) and no time is bad.
If all cryptics were easy with write-ins and quick times then they’d end up being pretty dull and we’d learn less. The more challenges which are overcome then the easier it gets but the main reason we do these things is the challenge itself. Times (whilst of comparative interest) have always been less important than enjoying and appreciating the style and wit which our setters bring us. Thanks Izetti.


1. FORT WORTH – US City. Supporting so often meaning ‘at the end of the clue to support other letters’ so I was looking for LA at the end and made life difficult. Much more simply, it was (FOR), couple (TWO), right (R), that not half (TH)at.
6. PESTO – sauce. Anagram (naughty) of POETS.
8. ROLE MODEL – one admired. Anagram (astray) of ROMEO LED and (L)ad.
9. SHAME – disgrace. Poor actor (HAM) in the Home Counties (SE).
10. SCOUNDREL – cad. Anagram (terrible) of UNCLE RODS.
12. GUINEA – a double definition, I think – money of old/country.
13. SCAMPS – mischief-makers. Saints (S and S) outside military establishment (CAMP).
16. SCRAMBLED – confused. Go away (SCRAM), having lost blood (BLED). Note the similarity with 7dn.
18. EAGRE – bore. Homophone (to get a hearing) of eager. Dnk bore=eagre but it ‘had to be’.
19. ASPERSION – disparaging remark. Like (AS), individual (PERSON) absorbing (holding) one (I).
21. CEDES – gives up. Within the clue – distan(CE DES)pairingly.
22. PAST TENSE – something grammatical. Prior – NOT pre (prep) which I tried so hard to hammer into this answer – (PAST), anxious (TENSE). So again, like 1 across it was so easy in the end.


1. FORESEE – imagine. Homophone (noises made by) 4C. I can’t remember coming across this type of homophone – cod for its simplicity.
2. ROLL-ON – we can’t wait – roll-on summer. Turn (ROLL) being performed (ON).
3. WOMAN – female. How many times have I bewailed having to come up with one out of a myriad of female names? Having got used to this it proved hard to get the blindingly obvious. Pallid (WAN) keeping order (OM – Order of Merit).
4. RED – revolutionary (e.g. 17dn). ‘The’ in German can be DER – when turned round (RED).
5. This feeble condition would do for all but whelp’s head (12)
HELPLESSNESS – feeble condition. The pièce de résistance. I’m not sure I’ve got this so do comment. Given that ‘all but’ = except for/without and ‘head’ = ness (cliffs etc) then to break the clue up – HELP LESS NESS gives us w(HELP) without (LESS) it’s head (NESS) which is why the ‘w’ is missing from whelp. Phew.
6. POSTAGE STAMP – &lit clue where the whole clue is a cryptic definition.
7. SCATTIER – more disorganised state. Dnk that leave = (SCAT – rather in the same way as ‘scoot’), bank (TIER).
11. RAMPAGED – went wild. Artist (RA), politician (MP), very old (AGED).
14. CADENCE – rise and fall. A group of thieves perhaps (A DEN) and caught (C) invading (inside) church (CE).
15. ALBION – England/Great Britain once. Bishop (B) eaten by a (A) and wild animal (LION).
17. MARAT – revolutionary. Dnk that Jean-Paul Marat was a French political theorist, physician, and scientist who was a radical journalist and politician during the French Revolution. Arts graduate (MA), dishonourable type (RAT).
20. PAS – dance. Idiot – sap – going the wrong way (PAS).

61 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1226 by Izetti”

  1. 11 minutes here, but I could tell it might be a toughie for less experienced solvers. Congrats on your explanation of HELPLESSNESS, Chris, I’m glad I didn’t have to blog that clue!
  2. Had trouble getting started, so I entered an early 7dn SHABBIER, knowing it was likely wrong, meaning to come back to it. On the bright side, all the checkers helped…

    Also made the mistake at the end of thinking about my last one, HELPLESSNESS, after I twigged to it. That gave me a headache.

  3. I took almost 50 minutes, 20 over my target but I was really pleased to finish at all without aids. LOIs were PAS, MARAT and EAGRE as I didnt know the words or the man.
    Along with most beginners I’ve always struggled with Izetti puzzles, but at the same time learnt most from them, and I think the time spent studying the excellent blogs is beginning to pay off.
    Chris et al, keep up the good work!


  4. Raced through the first half, mainly the top, thinking I might be on for record time, but then ground to a spectacular halt. Finally submitted in a little over 30 minutes – without distractions! – only to find my guess of shabbier was wrong, so I sit miles adrift at the foot of the crossword club leaderboard. Needed blog for helplessness and scattier and confirmation of others, so a tough workout. Thanks for the blog Chris, I’d never have understood 5d without it and I’m still not sure I do now.
  5. I knew, of course, that it would be difficult ! Astonishingly (to me! ), I finished this – apart from 18 across which, even with all the checkers in, I could not get as I have never heard of “eagre”. I got 5 down quite early on although, alas, it was no more than an inspired guess. I could not see why it was right although I was pretty sure that it was! I think there were some proper toughies today including ones which needed a high level of general knowledge e. g. 17 down. I had heard of Marat so I got it from the checkers but still… Not sure how long this took but it must have been in the region of 40 minutes which would have put me firmly into the esteemed Slow Coach group were it not for the fact that “eagre” had already thrust me into the DNF dunces’ corner. Oh, dear…! Thanks, Izetti, you hard task master, and huge thanks to Chris without whose blog the parsing of many of my answers today would have remained in unknowable obscurity forever.
    1. No such thing as dunce’s corner in this blog – anyone prepared to do battle in crosswordland deserves much higher praise. Always a pleasure to help out with the blog – especially if it avoids the almost heartbreaking thought of those poor parsings languishing (is that better than remaining?) in unknowable obscurity forever.
      I use the 15×15 blog at times for the same reason – which I think makes the point that, even though some QCs are harder than others, they’re still steps on the way to the 15×15.

      Edited at 2018-11-20 11:08 am (UTC)

      1. Honestly, I’m sure I would have given up on the QCs long ago without the blog. Now and again, I have a look at the 15X15 with the blog to hand but it is still, almost always, beyond me. One day, maybe, one day! Thanks for your kind encouragement.
        1. Indeed, we too would have given up long ago without the blogs. And also have only occasionally tried the 15×15 when prompted that it might be do-able. But there are two brains trying here!
            1. Well, I did wonder…! Not really, only kidding. There are certainly lots of morning QC moments when I could do with another brain to call on!
                  1. I had previously referred to “two brains” working on the puzzle but my profile picture shows me with one of my Shetland sheep and thought I was replying to louisajaney’s comment. All that chat seems to have disappeared now. Sorry.
                    1. You just have to press ‘expand’ and it’ll reappear. I’m sorry my very feeble joke (sheep/woolly) was so low it flew below radar.
  6. ….thanks Chris. I actually managed to parse HELPLESSNESS, which, along with EAGRE and SCATTIER would have been at home in the 15×15.

    As a seasoned solver, I aim to see the QC off in under 5 minutes – today I had one second to spare !

  7. I managed to complete this in 12:41, which is over my 10 minute target, but for an Izetti, that is usually expected. As Vinyl1 says, no obvious answers sprang out. They all had to be carefully teased from the wordplay. I SCRAMBLED my brain trying to make an anagram of lost blood for a while! Great puzzle. Thanks Izetti and Chris.
  8. Found this pretty chewy, just squeaking in under 30 mins but like a couple of others settling for a desperate shabbier. Mrs SOJ demanded a mention for helping with Guinea, although it didn’t help with shabbier as LOI.
    1. Well done SOJ (and, of course, Mrs SOJ). After two outings of the SCC I do seem to be stuck between it and the formula one-ers.
  9. As a proud member of the SCC, I think we need an acronym to aspire to – how about the STG (Sub-Ten Group)?


  10. About an average time for me. DNK EAGRE, but did know MARAT. FOI 1ac (built this from the back forwards). LOI HELPLESSNESS which I sort of parsed, nearly! COD POSTAGE STAMP, I just happen to enjoy &lits I guess.
  11. I caved in at 60 mins on and off, but enjoyed the challenge – thanks to Izetti! Needed the blog for scrambled and scattier – thanks to Chris! Have to confess I used crossword solver for helplessness, and googled us cities for Fort Worth and also googled eagre to see if was a bore ….
  12. I don’t know what it is about Izetti puzzles, but no matter how long they take to complete, the challenge is always a pleasure. Just short of 40 mins today, with my last few, 7d, 16ac and 17d, causing the most difficulty. I had never come across Marat, so wasn’t sure it was him or his cousin Barat for 17d until I could get 16ac. The problem there was I was looking for a long word meaning ‘go away’ to remove a B from, but once I had 7d there was suddenly a lot of change all over the floor… My favourite by a country mile was 14d, Cadence, a wonderful clue with a great surface. Invariant
      1. Stabbed to death in his bath by a certain Charlotte Cordet if I remember correctly. Maybe she was fed up waiting as well?
  13. If the only answers I fail to get are words I’ve never heard of , I take them as “virtually” solved. Is this just me? EAGRE is a good example .
  14. As a proud founder member of the SCC I can only say that I justified my membership today. What a stinker! It wouldn’t had been out of place in the 15square collection. I spent 15 minutes doing about half of this before I was called away by my wife for a (forgotten) prior engagement. Four hours later, I resumed and slowed to a crawl. No idea of time but that is probably a blessing. This reached the point where I decided, with great respect, that Izetti should stick to the main CC. LOI Pas which says it all, I used to think I had developed into a fairly proficient Crossword solver (and I have managed all the previous Izetti QCs with some pleasure) but this was too clever by half for a mere mortal like me. I’m off to do the Torygraph CC to try to regain some equilibrium. John M.

    Edited at 2018-11-20 03:02 pm (UTC)

  15. I parsed 5d the same as you Chris. Quite tricky, indeed. Misled by 15d initially looking for a word for ‘once’ ending in ‘ine’, but PAST TENSE put paid to that. I took a while to get the intersecting SCATTIER, GUINEA and SCRAMBLED. A nicely testing puzzle. Thanks Izetti and Chris. About 8:30.
    1. Still don’t get this – if “all but” means “less”, and “head” means “nes”, then where is the instruction to remove the “w” from “whelp”? Unless they are doing double duty which I didn’t think was allowed. Happily it was easily biffable from the checkers, but for future reference I would like to understand the parsing, and if it is permissible to recycle parts of the clue. That really seems to allow the setter too much leeway in a QC
      1. This is a tricky/very clever clue. I think that the sum of the parts of the answer WHELP LESS NESS (head) is the instruction to remove the ‘w’.
  16. I took 26 mins but this is perfectly acceptable for an Izetti puzzle. There were some DNKs where I relied on the generous wordplay i.e. 18a EAGRE, 17d MARAT and 20d PAS and I spent a good 5 mins at the end with my LOI 7d SCATTIER. I think the SW corner gave me most problems. I was completely misdirected with 16a trying to solve the anagram of lost and blood to come up with a word meaning go away.
  17. a struggle all day and I’d hate to provide a time …

    7d did for me when I hopefully parsed “swampier” and convinced myself that “swam” could relate to leave and “pier” for bridge – I’ll take the latter on reflection, but concede on the former. I’d considered shabbier, but couldn’t parse either successfully or not!

    COD: 6d
    LOI: see above

    thanks to blogger, setter and all who contribute; Carl

  18. Have been to Canterbury today. I spent 20 minutes on the puzzle before I left but struggled to get going on a strange-looking grid, not one I’d seen before.
    The clues were strange in a good way,original and quite clear once you’d solved them -SCRAMBLED is a good example.
    I got back to the puzzle on the train. Struggled with EAGRE, thought it had to be right although I wasn’t sure . My last two were 1d where I had failed to see the “simple” solution and finally GUINEA.
    Hats off to Izetti for a really good QC. Over 30 minutes for me in total and yesterday was less than 15. COD to 1d as it foxed me. David
  19. Challenging but enjoyable today and completed in 24.15 but I needed the blog to parse 5d, which was way too clever for me. LOI was the unknown EAGRE with my favourites being 6d and 22a.
    Thanks for the blog
  20. I think 1D has a hidden depth. A 4C is a make of Alfa Romeo that has a very distinct, and if you are into cars, a very beguiling engine note.
  21. Well …

    Thank goodness for this blog, or I’d be weeping bitter tears and thinking of giving up after struggling through in 28 mins. But since that’s less than 2 Chris-es, I will square my shoulders, swallow hard and soldier on.

    I was putting it down to this being an evening solve after a good Highland hill (Beinn Sgluich), a bottle of CNDP and a dram but it’s so comforting to see others found it tough too. “Misery loves company”, as my grandmother used to say.

    Izetti is a genius; I am not; but my goodness I enjoy the unequal struggle. Chris, I salute your admirable blog. Thank you.

    Templar (today very much in the SCC)

  22. I always hope for an under 20 minute solve, though they are becoming far and few between! This took 34 minutes, but I had SHABBIER (unparsed of course) for want of a proper answer. So a DNF for me. Very enjoyable despite all that – especially pleased to get the unknowns from the wordplay.

    Thank you to Izetti for stretching me and to Chris for explaining everything…. even helplessness! And another thank you to all the contributors here for confirming that this was difficult. I feel a little less stupid as a result.
    COD 4C = foresee. So clever!!

    1. There’s should be no such thing as feeling stupid in this blog – see previous comments . Anyone braving the perils (and delights) of Crosswordland deserves far greater merit.
      1. Thank you. Comments like yours are what keep me coming back for more pain…. and joy!!! MM
  23. Oh, a blog at my level? What a relief, I hadn’t heard about it – where do I find it?
    Funnily enough, I liked today’s – after leaving it half completed and returning to it after a wonderful afternoon at the National Theatre and finishing it in the train on the way home – all except two …


    1. Happy you had a good day. It’s always good to have a cryptic to hand when sitting on trains. This is the home of SCC/formula one-rs and people like me – in between-ers. It’s a broad range and everyone is very welcome all the time.
  24. Started well enough, but then got stuck on some that would have been impossible for me without aids. Never heard of Eagre or Marat (never studied French revolutionary history) and couldn’t work out the wordplay of either until I got the words. Got helplessness by intuition but couldn’t parse it. And didn’t know “sap” as idiot. An achievement for me to finish, despite the time taken and the use of aids. But, I can’t argue, it was informative, my vocabulary and knowledge (also of art history – Death of Marat) are both now wider. Thanks, Izetti!
  25. No problem with Marat (or his murderess Charlotte Corday, guillotined a few days later) but eagre had me stumped as did my helplessness in justifying Ness. Managed to complete within 24 hours, or 30 mins in the early am and 30 mins in the late pm, so gone to bed happy. Thank you to Izetti and all the bloggers.
  26. Absolute stinker. Unsuitable for a QC I thought. Thanks as ever to blogger. Would like to see more comments from inexperienced solvers, assuming there are any left.
    1. All comments are appreciated and I’m very happy to see an increasing number of members of the SCC joining in – I’m not sure what your definition of inexperienced is.

      Edited at 2018-11-21 12:32 pm (UTC)

  27. I’m inexperienced (I think!) & I really enjoyed the challenge, definitely prefer my QCs on the hard side… DNF solely due to HELPLESSNESS, which I still don’t really understand. I mean I can see all the elements (at least now I’ve read the blog), but it just doesn’t seem to read right – either it’s too clever for its own good, or more likely it’s too clever for me!!
    Anyway 5.20 the next day’s probably a bit late to be posting – I’m home now so I’ll have a cracks at today’s!
    1. Never too late to post – an email alert always comes through. Helplessness is an extremely tricky/clever clue where the sum of parts WHELP LESS NESS gives the answer. You should read ness=head – then you have whelp less head = w(helplessness).
      1. Thanks, I think I’m getting there! & thanks for the blog.
        The QC’S really opened the world of cryptic crosswords up to me. Try & do it most days, & always enjoy the comments.
        One day the 15×15!
  28. Playing catch up with the QCs at the moment so only just got round to doing this one.

    I got HELPLESSNESS, and parsed it the same way as chrisw91 (thanks for the blog Chris btw), but I’m left struggling to see how it’s a fair (i.e Ximenean) clue as the whole LESS NESS part seems to be doing double-duty. I thought that was a no-no.

    Taken as a decapitation, “All but whelp’s head” would simply give HELP. The LESS NESS bit having been “used up” in removing the W.

    Alternatively, if we assume we should reword the phrase, then then that would give WHELP LESS NESS, with nothing left of the clue to indicate removing the head from the phrase. Unless we take the new phrase to be another cryptic clue, in which case we end up with HELP again, as the LESS NESS part is “used up” in removing the W again.

    Either I’m missing something (entirely possible), or it’s one of those occasional clues that leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth after solving.

    1. Once you’ve got WHELP LESS NESS as you got to there’s nothing left in the clue – but there is in the ANSWER – WHELP LESS NESS – where you should read ness=head and follow this instruction by taking off the ‘w’. Clever, huh?

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