Times Quick Cryptic 1256 by Joker

Happy New Year everyone! Everything seems a bit slow for some reason (!) this morning and today’s crossword was no exception. You may want to wait a bit later than I did and be a bit more prepared before tackling it. I wasn’t making much progress anywhere at first but those I did get were clever so I settled down to chew slowly through the rest and found much to enjoy. Only your comments will establish if this was indeed tricky or if I was just making heavy weather of it. My end time was 17:51 which surely starts my new year in the SCC but I find the company stimulating!
11ac turned out to be prophetic – so well done and thanks to the person mentioned therein. Loi by a margin was 19ac and gets my cod.


1. CLOTHE – dress. Fool (CLOT), the man (HE).
5. PASTOR – minister. Former (PAST), old (O), Republican (R).
8. STRIKEBREAKER – blackleg. Hit (STRIKE), right (R) inside mug (BEAKER).
9. ROCK – stone. Footwear (sOCK) has (R)oom instead of small (S) to give us ROCK.
10. HANGER-ON – sycophantic associate. Hot (H), ire (ANGER), concerning (ON).
11. JESTER – Joker. Inside some ridicule (JEER) there is stumped (ST – from cricket scoring). I wondered about the use of ‘some’ which makes the clue scan better – I think it works as an indicator of a small amount – lots of ridicule – jeers, some ridicule – jeer. Very happy to receive your views.
13. AMBUSH – surprise attack. Male (M) in a (A) and small tree (BUSH).
15. MIGRAINE – headache. Anagram (upset) of I REMAIN around grand (G).
17. LACK – need. Refuse to handle (bLACK) (of goods, jobs, works, etc being subject to boycott by trade unionists, esp in support of industrial action elsewhere) missing book (B).
19. SUPPLEMENTARY – extra. Potential contortionists (SUPPLE MEN), anagram dislocating of TRY A.
21. TENNIS – the definition can be ‘this game’ and the whole clue which would make it an &lit. (S)erves, in (IN), net (NET) all reversed.
22. TARGET – aim. Sailor (TAR), acquire (GET).


2. LOTTO – lottery. Drunk b(LOTTO) losing billions (B).
3. THICKET – patch of dense woodland. Pass (TICKET) around hard (H). So simple in the end – clever use of ‘dense’ which isn’t used for ‘thick’ in the answer.
4. EYE – organ. Installed in the letters of Hackn(EY E)mpire.
5. PARENTAGE – line (doh!). A (A) and tear (RENT) inside paper sheet (PAGE).
6. STALE – old and familiar. Son (S) with story (TALE).
7. ONEROUS – demanding. Unit (ONE), nearly all get moving (ROUS)e.
10. HARDINESS – tough quality. Anagram (disturbed) of HAS DINERS.
12. EPICURE – gourmet. Anagram (mixed) of UP RICE with last of sauc(E). ‘Mixed up’ just had to be the anagram indicator, didn’t it?
14. BOLSTER – support. British (B), oldster (OLdSTER) losing daughter (D). This one was so simple – I was looking for a synonym of oldster but there was the answer right in the clue.
16. RIPEN – another &lit – a pear, ugli, hip, apple and melon will ultimately ripen. Pea(R) ugl(I) hi(P) appl(E) melo(N).
18. CURVE – bend . Put right (CURE) about velocity (V).
20. EAT – a partial &lit – take repast. r(E)p(A)s(T).

30 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1256 by Joker”

  1. Sluggish start to the year, not sure why, other than the cold and lack of sleep. It took me a while, for instance, to see how ROCK worked, and to give up trying to insert HE into something at 1ac. I also was reluctant to believe that LOTTO would be the solution for ‘lottery’, or that OLDSTER would be ‘oldster’. And I was slow to see, what should have been obvious, STRIKEBREAKER. Oh, well. Happy New Year, all. 8:10.
  2. Feeling a bit delicate as I went to bed around 2:30 I wasn’t sure whether to tackle this before sleeping, but I had a go and finished it in just under 9 minutes which gave me a bit of a boost as to the state of my brain. I might have hit 8 minutes if I hadn’t ditherd over LACK at 17ac because it took several readings to understand the wordplay and confirm what the answer had to be.
  3. A slow start led to a bottom up solve. Had this all done in under 15 minutes apart from 5d. That took some hard work and I finished in 18:14.
    This was not one of Joker’s easiest puzzles but as always a high quality challenge.
    Happy new year to all. David
  4. Good start to the year. LOI was LACK,got from the definition, clue seemed to point to block rather than black – but solved on paper so wrote it in without too much of a care then came here to check. Don’t really understand that definition of black, never seen it separated from list in that sense I don’t think. SLOI was parentage, I was pretty sure page was in there somewhere but wanted to shove it at the end, encouraged by checkers – first satisfying penny dropping thunk of the year. Thanks to Joker and Chirs and Happy New Year to all. Motorway awaits.
  5. I thought this a bit chewy for a QC. I see I’m not alone in feeling a bit sluggish this morning. MIGRAINE my FOI. COD to JESTER. By the way, Chris, who’s the Tim referred to in the title? 7:38
    1. Tim’s this great chap who produces crosswords – unfortunately there’s a spell checker on production which always changes the name to Times. I’ve therefore gone along with tradition and made the same amendment. Thanks for the spot.
  6. I found this so hard I checked to see if I was doing the main crossword. Looking at the answers I am not sure why unless the clueing is too obscure for a QC. In the last week there have been 4 hard puzzles that for me as a beginner I have not come close to solving.

    I keep trying but here is a message for the setters. Last year there were a lot of moans about the level, and looking back over the last couple of months they have stopped. This suggests that all those beginners have given up which surely is not the aim of these puzzles. Of course it could be they all became brilliant solvers. I have been at this for about 8 months and am slowly getting a little better but not close to solving a complete puzzle. It would be nice not to have one impossible puzzle after another.
    I will keep at it but a little help from the setters would be nice


    1. Tim – firstly well done on breaking in to crosswordland – I think this is the hardest step. Please see
      Bripriuk’s comment below – we all started slowly and are all still building up!
      1. I’m a relative beginner and did find this much more difficult than normal. Thought Lotto for Lottery very strange, and didn’t get Lack at all.
        I’ve got better at this over the last year, thanks in part to this wonderful blog – so thank you guys. But today’s really got me stumped.
    2. Hi Tim
      It took me 12 months to solve a QC unaided!! Now 18 months in I finish about half within an hour or so. The rest I DNF mostly due to a small number of clues that I just can’t get. Don’t think I’ll ever get to the level of most of the bloggers on here – but I enjoy the challenge. So I would encourage you to persist
      Happy New Year to all
    3. Hi Tim

      Please keep at it. It took me about 6 months to solve my first QC and the elation was fantastic! I can now do about 3 out 5 each week after a year and a half – I don’t have a target time, merely finishing one still feels like an achievement.

      Keep going!


  7. I’m in the same club – struggled but evrything was reasonably fair so it must have been me. I think the some as in some ridicule is unnecessary but heh!
  8. I found this the perfect level of difficulty for my capabilities, a few write-ins distributed around the grid to help me get footholds and no obscure vocabulary. I finished in 19.5 minutes which is bang on target for me. A good crosswording start to the New Year from my perspective.
  9. That was a tricky start to the year. 16:50 and pleased to complete it at all LOI parentage. Happy new year, everyone.
  10. Ah well, back to SCC reality with a little under 3 Kevins. A slow, jumpy start followed by acceleration as checkers emerged but with serious deceleration to finish, panting, in the NW corner, despite seeing STRIKEBREAKER early on. Couldn’t believe LOTTO and JESTER (I was grateful to chrisw for help parsing the latter) and I was slow to get CLOTHE, THICKET and ROCK (I entered SOCK first then engaged my brain). Thanks to Joker for a really chewy start to 2019 (a good description from johninterred). I think LOTTO was my COD. A happy and healthy New Year to all. John M.
  11. More great surfaces from Joker. I thought I was struggling but still finished just under target at 27 minutes. Last two were Rock and Clothe – 9A was my favourite type of clue.
    I would like to tell beginners not to give up. I started cryptics with the QC about three years ago and have got my target down to 30 minutes, but it wasn’t smooth progress. I was stuck on two or three answers plus the blog for months, then I was suddenly getting half-way. I was stuck there, again for months, until I was finishing with a one hour target, and I’ve now been on 30 minutes for ages.
    Perhaps another jump will happen this year!


  12. ….this excellent puzzle should be taken as part of the learning CURVE.

    I found it tricky to get started, but once I did so the only delays were the stubbornly resistant PARENTAGE (I suspect Joker’s may have been questioned by some solvers), STRIKE BREAKER where I tried in vain to work in “scab”, and then JESTER (I totally concur with Chris).

    The British National Lottery is usually just called the lotto, but in my youth lotto was another name for bingo.

    TIME 5:50

  13. Happy New Year one and all!

    Just under my target ten minutes at 9:18, so I can’t be too befuddled this morning. Thanks to Joker and Chris.


  14. Really wasn’t in the groove this morning. Dabbled with the old English Lestum, before opting for the more modern Jester, and tried to make 10ac into an anagram… Also needed a cup of tea before I could fathom what on earth was going on with 5d, so not the best start to the year, but there is always tomorrow. Invariant

    Edited at 2019-01-01 12:48 pm (UTC)

  15. I normally run through Joker puzzles but had a harder time of it today. Potentially the result of too many mince pies (plus liquid accompaniments). Stared for ages at 19 across and only got it through an alphabet trawl and “S” is towards the end of that. I’d entered an unparsed – and wrong – “perforate ” for 5 down. That lasted only until “hanger-on” found its way onto the grid but I just couldn’t see what 5 down could be, a situation which lasted until I read the, as always, very much appreciated blog. 17 across also foxed me. Oh, dear! Better luck tomorrow! Happy New Year, one and all. Thanks setter and blogger.
  16. Of which around 5 minutes was spent on LOI 11a. I felt sure the answer would be SETTER but couldn’t justify it, so I went for the only slightly more plausible JESTER and was relieved to see all greens. I thought maybe JEST = some ridicule and ER = stumped. Not sure the clue really works either way but never mind.

    Thanks for the blog and happy new year everyone.

  17. Oof. 27.06 with about 10 mins of that on 19ac. Even Mrs soj failed me. Echo many of the comments above. Perhaps I’d have been better tackling this at 2 a.m. when my Boggle skills seemed relatively unimpaired notwithstanding being somewhat 2dn before losing the billions. Nice to have Chris visit the SCC!
  18. Similar to others I started slowly but once I had a few checkers I rattled through it. 2d LOTTO was a late solve with a ‘surely not’ eyebrow raise. My last two in were 8a STRIKEBREAKER and 5d PARENTAGE. A lot of the clues went in from definition and I was parsing as I was typing e.g. ROCK and JESTER. I was held up briefly at 10a as I couldn’t remember what sycophant meant so that one went in from the wordplay. 9 mins to complete which is a very good start to the new year. Thanks Chris for the blog.
  19. I thought this was an excellent challenge which I completed in a tardy 22.21. A large chunk of that was spent on my last 2 in, 9a where a misspelt THICKEET at 3d which made life difficult, and a toss up between an unparsed LACK or LOCK at 17a – until I saw what was going on and put in the correct answer. I’d not heard of blackleg before so that went in with a satisfying smile but my CoD goes to 19a.
    thanks for the blog.
  20. I think I’m still in the recovery phase after last night’s festivities, having stumbled into bed around 3am, and not surfaced until midday. Zipped through the Concise in 2:30, but having got through half of this one in 4 minutes, then slowed down and had a mental block at my penultimate 5d, where I followed the assembly instructions and unquestioningly entered PARENDAGE. Doh! ONEROUS aptly followed and I duly submitted at 10:31 with 1 error. Thanks Joker and Chris and a Happy New Year to all.
  21. About an hour but 45 of those on supplementary, and attempted with a vodka/beer/georgian wine hangover so i can’t complain.

    Snovem godem, -16 today

    1. Hmm – I think if I had to drink vodka/beer/Georgian wine then maybe I would complain! Na Zdorovie!
  22. I have just started doing Cryptics and this blog is very useful – I can usually work out the answer to about half of them on the QC based on one of the words in the clue but sometimes struggle to see how the remainder of the clue fits in, so these explanations are a great aid.

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