Times Quick Cryptic 1781 by Tracy

I found this a little tricky and completed in just under 11 minutes. 1dn had me torn between two potential answers (only one valid) and LOI 16dn took some staring at to see an animal from the checkers which then so obviously fitted the word play.

I’ll be interested to hear how well-known 9dn is amongst our wide age range of solvers – I had thought it was pretty recent so was interested when I researched it (see below)


1. Learning of WI’s party ending in bedlam (6)
WISDOM – WI’s (WIS), party (DO), bedla(M).
4. European language buff (6)
POLISH – double definition.
8. Ran back with speed to tell a tale (7)
NARRATE – ran backwards (NAR), speed (RATE).
10. Bowl first of bumpers when at home (5)
BASIN – (B)umpers, when (AS), at home (IN). I wonder why Tracy preferred bumpers to bouncers here.
11. Young man carrying English guide (4)
LEAD – young man (LAD) carrying English (E).
12. One taking an active part grabbing pit boss (8)
DOMINEER – one taking an active part (DOER) grabbing pit (MINE). Boss  the verb – to boss about.
14. Reviewing amount of money type of Chinese porcelain raised (7,2)
SUMMING UP – amount of money (SUM), type of Chinese porcelain (MING), raised (UP).
18. Race the old lady runs with unusual hat on (8)
MARATHON – the old lady (MA), runs (R), anagram (unusual) of HAT, on (ON).
20. Present from that woman, ultimate in lingerie (4)
HERE – that woman (HER), lingeri(E).
22. Yarn spun about foremost of golfers up in arms (5)
ANGRY – anagram (spun) of YARN around (G)olfers.
23. Running place is important (7)
SPECIAL – anagram (running) of PLACE IS.
24. Shrewd like famous pharaoh, leader of Egyptians (6)
ASTUTE – like famous pharaoh (AS TUT), leader of (E)gyptians. King Tutankhamen ruled Eqypt for 10 years until his death at age 19, around 1324 BC. I liked this one – COD.
25. Talkative, spiteful about husband (6)
CHATTY – spiteful (CATTY) about husband (H).


1. Engineer in corner supporting wife (6)
WANGLE – corner (ANGLE) supporting (underneath) wife (W). I leapt straight at ‘ingle’ which means a fireplace (convinced myself that inglenook – corner by a fireplace was much the same) so was left trying to remember if I’d ever heard of an engineer called Wingle. This seemed a bit iffy for a QC so reassessed and got the obvious answer.
2. Beat struggling Spurs, netting a second (7)
SURPASS – anagram (struggling) of SPURS including a second (A S).
3. Artist left after nothing said (4)
ORAL – artist (RA) and left (L) after nothing (O).
5. Ten in old game for top universities paired together? (8)
OXBRIDGE – ten (X) in old game (O BRIDGE).
6. Question children (5)
ISSUE – double definition.
7. Underfed country area overlooked (6)
HUNGRY – country (HUNG)a(RY) – with area (A) overlooked/missed out.
9. Economist translated messaging symbols? (9)
EMOTICONS – anagram (translated) of ECONOMIST. Britannica.com tells me that the first substantiated use of an emoticon came from American computer scientist Scott E. Fahlman on 19 September 1982.
We’ve been warned that actual emoticon picture symbols (as opposed to a collection of punctuation marks) may not display properly in certain browsers so be warned! 🙂
13. Crooked team nicking your old small gemstone (8)
AMETHYST – anagram (crooked) of TEAM nicking (holding) your in old language (THY) and small (S).
15. Forecast from pair ahead of decree (7)
PREDICT – pair (PR) ahead of decree (EDICT).
16. Almost spear a horned animal (6)
IMPALA – almost spear (IMPAL)e, a (A). I didn’t see impale for a long time but with -M-A-A I managed to fit an animal into it and everything became clear.
17. Answer includes a repeat fixture (6)
REPLAY – answer (REPLY) includes a (A).
19. Proper shock female being fired (5)
RIGHT – shock f(RIGHT) – female (F) being fired.
21. Married? He’s silly to get engaged (4)
MESH – married (M), anagram (silly) of HES.

68 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1781 by Tracy”

  1. DOMINEER held me up something fierce, but otherwise a very moderate puzzle. As for EMOTICONS, well, let’s just say I never really made the switch over to emoji. 🙂 Love Bitmoji though! Born in 1982 for whatever that’s worth.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 02:03 am (UTC)

  2. I biffed OXBRIDGE and AMETHYST, parsed post-submission. We just had ‘knowledge’=WISDOM, now it’s ‘learning’=WISDOM. Don’t care for either definition, but no doubt the setter’s covered here as he was yesterday. I wouldn’t use an emoticon on a bet. 5:30.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 02:11 am (UTC)

    1. SOED: wisdom – a Knowledge, esp. of an abstruse kind; enlightenment, learning, erudition. Now chiefly hist. OE. ▸ b In pl. Kinds of learning, branches of knowledge. rare. OE–M19.

      Perhaps we shall have it as ‘erudition’ or ‘enlightenment’ next time!

  3. 9 minutes. My first thought for ‘learning’ is usually ‘lore’ but that clearly was not going to be useful today.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 06:14 am (UTC)

  4. Flew out the blocks with 10 acrosses going in on the first pass and progressed well to my final three. WANGLE, IMPALA and especially DOMINEER all had to be prised out, taking me to a still fast all green 11. The clue for DOMINEER had me going all over the place to see where the definition was and how many words it would include. It sort of looked like ‘collier’ would fit in there somewhere until the next stop on the alphabet trawl saved the day.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 07:25 am (UTC)

  5. Didn’t find much too difficult today, so just worked through the acrosses and downs with one exception: SPECIAL – where I missed the ‘running’ meaning on the first read through. 6:37
  6. This felt tricky in places with and a couple went in with fingers crossed – WANGLE being the prime example. Ended up in the NE where BASIN and ISSUE proved elusive for a while but crossed the line in 10.41. Unfortunately it turned out to be a DNF due to a typo, having somehow overlooked ISSIE in my spellcheck. COD to EMOTICONS – who knew they were so closely related to economists?
    Thanks to Chris
  7. Very much in the more straightforward cluing style of a QC, I expected that our racier pals would zip through today without a pause.
    I chuckled to see WISDOM popup again today, indefatigable he always had the last laugh!
    Didn’t bother to parse AMETHYST and spent ages nibbling around DOMINEER which I couldn’t parse, so thank you Chris.
    A pleasant start to the day to offset the grimness of a country in chaos.
    Thanks Tracy.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 08:49 am (UTC)

  8. 1ac WISDOM!
    I was on the 11.00 this morning from Oxbridge to Domine (Eastern Region)

    FOI & COD 5dn OXBRIDGE – don’t they do a dictionary?

    LOI 12ac DOMINEER my hold-up was fiercer.

    WOD 9dn EMOTICONS ~(_8^(I) who is this? And this? //0‑0\ And this? =:o]

    Answers on a [pc]

    Edited at 2021-01-05 08:59 am (UTC)

  9. I thought of Felix Wankel the inventor of the Wankel engine. I was trying to fit the ankle into the corner. But then I realised that I had spelt it wrong.
  10. (Taken from a favourite mat for a coffee mug.) After my little rant yesterday, I took Templar’s advice and had an extra coffee this morning. Coincidence, perhaps, but I was back to 10 seconds over my 15 minute target which is closer to normality for me. I thought it would be quicker until I was held up by EMOTICONS, DOMINEER, ASTUTE, and LOI IMPALA. Some very good clues and, as usual, I only solved many when crossers emerged (allowing biffs in many cases but all parsed). Thanks to Tracy and Chris.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 09:38 am (UTC)

  11. 14 minutes, so an average sort of time for me, but I don’t know why I wasn’t faster as it was quite straightforward. And enjoyable – thanks. LOI DOMINEER.
  12. Shipping forecast solve for me today – “Moderate or good, occasionally poor later”. The poor bits were getting hung up on DOMINEER, PREDICT and WANGLE; the worst bit, however, was submitting PPEDICT and WWNGLE for two pink squares! I think I was too excited to have cracked them.

    FOI WISDOM, LOI WANGLE, COD IMPALA, time 1.9K (but) for a Poor Day.

    Many thanks Chris and Tracy.


  13. I was not in the best mood when I started this having tried to contact The Times through “Live Chat” about my missing paper vouchers; it’s not “Live”.
    Anyway FOI was ORAL then smooth progress to what I thought was LOI DOMINEER. But I had passed on the Spurs clue so went back to that and finished in 08:53.
    So maybe I had been geed up by my frustration.
    Another vote for EMOTICONS as COD.
  14. I thought this was a good puzzle – thanks setter and blogger. Some clues seemed tricky but once the answer came in they all seemed fair enough. Interesting fact about emotiocons – thanks again!
  15. Like several others, I took an age to see my LOI, DOMINEER, despite only being short of 2 letters. I was all over the clue trying to sort out definition from wordplay. I knew it had MINE for pit and still struggled. 10:22. Thanks Tracy and Chris.
  16. …all bar a couple of the acrosses on the first pass in less than 2 mins, so realised I was potentially on for a rapid time.

    Concentrated on getting answers, rather than the elegance of the cluing, so plenty went in from definition and partial parsing.

    I have been quicker a couple of times, but sub 4 is very rare for me. 3:56 and a very mild Tracy.

  17. 14 minutes, so much better this morning, and back to inside target again. No real problems, with SPECIAL LOI, just after IMPALA. Thanks Chris and Tracy.
  18. Tough start in the NW, but things moved on after FOI BASIN. Final crossers of NARRATE/SURPASS led to a time of 16:46.

    I see we have ANGRY and HUNGRY in the puzzle today. Its a chestnut to ask for the third simple word ending in —GRY (there isn’t one).

    COD 9D EMOTICONS. Not so many pure anagrams this long, well done setter in finding this.

  19. Managed most quite readily, but struggled to get ISSUE – BASIN as another commenter. Knew EMOTICONS and I’m 73!
    1. Dear Mr.Lichdb,

      The first emoticon appeared on 17 September 1982 – so you do appear to be catching up! Emojis followed in 1990.

      Just two days later that on Market Street, San Francisco the last Street Car ran after 122 years service.

  20. Completed without error – just over 10 minutes.

    9D – no problem.

    There is discussion on the history of expressing irony and sarcasm in print in Chapter 11 of Keith Houston’s ‘Shady Characters (Ampersands, Interrobangs and other Typographical Curiosities)’ – see pages 233 onwards. Houston notes that a possible candidate for an early emoticon appeared in the New York Times in 1862 and there are substantiated emoticons printed in Puck magazine in 1881. Some excerpts (although not the pages referred to above) from ‘Shady Characters’, together with Houston’s essay on Emojis, are available to read for free here: https://shadycharacters.co.uk/contents/

  21. Re my above post – I received the understandable warning on posting the above comment that it was ‘marked as ‘Spam’ according to LiveJournal’s rules, presumably because I included a URL. I should advise that I have no vested interest in any of the work referred to above – I’m just eager to point people in the direction of something that may be of interest, given the subject matter of emoticons. For those wary of clicking on embedded links, but still interested – I’d suggest entering some details about the author, Keith Houston, into a search engine, which should then lead you with some greater confidence to related information.
    1. Yes I unspammed it for you, and it was indeed the URL that send your post into the nether regions of the site.
  22. Probably just me, but I thought this was the best QC for quite a while. I thought the clues were fair and neatly thought out, allowing a good mixture of write ins and slightly more complex solves.

    It helps of course that I finished it in 16 mins 😀

    Enjoyed the Polish/Hungry axis of the NE corner, the reappearance of Norman in the NW corner, the use of “Wangle” for 1dn and the simplicity of 10ac “Basin”. Who would have thought that “Emoticons” was an anagram of Economist for 9dn?

    There was a period of doubt around “Mesh” for 21dn and a spelling kerfuffle in the middle of 13 “Amethyst” (as I wasn’t sure of the parsing until the “thy” penny dropped) but, other than that, all good.

    FOI – 1ac “Wisdom”
    LOI – 18ac “Marathon”
    COD – 14ac “Summing Up”

    Thanks as usual.

    Edited at 2021-01-05 11:51 am (UTC)

  23. Emoticons new to me . I kept trying to get ‘coms’ at end rather than ‘cons’. Also ‘issue’ at 6 down I persisted with’ brood ‘ as in brooding over. As a relative ‘newbie’ I found this fairly tricky
  24. In 21dn MESH the definition needs to include the preceding ‘[to] get’. I only mention it because it was my LOI and it took a while for that particular penny to drop.

    Nice crossword. Just right for a Quick I thought.


  25. I think I’m finally getting the hang of Tracy’s style – just a shame it’s taken me five or six years. Crossed the line after an enjoyable 17mins, with loi 12ac, Domineer, the only significant hold up save a couple of parsings along the way. I thought 24ac was going to be my CoD for a long time, but it was pipped at the post by 13d Amethyst (HMS of that name recently made an appearance on Talking Pictures). My thanks to Tracy and Chris. Invariant
    PS. Is 4ac not a triple?
    1. I think the European you’re thinking of would be a Pole so the third would have to be ‘like a European’.
  26. My winning streak now extends to five QC solves in succession which, given that I averaged four DNFs a week when I started out last June, is a significant improvement. Much of the credit for this is down to the excellent explanations from all of the regular bloggers on this site and, to some extent, to the other contributions and discussion here.

    All correct in 35 mminutes today, with 12a (DOMINEER) being my LOI. Never fully parsed 13d (AMETHYST) and 15d (PREDICT), but they had to be. Also, I was pleased to get 24a (ASTUTE), as tripped me up a few weeks ago. I must be learning.

    As ever, Mrs Random finished serenely and without any fuss in 25 minutes.

    Thanks to chrisw91 and to Tracy.

      1. Many thanks Chris, although it was back to reality with a DNF again for me today. I spent 30+ minutes on an unsuccessful alphabet trawl for 18d: ANIMUS.
  27. A bit of help please for a less experienced solver. Why is Issue Children? That was my sticking point, together with Domineer, which I now understand after your blog. Thanks- the blogs really help to learn.
    1. Issue is another word for offspring ‘and had issue’.

      Welcome from a 2nd or rather 3rd Eleven solver / member of the SSC (Slowcoach Club).

      Edited at 2021-01-05 01:04 pm (UTC)

    2. I daresay someone else will come along and cite other sources but in my Chambers app at least “Offspring, children” is the 5th definition (of 21) for ISSUE as a noun.

      It will come up again for sure so try and memorise it.

    3. Welcome, and keep asking questions.

      “Issue” is used by lawyers for “children, and their children”. It really just means “descendants”. Genealogists (the more pompous kind, at least) use it in a similar way. Which means that the amateur comes across the phrase “no issue” and is left scratching their head “No issue about what?”

      Add it to your list of words used more often in crosswords than In real Life.

    4. If it helps – this stumped me a few months ago. But I saw it today and for once it immediately registered and was an instant write in. As Merlin has said, add it to those obscure words that only crop up in crosswords and never in every day conversations.

      Can you imagine asking a friend how their issues are getting on at school?

    5. It’s certainly not a way people would refer to children in everyday conversation, but if you look on the Wikipedia page for, say, Queen Victoria (or any other royal), in the panel on the right her children are listed under “Issue”.
  28. DNF DOMINEER as I was in a rush. Shd have put it to one side to try and solve later.
    POI ORAL as I carelessly wrote NARRATE wrong.
    Bottom half easier than top but enjoyed it – not tooo difficult.
    No problem with EMOTICON in the QC though cannot always translate IRL.😯

    Thanks, Chris, and everyone.

  29. I flew through this QC with only 6 minutes on the clock until I got to 9d. After jumbling the letters I came up with two choices EMOTICONS or ‘etomicons’. Fortunately I decided that the word was somehow related to ’emotions’ and ‘icons’ and on submission (7:34) looked up the difference between the more familiar emoji and emoticon. I also learned of a new definition i.e. a portmanteau! Thanks Tracy and Chris.
  30. Started well and faded towards the end, with wangle, emoticons, domineer and impala eluding me. However on reading this no qualms at all.
    Must do better
  31. By a call that we had to take so no time to share today. However, we thought it was a pretty meaty puzzle that was fun to solve in what would have probably been an average time. Thanks Tracy.

    FOI: Polish
    LOI: domineer
    COD: astute

    Thanks for the blog Chris.

    1. Ah – cryptus interruptus – a well known problem and an unenviable thing to occur (with apologies to any Latin scholars of whom I don’t count myself a member – obviously).

      Edited at 2021-01-05 09:17 pm (UTC)

  32. ….as I made short work of a puzzle that was maybe not as straightforward as I made it appear. There were certainly a couple of banana skins in there, especially EMOTICONS which might be obscure for some, and my COD which had a few false trails for the unwary to follow.

    TIME 3:16

  33. A comfortable 15 minute solve after yesterday’s horror show. A good crossword from Tracy with some smooth surfaces in the clues.

    FOI – 1ac WISDOM
    LOI – 12ac DOMINEER

    Thanks to Chris for the blog.

  34. Date: Tue, 5 Jan 21

    FOI: 20a HERE

    Clues solved with aids: 3

    Aids Used: Chambers Crossword Dictionary

    Total Answered: 26/26

    Time Taken: 1 hour+

    After BoJo putting a downer on it all and ordering another lockdown (we were in Tier 4 here anyway, so there’s not much difference really), I needed a cheery day, and Tracy gave it to me with my first QC completion of 2021.

    12a DOMINEER was my LOI and it took me a long time to get it, and that was only after using an aid. I was concentrating far too long on the assumption that One Taking an Active Part was the definition. It was not until my lightning-fast brain decided after an hour that, “Hey! Maybe the definition is at the other end of the clue!” Indeed, it was, but Chambers still had to give me a helping hand.

    21a MESH had me for a while too, and I still was not convinced with MSH when I entered it. I couldn’t see how it related to getting engaged or married. Yet because the clue parts seemed to point to MESH I put it in. Yay me!

    18a was my favourite clue, another one that my brain worked out without aids.

    I didn’t think I would finish it, but I persevered. I am definitely noticing that I am thinking cryptically now as I read the clues.

    1. Pull it all apart, look for the definition at one end or the other and try to fit it all back again – works about 90% of the time!
  35. Was fairly pleased with 25 minutes on the nose for solving this, but I now see that ranks as rather pedestrian even compared to those against whom I usually measure myself. My excuse is that I wasted a few minutes in the middle unsuccessfully trying to sort out the anagram of “economist” at 9d, when I got it straight away later when I had the checkers in place. Anyway, FOI 1a, LOI 15d, COD 21d Thanks Tracy and Chris
    1. Over the years there has been plenty of comment on how people giving times can be demotivating for beginners but your comment encapsulates exactly why we do. There really is no science (like sudoku) to say what’s easy/medium/hard.
  36. For what it’s worth Chris, this is an interesting example of how things go in cycles. Those of us using email in the 1980s on dial up connections with speeds measured in the hundreds of bits a second rather than millions adopted any way to reduce the length of messages, so 🙂 and LOL were useful tools. With the increased speed of connection they became less important until phones made them useful again to save typing/screen space, when of course that generation assumed they had invented them 🙂
    1. Only seems like yesterday I would click the dial up icon on some early version of Windows, and listen to the strange, electronic static as it connected at a not so fast speed of 12kbps…

      The thought of watching a downloaded film was just unimaginable.

    2. Back in those days I was working and attempting to contact back to U.K. using modems and very heavy laptops. No time for niceties – just lucky after an hour spent wrestling under tables in hotel rooms to get all the connections/modems working and download the latest emails. I did have one of the first ‘brick’ mobiles from work for overnight support. Never worked very well though. Not so happy or easy days compared to today.
  37. Well I don’t know what happened there …
    … but I submitted a comment and it vanished off the face of the earth – or at least off the blog. It wasn’t an earth shattering comment but I didn’t think it was that boring!

    Anyway, a pleasant 8 minute solve, all parsed, though LOI 13D Amethyst took a little while to understand how the clue was constructed. a very nice puzzle from Tracy, all fair.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

    1. Never boring Cedric – I think we have to accept ‘technical difficulties” – nothing like my struggles as mentioned in a post just above.
  38. Hi All. This is my 1st comment. I’ve dabbled with cryptics for a while but always given up too quickly to progress much. For the last few months I’ve been sticking with the Times QC and have made good progress. I generally fully complete the Monday to Wednesday puzzles, now, and get most of the way with the Thursday and Friday puzzles. I also have a go at Monday’s regular Cryptic and (I hope its not a sacrilege) Monday’s Telegraph cryptic.

    I don’t time myself as I tend to dip in and out during the day but I’d say today’s took me about an hour, maybe a bit less. FOI was BASIN and LOI was SPECIAL as I got hung up on SP being something to do with runners and riders and didn’t clock the anagram indicator. COD for me was DOMINEER.

    Future posts should be briefer, once I get with the commenting vocab.

    Thanks to both Chris and Tracy.

    1. I echo Templar’s welcome and I’m sure all contributors here have dipped into the Telegraph at times – it’s actually how I started off in my 20s. These days I find The Telegraph is still a great cryptic bit I don’t learn as much – I’m short on literature and history and a lot more. Don’t worry about brevity of posts – all are welcome.
  39. …..despite passing Mine through the mind at one point – so conceded at 30 minutes when I was on target for 20.
    I took ages to get Emoticons and carelessly entered Narates when of course Narrate was required. This took time to unlock – eventually Oral forcing the children.
    But an enjoyable experience!!!
    Thanks all
    John George
  40. A lovely anagram. Nice to see some newer words coming through, when did S.E.N cease to be a nurse for instance?
  41. Any fellow Gooners out there? 2dn was my COD for its surface and sentiment. Home in my target of 25 and judging by the usual suspects’ times this was the perfect QC.
    Thx Tracy and Chris. Johnny

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