Times Quick Cryptic 1967 by Izetti

A fairly difficult puzzle that pushed me comfortably over my target time. I couldn’t see the setter’s name when I solved it (on my phone), and wouldn’t have guessed – it seemed to lack his usual sparkle. Perhaps I’m just grumpy at being beaten…

Definitions underlined.

1 Most desperate little daughter, one needing repose (6)
DIREST – D (abbreviation for (little) daughter), I (one), and REST (repose).
4 Jumped up seconds before accident (6)
SPRANG – S (seconds) before PRANG (accident).
8 One fighting hard, someone at crease collecting half-century (7)
BATTLER – BATTER (someone at crease) containing (collecting) L (fifty, half-century).
10 Short extract from writer’s exposition (5)
TERSE – hidden in (extract from) wriTER’S Exposition.
11 As famous mother-in-law, I grumble the wrong way (5)
NAOMI – I MOAN (I grumble) reversed (the wrong way). I didn’t know this biblical reference, so waited until I had all the checkers before putting in the obvious (from wordplay) answer. Book of Ruth.
12 Clutched dog’s tail, having got irritated (7)
GRASPED – last letter of (..’s tail) doG, with (having got) RASPED (irritated). Not the first synonym to come to mind, so this one held me up too.
13 Unwelcome guests maybe when gate-crashing different parties (9)
PARASITES – AS (when) contained by (gatecrashing) an anagram of (different) PARTIES. Pick of the bunch, for me – COD.
17 Financial protector of home having less doubt (7)
INSURER – IN (home) and SURER (having less doubt).
19 Help a troubled character abroad (5)
ALEPH – anagram of (troubled) HELP A. I actually put ‘alpha’ in first, because I can’t (be bothered to) read sometimes. First letter of the Phonoecian alphabet, amongst others.
20 Support trendy person with mental ability (5)
BRAIN – BRA (support) and IN (trendy).
21 Rake gathering money in practice (7)
ROUTINE – ROUÉ (rake)containing (gathering) TIN (money).
22 News cut by half editor repeatedly called for (6)
NEEDED – first half of (cut by half) NEws, then ED (editor) and ED again (repeatedly).
23 Controlled what monarch did, reportedly (6)
REINED – sounds like (reportedly) “reigned” (what monarch did).

1 Expose girl coming out to meet headless macho man (6)
DEBUNK – DEB (debutante, girl coming out) and all-but-the-first letter from (headless) hUNK (macho man).
2 Greasiest fop about to hold a significant birthday ceremony? (4,2,7)
RITE OF PASSAGE – anagram of (about) GREASIEST FOP, containing (to hold) A. Great anagram, great srface, nice clue.
3 Tommy betrayed? That is right (7)
SOLDIER – SOLD (betrayed), IE (that is), and R (right). As in sold out?
5 Favourite artist in historic city (5)
PETRA – PET (favourite) and RA (Royal Academician, artist).
6 Relaxing OAP is ponderer thinking of nothing in particular (1,6,2,4)
À PROPOS DE RIEN – anagram of (relaxing) OAP IS PONDERER. I did not know this French phrase, but luckily had heard the recurring Stewart Lee / Richard Herring exclamation, “apropos of nothing”. I had thought it came from Latin. Still don’t really get the joke…
7 Wanting to eat grass? Empty Guernsey would eat it (6)
GREEDY – REED (grass) contained by the first and last letters of (empty) GuernseY.
9 Official getting entire gist: rarely only partially (9)
REGISTRAR – hidden in (only partially) entiRE GIST RARely.
14 Speak unfavourably about traffic outside fronts of university colleges (7)
TRADUCE – TRADE (traffic) containing (outside) first letters (fronts) from University and Colleges.
15 Ape a famous historian (6)
GIBBON – double definition. Another I didn’t know. Edward, 18th century MP and historian.
16 Train of thought in the advertisement ensnaring customer finally (6)
THREAD – THE and AD (advertisement) containing (ensnaring) the last letter of (finally) customeR.
18 Compass for the mountains? (5)
RANGE – double definition. Yet another I had to guess at, or more accurately, just use one of the definitions. ‘Compass’ is the range of pitch achievable by an instrument.

66 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1967 by Izetti”

  1. Like William, I flung in ALPHA; that meant the 3d word in 6d was UP, and that meant that I had a lot of work to do, especially as I didn’t expect a French phrase–I knew it, but have never come across it in English. Seems a bit inappropriate for a QC. Gibbon, of course, is the author of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. The Duke of Gloucester famously said to him when Vol. 1 came out, ‘Another damn’d thick, square book! Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?’ 7:25.
  2. Made life hard for myself by making the same mistake twice, reversing the i and e in SOLDIER and then the other way in rien. That left me with difficult spaces to fill until I saw what I’d done. Obviously a good day for typos because I still ended up with a pink square for ‘traduee’ — can’t even type initials in properly. I was surprised when the French phrase emerged from the anagrist, I’d never heard it like that and it took a long time for ‘hunk’ to arrive. Thought of ‘I moan’ almost immediately and should have written in down because when reversed it didn’t seem to be much in my mind so I moved on — I’d have denied knowing NAOMI before but she does ring a vague bell now William mentions it. Five on the first pass of acrosses, mostly at the bottom, on the way to a 17m solve with that pink square.
  3. I think I solved this in 8 minutes, though it may have been 7. The biggest mystery is how I manage to have lost my QC printout between solving it at bedtime and this morning.

    I’ve met “a propos of nothing’ many a time – nothing to do with Lee and Herring – but I don’t recall coming across the whole expression in French in an English context before.

      1. I’ve just found it almost completely hidden on the floor underneath the bottom shelf of my computer desk! I think it must have been blown off the top surface by the fan in close proximity. Unfortunately it reveals that I claimed too fast a solving time when I posted earlier and I actually needed 11 minutes to complete the grid, missing my target by 1 minute.
  4. Eventually got a toe in down the RHS but then struggled to get much more of a foot in as I circled around the grid. No problem with the French but poor finger accuracy made a hard puzzle even harder. Remembered TIN for once and GIBBON LOI although never knew it.
    42 mins and not very satisfying for me.
    Thanks Izetti for pushing the scale of difficulty and William for the elegant insight.
  5. Can’t agree with our esteemed blogger about lack of sparkle – I thought this was Izetti on classic form, with lots of quirky imagination.

    It was a bit of a foxtrot “quick quick slow” puzzle for me, with clues falling in bunches and then long pauses while I wrestled. Great fun. Sneaky to use the French though!

    FOI DIREST, LOI GREEDY, COD GIBBON because it made me chuckle, time 09:32 for 1.3K and a Pretty Good Day.

    Many thanks Don and William.


  6. Agree this didn’t seem vintage Izetti. All the left side completed with only 3 on the right, then battled through with 6D last in by a long way. Took some time to give up on English but with “-e” as the third word, the options were negligible. As above, a propos of nothing was in my vocabulary but I have never used this version, but with all checkers in place, it was all one could do with the letters available.
    Liked DEBUNK and PARASITES. Time, substantial.
  7. ….but I’m afraid this was way too tough for a QC. I solved it within my target, but my heart goes out to SCC members. A PROPOS DE RIEN would be a difficult answer in a 15×15, but an obscure phrase in a foreign language clued as an anagram ? Not impressed. “The rose red city twice as old as time” could be beyond the ken of some regulars here, as could Edward GIBBON. I enjoyed it, but I suspect I’ll be in the minority.

    TIME 4:32

  8. Slow going today, not helped by needing all the checkers for both of the long anagrams. Managed to avoid the ALPHA trap, despite it being my first thought and assumed that the unknown (or forgotten) NAOMI was biblical having seen who the setter was. I briefly wondered if BLATTER was a word before the more obvious answer revealed itself.
    Finished in 13.06 with a half unparsed RANGE. Lots of good clues including SPRANG, GIBBON and PARASITES.
    Thanks to William
  9. 🙂

    Because I didn’t think for a minute it would be a French phrase. A PROPOS DE RIEN took me from a respectable 8 ish to a distinctly stodgy 10:46.

    Definitely on the harder side I thought, but it was only really the French phrase as an anagram that was a bit much.

  10. I think that this was much too difficult for a QC. I didn’t have the required knowledge so all the checkers were necessary for GIBBON, relied on the word play for NAOMI and guessed ALEPH. I had to juggle the letters for my LOI A PROPOS DE RIEN which took me well over my target 12:54.

    Edited at 2021-09-22 08:19 am (UTC)

    1. You did just great! – beat me by over five seconds and I’ve been round the block a few times, parler le francais and know that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, Roman nor an Empire. Bike on Dude! Meldrew
    2. NAOMI, however else it’s clued, usually involves “I moan” reversed. A genuine chestnut.
  11. FOI 1ac DIREST

    LOI 15½dn DE RIEN – it was a nothing-burger


    WOD 15dn GIBBON – I own quite a rare book, Stanley Stamps Book of Gibbons (Calvert & Miller, 1970)

    Do not attempt the 15×15 today – it’s ‘a Mephisto’ in disguise.

    1. A little unkind on the 15×15. It’s certainly tough, but not insurmountably so. I finished in just under 15 minutes, but Verlaine has an error….

  12. Too difficult for me, even with DW’s help. We got there at last, but it wasn’t a worthwhile struggle I felt.

    Should have got Petra more quickly, as I’ve come across pet=favourite and artist = RA before.

    The French phrase was not one either of us had come across before, which meant it was just annoying, rather than amusing.

  13. Another sojourn in the SCC, but pleased to get it done. A PROPOS DE RIEN, is a phrase I’ve never heard of although as noted above the -E two letter word with those letters indicated a likely French phrase.

    Knew ALEPH, as a type of infinity in Maths. It appears in “ Mathematics and the Imagination” a book I came across at junior school. Also the book that first defined a “googol”.

    I’ve never heard rasped=irritated, so that held up that corner.


  14. FOI BATTLER, then RITE OF PASSAGE and REINED, then mostly slowed to a crawl, before GIBBON and DIREST came to mind. Biffed ALEPH towards the end.
    I do speak French so finally solved A PROPOS DE RIEN but have never heard it said in the UK.
    Was about to throw in the towel when I got NAOMI (POI) who was the mother in law of Ruth, she of the alien corn. LOI DEBUNK.
    I would never have begun to solve this two years ago, so, yes, too difficult for newcomers.
    Um, liked REGISTRAR, PARASITES, aforesaid GIBBON, SPRANG, THREAD. Visited lovely PETRA so also liked that one.
    Thanks vm, William.

    Edited at 2021-09-22 09:04 am (UTC)

      1. These days it is sometimes easier to remember Bible stories from my childhood than where I left my glasses this morning.
        Ruth is also mentioned in Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale ( just checked).

        Edited at 2021-09-22 10:17 am (UTC)

  15. Unlike others I thought this was quite typical Izetti full of good clues. The GK is typically a little challenging, but I knew all of NAOMI, GIBBON, PETRA and ALEPH. I was a little taken aback by APROPOS DE RIEN, though, my LOI with a double exclamation mark by the clue. 4:50.
  16. Did the left half very quickly, but got stuck in the SE corner. LOI was ROUTINE, which took a break and a coffee to finally dawn on me.
    Nice puzzle from the setter
    Thanks for the blog
  17. I think that makes two days running at two minutes over target, 17 minutes. I agree that this was tougher, but disagree with those that thought the Don’s standards had slipped. I really enjoyed the challenge contained in this puzzle. My LOI was actually REINED, although I thought of REIGNED as soon as I read the clue, just didn’t think of its homonym for a while. I spent too long trying to think of a three-letter ancient city in which to place RA in 5d. Otherwise, it was all fair and up to scratch. I’ve never heard the French expression, but found it easy enough to deduce. Thanks both.
  18. I think Izetti forgot his brief. Too many obscure references. I suppose you have to have bad ones to have good ones!
  19. Back to nearly twenty minutes today, eighteen to be precise. FOI terse, only five on first pass, almost in 15 x 15 mode, then the clues in started to help the solve. The one that held me up was debunk (LOI). I had to do an alphabet trawl on the last letter but got there in the end. Didn’t parse direst or get rasped as irritated. I’ve been to Petra, have the complete set of Gibbon (have read half the first volume, must get a round tuit), and dug Naomi out of the recesses. Only know aleph from crosswords, not the whole alphabet it belongs to. COD rite of passage. A long solve, but enjoyable, needing some rumination.
    Thanks, William, and Izetti. GW.
    1. A jobbing knowledge of foreign alphabets is priceless when playing Scrabble-type word games. ALEPH is followed by a random girl (Beth) for example.
  20. I thought this was much too hard for a QC. Obscure french phrases and biblical names. I generally don’t like izetti puzzles as he definitely has no interest in encouraging those of us new to this game, but today he surpassed himself in setting this puzzle. I very much doubt that anyone new to puzzles in the last 6 months will have come close to solving this.

    Roll on tomorrow


  21. So stretching and twisting the English language into almost unsolvable clues is not enough now for setters of the QCs.

    Now we are to have obscure French phrases as well !

    All I can say to Izetti is : Va-t’en !

  22. I found this very challenging.
    Didn’t help I had not heard of ‘prang’, nor thought of a ‘roue’, nor thought of ‘Naomi’, nor heard of ‘Gibbon’, nor….

    I’d still like to understand whether a Quick Cryptic is ‘quick’ because it’s shorter than the regular Cryptic or because it’s meant to be easier?

    After a good few days I felt quite stumped today!

    1. What Vinyl said. I’ve never done a 15×15 quicker than a QC.

      If you want to, have the time, and have the app, rather than being a paper solver, have a go at Monday and Tuesday’s 15×15. They were both on the easy side. Today took me just over 15 mins. Should be a good way to see tge difference in level. Once the difficulty ramps up on the main puzzle, I’m up to an hour, or DNF.

      Today’s QC was a mini “easier” 15×15 if you see what I mean.

      You have to fail to learn, do lots of puzzles, remember a few standard bits of crosswordese, ignore the surface (but admire it afterwards if it’s a good one), and ultimately it is only a pastime!

      Edited at 2021-09-22 03:24 pm (UTC)

  23. I think we’ve been posting here for about 18 months and this is the first time we have to admit defeat. It took us 2 sittings, lots of false starts and at least an hour before we eventually finished after having looked up A PROPOS DE RIEN. We knew it was an anagram but didn’t imagine the answer would be in French! Oh well, we look forward to our next encounter with Izetti — we will do better!

    Thanks to Izetti and William.

    Edited at 2021-09-22 02:49 pm (UTC)

  24. I knew all the GK and even recognised some of the clues (I MOAN backwards) but still took me a well above average time so tend to agree with Phil on this one.

    Like others didn’t know the full French phrase but realised what was going on eventually

    Lots to like though with the usual smooth surfaces.

    And how does he keep finding these long original anagrams?

    Thanks William and Izetti

  25. Failed today. NAOMI reference unknown)& GIBBON (known but did not come to mind) my downfall and had to look up ALEPH (NHO). A hard puzzle.
  26. It took me quite a while to write my first answer in, but then it went in reasonably smoothly, so my time wasn’t far above my average. An enjoyable challenge for me.

    Edited at 2021-09-22 01:09 pm (UTC)

  27. 5:28 this afternoon. I thought this was another enjoyable QC from Don, although I accept that having the relevant elements of GK to hand undoubtedly helped.
    FOI 15 d “gibbon” and fortunately no decline or fall thereafter. LOI 1 d “debunk” simply because I’d nearly forgotten about it.
    POI and COD 6 d “A Propos de Rien” where I was about to write out the anagrist until I realised that the second word ending in “s”, after a first word of “a”, could imply a phrase in yer actual french, and so it proved.
    Thanks to William and Izetti.
  28. I’m glad others found this difficult as I seriously thought I was having some brain issue — especially the SE corner and 6dn. After 30 mins I still had a significant amount of these clues left to solve and ended up abandoning them frustrated.

    When reading the blog I neatly spat out my coffee when I saw the answer to 6dn — wouldn’t have got that in a million years. Like many I also nearly biffed “Alpha” for 19a but couldn’t see how it worked with the anagram — obviously I need to brush up on my rusty Phoenician.

    I know there is the debate that the QC shouldn’t mean easy (and I agree with that) — but it also shouldn’t mean a hard mini 15×15. Convinced if there was a snitch scale this would be deep red.

    FOI — 4ac “Sprang”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — can’t think of one…

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Aleph is also the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Much more mainstream than Phoenician…
      1. I can just about cope with the Greek one, and that’s down to my study of Maths, not Classics. Think I’ll give Hebrew a miss.
  29. Even knowing most of the GK …
    … such as Gibbon, Naomi, Aleph and Petra (which I have been to — it is genuinely as good as the hype), this was a challenge, which took me 15 minutes to complete. I find Izetti’s puzzles usually take time and careful attention, but this felt a bit more of a tough nut than most.

    Surprised to a genuine French expression in a Times crossword, though having got À Propos, the “de rien” bit followed easily enough.

    LOI 1D Debunk — even with DEB-N- i puzzled over it for some time. For a long time the only word that came was Debone, and I was fairly sure that wasn’t right.

    Many thanks to William for the blog

  30. NHO the Phoenician character, but got ALEPH.
    NHO the (famous?) historian, but got GIBBON.
    NHO the biblical mother-in-law, but got NAOMI.
    NHO the historic city, but got PETRA.
    So, now only my carefully constructed Latin phrase (A PROPOS RE DIEN) to verify for a very hard-earned successful completion in 43 minutes. But, hang on, what do I see? The wretched phrase is French, not Latin, so the whole effort has to go down in my records as a lame DNF. I’m gutted!

    Mrs Random, of course, speaks French and finished in 32 minutes. As usual, that’s 3-0 to her so far this week. It’s looking bleak for me.

    Many thanks to Izetti and William.

    1. You have some very strict rules for what constitutes a DNF, Mr Randomchap. That was a genuinely tough puzzle and the fact that you completed it at all is a good effort as far as I’m concerned. It would certainly have been way beyond me when I was at a similar stage of my QC ‘career’.
  31. I came to this after 5 o’clock and it was a disaster. I did most of it without any big issues (just the odd raised eyebrow) but came to grief in the NE. I worked out that it was the fault of an error with 10ac. I bunged in ‘tract’ since it is a shortened (ex)tract and seemed to fit the definition of tract as a ‘writer’s exposition’. Obviously this made 6d and 7d completely impossible.
    I didn’t think that my error was so bad (even though the hidden should have been obvious). I worked out A PROPOS DE RIEN, removed ‘tract’ and finished. I can’t blame Izetti for my performance but I did think this was beyond acceptable for a supposed QC. Just too clever in parts for a ‘quickie’. Thanks to William for doing a good job. John M.
  32. I solved this after golf, not that quickly.
    A high quality, difficult QC. Every so often Don teaches us some new words and phrases and I think the best advice is to learn them for when they come up again.
  33. General Knowledge is rather important in the QC, as it is often at a slightly higher percentage than in the 15×15. Today one sixth of the clues required GK. 11ac, 19ac, 5dn & 15dn. That’s 16.67% – 20% is often reached.

    Never stop reading – anything! You will progress. I often do the Monday GK for a warm-up. COD ALEPH.

  34. I did this earlier today, and have to say it came within a whisker of being a DNF. Not only did I bung in Alpha, which messed up the SE corner before I spotted my mistake, but I spent ages on loi 21ac, Routine. As usual when I really struggle with a clue it was a wrong end issue. The towel was speeding towards the ring before a massive pdm prompted Routine for practice. About 30mins in all, most of them jolly, with a smile at 6d. Stiff but fair, as ever with Don. Invariant
  35. Missed out on debunk and gibbon but even getting that far took me over 30 minutes. At least I figured out a propos de rein.
  36. Not a happy bunny today. I was going great guns at first and got all the way to 21a before getting my FONI. The last two acrosses also went in straight away and I thought I was on for a great time. I didn’t get DEBUNK straight off admittedly, but it went in when I came back to it and somehow even TRADUCE came to mind immediately, perhaps because I remembered being completely stumped by the unknown word very early in my crossword career a few years ago. Basically, by 13 minutes, I had everything apart from 21a and 6d. ROUTINE went in in short order since I’ve seen roue = rake a couple of times recently and that just left 6d. I assumed it was a Latin phrase I hadn’t heard of, but somehow to find it is French is even more frustrating. I thought these crosswords were supposed to be in English. I did almost work out the correct answer after 25 minutes (I forgot to count my Es and Os and put PREPOS instead of PROPOS) but it was a guess. If you’re going to put an obscure foreign phrase in a crossword, why clue it with an anagram? I’m sure Izetti could easily have come up with an inventive clue involving an oversize supporter with the queen and I in a hole, or something. Thanks anyway Izetti and, of course, William.
  37. Did it, finished it, can’t say I loved it — and, despite the tricksy nature of his puzzles, I usually love an Izetti. I had a very similar experience to Cedric, even down to the debone / DEBUNK options, but took a minute longer. In fact, I spent four minutes on POI and what I thought was my LOI — 12a and 6d. Then I discovered that I hadn’t solved 1d — what a performance! I knew A PROPOS but didn’t remember the second part of the phrase. As I finally filled it in, I thought there are going to be some comments about this one 😅 No probs with the rest of the GK.
    FOI Direst
    LOI Debunk
    COD Parasites
    Thanks Izetti and William
  38. But still DNF today — exceedingly tricky! I do know french so kicking myself that I didn’t work out A PROPOS DE RIEN. I just wasn’t expecting a french phrase — I won’t make that mistake again! Other clues unanswered included GIBBON and GRASPED. Took a long time over DEBUNK but this was nonetheless my COD. I did enjoy the process despite being rather stumped by some of the clues. More practice clearly required. Many thanks Izetti and William.
  39. DNF for me today. I had the letters for Aleph but didn’t know the word. Learned something.

    Never heard of ‘roue’ for a rake meaning person of immoral character. It’s a dated French word – does it really belong in a crossword.

    ‘Hunk’ clued as ‘macho man’? ‘Rasped’ clued as ‘irritated’? I have to say I didn’t enjoy this one which I don’t remember ever thinking about a QC before even when I haven’t finished them. There was just something odd about it all.

    Hey ho, thanks anyway to Izetti as I do appreciate how long this must have taken to produce, and thanks for the blog as always.

  40. Slow time – but all correct. I tackled this at the start of the day but cannot recall what was FOI and LOI. Although disappointed with the time on completion, It was only the A PROPOS DE RIEN that caused the delay. Thank you to william-j-s and Izetti.

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