Times Quick Cryptic 1986 by Mara

Another week, another QC blog. Today’s appears a bit easier than last week’s. I had unnecessary hold ups when I got entangled in 11dn and with LOI 7dn and still came 15 seconds inside 10 minutes. So a happy start to the day for me and I hope you have one too.

Harking back to last week – towards the end of the day our setter left a comment which you may have missed. I copy the clue in question and the comment in full (well nearly, my modesty prevents me from including a compliment on the blog) below. As it contains a clue and an answer I’ve included it hidden under the link below to the blog – someone may be planning to work back to that puzzle.

12 Being, swapping tips on Luger for this weapon? (6)

Sorry that some found one or two clues in this puzzle a little bit tricky for a QC, esp MORTAR. Was conscious that one might be and added “this” to try to make it fairly unambiguously clear the definition was a weapon. But maybe that was not quite enough. Hurley

Definitions are underlined, double definitions are DD.

1 Material dug the wrong way (5)
DENIM – dug (MINED) the wrong way round.
4 Chasing record, leftist gradually came to the point (7)
TAPERED – after (chasing) record (TAPE), leftist (RED).
8 Battered sword in house (7)
WINDSOR – anagram (battered) of SWORD IN.
9 Done, a Milanese dish? (5)
PASTA – done (PAST – all I can think of is past/done/beyond caring), a (A).
10 Tie game: would that be a letdown in medieval times? (10)
DRAWBRIDGE – tie (DRAW), game (BRIDGE). I liked the definition.
14 Crude trader I left in sultanate (6)
OILMAN – I (I) and left (L) inside sultanate (OMAN).
15 Street, a meeting place (6)
AVENUE – a (A), meeting place (VENUE). Seen this one before.
17 It’s for broken sink, primarily (5,2,3)
FIRST OF ALL – anagram (broken) of ITS FOR, then sink (FALL).
20 Time in New York, jangling (5)
TINNY – time (T), in (IN), New York (NY).
22 Friend covers it up after I copy someone (7)
IMITATE – friend (MATE) covers over it (IT)  all after I (I).
23 New Testament and Old Testament book written by first person, really (2,5)
IN TRUTH – New Testament (NT) and Old Testament book (RUTH) written beside first person (I).
24 Good considerable number work hard (5)
GRAFT – good (G), considerable number (RAFT).
1 Feathers on the floor? (4)
DOWN – on the ceiling would be up.
2 Number in hibernation in effect (4)
NINE – the answer is in hibernatio(N IN E)ffect.
3 Whipped cream isn’t for rascal (9)
MISCREANT – anagram (whipped) of CREAM ISNT.
4 Reportedly, seat of power discarded (6)
THROWN – homophone of throne.
5 What’s sparkling, daddy? (3)
6 Resort in desert for hotel guest (8)
RESIDENT – anagram (resort) of IN DESERT.
7 Measurement across tier made in error (8)
DIAMETER – anagram (in error) of TIER MADE. Lots of way to try to slice and dice this clue and it took me a while to see the correct intersections.
11 Offensive uprising (9)
REVOLTING – DD. I got tied up with revulsion until GRAFT cleared the way.
12 Union paper ripped up? (8)
CONFETTI – cryptic definition,
13 Wine bottles in for orchestra member (8)
CLARINET – wine (CLARET) bottles/holds in (IN).
16 Unfriendly: piscatorial? (6)
OFFISH – piscatorial is (OF FISH).
18 Long story a source of joy when upset (4)
SAGA – a (A) and source of joy (GAS) all upwards.
19 Felt wrong, not right! (4)
LEFT – anagram (wrong) of FELT.
21 Some way out for the solver (3)
YOU – some of the clue – wa(Y OU)t.

65 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1986 by Mara”

  1. Slowed down at a couple of points. It took me a moment to recall GRAFT–this isn’t in US English. REVOLTING took me a while, too. And I spent too much time thinking ‘time in New York’ meant N///Y. But it was RESIDENT that wasted the time; I just didn’t see the anagram (well, ‘resort’ is not the most obvious of anagrinds). 8:55.
    1. …or re-sort, as I (eventually) realised it should be read. But why RE-? Bit like a UK cabinet REshuffle, where I think the RE is meant to imply dynamism etc etc, rather than putting the same old tired faces in a slightly different order.

      Sorted, as my children might say. If not resorted.

  2. Not too much trouble today, though like Kevin I struggled with GRAFT, couldn’t get GRIND out of my head.

    A lot of standard crossword fare in here, but given that we keep coming back every day, that can’t be a bad thing.

    Thanks Chris and Mara.

  3. No worries over 28ac GRAFT, I grafted away pretty much top down (drop-head), so not particularly hard graft, unlike yesterday


    LOI 15ac AVENUE



    Today’s 15×15 is a bit of a challenge, unlike yesterday’s 67 on Mr. Snitch, but gained a record 131 comments! Fun stuff!

  4. 10 minutes with a little time lost over my last two in, IN TRUTH and CONFETTI (a great clue).
    1. Agree re CONFETTI. I already had the checkers in place so it was a bit of a write-in, but I recall thinking “ooh, that’s a good one”. Not sure I would have got it from scratch.
  5. Great big clunk as the penny dropped for both what “measurement across” was doing and that ‘in error’ was the anagrind. DIAMETER was LOI a shade under 13. Started relatively slowly with only four on the first pass of acrosses but nothing felt totally out of reach. Downs went better until the SE where I was slow to see almost all of them — giggled at OFFISH when that finally fell to open the rest up. Took a long time to get from ‘revolution’ to REVOLTING. Special mention for AVENUE for catching me out. A cracker. All green in 13.
  6. What on earth was this Mara? Usually I enjoy your puzzles and do very well with them. Today, most of the clues were utter gibberish to me. I got absolutely nowhere with this one. Did not enjoy it at all.
  7. A curate’s egg of a puzzle for me. I struggled with FIRST OF ALL and still cannot parse CONFETTI. Chris’ explanation of cryptic clue does not shed light for me. Union??
    No problem with GRAFT although I do find it irritating how “Raft of measures” has become Dominic Rabb’s catch phrase. Grasping at straws perhaps.
    JCOD OILMAN and IN TRUTH, very clever. Took 20 minutes roaming around the SW corner which took me to 42 mins between night and day. Thanks Mara and Chris.

    1. Most clues are in two parts. A cryptic definition is one where the whole clue is the definition, usually a “humorous” reference, as here, where union refers to marriage (at which ripped paper is thrown).


      1. Duh! Thanks Bob. Sometimes the penny won’t drop! I won’t bore you with all my interpretations of “union paper”.
  8. Where to start? I thought this was a cracking puzzle from Mara, and certainly don’t begrudge the extra three or four minutes in the SCC because of loi Drawbridge, given the size of my smile when it finally came — talk about hiding in plain sight. Quite a bit of quirky humour scattered around the grid, but the SW corner was a little gold mine, with Oilman, Clarinet, In Truth and CoD Confetti. Thank you Mara for the entertainment, and Chris for the succinct blog. Invariant

    Edited at 2021-10-19 08:25 am (UTC)

    1. Bit of a struggle. Pleased with self for finishing then forgot I hadn’t solved GRAFT, just scribbling in a bad guess.
      Liked DRAWBRIDGE, OFFISH, AVENUE, OILMAN among others. Last to crack was the SW corner. FoI DOWN.
      Thanks all, esp Don.

  9. must have added 15 seconds to my time. Also, stabbing myopically at my phone whilst semi horizontal on a Cretan beach is hardly conducive to super rapid solving.

    Nevertheless, it was a super puzzle, I particularly liked OFFISH, CONFETTI and IN TRUTH. CLARINET was my LOI.

    Seems I was on Mara’s wavelength, given comments so far.


            1. “an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud or pleased about”

              Ooh, I was a bit slow today, must be the fact I’m sitting by the crystal blue sea in the sun and not in an office, or at home staring at a screen…

  10. Mixed bag for us today. Some of the answers went straight in and others took a bit more work. Overall, an enjoyable solve and we finished in about 15 minutes (I say about because we had a number of interruptions and my time tracking may not have been perfect).


    Thanks Chris and Mara.

  11. Thought I was going for an under 10 minute solve, very quick for me, but was held up in the SW and NE corners. The down anagrinds were slow to come for the NE, and I wasn’t sure how In Truth worked until I saw the blog. In the end came in at around 15 minutes with a silky typo in confetti. I liked Offish and drawbridge.
    I recently saw Matilda the musical and there’s a great song in that about revolting children that riffs on the double meaning. It’s written by Tim Minchin the comedian and is well worth a watch if you have children/grandchildren.
    Thanks Chris & Mara.

  12. I started well and thought I was in for a quickie (apart from a couple of gaps) until I hit the SW. I shared most of the ‘hiccups’ described above including 11dn but I made that one even more difficult by writing 4dn as throne instead of THROWN in my haste (why?). It took a while to entangle and threw me from a quick finish into the SCC.
    A good puzzle with some very clever clues — I did not find ‘a lot of standard crossword fare’ (see above) but then I am not a whizz kid and I have a poor memory for previous clues. All my admired clues are listed by others above. An enjoyable outing. Thanks to Mara and Chris. John M.
    1. Think you’re referring to my comment, so let me clarify that I’m not a “whizz kid” either.

      I enjoyed the puzzle, apologies if my post implied otherwise.

      1. Don’t be modest. At 4.44 you are certainly a ‘whizz kid’! No shame in that. I wish I could have done it in twice or three times that. 😄😉

        Edited at 2021-10-19 11:37 am (UTC)

        1. Ha! Reminds me that when I first visited these pages I was constantly dropped off the back of the peleton. I guess you do pick up some tricks along the way though.

          I’d argue that everyone who posts here would be considered “very good at crosswords” by the general population. For instance, I bet you’re the fastest in your family!

            1. I don’t believe that Lord Galspray has met ‘The Fabulous’ Mrs. Random!
              When it comes to the QC I reckon I’m the fastest in the whole of China – on a good day! (Some boast! Ed!) However, when it comes to the 15×15, Lord Ulaca of Dumbell East, Hong Kong is top of the tree.
  13. 16 minutes, taken past my target by the clever IN TRUTH and CONFETTI pair which were LTI. I wondered if the orchestra member should be a CLARINETist, but reasoned that first clarinet was an ok alternative, so shrugged and moved on. Thanks Mara and Chris.
  14. 19:32 with LOI GRAFT. This last corner caused much trouble as I had TALE at 18d (for SAGA) with ELAT(ion) source of joy, which I thought fitted well. So was tempted by GREAT (Considerable number) and G+HOST. joy=GAS is ancient slang, surely time to retire that one.

    CONFETTI was tough, even with all checkers, kept trying to get “torn” or “rent” in backwards along with FT…


  15. A satisfying solve which left a feeling of deep contentment as I parsed almost everything as well, unusually for me. FOI imitate, so a slight worry, and only seven on first pass. Seemed to be heading for a DNF, then the clues I had solved started to illuminate the ones I hadn’t. LOI avenue.
    Confetti unparsed. Thanks, Chris, and Mara.
  16. ….although I slowed myself down by falling into Kevin’s N///Y trap, and didn’t escape until I got the excellent CONFETTI with the other three checkers in place.

    I found this to be not really any more difficult than Mara’s usual standard, so was very surprised by Poison Wyvern’s comments.

    TIME 4:26

    1. Dear PJ, I think those of us who are made to work very hard just to complete a QC without error, and who are absolutely delighted with any time under about 40 minutes are probably more susceptible to relatively small increases in difficulty by the setters. My guess is that when the going gets slightly tougher we are the first to fall by the wayside, whereas more experienced solvers may not really notice an extra 30 seconds or so on their time.

      I am with PW today, as I was forced to concede defeat after 76 minutes with two clues unsolved (Mrs R actually praised my “stickability”), and my records show that I have fared worse with Mara only twice in his 34 outings since I started this game.

      Whether more experienced or less experienced solvers are better weather vanes is an interesting debate, though.

      1. You make a very valid point Mr R.

        Given that I can finish in a touch over 3 minutes fairly often, this one is about 45% harder than that. Obviously it’s not that simplistic, but it is relevant.

        Your “stickability” is a gift that I’ve never possessed. For example, I gave up on the last 3 clues in yesterday’s Independent Cryptic and revealed them after almost half an hour (it was a “wavelength” issue, and I should have got 2 of them really — the remaining clue would never have occurred to me.)

        The point of doing cryptic crosswords is to stretch ones brain while being entertained, and the latter factor is most important to me. Once it becomes a chore, the puzzle gets abandoned.

      2. Very strange — I raced through most of this and then because on 20a trying N///Y just dnf. But I’d been heading for a PB of under 10 minutes. This wavelength business is odd. Mr PW sometimes slogs through and finishes an Orpheus that I will never finish and then he struggles with this.
        Sometimes down to external circumstances and ones mood.
      3. Dear Mr. R Chap,

        I fully appreciate and admire your stickability (being a fellow sufferer – I have printed 15x15s with me which can last for several days – very handy when Mrs CW ‘pops’ into a shop).

        Regards Mr. CW.

  17. I think there were a few chestnuts – I’ve certainly seen variations on AVENUE, DENIM, PASTA and DOWN before. But they didn’t spoil my enjoyment – in fact, they helped me on the way to finishing in 7 and a half minutes. As others have said, there was a lot of fun and humour here today, and there are ticks and smiles all over the place – too many to list! I thoroughly enjoyed this, so all in all A Good Day.
    FOI Denim
    LOI Oilman
    COD Resident
    TOD Windsor (my home town – it certainly made yesterday’s discussion on the other side about Bray and its restaurants entertaining for me! I remember the days before Heston B bought everything up. Now you can buy a very expensive meal but no milk, bread or newspaper in the village 🤨)

    Many thanks Mara and Chris

    Having just read horryd’s comment on today’s 15×15, I’m feeling somewhat apprehensive about tackling it. I think some tea and toast is in order to help gather my strength!

    1. Didn’t read that discussion – but as I used to work for a rather large energy company based in Windsor, we’d occasionally have a decent meal at The Hind’s Head. Never got to the Fat Duck though.
          1. Yes, at lunchtime. Not quite as scary as I imagined — just over half an hour with a couple of errors and one unfinished, so not too bad in the end!
  18. Looked really hard at first and I could only write in a couple of across answers at first look. Got a few down clues in quickly, though, and the rest followed with enough letters in to help solve the problems. Like others, I was looking for N—Y for 20 across, but saw the light when I got CONFETTI – the last 2 in. FIRST OF ALL took some thought, too – did not see SINK = FALL for a while.
  19. I really enjoyed this and it felt like my first decent solve in ages coming in at 19 mins. Mind you, 12dn “Confetti” nearly scuppered me what with thoughts of the TUC and various other organisations mining into my head (very much like yesterday’s Johnny Cash).

    Could have had quite a few COD’s today – with 4ac “Tapered”, 23ac “In Truth” and the beforementioned “Confetti” all coming close.

    Only question – is Windsor a style of house?

    FOI – 1dn “Down”
    LOI – 20ac “Tinny”
    COD – 10ac “Drawbridge” – just had to be…

    Thanks as usual!

  20. An excellent puzzle with lots to enjoy but the SW tied me in knots. I eventually resorted to taking a break and doing some work. When I came back my unconscious had clearly been busy as they all fell into place without to much trouble but with plenty of satisfying clangs as the pennies dropped. The key was looking past N_ _ _ Y at 20a.
    Crossed the line with LOI FIRST OF ALL with 14.45 on the clock, but not sure if it counts with a break being taken. I’m giving my CsOD to the whole SW corner.
    Thanks to Chris and Mara
  21. Mixed bag for us today. Some of the answers went straight in and others took a bit more work. Overall, an enjoyable solve and we finished in about 15 minutes (I say about because we had a number of interruptions and my time tracking may not have been perfect).


    Thanks Chris and Mara.

  22. Just come back to say that, apart from a couple of errors, I didn’t find the biggie too bad after all — maybe the tea and toast helped!
  23. Great puzzle over which I spent an enjoyable 18 mins. Some lovely clues (whether chestnuts or not). Took me a while to get started but after that everything followed on without too many pauses.

    FOI – 14ac OILMAN
    LOI – 12dn CONFETTI
    COD – 16dn OFFISH

    Thanks to Mara and Chris

  24. Highly enjoyable QC which I was please to complete a few minutes under my 20 mins target. Absolutely loved CLARINET for the use of ‘wine bottles’ in the clue. Beaten only by IN TRUTH as my COD for clever construction.

    Although I saw the answer immediately, I was not convinced by REVOLTING because the answer is the wring tense for the second part of the double definition. ‘Uprising’ would need to be written as ‘Rising Up’ to be a synonym of Revolting.

    Anyway, all good fun and thanks to Mara and to Chris for the blog.

  25. A smooth solve with just a small hold up at my LOI DIAMETER because I didn’t pick up on the anagrind. Lots of lovely cluing today with COD for me FIRST OF ALL. 7:11
  26. …as after yesterday’s failure, as a steady plod saw me home for this one in 12 minutes. Some quite tricky anagrams but fortunately they came surprisingly easily (and early) and that set me on my way. SW corner held out longest; like many I was looking for 20A to go N – – – Y. 12D Confetti a very nice clue and a nice PDM when I realised what the Union was.

    18D Saga — I know what is meant but just to observe that not all the original Icelandic sagas were long. Some are very snappy, more like short stories or even TV scripts, very dynamic and action-packed.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

    Edited at 2021-10-19 01:09 pm (UTC)

  27. I enjoyed 11dn the old Carry-On chestnut – ‘The peasants are revolting’ a la Syd James. I rather liked TINNY! But my COD has to be Graft as it’s meaning in my mother tongue is completely opposite to my father’s.

    Edited at 2021-10-19 01:46 pm (UTC)

  28. No great problems until we got to the sw corner where we stalled for some time. Refreshed our brains with a g and t, and finished quickly. Still do not like 8a, union and confetti, the conne tion seems a bit remote, although the second half of the clue was clear.
    1. G&Ts whilst QCing – luxury indeed and, arguably, appropriate for a crossword – but a glass of champagne for a wedding where torn paper is thrown sounds even better. Cheers!
  29. I usually find Mara one of the more approachable setters (as far as I find any QC approachable, that is!), but today’s offering by Mara defeated me.

    I struggled even to get my first clue on the board, but then made steady-ish progress until about the half-way point. At this stage, the SW and SE corners were mostly unpopulated, and several other clues dotted about the grid were unsolved or only in faintly. There followed long barren periods, followed by quick bursts until I was left with 18d (SAGA) and 24a (GRAFT).

    Unfortunately, no amount of alphabet-trawling, nor many different ways of reading the clues succeeded in unearthing the solutions, so I gave up after 76 minutes. My first DNF for more than three weeks, which says a lot, given that I struggled to solve two in a row a year and a bit ago.

    Mrs Random, on the other hand, experienced no such frustrations and she finished unscathed in 37 minutes – quite slow for her, but she wasn’t in any rush today.

    Many thanks to Mara and chrisw91

  30. As mentioned above somewhere I absolutely raced through most and was on for a first sub-10 minutes when I ground to a halt in the SW corner.
    Tinny undid me — looking for N///Y and not resolving that and thinking that Confetti was to be a word outside of my vocabulary.

    So ended up as a DNF with these two and Clarinet undone — like Rotter I was expecting the orchestra member to end ‘ist’

    But COD to Confetti for deceiving me.

    And a MER at Tinny for undoing me! Drat.

    Thanks all

    John George

  31. A really enjoyable puzzle from Mara today, with a good mix of clues and various red herrings, but nothing too frustrating. FOI PASTA, LOI with a great PDM DIAMETER. Difficult to choose a COD, but as I don’t remember anyone mentioning FIRST OF ALL, I’ll go for that. Time 25:25. Thanks Mara and Chris.
  32. The top half flew in letting me think a good time was on the way. In fact the bottom half flew in too. The problem was the 10 minutes in the middle. Only when confetti clicked did the rest fall into place.
  33. As mentioned above – you have my admiration for commitment and attitude – which will, at some stage, raise you up to Mrs. R levels of achievement (although she may be in the sub 5 mins bracket by then?).

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