Times Quick Cryptic 2012 by Mara


DNF, thanks to 11 Down (my parsing remains questionable).



1   Difficult situation spinners turned around (4)
SPOT = TOPS reversed

4   Display feathers in final confrontation (8)

8   Fine cooked meal, wicked! (8)
FIENDISH = anagram of FINE + DISH

9   Location: something we need to see, reportedly? (4)
SITE = homophone of SIGHT

10   Top actor knocking scoundrels over (4)
STAR = reversal of RATS

11   Street just containing area without corners (8)

12   Link in card game? (6)
BRIDGE = double definition

14   Country broadcasting serial (6)
ISRAEL = anagram of SERIAL

16   Breakfast time in prison (8)
PORRIDGE = double definition

18   Cry of huge animal that’s audible? (4)
WAIL = homophone of WHALE

19   Prediction by a Greek character (4)

20   Snail set off carrying load (8)
ESCARGOT = anagram of SET around CARGO

22   Lozenge in father’s drawer ending on tongue (8)
PASTILLE = PA’S + TILL + last letter of TONGUE

23   Eat less, digging in every Tuesday, initially (4)


2   Parent, I fancy, creative type (7)
PAINTER = anagram of PARENT I

3   Singer in choir, one tarted up (5)
TENOR = reversed hidden in CHOIR ONE TARTED

4   Runner cutting layer of tissue (3)
SKI = SKI{n}

5   If not white, rose replaced (9)

6   Idle person pinching one’s file (7)

7   Observe / item with a strap (5)
WATCH = double definition

11   Rush, better plant (9)
I guess as in, “Get better soon!” / “Get well soon!”? That’s the best I can do but others have suggestions in the comments.

13   Asleep, chap in Dortmund half gone (7)

15   Perfect example in English, very good book (7)

17   Musical work penned by bishop, erased (5)

18   Planet spun on axis, reportedly? (5)
WORLD = homophone of WHIRLED

21   Hint: / it’s a long stick (3)
CUE = double definition

68 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2012 by Mara”

  1. I raised my eyebrow a bit at WELL=better, but I suppose it’s good enough; I can’t think of anything else. 5:41.
  2. to get from Israel to L’Opera.

    Guys, well/better for an equivalence I was thinking of a skill-set, rather than one’s health.

    FOI 1ac SPOT

    LOI 9ac SITE

    COD 15dn EPITOME


    22 ac – when one sees Lozenge the answer is invariably PASTILLE or RHOMBOID.

      1. Rush=speed, well=better – are you well, are you better? Seems to work as a UK-er for someone who’s recovered from an illness.

        Edited at 2021-11-24 04:17 am (UTC)

      2. “Get well soon”. Cards saying that are very common in the UK. Lots of online retailers will be happy to sell you one!
        1. I feel you. And it must be what Mara intended. However, in my lexicon these are roughly equivalent sentiments but not equivalent words. Someone can be better but still not be well. (If they are “all better” or “better now”, that’s another story.)
          1. In this case the Australian usage is similar to that of the Brits. And that is that when we say someone’s “better”, we mean they’ve recovered.

            “We’ll catch up when you’re better” doesn’t mean when there’s been some incremental improvement in your condition, but when you’re fully recovered. Or at least up and about.

            Never really stopped to consider the subtlety of it before, so never hesitated over it during the solve. Interesting.

  3. “This time, at her second attempt, Carol managed it well!

    “This time, at her second attempt, Carol managed it better!”.

    Edited at 2021-11-24 06:15 am (UTC)

    1. In your second example, surely Carol has not “managed it” as successfully as in the first one.


      Edited at 2021-11-24 02:44 pm (UTC)

      1. Diana, As I have already stated this is nuanced; like a homophone it depends on who’s saying it.
  4. 7 minutes. I immediately assumed the same parsing of SPEEDWELL as Jeremy and didn’t think twice about it.
    1. Except that it is two discrete parts, not a single phrase like “Get well soon”—which “Speed well” wouldn’t mean at all. “Speed well, Michael Schumacher!”
      1. Perhaps I misunderstood what Jeremy meant. For clarity, I had SPEED (rush), WELL (better) as Chris has already posted with further explanation as to how better = well.
  5. I had to say WORLD a couple of times to check it really did sound like ‘whirled’ — it does, amazing! Took a while to see that ‘fine’ could be arranged as ‘fien’ so FIENDISH was slow and was slow to correctly lift and separate for OTHERWISE and WAIL. A 50/50 success rate for words only known from crosswords — SPEEDWELL went straight in but ‘pi’ for very good, despite its recent appearance, took its time to arrive, partly because because I read ‘good book’ as ‘good book’. Nine on the first pass of acrosses which is a lot for me, before fading to a still reasonable all green in 15.
  6. Much remiss of me I never stopped to parse 18dn! Thanks Jeremy and Mr. Mendezest for the 21dn

    On edit: it has been stated, not by me, that today’s 15×15 is a bit QC-Ish. Fancy a dip!?
    Come on in, the water’s lovely — especially if one is a ‘twitcher’!

    Edited at 2021-11-24 06:37 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the Biggie pointer: enjoying the tussle with the mucky nurses. Outcome still uncertain…
      1. I staggered through the 15×15 in 45 mins but can’t see that it was very QC-ish (apart from a small handful of clues). I biffed a lot (when crossers emerged) and then parsed. I had to google a couple of the words I came up with just to see if they were real (they were — and one was the sole ‘twitching’ reference). John.

        Edited at 2021-11-24 10:30 am (UTC)

        1. With Mr. SNITCH at 75 this was “a bit QC-ish”. And you were there in 45 minutes, which is decent enough!
          ‘It’s better to have tried and failed than never tried; you can rest easy knowing you gave it a go.’ Katherine Kelly

          Edited at 2021-11-24 11:37 am (UTC)

          1. A fair few blanks on my go at the biggie, but a good exercise in progressing from QC clues to something a bit more challenging.
  7. A nice crossword from Mara. I started off quickly but became a little stuck in the middle. 11a held me up for a while, but once that went in the remainder of the puzzle quickly followed.

    Not timed, but I think it was around the 40 minute mark.

    No aids.

  8. 15 mins but should have been much faster, with last two WAIL and WORLD taking too long.

    Not perfect=Pi again. Come on, setters, can we drop this one? Plenty of other ways to clue these two letters without harking back to SCR slang from the 1950s.

    COD ESCARGOT which might be a chestnut but still good. I was chasing down an anagram of “Snail set”

    1. Not really.. GOOD=PI, PERFECT=EPITOME.

      Agree that it should be retired but I guess it’s just too convenient.

  9. A gentle offering, but I didn’t think too hard about SPEEDWELL as it seemed close enough. It also helped that it’s one of those plants that appears so regularly. One day I’ll get round to googling it to see what it looks like as I only know it through crosswords.
    Only moderate hold up was LOI FIENDISH where, like Mendesest, I was slow to unravel the anagram of fine. Finished in 6.18.
    Thanks to Jeremy
  10. 18 mins, the last three spent on epitome. Thanks for the blog, Jeremy, and the puzzle, Mara.
  11. I shared many of Merlin’s points, above. In fact I could have written his post. A quick start and then rather slow progress for me, taking me 3 mins over target. I found OPERA rather well hidden and enjoyed DOSSIER and DORMANT. Good puzzle. Thanks to Mara and Jeremy. John M.
  12. The “pi” thing eludes me every time despite now having seen it often enough. Anyhow, about 25 mins pottering through, with snail-like progress over the non-anagram snail, and slow to see FIENDISH, but otherwise no significant problems. Didn’t see how PAINTER worked until the blog, I had PA + I so bunged it in from definition. The flower went straight in without much thought on the basis that it fitted the checkers I had and SPEED worked. Enjoyed it all.
  13. I SPOTted 1a straight away and kept going. BETA made me think a bit and was my LOI. 8:12. Thanks Mara and Jeremy.
  14. Earlyish attempt for me.

    No problems for me at all, top to bottom more or less.

    Favourites were PASTILLE and EPITOME, LOI was ESCARGOT — I had mentally pencilled it in, but couldn’t quite parse it, then the penny dropped. I just bunged in SPEEDWELL from the checkers, definition and “Rush” and moved on.


  15. Just like Oldblighter and Merlin, my last two in were the two slightly dodgy homophones, WORLD and WAIL giving an overall time of 11 minutes. Without them holding me up, it could have been a sub-10. I didn’t even quibble over the plant, usually flora are my bete noir, but well and better are reasonably synonymous to me, and SPEEDWELL is well known from crosswords. I thought OTHERWISE a nice clue and unusually for an anagram award that COD. Thanks Mara and Jeremy.
    1. I’m always on Rotter’s wavelength. I just take a bit longer. World and Wail were my last two in. Back in the days of Received Pronunciation there were fewer homophones. I think TV changed things a while back. J

  16. All correct, but took me a while with several interruptions over breakfast.
    Wordplay allowed you to construct the clues.
    Thanks to setter and blogger as always
  17. Started off slowly, although I saw 1ac straightaway, not getting too many in the top half. Accelerated once I tackled the down clues ending up in the NE corner, which held out the longest. SPEEDWELL went straight in without much pause for thought. Spent a little time trying to anagram “snail set” at 20ac until the crossers put paid to that. 16 mins in total with all parsed. Enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Mara and to Jeremy for the blog.

    FOI – 1ac SPOT
    LOI – 7dn WATCH
    COD – I loved 4ac SHOWDOWN, which made me chuckle once the penny dropped. 20ac ESCARGOT a close second.

  18. Quite tricky I thought. I could not parse PAINTER properly, so just went with it in the end. For me Get Well Soon is equivalent to Get Better Soon; so SPEEDWELL did not cause an issue.
    At 22a I wanted it to be PEARDROP just because I’d thought of the word; eventually proper parsing prevailed.
    LOI was EPITOME as I struggled to break down the elements without the checkers. COD to SHOWDOWN.
    Time 12:46.

  19. As I was off to a quick start with SPOT and SHOWDOWN I thought I’d change my usual approach to solving the QC (from checkers) and try all the across clues followed by the down clues. I’m not sure it was quicker but I’m happy with the 7:59 solve. Like others I finished with the WORLD and WAIL crossing. Absolutely no problem with SPEEDWELL, but as Chris commented, maybe it is a UK thing.
  20. pi?? For very good. Please can someone explain this to me? I guessed it had to be epitome, but still don’t get pi
    1. It’s used as a short form of pious, particularly in the sense of an affected piety, ie someone whose purported “goodness” might be considered insincere.

      Far more prominent in Crosswordland than in the real world.

      On edit: What Jack said.

      Edited at 2021-11-24 11:34 am (UTC)

    2. Pi is short for pious. Back in the 50s (and probably earlier and later too) pi was used to describe someone who was a bit too good to be true, sanctimonious even, so not complimentary! Hope that helps. It is an old fashioned term (as Merlin points out) but still common in crossword land!

      On edit: Crossed with Jack and Galspray

      Edited at 2021-11-24 11:40 am (UTC)

  21. … and all done in 8 minutes. Slight delay over 19A Beta (prediction = bet??), and small inner groan at my LOI 15D Epitome (as others have said, not Pi again), but otherwise no problems.

    The dangers of homophones well illustrated by Rotter’s querying WORLD/WHIRLED and WAIL/WHALE: for me (south London — sorry, Sarf London) these are pretty exact homophones, and while I know the sound of the letter R has many variations, I’m not sure how else one would pronounce Wail to not be the same as Whale. Can anyone enlighten me?

    Many thanks to Jeremy for the blog

    1. We scots tend to pronounce our aitches more emphatically. Whenever I suspect a homophone I immediately internally read the clue in a Michael Caine accent! Well it works for me!

      Edited at 2021-11-24 11:49 am (UTC)

      1. Thank you! Yes I think I have noticed this on my rare (and very enjoyable) trips to Scotland — when as hwen, for example. As I say, it shows the dangers of homophones!
  22. At one point during this puzzle I actually thought I was going to do another sub 10 mins solve. One is fairly rare, two in a row would be trebles all round and partying into the night.

    Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, although I was still pleased to complete it in 15 mins.

    I didn’t have an issue with 11dn “Speedwell”, but I did get a little bogged down on 18dn “World” and 18ac “Wail” ( which I initially thought was “Howl”). Enjoyed 4ac “Showdown”, 22ac “Pastille” and 6dn “Dossier”.

    FOI — 1ac “Spot”
    LOI — 6dn “Dossier”
    COD — 8ac “Fiendish” — fiendishly simple!

    Thanks as usual!

  23. Held up for a few seconds on the 18s. Whirled to me means spun on a varying axis – rather than what appeared to be a fixed one. My COD to 8ac Fiendish.
  24. ….had my SPEED not served me less than WELL in entering OTHERWISE, where I overwrote the first letter and had to back it out before I could enter FIENDISH. Had it been my LOI, there would have been a plethora of pinkos !

    TIME 3:53

  25. 4:24 this morning. Not too many problems in a fair QC from Mara.
    FOI 1 ac “spot” then a steady solve to LOI 8 ac “fiendish” which I didn’t get first time round
    COD 11 AC “straight”.
    Thanks to Jeremy and Mara.
  26. Yes, I also bunged howl in before wondering what I was doing 😅 I enjoyed this – another concise offering with some great surfaces from Mara, and another 8 minute finish for me. I don’t set a target and I try to fill in the grid neatly – I’ve had experiences before when I’ve scrawled in an answer and then have been unable to discern the letters! More haste, less speed(well) 😉
    FOI Spot
    LOI World
    COD Escargot, closely followed by WORLD
    Earworm of the day Showdown by ELO (particularly appropriate as an awful lot of rain is forecast!)
    Many thanks Mara and Jeremy

    I’d also recommend the biggie

  27. I faffed around for ages and gave up with 4 clues left (DOSSIER, WORLD, WAIL EPITOME), only to groan when I saw the answers. I must be in a dim mood today.
  28. Unfortunately, I never time myself or I might have managed a PB or close. All done and parsed in around 15 mins without resorting to aids. A bit of hesitation on BETA, like others, but there aren’t many 4 letter Greek characters. Otherwise, I found it a nice approachable QC. Nit sure I’m brave enough to attempt the biggie, though. Better to finish on a high!
  29. Solved anti-clockwise quite fast at first. OTHERWISE slightly slower on the FIENDISH SKI. Thought of Barley for 14 across but then Bali isn’t a country ( huge indignation all round, had that been the answer).
    Lots of biffing, I admit, so thanks for blog, Jeremy.
    Surprised anyone needs to plant SPEEDWELL – usually it just appears.
  30. 15 clues in 15 minutes to start with (a good pace for me), solving down the LHS and across from there.
    Then, zero progress for the next 10 minutes.
    OTHERWISE eventually came and I built on it, again at the rate of one clue per minute, until I was faced with E_I_O_E.
    Struggling to understand the clue I started an alphabet-trawl which, fairly quickly, turned up EPISODE. As this didn’t seem to parse fully (despite SOD = Shorter Oxford Dictionary), I continued trawling for a further 10 minutes … but without success. So, I stuck with EPISODE and recorded yet another DNF.
    Conclusion: an enjoyable workout, interrupted in the middle by an annoying brain freeze, and ending in disappointment.

    Fortunately, Mrs Random experienced no such frustrations, as she put down her pencil, all correct in just 18 minutes – once again escaping the SCC. She also knew which clue had caused my downfall, and what I had incorrectly entered, before I had uttered a single word about how I had done. How could she have known this? Actually, she seems to know all sorts of things about me that she can’t possibly know. She has me encircled, despite there being only one of her.

    Many thanks to Mara and Jeremy.

  31. Always read this blog but have never posted before.
    Just wanted to say that my earworm today is:

    “Rosetta, are you better?
    Are you well, well, well?”

    by Price & Fame.

    “Better” seems fine to me for “well”. However, I’m from Wales and “bad” for “ill” is frequently used there (as the old joke says, the Welsh degrees of “bad” are:
    “bad”, “worse”, “dead”).

    Thoroughly enjoyed the crossword (although still struggling to equate “till” with “drawer” in 22ac “pastille”; suspect I’m missing something obvious) and the blog, thank you both.

    Stone Rose

    1. Think of operating a cash till in a shop which could involve opening a drawer.
      Incidentally I read this blog for months without contributing and I can now say it’s fun to get involved actively . I recommend you give it a go!
      1. Likewise, although I lurked for years before joining in officially! Hope to see Stone Rose again soon 😊
      2. I wondered about the drawer contained in a till but couldn’t convince myself that it was right.
        Suspect I’m being too picky.

        Many thanks both for the till/drawer suggestion and for the encouragement to post 🙂

  32. EPITOME easy for a property lawyer trained in unregistered conveyancing. BETA from my Greek A-Level. WORLD from the place we live (enough already!)

    Also hesitated on WELL but not for v long

    Thanks all

  33. Looking in astonishment at all the quick results above, I wondered how much longer other people take. I took 48 min to finish, and even remembered PI. For some days now I have pondered over a benchmark and think 5 min will work. So I took more than 9x longer than 5 min today and I call that my index, GN9. A 60 min solve would be 12x, or a 20 min solve 4x but I have never got down to GN4, so far. Time will tell.
  34. As a relative newbie I thought this was a good test. Didn’t realise broadcasting was an anagram indicator — thought this was just for homophones. Another lesson learned! My times are embarrassingly slow but I’m gradually improving.
    1. No need to be embarrassed! Good news that you’re improving 😊 Most important though, I hope you’re enjoying having a go.
  35. A day late but better late than never…Pretty straightforward but fun puzzle — we finished in 9 minutes.


    Thanks Jeremy and Mara

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