Times Quick Cryptic 2031 by Tracy

A gentle one from Tracy today which seemed something of a relief after last week. Zoomed through in 8:30 so I expect the value of K today to be very small. The presence of a J, K, Q and Z made me have a quick but unsuccessful check for a pangram.

Definitions are underlined.

1 Letter from Greece written by an old music producer (5)
PIANO – letter from Greece (PI) beside an (AN) and old (O).
4 Caretaker‘s rent reduced on New Year’s Day (7)
JANITOR – rent reduced (TOR)n after New Year’s Day. (JAN I).
8 Large landed properties in European countries (7)
ESTATES – European (E), countries (STATES).
9 All right to go in for every game (5)
POKER – all right (OK) inside for every (PER).
10 Far superior ways associated with a school principal (7,5)
STREETS AHEAD – ways (STREETS) with a (A) and school principal (HEAD).
12 Definitely not included in declaration of earnings (2,4)
NO FEAR – included in declaratio(N OF EAR)nings.
13 Decree, one in Jordan judge disregarded (6)
ORDAIN – one (I) inside j(ORDAN) – with judge – J disregarded. Ordain as in decree/appoint/predestine irrevocably.
16 UK releases my suspect, a political refugee (6,6)
ASYLUM SEEKER – anagram (suspect) of UK RELEASES MY.
18 Indicate fielding position (5)
POINT – double definition – as in a signpost and a fielder square of the wicket on the offside.
20 Pinch milk (7)
SQUEEZE – double definition and my LOI – the Q and Z being in unchers meant it didn’t leap out.
21 Drank a rum after initially taking pot (7)
TANKARD – anagram (rum) of DRANK A after (T)aking.
22 Smart tyrant abroad getting rid of leader of rebellion (5)
NATTY – anagram (abroad) of TYrANT – without (R)ebellion.
1 Persons working keep going (5,2)
PRESS ON – anagram (working) of PERSONS.
2 An affair those compromised, somehow or another (5,1,7)
AFTER A FASHION – anagram (compromised) of AN AFFAIR THOSE.
3 Informed about article ahead of social event (2,3,4)
ON THE BALL – about (ON), article (THE) ahead of social event (BALL).
4 Precisely in that way, I agree (4,2)
JUST SO – double definition.
5 Short sleep in between, a priority (3)
NAP – in betwee(N A P)riority.
6 Become less active in ancestral home after shock (4,1,4,4)
TAKE A BACK SEAT – ancestral home (SEAT) after shock (TAKE ABACK).
7 Uncommon poison copper overlooked (4)
RARE – poison cu(RARE) – with no copper (CU). Curare is a black resin used medicinally as a muscle relaxant and for poison tipped arrows.
11 Clown in RU team, second to be dismissed (9)
HARLEQUIN – the Rugby Union team is (HARLEQUIN)s – with second (S) being dismissed. They play at the Twickenham Stoop.
14 Garden centre in northern Surrey, refurbished (7)
NURSERY – northern (N), anagram (refurbished) of SURREY.
15 Entertained, in the morning, American editor (6)
AMUSED – the morning (AM), American (US), editor (ED).
17 Notice caps raised (4)
SPOT – caps – tops – upwards (SPOT).
19 Drink with group of players no end (3)
TEA – group of players (TEA)m – no last letter.

70 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2031 by Tracy”

  1. Fortunately, I’ve finally come to understand what NO FEAR means; it took a while. Also lucky to have come across STREETS AHEAD here. Under my 6′ goal for the first time in a while at 5:58.
  2. 8 minutes. I was also considering a pangram but I couldn’t remember an X so I looked for that first.
  3. l nipped through this in 6:45 minutes.

    FOI 1ac PIANO

    LOI 13ac ORDAIN



    I forgot to buy an Advent Calendar! Difficult to find in Shanghai!

  4. A nice little puzzle. However, I do often wonder how much our female solvers are taken into account with the frequency of answers like ‘Harlequin’ and ‘Point’. If you’re not a rugby, cricketing kind of chap these put you at a distinct disadvantage. Setters never seem to reference female dominated sports. Or maybe girls just don’t do cryptic.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 07:05 am (UTC)

    1. What about men who are not rugby or cricket fans? There are female fans of these sports you know.
      1. More to the POINT, how many solvers outside the UK know of Rugby Union club sides ? I’ve half a mind to clue Sale Sharks in a future Weekend Special….
    2. Mm, not sure about that. I’m certainly interested in most sports as are most of my female acquaintances. In contrast, Steed has only learned cricketing terminology since he became a crossword solver.
    3. As a female not particularly interested in either of those sports, I concur. Although do know a bit about both through male relations. Would suggest it also disadvantages anyone from a country that doesn’t play these sports – at a quick thought most of Asia other than the subcontinent, all of the Americas and most of Africa & Europe! So I guess its just another language we need to “learn” for crosswords like Ancient Greek letters.

    4. We, women, certainly do cryptic puzzles and your point is a good one.
      I got both answers, but only through previous sight of them in crossword land.
      1. Fortunately my father and sons were cricketers. Reckon we women have the advantage as far as, say, fabrics and flowers are concerned. I can’t remember the girly clue the chaps NHO the other day, but there was a bit of a fuss. Oh yes, just checked, it was Aga Saga! (I knew HARLEQUIN was a clown – missed the Rugby reference)

        Edited at 2021-12-21 01:18 pm (UTC)

    5. The inclusion of a few male-oriented sporting references still don’t seem to help me catch Mrs Random.
    6. Well I guessed POINT but I knew of HARLEQUINS. I played netball in my school team but I’m not sure I can remember much other than the two positions emblazoned on my bibs, WA or C. Janet

      Edited at 2021-12-21 04:11 pm (UTC)

    7. I mean, seriously, are you for real? I’m a Quins season ticket holder and have been for 20-odd years. Even if I wasn’t, there’s this thing called general knowledge…
  5. Quick today at 8m. Wasn’t sure where the Cu was in RARE- I’d imagined it would be ‘racure’ but I see online Chambers says that’s not even a word. I’ve certainly seen arrows dipped in poison in films (and not for years) but hadn’t known I was watching curare. Six on the first pass of acrosses which is a little better usual but then downs then flew in.
  6. Apart from a few early clues that held me up whilst I scratched my head, this puzzle was quite easy for me. 25 minutes with no aids used.
  7. 16:19 Struggled in NW by not seeing PIANO until late. Lots of short words in longer phrases today. These ended up being trickier than expected.

    NHO CURARE. Tried to parse by fiddling with PC and MET as well.


  8. Better day today, thank goodness, we were all done in 9 minutes. Very enjoyable puzzle with some clever anagrams.


    Thanks Chris and Tracy

  9. Felt a bit sluggish doing this one but finished within target, so can’t complain. No major hold ups just slow to spot a couple, such as AFTER A FASHION, TEA and NO FEAR. Nice to see my team get a mention in 11d, especially since we stopped playing like clowns around this time last year!
    Finished in 9.51 with LOI TANKARD and COD to HARLEQUIN.
    Thanks to Chris
  10. A good QC. A nice mix of clues with plenty of pennies dropping slowly but all was fair. STREETS AHEAD and HARLEQUIN took me longer than they should have done and took me over target by a minute. 1A was probably my COD because it sucked me into trying to squeeze in Omega (because of Old Music) which blocked the NW corner for a short time. Some good anagrams. Thanks to both. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 09:45 am (UTC)

  11. Eighteen minutes, so on my slower side, but all parsed for once. FOI Janitor. Had hands on for 1d at first which left me with two unsolveables, piano and estates, until I saw both of those, rubbed out hands and saw press. Though I was slow, it was all clear. Maybe I was just enjoying the solve. Thanks, Chris, and Tracy.

    Thank you to Peebee and Jackkt for replying to my query yesterday. I have all the options today again, I see it is changing daily.

    1. Strangely I don’t! No ‘like’ option today on my laptop and still have the no entry sign on my tablet. Also, I can only open each sub-comment individually on my laptop 😕 What is going on ???
      1. I think if you click Expand (or possibly Thread) on the item above the first hidden comment it opens all the sub-comments in that section of the conversation.
        1. Thanks Jack! When I press expand, it only opens each comment individually (which has never happened before), but pressing thread worked, so that’s a big help 😊 Let’s hope all these little niggles get sorted out soon!
  12. Was on for under 7 minutes, but was held up at the end by TEA and TANKARD. PRESS ON and PIANO were first 2 in. Took a while to spot the parsing of 6d. 7:25. Thanks Tracy and Chris.
  13. 12 minutes for me with LOI TANKARD because I read the clue last. I also wasted a few seconds looking for a pangram that wasn’t there. I finished wrapping Christmas presents yesterday, and feel a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders! Thanks both.
  14. The opposite of many recent puzzles as I thought this was going to be tricky at first when I didn’t get any of the six clues after PIANO, but then things eased up. I made it a bit tougher for myself by putting SPOT ON for 4d and then wondering whether a SENATOR might be described as the caretaker in 4a. Not sure now how I didn’t equate New Year’s Day with “JANI” straight away, but I didn’t. Anyway I finished on 18:21 for a reasonable day. FOI PIANO, LOI ESTATES, COD STREETS AHEAD. Thanks Tracy and Chris.
        1. Here’s a silly rhyme we used to like:

          One One was a racehorse
          Tutu was one too
          One One won one race
          And Tutu won one too 😅

  15. FOI NAP then quite quick until a number of hold-ups. Biffing IN THE KNOW at 3d caused delays and generally I struggled with this. I had NO DEAL for a while before NO FEAR emerged.
    LOI TANKARD and prior to that took ages to derive AFTER A FASHION and STREETS AHEAD.
    In the end all correct in 16:59.

  16. STREETS AHEAD, and TAKE A BACK SEAT were my last two in.

    Very fond of JANITOR! Lucky caretaker.


  17. I’m an old enough anaesthetist to have used curare early on in my career. Lots of side effects- I remember the marked effect on lowering the blood pressure in particular. It has been superseded by much cleaner synthetic relaxants.
    All correct today, after failing to see COLOGNE yesterday.
    A nice puzzle. Good to see NATTY there.
  18. Slowed down by putting SKIMMED in for SQUEEZE, which gave me a lot of trouble in the SE. Eventually unpicked that and came home in 10:51.
  19. Pretty much a write in with only point giving me pause for thought despite being a cricket enthusiast. Nice after some very tough QC recently.
  20. … and all done in 14 minutes and much enjoyed. But having passed a big birthday a couple of months ago, I definitely seem to be getting slower — those who I used to think of as “my level of solver” are regularly posting faster times! Not that it is a race …

    Main cause of the slightly longer time was that the long anagrams took a while to fall into place, and that left just my LOI 6D Take a back seat, which I put in fromthe checkers but did not parse. All is clear once explained of course.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  21. ….than I should have done. My fat finger struck at least 5 times, though I noticed all of the affected clues immediately. However, I also misread 6D as “Became….” and so entered “took” instead of “TAKE…” Only when I parsed POKER did I see my error. I sneaked inside my target, but I’ll need to sharpen up before attempting the 15×15.

    TIME 4:58

    On edit : I avoided fat finger throughout and completed the 15×15, but I don’t recommend that puzzle to those of a nervous disposition !

    Edited at 2021-12-21 11:29 am (UTC)

  22. An enjoyable 22 mins, although I also made heavy weather of 12ac “No Fear”.

    Liked the long clues of 2dn, 6dn and 10ac today, along with 7dn “Rare” and 1ac “Piano”

    FOI — 4ac “Janitor”
    LOI — 12ac “No Fear”
    COD — 4ac “Janitor”

    Thanks as usual!

  23. Good to be able to work steadily through. Had to write out the letters to get 2d.
    Thanks all, esp Chris.
  24. 4:15 this morning. Felt I got immediately onto Tracey’s wavelength, which helped because some clues were fairly tricky.
    FOI 1 ac “janitor” and then a steady solve round the grid to the SW corner where LOI, simply because I got to it last, was 19 d “tea”.
    COD 6 d “take a back seat” where it was helpful to consider “shock” as a verb as opposed to a noun.
    Thanks to Chris for the blog and to Tracy.
  25. Romped through all but the last 2 in 13 minutes but spent another 10 on HARLEQUIN and SQUEEZE before throwing in the towel.
  26. Slow to start, not getting many of the across clues, speeded up in the middle and then took an age to crack 6dn even with all the checkers. Eventually came home in a rather sluggish 23 mins of which at least 5 was spent staring at 6dn. Good puzzle, though, with lots of clever clues, so it must just have been me being a bit dense.

    FOI – 8ac ESTATES

    Thanks to Tracy and to Chris.

  27. Mrs Random and I both recorded fast times today (well, a more commonplace time for her) – 23 minutes for me, and 22 minutes for Mrs R. Our confidence has been duly restored after yesterday’s assault course from Wurm.

    ESTATES and POKER were my first two in, after which I jumped around the grid trying to build on newly available checkers as they arose. My last two in were NO FEAR and ORDAIN, for which a relatively short alphabet trawl was necessary. I had NHO CURARE, but assumed that it (or RACURE/RARCUE/RARECU) was some sort of poison, and, on reading Chris’s blog, I realise that I never fully parsed TAKE A BACK SEAT.

    Mrs Random also hadn’t come across the word CURARE, but had no trouble otherwise and timed her effort perfectly to keep me in my place. She is now in the kitchen pummeling the dough for a seeded loaf to go with the wholesome winter vegetable soup I made yesterday. We had some for dinner yesterday evening, but it’s always better on the second day (and I made 2-3 litres of the stuff!).

    Many thanks to Tracy and Chris, as usual.

  28. Finally cracked the 30 minute barrier at 27 & a bit. So many thanks to Tracy and to Chris for clarifying some of the parsing eg tor(n).
  29. Rare escape from the scc today. Knew curare but could not parse the clue. Many thanks to Tracy for a very pleasant solve after yesterday’s toughy.
  30. FOI PIANO and LOI ORDAIN with just the one guess of POINT. 6:51 for an excellent day. COD to NO FEAR. Thanks all.
  31. Right side went in faster than the left, 1A and 1&2D eluded me to start with, although PIANO was hardly tricky. Enjoyable if a little slow, I blame the increased mince pie consumption.
  32. But didn’t record a time as too many distractions…. Probably circa 25 minutes.
    But very enjoyable as many others found.
    I liked the device for Jan 1st but chide myself for not immediately seeing that.
    12a and 1d clever.
    Thanks all
    John George
  33. My WOD to 11dn HARLEQUIN – Stephen Stills

    Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby,
    Awaiting a word:
    Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit he runs,
    Wishing he could fly
    Only to trip at the sound of goodbye.

    My COD to 7dn CURARE just perfect for you poison-pen letter writers. Dame Agatha Christie notes her pharmacist/tutor carried a lump of curare in his pocket – which is deadly when it comes into contact with the bloodstream. He later told her he carried it around because it made him feel powerful!

  34. This was fun. I found it quite easy but there was so much to enjoy – a cracking puzzle from Tracy! All done and dusted in a bit over nine minutes. Hard to choose a COD – I liked JANITOR, PRESS ON, ON THE BALL and NURSERY – a reference to RHS Wisley there perhaps?
    Referring to the conversation above about women, sports clues etc, I’m not desperately keen on much sport, but am aware of a reasonable amount of terminology / teams / grounds etc – just part of GK, I would have thought. Same as plants. I’ve certainly learnt a few cricketing terms since starting doing crosswords! They are only of use here though – I don’t have a clue what most them actually mean 😅
    FOI Janitor
    LOI On the ball
    COD No fear
    Many thanks Tracy for the fun and Chris for the clear blog

    On edit: following my reply to shnwombat earlier, I find things are even stranger. On p1 of the blog (on my laptop) I have just Link | Reply | Thread | Complain, but on p2, the Like option is included! I am baffled.

    Edited at 2021-12-21 06:07 pm (UTC)

  35. it did. Good steady answers coming one by one, no rush for me. Very few dead clear, even with cricket fielding positions I have in memory from years ago I couldn’t think of Point. Until Point and all the others I got correct, some sketchy parsing, but 31 min a comfortable GN6. All thanks.
  36. Definitely on Tracy’s wavelength — especially as an ex rugby and cricket player. (Must be hard if you’re not familiar. But then I’m a big NFL fan so I’d know any gridiron reference…)
    Liked NATTY — after first thinking of Wat TYLER as the famous leader of a rebellion. Nice deflection.
    About an hour — good for me. Enjoyed this one.
  37. Came to this late in the day after visiting family members in Wolverhampton (post lateral flow 👍). After a slowish start, things began to fall into place and for once I actually managed to speed up, rather than slowdown, finishing in just over 16mins. Slightly surprised to see Harlequin clued in such a specialised way, but cannon fodder to this Saracens supporter 😉. CoD to 13ac Ordain. Invariant
  38. I’m new to the cryptic and am determined to learn this fascinating puzzle. This blog is helping me no end. I complete as much as I can of a puzzle and then come here to help me fill in the rest. I’m feeling pretty good as I only needed help with around a quarter of the clues for this one.

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