Times Quick Cryptic 2085 by Teazel

Hi all.  I’m happy to join you here, taking on the blogging slot vacated by Astartedon.

This puzzle took me bang in the middle of my usual time range (the clock stopped at 7:31) so I can only call it mid-difficulty.  Your experiences may vary.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

There was one entry unfamiliar to me at 17a, OPUNTIA, but with the given wordplay and checking letters there could be no real room for doubt.

I appreciated seeing my friend TOM at 7a, and enjoyed the CATNAP to be found at 16d.  The surface of NUISANCE (20a) could be a reaction to some of the discussions found on crossword blogs … but I like nuance and wouldn’t find that a nuisance at all!  All very enjoyable, anyway.  Thanks Teazel!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, explicit [deletions] are in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a Dog marks a dead body (7)
MASTIFF M (marks: former German currency) + A (from the clue) + STIFF (dead body)
5a Poetic ship, British lifeboat (4)
BARK B (British) + ARK (lifeboat).  Another spelling of barque.  Checking on the “poetic” in the definition, I see that this is a specific type of ship, but that Chambers also tells us it has a poetic meaning of any boat or sailing ship
7a Cat wants to mew, firstly (3)
TOM TO (from the clue) + the initial letter of (… firstly) Mew
8a Ears need to be adjusted for love song (8)
SERENADE EARS NEED is to be anagrammed (to be adjusted)
10a Opposed to one copying smoker (5)
VAPER V (versus, opposed to) + APER (one copying).  I wondered slightly at the definition but it didn’t really get up my nose
11a Mark affixed to permit is bright red (7)
SCARLET SCAR (mark) by (affixed to) LET (permit)
13a Pill taken at the start on board (6)
TABLET — The first letter of (… at the start) Taken is found next to (on) TABLE (board)
15a It’s unfortunate king goes to a part of America (6)
ALASKA ALAS (it’s unfortunate) + K (king) + A (from the clue)
17a In rebuilt patio regularly sunny for cactus (7)
OPUNTIA — Inside (in) an anagram of (rebuilt) PATIO we have alternate letters of (regularly) sUnNy
18a In Dynasty, women’s nasal tones (5)
TWANG — Inside (in) TANG (Dynasty), W (women)
20a One’s going into fine distinction — bother! (8)
NUISANCE IS (one’s) inserted into (going into) NUANCE (fine distinction)
22a Corporation Yank backs (3)
GUT TUG (yank) is reversed (backs).  This is the crossword setter’s staple meaning of corporation as a belly (which I don’t recall ever encountering in the wild)
23a Finish second highest (4)
STOP S (second) + TOP (highest)
24a Lightly touch seabird, for example (7)
PATTERN PAT (lightly touch) + TERN (seabird)
1d Proposal about one tax incentive (10)
MOTIVATION MOTION (proposal) around (about) I (one) and VAT (tax)
2d What judge has to do in total (3,2)
SUM UP — Two definitions
3d Rebel in south calling for immediate attention (9)
INSURGENT IN (from the clue) + S (south) + URGENT (calling for immediate attention)
4d Initially find our relaxation in extensive woodland (6)
FOREST — The first letters of (initially) Find Out + REST (relaxation).  Hands up if, like me, you began with FOR and wondered for a little while how “extensive” was meant to give EST …
5d Waste-paper basket writer picked up (3)
BIN NIB (writer) reversed (picked up, in a down entry)
6d Puzzles, seeing large cup in nettles (7)
RIDDLES — Here we see DD (large cup: a large cup bra) in RILES (nettles)
9d Put right what is shattering badly (10)
STRAIGHTEN SHATTERING anagrammed (badly)
12d Share a great amount intended for audience (9)
ALLOTMENT — A homophone of (… for audience) A LOT (a great amount) + MEANT (intended).  If I may share a link, this is the alot
14d Fit, inhaling that French aroma (7)
BOUQUET BOUT (fit) containing (inhaling) QUE (that, French)
16d Go off with someone’s pet, perhaps, for a doze? (6)
CATNAP — If you kidnap a kitty (please don’t!) you might be said to CATNAP it
19d Seaweeds tangled up in a gale (5)
ALGAE — The answer can be found anagrammed (tangled up) in A GALE
21d Juice dad’s knocked over (3)
SAP PAS (dad’s) reversed (knocked over)

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2085 by Teazel”

  1. Slow today, a headache making it difficult to concentrate. I actually knew OPUNTIA, sort of, but I needed the checkers. FOREST looked too easy, and yes I started with FOR. 8:47.
  2. I think OPUNTIA may have been the fastest answer to go in today for me… which almost certainly means I’ve been doing crosswords too long.
  3. Welcome as a new QC blogger, Kitty!

    I struggled to complete this within my target 10 minutes but just scraped home at the last second. The problem was that I was missing MOTIVATION down the LH side and that hampered solving a couple of the answers leading off it, namely VAPER and the unknown OPUNTIA. VAPER as a word is fine and even the small town I live in has several ‘Vape’ shops.

  4. 31 minutes from FOI: MASTIFF to LOI: RIDDLES.

    My main hold up was POP BIFD at 21dn until I realised NUISANCE and corrected my error.
    BARK from wordplay also TWANG and RIDDLES.


    Welcome Kitty.

  5. Apart from the unknown OPUNTIA no real problems today. I’d heard of BARK/SHIP but without the generous wordplay it would have taken a lot longer to dredge from the depths.
    Enjoyed learning that STRAIGHTEN and shattering are anagrams of each other but my COD goes to NUISANCE. Finished in 7.30.
    Welcome to Kitty and thanks for the excellent blog.
  6. Welcome Kitty and thank you for the blog, and particularly, for the link to alot which brought a smile and a way to cope with the irritations of it’s (sic) misuse.
    I bumbled around for 26:20 before coming to rest in the Northwest and take up my corner seat in the club. As above, tempted by Bittern and NHO OPUNTIA. COD has to be ALLOTMENT. Thanks Teazel.
  7. I suffered on this one — couldn’t see the anagram STRAIGHTEN until all crossers present, ALLOTMENT had to be teased out, PATTERN was slow, and I didn’t know OPUNTIA, but guessed correctly how the letters should fall.

    One to forget for me! Missed target by miles.

    Welcome Kitty!


  8. Welcome Kitty. I thought this was a fairly tough QC to start as a blogger but, reading the posts above, I seem to be out of step.
    I was slow to start and spent time over simple answers like BARK, VAPER, BOUQUET (didn’t see bout as ‘fit’) which seemed to simple to be right. I did not know that BARK was a valid spelling for barque. The long anagrams dropped out quickly and I took care with my parsing; this helped me avoid two or three tempting biffs that were dangled, as usual, by the Teaser but left me on the cusp of the SCC again. Some good clues but it just didn’t flow for me today. Note. I finished the DT cryptic in 5 mins less than this alleged ‘quickie’.
    Thanks to Kitty and ditto von Teese. John M.

    Edited at 2022-03-07 04:40 pm (UTC)

  9. I thought this was on the harder side …
    … and it took all of 15 minutes, above my average. 17A Opuntia was definitely BIFC (bunged in from checkers — NHO but about the only thing that fitted) and 10A Vaper also only parsed post submission. As for bout = fit in 14D Bouquet, that I have not met before and it needed some thought
    — and even after said thought it remains borderline dubious IMO.

    Welcome to our new blogger Kitty and nice to have two clues with feline references for you. And thank you for a very clear blog.

  10. Welcome Kitty. No real ptoblems with this one (knowing Opuntia probably helped).
  11. 20 mins for everything, but got 5ac “Bark” wrong (I toggled between Bard and Burn — thinking “urn” was some kind of cryptic lifeboat) and couldn’t see 20ac “Nuisance” (this time convinced an anagram of “ones” was in the middle).

    DNK 17ac “Opuntia”, but it was obtainable — however, still haven’t got my head around Pattern = Example

    Other than that, some great clues, albeit once again challenging.

    FOI — 2dn “Sum Up”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 6ac “Riddles”

    Thanks as usual and welcome to Kitty!

  12. Welcome Kitty, and thanks for the blog. I have no time today as a. Away from home in Edinburgh, and b. Interrupted by Mrs R opening presents for a significant birthday, but I would guess inside my target of 15 minutes. Some very good clues and some Teazers, thanks both.
  13. Hello kitty_404!

    Brilliant blog to start off with, thanks very much. And thank you for taking over from me. Coincidentally, I think my first puzzle was by Teazel as well some years ago.

    Many thanks to all of you as well who posted kind and generous comments two weeks ago after my final outing. I read every one of them and of course I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But once you’ve made the decision you have to go through with it although you definitely made me think twice!

    I was going to post a thank you comment at the end of the day but as I have said before it’s like the tree falling in the forest with nobody to hear it. So I thought I’d leave it till today and give you all my thanks and welcome Kitty at the same time.

    Thank you also to Teazel for what I found a medium-difficulty puzzle. Like others here OPUNTIA was there somewhere in my vocabulary although it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been doing these for as long as I have. That goes for most things horticultural, ornithological and geological (and a lot of other stuff besides). What little I know of those subjects has mostly come from staring at a crossword, working out the cryptic and thinking “is that really a word…”.

    All the best Kitty, enjoy it!


  14. Had to look up OPUNTIA., LOI along with BOUQUET.
    Otherwise quick. Aper for copier a bit odd, but easily biffed.
    Liked CATNAP, smiled at ALASKA, Could not parse TABLET or RIDDLES but biffed. No comment on DD.
    Best wishes to all, esp Kitty.

  15. Great puzzle and great blog. Thanks to both. Nothing too hard nor too easy. FOI
    SERENADE, LOI TABLET (incompletely parsed), COD RIDDLES which just beat NUISANCE.
  16. Nice puzzle – in the middle for me. Started off quickly, finish was a bit of a struggle. NHO BARK or OPUNTIA, so punted based on word play and crossed fingers.
  17. Last week went like this for me: 56 mins, 39, 96, DNF4 (in 68) and DNF8 (in 71). I spent more than five and a half hours of puzzling, and recorded both my slowest ever successful solve and my worst DNF since two Junes ago – the month I started these QCs. So, I had hoped for a gentler start to the week than this offering from Teazel.

    My last two in, RIDDLES and BARK, took me nearly 15 minutes to crack. Not knowing BARK (or barque), and having MUDDLES for 6d more-or-less resigned me to another DNF. However, I finally spotted my error, put RIDDLES and started an (ultimately successful) alphabet trawl for 5a. Before those, I had NHO the cactus (OPUNTIA), and didn’t spot the dynasty (TANG) or the ‘one copying’ (APER).All of that meant that I finally crossed the line in 54 minutes – a laboured solve for me, but I am relieved to escape unscathed.

    Many thanks to TEAZEL and to KITTY

    P.S. May I politely ask if clue solutions shouldn’t normally be included in the blogger’s preamble? I notice that OPUNTIA, TOM, CATNAP and NUISANCE are all referenced before the detailed blog itself, which means solvers (especially those of us way down in the SCC) aren’t given the option to scroll down slowly to verify only those clues they think they have solved correctly.

    1. It’s true that we tend to avoid giving away answers in the unhidden pre-ambles to blogs, but if you want to look up individual answers to clues you can do so by using the ‘Reveal’ facility on The Times site. Click on a space in the grid, click ‘Reveal’ and select ‘Word’.
      1. Good point about using the Reveal button. Where exactly is it in the newspaper?
        1. It may look different according to the device you are using, but on a PC or laptop, when you have the puzzle displayed there is a range of icons either immediately above the clues to the right of the grid or beneath the grid itself. Click on one of the unchecked letters in the answer you wish to reveal, then click the Reveal icon. It gives you a choice of Word or Grid. Select Word.
    2. Sorry Random. My thinking in including both answer and clue number number was to save people the bother of scrolling down from the intro to find what I was talking about. I will bear this in mind and follow the accepted norm in future. In this case it is probably too late in the day, but will take the opportunity to experiment and see if the second of LJ’s two spoiler functions will hide the offending part of the intro. If not I’ll just remove the solutions.
      1. Thank-you very much for considering my point. I solve on paper and come here for both enlightenment and entertainment. If, as sometimes is the case, I am stuck on one or two clues I scroll very carefully down through the blog to see if I have correctly solved certain clues (thereby ensuring I have the correct checkers). That then gives me the confidence to keep working on the clue(s) I am stuck on. Of course, if I was more proficient at this game I wouldn’t need to resort to this tactic.
  18. Hi Random, good comment and I do agree. I always tried to follow that rule during my tenure and only referred to clues in the preamble as 1A, 2D etc.

    It’s the same with commenting on other puzzles in the comments on a particular puzzle. Fine to say you should have a go at the biggie today because it wasn’t that challenging but not to say I really liked OPUNTIA or whatever in the puzzle.


  19. Found this quite hard but managed to finish after looking up OPUNTIA – NHO and guessing TABLET and RIDDLES which were obvious but which I could not parse.
  20. My SUMmming UP came right at the start of this puzzle and I rapidly finished the top half before slowing to a canter in the nether regions. For some reason ALLOTMENT was slow to materialise and NUISANCE was LOI. OPUNTIA just preceded 12d, and seemed vaguely familiar once I’d constructed it. 6:55. Thanks Teazel and a warm welcome to Kitty.
  21. Only three on the first pass of acrosses and then slow to the finish, all green in 21. SW was my downfall: TABLET (!), BOUQUET and OPUNTIA all held me up. I was fixated on ‘du’ for ‘that’ in French — thanks to the U and ignorance in equal measure, so that didn’t help. OPUNTIA needed all the checkers to then the remaining letters seemed to take care of themselves. Glad to get through this one and welcome Kitty.
  22. DNF, guessed ONUPTIA. Annoying to have an obscure word clued as an anagram with two equally plausible solutions from the checkers. I liked ALASKA and TABLET. 08:53 but WOE.

    Many thanks Teazel and Kitty, to whom welcome!


    1. I know your pain — not necessarily the setter’s fault, but always frustrating if it’s down to the toss of a coin.
      1. I tackled an old QC from Book 3 yesterday and completed it successfully, except that I was left with a toss-up on one clue. The clue was in 3 parts, all of which I solved, but one of those was either LE or LA (the French). Given that I had NHO the solution, my whole crossword depended upon a 50/50 guess. Most irritating!

    2. I agree frustrating to have rare words with poor checkers.

      That said, I had assumed the UN stayed in that order (from sUnNy) rather than be anagrammed?

      I’m sure time will show me the error of my ways for that assumption.

      1. Ah yes, I didn’t think of that. I just took “rebuilt” as governing everything (ie as governing both PATIO and UN).
      2. Yes, I too saw the UN as inserted in that order into the anagram, and so didn’t see any real ambiguity as the only other option then would be OIUNTPA! … but I can certainly now see the other interpretation and sympathise.
  23. Many thanks for your reply and your 15×15 suggestion. Mrs R sometimes has a bash at it, but I rarely do as I assume it’s out of my league. I think I will save the paper and give it a go later in the week.

    1. Don was suggesting to have a go at today’s 15×15, it was more a general comment about what posters should restrict themselves to in respect of other puzzles.

      By all means give it a go, but it’s by no means easy!

      1. It sure as h**l ain’t! Very clever but largely impenetrable to me.
        Others may fare better. John
  24. Hello Kitty 😺 (well someone had to do it!)

    Dear oh dear – I made a mess of this today. I forgot to check the end time so have no idea how long it took – maybe 15 minutes – but it wouldn’t have made any difference because I put kidnap down instead of CATNAP and that screwed OPUNTIA up. I suppose you could keep a baby goat as a pet? SERENADE and RIDDLES made me smile.
    FOI Bark
    COD Pattern – I too got stuck on bittern for a bit!
    Thanks Teazel and Kitty

  25. Twenty-five minutes. So I quite enjoyed this as I needed to think about it. FOI serenade, eleven on first pass, then solving where checkers helped out. LOI bouquet. Opuntia is a bit obscure unless you’ve seen one. (Or more). I consider myself very fortunate to have seen them, and but for that I would not have known about them. I can’t think of many other cactus genera either. Welcome, Kitty, and thanks for the blog. Thanks also to Teazel for the puzzle.
  26. DNF
    Gave up after 20 minutes – far too hard.

    Can someone explain (re 14Down) how FIT = BOUT ?

  27. Welcome Kitty. I was way outside my target of 9 mins but I think a significant amount of that was spent trying to juggle the letters of OPUNTIA. The late arrival of MASTIFF and MOTIVATION did not inspire any confidence in making my target today. 13:05 for a poor day.
  28. … 1hr06 !!

    Strangely pleased with that as found a fair few of the synonyms difficult to parse (PATTERN for example, TUG=corporation, BARK=poetic ship, RILES=nettles, BOUT=fit and QUE=french words pah). Also had to BIF TABLET.


    Almost DNFed with insurrect (although I think that would be insurrectionist as was struggling to remember insurgent or parse insurrect)

    Waiting to see how Mr Random did and of course Mrs Random – hopefully he-ALASKA !!
    Edit: appears I missed it on my first read of the comments. In truth, I was just looking for an opening for the pun.

    Edited at 2022-03-07 03:36 pm (UTC)

    1. I have learnt that Gut = corporation/stomach in crossword-land, as Kitty says. It is a whole new ( sometimes v old-fashioned) language. I know nothing about cacti either, but will now remember OPUNTIA (I hope)

      Edited at 2022-03-07 07:43 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks CW – reminded me I need to log this in the memory bank.

        Noting from answer lower down that “corporation = protuding or prominent belly” and this helped me realise it’s etymologically related to “corpses” – corporation being a body of workers or some such.

  29. Not one, but TWO typos to spoil my day, especially as I’d “finished” in a quite respectable 3:32.

    I agree with Verlaine that spotting OPUNTIA immediately is a clear indication that one should get out more !

  30. Found this tricky after a fairly quick start. Had pop for 21d which did not help with sol ing 20a nuisance. Knew the cactus but slow in solving the anagram. Quite a change from last Mondays Teasel which we caught up with over the weekend. Thanks to Kitty for the blog.
  31. I haven’t been ignoring you before now, just detained by the toad work. That will generally be the case, but I’ll always pop back in the evening.

    It’s quite a novelty to one again blog a puzzle which attracts more than a handful of comments.

  32. I hoped last week was an aberration, but really struggled today. Maybe I’m getting worse. NHO the cactus and failed to see BOUQUET, NUISANCE, CATNAP and TWANG. gave up after 30 minutes of pain.
  33. No fun at all today. I struggled even more than last week. Never heard of ‘bark’ and put in ‘bard’ (thinking of poetic).

    Perhaps it was just Monday rustiness, but I couldn’t seem to get going. Feel like I’m wading through treacle with this at present, although not helped by attempting it after 13 hour working day.

    Can someone explain why corporation means ‘gut’ or ‘rum’?

    Gary A

    1. corporation – 3 A protruding or prominent abdomen. Formerly, the body. colloq. M18.
  34. Found this tough, but eventually finished in 41 minutes. Thought I only knew the saguaro cactus, but with a checker or two I found I remembered OPUNTIA because it provides a good example of biological control (the invasive cactus was controlled somewhere by the larvae of a moth as I recall). Anyway, Thanks Teazel and Kitty.

Comments are closed.