Times Quick Cryptic 2136 by Joker

There was a lot of ‘going backwards forwards’ and some unknown but clearly clued terms but the answers kept on falling into place.

Lots to enjoy and this all flowed pretty smoothly for me – finishing with the long 3dn at 8:45. How did you get on?



Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Team’s head managed with referee’s backing to switch teams (8)
TRANSFER – (T)eam, managed (RAN), referee’s backwards (S’FER).
5 Small item and the first nine letters returned (4)
IOTA – the first nine letters – (A TO I) backwards.
9 United supporters backing confused situation (5)
SNAFU – I remembered this from somewhere. United (U), supporters (FANS) all backwards.
10 Tonic, and what are drunk with tonic by English (7)
GINSENG – what are drunk with tonics (GINS), English (ENG).
11 That is full of cold? (3)
ICE – that is (I.E.) holding cold (C). An & lit.
12 Modern milky coffee dairy brewed — I must go (6-3)
LATTER-DAY – milky coffee (LATTE), anagram (brewed) of DAiRY – missing the ‘I’.
13 Great intelligence one found in part of family (6)
GENIUS – one (I) inside part of family (GENUS).
15 Some extreme care needed to return arrangement of flowers (6)
RACEME – dnk this – it’s the arrangement of flowers on e.g. a foxglove. Some of the clue extr(EME CAR)e backwards.
17 Sign of gold leading to plot (9)
AUTOGRAPH – gold (AU), to (TO), plot (GRAPH).
19 Article that’s only 60 per cent there? (3)
THE – (THE)re.
20 Public relations broadcast that is plain for Americans (7)
PRAIRIE – public relations (PR), broadcast (AIR), that is (IE).
21 Be like men prejudiced against women going topless (5)
22 Watched you once being introduced to editor (4)
EYED – you once – ‘of old’ (YE) inside editor (ED).
23 Uncovered runner injured skater in front of queen (8)
STREAKER – anagram (injured) of SKATER in front of Queen (ER).
1 Sampling time with sparkling Italian wine — no good (7)
TASTING – time (T), sparkling Italian wine (ASTI), no good (NG).
2 Silver copy that is wide open (5)
AGAPE – silver (AG), copy (APE).
3 Cranium excavated, strangely grey — foul play? (12)
SKULLDUGGERY – cranium (SKULL), excavated (DUG), anagram (strangely) of GREY.
4 What sometimes follows pieces of two-by-four? (5)
EIGHT – 2×4=8. Thanks to Alweard for the second definition – ‘what sometimes follows pieces (EIGHT – pieces of eight).
6 Six balls, expected late (7)
OVERDUE – six balls (OVER), expected (DUE).
7 Cross a new grand railway (5)
ANGRY – a (A), new (N), grand (G), railway (RY).
8 Fall short of goal getting junior to a church one evening (12)
UNDERACHIEVE – junior (UNDER), a (A), church (CH) one (I), evening (EVE).
14 Rarely treat in salt (7)
NITRATE – anagram (rarely) of TREAT IN.
16 One who throws out voter has Liberal turning to judge (7)
EJECTOR – voter (E)l(ECTOR) changing the Liberal L to judge J.
17 Topless model is more than enough (5)
18 One adept at spying and at taking in information (5)
AGENT – at (AT) holding information (GEN).
19 Crowded hospital beset by parasite (5)
THICK – hospital (H) surrounded by parasite (TICK).


84 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2136 by Joker”

  1. Done in 18:55 , finishing with AUTOGRAPH and RACEME.Enjoyed GINSENG and SKULLDUGGERY,also EIGHT for the “pieces of”. For some reason I felt invaded by a strong feeling of love as I typed in AGAPE. Needed blog to fully parse many, especially LATTER-DAY,-thanks!

  2. I remembered ASTI from a previous puzzle so every day is an improvement!

    I didn’t know Raceme, and couldn’t get ejector and I couldn’t parse Iota or Eyed. Lots of topless and headless clues today.

    Skullduggery gave me a smile when I filled it in

      1. Hahaha yes. Unfortunately, still couldn’t finish the darn puzzle. I’m always impressed by your tenacity…after a while I just reveal letters one by one to give myself clues

        1. Thank-you.

          When I started last December, I’d go for as long as I could. Being the darker months here, I would have a go at it in the morning, another in the afternoon and maybe in the evening. Taking a break usually gets my mindset unglued from where it was earlier and answers can sometimes fly in after a break.

          Like you though, when I’d exhausted myself and unable to get further (admittedly about 2hours total puzzling), I’d reveal a strategic answer – which as you know then usually gives more insight.

          My expectations were significantly raised by completing one in 30-mins and then another in 24-mins in the first fortnight. After that, bugger all for a month or two! But I also got one of the compilation books for Christmas and that’s good for an extra workout or the weekends.

          What I’ve learned over a lifetime of learning new activities is it comes in stages and regular attempts are more important than success. I decided I’d give it until December (one year on) before I decided to give up or continue. Getting there …

  3. This afternoon I was on the 12.45 with no particular destination.

    Situation Normal All Fucked Up – gives us SNAFU at 9ac, Chris.
    FOI 19ac THE
    LOI 16dn EJECTOR
    RACEME 15ac was O-Level Biol. Saffron Walden.

  4. 10 minutes on the nose. If I knew the word RACEME at all (and I’m not sure that I did) I had no idea what it meant.

  5. 21 minutes the same as yesterday.
    The top half went in very quickly so I thought I was in for a fast time but the bottom half had to be worked through with careful attention to wordplay which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    FOI: TRANSFER followed by all the downs from the top other than my LOI: EIGHT which although I did have in mind it took me until the end to parse which I had as a DD ‘pieces of eight’ and 4×2.

    1. I agree re Pieces of EIGHT. Happy memories of Treasure Island and Long John Silver’s parrot, Captain Flint!

          1. I never knew that – I always assumed they were worth 8 somethings! Thanks 😊

  6. First of all, many thanks to all who have produced this new blog , now with no Kremlin connection. Well done! It seems very user-friendly (although my first post yesterday got lost in the ether (perhaps I hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’ when I attempted an edit although I am not normally as fat-fingered as that).
    It will be good to be re-united with lots of old friends. I’m happy to see many familiar names already.
    I have been doing the QC without a break since withdrawing some months ago and have maintained my usual range of times (10 – 20 mins). My return was only marred by a trip into the SCC today. This was a tricky offering from Joker but it raised some smiles.
    I have revised my handle, dropping the ‘old’. I only added it some years ago because of a clash with a registration on another Times site. So, I feel years younger.
    Thanks to Chris, especially for an explanation of RACEME. I thought of CARENE at first (a chemical compound which didn’t fit the clue) and tried raceme in desperation. I only know the word in a chemical context (as in a racemic mixture).
    Glad to be back, John M.

    1. Good to see you back ‘OB’. Your support against RASPUTIN was most invaluable. I wondered where you were yesterday? Welcome home. Meldrew

    2. I’m sorry that the new site doesn’t have the “that made me laugh” emoticon function, because I’d have used it! Welcome to your youth again, Blighter.

      1. But it does … at least my version does. The full set is there. 🤣😀


        1. Well I hope this gets through. I’m also pleased to see this new site, even though we haven’t got any faster!

        1. Yes, you can insert them into replies 👍🏻✅ but the old functionality of simply clicking on a “reaction” button has gone.

  7. Found this enjoyable and on the easier end of what I usually expect from Joker. NHO SNAFU but parsed and checked out in Chambers. Both 5A and 4D took a while before the penny dropped.

    1. SNAFU is Situation Normal – All F’ed Up

      I assume it’s an acronym rather than backronym – and I had a feeling its US Military in its origins.

  8. 9.08

    Found this a bit trickier than others ending with a good minute getting to grips with EXIST

    Good solid puzzle I thought

    Thanks Chris and Joker

  9. Taken just over target today by the unknown and LOI RACEME. I knew it was a hidden but for some inexplicable reason I completely overlooked ‘return’ in the clue so, like Blighter (welcome back), toyed with carene as a possibility but it felt all wrong.
    Finished in 10.13 with WOD to SKULLDUGGERY and COD to AUTOGRAPH for the pdm.
    Thanks to chris

  10. 24min25 for fastest completion since mid-March – not that I’ve solved many in that time.

    Biffed my way through it and then parsed them. Almost blew it with elector instead of EJECTOR but reevaluated when I couldn’t see the parse.


    Thanks to Joker and Chris

  11. With a son in the (British) army, I can report that the military use of SNAFU is very much alive and kicking, though I was slightly surprised to see it in the Times!

    I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle, which was a good mix of careful word play and Joker’s usual wit.

    FOI & COD TRANSFER, LOI EXIST, time 08:49 for 1.6K and a Good Day. Many thanks Chris and Joker.


  12. I thought this was a little too tricky for a quickie. A bit obscure in places – thanks though!

  13. 17 minutes today just being generally slow. Funnily enough, I ran out of tonic last night and was unable to enjoy my usual brace, so maybe that’s the reason. Maybe I should have tried some ginseng? I was alert enough to revisit my misbifd ERGOT for 4d though – I had got mixed up with ergo / it follows – before entering my LOI NITRATE, so I at least avoided the pink square. Thanks both.

  14. I found this quite tough. LOI was EXIST after UNDERACHIEVE. And was slow to see SKULLDUGGERY. RACEME familiar from earlier puzzles -worth learning.
    About 16 minutes.
    Another high quality QC from Joker.

  15. Laughed at SKULLDUGGERY which was one of the many I biffed before parsing. A DNF as I thought I’d NHO SNAFU, except that when I saw the answer I realised it was lurking somewhere at the very back of my mind. Worked out RACEME from the cluing. I do watch gardening programmes..
    An amusing puzzle. Thanks vm for blog, Chris.

  16. The top half more or less flew in, but I struggled with some of the clues lower down. Nothing particularly difficult, but it again ment a back seat on the coach for me. Lots to enjoy though, with CoD to 17ac, Autograph for the pdm. Invariant

  17. Only five clues missing after the first pass. Obviously I found it more straightforward than others here. SNAFU surprised me – it’s a tad Grauniadesque !

    TIME 4:00

  18. 35 mins of very enjoyable puzzling today, all fully parsed and all in my lexicon – potentially the first time for the latter in a long while doing the QC’s. I am fortunate on RACEME that Mrs Prof is a garden designer

    COD must be EIGHT, gave me quite a giggle.
    LOI was EXIST which took me at least 8 of my precious minutes.

    I was feeling quite flushed by the end with clues including topless model and women going topless and answers EYED, AGAPE, AMPLE STREAKER.

    Is there a theme?

    Thanks to Chris for the blog and to Joker for a fun QC. Prof

  19. A nice puzzle from Joker which took me 12 minutes (why does my autotext want me to put “months” in there – I’m not quite that slow!).

    Slightly surprised to see Snafu as a word, as I thought it was just an acronym. But it was clear once the final U was in place, and otherwise no major holdups.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  20. TRANSFER dropped straight in then I plodded uneventfully to LOI, SKULLDUGGERY. 7:13. Thanks Joker and Chris.

      1. My eyes must be failing too. I’d probably make a poor proof reader:-)

  21. Does anyone know why The Times on Saturday has no Quick Cryptic. It’s the perfect day for one!

    1. Watch this space! Times for The Times offers its own unique Quick Cryptic puzzles on Saturdays, set by its own gifted compilers.

      1. Alternate Saturdays only, via a link from johninterred’s alternate Friday QC blog. It’s my puzzle this week – whether I qualify as particularly gifted is open to argument !

    2. You can find an index to the complete set of 50 so far here. Have fun. As BUSMAN says it’s his turn this week. See my Friday QC blog for the latest.

  22. Thanks to setter and blogger, and also a big thankyou to those who created this excellent new site, to which this is my first visit. Quite apart from the welcome absence of Cyrillic script, the new site seems slicker and user-friendlier. It took me some time to navigate here, as I didn’t click the obvious link for fear that the Live Journal folk might have sabotaged it.
    My experience of this puzzle was similar to many. I found it absolutely fair but a little on the hard side, but less so than it first seemed as answers clicked regularly and much fun was had.
    FOI TRANSFERS, LOI AUTOGRAPH delayed by not seeing that plot=graph, and COD SKULLDUGGERY, solved instantly thanks to S and L already in place. Vaguely knew RACEME, probably from another crossword, but put in purely from crossers and wordplay without a clue what it meant. DNF as didn’t see AGENT despite all crossers.
    Please someone tell me what WOD stands for. Will there be in due course a glossary on this site as on LJ?

    1. TfTT already has a comprehensive Glossary. It’s towards the top of the page on the RH side under ‘Useful Links’ when viewed on a computer. Its exact location may vary on other devices.

    2. Word of the Day. It’s an honour I only give out occasionally 😅 The glossary is on the new site under Useful Links – depending on what sort of device you use, it could be anywhere, I guess! But on my laptop, it’s at the top right of the page.

      1. I have always used COD, taking the view that the solution is part of the “whole” clue ( eg Skullguggery), but accept there is a distinction.😗 Thamks

  23. I should know to double check everything when solving on a phone. THUCK ruined EXIST for two errors fromone pink square. Enjoyed this one – 19m

  24. First post in “anger” as such, as I didn’t do yesterday’s puzzle until today – busy busy, and only then noted the switch to the new site, and the return of a lot of the people who had boycotted.

    I found yesterday easier than today, but I really enjoyed today’s puzzle, even if it took me over target by a minute or so.



  25. I found this a hard QC and it took me just under 30 minutes. All correct but unable to parse IOTA and AUTOGRAPH without the blog (thanks Chris). DNK SNAFU or RACEME, although I’m wondering now whether I did know them really… Liked EXIST, although it took a long while for the penny to drop. Otherwise COD to SKULLDUGGERY and LOI IOTA. Many thanks Joker.

  26. Dnf…

    Just couldn’t see 5C “Iota” nor 21ac “Exist”, and then I went for “Carene” for 15ac which was obviously the wrong direction.

    Some nice clues though.

    FOI – 1ac “Transfer”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 17ac “Autograph”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. I think I must have seen Iota before, in the 15×15 perhaps, and Exists was my loi by a country mile, so I can certainly see where you are coming from.

      1. I seem to be quite inconsistent recently. Either I don’t finish (usually because I impose a 30 min limit) or complete between 15 and 20 mins.

        Always struggle with Joker and Oink.

      2. Years ago IOTA was the answer to this (down) clue in the Daily Telegraph cryptic: Jot down first nine letters (4). Very clever I thought, which must be why I still remember it.

        1. Frustrating because I’ve seen it used before in relation to “Atom” and it didn’t click it was the same principle.

  27. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as many others did, I’m afraid, and that’s rare, because I usually like Joker’s puzzles a lot. There were no SNAFUs and I don’t think I was being particularly THICK but it was just a bit of a plod at 11 minutes. Having said that, SKULLDUGGERY did make me smile.
    The RACEMEs on the wisteria where I volunteer are fantastic at the moment – and the scent is delicious too.
    FOI Transfer LOI Underachieve COD (out of a small selection) Eight
    Thanks Joker all the same! And thanks to Chris too 😊

  28. Approximately 26 minutes. Much to enjoy.
    LOI Exist…took time to split out the definition.
    I think that there was a band call Snafu which helped me get 9a.
    Latter day also took a while.
    Raceme was known. Race me.
    Thanks all

  29. Thanks to all involved in setting up this new site . It’s a relief to be free from the annoying incomprehensible adverts. I enjoyed this puzzle although I always get stuck where you have to find the word and then change one letter (eg judge for liberal) and was confused by men prejudiced against topless women.

  30. I was struggling to see AUTOGRAPH SKULLDUGGERY and EXIST but as is often the case they all fell in after a short break. Nice to complete after a disaster of an attempt yesterday.

    Thanks setter n blogger!

  31. After years of checking the site everyday but not contributing, I decided to take the opportunity of joining to experience the new format. I somehow managed not to register myself properly yesterday, but hopefully I am now fully signed in, and I thank Jonathan for his help in sorting it out.
    I am one of the 10 minute target contributors, and never cease to be amazed at some of the quick times posted. I am a pen and paper solver which may be something of a handicap time wise possibly.
    As far as today was concerned, I missed by limit by 43 seconds at 10.43, but was held up mostly by 9 across. An enjoyable puzzle by Joker who seldom disappoints

    1. Welcome! I solve these on an iPad but tend to resort to paper for 15×15’s as I find that format easier – and it means I can dip in and out.

  32. Under 15 but rushed and stuck in ergot for 4 down.
    dnk raceme.
    COD Eight

  33. All done and parsed in 17 minutes today. A steady solve rather than getting stuck in any one particular area. NHO raceme, so googled it to make sure it was a real word before entering it. Nice xword, so thanks to Joker and also to Chris for the blog.

    FOI – 1ac TRANSFER
    LOI – 15ac RACEME
    COD – 17ac AUTOGRAPH

  34. A typical Joker puzzle today, I thought, with some neat tricks and a couple of chewy bits. COD to EIGHT, when I finally understood it, but I liked EXIST, ICE and TASTING too. Thanks Chris and Joker. 5:44.

  35. Some fortunate ‘guesses’ for me, today.

    I started well by getting both 1a (TRANSFER) and 1d (TASTING) straight away – quite a rarity for me. But I then had to jump around the grid a lot to keep the momentum going. By the quarter hour mark I had made good progress, but most of my solutions were disconnected. Then I had to start working hard.

    IOTA came, but I couldn’t parse it. RACEME came, but I DNK the word. SNAFU was entered very tentatively, as I had NHO the acronym. AGAPE was my LOI, but I still went back and checked 16d. As I couldn’t make ‘elector’ parse, I embarked on an alphabet trawl and soon found EJECTOR. Phew! 41 minutes in total, which is not too bad for me with Joker.

    Many thanks to Joker and Chris.

  36. Struggled with the two long down clues and I wanted to put “mota” at 5AC (being Atom backwards) until I bothered to count the letters! Surprised to see SNAFU, although I thought it might be the polite version – Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.
    Definitely at the back of the class for this one.

  37. DNF! Struggled all day, got most but defeated by RACEME (NHO), EXIST and EJECTOR.
    A good challenge, though – I was just not good enough to get these last 3.

  38. It always irks me to see the “variant” (i.e., wrong! Ha) spelling of skulduggery (which has nothing to do with the cranium). “Due” in OVERDUE is clued with the same sense it has in the answer.

  39. Under 15 minutes for another last-thing-in-the-evening solve. I thought there was something wrong with SKULLDUGGERY but didn’t know what. Thank you Guy above. I will always remember the “correct” spelling now.

    My apologies to the project team for playing about with their baby. I have (if this works) anonymised myself so you won’t know it’s me

  40. Thank you! These still take me a lot longer than 7 min but getting there.

    For 18d, How is GEN information (GENeral Info)?

  41. Greetings to all, and thanks to those who organised this shiny new site.

    I’m a day late commenting on this puzzle. Found it quite hard-going. Cheated on RACEME and IOTA. No racemes in GCSE biology (dumbing down in action!)

Comments are closed.