Times Quick Cryptic 2156 by Izetti

The first five across flew in but then things got stickier all round caused by various dnks and unusual definitions. Major problems were 7dn which threw me with the spelling and, finally, 15dn was a dnk but a fair bet. I ended up over 13 minutes.


Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Seated, being agitated or calm? (6)
SEDATE -anagram (being agitated) of SEATED.
4 Charm of arts graduate, someone from St Andrews? (6)
MASCOT – arts graduate (MA), someone from St Andrews (SCOT).
8 Some tribal lad sang songs (7)
BALLADS – some of tri(BAL LAD S)ongs.
10 Boredom of nine wandering round university (5)
ENNUI – anagram (wandering) of NINE around university (U).
11 Puzzle about bishop leading you and me (5)
REBUS – about (RE), bishop (B), you and me (US).
12 A cross for ten in ancient Rome, say? (7)
NUMERAL – X is the Roman numeral for ten. Double definition and/or a crytic definition. Either way – COD.
13 Went back to be given another session at hospital? (9)
RETREATED – to be given another session at hospital (RE-TREATED).
17 River vessel with little old Scot at the stern (7)
POTOMAC – vessel (POT), little old (O), Scot (MAC).
19 Port — a small volume given to artist (5)
ACCRA – a (A), small volume (CC – cubic centimetre), artist (RA).
20 Singers in church round one side of altar (5)
CHOIR – church (CH), round (O), one (I), alta(R).
21 Something wicked by ruler in decline (7)
SINKING – something wicked (SIN), ruler (KING).
22 Sister messed up second exams (6)
RESITS – anagram (messed up) of SISTER.
23 More enthusiastic mourner (6)
KEENER – double definition.
1 British vehicle heading up round old city area towards the country? (6)
SUBURB – British (B) and vehicle (BUS) upwards around old city (UR).
2 Thoughts of French composer about food being limited? (13)
DELIBERATIONS – French composer has to be DELIBES (dnk Leo 1836-1891) around food being limited (RATION).
3 Carriage in front of train — managed to have a seat (7)
TRANSIT – (T)rain, managed (RAN), have a seat (SIT).
5 Across the ship there’s a smile (5)
ABEAM – a (A), smile (BEAM).
6 Opposition against customary practices involving Conservative (13)
CONTRADICTION – against (CON), customary practices (TRADITION) holding Conservative (C).
7 Small beer in this desert? (6)
TRIFLE – if it was ‘dessert’, I’d say double definition. As it is I’m not sure how much a setter can get away with with a ‘?’.
9 Sequences of words used in court judgements (9)
SENTENCES – double definition.
14 Learner given excellent name being entertained by elder? (7)
TRAINEE – excellent (A1) and name (N) inside elder (TREE – elder is defined as a bush or small tree).
15 Stable’s number one horse one out of this world (6)
SPACER – (S)table (number one = first letter of), horse (PACER). Dnk spacer but I found it in the freedictionary.com as 3. (Astronautics) a person who travels in outer space. I also found references elsewhere  to spacer= ‘stoner’ as in spaced-out (so ‘out of this world’).
16 Nag is a sort of animal (6)
BADGER – double definition.
18 French revolutionary male, a scoundrel (5)
MARAT – male (M), a (A), scoundrel (RAT). Conjured Marat from somewhere in the memory.


64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2156 by Izetti”

  1. TRIFLE: Online, anyway, it’s “dessert”. I don’t see how “desert” would work, ? or no ?

  2. I biffed SUBURB, parsed post-submission. LOI BADGER took me some time. 6:23.

  3. I didn’t know SPACER (my LOI) although it was obviously plausible. I assumed it was an astronaut, and didn’t consider someone who had taken too much weed. No problem with the “des(s)ert” thing since (at least by the time I got to it) it was “dessert”. I biffed DELIBERATIONS without worrying about whether there was a French composer I’d probably never have heard of (I have heard of DELIBES, as it happens).
    8:43 for me.

    1. Spacers are used in assembling things, so I had no problem with the word. It wasn’t a great leap to accept it as a space traveller, for example.

  4. 22:35 COD to TRAINEE. Thanks for help figuring out NUMERAL and SPACER plus rest of blog!

  5. I was on the 11.00 from the POTOMAC to ACCRA, home to James Garner.

    FOI 1ac SEDATE
    LOI 15dn SPACER!?
    WOD 17ac POTOMAC

    The clue for 7dn TRIFLE in my print out, contained the upgraded ‘dessert’, so it was a typo.

  6. Another DNF, I refused to enter SPACER on the basis of “that’s not a word, surely”. Also missed BADGER.

    DELIBES seems pretty obscure for a QC: I didn’t know many with plausible letters, Ravel maybe.

    In POTOMAC I think MAC for Scotsman is a bit obscure. The jocular term for Scots is Jock.


    1. I’ve never seen Jock in a Times puzzle; Mac and Ian time and again, but no Jock.

    2. I wouldn’t call Delibes obscure – I’ve never seen a ballet, but I’ve heard of plenty, and “Coppelia” is one of those more frequently encountered.

  7. My QC solving timings are colour-coded in my records using a traffic-light system, and for the past three weeks (15 puzzles) there have been only 4 greens, indicating target achieved at no more than 10 minutes, and 11 ambers, >10 minutes but no more than 15 minutes. I don’t know whether this is down or me becoming generally slower at solving or the puzzles being harder of late, but I’ve had some decent 15×15 times recently (not today though!) and I seem to be racing through The Guardian most days now so I’m inclined towards the latter idea.

    Like others I was puzzled by SPACER but bunged it in and hoped for the best.

    I feel I’ve had a surfeit of TRIFLE today already, and it’s only 06:45!

    P.S. I thought of MAC straightaway on seeing ‘Scot’ in 17ac and that got me to the name of the river.

  8. All of the first six on the way to eight on the first pass of acrosses. Good progress was slowed in the SE which was pretty bare until CONTRADICTION went in. LOI was SPACER, I’ve never heard of a ‘pacer’ and never come across SPACER but I haven’t been under 10 for a while and it didn’t seem too outrageous so bunged in it on the strength of a probable S and the P, C and R from the acrosses. All green in 9.

          1. In fact I submitted DESERT but our good editor corrected it, and it seems the online version was slow to catch up. The print version has DESSERT. Over and out!

  9. 35 minutes relying on wordplay and two BIFD.
    LOI: TRIFLE. As it was the last one I looked at. On my printed copy, it was ‘dessert’
    NHO MARAT but after RESITS it couldn’t be MACAD.
    A lot of my time was taken up because I had misspelt sentAnces, my excuse writing downward making 13ac awkward until I realised my error.

  10. Took a time to get going today – unlike most so far I found the opening clues tough and largely filled the puzzle in backwards, starting with the lower half of the grid. Led in the end to a 13 minute solve with the NE corner the last to fall.

    Trifle a favourite dessert in our household, and we often “do it up” with additions and enhancements. So much so that one guest remarked “that’s not a trifle, it’s a substantial”. But I don’t think we’ve ever added beer to it. Sherry yes, but beer never!

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  11. Woe is me – fat fingered BADERR thus earning myself two pink squares. Aarrggh! Solving on the club site is so much more stressful!

    FOI SEDATE, LOI ACCRA, COD ABEAM, time 08:23 (but) for 1.25K and a Rueful Day.

    Many thanks Izetti and Chris.


    1. Agreed re. solving on the club site, I hate that post submission wait. I find proof reading is essential and even then the odd typo slips through.

  12. I started OK but was slowed by quite a few tougher ones. Didn’t like SPACER but couldn’t do better. ABEAM took too long as did the SE corner including LOI BADGER. A fine puzzle with some very clever clues but not an easy QC. I ended up sliding into the SCC.
    Jackkt’s comments above struck a chord with me. I also think that, overall, QCs have been getting harder, of late (with some pleasing exceptions). Whenever I produce a slow time, I have a go at the online Torygraph Cryptic to see if I still have my marbles intact. I find I can quite often complete it in a similar or slightly longer time than the QC. Indeed, yesterday’s took me two thirds of today’s QC time so all is not yet lost. Thanks to both. John M.

  13. Top end of target.

    Desert had become dessert by the time I got to the online puzzle.

    BADGER was my LOI, thankfully B and D are towards the start of the alphabet!

    I liked SINKING best of all, after I’d rid myself of the notion that “something wicked” must be a candle.


  14. 13 minutes for me, with no real problems. Nice to see Izetti’s ap(o)logy and acknowledgement of the typo above, and also Jalna’s late comment yesterday (last comment in the list if you haven’t seen it). I like it when our esteemed Setters comment here, and hope to see more of them joining our community.

    In today’s puzzle, my LOI was SUBURB, COD BADGER, WOD REBUS and FOI SEDATE. Thanks both.

  15. Following recent patterns this had a couple of tricky clues that took me over target. Couldn’t fully parse DELBERATIONS having never heard of the composer, but assumed there might be one called LIBES (the DE being accounted by ‘of French’). Reading a lot of Sci-Fi I had no problem with SPACER, but TRIFLE held me up at the end, despite the typo having been corrected!
    Crossed the line in 11.26 with COD to NUMERAL.
    Thanks to Chris

    1. Re DELIBERATIONS, I too incorrectly parsed LIBES as the unknown composer.

  16. Hi Chris, can you let me know where you saw the ‘desert’ version. We changed it to ‘dessert’ in the paper and online in good time, and I then hunted down and killed zombies in the Android and tablet versions, so it would be good to know for next time what we missed!

  17. Gave up at 55-mins with SINKING and BADGER unsolved, plus POTeMiC turned out to be wrong when I checked but then quickly corrected. MARAT was my LOI at 35-mins so an extra 20-mins spent staring into space.

    BIFd quite a few today and even then couldn’t parse them, so confidence knocked by that and some words NHO (KEENER=mourner, MARAT, ABEAM (heard of an I-BEAM), SPACER, DELIBES (like Plett11 got the DE because DE=OF FRENCH).

    As a keen runner, the idea of PACER came easily but didn’t know they had them in horseracing. No matter the S was enough to make it out of this world, if a little mer. I guess I’m not keen on -er words especially after ILLER yesterday.

    Overall think it was a touch too hard for a QC so pleased to all but get there. Maybe a later-in-the-day look would have got sinking. Not sure I’d have seen the double-def of badger though.

    Thanks to Chris and Izetti

  18. Started with SEDATE and finished with TRIFLE. Clue for the latter was correct when I did the puzzle. 8:43. Thanks Izetti and Chris.

  19. Let’s just say my little list of ‘crosswordy words and abbreviations’ grew a lot larger after this one.

  20. Idiotically failed on BADGER (inventing an unknown animal). Used CCD for MASCOT, which helped with that corner.
    Liked TRIFLE, RETREATED, POTOMAC, SENTENCES. Biffed SPACER, TRAINEE and both the long down clues. Vaguely knew MARAT (phew).
    Very difficult. Thanks for much needed blog, Chris.

  21. I was pleased to find I had finished in 7.50, it somehow felt harder than my time suggested. My LOI was 12ac where I was briefly back in Rome trying to remember notable landmarks.
    Like others SPACER went in with a shrug assuming slang for astronaut, but although still plausible I assume the setter had the alternative ‘spaced out’ derivation in mind.

  22. Couldn’t get 23 across (keener) because had sangai (sort of deer) and anagram of “nag is a” for 16 down!

      1. I must confess I hadn’t heard of the sangai, but it is different to the saiga which is an antelope.

  23. The usual top class offering from Izetti. Yes, there are things that may be a tad obscure to some, but as always they’re perfectly parseable. I hope everybody in the SCC will take the time to read the blog thoroughly and appreciate just how good a setter he is.

    FOI SEDATE (an assignation in Kent)
    LOI SPACER (Sheila B.Devotion c1980)
    COD BADGER (a clue I wish I’d written)
    TIME 4:18

    1. I will heed your advice (about reading the blog). It was particularly tough today.

  24. A hard puzzle, made even more difficult by a carelessly bifd Nominal (say) at 12ac, and a Saigan (Nag is a)* for 16d. The resulting havoc on the RHS meant I missed the coach, but at least it took my mind off Spacer for 15d. . . Probably for the best if I leave it there 😉 Invariant

  25. Found this tricky but in hindsight I don’t really know why as it was all fairly clued. Entered SPACER with a shrug on my way to a time of 22 mins, all parsed. Left-hand side went in relatively quickly but the right was pretty bare for a long time until I cracked the SE corner and turned my attention to the NE.

    FOI – 8ac BALLADS
    LOI – 7dn TRIFLE
    COD – 17ac POTOMAC

    Thanks to Izetti and Chris

  26. DNF for me today as I stupidly entered TRIANEE instead of TRAINEE and subsequently could not solve ACCRA thinking I needed an ‘I’. I was also stumped by KEENER and BADGER, on the latter having convinced myself it must be an anagram (sorted) of ‘nag is a’, the ‘G’from the crosser seeming to confirm it. You beat me well on that clue Izetti!

    Even Mrs Prof couldn’t come to the rescue today.

    On the bright side, I learned a lot today. NHO REBUS puzzle, MARAT the revolutionary or Delibes the composer so always good to learn from the QC. Thanks for those Izetti.

    COD to the brilliant CHOIR. Brilliant surface.

    Thanks for helpful blog Chris and to Izetti for a great test today.

  27. Quite a few guesses for me today including SPACER and MARAT. I tried bascot for MASCOT but quickly corrected it and saigan for the animal until the last letter of KEENER put me on the right track. BADGER was my penultimate solve with SINKING at the rear. 8:28

  28. Well, at least I finished today’s after yesterday’s DNF (iller??). Spacer went in with a shrug and Trifle suddenly came to me after spending far too long thinking of 5 letter beers to put an S in front of. Well and truly bamboozled there.

  29. I found this one tough, as I do with all Izetti puzzles. ENNUI is a word I only know because of these crosswords. I needed a fair bit of help with this one.

  30. 29 mins…

    …but 15dn “Spacer” was a bit of a punt.

    Quite tough from Izetti, but I felt they were generous enough to give enough indicators to complete any unknown definitions.

    FOI – 10ac “Ennui”
    LOI – 15dn “Spacer”
    COD – 16dn “Badger” – for initially misleading me down the anagram route.

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Late solve and very brief post, due to visit to elderley parents. I will return to read everyone’s comments when they doze off (as they surely will) during the evening.
    Veey tough for me. DNK REBUS, SPACER, MARAT or KEENER. Also had to correct several errors. However, still managed to finish correctly in 52 minutes.

  32. A tough puzzle from Izetti, though having said that, all but five words went in without too much trouble. Those last ones took me from about 15 minutes to 29:47 though, with LOI being CONTRADICTION. COD to TRAINEE. Thanks Chris and Izetti.

  33. Same situation as yesterday – done this morning, out all day, so late to report! 11 minutes, so quite pleased considering others’ comments, but I didn’t really understand NUMERAL. Although this is clearly a fair (if tricky) Izetti puzzle, I found it a bit less sparkly than some of his previous offerings, but nothing compared to today’s biggie, which was a stinker!
    No problem with Delibes, and I expect a lot of people will know his Flower Duet from Lakme , even if they don’t know what it’s called – think back to the BA ads. Now I’ve got a nice earworm 😊
    FOI Sedate LOI Numeral COD Transit
    Thanks Izetti and Chris

  34. Found this quite hard and guessed SPACER and ABEAM, having spent time getting BADGER, TRANSIT and TRIFLE. A good challenge!

  35. Another very slow solve for me today. Limped over the line in just under 30 mins. Are the QCs getting trickier, or is it me? Really hoping it’s the former! LOI by a very long way was TRIFLE (iPad version gave ‘dessert’ so unfortunately no excuses there…), also took an age to see SINKING and TRAINEE. Had fingers crossed for SPACER. Enjoyed DELIBERATIONS. Many thanks Izetti and Chris.

  36. I found this harder than average for a QC, but about average for an Izetti. I liked the way that the words I’d never heard of (Marat and Potomac) could be worked out from the definitions. I don’t time myself as I like to enjoy the crossword a few words at a time while taking short breaks from work, but it certainly took longer than usual. Finished about a quarter of an hour ago.

  37. A very tough solve but happy to get there in the end. As always with this setter, I began doubting myself. Probably just under an hour, so rather embarrassing in terms of time!

    Thanks for the blog – boy did I need it!

    1. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Good job on solving it. Deffo a tough one I thought.

  38. I usually look forward to Izetti’s puzzles. His clues are usually precise and helpful – although they always need to be worked at! I found this one particularly hard work and it needed several sittings over the afternoon and evening to get done. I thought 15d was rather tenuous. FOI 4a Mascot. LOI 5d Abeam. COD 14d Trainee – which I failed to parse properly, but it had to be. I also failed on the parsing elsewhere so appreciate the clear guidance from Chris. I only managed 21a sinking when writing in sunking and realised that I was on the wrong tack as soon as I got to the second letter – how does that happen! So, hard work today took the edge off my enjoyment but there’s nothing to actually complain about – it was all there as usual.

  39. 7.45

    Around my average sort of time I think so no particular dramas as SPACER seemed inevitable from the w/p

    Must confess to not quite knowing what the surface of 12a means but maybe I need to squint a little harder!


    Thanks Izetti and Chris

    1. I hadn’t thought about the 12A surface but I assume it is some kind of allusion to having a cross that is capable of crucifying 10 people – being the execution method of choice for the Romans.

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