Times Quick Cryptic 2171 by Breadman


Taken over target to 11 minutes by Breadman today. Holes all over the grid needed filling in. LOI 7dn.

There’s an interesting intersection/crossing in the centre of the grid.

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Suspect‘s name associated with signs of debt (7)
DUBIOUS – name (DUB), signs of debt (IOUS). The debt was obvious the ‘dub’ less so.
5 Around middle of town, salesperson reflected authority (5)
POWER – around t(OW)n, put salesperson (REP) backwards.
8 Man maybe hoping to include papa, touring archipelago? (6-7)
ISLAND-HOPPING – Man maybe (ISLAND – IOM which came up a little differently last week), hoping (HOPING) including papa (P).
9 Right to probe neckwear teacher wore experimentally (5,2)
TRIED ON – right (R) probing neckwear (TIE), teacher (DON).
10 See one on European river (5)
LOIRE – see (LO), one (I), on (RE).
11 Some cavort, executing whirling motion (6)
VORTEX – some of ca(VORT EX)ecuting.
13 Unknown scoundrel and newsman like raunchy film? (1-5)
X-RATED – unknown (X), scoundrel (RAT), newsman (ED).
15 Soapy foam husband removed subsequently (5)
LATER – soapy foam (LAT)h(ER) – husband (H) removed.
16 Helps when relative outwardly tires (7)
ASSISTS – when (AS), relative (SIS), (T)ire(S).
19 Learn about Lee, new scholarly prize-winner (5,8)
20 Ogle looker perhaps at university (3,2)
EYE UP – looker (EYE the organ), at university (UP).
21 A French gentleman obtains high-class ointment (7)
UNGUENT – ‘a’ in French (UN), gentleman (GENT) about high-class (U). I think I’d have struggled to spell this without the parsing.
1 Tendency of Democrat to crack (5)
DRIFT – Democrat (D), crack (RIFT).
2 Police raid damaged most of drug and sports equipment (8,5)
BILLIARD TABLE – Police (BILL), anagram (damaged) of RAID, most of drug (TABLE)t.
3 Possessed old women’s refuge to the north (5)
OWNED – old (O), women’s (W – possibly related to initials on ‘restrooms’ W/M – or, less lavatorial, as in WI), refuge – den – upwards (NED).
4 Offence outside public house by mysterious person (6)
SPHINX – offence (SIN) outside public house (PH), by (X – times by).
5 Well-liked surgery, regularly full, in standard environment (7)
POPULAR – surgery (OP – operation) and f(U)l(L) inside standard (PAR).
6 Forcibly mould creamy confection in fancy teashop (4,4,5)
WHIP INTO SHAPE – creamy confection (WHIP), in (IN), anagram (fancy) of TEASHOP.
7 Invasive plant a gardener withdraws firstly in tall grass (7)
RAGWEED – a (A), (G)ardener (W)ithdraws inside tall grass (REED).
11 Virginia sits on remarkably clean item of bedding (7)
VALANCE – Virginia (VA) on top of an anagram (remarkably) of CLEAN.
12 Organ loud — friend set up aural covering (7)
EARFLAP – organ (EAR), loud (F), friend – pal – upwards (LAP).
14 Times article on centre of Padua, an idyllic place (6)
XANADU – times (X), article (AN), P(ADU)a.
17 Expert during square-bashing disheartened military recruit (5)
SPROG – expert (PRO) inside (S)quare-bashin(G).
18 In street, sheltered from wind, rain and snow combined (5)
SLEET – inside street (ST) put sheltered from wind (LEE).


70 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2171 by Breadman”

  1. I biffed the four long ones after getting enough checkers, parsed post-submission. I only noticed the Nina after finishing the puzzle. 5:53.

  2. 5:31. I suspect I would have had a faster time if I’d done more biffing: I found the wordplay difficult today.

  3. I wasn’t feeling it today. I just stared at the blank screen for ages so I revealed Island Hopper and Billiard Table (both of which I still needed the blog to parse) and went from there.

    I remembered Up at university.
    I Nho Sprog

    And UNGUENT I saw for the first time yesterday! I was watching Verlaine stream yesterday’s NY Times crossword and instead of anything more obvious he bunged in ‘unguent’ for a blank word meaning ‘ointment’ on a Monday. The answer was aloegel FYI. I was so surprised at this word it stuck in my head and what timing.

    Also.. I had to look this up in the dictionary but today I learnt that a sphinx is also a mysterious person not just a mythical creature. I had never heard that usage before.

    1. From childhood I remember Unguentine, an antiseptic ointment; the only time I can think of coming across ‘unguent’ was in the movie “Fargo”, where one of the kidnappers wants some. There’s an Oscar Wilde story, “The Sphinx Without a Secret”.

  4. I was on the 14:00 🕑 ISLAND HOPPPER from to VALENCIA to XANADU.

    FOI 1dn DRIFT
    LOI & WOD 17dn SPROG!
    COD 2dn BILLIARD TABLE – (like a patient etherised upon a) -‘ bladddered’?
    fyi A SPHINX @4dn is also a variety of Hawk’s-head moth.

    Nina’s favourite amber liquid? Castlemaine XXXX!
    I’ll fetch me coat!

    1. Have you been to Xanadu? Of course, Inner Mongolia is a long way from Shanghai and it looks as if there isn’t much to see these days.

  5. 10 minutes. On spotting the central theme I wondered if his might have been Breadman’s 40th Quick Cryptic but it’s his 59th, so nothing doing there.

    1. I hesitate to question jackkt’s records but I’ve logged 60 Breadman’s; of course l may have put the wrong name in somewhere down the line and my recording started from QC number 1 more as a way of monitoring progress in completion times and who were the more difficult setters – it then just kept going as a list rather than a database. 59 or 60 is now just a minor curiosity!

      1. Hi, John, I checked my spreadsheet against the TfTT archive (just do a search on Breadman) and they tally at 59 puzzles. There are 5 pages of blogs @ 10 per page and 1 page with 9. The puzzles numbers are: 401, 627, 776, 854, 1016, 1145, 1171, 1210, 1235, 1258, 1279, 1286, 1301, 1320, 1340, 1362, 1370, 1382, 1399, 1409, 1434, 1461, 1475, 1516, 1539, 1554, 1581, 1603, 1628, 1645, 1669, 1712, 1725, 1735, 1755, 1776, 1780, 1806, 1821, 1841, 1856, 1885, 1908, 1918, 1930, 1952, 1969, 1977, 1995, 2016, 2039, 2067, 2080, 2101, 2113, 2131, 2148, 2161, 2171. If you can identify the additional puzzle number in your records it’d be easy to find out who the actual setter was. Regards.

        1. That’s very kind of you to take such trouble to list them all Jack and I hadn’t appreciated the archive was searchable that way. I’m busy most of today but will work out the extra puzzle number later, thanks and regards, John

            1. 1902 was my glitch Jack, actually Trelawney’s so discrepancy sorted. Thanks for the pointer to how to trace these, best wishes, John

    1. I knew it (learned it here) only as meaning ‘child’; but evidently (ODE) the ‘new recruit’ meaning is the original meaning.

      1. According to an ex-RAF pilot, it probably derives from the Australian RAAF “Special Programme” at Wagga Wagga (NSW) designed to fast-track promising, first year recruits to pilot officers. Sounds quite plausible and a suitably derogative acronym used by more senior British crews.

        1. My favourite made up word: to predict the gender of an unborn child – “SPROGNOSIS”

          I can’t remember where I heard that one.

    2. Was the name for all first year boys at my school. Did not know it had any usage beyond schoolboy argot until many years later.

    Spotted the X word Nina in the centre for the first time ever. Probably because it is in the centre and I cannot see all of the puzzle without scrolling around the screen, but then I doubt whether I would have seen them before, regardless.
    Ung is typically written on prescriptions as abbreviation for Unguentum, ointment. Just part of the mystique. Now that most prescriptions are typed it removes some of the fun of the illegible scrawl to tax the pharmacist. But no doubt safer.
    26’30 To slump into my usual corner chair in the club with a coffee.
    Thanks Breadman and Chris for unraveling the complex clues.

  7. 20 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed.
    I sussed the X’s after VORTEX and X-RATED making SPHINX and XANADU write-ins.
    Favourite: WHIP INTO SHAPE.

  8. 22 mins for me. Quicker than my average 30 mins.
    FOI – Power
    LOI – Billiard Table

    DUBIOUS held me up for a bit, but IOUS was obvious initially from wordplay

  9. I got to the puzzle rather late as of course I was busy all day lighting off fireworks in cans of Budweiser and jet-skiing with bald eagles 😉

    My most successful, closest-to-completed QC yet! I spotted the X’s in the middle almost right away which helped a lot.

    BILLIARD TABLE took me absolutely forever as I had most of the clue parsed correctly (damaged = anagrind, followed by a truncated word for “drug”) but was convinced that “police raid” was the anagrist and spent forever trying to contort that into most of a phrase for sports equipment. :-/ Thank goodness for enough crossing letters finally to disabuse me of that!

    I did have to turn to Google in the end for help with two answers: SPROG (which I had heard before as a word for a child, and it fit, but I had to check if it had another meaning that would work) and LOIRE (geography is my downfall once again!)

    Overall, a super fun puzzle for me! Breadman, I salute you.

  10. 12’53” enjoyed this and didn’t spot the cross of crosses.

    Held up by biffing ‘islands’ as the second word of 6ac (didn’t think ‘hoping’ would form such a big art of the answer) and took longer than I should over WHIP INTO SHAPE.

    Nice puzzle thanks to the baker and the blogger

  11. Started with DUBIOUS an OWNED but the rest of the NW proved elusive so let it until the end. Really wanted 7d to be ragwort but couldn’t make it work and was slow to spot BILLIARD even after putting in TABLE 😂. Needed the parsing to get the correct spelling of both VALANCE and UNGUENT.
    A good test from Breadman which I finished just under target in 9.48 with LOI and COD SPHINX.
    Thanks to Chris

  12. It turns out I’ve been spelling VALANCE wrong all these years. One pink square duly resulted (and I don’t think I’m alone judging by the number of other people on the one square naughty step). Careless!

    FOI SPHINX, LOI SLEET, COD LOIRE, time 10:35 for 1.9K (but) and an Undistinguished Day.

    Many thanks Breaders and Chris.


  13. 1415 : Battle of Agincourt

    14:15 for one of the few dates that is widely known, and mentioned by Giles Coren in his “ping pong” article today.

    Divine Unction is the rite of anointing the dying with unguent in the Orthodox tradition.

    Steady progress throughout, though with some Major League biffing. For once, I spotted the Xxxx (= 1 Castlemaine) in the middle of the grid.

    COD VALANCE, excellent surface

  14. Like Templar I thought I knew how to spell VALANCE, so didn’t check the anagrist. I also skimped on proof reading to get under my target time resulting in my not spotting I’d fat fingered a Z into X-RATED. 9:23 with 2 errors. Thanks Breadman and Chris.

  15. 8.5 on the first pass of acrosses – but it took longer for DUB for name to appear. Downs were trickier but all those checkers helped me on the way to being all green in 11. Last to fall was the NW where DRIFT and SPHINX were taxing. Wish I’d spotted the four Xs – might have speeded up SPHINX.

  16. After some slow times of late was definitely at the races today with a time of 6.55. Having spent a sizeable chunk of time in my youth (and middle age to be fair) playing snooker, 2dn came quickly to me. COD to 6dn which I thought was a well constructed clue. The Breadman delivers, he’s on a roll! I’ll get my coat …..

  17. Ha, completed today in one fell swoop. Seemed tricky at first so had to start at the bottom and work my way up. FOI UNGUENT. No problem with VALANCE once I had worked it out. Liked the long across and down clues and EARFLAP, DUBIOUS (COD). Least favourite = RAGWEED. (Unfortunately my garden has now been invaded by Ragwort, as it is normally called here. We already have ground elder, creeping cinquefoil and couch grass, to name but a few of our conquering weeds.)
    Didn’t see the Nina and didn’t know the military meaning of SPROG so biffed.
    “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    a stately pleasure-dome decree”
    Thanks vm, Chris

    1. Impressed with your weedage knowledge. We are blighted with ground elder and a lot of other unidentified stuff that I pull up as I see fit or as directed.
      “Xanadu, Xanadu
      (Now we are here) in Xanadu
      Xanadu, Xanadu”
      (Now we are here) in Xanadu”
      O N-J & ELO
      (I think that this is ‘Ninja Turtling”. Hope so!!

      1. Unfortunately, I have become all too familiar with our weeds over the years. As next-door’s gardener said, they can be ‘evasive’ (sic)

  18. Sluggish today, for no obvious reason, and took 14 minutes to come home. Forgot (or never knew) that on = re in Crosswordland – and still not sure I could explain it to a non-believer. Certainly never knew this meaning of Sprog, though the wordplay was kind. Dubious must win a prize as the longest gap between getting two halves of a word, as the IOUS was a write-in as I started the crossword and the DUB only followed many ponderings and both checkers later.

    I spotted the four Xs in the centre, and yes it did help with Sphinx and Xanadu, but I see we are collectively still none the wiser as to what Breadman was signalling by it.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  19. Interesting to read many of the comments above. I found this harder than most after being on-wavelength yesterday (on my scale, at least). My progress was fitful – I did much better in the SW and NE at first and returned to the NW having built up a little momentum. I needed crossers before the long answers emerged (they would have helped if I had seen them earlier). My LOI was SPROG – I hesitated far too long because I only new the word to mean ‘offspring’. In the end, I was 4 mins into the SCC so not happy.
    I really think this is continuing last week’s trend towards much more demanding ‘Q’Cs. Thanks to Breadman for a serious workout today. Now I’ll go back and read Chris’s blog. John M.

  20. I liked the Xs in the middle when they appeared. I got lots of crossers from taking the acrosses slowly making the downs easier. Like others, I was unaware of the original meaning of SPROG, only knowing it as referring to a child.No marks on my copy except my time, 4:45, but COD to SPHINX.

  21. I spent too long trying to think of what preceded IOUS at 1a. Moving on my FOI was POWER and I solved clockwise from there. I could see the central X theme emerging so SPHINX when I got to it was a biff despite it being a lovely clue. LOI was the unknown SPROG in an unremarkable 10:48.

  22. I was making normal progress at first; not parsing everything and wondering about that meaning of SPROG.
    I had five left after 12 minutes which all seemed tricky to me. The key was getting DUBIOUS which led to SPHINX. ISLAND-HOPPING unparsed. Then RAGWEED. LOI BILLIARD TABLE, again unparsed. 18 minutes in total.
    A good challenge with a slightly different feel to it. I did not notice the Xs and we await enlightenment.

  23. 13 minutes, helped on XANADU by seeing the Nina. WOD has to be UNGUENT. SPROG no problem, I were one once. I’m trying to work out how one can misspell VALANCE, it must be an S instead of a C, or an E instead of the second A (which my Chambers says is acceptable). Otherwise, some lovely stuff here. Thanks Breadman and Chris.

    1. E for A may be acceptable according to Chambers, and was indeed my first stab at the word – but quickly changed when I realised it did not fit the anagrist. Pink square avoided …

      1. There is a word VALENCE but, I’ve always known it as a property of atoms and is used in chemistry.

  24. Tricky but enjoyable – thanks Breadman and Chris. My only reservation was the word ‘sprog’ . To be fair it suggested itself readily enough from the clue, but I’m approaching 70 and SWMBO is a little older, and neither of us have heard of its 1940’s origin. Our sprogs often don’t stand a chance with those sort of clues 🙂

  25. SPROG from wordplay, ISLAND HOPPING and BILLIARD TABLE parsed post submission, missed the X’s.

    I seem to have completed this by fluke! Reasonable time though.


  26. Finally completed one after a run of DNFs! Been away (not so sunny English Riviera) so not been commenting but have found the last few extremely tricky. All parsed and completed in just under 30 mins today. Happy with that. FOI POWER, COD to WHIP INTO SHAPE, LOI SPHINX (took ages to fully parse before finally remembering ‘by’ = x 🙄). No probs with GK today. Lovely to finally finish one. Many thanks all.

  27. 35 mins, so slightly more than my usual cut off time.

    Must be in a minority, but I’ve found the most recent QC’s to be a struggle – more in terms of time to completion rather than actual difficulty – just don’t feel as sharp as I used to be.

    Anyway, the main hold ups were 17dn “Sprog” (I dnk this meaning either) and 21ac “Unguent” (where I was looking for another term for gentleman apart from the obvious “gent”).

    FOI – 3dn “Owned”
    LOI – 21ac “Unguent”
    COD – 4dn “Sphinx”

    Thanks as usual!

  28. At last, first solve of July. About 45-mins in total. Struggled at the top but had the bottom half done in 11-mins with the exception of SPROG (was thinking sarge-ant at one stage) and the NHO UNGUENT.

    My brain is clearly not firing very well as my first attempt at POWER had all the right letters in the wrong order with PEOWR yet I didn’t see to replace it until WHIP-IN-TO-SHAPE dropped in. That only occurred when I realised ISLANDS wasn’t latter word of the previously unsolved ISLAND-HOPPING and beat-IN-TO-SHAPE wasn’t correct.

    Got through to 30-mins with 4 left. Thought about them for 10-mins, gave up and went for a run. Thought about them and realised I hadn’t been able to get BILLIARD-TABLE because it’s not sports equipment – it’s a pastime or game. DRIFT, DUBIOUS and SPHINX (LOI) came quickly after that.

    Needed the blog to parse ASSISTS and turns out my parse of LOIRE as LORE=adage=see was wrong but otherwise everything else was understood.

    Never spotted the XXXXs even though I came back after a break and looked at it afresh.

    Thanks to Breadman and Chris

    1. I’m with you on “Billiard Table”. Whether it’s deemed a sport or a game, as far as I’m concerned it is the medium on which you play it – very much like a sports pitch or tennis court. Sports equipment should be things like a Tennis Racquet/Racket, a cricket bat and pads etc.

      As a result, you could probably class a billiard cue as sports equipment – but the table itself?

  29. Faster (35 mins) than yesterday (44) and last Friday (76), but the same exasperating outcome. After my longest ever winning streak (19 solves in a row), I have now recorded three successive DNFs. And, each by just a single incorrect letter.

    Today, I DNK how to spell UNGUENT and forgot that U = high class. Who uses this in real life? I have never seen or heard it, other than in crosswordland. Can it be retired? In the end, I guessed UNGiENT, with the i standing in for the figure 1 (as in 1 for a high class degree), and came here more resigned to defeat than in hope.

    Many thanks to Breadman and Chris.

    1. Bad luck Mr Random – I’m impressed by that 19-in-a-row streak.

      Last week’s Tuesday or Wed’s QC had a poet called AUDEN involving U=posh which gave me a DNF then so fortunately had it logged in the memory bank today.

  30. About 15 mins on phone.
    LOI unguent. Only know valence from chemistry/physics.

    Didn’t spot the 4x but the whip into shape/x rated stood out.
    Cod sleet.

  31. This was one of those surprising crosswords where the real and perceived times taken don’t quite match – unfortunately, it was in the negative today! I thought I’d been quicker than I was, so was a bit disappointed to discover that it took over 11 minutes.
    I did notice there were a few extra Xs today, but still didn’t notice the pattern in the middle 🙄 Some entertaining surfaces here today though.
    I’m always sure that SPHINX is spelt with a Y, so that slowed me down a bit as I couldn’t parse it, and I semi-biffed three of the long ones. Put me on the naughty chair too – even though I saw how the clue worked, I biffed VALENCE. Not My Best Day!
    FOI Power LOI Billiard table COD Island hopping
    Thanks to Breadman and Chris – onto the biggie now.

  32. Much better today, but still in the SCC (just). Wasn’t aware of that meaning of SPROG and took ages to get BILLIARD TABLE. I tend to agree that it’s not really sports equipment, but in Crosswordland definitions seem quite wide.

  33. Fairly quick over most of the puzzle but held up by 1a dubious and 14d xanadu. Forgot Times can mean X. Missed the nine as 4d a d 14d were the last ones in.

  34. Only a single answer in the top half after my first pass of the across clues. Had much better success in the bottom half and ended up solving from bottom to top. Finished in 16 minutes but didn’t fully parse a couple of the long answers. Noticed all the x’s but not that they were clustered in the centre, so that didn’t really help much. No problem with any of the GK.

    FOI – 5ac POWER
    LOI – 9ac TRIED ON
    COD – liked both 21ac UNGUENT and 4dn SPHINX

    Thanks to Breadman for an enjoyable puzzle and to Chris for unravelling those that I didn’t parse.

  35. SSC was shut by the time I arrived… Spotted the 4x but none the wiser on WHY?
    FOI 5a Power
    LOI 21a Unguent – just because I looked at it last
    COD 2d Billiard Table – despite a MER on sport v game.
    I always find Breadman tougher than most and today was no exception, but all fair. Useful Blog help with parsing where I was sufficiently sure, but not 100% there.

  36. I’m hoping for a QC one of these days, one suitable for newbies (or sprigs??)

  37. Tough by Breadman’s standards but hugely enjoyable. A lot of chestnuts that I am beginning to spot (and some that I am still missing).

    Great blog as ever.

  38. 30:13

    Slow work today, held up for some reason by ISLAND HOPPING and never did parse DUBIOUS.

  39. Another DNF. NE corner defeated me. NHO SPROG in this context, or RAGWEED at all. Can we please have a QC that is quick to do for us non experts after all these really hard ones?

Comments are closed.