Times Quick Cryptic 2180 by Mara


Solving time: 9 minutes. I found this straightforward, how did you do?


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Hit twice, your health! (4-4)
CHIN (hit #1), CHIN (hit #2) [twice]. A somewhat dated toast  possibly from the heyday of Gin and It.
5 Work in shop usually (4)
Hidden [in] {sh}OP US{ually}
9 More Artex plastered (5)
Anagram [plastered – drunk] of ARTEX, a proprietary brand of textured plasterwork, all the rage in the 1970s and originally made using white asbestos.
10 Grown-up holding a service, finally — worship (7)
ADULT (grown-up) containing [holding] A, then {servic}E [finally]
11 Something black that’s so long, shortened (3)
TA-R{a} (so long goodbye) [shortened]. More usually ‘ta-ta’ but ‘ta-ra’ is a north country variation popularised across the land by Cilla Black: Ta-ra, Chuck!
12 Able to look forward, reinspect changes (9)
Anagram [changes] of REINSPECT
13 Keen to have first of automobiles taken out of country (6)
HUNG{a}RY : (country) [first of automobiles taken out]
15 Edges on specific frilled collar for back of neck (6)
S{pecifi}C [edges], RUFF (frilled collar)
17 Tidying mop up, trim unplanned (9)
Anagram [tidying] of MOP UP TRIM
19 The greatest” so-called country without leader (3)
{m}ALI (country) [without leader]. Boxer Muhammad Ali proclaimed himself ‘The Greatest’.
20 African country I rate built by queen (7)
ER (queen), then anagram [built] of I RATE
21 Missing head, slender dart (5)
{n}ARROW (slender) [missing head]
22 Dip toe in Hampshire river (4)
A straight definition preceded by a slightly cryptic hint. One might dip a toe e.g. in bath water to test its temperature. This is the river that flows down to Southampton.
23 Herb stood before queen (8)
ROSE (stood), MARY (queen)
1 One of the cats, each with the cuckoo (7)
Anagram [cuckoo – mad] of EACH with THE
2 Get into ground, Milan team (5)
Two meanings, the first as in ‘bury’.
3 One applauding directors — one of those on film set? (12)
CLAPPER (one applauding), BOARD (directors). Take One!
4 Picture in my attic getting exhibited, initially (5)
I{n} M{y} A{ttic} G{etting} E{xhibited} [initially]
6 Apostle endlessly touring dead flat land (7)
PAU{l} (apostle) [endlessly] containing [touring] LATE (dead)
7 Fish   reeked (5)
Two meanings. The definition of the fish in SOED mentions that it has a characteristic odour — how appropriate!
8 Wife as old as us imbibing cider primarily — confidence gained from that? (5,7)
DUTCH (wife) + OUR AGE (as old as us) containing [imbibing] C{ider} [primarily]. The definition refers back to ‘imbibing cider’.
14 What babies need: rest before food (7)
NAP (rest), PIES (food)
16 Aim of driver, quite some distance? (7)
FAIR WAY (quite some distance). The driver is a golfer.
17 Cage up-ended into it, clumsy (5)
PEN (cage) reversed [up-ended] contained by [into] IT
18 One kept in receptacle, old instrument (5)
I (one) contained by [kept in] PAN (receptacle), O (old)
19 Vessel that has a gold tap, short (5)
A, OR (gold), TA{p} [short]. The largest artery in the human body.

79 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2180 by Mara”

  1. I have reinstated Mara’s invite to my birthday party now. I finished this one in about 20 min!

    Granted I didn’t parse them all. I assumed cuckoos were cheaters though it still didn’t parse well.
    I also didn’t parse TEST or TAR.

    I esp did not parse DUTCH COURAGE. I don’t understand how Dutch = wife (but I will look it up after this), and I don’t think I would have worked out old as us = our age. I think it’s def one of those clues you biff first parse later to check your biff.

    I also NHO CHIN CHIN

    Foi: OPUS
    loi: AORTA (I had to look up gold = OR in my notes, I couldn’t fit in AU anywhere in the word
    cod: ALI

    1. Well done Tina.

      As I wrote in CHIN-CHIN, I thought to myself “I bet Tina won’t have heard of that” !!

      River TEST about 35 miles east of me and seen this one come up at least three times now. Another one for your geography list!


      PS Birthday party? You do still have my correct address …

      1. Oh gosh, I wonder why it’s always rivers and never any other geological feature.

        I bought the first QC compilation book and it is much harder to do when you don’t have the temptation of a ‘check word’ button! It’s also full of Orpheus and Izetti 😩

        My birthday is next week and I will officially officially no longer be young by anyone’s standards and will be entering middle age. I’m having a lot of feelings about it 🙁

        You sure are welcome L plates any time you wanna come to Australia 😀

        1. Middle-aged? You’re clearly still a sprog! Mind you, my definition of old is one’s age plus 20! By that reckoning, I’m middle-aged too 🤣

        2. “There ain’t a lady living in the land as I’d swap for me dear old Dutch”. See if you can find the classic recording of it by Peter Sellers, sung a capella in the bath ! In this context, it’s Cockney slang (unusually not rhyming) and is short for Duchess.

        3. I’ve seen Lake ERIE a few times and made a mental note of the other great lakes (SUPERIOR, HURON, ONTARIO and the other one!). Maybe COMO comes up sometimes. Otherwise the geography does seem to be countries, capitals and ben=mountain, ness=head. Maybe more experienced solvers will have some thoughts to add on this.

          Re: QC books – I made a decision not to look up any answers until I’d completed the grid. This has turned out to be a good strategy as I’ve since gone back and completed many of the unsolved ones as my knowledge has grown. Kind of satisfying.

          1. Lake Michigan is the 5th(only one wholly in U.S). People who live near Lake St. Clair, Lake Simcoe,Georgian Bay ,Lake Champlain ,Lakes Nipissing and Nipigon occasionally are heard lobbying for their local body of water to get the “Great” designation too!

    2. I was just over 20 minutes. We don’t have a river Test in Canada either!
      Happy birthaday next week.

  2. No problem, except for the one I made for myself by flinging in NAPTIME at 14d; this was not only a stupid thing to do in itself, but it made the river impossible. After wasting some time wondering about Hampshire rivers, I saw the light and changed TIME to PIES. (I knew the Test, though I couldn’t have told you where it is; or where Hampshire is for that matter.) 6:49.

  3. 5:30, straightforward indeed! Thanks for your parsing help… I biffed several answers along the way.

  4. 16 minutes so I’m happy with that.
    FOI: CHIN CHIN followed by OPUS then all the downs from them other than CHEETAH which needed checking letters.
    PLATEAU BIFD parsing post solve.
    Favourite: HUNGRY.
    I saw TEST as a straight DD as in ‘dip toe in/test the water’

  5. Grateful to Mara for not making me work too hard this morning after my noisy neighbours led to an interrupted night’s sleep. A top to bottom solve starting with CHIN CHIN and ending with ROSEMARY in 6.35.
    Thanks to Jack

  6. Took this one gently over breakfast and even so came home in 11 minutes, so I would agree this was on the less challenging side. No major hold-ups and all parsed except LOI Tar: Ta-ra unknown to this southerner, but none of Ter, Tir, Tor, Tur or even the Norse God Tyr seemed remotely likely.

    Many thanks Jack for the blog

    1. You should watch the original of Alan Bleasdale’s brilliant “The Black Stuff”. The lads want to form their own company and call it TarLa.

      When I lived in Birmingham (someone has to) one of my colleagues would leave with the phrase ‘Ta-ra a bit’, which I gather is still fairly common currency in the Black Country.

      1. I remember that show from some time in the 80’s. It was shown here in Ontario as “Boys from the Black Stuff” .Excellent series!

  7. I was a bit slow at the finish with AORTA (ah, that sort of vessel), ROSEMARY (ah, that queen) and PIANO my last 3 in…. I should know better than to fall for the comma inviting me to make “old instrument” the definition for 18D. COD to the Artex plastering. 4:26

  8. Not speedy at all. I thought TAR was short for Tarry and could not parse DUTCH and wondered if Courage was somehow related to Mother Courage but that was a stretch too far. A lot of hopping around the grid before finally ending up top left. Thanks Mara and Tina.
    Keep cool everyone and drink lots!

    1. “… drink lots”: I will do as you suggest, Steakcity. I have several ales lined up ready to sample this evening.

  9. I agree this was fairly straightforward. Really beginning to see how rote memory plays a big part as ARROW, ALI, TAR, INTER, IMAGE, INEPT, ROSEMARY, TEST, OPUS, SMELT have all come up previously. The last of those also happened to be in the QC6 book yesterday where I went for ScEnT.

    CHEETAH held out on me for a while. Thought it might be some other character from the Cats musical, perhaps called Chester. Very cleverly hidden anagram.

    DUTCH-COURAGE held out to the end. I did at one stage mentally think it had something to do with drinking but “beer goggles” didn’t fit!

    33:40 in the end. Pleased to chalk up another one in the successful solve column 🙂

    Thanks to Jackkt and Mara

  10. Not so easy for me, taking me nearly into the SCC at 19 minutes. CHEETAH, INTER and TAR were the last three in, but I was also held up by ERITREA and PLATEAU. Nice one Mara! I’m just slow today, I guess.

  11. 9’25” and bounced around the grid to complete with CHEETAH (enjoyed parsing that post completion) and HUNGRY (always think “eager” and “sharp” for keen, and forget “hungry”) last ones in.

    Enjoyed PLATEAU and NAPPIES

    Thanks Mara and Jack

    1. I always think of “cry” or “wail” when I see “keen”. As I have been caught out by this obscure meaning many times in cryptics.

      1. Oh yes that one is occasionally on my list but often disappears from my memory vault just as I need it!

  12. Seems I was bang on Mara’s wavelength today.

    2 words ending in U made me think I’d made an error somewhere, but no.

    HUNGRY was LOI, just because I came to it last. NAPPIES probably my favourite clue.


  13. 820 Byzantine Emperor Leo V is assassinated in the Hagia Sophia, at Constantinople.

    8:20, pretty gentle stuff. COD CHIN CHIN, although sounds somewhat dated and colonial.

    Artex is made with asbestos? Every place I ever rented has had this ceiling. I should imagine removing it is complex and expensive.

    1. As artex is painted there is no asbestos risk until removal. Then, I’d not remove it but skim with fresh plaster either with/out new plasterboard, or use a specialist removal compound.

  14. This was an enjoyable QC. FOI SMELT then CHIN CHIN and I was off and running. Another 9 minute solve here.
    I thought of Cilla as I entered TAR.
    And FAIRWAY was topical. As all golfers know, you drive for show and putt for dough.

  15. A gentle start to the week. INTER went in first and TEST finished the job. Had to pause briefly and consider queens before ROSEMARY dropped in. 6:08. Thanks Mara and Jack.

  16. Finally escaped the SCC/DNFs today! Found this much more straightforward than of late. All parsed in about 18 mins, my best in weeks. FOI CHIN CHIN, LOI HUNGRY which fell after CHEETAH. Liked DUTCH COURAGE (very clever). Many thanks to Mara for an eminently doable puzzle for us less experienced solvers. Thanks also to Jack – everything I know about solving a QC has come from this blog.

  17. Not that easy as I failed on AORTA.
    Must be the heat.
    FOI ALI, LOI HUNGRY. River TEST fairly local.
    Thanks all, esp Jack.

  18. A easy start to the day. FOI’s were 1a and 1d ChinChin/Cheetah. I just knew 1d was Cheetah before even beginning to to figure out why… and needed that to validate 1a despite being instantly sure of that one too. How does the brain intuit answers in this way? Also sure of 19a Ali although that messed up 16d Freeway (as a non-golfer grasping at half remembered golfing terms) and so 16d Fairway was LOI. Did try to find a country ?ace as an alternative but failure led to revisiting 16d. No problems elsewhere with several other ‘instant solutions’ just needing parsing to be safe. I liked several others so no COD today.

  19. It seems most agree it was a fairly straightforward solve today, although I would say it was far from being a pushover. My time was smack on my target time of ten minutes.
    LOI was AORTA preceded by ROSEMARY.

  20. “Love grows where my ROSEMARY goes…” (Edison Lighthouse). As Ophelia tells us in ‘Hamlet’ that’s for remembrance.

    An easy start to the week, wrapped up neatly in two reasonably swift passes.

    FOI CHIN-CHIN (pass that G’n’T !)
    COD FAIRWAY – a model of London Taxi built in the 90’s. I used to hope that mine would take me a fair way on every job, rather than RTFC (cabby slang for Round The F****** Corner – a nightmare when you’d queued up for an hour !) I did actually get up to Glasgow and down to Gatwick over the 8 years I had it, and it was still working in Bolton at 17 years of age. Best cab I ever had).

    TIME 3:32

  21. Ha! Another minus 1K – again by a few seconds. Will wonders never cease? But slower than Plett! I wouldn’t really have minded if this had taken longer since I’m stuck indoors, not just because of the heat but because I tripped and really knackered my knee yesterday, so have a long day ahead. I found the biggie quite straightforward too – not sure what to do with my time now!
    This wasn’t quite a clean sweep but working more or less straight through the clues does speed things up.
    As L-Plates says, there are a lot of regulars here, inc the setters’ favourite countries – ERITREA and (M)ALI, river – TEST (it is beautiful) and cat – CHEETAH. No ounce though! There was lots to enjoy.
    FOI Chin chin LOI Rosemary COD Nappies
    Thanks Mara and Jack

    1. Mrs R extends her sympathies, Mme B. She fell whilst out running a few weeks ago and her knee is only now sufficiently OK to restart, although it still “clicks” a little, she says.
      We are fortunate to have a gentle breeze here today, which is taking the edge off the temperature – not that Mrs R minds anyway.

      1. Many thanks and best wishes to Mrs R. I certainly wasn’t running (little chance of that!) Barely walking tbh – just ambling through Sainsbury’s car park not looking where I was going 🙄

        1. I hope you picked up a couple of their hazelnut chocolate bars too assist recovery. Better than Cadbury’s and so full of nuts they almost fall out of the packing. Totally addictive.
          Best not let P-Wyvern know 😎
          Get well soon.

          1. Many thanks – just bruised, nothing broken. I haven’t tried their whole nut chocolate, although I do keep a bar of the dairy milk in the fridge at all times – I’ll put it on the list 😋 I also really like their pretend Snickers / Marathons – a bit small but much better value! I bet PW already knows 😁

      1. Many thanks 😊 I was supposed to go Trentham Gardens today – maybe one for your list? They’re very nice, but would have been unbearably hot so a bashed knee saved me from that 😂

  22. After Friday’s blunder in not persevering with 1ac/1d, I gave today’s opening pair some extra thinking time, and was suitably rewarded with a handful of starting letters and a quickly completed NW corner. A good start always seems to make a huge difference with what follows, and I was more than happy to cross the line just before the 15min mark. As L-Plates has mentioned, some prior experience of this game can be very helpful, with quite a few answers jumping off the page, although I was relieved to find that 12ac was an anagram. CoD to 6d, Plateau . . .for the surface (😉). Invariant

  23. Had no real difficulties with this one. Though my last one in was 7d. Seemed to take forever to come to me. I only know there’s a fish called smelt as I recall seeing it in the Nintendo DS game Animal Crossing that I used to play some years ago.

    No aids required today.

    1. Well done, PW. I notice that you complete unaided much more often than a year or so ago. Keep up the good work!

      1. Thank you. It’s been a frustrating journey at times, but also very satisfying when I have managed to complete with no aids.

        I’ve even been trying the 15×15 over the past few weeks. Generally can’t get more than 3-6 answers. But then again, that’s all I could get with the QC when I first started.

  24. Almost a rare escape from the clutches of the SCC, but held up at the very end by SMELT. If I’d had the courage to go with my ‘biff’ I would have finished in 18 minutes, but I DNK the fish, so a 3-minute alphabet trawl was necessary to elimate several other possibilities. So, 21 minutes for me in the end, but without fully parsing DUTCH COURAGE and TAR.

    Mrs Random hasn’t featured much in my recent posts, because she is around 6-8 weeks behind with these QCs. Her priorities are much more with her garden at this time of year, but she is currently working on 3-4 puzzles. I will report back when I can.

    Many thanks to Mara and jackkt.

    1. It’s those last few minutes doing an alphabet trawl – so frustrating! Nice time all the same 😊

  25. All done in just over 16 mins, (but while sending texts.) Held up slightly by the anagrams at 12A and 17A – anagrams are my major weakness – but otherwise nothing too difficult, but not too easy either. Incidentally, I’m sure I have seen similar clueing for ‘Dutch courage’ not so long ago, but it was possibly in the 15×15 cryptic?

    Many thanks to Mara and jackkt, and to RossoPiceno for the explanation of Dutch as Duchess of Fife, which I didn’t know.

    1. But 15 or so done therefore. I know I said it was straightforward but definitely some areas held me up. Think my last 5-6 took me from 20mins to 33+

  26. Bit slow at 15m, blame the weekend festivities and Dunkertons cider.

    LOI Hungry. COD nappies.

  27. 21 minutes today – but with a hangover having got far too excited watching the golf. Fairway was apt!
    Needed the blog to understand Tar and Plateau.
    Enjoyed this one, nice clues etc.
    Thanks all

  28. 14:02 A better than usual time for me – no big hurdles. Blog helped me understand CHIN-CHIN,Ta-ra, Artex, DUTCH COURAGE, and TEST. FOI OPUS LOI HUNGRY COD PRESCIENT. Does chin= hit because a boxer tries to hit someone on the chin?

  29. 17 mins…but a rare split over two tranches.

    Thought this was a nice puzzle from Mara, helped by getting the two long vertical clues at 3dn and 8dn fairly early. Probably took longer than I should have for 7dn “Smelt” adn 19dn “Aorta”.

    FOI- 1ac “Chin Chin”
    LOI – 7dn “Smelt”
    COD – 14dn “Nappies”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. Mostly done fairly quickly but came to grief with 1dn and 13ac. These two must have added 5 mins to my overall time of 21 mins. I had no idea what was going on with the former – I never saw the anagram and didn’t see cuckoo as an anagram indicator. I had the parsing of 13 ac straight away but missing the first letter leaves an awful number of countries from which to remove an “a”. Never mind, got there in the end and enjoyed the mental exercise as it’s too hot for the physical variety.

    FOI – 5ac OPUS
    LOI – 13ac HUNGRY
    COD – 16dn for its topicality

    Thanks to Mara and Jack

  31. Enjoyable start to the week, only held up by a bored puppy being too hot for her outside. Liked the nappies clue.

  32. I was taking this gently in view of the heat so was pleasantly surprised when I finished it in under 20 minutes. Some clues took me a while – I wasn’t convinced that CHIN meant hit – but it was an enjoyable solve. FOI extra, LOI tar (in spite of being familiar with Ta-ra then) and COD Dutch courage which helped a lot as did clapper board.
    I was one of those who felt a bit miffed last week when some of you were going on about solving the QC in a couple of minutes- chiefly because I had started off quickly that day then got so stuck it took me half an hour. I did realise a couple of things though. I solve on paper and start timing from when I start reading the clues whereas those of you solving online don’t start the clock until you fill in an answer. Also someone mentioned that they solve it all in their head and then fill it in. So they are just timing typing time not solving time! (Not that I could begin to solve it all in my head)
    I know it’s called Times for the Times and I’m sure you feel amazing if you solve it in 3 minutes but let’s here it for those of us who get a whole coffee break of pleasure from the QC while for some of you the enjoyment is over before the kettle boils.

    1. Spare a thought for mohn, whose times on the club leaderboard show that he is regularly completely these in under two minutes … poor bloke, what does he do with the rest of the morning?!

    2. The time on the online version starts when opened. The person who said they don’t type uses reveal answer rather than manually inputting once he has solved each clue. I don’t do this, but this is different from the people that just type in the whole solution as fast as they can. These are called neutrinos and are excluded from the snitch data.

  33. Unusually finished without any aids, today’s anagrams came easily (for once!) Went top to bottom down the left half, then back to the top & down the other side. Biffed SCRUFF, somehow didn’t see RUFF at all. 7:34, a very rare sub-10 minute solve for me, so a good start to the week.

  34. 14:44

    Nothing too tricky here but held up for a while over the last 2, TEST and INEPT.

  35. Going well until badly held up by 1dn and 13ac. Took ages to see the word play in 1dn. I’m blaming the heat. When I got in my car at 4.40pm, the temperature gauge was registering 41 degrees. That was in Garforth, just outside Leeds. It went down to 38 after a mile or so but stayed there for the 30 mile drive home. A cool lager awaits ….

  36. 5.18

    Late entry. Gentle for me today with the anagrams all immediately springing to mind and no other particular hold ups

    Pleasant Monday fare

    Thanks Jackkt and Mara

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