Times Quick Cryptic 2181 by Tracy


Congratulations on a double century to Tracy and many thanks for all the entertainment you’ve given us.
The SE proved tricky to break down. I was taken over 10 minutes by 20ac, 15 and 17dn.

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Icebergs, ultimately, repeatedly melt (6)
SOFTEN – iceberg(S), repeatedly (OFTEN).
4 Jack, with mates at sea, discarded goods (6)
JETSAM – Jack (J), anagram (at sea) of MATES.
8 Winning suitable post (7)
UPRIGHT – winning (UP), suitable (RIGHT). Football/rugby posts.
10 Popular, a couple of lines taken together (2,3)
IN ALL – popular (IN), a (A), couple of lines (L L).
11 Pick up her article within (4)
HEAR – her (HER) with article (A) inside.
12 Sloppy fielders keep dropping Lancashire’s opener (8)
SLIPSHOD – fielders (SLIPS), keep (HO)l(D – without (L)ancashire.
14 One yet to be adopted by the German company making spirits (9)
DISTILLER – one (I) and yet (STILL) inside ‘the’ in German (DER),
18 With costume, time for equestrian event (8)
DRESSAGE – costume (DRESS), time (AGE).
20 Employing last of googlies, spinner gets close (4)
STOP – googlie(S), spinner (TOP).
22 Join military group heading for Edinburgh (5)
UNITE – military group (UNIT), (E)dinburgh.
23 Exile unconscious in front of shed (7)
OUTCAST – unconscious (OUT), in front of shed (CAST).
24 Deal with Italy, finally making pact (6)
TREATY – deal (TREAT), Ital(Y).
25 Quite attractive (6)
PRETTY – double def.
1 Looked for variety in conversation (6)
SOUGHT – homophone (in conversation) of variety=sort.
2 Send on attacking player (7)
FORWARD – double definition.
3 Club losing wickets, and advantage (4)
EDGE – club w(EDGE) losing wickets (W).
5 Exploit unusually large survey of voters (4,4)
EXIT POLL – anagram (unusually) of EXPLOIT, large (L).
6 Band grabbing time in store (5)
STASH – band (SASH) holding time (T).
7 A boy enthralled by my affliction (6)
MALADY – a boy (A LAD) inside my (MY).
9 Learner inside becoming keen on lecture (7-2)
TALKING-TO – learner (L) inside becoming keen on (TAKING TO).
13 Easiest swimming round island, in my opinion (2,1,3,2)
AS I SEE IT – anagram (swimming) of EASIEST around island (I).
15 Withdraw religious education pamphlet (7)
RETRACT – religious education (RE), pamphlet (TRACT).
16 Modify top of dress during a fitting (6)
ADJUST – (D)ress inside a (A) and fitting (JUST).
17 Lack of interest in a course beginning in York (6)
APATHY – a (A), course (PATH), (Y)ork.
19 Best section of thoroughfare, lit extensively (5)
ELITE – part of thoroughfar(E LIT E)xtensively.
21 Celebrity set off, last out (4)
STAR – set off (STAR)t minus the last letter.


61 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2181 by Tracy”

  1. I couldn’t get a handle on the west side! I did the SE corner first, funny how that goes.

    I gave up, SOFTEN/SOUGHT/EDGE/FORWARD were too much for me. I also didn’t know UPRIGHT

    I saw ‘modify top of dress’ and wrote in ‘HALTER’ straight away and had to go fix it when nothing else in the corner worked. Then I saw the ‘a’ in front of ‘fitting’ and took the advice I got here about suspicious looking ‘a’s, so thank you 🙂

    The bits I could do came fairly easily so I will accept that!

  2. Biffed UPRIGHT, SLIPSHOD, & DISTILLER, parsed post-submission. 16d ADJUST was nice. 4:21.

  3. 16:08 Progressed steadily until left with SLIPSHOD, DISTILLER and TALKING -TO, all of which took quite some time to crack. COD to UPRIGHT.

  4. 9 minutes, no problems.

    Congrats to Tracy on his 200th QC! Farewell and many thanks.

  5. 18 minutes taking a while to get started, then a steady solve all parsed along the way.
    FOI: IN ALL.
    Favourite: SLIPSHOD.

    1. The sun has got its hat on as I just tipped into the club but will forego my corner chair to drink my coffee on the veranda! LOI APATHY. Thanks Chris and congrats to Tracy for hitting a double century.

  6. 28’ held up partly by SOUGHT (suddenly popped into my head while filling a bowl with Frosties – don’t know why) and SOFTEN but mainly by placing “extract” instead of RETRACT and struggling to get DISTILLER as a result.

    Even without those I found this a bit chewy and was very pleased to land UPRIGHT and OUTCAST.

    Thanks Tracy and Chris – your work is much appreciated here

  7. Thank you, Tracy, for all the pleasure you’ve given us. I’ve loved your puzzles and am sorry to see you go.

    FOI SOFTEN, LOI DISTILLER (got hung up on it starting DAS, not seeing how “adopted” worked), COD JETSAM, time 06:43 for 1.5K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Tracy and Chris.


  8. Tricky all the way through but I was still making good progress until coming to a standstill in the NW. SOUGHT was the last Tracy clue I’ll solve, so he went out with a groan – well played! Also slow on SOFTEN and UNRIGHT. All green in 13.

  9. Steady going today, with a few that made me think along the way including, SOFTEN, UPRIGHT, MALADY and ADJUST. Biggest delay was with LOI STASH due to a mistyped JESTAM at 4a.
    Crossed the line in 9.28.
    Thanks to Chris for the blog and thanks for the entertainment over the years to Tracy. All the best for your future endeavours.

  10. Great puzzle. Must have been on the wavelength today as I zoomed through.
    Could not parse the HOD part of SLIPSHOD, or, stupidly, STAR.
    Congrats, Tracy, and thanks, Chris.
    (Farmer began harvesting at 5am so was up early today!)

  11. 13:13 which is lucky for me. Will miss Tracy’s puzzles. Good luck in the future.
    Liked exit poll, outcast and as I see it.


  12. Well into the SCC today, beaten by Tracy. How do we know this is his last? I’ll be sorry to see him go if that is the case. It was the NW what done for me – I couldn’t get a foothold with SOFTEN, SOUGHT, EDGE and UPRIGHT all holding out for ages. Finally, I saw EDGE and was able to finish. I am well beaten and the day hasn’t started yet!

  13. I have always looked forward to Tracy’s puzzles: always fair, very doable but by no means simple. And often very elegant too: today’s surface for 12A “Sloppy fielders keep dropping Lancashire’s opener” for example would win clue of the month not just COD.

    12 minutes then for this final encounter with Tracy, and all parsed, all enjoyed. With Jetsam my FOI and Exit Poll the next I was on red alert for a pangram, but not to be. Indeed I can’t see any sign in the answers of anything special, or any sort of recognition that this is “200 and out” – unless Poll is Tracy’s other nickname!

    So thank you Tracy, you have been one of the 19D Elite, a true 21D Star. And many thanks to Chris for the blog.

  14. I started with SOUGHT and finished with TREATY, making a steady journey from top to bottom in 6:19. Congrats and thanks to Tracy, and thanks to Chris for the blog.

  15. Another enjoyable puzzle from Tracy today. Thank you for this and the other 199; and farewell.
    I was fairly quick through the top half and like others struggled a bit in the SE.
    Also I had a major self-inflicted wound writing in ADAPT ( A plus APT for fitting) at 16d with TREATY already there!
    As a result UNITE was LOI. Proper LOI was APATHY one of several candidates for COD which must go to SLIPSHOD.
    15 minutes in the end after corrections.

  16. 19:32, with real problems in NW corner and LOI SOUGHT where I didn’t see that homophone until I came here. Slowed by having WAND (= “club”: W{ickets} + AND) at 3d.

    Also was very uneasy about STOP which could have been STEP, as was convinced “spinner” was something to do with a spider.

    COD SLIPSHOD, what a surface. Shame Tracy no doubt has some other elegant clues in his notebook that will never see the light of day now.

    Spent ages looking for a NINA as other double centurions have celebrated with one. No matter, best to go out with brilliant clues like SLIPSHOD.

  17. Congratulation to Tracy on the double ton, farewell, and thanks for all the puzzles.

    A “proper” QC to bow out with. Very approachable, but with some very good clues. My favourites were ADJUST, and the excellent SLIPSHOD.

    SOFTEN was my LOI, which was also a very good clue.


  18. A delightful puzzle, thanks Tracy and Chris. Sorry to see the former go, I always looked forward to his puzzles.
    Apart from SOUGHT, my FOI, guessing that 1a (and therefore 1d) began with S, I found the NW corner slowest, LOI and COD being EDGE, which eventually cane after SOFTEN.
    Although tricky throughout, this was a steady solve, but still took longer than yesterday’s, some of which was very tricky. The heat must be getting to me.

  19. Lovely puzzle – zipped through in just under 18 mins (quick for me). Found the NW very chewy with UPRIGHT my LOI by around 3 minutes. FOI JETSAM, and even though I have no cricket knowledge (other than gleaned here) absolutely loved SLIPSHOD, my COD. I do the QC on my antiquated ipad so didn’t know it was Tracy’s last – many thanks and best wishes. Thanks too to Chris.

  20. I join everyone else in thanking Tracy for his excellent contributions and for making the milestone double ton. This one was bang on as usual with many well constructed clues.
    I think he may well have left us with a message about the dangers of global warming with his clue at 1ac. Link this with the answer for 17dn, and we may have his opinion on how the world is reacting to it!
    8.58 was my time, about a minute below target. Enjoy your well earned retirement Tracy 🙂👍

  21. A well-judged puzzle to end with. Thank you, Tracy. Some neat clues, just the right level of difficulty to make one think. Managed to solve it at a steady pace.

  22. 13 mins…

    Lucky enough to go to the cricket at Chester-le-Street today (although I’m definitely not looking forward to the heat). Perhaps the pressure of needing to get this finished before I left spurred me on, but I managed a better than a average time.

    Congrats to Tracy for their milestone.

    FOI – 4ac “Jetsam”
    LOI – 8ac “Upright”
    COD – 12ac “Slipshod” – appropriate in the circumstances.

    Thanks as usual!

  23. Tracy always gives me a bit of a struggle but I usually get there in the end, as was the case today.
    LOI 1D – I had to guess it eventually as didn’t see it as a homophone. No real problem with the remainder.
    Thank you Tracy for 200 puzzles.

  24. I found this one quite hard. I had to use aids for two answers (1a and 6d). Managed to get SLIPSHOD but had no idea how the clue worked until I came here.

  25. “I’m just an OUTCAST, don’t know how long I’m gonna last” (The Animals). Well, Tracy lasted 200 puzzles, and his quality and consistency deserve acclaim.

    This was a fitting farewell offering, with tips of the hat to the beaten T20 finalists (we wuz robbed !) and Dastardly Denise, the DRESSAGE queen.

    Last season my team (Altrincham, National League) made the mistake of giving a two year contract to a FORWARD who frequently hit the UPRIGHT. He was sent out on loan for the last half of the campaign. Maybe this season…..but I won’t hold my breath.

    TIME 4:16

    1. As opposed to “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good”.
      Please Busman, don’t let me be misunderstood!

  26. I thought this was a well judged puzzle by Tracy, with a good mix of straightforward clues and his trademark tricky ones. Like Merlin, the pick of the bunch for me , by a country mile, is 12ac, Slipshod. A 16min solve is much quicker than my average for Tracy, so it’s typical of my luck that this was his swansong – just as I was getting the hang of them ! Seriously, congratulations on reaching 200 and all the best for the future. Invariant

  27. Thank you Tracy and enjoy your retirement from the QC.
    FOI JETSAM and my LOI TALKING TO…not sure why. AS I SEE IT took longer than it should have and my COD goes to ADJUST. Just outside target in 09:29 (and just below Plett11 on the leaderboard).

  28. Most of what I got was done in first 20-mins. Next 50-mins only garnered OUTCAST/RETRACT/STOP/APATHY/TAKING-TO. The NW was left with 4 unsolved for a 1hr10 give up.

    Looking back through the QC6 book, I see that Tracy has produced 4 DNFs, 3 solves (2days, 3mths, 4 mths) and 2 still outstanding that I started a few weeks ago. In the nicest possible way, I won’t be sorry to see him go.

  29. 19 minutes but seemed faster. I started off well but slowed down when I was left with the SE and NW corners to complete. Eventually saw APATHY at 17dn which unlocked the SE with the NW falling soon after. The usual enjoyable tussle from Tracy so it’s sad to see him hanging up his pen.

    FOI – 10ac IN ALL
    LOI – 3dn EDGE
    COD – 12ac SLIPSHOD

    Congratulations to Tracy on the double hundred and thanks for the enjoyment.

  30. Thanks to Tracy for his puzzles over the years- I found this tricky but enjoyed many clues- especially 12A, once I cottoned on it wasn’t slapdash!

  31. I started quickly enough with JETSAM, IN ALL and SLIPSHOD, but then managed only one more (FORWARD) during my first pass through all of the clues. Several solutions (e.g. DRESSAGE) were on the tip of my tongue, but I just could not get them onto the page. Eventually, however, AS I SEE IT came to mind and it seemed to unblock my brain. All until my LOI (SOUGHT), that is. My alphabet trawl of S_U_H_ took 6-7 minutes – I’m always very slow at alphabet trawling, so I can’t really blame the heat. Total time = 32 minutes, so not bad in the end.

    Very many thanks and congratulations to Tracy – one of my more approachable setters, and thanks also to Chris.

  32. I sense a pattern developing! If I have a day when I get a sub-K, the following day will see at least a doubling in time 😅 So at 13 minutes it was pretty much 3K on the dot and a bit more than twice yesterday’s.
    So yes, I found this quite tricky but decided to just enjoy the ride – after all I’m not going anywhere. The knee is much more bendy today but turning a spectacular colour.
    I noticed quite a few cricket references today – I wonder whether Tracy is giving us a hint as to how he might spend some of his time now he’s freed up from compiling at least one crossword. SLIPSHOD was a great clue – the more I understand it, the better I realise it is, but there is one that just pipped the post for me.
    FOI In all LOI and COD Adjust
    Congrats on the 200, thanks and farewell to Tracy, and thanks – as ever – to Chris

  33. DNF and won’t try again. Sick of wasting my time. Will stick to concise and futoshiki from now on. Many thanks to all the bloggers for your advice, but I have to admit defeat.

    1. It depends if you enjoy it or not. If you do, stick at it.

      Start a useful word list (although mine is 1359 rows on excel now so not much use, starts at a=per and ends with zealous apostle=simon).
      Buy a book of previous QCs and then How to Master The Times Crossword by Tim Moorey.
      Just accept you might need to cheat for a while, maybe seeing what part is the definition, or revealing a few answers to get going.
      Study the blogs for the ones you didn’t get.
      After a while it will click and become more automatic.
      I still feel like a relative beginner on the 15×15.

    2. If you can’t get going with these things, read and understand the first part of the blog for the across answers and write them in. Then have a go at doing the downs and see how far you get. With a fair wind, the combination of crossers and a feel for the setters style should then get you home.

    3. What a shame, these puzzles and this site has given us much pleasure over the last few years. Another Ian.

    4. Sorry to see you go Ian. I have felt the same feelings of emotional burnout on these at times but was lucky enough to start seeing an upswing in my success. That said, I looked at my first Cryptic circa 1990 and dabbled over the years. It was only last year I discovered the supposedly Quick Cryptic and committed to giving it a good shot.

      The fire may come back for you and the blog will be here if so.


      1. The blog WILL be here, whenever. As for ‘wasting time’, have you ever had to hang around for a train/bus/someone else shopping/anything? If so, keep a printed cryptic in your pocket (a bit like a mask but vs boredom rather than a disease). It’s not a waste of time if it fills your time. Does anything worthwhile need to be quick and easy to be enjoyable?

  34. Thanks Tracy. Once again the perfect QC for me. A 20 minute solve.
    Never knew your real name till today. Perhaps you can pass on your nom de plume to someone whose name is two of Virgil Gordon John or Jeff.
    Happy retirement on your island? J

  35. Well done Tracy!

    Beat me today though.

    Failed on Upright and Sought as well as Stash (I put in Stock) – so didn’t get Slipshod, In All and Malady.

    Oh well here’s to tomorrow for me and a well deserved rest for Allan Scott.

    Thanks all

  36. When I first started doing these crosswords (about 2 years ago) I thought Tracy’s puzzles were very approachable for a beginner. Then it all went a bit pear-shaped and I really fell out with him! Today’s puzzle was fine though and I managed to get through without resorting to any aids. 20 mins on the dot. Wasn’t sure about UPRIGHT but nothing else seemed to fit. Had TALKING UP for a while but then light dawned. Thanks Tracy. Enjoy your retirement.

    1. Re: UPRIGHT – Tracy is one of those setters where I’m never particularly certain about some of the answers even when it’s the only possible set of letters that will fit. CAST=SHED, DEAL=TREAT being good examples for me today.

  37. We were slow solving the nw corner, but as usual from Tracy a very pleasant puzzle. Enjoy your retirement.

  38. An excellently crafted final puzzle. We will miss you, Tracy! I hope you have a long and busy retirement. Some real crackers in the clues had me starting in the SE and ending in the NW. Once I had seen my way to resolve 1a, then the others in the NW fell easily.

    FOI 4a Jetsam.
    LOI 3d Edge.
    COD shared between 8a Upright and 16d Adjust.

  39. Failed by three on the NW corner
    Good luck Tracy and thanks for giving us the brain work outs

  40. DNF

    Had TELLING TO and MALEDY. Spelt it correctly at first but then stupidly thought ALED must be the boy. Never did get STASH.

  41. I didn’t enjoy this at all. Never seemed to get going and although I only got one wrong (put telling to instead of talking to), I felt this puzzle was designed for someone with more skill than I possess. I need a few relatively easy write ins to get going and today there were very few. After a reasonably good period, I’m beginning to struggle again.

  42. I savoured this crossword, knowing it to be the last from Tracy. Loved so many of today’s clues with their smooth surfaces, with SLIPSHOD, ADJUST and APATHY highlights for me. Thank you, Tracy, for so much entertainment over the years, and wishing you the very best.

  43. Many thanks to Tracy for a consistent series of well crafted puzzles over the years, the final one being an excellent example, which incidentally encouraged me to feel that I am starting to see the Covid brain fog starting to recede!

  44. I just want to say how sorry I am that Tracy is taking well-earned retirement. He was the setter whose Quick Cryptics I most looked forward to, because of the elegance and wit of so many of the clues. Thank you Mr Tracy, you were F.A.B.

  45. Could someone please explain 1d = SOUGHT. A homophone apparently- what of?
    Solved all others, no problem!

    1. I’ve copied this from the blog above. If you’d like further clarification please let me know.

      Looked for variety in conversation (6)

      Looked for is the definition.
      SOUGHT is the answer – a homophone (in conversation) of variety=sort.

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