Times Quick Cryptic 2196 by Pedro

This was an odd solve as I didn’t click with any acrosses until somewhere in the bottom half. The SE then filled in followed by NE and then the rest, finishing in the SW. My last two were the crossing 17ac and 14dn.
This all seemed to take an age, yet I finished 30 seconds within 10 minutes.

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Area covered by second best doctor on a temporary basis (7)
STOPGAP – area (A) somewhere inside second (S) best (TOP) and doctor (GP).
5 Journalist, heading away from hut (4)
HACK – first letter off hut s(HACK).
7 Insect having an insect’s tail (3)
ANT – an (AN) insec(T).
8 I’m blocking a friend’s ill-feeling (8)
ACRIMONY – I’m (IM) blocking a friend (A CRONY).
10 Scandinavian taking in opening of contemporary ballet? (5)
DANCE – Scandinavian (DANE) around (C)ontemporary.
11 Information from those on the ground? (3-4)
LOW-DOWN – on the ground is low down – especially the older you get or if you have a leg injury…
13 Clear evidence of leg injury I had (6)
LIMPID – evidence of leg injury (LIMP) I had (I’D).
15 One small particle? In favour of 100 (6)
PROTON – in favour of (PRO) 100 (TON).
17 Relative area reduced by half? Not sure (7)
UNCLEAR – relative (UNCLE) half of (AR)ea.
18 Joint work brought back large animal (5)
HIPPO – joint (HIP – another leg related clue) work backwards (PO).
20 Certain sailors appearing with old instrument (8)
ABSOLUTE – sailors (ABS) old (O) instrument (LUTE).
22 Border crime dismissive of borders (3)
RIM – c(RIM)e.
23 Quiet appreciation of music bears fruit (4)
PEAR – quiet (P) appreciation of music (EAR – as in ‘have an ear for’).
24 Crashed bus brought in by worker’s partner (7)
HUSBAND – anagram (crashed) of BUS inside worker (HAND).
1 Dreadful, and almost entirely accepted by Liverpudlian, mostly (10)
SCANDALOUS – and (AND) and almost entirely (AL)l inside Liverpudlian mostly (SCOUS)e.
2 Frequently become milder after losing head (5)
OFTEN – become milder after losing head s(OFTEN).
3 Viticulture’s rumour mill? (9)
GRAPEVINE – reference to wine making.
4 Place bedecked in unalloyed imperial colour (6)
PURPLE – place (PL) inside unalloyed (PURE).
5 Sound of activity in university Her Majesty is going round (3)
HUM – university (U) with Her Majesty (HM) going round.
6 Partner is criminal type (7)
CONSORT – criminal (CON) type (SORT).
9 Ignorant, like many soldiers about end of operation (10)
UNINFORMED – like many soldiers (UNIFORMED) about operatio(N).
12 Ramshackle Welsh store closing early, offering zero value (9)
WORTHLESS – anagram (ramshackle) of WELSH STORe – no ‘e’ as ‘closing early’.
14 Spooky horse seen around hackney carriage? (7)
MACABRE – horse (MARE) seen around hackney carriage (CAB).
16 Squat bed with end of cover tucked in (6)
CROUCH – bed (COUCH) holding cove(R).
19 Father wrapping large boat in insulated coat (5)
PARKA – father (PA) outside large boat (ARK).
21 60 minutes showing no opening for us (3)
OUR – h(OUR).


69 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2196 by Pedro”

  1. I really vibe with Pedro. I’ve done a few of his crosswords in the QC books and they’ve always been easier than say.. Izetti’s.

    I finished this in 20.45, all parsed except for Purple which I had to come here to understand, thank you for that Chris!

    I had to hope that a Liverpool person was a Scouse, but it worked out.

    Does anyone know if any of the setters are women? Just out of interest? I thought there might be one or two but I can’t think of any.

    Foi: RIM
    Loi: CROUCH (I didn’t think of couch as a bed but Collins reminded me of those couches in psych offices)
    Cod: GRAPEVINE just for being a wine clue I got

    Now if I can finish today’s Super Fiendish sudoku I’m gonna gave a great day 😀
    (narrator: dear readers, she did finish the sudoku but it took a full 42 minutes 😩)

    1. All the regular QC setters whose identities are known to us are men. There are a few occasionals as yet still unknown. The only obviously female name amongst them is Margaret of ‘Bob and Margaret’ (only four puzzles set to date, the most recent being in November 202o) but the Crossword Editor once remarked here somewhat cryptically that he was not even sure that Margaret is female.

      1. Just as a matter of interest: do we know who Oink is? I hope – like Breadman – that his name is appropriate!

        1. Oink is one of the newer setters and as far as I’m aware his name has not been made public.

    2. Scouse is actually a stew made with meat, potatoes, and onions. It’s associated with Liverpool, and the natives of that city are more commonly known as SCOUSERS.

      1. Ooh I didn’t know that about the stew, thanks!

        I knew that scouse was an informal name for people somewhere in England but honestly if you told me it was Manchester or something else I would have believed you.

    3. To add to Jack’s comment, the last time I looked there were only a handful of women setting for the usual papers, and none that I know of setting the QC:

      Sarah Hayes (Arachne in Guardian, Anarche in Indy, Rosa Klebb in FT). She hasn’t set for any of these papers for several years but I believe she does set for the Times (she definitely set the Grand Final puzzle in the 2019 Times Crossword Championship). Fun puzzles that are worth visiting the Guardian/Indy/FT archives for.
      Margaret Irvine (Nutmeg in Guardian and also sets for the Times)
      Wendy Law (Zamorca in FT, Hectence in Guardian Quiptics)
      Victoria Godfrey (Vigo in Indy, Carpathian in Guardian Quiptics)

  2. 16:57. Really liked STOPGAP, ACRIMONY,ABSOLUTE and MACABRE. I’ve seen LIMPID in novels but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used in speech.

    1. Were they the feared ‘her eyes were limpid pools of blue’ cliche found in the worst romance novels? 😂

      Second only to ‘his eyes were cerulean orbs’

  3. Biffed STOPGAP & SCANDALOUS. I had trouble parsing SCANDALOUS until I realized that I’d read ‘Liverpudlian’ as ‘Lilliputian’! 5:35.

  4. I completed this in 9 minutes. I was slightly delayed over ABSOLUTE as my LOI because I had carelessly written CROCHH at 15dn and I took a moment to spot my error.

  5. 1011 Vikings sack Canterbury

    10:11, and pleased to see GRAPEVINE after a visit to one of England’s largest wineries yesterday. Never really knew what LIMPID meant, I guess I thought it was an adjective from “limp” meaning weak, with undertones of “vapid”. I am now better equipped for Jackie Collins et al.


  6. I don’t seem to vibe with Pedro. I struggled a lot here with too many parsed after running through the possibilities: STOPGAP, ACRIMONY, CROUCH and PURPLE. LIMPID went the other way, unknown but plausible from parsing. Tried to put SCOUS (by Liverpudlian mostly) at the end of what became SCANDALOUS which caused trouble. All green in 17.

  7. 1d is how I would describe this puzzle today. I really couldn’t get anywhere with it. Better luck tomorrow.

  8. Another 16-minute completion. Which was a surprise as it seemed longer and relied on wordplay for many answers.
    FOI: HUM.
    LOI: After a PDM PROTON.

  9. 9 minutes for me today and a bottom-to-top solve as on first pass very few of the top half went in. But the bottom yielded more readily and I worked my way back up. LOI Purple, biffed and never parsed – once I saw it started with a P I got fixed on that P being the Place and could not then make any sense of the URPLE. Obvious though when I read the blog!

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  10. This felt quite chewy in places with the LIMPID/MACABRE intersection requiring a bit of thought, but a steady solve was taken over target due to an eyesight problem – or that’s what I’m claiming.
    For some reason I read the last word of 6a as ‘fruit’, not hut, and several trawls through all the fruit I could think of left me the none wiser as to what was going on. Eventually I chucked in HACK unparsed which led to LOI CONSORT and came here for enlightenment 🤦‍♂️.
    Crossed the line in 10.14
    Thanks to Chris

  11. I like the concept of a LIMPID PROTON, although quantum physics and Heisenberg probably prohibit it! 12 minutes for me this morning for this very pleasant romp through Pedro’s creativity. Other favourites were the scouse, the crony and the crew. Thanks both!

  12. A slower solve than it seemed – 2 mins over target at 17.
    I particularly liked ACRIMONY, SCANDALOUS, MACABRE, and LIMPID.
    Thanks to Pedro and to Chris (esp. for parsing purple for me). John M.

  13. Lazily looked up Partner in the end as I want to get out into the garden before it’s too hot. Pity as I was winning through, so CONSORT LOI.
    Clever puzzle, thanks for blog, Chris. Must admit I had to jump about the grid to get going.

  14. A trifle crapulous this morning. That’s my excuse.

    FOI HACK, LOI CONSORT, COD SCANDALOUS, time 10:45 for 2K and a Poor Day.

    Many thanks Chris and Pedro.


    1. I don’t have an excuse and I was only 4s faster than you! Still, I can’t say I’ve had a poor day as I gained a Strava QOM on a bike ride this morning. Fastest of 504 females on a half mile segment right outside my Mallorcan home. (Desdeeloeste)

      1. Great news re: Strava QoM. Was it from a standing start? Fully warmed-up, I presume. Respect!

        1. Not a standing start…. it was at the end of a 26 mile ride (too hot for a longer ride) but I have cycled the segment over a hundred times according to my Strava feed.

  15. All done except 16d crouch in about 6 mins then about the same with a coffee break to get that. Didn’t really equate bed with couch but I’ve slept on a few so can’t complain.

    COD Limpit.

  16. I thought this was on the harder side of average, so I was feeling quite pleased about squeezing in a sub-20 until I read the comments above. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as hard as I thought, or maybe trying to parse 1d (andal 🤔) took up too much time. Anyway, lots to enjoy from Pedro, with a photo-finish between Macabre and Husband for CoD. Invariant

  17. Like Chris I struggled to see many answers at all at a first look through, then got a few lower down and afterwards worked through steadily. Last in were MACABRE and ABSOLUTE.

  18. As with Chris, took time to get on Pedro’s wavelength. After PEAR, ANT and RIM, nothing came to mind for a time then top half flowed followed by SE. Liked ACRIMONY, ABSOLUTE and MACABRE – LOI. Expected to see pools after limpid. Couldn’t fully parse SCANDALOUS as missed AL from ‘almost entirely’ – AL was not ‘entirely’ almost, only part of it, had to read this blog for an explanation.
    Thanks, Pedro and Chris.

    1. I see what you mean but AL wasn’t part of (al)most but almost a synonym for entirely which is ALL – hence (AL)l.

  19. 17 mins…

    Enjoyed this, lots of nice clues with about 4 mins stuck on my LOI 9dn “Uninformed”. For some reason I was convinced Pedro was being clever and it was about bread.

    FOI – 7ac “Ant”
    LOI – 9dn “Uninformed”
    COD – 1ac “Stopgap”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. Not the easiest today, and put a few wrong answers in before correcting. Managed to finish under target at 9.00, but wouldn’t have been surprised to find I’d gone over as it seemed longer. LIMPID must be virtually unused nowadays, having personally only seen it used in Victorian poetry.

  21. Bottom end of target range for me.

    ACRIMONY or MACABRE my favourites, LOI was ACRIMONY.


  22. “PURPLE haze all in my brain” (Jimi Hendrix), and while I didn’t quite descend to the depths of that abyss, this seemed a tricky piece of work from Pedro. Bang on my target in the end, and I enjoyed the challenge.

    TIME 5:00

  23. 4:46 this morning, so within target for what I felt was a pleasant QC from Pedro, with one of two clues which required a re-visit before yielding.
    FOI 1 ac “stopgap”, which was a bit “fiddly” with “gp” for “doctor” clinching it.
    Stalled at 8 ac “acrimony” being fixated at first by “animosity”.
    Liked 9 ac “uninformed” and 12 d “worthless”.
    LOI 16 d “crouch” as some others have said. Not too sure why, perhaps couch and bed aren’t completely synonymous??
    Thanks to Pedro and Chris.

  24. This one stretched me to my target and just beyond, but came in all green at 10:07. ANT was FOI and PURPLE LOI. Took me longer than usual to decode many of the clues. Thanks Pedro and Chris.

  25. A very slow solve for me today… Had to really dig in to complete and fully parse without looking anything up. Lots of PDMs for rather straightforward clues, so not my best showing. Held up significantly by STOPGAP (couldn’t see that ‘A’ went inside GP for ages – still not quite sure about it…) and PURPLE. Finally limped across the line in around 40mins – hard work today! Liked HUSBAND and SCANDALOUS. Many thanks all, especially Chris and Pedro.

  26. 57mins for first solve since Weds. That was a struggle and I felt demoralised early on at reading two consecutive clues involving “viticulture” and “unalloyed” thinking it was likely to be another DNF. Not my every day words but strangely I managed to decrypt the latter to “pure” but then the clue held out until four from the end.

    Did about 2/3s of it in first 25-mins and then took another 30-mins to put answers all over the top right half. Couldn’t unravel WORTHLESS for an age despite seeing exactly what to do. NHO LIMPID.

    Overall, I felt it was one of those QCs where it’s all obvious when you know the answer but biffing or inspiration required to get them. Every checker needed!

    Thanks to Chris and Pedro 🙂

    1. Re: limpid – my years of reading those romances really are paying off, who would have thought! Ugly sounding word, imo, and a bit of a meme now, tbh, as a word used by those who like lurid prose or just badly written romances and self insert fantasy fiction. So not sure if one actually benefits from knowing the word lol

      Great work finishing a puzzle with words you don’t know!

      1. “self insert fantasy fiction” … are you sure that’s in the romance and not erotic section?!?!

        Your 21+ mins is good though. Pedro is the man for you! Less so for me, looking at QC book #6, I’ve still got two of his four grids with clues unsolved and the other two took five days or so.

  27. I’ve been so late getting to the blog over the last few days that I haven’t bothered to post – but my results were not worth recording anyway! In fact, I’ve had a run of DNFs. Today was better, which is interesting, because usually I find Pedro quite tricky. It was fine – nothing really stood out but I liked the juxtaposition of DANCE and MACABRE (think Jonathan Creek). A good earworm to have 😊 All done and dusted in 7:15.
    FOI Hack LOI Uninformed
    Thanks Pedro and Chris

    1. “… a run of DNFs”? Oh dear! Very unusual (I think), but well done again today.

      1. Yep! Three in a row 😱 Even yesterday’s Oink, and I usually find him reasonably approachable. Oh well…

  28. A good mix of write-ins and think-outs. Too many distractions to register but neither fastest or slowest.
    Thanks Pedro and Chris

  29. All done and dusted in 25 minutes, which is jolly good for me. Also, everything parsed as I went along and no ridiculously long hold-ups over my last few. How strange!

    1a (STOPGAP) went in more-or-less straight away – a most welcome change for me – and I made steady progress throughout my first pass through the clues. My last four were LOW-DOWN, PURPLE, ACRIMONY and CONSORT, which were all interconnected in the NE corner.

    Mrs Random will not attempt Pedro’s puzzle today, as she is busy making a traditional-style teddy bear for her mother’s upcoming 90th birthday. Mrs R is much more talented than me, in almost every way I can think of. She sometimes says that she’s sure I excel in something – if only she could remember what.

    Many thanks to Pedro and Chris.

    1. I bet Mrs Random isn’t as good with a spreadsheet and record of QCs as you are! Maybe that’s where you excel … 😀

  30. Slowish to start but then scampered through this with no significant hold-ups. Never managed to parse STOPGAP and only partially parsed SCANDALOUS but otherwise all good. Finished in 12 minutes, quite fast by my standards, and especially fast for a Pedro, who I often find tricky.

    FOI – 7ac ANT
    LOI – 13ac LIMPID
    COD – 11ac LOW-DOWN

    Thanks to Pedro for an approachable puzzle and to Chris for the explanations in the blog.

  31. Over our modest target, found some clues tricky to unravel. Could not see couch for bed in 16d. We blame the weather for our slow brains. However, enjoyed the comments as ever.

  32. Could not get on the wavelength today. Managed to finish but needed aids. Didn’t even try to parse some of them. I think the sun fried my brain at the coast this morning.

  33. Thought I was going to struggle after a lacklustre start, but gradually plodded through. Struggled with some of the parsing, but thoroughly enjoyable. LOI – 16dn which should perhaps have been one of the easier ones to get.

    Great blog as ever.

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