Times Quick Cryptic 2221 by Mara


This proved another in a run of not-very-quick cryptics for me. 12 minutes with the problem clue being 9dn. I liked the definition of 16dn.

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Wrecked, craft turned over and ditched (7)
TRASHED –  craft – art – turned over (TRA), ditched (SHED).
5 Fixture ends in drubbing: Chelsea team sublime (4)
GAME – drubbin(G) Chelse(A) tea(M) sublim(E).
7 Old South American soup found here? (5)
INCAN – tinned soup is found in a can.
8 Domain abandoned, heading for country, wandering homeless (7)
NOMADIC – anagram (abandoned) of DOMAIN, (C)ountry.
10 River mostly in Devon placed in Sussex, erroneously (3)
EXE – in Suss(EX E)rroneously. The Exe flows south from the source in Somerset but it is mostly in Devon.
11 Naval officer, one found in Botswana, surprisingly (9)
BOATSWAIN – one (I) found inside an anagram (surprisingly) of BOTSWANA.
13 Catch partner briefly returning (6)
ENTRAP – partner backwards less the last letter r(ENTRAP).
14 Snake seen behind opening in lavatory, run! (6)
LADDER – snake (ADDER) behind (L)avatory. Run as in stocking/tights.
17 Clueless, fumbling for light switch? (2,3,4)
IN THE DARK – one could be fumbling for a light switch if in the dark.
19 Pinch leg from the back (3)
NIP – leg – pin – backwards (NIP).
20 Duck or swallow? (3,4)
GET DOWN – double definition.
22 Coffee yet to arrive having eaten last of breakfast (5)
LATTE – yet to arrive (LATE) containing breakfas(T).
23 Dirty colour (4)
BLUE – double definition.
24 Danger at sea: English prepare to fight! (2,5)
EN GARDE – anagram (at sea) of DANGER, English (E).
1 Object passed round I figure later today (4,7)
THIS EVENING – object (THING) around I (I) and figure (SEVEN).
2 Old canine barking threateningly at first (7)
ANCIENT – anagram (barking) of CANINE, (T)hreateningly.
3 Worker on holiday, reportedly — one’s pulled up at end of journey (9)
HANDBRAKE – worker (HAND) on top of a homophone of break. No handbrake to pull up in my car (see 12dn).
4 Refusal reviewed in deal (6)
DENIAL – anagram (reviewed) of IN DEAL.
5 Stick face up (3)
GUM – face – mug – upwards (GUM).
6 Point raised about journalist for press etc (5)
MEDIA – point – aim – raised upwards (MIA) around journalist (ED).
9 Focus delivered a calmness, did you say? (11)
CENTREPIECE – great homophone here (did you say?) which foxed me for some time – ‘delivered a calmness’ – ‘sent a peace’. The focus of a display could be the centrepiece – which didn’t occur for too long.
12 Engine component to inspire commercial perhaps? (5,4)
SPARK PLUG – inspire (SPARK), commercial perhaps (PLUG). Been over a year since I got an electric car – no spark plugs or handbrake – I did a service the other day – checked the tyres and topped up with windscreen washer.
15 Teacher has work schedule written up for patron (7)
DONATOR – teacher (DON) work schedule – rota – upwards (ATOR).
16 Something that comes with filling is near ground (6)
SARNIE – anagram (ground) of IS NEAR.
18 Complete idiot ultimately has messed up a lot (5)
TOTAL – idio(T) anagram (messed up) of A LOT.
21 Figure in motion, exercising (3)
ONE – inside moti(ON E)xercising.


57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2221 by Mara”

  1. This took me too long, partly because I didn’t know the relevant meaning of ‘fixture’, partly because it took me a while to recall (barely known) SARNIE, but especially because I wasted a lot of time on 9d before I finally noticed that I’d typed BOATSWANA at 11ac. I only realized when coming here that I never did parse CENTREPIECE; just as well, as I’d never see the homophony (I’m rhotic). 9:13.

  2. Up early and online today.
    Finished in 10:18. LOI CENTREPIECE. An early biff of CONCENTRATE had to be backed out but it did not hold me up for too long.
    Otherwise I was mainly on the wavelength but Spark Plug and Handbrake required all the checkers.

  3. It became apparent right away that I was not going to sail through this one, the long Down answers at either side of the grid being my downfall. 13 minutes, with those two unparsed as I recorded my finishing time but they didn’t take long to sort out afterwards.

  4. 14 minutes and fast for me. Probably as fast as it gets with all parsed.
    FOI: ANCIENT followed by all the hangers from the top.
    LOI: SARNIE after a PDM.
    Favourite: LADDER for its surface and definition.

  5. Whizzed through most of this apart from the tricky CENTREPIECE. Like David, I dabbled with concentrate before the ‘e’ from LATTE gave me PIECE and then I reverse engineered it. My other minor hold up was spotting the anagram for LOI SARNIE.
    A very entertaining puzzle with LADDER being my standout clue for exactly describing my reaction to finding a snake anywhere near the facilities! Finished in 8.20
    Thanks to Chris

  6. 10’1” including a fat fingered pink square correction in LOI CENTREPIECE where I was also misdirected up by a similarly fat-fingered NIO vs NIP.

    Really like SARNIE as the misdirection had me cursing a crap clue – until I saw it.

    Also liked LADDER.

    A great puzzle all round I thought.

    Thanks Mara and Chris

  7. 8.52 with a typo

    On the train so fat-finger probability raised and so it proved

    As Sawbill said. Nice one

    Also had to adjust CONCENTRATE. Had BIT for NIP for a while. Wasn’t convinced so not a major delay but it’s not far off being a double answer (sort of)

    Thanks all

  8. I must confess that whenever I see a piece of obscure British slang or geography my heart soars in the hope that it might slow Kevin down a little. And lo, it has come to pass. Bless you SARNIE, you get my COD though I liked LOI CENTREPIECE too.

    Time 08:59 to squeak in for a sub-K and a Red Letter Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Chris.


  9. A splendid puzzle, which I started at a gallop, then got slowed down by some of the later clues – especially LOI Sarnie, as I was completely misled by the clue and simply wasn’t expecting such a colloquialism. 11 minutes in all and a most enjoyable workout.

    With Handbrake and Spark plug going in early I was looking for a motoring theme, but unless you count the time I Trashed a hire car by driving over a 50-ft cliff (45 years ago now but still a painful memory) I cannot find any other automotive references.

    Not sure I think very much of Donator as a word. It does exist, so one can’t blame Mara, but one wonders why – what’s wrong with Donor?

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  10. 12

    Just short of 12 minutes by a handful of seconds, and thoroughly enjoyed. Rushing off to golf now, so little time to expostulate. Thanks both.

  11. Oh dear, forgot to go back and check unfinished 16d. Using too faint a pencil today.
    Never mind, I enjoyed the rest of it. INCAN made me laugh aloud so it is COD.
    FOI THIS EVENING. Among the LOsI were TRASHED and HANDBRAKE (which is kind of automatic in my car). Also slow on CENTREPIECE and the witty LADDER.
    I suppose BLUE is dirty in the sense of joke or film.
    Lots to like in this puzzle but not all parsed so thanks, Chris.

  12. Struggled with the top left corner until I got ‘this evening’ – I think 1a is a tough start. I expect sarnie might be in dictionaries by now but it feels slang to me and I wasn’t keen on it. Tough indeed but fair enough I think . Thanks setter and blogger

  13. Starting with EXE and DENIAL, i then drew a blank for the rest of the NW corner, so moved on. Nothing came particularly easily, but I eventually worked my way back to finish with ENTRAP. Liked INCAN and HANDBRAKE (mine is button operated). 8:47. Thanks Mara and Chris.

  14. A rare and surprising sub-10 as nothing came that easily. Eight on the first pass of acrosses and a bit of a delay at the end for LADDER and LOI CENTREPIECE. Enjoyed the deceptive simplicity of just shortening and reversing partner for ENTRAP.

  15. It seems most of our experienced solvers are taking longer than usual on this one, and for some reason I am in the opposite camp. I seemed attuned to Mara today finishing in 7.42. In fact the answers were going in so rapidly I was actually disappointed to find this was my time, as it seemed quicker. I did initially get one wrong by putting in DRAB instead of BLUE for 22across, and this slowed my gallop.

  16. Started with 1d, but hesitated over Thrashed for 1ac until I had some crossers. After that it was plain sailing until the SE corner. Couldn’t see Ladder nor Nip, which made Donator tricky until the pdm. That still left the dreaded homophone at 9d, but by then the crossers thankfully didn’t leave me much choice, and I did at least have the pick of the coach seats as a consolation. CoD to 16d, Sarnie, for the smile. Invariant

  17. Looks like I’ve done OK today, being a big fan of a SARNIE (preferably roast beef, watercress and a dab of horseradish) probably helped, as did not wating to parse THIS EVENING.

    LOI was ENTRAP, which was deceptively simple. I liked ANCIENT and CENTREPIECE. MER at DONATOR, but only due to my unfamiliarity with the word.

    A pleasing symmetry to my time as well.


  18. A slow solve in 15:26. 1dn and 1ac both went in unparsed – thank you Chris for the explanations. My LOI was 13ac, where I had been held up by assuming that “partner briefly” must mean EX.

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, though, like some others, I did find this one a bit tricky in places. My last one in was ANCIENT. I can’t believe I didn’t perceive barking as being an anagram indicator.

    Great puzzle, Mara is perhaps my favourite setter. Their puzzles are always fair.

      1. Thank you! 👍. I didn’t want to risk offending Mara by saying “she” or “he” and getting it wrong.

        Do we have any female setters?

        1. I’m inclined to think not. We had hopes of Margaret (of Bob and Margaret) but the Editor rather put the kibosh on that one long ago. B&M set only 4 puzzles for us anyway, their most recent being in November 2020.

          1. “…but the Editor rather put the kibosh on that one long ago.” Sounds like there might be an interesting story there…? Like, why was the kibosh put on Margaret?

            1. I can’t find the quote now but the editor made a cryptic remark, something about having doubts that Margaret was a woman. I had a theory at one time that ‘Bob and Margaret’ was one of the many pseudonyms used by the editor but I don’t know now what I based that on.

  20. All done and dusted in 30 minutes, but could so easily have escaped the SCC. SARNIE, DENIAL, TRASHED and HANDBRAKE all put up stiff resistance, and CENTREPIECE (my LOI) took 7 minutes to fall at the end. I found CONTRA_____ very quickly and spent ages making up words like CONTRAPLETE and CONTRAPHERE. None of them made sense of the clue, of course, so I just had to wait until CENTRE_____ appeared.

    Mrs Random is visiting her parents today, so despite my frustratingly slow finish, I can bask in the glory of being family champion – for a few hours, at least.

    Many thanks to Mara and Chris.

    1. I think 30 mins is pretty good today. There were some tricky ones. One day we’ll crack the SCC!

  21. Somewhat slower today, at nearly 12 minutes, but no less enjoyable for that. Some of the clues really made me chuckle – I’m wondering if Mara is a Chelsea fan, and if he’s been having trouble with his car recently! I did particularly like INCAN, GET DOWN and TOTAL.
    I felt sure that Laurie wouldn’t have any problems with the wordplay for 2d today 😄
    FOI Game LOI Sarnie COD Ladder (not a problem any more as I pretty much only wear jeans and T-shirts * since I stopped work!)
    Many thanks Mara and Chris

    * I found the biggie pretty easy today – and there is a very entertaining clue at 20a. Well, I liked it a lot anyway 😊

    1. 20a in the 15×15:
      Wonders will never cease! I have just looked at it and actually managed to solve it – without any of its checkers, and in only 30s or so. Mind you, Mrs R would have had me put down on grounds of senility if I hadn’t got it. 70s prog is my thing and RW has autographed a couple of my vinyl albums of theirs.

      1. Brilliant! Did you try the rest of the puzzle?
        MrB is a massive fan and went to a meet and greet recently, for a birthday treat. Unfortunately one member had recently died and because of Covid, the band weren’t doing the personal stuff either 🙄 Still he enjoyed it. I think he’s seen them 8 or 9 times! It’s Pink Floyd and ELP for me.
        Predictive text tried to make Pink into Oink 🤣🤣

  22. My FOI was TRASHED and just a few clues required a second glance for a quick solve. The dodgy homophone (actually the more I say it the less dodgy it seems) CENTREPIECE was certainly one of them. INCAN and BLUE also required some cogitation and the letter juggling for SARNIE pushed me over 7 mins. 7:12 for a very good day which I’m upgrading to excellent based on the average solving times above.

    1. Keep going Ian. I’ve been doing these for about 18 months now and I began by getting say seven or eight and gradually building up. I’m still one of the slowest solvers but persistence will pay off in the end.

      1. We’ve all been there – even the ‘Ferrari set’. Enjoying the mental exercise is all – the more you enjoy, the more you’ll do and the more proficient you’ll get. Have fun!

  23. 20:14. DONATOR took me the longest.Also THIS EVENING was slow to come. I saw that “is near” must be an anagram but kept rearranging letters looking for something in the pastry line. Finally SARNIE was dredged up from childhood visits to aunts who had recently emigrated (early 1950’s) from London. Focus and calmness immediately made me think CENTREPIECE so I missed the clever parsing till I came here. Thanks for that and rest of very helpful blog!

  24. dnf…fell at the final hurdle, the irony being I was eating a sandwich whilst trying to get 16dn.

    Kept thinking of pie, tart, pasty and any other filling combination apart from the obvious. The rest of it I enjoyed a lot (the crossword that is)

    FOI – 5ac “Game”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 9dn “Centrepiece”

    Thanks as usual!

  25. “You’re a bad dog baby, but I still want you around” (Gilbert O’Sullivan : GET DOWN). So bad, it’s probably barking….

    I found this generally straightforward. Maybe the corned beef and mustard SARNIE I’d just had for lunch was inspirational !

    TIME 3:49

  26. We are in Norfolk for a few days and I had problems downloading the paper. I started late and used the (unfamiliar) ‘new’ Times App. I finished within target but then was shown an error message and the clock kept ticking. I finally realised that ONE had been mistyped as OEE. I don’t like the settings for entering answers (I must have had ‘skip filled squares’ set wrongly). So, a technical dnf.
    I’ll be back to the trusty ‘Classic’ Times download tomorrow. I like the certainty of the familiar in this case,
    Thanks to both. John M.

  27. A relatively speedy 12:46 for me. Held up by CENTREPIECE, where I forgot the British spelling for the longest time, and LOI SARNIE, where it took me ages to spot the anagram. COD LADDER. Thanks to setter & blogger.

  28. Alas, being a filthy American proved my downfall! 😉 Muddled through most of it well enough, but the southeast* corner had me totally stumped. Guessed SARNIE based entirely on the anagrist. I always forget the word “don” so when I had 15d ending in -TOR I thought it had to involve TUTOR somehow; went to bed and then when I woke up in the middle of the night I looked at the puzzle again and it popped into my head.

    Then it was just endless glaring and squinting and muttering over 14a … until I finally admitted semi-defeat and checked my grid, whereupon I discovered that the answer to 9d was *not* “CENTERPIECE” 🙁 🙁 🙁

    (I’m kidding on the dramatics, of course. Fun puzzle as always!)

    * initially called this southwest in my comment. I’m telling you, I can’t do geography!

  29. Great puzzle! Sarnie – lovely clue – is in my (battered) 2011 Chambers. Several clues, and solutions, to raise a smile. COD 24a – EN GARDE – took me a while to see this was (mostly) an anagram. Grateful thanks!

  30. I thoroughly enjoyed this QC. Some brilliant clues. By no means a fast solve, but a very satisfying one.

    Thank you for an excellent blog.

  31. 18:50

    Struggled to get started with both TRASHED and THIS EVENING eluding me for a long time but really held up by LOI CENTREPIECE having seen PIECE straight away but not realising the whole thing was a homophone.

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