Times Quick Cryptic 2225 by Joker

Hi everyone.  I enjoyed this puzzle from Joker; for me it was mid-range difficulty, but I’m used to being out of step with the majority of you on that front so will await your input with interest.  I particularly liked 1d.  Thanks Joker!

After some nice comments on my last blog, I’ve added a little detail in places for those of you who are less practised in the cryptic dark arts.

In particular, there are times where parts of the clue may look like they have no function and should just be ignored.  A good example of this is how setters like to employ the humble ‘S to have different meanings in the superficial (surface) reading of the clue and in the cryptic analysis.  In 1a and 23a you could solve the clue perfectly well by simply ignoring the ‘s – but a good setter will never add in extraneous material.  All parts of the clue should serve some kind of purpose, even if this is optional and could be removed without harming the clue (see for example 14a).

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a Insect’s dance? And what might end it? (8)
MOTHBALL MOTH (insect) + BALL (dance).  In the cryptic interpretation, ‘s = has, indicating that the two parts go next to each other.  The definition refers back to the wordplay part of the clue: it = insect’s dance
5a Where’s Tobermory? A bit in from Ullapool (4)
MULL — Some of (a bit in) froM ULLapool
8a Third month at home before good travelling with army (8)
MARCHING MARCH (third month) + IN (at home) preceding (before) G (good)
9a Short car journey goes quickly on the return (4)
SPIN NIPS (goes quickly) when reversed (on the return)
11a Native blue dye — American, without English name (10)
INDIGENOUS INDIGO (blue dye) and US (American) outside (without, the opposite of within) E (English) and N (name)
14a Purchased in branch, taking little time (6)
BOUGHT BOUGH (branch) next to (taking) the abbreviation for (little) T.  It is true that the abbreviation of time doesn’t need to be signalled, but it is perfectly ok to do this
15a Buy back embarrassed leaders in European export market (6)
REDEEM RED (embarrassed) + the first letters of (leaders in) European Export Market
17a Artfully do a girl a turn in a three-sided relationship (10)
TRIANGULAR — Make an anagram of (artfully do) A GIRL A TURN
20a Large-scale electronic image? (4)
EPIC EPIC (electronic image?)
21a Go to court, having set fire to one barrier (8)
LITIGATE LIT (having set fire to) + I (one) + GATE (barrier)
22a Swarm starting to encircle every man (4)
TEEM — The letters beginning (starting) To Encircle Every Man
23a Ship carrying queen’s flag (8)
STREAMER STEAMER (ship) containing (carrying) R (queen).  In the cryptic reading here, ‘s = is, linking the two parts of the clue like so: {answer given by wordplay} is {answer given by definition}
1d Pretend to play two different but identical notes (4)
MIME MI and ME are two spellings of the same musical note (the third of the scale in sol-fa notation), hence we have two different (in spelling) but identical (in tone) notes
2d End of school period (4)
TERM — Two definitions
3d Where one might conceal a cough a little late (10)
BEHINDHAND — Where one might conceal a cough a little? BEHIND HAND
4d Flatulent ileitis is partly produced by this vegan food (6)
LENTIL — FlatuLENT ILeitis is partly made up of (is partly produced by) the answer.  A rather novel way of indicating a hidden word, but it works
6d A French patissier emptied oven to see how dough is before rising (8)
UNPROVEN UN (a, French) + PatissieR without the middle letters (emptied) + OVENNaturally, I spent a few moments thinking of types of oven before I realised that this particular clue ingredient came oven-ready, so to speak!
7d Left one’s home in the East End abandoned (8)
LONESOME L (left) + ONES + ‘OME (home, in the East End)
10d Having the means of production, I’ve reagent to get made up (10)
GENERATIVE IVE REAGENT anagrammed (to get made up)
12d Nevertheless, chaps in a tango will give support (8)
ABUTMENT BUT (nevertheless) and MEN (chaps) in A and T (tango, NATO alphabet code word)
13d Very demanding wordplay I have put round it (8)
PUNITIVE PUN (wordplay) + IVE (I have) put round IT
16d Queen isn’t commonly old-fashioned (6)
QUAINT QU (queen) + AINT (isn’t, commonly)
18d Impair appeal when going topless (4)
HARM — cHARM (appeal) without the first letter (when going topless)
19d Expensive source of venison reported (4)
DEAR — A homophone of (… reported) DEER (source of venison)

45 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2225 by Joker”

  1. I couldn’t have answered the question in 5ac; the only Tobermory I knew was a cat in a Saki story. But I saw the hidden (didn’t know where MULL was, either). I didn’t know the relevant meaning of UNPROVEN, and hesitated a bit before putting it in. Kitty, at 19d I think you meant DEER (source of venison). 6:40

  2. I was not in the mood to be patient with myself today because I have a lot to be getting on with

    So when I saw the long words and the even longer clues I just gave up a bit. I got maybe half of the clues in about 15 minutes. Looking at the blog I still think I would have DNF’ed.

    I nho Behindhand and Mull

    1. Ha, same here! Normally I’ll pick at it until I finish or completely want to cry, but today I had enough other stuff to do that I was like, “Oh, just hit ‘reveal’ already” 😀

      Also nho BEHINDHAND or MULL! (Except Martin Mull, haha)

  3. 21:32. I was able to solve everything at a steady pace after forty or fifty seconds on each clue. Looking back I think I would usually be seven or eight minutes quicker in a puzzle like this when there were no major hold-ups. I wonder if I were possibly unconsciously indulging in some day-dreaming? Kitty, I appreciate you taking the time and effort to give us more detailed explanations -really helpful.

  4. In retrospect, I should have wondered who on earth MIMI was supposed to be. Oh well.

    I assumed the “it” that is ended in 1ac is the moth itself. Is this right? Do mothballs kill moths? I had my stomach pumped when I was 3yo because I ate some (mothballs) so I’ve lived with this assumption that they are highly toxic and kill moths instantly, but now that I’m typing it out it sounds ridiculous….

    1. I wondered briefly about ‘it’, but only briefly. But what indeed is ended? Mothballs are used to keep moths away, not to kill them.

        1. Obviously. I’m just fascinated that I’ve had this false notion mothballed away in some corner of my brain, unexamined for decades

  5. 12 minutes, so another missed target for me. As Tina has mentioned, the clues are mostly long ones so there is a lot for the solver to process, or certainly more than usual, which surely has to add a bit to the solving time.

    Additionally I was slowed by writing INDIGINOUS at 11 which made 10 difficult to solve as my LOI and I only corrected my error when I realised I had two I-checkers but only one I in the anagrist.

    In a variation on our ‘Ninja Turtle’ device, my first thought when I saw Tobermory was of The Wombles.

  6. Thought this tough and it took me ages to come up with MOTHBALL LITIGATE PUNITIVE and BEHINDHAND.

    Didn’t take me long to see the anagram in 10D but unfortunately ‘regenative’ isn’t a word but GENERATIVE is and my mistake had no crossers to help correct it so a 20 minute DNF.

    Thanks Joker and Kitty

  7. 23 minutes with careful attention to WP.
    FOI: MIME.
    LOI: GENERATIVE needing all the checkers.
    Favourite: BOUGHT. I liked MIME too.

  8. I found this tough. I was very slow to start – only about 5 clues on first pass – and thereafter dotted around in a random and clearly not very efficient way for a 16 minute solve in the end. All eventually parsed, and so understood, but in general this was one of those puzzles I never really felt confident that I had its measure.

    LOI was Generative, not a word I’m familiar with and anagrams where all the checkers are vowels I always find challenging.

    Many thanks to Kitty for the informative blog.

  9. Phone induced slowness? Too many vowel checkers?

    Perhaps. MOTHBALL, BEHINDHAND (LOI and COD), MIME, ABUTMENT, and PUNITIVE all held me up.


  10. Bit of a nightmare for me. Felt as if I was wading through treacle with this one and made the same mistake as MangoMan with REGENATIVE instead of GENERATIVE, so 3 pink squares. Completed the grid in a sluggish 15.48.
    Thanks to Kitty

  11. Can’t agree with Kitty that this was mid range difficulty, I thought it was a typical Joker offering, tougher than average. I finished in 10.20, although outside of target, I was relatively happy with that.
    May not get to the 15×15 till much later, like most people I’m sure will be glued to the box.

  12. Hard yards here too, struggling with BEHINDHAND, ABUTMENT (I was sure it would end AMENT and so had the A in the wrong place) and PUNITIVE. In the end 15:12 only to see the dreaded pink square for BEHINDHNND.

    One to forget. Next!


  13. I was lucky to get a physical paper this morning. I got the final copy of The Times at my local garage-people buying multiple copies apparently.
    Anyway, the planned relaxed solve turned into a bit of a struggle. LOI LITIGATE after STREAMER.
    A hard working 14 minutes in all which I now see does not look too bad.
    Like Kitty, I thought MIME was very good. And I now know what ABUTMENT.

  14. Saved from the SCC by one minute – 19 to save you doing the math(s). ABUTMENT was LOI, but nothing much held me up, just slow throughout. I bifd BEHINDTIME initially, and I suppose that took me a little while to resolve. Thanks Kitty and Joker – excellent blog Kitty.

  15. An on target solve achieved and some general knowledge acquired. I didn’t realise Tobermory (more familiar as a Womble) is in Mull. I’m unfamiliar with the term BEHINDHAND but I suppose it makes sense when I consider the definition of beforehand. Sniggered at the cluing for LENTIL and LOI ABUTMENT in 8:56.

    1. Tobermory is also a fine malt whisky produced in the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull. The womble would be my second word association. 🙂

  16. Another ‘little teaser’ from Joker to start the week. Got there in the end, but I took nearly 30mins to work my way through the grid. Lots of ‘what on earth. . .’ moments trying to work out what the definition was, and very few gifts, made for a difficult solve – or perhaps my mind was elsewhere today. CoD to loi 7d, Lonesome, which didn’t involve CRS. Invariant

  17. I solved this in a relaxed way with one eye on events on the TV and probably took around 20 mins. My last 2 were 1a and 1d. My COD was INDIGENOUS.
    Thanks to Joker and to Kitty for a good blog. John M.

  18. Dnf…20 mins for everything apart from 3dn “Behindhand” which just wouldn’t come. I knew it was something like that and was thinking of back of hand etc. and various other combinations apart from the obvious.

    The rest I thought was a typically harder than average offering from Joker with some clever and enjoyable clues.

    FOI – 5ac “Mull”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 1ac “Mothball”

    Thanks as usual!

  19. Needed a lot of help to get through this difficult puzzle. Hats off to all you who waltzed through it.

  20. Thank you Kitty – I’ve never understood the different uses of ‘s’ before! Great explanation. Took a long 35mins with this one today. Some tricky clues. MOTHBALL was my LOI as I was expecting the ‘s to feature in the answer – I now know better 😂 Many thanks Joker and Kitty.

  21. I spent a week on Mull a couple of years ago and bought an excellent bottle of the 10 year old single malt from the Tobermory distillery. The town is also known as Balamory in a children’s television series. The NW resisted my blandishments until the end, with MOTHBALL TERM and MIME my last 3 in. 8:31. Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  22. Very pleased to finish a Joker in 28 minutes, albeit with an 8 minute hiatus with three to go. Eventually, I saw BEHINDHAND, and both MOTHBALL and TERM then fell a only matter of seconds later.

    As others above, I enjoyed MIME. Actually, I enjoyed the whole puzzle today, so many thanks to Joker and Kitty (for the most informative blog).

    1. Well done Mr Random. You seem to be on a roll at the moment. This took me twice as long as you, so I was very impressed with your time for such a tricky QC.

  23. This was a weird one for me; I managed to fill in a lot of them from the definition only and needed the blog to help me figure out the actual clues. Like others I had REGENATIVE and also tried to fit ABETTERS instead of ABUTMENT (some hazy idea of chaps who support, I guess). Have never heard of BEHINDHAND so that was my big DNF stumbling block.

    I also confess a petty, pedantic, and silly annoyance with the description of LENTIL as “vegan food”! I mean of course it IS, technically, but then you could describe so many other things that way. (Rice! Oranges! Olive oil!) I guess when I think “vegan food” I think of something often used explicitly as a substitute for an animal product — like tempeh or soy[a] milk. Oh well! I know I’m being ridiculous! I just can’t help it!

  24. An hour of toil. Struggled badly but finished. I know I’m one of the slowest solvers, but I thought this was a very difficult QC. I really don’t like the use of little time to indicate ‘t’. I’ve seen this a few times recently. Surely little is superfluous? For those of us with limited ability, this is an unnecessary complication.

    For 21ac, having got the 2nd, 4th and 8th letters, I convinced myself that one barrier was an anagram! I only saw the light when I got 18dn.

  25. Despite Kevin’s comments, DEAR has stayed, and I think is correct from the clue. I have stayed on Mull in a friend’s wonderful house so that flowed readily. The fact that flatulent ileitis doesn’t really exist helped spot that one! Good fun, thanks both.

    1. Hi BFM. Kevin was quite right. Where I now have the correct “(source of venison)” I had originally written “(expensive)” which was obvious nonsense. Clearly my brain had switched off before I’d quite got the end of the blog!

      I have taken the liberty of deleting the duplicate of your comment above which appeared as a reply to MangoMan.

      1. Wonderful; I think doing the blog is such a tough task. My apologies for the duplicate – my phone claimed it hadn’t sent anything. So I pressed the button again…

  26. I’m quite pleased to have done this in 10:52, as I did it on my tablet this evening, after fish and chips on the beach at Whitstable and a sizeable glass of sauv blanc afterwards!
    I find it much more difficult without paper – nowhere to make notes or mark FOI etc. Consequently I’ve already forgotten which was which!
    Thanks Joker and Kitty

    1. I certainly agree that being unable to annotate makes it harder to comment afterwards, but I actually find solving electronically much easier. This will partly now be because it’s what I’m used to, but also I use the grid itself as my workspace. I freely put in possible letters or unparsed potential answers just to look at them. They come straight out again … except when they don’t, and it’s surprising how much of what I enter in this way turns out either to be right or to nudge me towards the right answer.

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