Times Quick Cryptic 2236 by Mara


It’s seems a while since Tuesday has been graced by a quick QC but Mara has obliged. On the dot of 9 minutes finishing with a slight puzzle at 12ac. A fair sprinkle of anagrams may have assisted.

How was your solve?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Group of islands I spy, alone at sea (9)
POLYNESIA – anagram (at sea) of I SPY ALONE.
6 Returned loan for vehicle (3)
BUS – loan (SUB) backwards.
8 Tailor designed round bowler, originally circular (7)
ORBITAL – anagram (designed) of TAILOR round (B)owler.
9 Instrument some collected, sent back (5)
CELLO – some of c(OLLEC)ted backwards.
10 Sport in Gabon, sword dancing (12)
SNOWBOARDING – anagram (dancing) of IN GABON SWORD).
12 Enemy: soldier perhaps confronting one (4)
ANTI – soldier perhaps (ANT), one (I). My slight puzzle was in wondering whether ‘opponent’ could be stretched to ‘enemy’. I, and obviously Mara, thought it could.
13 Friend first missing from motor race (4)
ALLY – first letter missing off motor race r(ALLY).
17 Great support for worker? (3,4,5)
THE BEES KNEES – humorous allusion to the legs of worker bees.
20 Letter from abroad, estimated time of arrival on Thursday (5)
THETA – estimated time of arrival (ETA) on/after Thursday (TH).
21 Research first of Protestant beliefs attributed to old partner (7)
EXPLORE – (P)rotestant and beliefs (LORE) after old partner (EX).
23 Success impacted (3)
HIT – double definition.
24 Utensil hammered pin on tree (3-6)
TIN-OPENER – anagram (hammered) of PIN ON TREE.
1 Lean, father eats dinner finally (4)
PROP – father (POP) outside dinne(R).
2 The French embargo on Middle Eastern country (7)
LEBANON – ‘the’ in French (LE), embargo (BAN), on (ON).
3 Score number raised (3)
NET – number (TEN) upwards. The past tense is more familiar – the footballer netted from 20 yards, present tense seems odd.
4 Rarely failing models (6)
SELDOM -anagram (failing) of MODELS. I was about to go into ‘stare cluelessly at’ mode when, suddenly, it clicked.
5 Identify loose seat in car (9)
ASCERTAIN – anagram (loose) of SEAT IN CAR.
6 Indonesian island has imported starter of Thai curry (5)
BALTI – Indonesian island (BALI) around (T)hai.
7 Smell in unpacked suitcase: cleaner appears (6)
SPONGE – smell (PONG) inside (S)uitcas(E).
11 Fish with a bite that’s shocking (9)
WHITEBAIT – anagram (that’s shocking) of WITH A BITE.
14 Rest when idle, now labouring (3-4)
LIE-DOWN – anagram (labouring) of IDLE NOW.
15 In contrast, it changes tack (6)
STITCH – inside contra(ST IT CH)anges.
16 At the back awful tears, ending in humiliation (6)
ASTERN – anagram (awful) of TEARS, humiliatio(N).
18 Flat cap on tradesman for social gathering? (5)
EVENT – flat (EVEN), cap on (first letter of) (T)radesman.
19 Tackle good listener (4)
GEAR – good (G), listener (EAR).
22 Narrowly beat seed (3)
PIP – double definition.


50 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2236 by Mara”

  1. I was slowed down by EVENT, where I failed to separate ‘Flat’ and ‘cap’, and by ASCERTAIN, where I had trouble arranging the anagrist in my head (I don’t write them down in QCs). 7:22.

  2. 22 minutes. THE BEES KNEES almost had me give up the battle but luckily after reconsidering bee as worker the scales finally fell from my eyes. Experience here paid off as I saw ant for soldier and remembered BALTI from a previous puzzle. Didn’t see NET for score or PROP for lean but they couldn’t be anything else.. WHITEBAIT was the main feature of C.P.Snow’s favourite meal according to the biography his brother wrote.

  3. 10 minutes. In the top half only ASCERTAIN delayed me a little as I had to write out the unplaced letters of the anagrist before finally spotting the answer. The lower half was altogether more problematic as I had to revisit four or five clues several times as checkers were added to try to prod my mind. STITCH was my LOI although as a hidden I should have seen it sooner and I am perfectly familiar with ‘tacking’ with reference to sewing.

  4. Scraped under 20m with a lot of the damage done by staring at THE BEES KNEES at the end. Even with all the checkers it still took an age to come. Having got ‘ant’ from ‘soldier’ without fuss I’m surprised ‘bee’ didn’t fall out from ‘worker’ sooner – probably looking for a three not four letter space. Found a good bit of resistance in this one but the clues after one four on the first pass of acrosses found the clues yielded most pleasingly. STITICH kept itself hidden very impressively. Good one!

  5. 19 minutes all parsed.
    FOI: LEBANON followed by POLYNESIA or the other way round as I saw them both so it was just a matter of which one I wrote in first followed by all the top row downs.
    LOI and favourite: THE BEES KNEES.

  6. 1534 Henry VIII becomes supreme head of the Church of England

    15:34, LOI THE BEES KNEES, also COD. Was held up by 15d SWITCH (“it changes”) , for STITCH.

    Really great surfaces all over the puzzle from Mara.

  7. 23 minutes; like others, 17a held me up for what seemed an age; an excellent clue nonetheless. The top half was completed so quickly (for me), I thought I was heading easily for a rare sub-10 minutes. Hmph!

  8. Around 20mins including a couple of unplanned breaks. Was held up by EVENT and THE BEES KNEES which I enjoyed having solved but was close to throwing in the towel over.

    Took a while to see the hidden STITCH too – nicely done

    Still can’t quite see ANTI as the noun that it needs to be to work for ENEMY but not too unhappy with it.

    Lots of anagrams indeed but IN GABON SWORD is a bit special!

    Thanks Mara and Chris

  9. 14 mins is probably about as fast as I will ever be, so a good day for me. Lower half was slower than the top, but once the knees clicked, the rest were not too much trouble. Didn’t like ANTI for enemy but haven’t yet looked at the dictionary for usage. Lots of anagrams quite helpfully clued made it easier but I hadn’t realised STITCH was a hidden until reading the blog, I had just filled it with a MER thinking it was a double def I hadn’t quite understood..

  10. I liked THE BEES KNEES. Like Kevin, I took a while to split “flat cap”. Nice one Mara and thanks Chris. 4:49.

  11. A relatively straightforward clue 18dn, but in common with other solvers EVENT held me up as well. A nice offering from Mara and I particularly liked THE BEES KNEES. My LOI was 5dn, but only because I thought I’d leave it until all available letters of the anagram were in place. Pleased to finish in a time of 8.19.

  12. A weird one for me. I started badly in the NW (I disliked NET and PROP and only put them in when I finally decided they were the only options). Some odd and quirky clues (ANTI??) but I built up answers steadily and accelerated towards the end. My LOsI were 17a (vg) and EVENT. It took me 2 mins over target but I was not left with the feeling of satisfaction that I usually get when a Mara puzzle is completed.
    A curate’s egg. Thanks to Mara for the good bits (including some good anagrams) and to Chris for a good blog. John M.

  13. A rare sub-7 minute solve for me (and an even rarer sub 1K); not immediately obviously why all went so well, but the long anagrams fell into place quickly and with all the checkers, the rest followed in “line astern”, to quote 16D. Sometimes it happens – and tomorrow it almost certainly won’t!

    LOI was Event, a nice case of having to separate Flat and Cap. Wasn’t entirely sure Anti = Enemy but the wordplay left no alternatives.

    Many thanks Chris for the blog

    1. Congrats! Hope the law doesn’t have any effect and that tomorrow is just fine too 😊

  14. I was quick to see EVENT which I thought was very clever but slow to see THE BEES KNEES and the hidden STITCH. I couldn’t solve the 1s without checkers and so PROP and POLYNESIA were my LOsI. 8:52 for a good day.

  15. Carelessly biffed Hear instead of GEAR, and Poor instead of PROP, but otherwise OK. Rather a lot of anagrams. Some came easily like SNOWBOARDING and others I had to work at, e.g. I know that POLY NESIA means many island in Greek, but it didn’t spring to mind straight away.
    Thanks vm, Chris.

  16. As with others, the top half flew in, but then I had to stop for a few minutes to answer a ‘phone call. The bottom half was then a different matter, with time lost on CoD 18d, Event (flat cap indeed!) and the hidden Stitch. Loi The Bees Knees then put paid to any lingering hopes of a sub-20, so this ended up being a rather frustrating but still enjoyable solve. Invariant

  17. I enjoy a good anagram, but it felt as though there were an awful lot of them in this puzzle. Fortunately, I had the hat firmly in place today so whizzed through this without any hold ups. Did a bit of a double take with enemy/ANTI but it couldn’t have been much else.
    Finished in 6.36 with LOI STITCH and COD to WHITEBAIT.
    Thanks to Chris

  18. An overload of anagrams quite readily solved. LOI THE BEES KNEES – needed some thought!

  19. Lotsa anagrams, which always slows me up a bit, and I was taken outside my target.

    SNOWBOARDING was my LOI. THE BEES KNEES was my favourite.


  20. I whizzed through in 9 minutes with every clue except 1D solved and parsed but, for the life of me, I couldn’t get PROP. The only thing I could think of was POOR but I couldn’t parse it.

    So a frustrating DNF for me.

  21. Nine anagrams!! But they were fine and I thought I was on for a quick time – until I hit my nemesis, THE BEES KNEES, at which I stared blankly for almost 3 minutes. That sneaky missing apostrophe …

    COD POLYNESIA. All done in 09:10 for a Frustrating Day.

    Many thanks Chris and Mara.


  22. I started off a little hesitantly, but soon got into it, finishing comparatively quickly with no aids.

  23. I just crept into the SCC today, which was disappointing for this fine puzzle. My major hold up was PROP. The wordplay couldn’t have been clearer, but I really struggled to equate PROP with LEAN. I can finally see that I can lean a ladder, for instance, against a wall, and I can also say that I can prop the ladder against the wall, so it works, but for the longest time I couldn’t justify it to myself. Weird! I couldn’t get out of the mindset that the ladder leans, but the wall is the prop – they aren’t equivalent. On the contrary, I had no problem with equating ANTI with ENEMY. Thanks both.

  24. Just over 10 mins with annoying typos of seldon and soonge!
    Last two were whitebait and the bees knees.

    Lots of good clues like event but cod whitebait.

  25. 13 mins…

    As noted above, felt quite anagram heavy, but still enjoyable.

    Liked 10ac “Snowboarding”, 20ac “Theta” and 18dn “Event”.

    FOI – 3dn “Net”
    LOI – 8ac “Orbital”
    COD – 17ac “The Bees Knees” 🐝

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Into the SCC again today. ALLY, then ASCERTAIN were my last two in and were the only clues that really had me scratching my head. Otherwise all went in fairly easily, if slowly. Spotted SNOWBOARDING and THE BEES KNEES straight away which helped considerably. Like others wasn’t sure about ANTI and submitted tentatively. Liked the surface for 18d EVENT. Thanks all.

  27. Started very slowly with only a few on first pass. After this it seemed to come together quite quickly until I was left with 17ac. In common with other solvers it took a while for the penny to drop on this one. I was finally finished and all parsed in 17 minutes, although due to the slow start it actually seemed longer.

    FOI – 20ac THETA

    Thanks to Mara for a fine puzzle and to Chris for the blog.

  28. I was never badly held up but much of this was not immediately obvious to me. LOI was PROP after a fifth return to the clue trying to think of something better; similarly Stitch and Tack as mentioned above.
    15 minutes in the end.
    I liked THE BEES KNEES.

  29. Terrible. Only 12 clues today. I had all the letters for 1A and 5D, but just couldn’t see the answers.

    1. That’s not bad at all, very nearly half done! Try not to despair too much thinking “oh it should be easy, it’s a Monday” and watching all these speedsters around here rocket through. I had a wretched time with this one too!

      And don’t forget to give yourself partial credit! I try to always pat myself on the back if I spot an anagram indicator word even if I can’t actually figure out the anagram itself, or if I notice a cryptic-y word like “returned” for backwards or “extremely” for first/last letters only. It really is like learning a whole new language!

  30. This was another one where I had to reread the clues to appreciate all their tricks and wit. A bit slower today, but finished in 10 minutes. I’d like to say I was a bit distracted because my husband and son were chatting in the background – and I do prefer a bit of peace and quiet when solving – but I think I just found this a bit harder!
    I bifd WHITEBAIT and EVENT, so thanks for the explanations, Chris.
    FOI Lebanon LOI Prop (I nearly forgot about it) COD Snowboarding – that really made me smile. So did the bee’s knees.
    Thanks Mara and Chris

  31. 9 minutes, but with a careless typo at 18d. EEVET. Gloom! Thanks Mara and Chris.

  32. 5:28 this morning, a little faster than yesterday but a stoopid delay around LOI and COD 17 ac “The Bees knees”.
    I always complete these puzzles on paper, along with a stopwatch to act as a stimulus (?), and having stared for a little while at this clue, I put vertical bars in pencil on the grid to define the size of each component word. For some reason this came out as (3,3,6) instead of (3,4,5) which made finding the solution rather challenging trying to find a fit for “T-E -E- S-N-E-“!!
    No excuses – and it even happened before Mrs P and I went for our double Covid/Flu jabs!
    Anyway a neat puzzle from Mara and thanks to him and Chris for the blog

  33. I worked down the acrosses to start with and was delighted to get the first five before having to give up on one and move on. This type of thing just never happens in my world, so I started to hope for a really fast solve. Lots of anagrams helped my cause and despite the lower half holding me up a bit, I managed to cross the line in 21 minutes. Not quite an SCC-escape, but still very fast for me.

    Many thanks to Mara and Chris.

  34. I had no problems with any of the traps here today and made good time but failed on crackpot. Funny/frustrating/annoying how some clues simply elude you.Thanks for the parsing of generic. Eric a new word for me.

  35. Didn’t have my anagram hat on today. Also stupidly put stearn instead of astern for 16dn, which held me up for a while until I realised my error. Saw 17ac as soon as I corrected my error.

    Overall somewhere around the 25 min mark. Into the SCC but it looks like some better brains than mine found this tricky.

    Thanks as always for the excellent blog – hugely appreciated.

  36. 12:28

    An easy one today. Only hold up was LOI STITCH which I didn’t parse but was the only word to fit the checkers.

  37. The top half of the puzzle flew past easily enough that I confess, to my embarrassment, the phrase “top to bottom solve” appeared in my head … and then I screeched to a halt. Total solve time, 22:30 — meaning, twenty-two and a half hours! hahahahaha 😀 Obviously I wasn’t working on it the WHOLE time, but I kept coming back to it over and over only to eke out the tiniest victories. LOI THE BEES KNEES

    NHO WHITEBAIT or BALTI (very surprising that since I adore Indian food). I’m not familiar with “pong” for odor in my daily life but I knew it from some “scandal” (imagine the most sarcastic of air quotes please) a few years back when a mommy blogger may or may not have made up a story about a homophobe at the grocery story who had “a pong of beer about him” Now THAT’s embarrassing for me!

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