Times Quick Cryptic 2245 by Mara

Hello everybody.  I think it’s safe to say this is a puzzle for those who appreciate one particular clue type …

I won’t complain: variety is good, but these natural clusters are all part of this diversity as far as I’m concerned.  After the fourth double definition I definitely wasn’t expecting a fifth!  Besides, today’s weren’t your run-of-the-mill two-worders.

The anagrams in this puzzle were very smoothly done, I thought, and I nearly nominated 21a as my favourite for its ultra-plausible surface.  Instead, I will go for the smashing (non-anagram) 3d.  Thanks Mara!

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 Feature of poker: not bent (8)
STRAIGHT — Two definitions, the first being a poker hand of five sequential cards
5a Lid securing head of raw fish (4)
CARP CAP (lid) around (securing) the first letter (head) of Raw
8a Presumably easy, raid becoming complicated (1,4,3)
I DARE SAY EASY, RAID anagrammed (becoming complicated)
9a Youth entertained in private engagement (4)
TEEN — The answer is inside (entertained in) privaTE ENgagement
11a Measurer for vehicle (10)
PROTRACTOR PRO (for) + TRACTOR (vehicle)
14a Right behind tablet, a column (6)
PILLAR R (right) is after (behind) PILL (tablet) and A
15a Fair, when daughter punches devious noble (6)
BLONDE D (daughter) goes into (punches) an anagram of (devious) NOBLE
17a Snake, police chief? (10)
COPPERHEAD COPPER (police) + HEAD (chief).  While I think it’s really there for the surface, the question mark invites the solver to interpret the wordplay part of the clue as a whole: a COPPER HEAD could perhaps be a whimsical term for a police chief
20a Bring up back (4)
REAR — A double definition
21a Open lane used freely (8)
UNSEALED LANE USED anagrammed (freely)
22a Boy, pop singer needs one! (4)
MIKE — Two meanings.  I’d normally spell the shortened from of microphone mic, but this way is fine too
23a Sequence of words for length of time (8)
SENTENCE — Another double definition, bringing to mind the old one about marriage …
1d Miss something full of rubbish? (4)
SKIP — Can you guess the clue type?  The two definitions are as underlined.  I think the question mark is there because a skip isn’t always filled with rubbish.  In my opinion, it improves the surface reading of the clue too: why would someone miss something that was full of rubbish?
2d Course travelled, by the sound of it? (4)
ROAD — RODE (travelled), homophone (by the sound of it)
3d Ship rocks on wave (10)
ICEBREAKER ICE (rocks) preceding (on, in a down entry) BREAKER (wave)
4d That man, creative, friendly and warm (6)
HEARTY HE (that man) + ARTY (creative)
6d Warning triangle represented (8)
ALERTING TRIANGLE anagrammed (represented – re-presented)
7d Small rooms where pot goes! (8)
PANTRIES A cryptic definition, designed to make the solver think of the “small room” which might feature a chamberpot.  More than one room for a single pot seems a bit much though!
PAN (pot) + TRIES (goes)
10d A man let rip about law-making authority (10)
PARLIAMENT A MAN LET RIP anagrammed (about)
12d Purest limits of music playing in band (8)
SPECTRUM — An anagram of (… playing) PUREST and the outer letters (limits) of MusiC
13d Sweet thing in fluster over boy (8)
FLAPJACK FLAP (fluster) before (over, in a down entry) JACK (boy)
16d Coins to drop in church (6)
CHANGE HANG (to drop) in CE (church)
18d Side of meat cut for baked dish (4)
FLAN FLANk (side of meat) without the last letter (cut)
19d Fringe partly trimmed, gently (4)
EDGE — It’s hidden in (partly) trimmED, GEntly

48 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2245 by Mara”

  1. 21:12 I had a lot of trouble thinking of STRAIGHT so had to wait until I got it to get the four dropping down from it to finally finish. Then even after solving I just thought well a fireplace poker is STRAIGHT not bent so totally missed the obvious poker connection until I came here. I parsed PANTRIES as pan=pot and tries=goes. Also,Kitty, does the intro to your blog seem to suggest ICEBREAKER is an anagram?

  2. I found this hard, or maybe it was just dimness on my part; in any case, it took me longer than the 15×15 (which would be worth having a go at). I don’t know who introduced ‘mic’, but I hate it: ‘mike’ has been around for ages and caused no problems, and ‘mic’ looks like it should be pronounced ‘mick’. I never did parse PANTRIES. 9:58.

    1. I’d second Kevin’s recommendation; this QC took me about ten and a half minutes, which is just about half the time I spent on the 15×15 today.

      1. Yup. The 15sqd is not too bad today. It took me ca. twice as long as the QC but I enjoyed it and 40 mins is a good time for me. John.

  3. 14 minutes so it’s now a full week since I achieved my target 10.

    I can’t say I noticed the number of DDs (I think one is less aware when not on blogging duty) but that may well account for my problems getting properly started on this one. I kept scanning through the clues looking for easy pickings and after the first 5 minutes had 5 or 6 answers all of which were scattered around the grid and none of them intersecting. Eventually I found an answer that joined up with a couple of them and things began to flow nicely for a while. At the end I had another delay ever my LOI, PROTRACTOR.

  4. 18 minutes and a top to bottom solve.
    LOI: EDGE.
    I did spend a bit of time trying to understand the clues for both SPECTRUM and PANTRIES got there in the end though.
    Favourite: PROTRACTOR.

  5. I usually get on well with Mara, and at one point thought I was on for a very fast time, with ¾ of the puzzle done almost as write-ins. But the SW corner proved altogether tougher – I NHO Copperhead, and was very slow to see Spectrum (very clever surface with “music” and “band” well misleading me) and Flapjack.

    12 minutes in the end but over half of that on the last few clues. A good puzzle, much enjoyed!

    Many thanks to Kitty for the blog

  6. As I was limping through this and cursing the number of DDs (my least favourite type of clue), I was wondering whether I was particularly Mondayish or the puzzle was particularly Fridayish. Given the times above and the leaderboard showing luminaries such as vinyl and ulaca up over 15 mins, I think it was a tough one.

    Thank goodness for Kill Bill, or I’d still be looking at COPPERHEAD. My COD goes to PILLAR. Stumbled over the line in 13:38 for 1.4K and a Tough Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Kitty.


  7. DNF. Did not really persevere in the SW corner, where I really should have seen the chestnut REAR which would have opened it up. Thought PANTRIES was a weak cryptic, but as bloggers found, it’s a cleverly hidden construction.

    My comment on the 15×15 blog reflects that I am a bit like Fulham bouncing between the two divisions 15×15 and QC. Todays puzzle, like Mondays in general, is approachable, for any aspiring Bournemouths or Brentfords.

  8. A good but testing QC, I thought. I will not over-analyse it but simply say that I seem to be the first blogger to admit to being tipped a minute into the SCC (all parsed although PANTRIES took a moment or two). My LOsI were SPECTRUM (a good clue) and REAR (not so).
    Just a Monday morning thing?
    Thanks to both. John M.

  9. A bit rocky for me here and there but I finished without too much squinting and muttering! I was nervous when I saw “column,” fearing the answer would be one of those Greek column styles, Doris and Bionicle and Carpathian or whatever they are.

    “Sweet thing” for FLAPJACK threw me off for a bit as here in America that means a breakfast pancake — especially evoking hearty whole-grain pancakes in my mind, the kind that aren’t sweet at all (until you drown them in maple syrup.) But I got it from wordplay in the end and now see via Google that British flapjacks are bar cookies, similar to our granola bars! Yum.

  10. Oh, not specifically on topic, but can anyone tell me where to see the name of each puzzle’s setter? I’m not sure if I just haven’t looked in the right spot or if they don’t show for me because I’m usually doing the crosswords on my mobile.

    1. Hi Ellie, for some reason the version on mobiles (and some tablets) never shows the setter’s name. It may just be a question of not enough space …

  11. I found this one difficult.

    Mara used to be one of my favourite setters whose puzzles I really enjoyed. But lately I have found his puzzles to be less and less entertaining and more frustrating.

  12. My first entry went STRAIGHT in but then I followed it with CRAP for the fish which augured badly. And so it was…..the SW corner held me up longest and my last two in were MIKE and FLAPJACK. Clues relying on random names are my least favourite clue type. 11:26 and a sluggish Monday.

  13. 15 mins which is 5 mins faster than 15×15.
    Not sure why it seemed harder. e.g Even with A_E_TING, and the L, R it still took a few seconds to click.
    COD pantries.

  14. I’m beginning to spot a pattern: a quick start and raised hopes of a good time followed by a frustrating struggle in one of the bottom corners. Today it was the turn of the SW corner. I would like to blame the nho Copperhead snake, but once Change confirmed my -head punt, the Copper bit wasn’t far behind. Spectrum was my loi, as I never noticed the anagram (did someone mention playing ?), but by then the clock had reached 26mins, so quite a slow start to the week. CoD to 14ac, Protractor, almost a write-in. Invariant

  15. 17 minutes for me, with the SW being the sticky point. Some very good clues today with neat surfaces, but also some less satisfying – like REAR and MIKE. I wondered for a minute if TORP could be a fish, and ROOT fitted the wordplay at 2d, but there was no definition left, so couldn’t be. I think my favourite is SPECTRUM. Thanks Kitty and Mara.

    By the way Kitty, I’m surprised that no one has said anything about your revealing answers in the intro to your blog. I have no objections, but some solvers will look at the blog for a hint, and may see more than they want to, so we tend to avoid writing answers in the intro, referring to them instead by clue number.

    1. Thanks for reminding me, Rotter. I get mixed up sometimes because on fifteensquared commenters have been known to request the opposte: answers spelled out so they don’t have to scroll to the clues and back just to find out what you are talking about. I will try to get it the right way round in future.

      And after I had carefully modified my intro too, to avoid specifying double definitions in the snippet that appears on the home page!

      Now amended. Fortunately, I’m working from home today because of an internet outage on site.

      1. Commenters–e.g. Meldrew–have asked other commenters to specify the word: rather than ‘NHO 12ac’, ‘NHO DIRNDL’, ideally (as Meldrew does it) ‘NHO 12ac DIRNDL’. But no one has asked for–and no one, I suspect, wants–solutions named in the blogger’s intro.

      2. Notwithstanding the above advice which in principle I agree with, I still think that our regulars are aware that it’s probably best not to come here until they are ready for answers to be revealed.

        Bloggers have been advised to use the Excerpt facility to limit the part of their intro that appears on our front page – usually limited to the first sentence or two, so if answers are not given away there but mentioned later in the intro, they will not be seen by casual visitors who do not wish to read the blog.

        1. One additional point on which I believe there has been a ruling is that answers should not be referenced in the blog title as these are almost impossible to avoid if one is scrolling through the home page.

  16. Like others, I found the SW to be quite sticky with SPECTRUM and MIKE proving particularly slow to succumb. Started with STRAIGHT and finished with ICEBREAKER in 11.23
    Thanks to Kitty

  17. After 15 minutes I needed just 3d and 12d with all the checkers in place. But I struggled. INEBRIATED was a fit for 3d; rocking on the waves certainly, but not quite there. But I got ICEBREAKER (COD for me) and then eventually got SPECTRUM having failed to see the anagram. Another good clue.
    And I too failed to parse PANTRIES.
    22 minutes in the end. I have time for the 15×15 today so will try that.

  18. 12:40

    Held up by 7dn, which I also read as a cryptic definition and put as PRIVVIES, until working out that TEEN would not fit.

    Thanks for the explanation of how PANTRIES works.

  19. DNF beaten by UNSEALED (I couldn’t get past the anagram being of ‘open lane’ being ‘used’ to mean ‘freely’)

    Also stumped by PROTRACTOR.

    Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  20. DNF. Failed on SPECTRUM, MIKE, even FLAPJACK, and PROTRACTOR (good clue). Did managed STRAIGHT almost straight away, also liked SENTENCE, but was way off the wavelength. NHO COPPERHEAD.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  21. I have my tablet back at last, so I’m back in the room. I found this fairly straightforward and definitely Mondayish.

    TIME 3:57

  22. Nine today. Happy with this, as experts seem to think this wasn’t easy. Thanks for the pointer to the 15×15. I looked at that and couldn’t do any!

  23. Gave up today with quite a few missing – very unlike me not to persevere – just not on Mara’s wavelength and not willing to go on beyond 25 mins… Unsolved clues were PANTRIES, ICEBREAKER and COPPERHEAD (all easy enough with hindsight of course). Many thanks for the blog. May well try the 15 x 15, so thanks for the heads up people.

  24. Phew! A very slow start with only 4-5 clues answered after my first complete pass, and a rather tortuous finish (my last 4-5 clues taking 15 minutes or more). Between times, I must have worked at a reasonable pace, but it didn’t really seem so at the time. Total time = 38 minutes, which I’m not disappointed with.

    My FOI was TEEN, but I then had to wait until I was deep in the SE corner to get any more. The down clues were similarly impenetrable, but I got a foothold in the SE and worked anti-clockwise from there (SE, NE, NW, SW). My last four – COPPERHEAD, REAR, SPECTRUM and FLAPJACK – came very slowly. I had NHO the snake, never managed to parse SPECTRUM, and could only think of DICK, MICK and RICK for the boy. FLAPDICK did strike me as slightly unsuitable for a Times QC, however, although I wouldn’t have been surprised to come across it in the Private Eye crossword.

    Many thanks to Mara and Kitty.

  25. Came to this late and was hoping for a quick one. Dragged myself over the line 2om later. Should have seen PROTRACTOR a lot sooner – that would have helped.

  26. 25 mins…

    Definitely not a day for those who don’t like double definitions and there are a few on here who I know don’t.

    Overall, a good test from Mara although everything was a bit scatter gun. I found myself lurching from side of the grid to another like someone using a ouija board (not that I do anything like that of course).

    FOI – 9ac “Teen”
    LOI – 3dn “Icebreaker”
    COD – 11ac “Protractor”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. I’ve been having problems with our printer, consequently it’s been very hard to read the clues for a little while, which has slowed things down. Today was no exception – the print-out of the quickie was so blurred that I resorted to the online version. That didn’t help one bit though! I found this really tricky, and it took me 18 minutes – the biggie took only an additional 2 minutes. (Fortunately MrB seemed to have resolved the printer problem by then, so everything was a lot clearer!)
    FOI Teen LOI Protractor COD Pantries
    Thanks Mara and Kitty

  28. Like others, I didn’t find this particularly easy. I was held up at the end buy my LOI ICEBREAKER, but the PDM came eventually. I didn’t much care for the clue for MIKE, but otherwise all good. COD to PANTRIES. Almost 1 minute over target at 6:24. Thank-you Mara and Kitty.

  29. Like others, I got bogged down in the SW.I thought there was some similarity in cue type – which helped me out – viz 7d pan-tries/11apro-tractor/17a copper-head (which was a NHO so sneaked a check before proceeding) etc.
    FOI 1a Straight
    LOI 20a Rear having struggled with 13d Flapjack
    COD 3d Ice-Breaker
    Might have a peek at the 15×15 this evening but rare to get very far!

  30. Quite hard for me, though I am on hols, so maybe a little more relaxed.

    Somewhere around 10 mins. I was only 3 mins or so slower on the main puzzle. I did this earlier on a different device, not sure of actual time.

  31. Found this tough, especially SW corner like several others. Had to resort to help to finish as NHO COPPERHEAD. Guessed PANTRIES: don’t consider POTS and PANS as the same thing.

  32. Thought I was going to struggle after a slowish start but managed a steady solve in around 30 mins.

    I did know the snake (not sure how).

    Should have spotted 20ac much sooner as it’s a chestnut.

    LOI – 12dn. Didn’t see the word play at all.

    A decent start to the week.

    Thanks for the blog Kitty.

Comments are closed.