Times Quick Cryptic 2250 by Pedro


My solving time was 11 minutes and so my run of missed QC targets continues although today I was only 1 minute over the line. I thought I was heading for success but DIVER in PEARL DIVER delayed me and I had to revisit the clue several times before finally solving it as my last one in. How did you all do?


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Guard-dog’s warning about everyone beginning to picket sports ground (4,4)
BARK (guard-dog’s warning) containing [about] ALL (everyone) + P{icket} [beginning]. An American term that seems to be predominantly associated with baseball. I only came to know it when people in business started talking about ‘ballpark figures’ presumably hoping that it sounded more trendy than ‘estimates’.
5 Unhappy    member of university team (4)
Two meanings. Students who play sport representing Oxford or Cambridge are called ‘blues’.
8 Support for bridge is in the morning — it’s an old thing (8)
ARCH (support for bridge) then IS contained by [in] AM (the morning)
9 Long sentence in biography (4)
Two meanings
11 Child given a large sum (5)
TOT (child), A, L (large)
12 Tirepart of a Buick? (7)
Two meanings. Buick has been chosen as an American brand of car to match the US spelling ‘tire’ rather than ‘tyre’ in the surface reading.
13 Salesman with attitude has to get better (6)
REP (salesman), AIR (attitude). MER at the definition, but I suppose if you repair something you get it better. Still seems odd though.
15 A religious group retaining initially positive view (6)
A, SECT (religious group) containing [retaining] P{ositive} [initially]
18 Penalty for attack around end of game (7)
FOR, FIT (attack) containing [around] {gam}E [end of…]
19 Material didn’t stand out (5)
A straight definition and a cryptic hint. If you didn’t stand out you may have SAT IN.
21 Doctor working to reveal buttocks (4)
MO (doctor), ON (working). Moving swiftly on…
22 American dye business in mid-West state (8)
COLOR (American spelling of dye), ADO (business)
23 Genuine nobleman putting King first (4)
Earl (nobleman) becomes REAL when the R (king) is put first
24 Limits on value recently provided by source of oil? That’s acceptable (4,4)
V{alu}E + R{ecentl}Y [limits on…], WELL (source of oil)
1 Book subsequently incorporating southern explosives expert (7)
B (book), LATER (subsequently) containing [incorporating] S (southern). I can’t find any support for this specific definition, the nearest being ‘a person or thing who blasts’ which is in both SOED and Chambers, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable if taken as a DBE although it might have been indicated as such.
2 Allowed chapter one to appear in literature (5)
C (chapter) + I (one) contained by [to appear in] LIT (literature)
3 One down to get a bit of jewellery? (5,5)
This was the one that took me over my target solving time. I saw PEARL (jewellery) early on, but DIVER (one going down) delayed me.
4 List chicken that’s lost one egg? (6)
RO{o}STER (chicken) [lost one egg]
6 The French island certainly supplies relaxation (7)
LE (the in French), I (island), SURE (certainly)
7 Put out about boarding European aircraft (5)
C (about) contained by [boarding] E (European) + JET (aircraft)
10 Politician supporting unnamed writers in spooky tale (5,5)
GHOSTS (unnamed writers), TORY (politician)
14 Pole and rag worked to form garden feature (7)
Anagram [worked] of POLE RAG
16 Money gets sword in silvery metal material (7)
TIN (money), FOIL (sword)
17 Comedian’s associate got so upset before end of joke (6)
Anagram upset] of GOT SO, then {jok}E [end of…]
18 Father holding large bird’s leg bone (5)
FR (father) containing [holding] EMU (large bird)
20 Make fun of Middlesbrough’s river, we hear (5)
Sounds like [we hear] “Tees” (Middlesbrough’s river)

54 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2250 by Pedro”

  1. 16:45. Enjoyed MOON and STOOGE most. Researching BLASTER online I found an entry for an interesting fellow ,Derek McIntosh Bates(1923-2006), who was known as BLASTER Bates. He was an explosives and demolition expert ,skills he learned in the RAF during World War II ,and then he had his own demolition business following his return to civilian life.

    1. I remember Blaster Bates from his sound recordings in the late 60s-70s – a school friend of mine was a fan and lent me his tapes.

      1. I had a couple of his vinyl albums back in the day. “Watch Out For The Bits” was one of them I think. His best stories were hilarious (“The Naming of Knicker Brook” about blowing up tree stumps at Oulton Park was a favourite). By the time he’d stretched to his fourth album, his material was spread very thin unfortunately.

  2. Knew tin for money from previous outings where I disliked it so much I’ve remembered it. Can’t imagine when it was last used. Generally found the top hard on the way to an all green finish in 19. NHO a BLASTER and took a long time to get there having been fixation on ‘after’ rather than ‘later’. Also took too long to see ‘arch’ and to realise which bits AM has to go around. Testing start to the crosswording week.

  3. Is Colorado a mid-West state? Not according to the usual divisions of US states. I suppose it is in a general sense.

    1. Alexa advises: Not according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which defined the Midwest Region as these 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

      I took the answer on trust.

    2. I think the clue for COLORADO could well have been a clever purposeful misdirection by setter. Of course we all jump to the commonly accepted Midwestern states for our answer but no joy. Colorado is a western state that is smack in the middle of that region. Not a northwestern one like Washington or Idaho or a southwestern one like Arizona but rather a “mid”-western one.

      1. Ten out of ten for trying to justify the answer but it’s still a terrible clue!

  4. 23 minutes all parsed just a little slow in the SE corner.
    Favourite: SATIN.

  5. Made short work of this so must have been on Pedro’s wavelength. A top to bottom solve in the main, starting with BLUE and ending with FORFEIT.
    Finished in 6.29 with my favourite being MOON for the chuckle when the penny dropped (one day I’ll grow up!).
    Thanks to Jack

  6. A neat QC from Pedro with impeccable surfaces. Like Jack, my LOI was PEARL DIVER. COD to LIFE. Thanks Pedro and Jackkt. 5:45.

  7. About 15mins with a slow start as for 1AC I couldn’t get ‘woof’ out of my head and was biffing Wolf Hall and all kinds of Wolverhampton/Woolwich made up sports grounds. Donkey.

    Enjoyed it though.

    Thanks Pedro and Jackkt – especially for the Buick explanation.

  8. Had to start in the SE, but when I got back to 1a it didn’t seem that difficult. Anyway, finished and enjoyed. (Interrupted by an unexpected present – delivery of wine.)
    FOI TEASE. Liked VERY WELL, STOOGE, MOON, ARCHAISM, among others. LOI BLUE – dim not to have seen it sooner.
    Thanks vm, Jack.

  9. This was an odd one and certainly not a doddle for me. I was frustratingly slow to start in the top half and worked up from the bottom. When I crawled back to the upper half, I had no issue with REPAIR but found PEARL DIVER very tough and ARCHAISM (is this a word that other solvers have ever used?) seemed to fill the gap rather desperately.
    The NE finally fell. Like Countrywoman, I didn’t find it so difficult on the second visit and I shared her d’oh moment with BLUE. EXHAUST was a guess – too clever for me – the use of Buick misled me totally (despite driving a US car with 4 tires).
    My LOI was ROSTER which was a nice clue to finish. I was finally 4 mins over target although mercifully still avoiding the SCC.
    Not a good start to the week but thanks, anyway, to Pedro for some ingenious clues and to Jack for a good blog. John M.

    1. ARCHAISM and ‘archaic’ get a lot of use around here when discussing answers in Times crossword puzzles!

  10. 14:50 to achieve target, so I am happy enough. My MER was at TORY = politician (sorry, I can resist anything but temptation). STOOGE was LOI, and it was in the south that I had most delays; the US state and VERY WELL slowing me down a tad. Thanks Pedro and Jackkt.

  11. I think Pedro is one of the less frequent setters. The puzzle certainly had a different “feel”, though I enjoyed it, and completed in a decent enough time.

    I liked PEARL DIVER and SATIN. LOI was BLASTER, where I followed the wordplay and hoped for the best.


    1. Pedro joined the QC setters about 6 months into the run and has averaged 12 puzzles per year ever since. This is his 98th, so he should achieve his century before 2022 is out.

        1. He’s actually known, unlike B&M although I have my suspicions about them! Pedro, under other names or anonymously also sets for The Listener, The Telegraph and The Independent. According to his crossword profile (which may be out of date by now) he lives in New Zealand.

  12. 13 minutes for me with LOI FORFEIT after PEARL DIVER (briefly wondered whether this was a reference to 1d).
    Colorado was not my first thought for a mid West state and interesting to see the definition above.
    Tyne and Wear came to mind quickly but not Tees for some reason. There was a Tyne Tees ITV channel for a time I think.
    Some nice clues; COD to TOTAL.

    1. There seems to be a convention, at least in the 15×15, that digits 1, 2, 3… 30, 31… etc. refer to that numbered clue; and spelled-out numbers one, two, three… etc. don’t cross-reference other clues. “Seems” to be because the rules aren’t spelled out anywhere.

  13. 12:34

    Like several others, 3dn was my LOI, with DIVER taking a while to spot. I also thought that “one down” might be a reference to 1d, and was scouring my memory in vain for usages of “blaster” in sci-fi novels with a pearl connotation.
    I was fine with “get better” = “repair”, seeing both of them as synonyms for recovering after an injury. The hospital where I used to work even has a “brain repair centre.”

  14. A shocker of a day for me on this one, finishing in 18.27. I was sailing along quite reasonably with the clock just short of 10 minutes before being severely delayed by my last three. I got the VERY part of VERY WELL quickly enough, but the source of oil connection eluded me for too long, even though I’ve seen this cryptic use before. Once I’d got this TINFOIL followed on, and in this instance I could only think of tinplate as a metal material.
    My final one, 3dn gave me the most trouble, and I was on the point of throwing in the towel when PEARL as an item of jewellery finally came to me. I’d tried two alphabet trawls and must have somehow discounted the inclusion of an E.
    Moving on to the 15×15 hoping my brain unfreezes.

  15. I found this harder than most contributors seem to have so far. Struggled with (pearl) DIVER, ARCHAISM, EXHAUST and guessed BLASTER – I too remember Blaster Bates. A stiff challenge.

  16. Yes, found this tough. Just inside the SCC with PEARL DIVER my LOI. Also slow to see FORFEIT and the ghost part of GHOST STORY. Liked MOON, BALL PARK and SATIN. Many thanks all.

  17. I could not finish this one without help. I really did not like BLASTER and REPAIR. Also tin = money I was not a fan of.

    Although I managed to complete (with help) I found this puzzle to be rather joyless and lacklustre.

  18. I had no trouble with this, other than Pedro’s sketchy grasp of US geography.

    TIME 3:37

  19. Dnf…

    Struggled with this – particularly the NW corner where I failed to get 8ac “Archaism”, 3dn “Pearl Diver” and 12ac “Exhaust” (that one being particular annoying as I went through every car part except the obvious one).

    Obviously a bit of an American theme with “Ball Park”, the “Tire” spelling and a few other clues – but I also wondered whether Colorado was a Mid West state (I was thinking of the usual Dakotas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas etc)

    FOI – 13ac “Repair”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 19ac “Satin”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. I found this quite a tough start to the week, despite Ball Park and Blue (not just Oxbridge) going in quickly enough. Delays with Colorado and Exhaust left me struggling with loi Pearl Diver as the SCC beckoned. Looking back from the resulting window seat, I can’t say I was over impressed by the quality of that particular clue. . . On the other hand, I did enjoy several of Pedro’s other offerings, with 15ac, Aspect, getting the nod for CoD ahead of its Tinfoil companion. Invariant

  21. At 30 minutes, this was a decent start to the week for me … although it might just have be a rare escape from the SCC, had it not been for my last three in (LICIT, ARCHAISM and PEARL DIVER). These three clues took 10+minutes to crack and I didn’t like any of them. I vaguely remember coming across LICIT here once before, but I have NHO ARCHAISM. And I really didn’t like the clue for PEARL DIVER. It doesn’t really make sense to me. Still, MOON made up for these minor complaints.

    Many thanks to Pedro and Jack.

  22. Some nice clues today (COD to Exhaust closely followed by Forfeit) but a lot not to like in this QC for me which was a DNF due to Pearl Diver. I had the pearl part but was looking for an item of jewellery as a pearl is not jewellery until it is set into something. Just as a diamond is not an item of jewellery.

    Perhaps I am being overly picky but a Blue is not a member of a university team either, it is an award that is earned for representing your university. I also agree with others that Colorado is not a mid-West state.

    In some ways none of this matters if the clue leads to the answer but I find it lazy setting, especially when so many other setters find brilliant ways to develop their clues without these sorts of inaccuracies.

    1. (A Blue writes …) You are quite right, since (a) many sports only earn you a half-blue even though you are a member of a University team (for example in my day fives, rackets and rugby league) and (b) not only do you have to make it to the University team, you then have to compete in the Varsity match itself. That’s all that counts for a Blue.

  23. I was thinking that this is where our US contributers have an advantage. I’m hopeless on US states and their locations. The only ones I know for sure are on the West coast, mostly due to family connections. Took me a while to twig COLOR after wondering if the answer could end in US. Then I discover that it might not be mid west after all!

    Overall, I didn’t struggle too much with this one until my LOI 3d. I got PEARL quickly but had to use an aid to get the second half. All in all around 20mins, but I don’t time myself. I, also, remember Blaster Bates (and Fred Dibnah, for that matter). These days, they’d be YouTube or TikTok stars, I’ve no doubt.

    For some reason, my newspaper delivery has failed for nearly two weeks, after a run of late afternoon arrivals. So I’ve not been getting to the QC until the next day. Today, I’m out in Worcester so I could pick up a paper and do it over lunch. Hence the opportunity to post in a timely fashion.

  24. Like others, I had to work up from the bottom half. I did have 1a Ball Park straight away but couldn’t satisfactorily parse it as I working off the thought that a guard-dog would Bark Bark. Also entered 9a in 5a which was no help at all! Agree with the comments on 22a Colorado. Was not thinking well and spent ages failing to parse 5a as Glum (having the L).
    FOI 9a Life
    LOI 2d Licit
    COD 3d Pearl Diver for being misdirected.

  25. Enjoyed this on the train down from Edinburgh, in which I am still sitting (Berwick upon Tweed looking gorgeous in bright autumn sun as we whizz by). The train is shifting and so was I, pausing only on by last two, the crossing ARCHAISM (I spent a while trying to include “span”) and LOI LICIT.

    All done in 07:21 for a sub-K by exactly two minutes, which is a PB by such a large margin that I’m assuming Kevin has a hangover. A Red Letter Day.

    Many thanks Pedro and Jack.


  26. Done in two passes, probably 20 mins total. COLORADO LOI, agree that the Midwest thing threw me. Tried to get IOWA in there.



  27. I’m afraid I really disliked this crossword. I usually enjoy the QC and usually say so when I do, so perhaps I might be excused a grumble when I really don’t. Blaster – poor clue, odd word. Repair – does not mean get better, intransitive, but make (something) better, transitive. Colorado – poor geography. Blue – not a member of a University team but specifically someone who plays in the Oxford-Cambridge match in certain sports (not all by any means). Pearl diver – poor surface and random second word. Exhaust – don’t American cars have mufflers? In general, too many Americanisms. And so on.

    OK I know, none of these on their own are hanging offences. But the whole puzzle left me very dissatisfied and frustrated.

    Since this is TftT, 15 minutes to finish for the record, of which 3 on LOI Pearl Diver. And grumble over, I shall now move on. Tomorrow is another day….


  28. Frustration does not come close to describing my feelings today. I was well on course to break 20 mins, which, judging by some of the comments above, would be a real success. All done bar 3dn. 35 minutes later, I wrote in the answer for this clue for a solve that took me close to an hour.

    Most unhappy ☹️

  29. Tough one for me, taking 34:30. Nothing much more to say except I’d never heard of a PERGOLA, so it was slightly annoying to have it clued with an anagram. Thanks anyway Pedro and Jack.

  30. Cedric, I agree with you about BLASTER. COLORADO and BLUE too, not that I noticed when solving. PEARL DIVER is a perfectly valid lexical term and the clue was fine (imo) as a cryptic – it gave me problems but there was a satisfying ‘penny-drop’ moment when I realised what was going on. The UK equivalent of a muffler is a silencer – part of the exhaust system but not the whole thing.

  31. Really enjoyed this puzzle. About 40 mins. Not anagram heavy. Lovely wordplay.
    Tire/ exhaust was very clever, as was Colorado
    Got Pearl Diver but spent ages trying to link it to 1D. Now know the convention.
    Thanks all

  32. Struggled with the DIVER bit like many others. Didn’t have enough GK to question COLORADO, as I had all the crossers and could see how it parsed. Thanks for explaining Buick.

Comments are closed.