Times Quick Cryptic 2257 by Mara

A tricky one, with several slightly unusual words in both the clues and answers. I suspect that newer solvers will find this very difficult, as would I not very long ago. As nearly always in the quicky, though, the cryptic devices are pretty straightforward; even if the answer doesn’t click immediately the way the clue might work is more apparent.

Definitions underlined.

1 Picture White House for Latinos? (10)
CASABLANCA – literally ‘white house’ in Spanish (i.e. for a Latinoamericano). Picture refers to a movie picture, the famous Bogart/Bergman one.
7 Board certainly from two European countries? (5)
OUIJA – OUI (yes, or certainly, in French) and JA (yes, or certainly, in German) (certainly from two European countries). I think there is a trend towards expecting us to know more and more European vocabulary – long gone are the days when one could expect to get away with le/la/un. No bad thing, but I would have called this a ouiji (or “wee-gee”) board had it not been for the clear worldplay and ‘ja’ turning up in a recent Times puzzle.
8 Extend time in prison (7)
STRETCH – double definition.
10 Pretence contrived to trap daughter, for example (9)
PRECEDENT – anagram of (contrived) PRETENCE containing (to trap) D (daughter).
12 Time final pieces from the chamber orchestra (3)
ERA – last letters (final pieces) from thE chambeR orchestrA.
13 Regular figure, old-fashioned type (6)
SQUARE – double definition.
15 Warm oven in outskirts of Turkey (6)
TOASTY – OAST (oven, as those used to dry hops for brewing) contained by (in) the first and last letters (outskirts) of TurkeY.
16 Never retired — a hundred! (3)
TON – NOT (never) reversed (retired).
17 Produced wriggly eel in cake! (9)
MADELEINE – MADE (produced) then an anagram of (wriggly) EEL IN. I love these, and the word always makes me think of Proust, despite never having made it through The Search.
20 Rugby Union gathering in the country (7)
RURALLY – RU (rugby union) then RALLY (gathering).
22 Food found in shop, as tagliatelle! (5)
PASTA – hidden in (found in) shoP AS TAgliatelle.
23 Crucible‘s fading snooker shot (7,3)
MELTING POT – MELTING (fading) and POT (snooker shot).
1 Scold concealed in church (5)
CHIDE – HID (concealed) contained by (in) CE (Church of England).
2 Band member grabbed drink (5,4)
SNARE DRUM – SNARED (grabbed) and RUM (drink). Part of a drum kit and therefore a whimsical band member.
3 Cover with hot fat, ending on roast in essence (5)
BASTE – last letter of (ending on) roasT contained by (in) BASE (essence).
4 Broadcast appearance (3)
AIR – double definition.
5 Old ships say filling empty cabins (7)
CUTTERS – UTTER (say) contained by (filling) the first and last letters from (empty) CabinS.
6 Worker on newspaper once reviewing poor sitcom (10)
COMPOSITOR – anagram of (reviewing) POOR SITCOM. I had NHO this role, which involved moving the blocks into the correct position for typesetting, but composited it from the anagrist.
9 Type of music in lead, for example? (5,5)
HEAVY METAL – double definition.
11 Strangely, Pope told lies about one for so long (6-3)
TOODLE-PIP – anagram of (strangely) POPE TOLD, containing (lies about) I (one).
14 Some runner vexed, upset (7)
UNNERVE – hidden in (some) rUNNER VExed.
18 Make money in the Far East for elder statesman (5)
DOYEN – DO (make) and YEN (money in the Far East).
19 Popular TV, lesser picture? (5)
INSET – IN (popular) and SET (TV). A smaller picture within a larger one, usually in the corner.
21 Burning books (3)
LIT – double definition.

64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2257 by Mara”

  1. I put in NOT at first at 16ac, which delayed UNNERVE for a while. Biffed MELTING POT, though I suppose I should know POT by now. OUIJA has appeared a few times in the 15x15s, usually clued as here. 6:07.

  2. 15:10. Essence for BASE. and fading for MELTING both UNNERVEd me at first glance and it also took me a while to realize a gathering was a rally. I could see RURAL was “in the country” but it took a few rethinks to see the adverb worked as well. Very entertaining blog!

  3. Misdirected. Followed the cryptic for CASABLANCo, failing both to see what ‘picture’ was doing and revealing a poor grasp of Spanish. Made hard work of SNARE DRUM – a drink ending in M should have got me there sooner. I suppose SQUARE is old-fashioned but that’s not how I’ve ever used it and that was LOI. Not the best.

  4. FOI: CHIDE.
    LOI: LIT.
    I seemed to take an age to work my way through this but finished all parsed in 27 minutes.
    Favourite: TOASTY. HEAVY METAL also brought on a smile.

  5. Struggled throughout this and took a while to see the long perimeter clues, which didn’t help. To cap off a poor day I had ETA in at 12a, which I think was a case of more haste less speed rather than a genuine typo – either way a DNF. Tip of the hat to SNARE DRUM.
    Thanks to william

  6. 12 minutes for me, like yesterday.
    No major hold-ups. FOI INSET. LOI SNARE DRUM.
    Quite a few answers were obvious once I had a letter or two e.g. CASABLANCA; but my first reading of the clue got me nowhere.
    COD to OUIJA; I hadn’t seen anything similar before.
    A nice puzzle.

  7. Thought I’d start with the long edge clues. Inevitably I immediately got the two less useful ones … but stared blankly at 1a and 6d. Fortunately CHIDE then led to CASABLANCA and we were off. I took a little while to see RURALLY but my real hold up was OUIJA, which required a trawl. No doubt it’s a chestnut but it amused me and gets my COD.

    All done in 09:03 for 1.5K and a Reasonable Day.

    Many thanks Mara and William.


  8. All fairly plain sailing until last-clue-itis caught me with my LOI Cutters: I misread the clue completely and thought the definition was Old and “ships say” implied a 5-letter word sounding a bit like some ships to go between the C—–S. That held up what would have been a very fast time and pushed the clock out to 10 minutes.

    Many thanks to William for the blog

  9. Something of a battle throughout, but finished eventually. Needed William’s helpful blog to clear up a few parsings. LOI OUIJA which took ages for the light to dawn, and CUTTERS also held out. I was looking for an anagram in 17A – 9 letters in words after “wriggly” until DOYEN made me rethink. Hard but fairly fair.

  10. Harder than usual. MER at “Old ships….” for CUTTERS as there is nothing obsolete about cutters which are still being built. I was a Customs officer once and thought I would volunteer for the Revenue Cutter service. They didn’t want me.
    Had thought that the Snare Drum was one of several, and the relevant band member would be just DRUMMER, and the snare would be in his kit, but fair enough I suppose.

  11. Failed on CASABLANCA (good clue) AIR and NHO SNARE DRUM. Otherwise finished. Liked OUIJA, TOODLE PIP, COMPOSITOR, PRECEDENT, among others. Got CUTTERS eventually.
    Thanks vm, William.
    Though a less able solver, I do know enough Spanish to translate White House but failed to think of the favourite movie. ‘Play it again, Sam.’

  12. Failed, after staring at O?I?A for a couple of minutes, I have not seen that device before, and that sort of board was just not coming to mind. Maybe if I’d done a backwards trawl I’d have got there, but I really wasn’t looking for a vowel in between 2 vowels. Well played Mara.

    Apart from that, I was through in 6 mins or so, and I liked the puzzle a good deal. MADELEINE, SNARE DRUM and CASABLANCA stood out.


  13. Ridiculously difficult for me. Mara used to be one of my favourite setters. Not any more. Lately his QCs have been too difficult. Really discourages me. Are the QC setters trying to drive away the beginners and less experienced?

    1. I’ve only been learning how to do cryptics for a year. Early on the QCs were a good training ground .Recently they have become so much harder I lose heart and some days only complete half unaided . Such a shame . Is there any way of letting the compilers know ? The boffins have the 15 x15 so let the novices have some encouragement

  14. A tough puzzle from Mara with some answers that may require some specialist knowledge such as MADELEINE and CASABLANCA, not to mention the UKcentric TOODLE PIP. Even so I was attuned to this one finishing in 8.45, although the last minute alone was taken up by my LOI at 7ac OUIJA.

  15. A tough puzzle, and I nearly gave up several times as I crawled to a 30min solve, but each time a pdm came along and the stubborn/determined (depending on viewpoint) side of my nature kicked in. Although it was a relief to finish, I still enjoyed this, especially as I now see it is an incredibly rare example of a sub-Plett 😂 CoD to 17ac, Madeleine, one of the pdms. Invariant

  16. 10.26

    Sluggish compared to my normal comparables but got there with OUIJA and SNARE DRUM the last to fall

    Think I liked it

    Thanks Mara and William

  17. does anyone know if there is a problem with The Times website. it keeps telling me I’m not allowed to access the crossword club

    1. I’ve had trouble getting logged into the site all morning. It seems to be back to normal now. I had to do this puzzle on my ipad in the ordinary puzzles section. Have just managed to log into the Club Site, so am off to do the 15×15.

    2. I had problems this morning on my iPad but I still use the ‘old’ app. Switching to the ‘new’ app loaded fine. Have just tried the original app again this evening and it is working again. I guess that eventually the original app will be pensioned off.

  18. 25 mins…

    At first I thought I was on for a quick time, but I ground to a halt at 2dn and the SE corner. Lots of misdirection here – sure I can’t be the only one trying at first to find an anagram of “eel in cake”.
    Similarly, 2dn “Snare Drum”, 18dn “Doyen” and 1ac “Casablanca” all had me head scratching for a while.

    FOI – 1dn “Chide”
    LOI – 23ac “Melting Pot”
    COD – 2dn “Snare Drum”

    Thanks as usual!

  19. A typically difficult Mara offering. Needed a trawl to get a couple, but managed to get there in the end. Liked OUIJA and CASABLANCA.

  20. NHO COMPOSITOR so that required all the checkers and I wasn’t thinking along the lines of an instrument for a band member so SNARE DRUM was my LOI. 13:03 for a very poor day.

  21. Very pleased to survive this unscathed and in a good time (for me, at least) – 28 minutes.

    My FOI was COMPOSITOR, which provided several starting letters but, as a non-linguist, the other key clue (CASABLANCA) required all of its checkers. Both SNARE DRUM and TOODLE-PIP brought a smile to my face, and I enjoyed (and enjoy) HEAVY METAL. However, the clue for RURALLY seemed particularly weak to me – ‘in the country’ does not lead to an adverb, IMO.

    As I write, Mrs Random is struggling to get OUIJA. Strange, because her first degree was German with French. And (whisper it), she has already past my time – a rarity, indeed.

    Many thanks to Mara and William.

    1. Congrats Mr R. My sympathies are with Mrs R as I shared her frustration. My French and German are decent but it wasn’t the translation, it was working out what the clue was all about. Must have added 5 minutes (giving me 16 in total today) but, as always, the hardest ones to see are the most satisfying to get.

  22. Only six clues today.

    At 17A, I thought “produced” was the definition, so that the answer would be an anagram of “eel in cake”. How do you identify that “cake” is the definition?

    As Poison Wyvern suggests, this is yet another QC designed to deter newbies. This will lead to the demise of cryptic crosswords, won’t it?

    1. I think you identify “cake” as the definition by keeping an open mind i.e. always consider that the def may start or end the clue.

      I empathise with you. Think I only had 3 answers on the first pass and they were at the bottom of the grid so a demoralising start. If I hadn’t unravelled COMPOSITOR to give me RURALLY and work my way round from there I could have been staring for a long time.

      Haven’t enjoyed them much recently. Been over 30-mins almost every day since start of October. I don’t think it should be this difficult.

  23. DNF. Only ouija stopped me which is annoying because it’s been in the QC before. I think what threw me was the fact that French is spoken in 5 European countries and German in 4. Ho hum.
    To those not from the British Isles The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has hosted the World Snooker Championship for decades so my COD. Presumably has also
    Shown the Arthur Miller play of the the same name. Anyone know? J

    1. The Miller play may well have been put on there at some point but it’s not something easy to research online. The venue was the subject of some debate here last month. It takes its name by association with the local steel industry.

  24. Found this one tough today and took over 30 mins to complete. I think the QCs have definitely been harder of late, or could cognitive decline be setting in?!
    Most troublesome were SNARE DRUM, OUIJA and MADELEINE (major PDMs). NHO COMPOSITOR so needed all the checkers. Liked MELTING POT and CASABLANCA. I’m hoping tomorrow’s will be easier. Fingers crossed. Many thanks all.

  25. Finished, all parsed, in good time, though CASABLANCA took ages, and when it finally came in a flash after putting in the B of BASTE, I guessed most would have found it easy. Lovely surfaces tbroighout, eg PRECEDENT, just pipped by SNARE DRUM for my COD. FOI. HIDE, LOI TOASTY. Thanks Mara and William.

  26. Came in at 14:05, pleasingly inside my notional 15 minute target. FOI CHIDE, which led to CASABLANCA and then a clockwise solve to my LOI OUIJA, which took a full 2 minutes. NHO DOYEN, but knew of DOYENNE, so put it in based on the crossers and the wordplay. Liked SNARE DRUM and – eventually – OUIJA most today.

  27. I was held up considerably by my last two, COMPOSITOR and SQUARE. The unhelpful –U-E at 13ac needed the first letter from 6dn as I couldn’t really work out from the clue what the definition was. Once I had cracked the somewhat dimly remembered occupation at 6dn, 13ac became obvious. I eventually managed to complete, all parsed, in 21 minutes which, in view of some of the comments above, I have to consider a reasonable time. Slight MER at TOODLE PIP – has anyone actually used that expression in the last 80 years?

    FOI – 1ac CASABLANCA (a knowledge of Spanish certainly helped here)
    LOI – 13ac SQUARE

    1. I reckon Toodle-pip is only seen in old black and white films where they also have cigarette holders and everyone smokes!

      1. There is a member of our local U3A who always signs his emails to the group ‘Toodlepip”.

  28. Finished, all parsed, in good time, though CASABLANCA took ages, and when it finally came in a flash after putting in the B of BASTE, I guessed most would have found it easy. Lovely surfaces throughout, eg PRECEDENT, just pipped by SNARE DRUM for my COD. FOI CHIDE, LOI TOASTY ( though NHO ). Thanks Mara and William.

  29. Undone by the OUIJA board, so DNF after about 11 minutes. As we’ve see this before, I was most annoyed by myself when I went to an aid to find it. A post-PDM you could say! I was going to blame my performance on the fact that I had some treatment (13d in the biggie) today, the first time ever, and it does make you feel a bit woolly. But as I did the biggie in 25 minutes straight after, it turned out to be no excuse at all 😅
    Overall though, I enjoyed this – lots to smile at, inc TON, SNARE DRUM, COMPOSITOR (no problem for this ex-journalist) and HEAVY METAL (finally got to see Deep Purple last week).
    FOI Casablanca COD Melting pot WOD Toasty
    Thanks Mara and William

  30. Being of a certain age COMPOSITOR was no problem. My main difficulty was 1a thinking the answer may be Colombians although I could not, unsurprisingly, parse it.

    Eventually sorted it all out with the wriggly eel my favourite.

  31. First time post: I’ve been doing the quick cryptic for about 2 months now and spend most of the day on it going backwards and forwards. Only ever completed two but now I can usually manage all but half a dozen clues; today being a good example and a very enjoyable one.
    Thank you to the setters, solvers and commentators. This site is a big help and an encouragement.

    1. Hello Mr V. Welcome aboard!
      If you’re solving around three-quarters of the clues after just two months or so, I would say you’re doing quite well. Thinking back to when I started nearly two and a half years ago, I remember progress coming in spurts, interspersed by periods of utter frustration and much gnashing of teeth. I hope you enjoy the journey and will watch out for your posts.

    2. Well done Ian. That is real progress and far better than my efforts when I began. Keep up the good work!

    3. Welcome aboard 😊 As Random says, don’t despair if you find yourself going two steps forward, one back from time to time. More importantly, I hope you enjoy the ride 😊

  32. Not on any real wavelength today. Didn’t see Casablanca or Ouija. I found all anagrams tricky and would never have got madeleine.
    Only completed 12 clues before conceding. Worst effort from me in a long time.
    Thanks all

  33. At the considerable risk of tempting fate tomorrow, I had few problems with this and was inside the SCC cut-off. Not quite a piece of 17ac, but very, very satisfying. It just demonstrates that sometimes one can get on the right wavelength.

    COD 7ac
    LOI 2dn

    Thanks for the blog.

  34. A discouraging DNF. Fortunately old enough to know COMPOSITOR and TOODLE PIP (is being really old a requirement??). Never got close with OUIJA or SNARE DRUM. And fading = melting??

  35. 22:41

    Got completely stuck on the left hand side. With the last 3 taking 8 minutes. Had tried TYPESETTER but finally realised it had to be COMPOSITOR once I’d got PRECEDENT then OUJA and LOI SQUARE.

  36. Thought this was going to be really hard but was okay once I got going. LOI was OUIJA, good clue. Also particularly liked MADELEINE, but I’m always keen on cake!

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