Times Quick Cryptic 2261 by Jalna

Hello, everyone.  I am here today as a substitute for a substitute.   Olivia Rhinebeck was originally scheduled to stand in for Chris, but she had to ask me to step in at the last minute.

Today’s puzzle is by no means a walk in the park.   After breaking six minutes yesterday, I struggled to finish in under fifteen minutes today.   We don’t have a SNITCH for the Quickie, but I see some slowish times from the elite solvers on the leaderboard, so I wasn’t just off the wavelength.     There were not many write-ins here, and I had to work to get enough crossing letters to tackle the more difficult clues.    I hope this puzzle is not too discouraging to the SCC, but I’m afraid they won’t be happy.

As some of you may know, our new Quick Cryptic Wednesday blogger Doofenschmirtz is starting tomorrow.    He will be followed next Wednesday by Mike Harper.      I’m sure everyone will give a warm welcome to our new bloggers.

1 Fancy coats and neckwear (5)
ASCOT – Anagram of COATS, one of the few write-ins.
4 Smartphone software wasn’t accurate or practical (7)
8 Place to get drinks and fun-size chocolate? (7)
MINIBAR – A MINI BAR would be a fun-sized chocolate, all right.   I could make nothing of this clue for a long time, and finally biffed.
9 Young child eating a second slice at breakfast? (5)
10 Father’s nose broken by end of large toy weapon (10)
14 Plant a group of US agents to protect California (6)
ACACIA –  A(CA)CIA, pretty simple if you’re not expecting CAL.
15 Refuse to acknowledge row about broadcast (6)
DISOWN – DI(SOW)N – and not air!
17 Cinnamon ultimately goes in deep-fried bananas, as already explained! (10)
PREDEFINED – Anagram of [cinnamo]N + DEEP-FRIED.
20 Drain requires disinfectant to remove source of blockage (5)
LEACH –  [b]LEACH, where B is the first letter of blockage.
22 Comedian insisting acts come primarily from the heart (7)
CARDIAC – CARD + I[nsisting] A[cts] C[ome].
23 Land not cultivated in stages, we’re told (7)
STEPPES – Sounds like STEPS in many dialects.
24 Freshwater fish and ray circling river (5)
BREAM – B(R)EAM, a chestnut.
1 Branch is above unknown multitude of ants? (4)
ARMY – ARM + Y, the second of the three unknowns.
2 Swindles one out of money (4)
3 New, albeit strange bottle of red, perhaps (5,4)
TABLE WINE –  Anagram of NEW, ALBEIT for an unspecified wine.
4 A hybrid type of clue (6)
ACROSS – A CROSS, another chestnut.
5 Favourite part of Cape Town (3)
PET – Hidden in [ca]PE T[own]
6 Lack of activity among rebellious division with no leader (8)
7 Move the end, or remove one at the top? (8)
DETHRONE – Anagram of THE END, OR.
11 Colour of a lovebird flying around (5,4)
OLIVE DRAB – Anagram of A LOVEBIRD, easy if you have the final B.
12 Pond creatures requiring little rods (8)
TADPOLES –  TAD + POLES, a lift and separate, since tad is not an adjective.
13 Tear fabric with speed (8)
16 Endless chat about sports event (6)
DISCUS – DISCUS[s], where ‘chat about’ should be taken together.
18 Being lazy is fairly easy at first (4)
LIFE – L[azy] I[s] F[airly] E[asy].
19 Do some tremendous campaigning (4)
SCAM – Hidden in [tremendou]S CAM[paigning].
21 Dance is hard work (3)
HOP – H + OP. as easy as they come.

57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2261 by Jalna”

  1. I can’t remember anything particularly difficult about this, but it did take me longer than my 6′ goal. A fun size of chocolate for me would not be mini. 8:32.

  2. Being a new to cryptics and part of the SCC often in a major way, I am so glad to finish this one and parsing most before submitting.


    but so many more got a laugh out of me.

    Thanks to Jalna and vinyl1

  3. At 13 minutes I also struggled with this one, especially 13dn and 16dn for some reason. It had started so well in the NW where every answer went in on first reading of its clue but 10ac, even with its first two checkers in place resisted my attentions and signalled the onset of problems to come.

    One strange thing to come out of this puzzle was that the wordplay that gave me the answer LEACH made me doubt that I have ever known the correct spelling of the word. I knew the meaning as defined here ‘drain’ but may have always assumed it was spelt like the parasite ‘leech’ which SOED defines as a verb (figuratively) as ‘to drain of energy, money etc’. Odd things words!

  4. 8.10

    Felt hard but once I had a toehold in the bottom I was able to keep moving around.

    PREDEFINED made me smile

    Thanks Jalna and Vinyl

  5. Jalna’s Quick Cryptics can be on the trickier side, and I thought today’s was too. No real hold-ups, though, for me. Some lovely clues. I liked TADPOLES and CONS among several others, but COD to LEACH for the surface. Thank-you Jalna and Vinyl1. 5:20.

  6. Had a complete brain fade at 1a, where I saw the anagram of coats and put in STOAS, which I thought might be some type of neckwear – I now see that a stoa is a covered walkway – and not noticing that the letters didn’t match.
    Thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the puzzle, which was tricky in places, and returned to the NW at the end to untangle the mess I’d made of it, finishing in 10.55.
    Thanks to Vinyl for filling in.

  7. DNF beaten by DISCUS. Tough throughout though. OLIVE DRAB, DETHRONE and LACERATE held me up too.

    Thanks for the workout Jalna and Vinyl for the blog.

  8. A poor night’s sleep (noise of gales trying to tear the wisteria off the wall, the cat wanting to be let out at 3am) + a tough puzzle = a slow time. My brain hurts.

    Pretty much Jack’s experience – NW straight in then hit the buffers. Limped home in 12:15 for 1.4K and an Undistinguished Day.

    Many thanks Jalna and super-sub vinyl.


    1. Thank you…you have reminded me that I need to cut back the trumpet vine that was tapping against my bedroom window for most of the night.

  9. I drew a blank in my first pass of the NW. FOI was eventually PET. After that it was a tussle to complete. DISCUS brought up the rear. 11:33. Thanks Jalna and Vinyl.

  10. I probably qualify for the SCC and didn’t enjoy today’s but I don’t recall Jalna being particularly difficult before. Looking back there was nothing really unkind though I DNK OLIVE DRAB. I was clearly off form, as I suspected that BEING was the definition for 18d and tried the first letters FEAT, but it clearly didn’t work, so I gave up rather than trawl through all the #I#E possibilities. FOI 1d, LOI 15 a and COD 4d: I smiled as I came ACROSS this in a down clue! Thaks Jalna and Vinyl1.

  11. Taken well into the SCC today at 22 minutes for this little toughie. I was held up most in the NW where APPLIED, DETHRONE, INACTION and DISOWN were all very recalcitrant, until the second half of APPLIED sprang to mind and opened up the others.ASCOT FOI, COD to PREDEFINED. Many thanks for the reminder of my fallibility to Jalna, and to Vinyl for the blog.

  12. I started off confidently then got slower and slower. I found it tough, eventually crossing the line in 14.31. I would guess quite a few solvers will feel that some of the clues were more 15x15ish. Having recently decorated our house, I avoided OLIVE DRAB on the name alone!

  13. Yes, a happy member if SCC today! A misdirection masterclass e.g. ‘about’ and ‘new’ not being cryptic indicators but part of definition and anagram fodder respectively. It was a bit of BIFD then parsed for me. Thanks supersub Vinyl and tricksy Jalna

  14. Another 30min hard slog, with just the occasional pdm and sheer stubbornness keeping me going to the end. Some good clues, but overall it seemed as if the setter was trying to be too clever, loi 16ac Disown being a case in point. CoD to 10ac, Peashooter, one of several biff then parse answers. Invariant

  15. Tricky tricky.

    I had to write out anagrist for PEASHOOTER and PREDEFINED (COD). Also much headscratching at the fabric part of LACERATE (not sure why). I liked OLIVE DRAB as well.


    1. PEASHOOTER wasn’t an anagram, so writing out the anagrist must have been an interesting experience!

      1. Blimey, brainscramble. I meant that I had to work hard to get PEASHOOTER, and write out the anagrist for PREDEFINED…

  16. I know that this site is “Times for the Times” but I am just happy to be in the SCC and complete the QC without any errors for the second time this week! LOI was disown after playing with all types of rubbish, air and tier which often seem to refer to refuse, broadcast and row – but not today!

    1. Don’t pay too much attention to the title of the site, Bintang2, as solving times are completely optional these days. Do your own thing and enjoy the ride!

  17. No excuses from me. This was a tough one. On my first run through I had answered one clue, and I thought I would never finish this one. But I did. Slowly but surely the answers came. I did need aids to answer a few clues when I was just totally lost.

    Never heard of the colour Olive Drab. Olive, yes, but olive drab, no.

    1. Collecting GB stamps helped me on that last colour. EIIR definitives seem to have been through every shade in the Pantone book!

  18. Difficult. Needed help to finish. Struggled with APPLIED, DISOWN (still not sure of parsing), OLIVE DRAB (even knowing it was an anagram), PEASHOOTER, DISCUS and LEACH.

  19. I really struggled with this and gave up after 22 minutes with one clue (PEASHOOTER) still unsolved.

    DISOWN and INACTION also took some effort and I entered OLIVE DRAB as an ‘it has to be that’ due to the anagram.

    Not my finest hour today!

  20. 21 mins…

    A toughie but enjoyable. NHO of Olive Drab for 11dn nor “sow” for broadcast, and I also had to think twice about the spelling of “Leach”.

    Liked the simplicity of 2dn “Cons” and the surface of 7dn “Dethrone”.

    FOI – 2dn “Cons”
    LOI – 11dn “Olive Drab”
    COD – 19dn “Scam” – great definition and surface.

    Thanks as usual!

  21. Tricksy. Very slow today – 35 mins! Stuck on DISOWN, LACERATE and CARDIAC. Liked PEASHOOTER and LIFE. DNK OLIVE DRAB but had to be. Usually find Jalna easier than this. Thanks to Vinyl for stepping in.

  22. Started well but very soon ground to a complete halt. Had difficulty with the anagrams at 7dn and 17ac despite knowing they were anagrams and having written out the anagrist. All resulted in a seriously slow time of 31 minutes. Never managed to parse 6dn INACTION and it seemed almost too obvious from the definition, so I resisted putting it in until I had all the crossers. Never heard of ASCOT as neckwear but it was clear from the clueing.

    FOI – 8ac MINIBAR
    COD – either 14ac ACACIA or 4dn ACROSS

    Thanks to setter for a tough workout and to Vinyl for the blog

  23. A Disastrous Day! I abandoned this with three to go – DISCUS, STEPPES and LACERATE. Just word blindness – I kept staring at the blanks and saw nothing. The biggie was better – I only got stuck on one there 😅 All the same, I did think there were some highly entertaining clues here – CONS, TABLE WINE and OLIVE DRAB among others.
    I don’t know what an ASCOT is – a type of tie knot perhaps, like its neighbour a Windsor knot?
    FOI and COD Minibar
    Thanks Jalna and Vinyl

    1. It is (apparently) a large silk tie folded over at the neck and fastened with a tie pin (so not the same as a cravat). I think one of the D’Ascoynes wore one in KH&C. . .

    2. The checkers for LACERATE were awful – *A*E*A*E! I was so lucky that LACE popped into my head just as the brain was about to freeze. Going to try the big boy on the train home but not feeling optimistic.

      1. With those checkers, I initially put PACE in for speed then almost immediately changed it when LACE popped into my thoughts!

  24. Pretty difficult. Gave up this morning after breakfast but it didn’t seem so bad at lunchtime.
    Had to look up PEASHOOTER in CCD early on to give me a morale boost – good clue.
    Thanks vm, Vinyl, and all bloggers.

  25. DNF. Glad everyone else thought it hard. I think it was because almost every clue was above average difficulty. And the grid style was easy peasy. J

  26. Thank you so much vinyl1 for stepping in. The puzzle was decidedly tricky. The ones I found most difficult were in the NE corner i.e. APPLIED (not sure why), DETHRONE (missed the anagrist) and my LOI and COD PEASHOOTER (tried to make a word out of the letters in father’s nose despite there being too many letters). I was just shy of 15 minutes today but see that I am in good company with so many commenters missing their targets.

  27. Well beaten today for a DNF, and rather relieved to find others have also found this unusually challenging for a QC. Not entirely a surprise though: of the regular setters, Jalna is the one I find most difficult for some reason, and most frequently fail to finish.

    In this latest defeat I was undone by the two “about” clues (15A and 16D), neither of which meant reverse the letters, plus in 15A did not see “broadcast” as Sow . So two blanks when I conceded. And that was after taking an age over Olive Drab (NHO, and not I suspect one of Dulux’s better sellers) and equally long to accept that a clue with “inactivity” in the surface really could have “inaction” as the answer – not very elegant, indeed seemed too straightforward to be right.

    Tomorrow is another day though – and more importantly another setter. Many thanks to Vinyl1 for the blog, needed today.


    1. I think it’s a glaring flaw, actually, to have “lack of activity” cluing INACTION. It was my LOI, and entered quite reluctantly. This is the kind of redundancy puzzle setters usually weed out. Test solvers love to flag them, though especially when they’re less obvious than this clanger.

  28. Seeing Jalna’s name as setter struck fear into my heart!

    Working my way through the book of QCs from 2020 and the second one is from Jalna (#1710 – 28Sep). Way harder than anything else in the book and I had nine left on the day I attempted it. Finally finished it off last week on day 74!! Then lo and behold yesterday, the next in the book was Jalna (#1757 – 2Dec) and another slog taking 53mins. Had I known he’d be coming up today, I’d have skipped a page.

    With that background, I launched into today’s and gave up after ten minutes with what turns out to have been six correct.

    Came back after lunch and had all but two done in 18-mins. It’s amazing how your mindset can change over the course of a day. But those last two (INACTION and DISOWN) eluded me and I gave up after 33-mins.

    Came back from shopping and third look I finally got there. All solved and parsed with another 8-mins added.

    Three attempts, 50+mins. Not sure what to make of that given how quickly most of it went in on my 2nd attempt

    1. The main thing I make of this is that your stamina and sheer bloody-mindedness is truly impressive and way better than mine. I have a 20-25 minute “window of patience” before I deem a puzzle either not a proper QC or so far from my wavelength as not worth spending more time on. Chapeau though to you and others who battle on!

      1. Well, thank-you.

        It has been one of my life lessons to learn when to give up and stop trying. You can’t win ’em all !!

  29. In common with many, I found this hard & resorted to aids for DISOWN and CARDIAC. But I missed DISCUS entirely & went with CIRCUS, as the only word that would come to mind that fit _I_C_S, convincing myself that of course the setter was thinking about Ancient Rome, and that no doubt the parsing would come to me. Ho hum. Thanks to setter & blogger.

  30. A steady plod in 11.36. Thinking I was a bit sluggish today, since none of the clues felt especially hard, but reading everyone’s comments made me feel better about my time.
    I enjoyed MINIBAR as a clue. Fun sized bars of chocolate always seem mis-named; a small bar is always less fun than a proper sized one.

    Many thanks Vinyl for the blog

  31. I should think I took 45 mins + but I got there. Phew. Didn’t know ascot or olive drab. Plenty of train time to waste in a nice way.

  32. On the move today , so solved this in fits and starts.
    It was difficult. Agree with Guy and Cedric about INACTION.
    I think PEASHOOTER and DETHRONE were last in.
    In contrast, I finished the 15×15 relatively easily.

  33. Other than a few of the short answers (e.g. TOAST, LIFE, SCAM, HOP), which went in more-or-less straight away, none of the clues came easily today. _A_E_A_E proved almost impossible to alphabet trawl, INACTION was impossible to parse, ASCOT was unknown to me, MINIBAR and ARMY took an eternity … and the list goes on. I did finish all correct, but it took me 1 hour exactly. Draining! Not really a QC, IMHO.

    Many thanks to Jalna and vinyl1.

  34. I had my covid booster on Sunday and made the mistake of having my flu jab at the same time. Totally wiped out yesterday and not much better today. A very sore arm, a headache and feeling like a block of ice.

    In the circumstances, I was very proud of myself for finishing this one. I was well over the hour mark but kept going through sheer bloody-mindedness! These QCs are hard enough when I’m well, never mind when I’m under the weather!

    Thanks for the blog.

  35. I breezed through the NW corner and then was surprised how the rest slowly popped into mind.
    24 minutes in total.
    Same issue as Jack with Leach/Leech.
    LOI Lacerate.
    Enjoyed it though since delighted to complete this teaser.
    Thanks all

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