Times Quick Cryptic 2302 by Joker

My second Joker puzzle in a row, and again I was taken over my target time. All finished in 17:39, but I biffed ASSAY, DATED, and DELTA and parsed them post-submission.

Solved this one with an audience (hello Phil!) and we had a couple of chuckles as some of the chewier answers revealed themselves.

Definitions underlined in italics, wordplay indicators in square brackets, synonyms in round brackets, deletions in squiggly brackets.

1 Buddy boiling, working out for this? (12)

Anagram [working out] of BUDDY BOILING.

I’m not sure how to classify this clue. It’s clearly an anagram, but “working out” appears to be doing double duty as both the anagram indicator and part of the definition, which feels a little bit off to me. The surface reading feels a bit clunky. Definitely not my favourite clue of the day.

8 Test, for instance twice (5)

AS (for instance) + SAY (for instance).

For instance, twice. Very neat.

9 Act a sin out? Diabolical (7)

Anagram [out] of ACT A SIN.

10 Essential and reportedly complete part of lock (7)

KEY (essential) + HOLE (homophone [reportedly] of “whole” = “complete”).

There’s a whole class of words and phrases that are used as indicators of homophones: just off the top of my head I can come up with “reportedly”, “we hear”, “for auditors” and “on the radio”. Any time the clue references hearing or listening, it’s worth looking to see if there is a homophone.

11 Danube’s opening, according to Plato? (5)

Cryptic definition.  Delta, in the Greek [according to Plato] alphabet, is the equivalent of D: the first letter [opening] of D{anube}.

There’s a nice almost-double-definition here too, since there is a delta where the Danube opens into the Black Sea. There’s a good chance Plato would have known of it, since there were Greek colonies in the Black Sea well before his time.

12 Write down music? Never a note (6)

NOT A (never a) TE (one of the notes in the do-re-mi system of naming notes).

14 Way of growing small trees in old basin to move around (6)

Anagram [to move around] of O BASIN.

“O” for “Old” is so common that I don’t think it matters whether it is O{ld} or an abbreviation, as in OB for Old Boy.

17 Swiss capital flow in Scotland reported? (5)

Another homophone, this time indicated by “reported”. A “burn” is a Scottish word for “stream”, hence a “flow in Scotland”.

19 Train as fantastic skilled manual worker (7)

Anagram [fantastic] of TRAIN AS.

21 Dishearten gunner veteran to some extent (7)

Part of [to some extent] {g}UNNER VE{teran}.

A nice bit of misdirection from Joker here: how many others were sent down the “Dishearten gunner” = “GR” blind alley?

22 Drive forward in stripped-down limo with key in place (5)

{L}IM{o} [stripped-down] + E (a key, in music) inside PL [standard abbreviation for Place, as in a street name].

I think this is the first time I’ve seen “stripped-down” used to mean “without its outside letters”.

23 Form of treatment the dopy Harry arranged (12)

Anagram [arranged] of THE DOPY HARRY.

1 Bulk balanced in a mishap can make one very bruised (5-3-4)

Anagram [in a mishap] of BULK BALANCED. I think “one” in this clue is referring to you, the solver.

2 Sooty perhaps having obligation to hold Sweep but not cry (5)

DUTY (obligation) holding S{cry} (sweep, without “cry”).

“Sweep” for “scry” is perhaps a bit of a stretch, “scry” being defined in Collins online as “to divine, esp by crystal gazing”. But the surface reading is so good that I can easily acquiesce.

Sooty and Sweep are glove-puppet characters in a children’s show that I remember from my childhood.


Errr, yes. As multiple people point out in the comments, make that

DUTY (obligation) holding S{weep} (sweep, without weep (cry)).

Trying to be too clever by three-quarters. 😉

3 Refuse to deal with lad with company time and time again (7)

BOY (lad) + CO (company) + T (time), twice.

4 Section of foot soldiers marching must be this (6)

Double definition: instep is a part of the foot, and soldiers marching must be in step.

5 Old-fashioned saw (5)

Another double definition: something that is old-fashioned is dated, and if you dated someone for a while, it could be also said that you saw them for a while.

The second definition took some thought. I got there via “seeing” = “dating” and then moving both into the past tense.

6 Confuse intelligence about National Physical Laboratory (7)

NOUS (intelligence) surrounding [about] NPL. I tried to fit NPL inside NEWS at first, but then light dawned.

7 Sometimes supporter follows cause (12)

ALLY (supporter) following OCCASION (cause, as a verb).

13 Heartless Tory managed New York dictatorship (7)

T{or}Y [Heartless Tory] RAN (managed) NY (standard abbreviation for New York).

15 Published policy summary (7)

OUT (published, as in “now out in paperback”) + LINE (policy, as in “follow the party line”).

16 Caught a veterinary surgeon hiding a warning (6)

C (caught: a cricket reference) + A VET{inary surgeon} hiding [containing] A.

18 Slip removing cases from ferry port (5)

Remove the “cases” (outside letters) from {f}ERR{y} {p}OR{t}.

20 Reddish-brown primates climbing around one (5)

APES (primates) climbing [reversed, since this is a down clue] around [including] I (one, in Roman numerals).

73 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2302 by Joker”

  1. 16:01. Another puzzle which I found hard to get going with, eventually FOI BERNE.

    2d could have been MISTY, MUSTY or DIRTY, the “SCRY” device passed me buy, and I still don’t get it. NHO the word, and if it means “predict”, why is that “sweep”?

    I was convinced that “saw” at 5d (DATED) was going to be a proverb, like Axiom, or the recently learnt Gnome, but no.


    1. As has been pointed out, my parsing of that one was all wrong. It’s just “sweep” without “weep” inside “duty”. I’m reasonably sure that I have seen “scry” used to mean “look for at a distance”, which is kinda-sorta like “sweep” (I was thinking of radar etc), but it may have been in some fantasy book series where the author felt free to invent new meanings for existing words.

      1. ODE sv ‘scry’: ‘foretell the future using a crystal balll or other reflective object or surface’
        ‘early 16th cent.: shortening of descry.’

      2. I’m thinking a Tom Holt book where staff are employed to scry for minerals in images of terrain using magic powers. So yes, sweep for minerals. But the “real” answer is better, I’m afraid

  2. I biffed BODYBUILDING, not bothering to check the anagrist, but I don’t see a problem if you take the definition to be ‘this’. I fell into the GunneR trap. 4:52.

  3. 17:17. I enjoyed this puzzle as everything came out fairly straightforwardly after some pondering. I wonder sometimes if I feel a clue is great because of its intrinsic worth or just because I solve it! I considered musty at first for DUSTY as “must” seemed to point to obligation. ASSAY, NOTATE, and INSTEP were favourites, I also liked the device for ERROR. IMPEL and CAVEAT were the hardest to parse.

  4. 12:47. Slow to get going yet again. I’m more used to seeing the BERN spelling for the ‘Swiss capital’ and think of SEPIA as a sort of wishy-washy, light brown rather than ‘Reddish-brown’. I thought of the ‘Danube’ DELTA too (seen in wildlife programs) and dutifully followed the “GR” dead-end at 21a.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofenschmirtz

      1. No, I must admit my ignorance about the different French and German (I suppose) spelling. Thanks for the enlightenment.

        1. I think it is also the standard English spelling – it is one of those places like Munich and Brussels where we have a spelling which is different from that used in the country itself.

          1. As you probably know, there are about four official languages in Switzerland, the main three being German (Swiss/German), French and Italian. In the French-speaking cantons they spell the capital Berne.
            (We lived in Geneva for four years and a good time was had by all. Quite educational as e.g. the cornflakes packet displayed 3 languages.)

            1. Ah, so that’s where we get our English spelling of the name from. Thank you. It seems we often copy the French rather than use the native name (Rome is another example of this) – except, funnily, in France itself (Lyons, Marseilles, Rheims, Dunkirk …)

                1. Our Foreign++ Office spells it BERNE (like the Swiss French) but the German-speaking majority of Swiss spell it BERN. Either acceptable then.🙂. Question is, do you write Basel or Basle?

  5. 10 minutes, just scraping home on target by a whisker.

    As Kevin has pointed out the reflexive ‘this’ at 1ac resolves the issue considered by our blogger. It’s a common enough device used by setters whether referring to everything else in the clue or only a part of it.

  6. Quickest of the year at 11.01 but with yet another typo, ‘erorr’ this time which mucked up UNNERVE too. Slow in the top half, I had to pass over five clues before getting going with NOTATE. SATATIC put up most resistance among the anagrams, BLACK AND BLUE just went in from the notation. Now to hit the northbound M40!

  7. 9’51” was a very satisfactory time after a VERY slow start with only SATANIC and BERNE in on first pass but I can only echo Doof’s summary of ‘enjoyable and fair’.

    DATED and INSTEP were among LOIs and CODs.

    Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz.

  8. 12.06

    Slow for me but trying to do long anagrams in my head is not a strength and happy enough to get everything right in the end.

    Liked ASSAY

    Thanks all

  9. First time ever out of the SSC!!! Been working towards this for months and months.
    Will now be absolutely insufferable for the rest of the week.

    Thanks all.

  10. A remarkable day as all four 12-letter edge clues flew in, virtually my first four entries. And long anagrams are sometimes my undoing too. With that sort of start, the puzzle was relatively quickly unlocked and with only Dated holding me up briefly (only semi-parsed, did not see the connection to saw), an 8 minute finish for a Good Day. I feel a little that I was owed this after persevering through the first two puzzles of the year!

    COD to Dusty, for the reminder of Sooty and Sweep, which was a staple of my childhood.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  11. Found this relatively gentle, but was greatly helped by both the 1s going straight in leaving the grid wide open with lots of helpful starting letters. Brief hold up at the end due to being slow to see the 2nd meaning of DATED and trying to think of something philosophical for DELTA before the penny dropped.
    Finished in 6.27 with COD to ASSAY (another nice PDM).
    Thanks to Doofers

  12. 23 minutes needing checkers for the long anagrams other than BLACK AND BLUE which just lept out.
    All were parsed along the way other than IMPEL BIFD.
    LOI: The clever DELTA.
    Favourites: ERROR and SEPIA.

  13. 13 mins…

    Unusually, for a Joker puzzle, I found this a bit of a biff-fest. However, getting the 1ac/1dn axis quickly, helped drive my better than average time.

    Missed both versions of 2dn “Dusty” parsing if I’m being honest, but I liked the Sooty and Sweep reference – shame they he couldn’t shoehorn Sue in there as well.

    FOI – 10ac “Keyhole”
    LOI – 2dn “Dusty”
    COD – 2dn “Dusty”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. Plodded steadily through, helped by the four long outside clues. FOsI 1d, KEYHOLE, NOTATE, BERNE.
    ERROR had to be but dnk that removing cases meant outside letters.
    Liked INSTEP, NONPLUS, TYRANNY , among others.
    Many thanks for helpful blog, Doofers.

  15. Just inside 10 minutes by a few seconds, and I’m very pleased with that. Like others, I benefitted from seeing the 1s almost straight away. ASSAY was last in. Thanks for the blog Doofers, and thanks to Joker.

  16. An excellent puzzle with much to enjoy. I was slow to start and only really got going when 1d hit me. I ended up over target but inside our blogger’s time (at 17.16) and with a sense of satisfaction, having completed and parsed some clever clues.
    Thanks to both. John M.

  17. 18.47 DNF … couldn’t see DELTA. Maybe on a slower day or coming back to it later I would have got that.

    Never enjoy Joker’s QCs because they always seem to have one clue that trips me up somewhere and on reflection, most of my answers today held some doubt because J’s vocab is just another level up.

    In fact the last three ASSAY, DUSTY (and DELTA), which I reached at 15-mins, I couldn’t make much sense of. ASSAY is a word I’d never use and while I could see SAY as an example, the AS part less so; despite probably using it in this sentence! I originally tried DirtY before having to settle for DUSTY. Not sure many people would consider dust and soot to be synonymous; I’m sure a dictionary proves me wrong and there you go.

    Bit meh but at least it was all over with quickly 😕

    Edit: held up for a while by putting ADAGE for “old-fashioned saw” … somehow think Anno Domini was a long time ago 🙄

  18. 17 mins but could not parse DUSTY until I read the updated blog. Thanks to Doofenschmirtz for that help.
    Very enjoyable QC from Joker. Raised a smile at the ‘dopy Harry’.
    I went about this puzzle totally differently today (just for fun) and solved the four outer 12 letter words first. It didn’t improve my solving time but did make me wonder whether there was going to be a theme – ‘bodybuilding’ [makes you] ‘black-and-blue’ [requiring] ‘hydrotherapy’ ‘occasionally’. But no, my imagination and my wandering mind is one reason I am rarely out of the SCC!

  19. No real problems today – a steady solve, helped by getting 1a and 1d straightaway.

  20. Nice to see my old buddies Sooty and Sweep get a mention, even though the answer evaded me to such an extent that DUSTY was my LOI. In spite of having to go all the way down to 14ac to get my first answer, I picked up speed quite nicely and finished in a speedy for me time of 7.45

  21. I think this must be my best ever at 10:20, helped by the fact that the long anagrams came to me quickly. FOI BLACKANDBLUE, LOI ERROR. Really liked DELTA. Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz.

  22. I enjoyed this and came in somewhere around the 20 min mark. Best of the year so far! Joker’s puzzles normally have me well into SCC territory, but today I was on his wavelength.

    PDM – UNNERVE (thought it began GR)
    COD – a tie: DELTA/ERROR

    Thanks for the blog Doofers. Your explanations were very helpful.

  23. Not sure whether I enjoyed this one or not. Over his last few puzzles I have found Joker is becoming rather difficult. I have found this to be true of various setters here. They seem to cycle between being difficult to be being fairly easy. When I first started this puzzle I thought it was very difficult. When I finished, I simply found it difficult.

    The clue for BODYBUILDING completely stumped me, and I was forced to use a life by using an anagram solver. Once completed I could see how the clue worked. Also needed help with DELTA.

    2/3 lives

  24. Not the best for me today.

    Held up by BODYBUILDING, after which I got DUSTY & DATED, and then finally biffed DELTA.

    SATANIC was neat I thought, though could possibly be a chestnut.


  25. I found this to be very easy with an uninterrupted top-down solve to come in at just under 8 minutes! Having said that, I was pleased to see so many anagrams as I do seem able to do these easily. Perhaps being a fan of Countdown helps!

  26. Started with 1d/1ac, and most of their offspring, so a good foothold in the NW leading to a steady solve. Impel was a biff then (quite some time later) parse, but the real hold up was the Dated/Delta combination. Just couldn’t see the Plato connection for ages, and even tried (Plato)*, before the pdm. Dated then became obvious giving a 16min solve, which I’ll happily take for Joker. CoD to the apt 13d, Tyranny. Invariant

  27. 7:49

    Fairly sailed through this, leaving the long anagrams until enough checkers available to reasonably biff then parse.

    Not entirely sure of ASSAY. Liked the Sooty and Sweep wordplay.

    Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz

    1. Dear MH,
      Despite now having clapped eyes on it many times, I still laugh every time I see your avatar. Thankyou!
      P.S. Is it a good likeness?

      1. Apart from the orange hair, bulging eyes and downturned mouth, it’s pretty close!

        Glad to hear it has lifted your day a little…

  28. FOI BODYBUILDING with a sigh of relief as the long answers normally throw me. I remember only part reading the clues in the SE corner and biffing answers that fitted with the checkers. I also biffed DELTA and parsed just before coming to the blog. LOI HYDROTHERAPY in 7:31 for a very good day.

  29. I found this reasonably straightforward for a Joker puzzle, but had to cogitate a bit on LOI, DELTA. All in vain though, as I didn’t proofread properly and missed a typo, INSYEP. Drat! 6:58 WOE. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  30. Like some others, slow to start. However I then picked up speed and was finished in 13 mins, which is a decent time for me. Didn’t parse DELTA or OUTLINE (thanks Doofers) and also fell into the trap of trying to start 21ac with gr (but not for long as 1dn jumped out at me when I had a few checkers).

    FOI – 10ac KEYHOLE
    LOI – 15dn OUTLINE
    COD – liked 4dn INSTEP and 7dn OCCASIONALLY

  31. Er … in contrast to most people above, I found today’s puzzle very challenging. Not solving either of the 1s until way after the half-hour mark didn’t help, but my last few in were OCCASIONALLY, DELTA (a top-class clue, IMO), DATED, DUSTY (also a very good clue) and ASSAY. Total time = 52 minutes. Rather embarrassing!

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

    1. Nice to see that I’m not the only one with a double digit time! Just under the hour at 56 minutes. Didn’t get the second definition for 5d and assumed that Delta was the mouth of the Danube! Still, managed to complete the QC in less than an hour, which is a result for me.

      1. Well done, B2! When I started, two and a half years ago, my usual result was a DNF (>50% of the time) or well over an hour if I finished. Since then, I have steadily improved my game such that I typically finish nowadays somewhere in the 25 – 45 minutes range, and my DNF ratio is now down to about 1 in 7. I sense that my solving will continue becoming faster and more reliable, but by ever decreasing amounts. I’m sure I will always be a confirmed member of the SCC with only very occasional excursions outside of its boundary. Good luck!

  32. Oh dear. I biffed HYPNOTHERAPY and then wedged ERRYN into 18d. I was probably thinking of Port Erin, which I visited nearly half a century ago. First miss in ages though so I’m not too unhappy about it.

  33. Started a read through while waiting for an appointment at my local Surgery but didn’t finish it or get to put pen to printout until much later. I think this is definitely one of Joker’s more accessible QCs. Much to enjoy in the clues and an entertaining solve. Just right for me. Couldn’t see 1a until most of the checkers were available but the other long anagrams went in very quickly and proved a great help.
    FOI 12a Notate
    LOI 8a Assay
    COD 21a Unnerve.

  34. I really enjoyed this puzzle, particularly DELTA for the double use of “opening” in the clue. After a slowish start, all done in just shy of 12 mins.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofenschmirtz.

  35. Enjoyed this puzzle, probably escaped from the scc, which is good for us. The four long clues sent in quickly, a great help. Thanks Joker.

  36. 18:38

    Some of the long ones took a while but once in place the rest was straightforward. LOI OUTLINE.

  37. Very erratic solving at the moment – 7 minutes today, more or less on the dot and fully parsed.
    I enjoyed this one from Joker – lots of neat, amusing surfaces (although I did think the clue for DUSTY was a bit clunky). I liked DELTA, and BODYBUILDING was a great anagram- glad it wasn’t bunny boiling though! HYDROTHERAPY made me laugh – I’m sure Joker wasn’t having a pop at anyone in particular 😅
    FOI and COD Satanic LOI Error
    Thanks Joker and Doofers

    1. Hi Penny,
      In case you haven’t spotted it, this is just to let you know that I replied to your question yesterday.

      1. Hi SRC – I’ve been trying to send you an email via the link in yesterday’s comment box, but to no avail! Not sure what’s going wrong P

  38. I found this very gentle, and finished in 6.42, my fastest for quite a while. My favourite clue was DELTA.

  39. Saw from definition that answer was Berne but cannot think of any language/dialect where it would be a homophone of burn (possibly a Lancashire accent!!!).

  40. Enjoyed our setter living up to his(?) pseudonym today., and was lucky to complete in under average time. I decided that 1a appeared a probably difficult anagram and needed crossers beforeI tackled it, then a few minutes later my eye fell on it and I misread it as BODY BUILDING! FOI. BLACK AND BLUE, LOI ERROR, COD toss up between BODYBUILDING for its cheek, as it is so easy, and TYRANNY for its surface. According to Google, the Greek word for DANUBE begins with delta, so Plato would have solved the clue. Thanks D and J

  41. My first ever sub 20 minutes! We all have our own goals!
    But I did parse every one in that time so I feel pretty smug.
    The Danube opening into a delta certainly helped me.
    Thank you to Joker and blogger – I like the education.

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