Times Quick Cryptic 2310 by Mara


I needed 8 minutes for this one which I found fairly straightforward, but how did you all do? We have several food references today, in particular two delicious traditional English dishes,  but I suspect it’s coincidental rather than a deliberate theme. Perhaps the setter was feeling hungry.


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 Avoid standard container with a tinned fish (8,4)
SKIP (avoid), JACK (standard – flag, as in Union Jack),  TUN (container – beer barrel), A. This is an alternative name for tuna fish. I’ve seen it on labels in supermarkets.
8 Grips securely in hair? (5)
Two meanings
9 Cover performer of rhythmic music on the radio? (7)
Sounds like [on the radio] “rapper” (performer of rhythmic music)
10 It’s said, morning moisture anticipated (3)
Sounds like [it’s said] “dew” (morning moisture)
11 New shirt dean spoilt (9)
Anagram [new] of SHIRT DEAN. Spoilt or tarnished as one’s reputation may be.
13 Oddly curved pie in circular dish (5)
C{u}R{v}E{d} P{i}E [oddly]
14 All there, some returning from Guatemala to Tonga (5)
Hidden and reversed [some returning] in {Guatema}LA TO T{onga}
16 Unsafe — as may be pond skater? (2,4,3)
A straight definition and a cryptic hint
17 Principals in overambitious universities thus dismissed (3)
O{verambitious} + U{niversities} + T{hus} [principals]
19 Person who criticises   someone at the door? (7)
Two meanings
21 Old chap, one from sultanate (5)
O (old), MAN (chap), I (one)
22 Where needle might be taken in private? (3,3,6)
A barely cryptic hint precedes the main definition
1 Boy from South Africa leaves, perhaps? (5)
SA (South Africa),  LAD (boy)
2 Amount gained tenner, I’m excited about cash initially (9)
Anagram [excited] of TENNER I’M containing [about] C{ash} [initially]
3 No more than travel permit? That’s exactly what’s needed! (4,3,6)
JUST (no more than), THE TICKET (travel permit)
4 Wimp in conflict interrupting swimmer (6)
WAR (conflict) contained by [interrupting] COD (swimmer)
5 Dish he loathed, not surprisingly, touring India (4-2-3-4)
Anagram [surprisingly] of HE LOATHED NOT containing [touring] I (India – NATO alphabet)
6 Sleep in capsized vessel (3)
PAN (vessel) reversed [capsized]
7 Marriage restraint, reportedly? (6)
Sounds like [reportedly] “bridle” (restraint)
12 Stew at initially onerous and difficult problem (3,6)
HOTPOT (stew), AT, O{nerous} [initially]. In England, a regional dish particularly associated with Lancashire.
13 Rough bark perhaps covering tree (6)
CRY (bark) containing [covering] OAK (tree)
15 Ferocious fire destroyed church (6)
Anagram [destroyed] of FIRE, then CE (church of England)
18 In new diet, flavour finally tasted (5)
{flavou}R [finally] contained by [in] anagram [new] of DIET
20 Idiot ostensibly asinine, foolish primarily (3)
O{stensibly} + A{sinine} + F{oolish} [primarily]

72 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2310 by Mara”

  1. 15:03. Quite a meal- SKIPJACK TUNA SALAD to start, choice of HOT POT or TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE, then suitable CREPE for afters. Have never seen or heard CROAKY in my neck of the woods.

  2. I hesitated over CROAKY, but could see no other possibility. The C finally made me see what was going on with LOI CREPE (and Jack, I think you need to underline ‘circular’). SKIPJACK is a kind of tuna, also known as bonito. 6:20.

  3. 9:07. I had no idea about 1a until I had most of the crossers so didn’t get off to a good start. Also held up by entering what I thought was a plausible “Sacha” for 1d until put right by DUE.

    TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE and Lancashire HOTPOT; Henry Crabbe probably loved them but I’m afraid they don’t make me feel very hungry. Speaking of which, if I saw a Lancashire CRÊPE on the menu, I’d be expecting a no-nonsense “pancake”.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack

      1. And another SACHA. I still stand by that as a perfectly viable alternative answer, which to my mind makes for a poor clue.

  4. 16:00 which felt a bit slow for what seemed an easier offering.

    Hesitated over SKIPJACK TUNA as I had always thought it was a brand name.

    Made a real mess over CREPE/CROAKY. I wanted CRÈME to work.


  5. Came in under 9m but felt slower with the top half in particular putting up stiff resistance. Seven on the first pass of acrosses but not SKIPJACK TUNA which I had to come back to a couple of times, mainly because I had the J from JUST THE TICKET and so wanted the container in the clue to be a ‘jar’ – once COWARD arrived the clue suddenly made sense. LOI was TARNISHED which though an obvious anagram I couldn’t get near and so was left to the end.

  6. Pleased with 8’03” while held up by looking for synonyms for new, instead of spoilt, for 11ac (and so my COD) and with very few clues flying in anywhere on the grid beyond the 3 letter ones


    CROAKY for ‘rough’ is ok for me but is only used as far as I know with regards to someone’s health – “Are you ok? You sound a bit croaky/rough”. I may be wrong.

    Thanks Mara and Jackkt.

  7. Just under 11 minutes for me, after a slow start – like others I needed a few checkers (and specifically the J) to get Skipjack tuna, but once that was in the puzzle flowed. Quite a lot of “sounds like” clues too, never ones I find easy.

    Slight surprise at Bridal = Marriage, but I suppose marriage can be an adjective. LOI Croaky, not a commonly seen word but fair enough.

    Collectors of totally irrelevant trivia will note no less than 5 Ks in the grid, an unusually high number. (There, I warned you it was totally irrelevant…)

    Many thanks to Jack for the blog

  8. Steady going after a slow start with my FOI not coming until DUE. Slight delays over the fish, the CREPE/CROAKY pair and last two in, BRIDAL/TOTAL (pesky hiddens!).
    Finished in 7.55
    Thanks to Jack and Mara

  9. DNF as couldn’t get CROAKY. I don’t get 7d – The noun Marriage is the definition for the adjective BRIDAL. I get the homophone part. Perhaps the question mark is doing the work here?

    1. Marriage bed.

      Nouns in surface becoming adjectives ( or verbs) for definitions is all part of the setters art. In 1D, “ Boy from South Africa leaves” the word “leaves” plays the role of a verb in the surface, and is a noun for the definition.

      1. Thanks for explaining – for some reason I hadn’t even noticed this. I think bridal stood out as it is a different root from marriage – bride and bridal may not have raised my curiosity.

  10. Wow – that suddenly came together. The three long phrases ON-THIN-ICE, JUST-THE-TICKET and OFF-THE-RECORD really helped fill it out. Unlike Jack, I was fooled by the surface of the needle one thinking of injections and jabs and where they might be privately administered 😜

    Like others, I struggled to name SKIPJACK-TUNA – I used to eat a lot of tuna but the phrase didn’t come readily until I’d got INCREMENT. That was one of three anagrams I wrote down along with TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE and TARNISHED (although the latter suddenly came into focus when COWARD went in.

    All in all 3rd fastest time ever at 13:09 and combined with Friday’s for back-to-back SCC escapes. Have been saying to those of us in the SCC who struggled with the early puzzles of January to remain confident easier ones would be along and, at least for me, here they are!

    1. Thanks all – obviously pleased with that one. Not least because I had a busy morning ahead and needed to get out the door!! #practicalconsiderations

    2. Your prediction of easier QCs to come was most prescient!

      Regardless of how ‘easy’ it was, that is a superb time, well done indeed 👏👏👏

      Hope it’s not tempting fate so wish you good luck for the hat trick of escapes tomorrow.

      1. Thanks Gary – you can tempt fate by all means!

        A quick look says we’ve yet to see anything from regular setters Pedro, Tracy, Jalna this year as well as Hawthorn and Felix. Tracy is my best chance at escape from that bunch. But let’s see how it goes 👍

  11. I was worryingly slow to start in the top half and almost put the iPad aside. However, one or two answers came to me gradually and I just accelerated as crossers emerged. The longer answers flowed especially quickly, given a few crossers, which was a confidence booster.
    I ended up with 11.56 on the screen so I was happy to be well under my 15min target (and under 2K). My CsOD were SKIPJACK TUNA and OFF THE RECORD.
    Thanks to Mara and jackkt. John M.

  12. Thought to myself, mustn’t spend too long on the crossword as have to go to Pilates, walk dog, and hoover up dog hair, before guests come at 2. Luckily it must be a PB today though I don’t time myself. Deffo escaped SCC by at least 5 mins.
    Had to start at the bottom with OAF and OFF THE RECORD, LOI CREPE. JUST THE TICKET gave me the TUNA. Liked HOT POTATO, DUE, among others.
    Thanks vm, Jack.

  13. 14 mins…

    A lot of biffing going on here, which for me is always a sign of it being on the easier side: “Toad in the hole”, “Off the record” and “Just the ticket” all went in fairly quickly.

    Only hold up was a slight mental block with 1ac Skipjack Tuna, which is odd because I’ve eaten a lot of it in the past.

    FOI – 1dn “Salad”
    LOI – 1ac “Skipjack Tuna”
    COD – 22ac “Off the Record”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. Didn’t find this one too difficult, with the exception of 13d, which was my last one in. I just could not get it even with checkers. So Chambers had to come to the rescue.

    Vaguely heard of SKIPJACK TUNA.

    Other than that an enjoyable QC.


  15. 17 minutes with one interruption, but I was fairly beaten by a few more testing clues, including CROAKY, BRIDAL and COWARD. I was also slowed by TARNISHED where I didn’t know which end of the clue was the anagrind and which the definition. Thanks both.

  16. Middle of the road puzzle in terms of difficulty I thought, as my time of 9.16 suggests. I seemed to fly to different parts of the grid at times with not too many clues coming instantly to me. In fact my LOI was 1ac as I couldn’t bring the type of tuna to mind without the benefit of all the cross checkers. CROAKY was no problem, perhaps as I’ve been suffering a throat infection for the last three weeks, and it describes my present state perfectly!

    1. Yes I’ve had that ghastly sore throat that’s being going round. Croaky, creaky and cranky summed it up for me!

  17. Fairly steady at 14:10 with several biffed. FOI SALAD, LOI WRAPPER – once SKIPJACK TUNA and COWARD fell into place. Happy. Thanks Jack and Mara.

  18. A straightforward start to the week. NAP to FIERCE in 5:29. No problem with CROAKY. I too have been suffering with a croaky throat all week. Thanks Mara and Jack.

  19. Maintaining a decent run of sub-5’s. 4th consecutive.

    CROAKY was my LOI. I liked TOAD IN THE HOLE, albeit it was eminently biffable.


  20. I didn’t find this easy at all and struggled to get on the right wavelength, but eventually staggered home with a bit of help. LOI CREPE – didn’t see the every other letter solution until I saw the light with CROAKY. Phew.

  21. Started slowly in the top half but accelerated after that. Finished in an average (for me) time of 17 minutes, although I couldn’t completely parse SKIPJACK TUNA. Lots to like in a fine crossword.

    FOI – 10ac DUE
    LOI – 13ac CREPE
    COD – as I said, lots to like. I particularly liked JUST THE TICKET, HOT POTATO and FIERCE

    Thanks to Mara and Jack.

  22. I just couldn’t get a foothold in the NW, but the lower half of the grid seemed a little more forgiving. Even so, this turned into a bitty solve, leaving me thankful that the unknown/forgotten Skipjack came to mind second time round. Nudged into the SCC, so not a great start to the week. Invariant

  23. 8.25 Except for the tuna the long clues came immediately making this quite straightforward.

  24. Can’t match many of the times above, but still very happy with my fully-parsed 22-minute effort. I had SlIPJACK TUNA as I entered the SCC, but I was uncomfortable with it and did an alphabet trawl of S_I_J_C_. That unearthed the correct solution and I breathed a sigh of relief.

    Many thanks to Mara and Jack.

        1. Hoping the following can assist…

          Two anagrams – harder to spot than ones you did get like TARNISHED, TRIED. Both needed another letter (C for cash, I for India) added to the anagrist. That’s definitely a step up in the difficulty so just have to put that down to experience. The additioning makes for a longer clue which is more confusing.

          BRIDAL – you must have had -R-D-L … brute force alphabet trawl the only answer but still easy to miss the answer.

          CROAKY – you were in good company as many other solvers seem to have this as their LOI. My only advice is that there are a few 3-letter trees worth learning – ASH, ELM, OAK, FIR, YEW which the 6-letter answer suggested needed.

          Anyways … lecture over … hope that helps. Stay positive 20/24 with some toughies left. Your day is coming …

  25. With the exception of my LOI SKIPJACK TUNA I found this quite straightforward. I was surprised to see 2 short answers clued by first letter indicators i.e. OUT and OAF but I’m not complaining. 6:41 for an excellent day.

  26. It’s OK to be CROAKY as long as you don’t CROAK as a result ! I didn’t care much for this one, but I’m tired today , so it could be just that.

    TIME 3:59

  27. Very slow start and thought this would be a dnf but then the grid began to fill bit by bit and all finished in 55 minutes.
    Had CRAPPER for 9a using the C from Cover, but it didn’t parse and fortunately 4d COWARD sorted that out.
    Some very clever and misleading clues so thank you Mara and Jackkt for the blog.

    1. I find the SCC is (are?) a very accommodating bunch. Much less cut-throat than other bunches.

  28. Solved after a good lunch. Took me 7 minutes or less. Nothing held me up much. Finished with CROAKY and CREPE.
    I liked this – a proper QC.

  29. An enjoyable 9:12. After a slow start, getting the two long down clues gave lots of useful crossing letters. LOI was CREPE, which I didn’t manage to parse at all, being stuck on the “bowl” meaning of “dish”. D’oh!

  30. 20:46

    This seemed easy and all but 2 complete in 12 minutes but the last 2 proved impossible until I realised boy from South Africa, leaves perhaps was not SACHA. I don’t see that my answer is wrong, CHA as in tea leaves with SA for a boys name. So a rather frustrating puzzle.

  31. I’m really not quite sure what just happened, but after a rather difficult day my iPad told me I took just 8:23 for this one. This is by far my best time by on average about 10-12 minutes! I am gobsmacked. Everything just went in really easily. Stunned. FOI SKIPJACK TUNA, LOI SALAD, COD CROAKY. Many thanks all.

    1. Blimey, that’s one way to notch up a PB. Breaking the 10 min barrier is fantastic 👏🥂🥂

  32. Whipped through in 06:55 sitting on the tarmac waiting for plane to fill up and leave. Maybe the time pressure helped! 1.1K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Jack


  33. One of the (few) benefits of not being able to get to the QC until mid-evening is that I get to see what everyone else has had to say before posting my own thoughts.

    Today seems to have been a red letter day for so many of you, which is always good to see 😊

    I managed an escape from the SCC, which I am delighted with, as Mondays are usually accompanied by brain fog.

    CROAKY was my LOI, but thankfully didn’t delay me for long.

    COD – SKIPJACK TUNA (which I had for tea about an hour ago).

    1. Well done that man!

      Is it time to elect a Chair for the SCC Escape committee yet? 😀

      1. Thanks L-Plates. I think there are a few of us who are tunnelling our way out, bit by bit.😀

      2. More than happy to take a morning constitutional, strolling around the grid, admiring the scenery and taking in the nooks and crannies before sinking into my usual comfy chair in the corner of the club. What’s the hurry?

Comments are closed.