Times Quick Cryptic 2331 by Teazel


I think the best term to describe today’s offering from Teazel is “enjoyably chewy”.  Several clues gave pause for thought and I ended up taking 12:45. I couldn’t satisfactorily parse 3d or especially 6d; don’t you love those cryptic definitions, which can be so hard to explain? I confess to needing an alphabet trawl for my last in 9a. Favourite was 8a, an appropriate way to describe the battle with our setter.

Thanks to Teazel

Definitions underlined in bold

1 Good massage, and some food (4)
GRUBG (‘Good’) RUB (‘Massage’)
4 Spare English newspaper collected by boyfriend perhaps (8)
LEFTOVERE (‘English’) FT (‘newspaper’=abbreviation of Financial Times) contained in (‘collected by’) LOVER (‘boyfriend perhaps’)
8 One’s team backed to win this (3-2-3)
TUG-OF-WAR – Cryptic definition

I didn’t have any idea about this until near the end. In a TUG-OF-WAR, the winning team is the one that ends up pulling backwards whereas the losing team is pulled forwards. Nothing to do with betting then.

9 A winter relaxation? (4)
THAW – Cryptic definition

Second cryptic definition on the trot. Again nice misdirection; not a winter recreational activity or holiday.

10 One intending to be less generous (6)
MEANER – Double definition

The first definition more cryptic and the second ‘less generous’ def in conventional use.

11 Handsome guy wrong to return after commotion (6)
ADONISNIS (‘wrong to return’=reversal of SIN) following (‘after’) ADO (‘commotion’)
12 General discomfort handicaps Sean moving around (5,3,5)
ACHES AND PAINS – Anagram (‘moving around’) of HANDICAPS SEAN

Hooray! An anagram, with helpful enumeration.

16 A temporary prop on land (6)
ASHOREA (‘A’) SHORE (‘temporary prop’)

The word ‘on’ is part of the definition here, not a positional indicator as I’d first thought.

17 Embarrassed about mistake getting something fortified (6)
SHERRYSHY (‘Embarrassed’) containing (‘about’) ERR (‘mistake’)

‘Fortified’ wine of course. Originally made from white grapes grown near Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. In my part of the world, after all the kerfuffle several years ago about the misappropriation of European wine names, it is apparently meant to be now known as “Apera”. Maybe something from the drinks tray on the table in Grannie’s parlour, but I quite liked it when I last had some about two decades ago.

If you want to know about fortified wine, here’s a good introductory site.

19 Depressed university teacher drinking whiskey (4)
DOWNDON (‘university teacher’) containing (‘drinking’) W (‘whiskey’ in the NATO phonetic alphabet)
20 Inherently, a Cambridgeshire pub? (8)
INNATELY – An INN AT ELY would be an example of, or could describe ‘a Cambridgeshire pub?’

See how clever this clue is?

21 Heavenly picture of spaces developed around Kentucky (8)
SKYSCAPE – Anagram (‘developed’) of SPACES containing (‘around’) KY (2-letter abbreviation for ‘Kentucky’)
22 A western railway is misaligned (4)
AWRYA (‘A’) W (‘western’) RY (‘railway’)
2 Red wine, gallon drunk by debauchee (5)
ROUGEG (‘gallon’) contained in (‘drunk by’) ROUÉ (‘debauchee’)
3 Good marks for one’s chocolate cake? (7,6)
BROWNIE POINTS – Cryptic definition

In say a baking competition, BROWNIE POINTS could be given as a score or ‘marks for one’s chocolate cake?’, a BROWNIE being a type of ‘chocolate cake’. If the clue were a double definition, ‘marks’ would be part of both definitions, a no-no for The Times. I’ve therefore taken this as a cryptic definition.

4 Let down, scowl, losing head (5)
LOWERGLOWER (‘scowl’) with first letter G deleted (‘losing head’)
5 Advancing, supporting conflict, died (7)
FORWARDFOR (‘supporting’) WAR (‘conflict’) D (‘died’)
6 One didn’t have to run this bye? (8,5)
OPTIONAL EXTRA – Cryptic definition

Maybe I’m over-thinking this. I’ve never heard of OPTIONAL EXTRA (the two words together) as a recognised cricketing term, although it is defined in at least one dictionary in a non-cricketing sense. I think this is a whimsical take on the idea that batters can choose whether or not to take a run on a ‘bye’ (an example of an EXTRA in cricket), with the question mark indicating that a potential run is available. No, not a very satisfactory explanation, so any better ideas would be welcome.

7 Euphoria, getting toenail repaired (7)
ELATION – Anagram (‘repaired’) of TOENAIL

After the last one I needed this. Another not too difficult anagram. Good surface too.

10 Endless complaint — one couldn’t get off the ground (3)
MOAMOAN (‘complaint’) with last letter N deleted (‘N’)

No ‘complaint’ about this one from me. In crossword land, with this definition and so few letters, not too many possible answers, in this case the now extinct NZ variety.

13 Long coat Robin perhaps draped across equine (7)
CASSOCKCOCK (‘Robin perhaps’) containing (‘draped across’) ASS (‘equine’)

This one held me up and I needed all the crossers.

14 I must take revolutionary camera round country (7)
AMERICAI (‘I’) contained in (‘must take’) anagram (‘revolutionary’) of CAMERA

America (without any qualifiers) as a ‘country’?  Not if you’re being pedantic.

15 Secretive and occasionally sulky (3)
SLY – Every second letter of SuLkY
17 Char going through housing estate (5)
SINGE – Hidden (‘going through’) in ‘houSING Estate’

… and eventually making more work for the ‘Char’.

18 Governor drawing the line with this? (5)
RULER – Double definition

73 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2331 by Teazel”

  1. A very rare DNF from me as I was unable to unravel 6dn and 9ac without resorting to aids, and even then although I was happy with ‘bye / EXTRA’ I wasn’t sure of OPTIONAL but it was the only thing that fitted. By that stage I had 15 minutes on the clock.

    I sort of assumed the clue was a cryptic definition of a cricketing term that I didn’t happen to know, but on checking afterwards I can’t see that it is because having looked in all the usual dictionaries and searched on line in cricketing glossaries etc I haven’t been able to find OPTIONAL EXTRA anywhere with reference to the game. We’re not quite in ‘green paint’ territory because OPTIONAL EXTRA is a bona fide lexical term defined in ODE as ‘a non-essential additional item which may be available for purchase’, but the clue is not defining that.

    1. When I bought my new car, I was given a list of standard fittings and an even longer list of optional extras (mats, DAB radio etc).

      1. Yes that’s fine and it fits the ODE definition in my comment above, but where’s that definition in the clue?

        1. Your question made me think about the nature of extras and they can broadly be split into ‘mandatory’ and ‘optional’, although neither of these are cricketing expressions.
          Examples of a mandatory extra would be wides and no balls when a run is automatically added to the batting sides’ score when the bowler either bowls the ball wide or oversteps the batting crease, regardless of whether or not the batsmen run.
          However a leg bye would be an optional extra. This is when the ball bounces off the player’s body goes into the field and the batsmen can choose whether or not to take a run. (For a run to be attributed to a batter it has to come off his bat).
          Hope that makes some sort of sense

          1. Actually, I wasn’t thinking of cricket (I never do); I was thinking of English: ‘optional extra’ sounds like a contradiction to me.

        2. I think this comes from car buying in the UK. You can choose extras from the manufacturers list of options, and/or other things not on the options list (and hence ‘non-optional’) from the dealer, for example a dash cam might be offered by the the dealer rather than the manufacturer.

    2. I justified it as ‘One didn’t have to’ = OPTIONAL and ‘run this bye’ = EXTRA, but I agree it is an unusual construction for a QC.

  2. I can’t really get my head around this but googling “optional bye” it looks like this is a term in use in Australian rugby whereby a team has a choice of skipping a match . So it’s the scheduling use of “bye”, not the specific cricketing use. But like I said I still can’t figure out how the clue works! Surely if a batsman chooses not to take a run it’s not a bye or an extra?

  3. NHO OPTIONAL EXTRA, but I was pretty sure extra=bye in cricket, and the checkers invited OPTIONAL. Biffed ACHES AND PAINS. 6:18.

  4. DNF beaten by THAW – which is a great cryptic, worthy of a tough biggie.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who got OPTIONAL EXTRA but feels it still doesn’t quite work as a self-contained clue. Neat as it seems on first reading I feel it’s not quite there.

    Thanks Teazel and BR

  5. I quite enjoyed OPTIONAL EXTRA – “didn’t have to” but could, seemed to make sense as you do have to run byes unless the ball goes to the boundary. I had trouble with CASSOCK, ASHORE and INNATELY. Worth the wait for INNATELY in particular. Wasn’t 100% sure I knew that a MOA had existed but it parsed and the oppposite for the roue in ROUGE. Hard work throughout with only four on the first pass of acrosses but some good PDMs (also BROWNIE POINTS) on the way to being all green in 17.

  6. 14 on the nose

    5 minutes on the two that defeated Jackkt. Just couldn’t bring to mind a word to fit the checkers before EXTRA. Not sure the clue quite works but if I had thought of OPTIONAL quicker it would have gone in without a worry. THAW then came after an alpha trawl.

    Liked INNATELY

    Thanks all

  7. I think it best to describe this puzzle as unsolvable by starters and ridiculous for a QC. Really unhappy to see a puzzle like this

  8. Nearly 20 minutes with quite a bit of head scratching. Having got 2d it took me ages to realise that 8a was not “cup of…”. Biffed Optional Extra and still don’t understand it. Loved Innately my COD. Tricky with some excellent misdirection but great fun. Thanks B & S.

  9. I do enjoy a good PDM and I had plenty whilst solving this – my favourite being when the parsing or INNATELY finally became clear. (Others included CASSOCK and LOI THAW).
    Like Vinyl, I didn’t think too hard about OPTIONAL EXTRA so it went in based on the second part of the clue and a couple of checkers.
    I was clearly on the setter’s wavelength as I finished this in a spritely 6.22 although TUG OF WAR remained unparsed.
    Thanks to BR for the blog and Teazel for an entertaining solve.

  10. I didn’t worry much about OPTIONAL EXTRA and I see Mendesest has explained you don’t have to run for the byes when the ball crosses the boundary…. which would be fine if the answer was OPTIONAL EXTRAS. Best just to treat it as a whimsical cryptic definition, I think. “Bye” the way, did anyone else have LEANER at first for 10A? MOA fixed that, otherwise no difficulties. I was amused to see the reference to Ely in 20A as I had a day out there yesterday. The 23m Jubilee Oak Table in the spectacular Ship of the Fens is stunning. 5:17.

    1. The boundary bit was unnecessary fluff! If the ball goes into space without being hit, the batters can choose to run a bye – or not. It’s optional.

      1. But if they choose not to run it is not a bye, just a dot. It’s like saying a car crash is an optional collision.

  11. LOI OPTIONAL to complete Extra. Could not see how it worked.
    Difficult for me and broke the 30 min barrier.
    Thanks all.

  12. Taken just over a minute over target by being bamboozled by THAW, which rewarded the effort put in. I saw INNATELY quite quickly, and worked out a justification that worked for me for the bye – see my reply to Jacckt above. Thanks both.

  13. Thanks to everyone for their comments, particularly related to OPTIONAL EXTRA. TheRotter has come as close as anyone but unless someone happens to crack it later on, I think I’ll follow Johninterred’s advice to “Best just to treat it as a whimsical cryptic definition” and move on.

  14. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to struggle.

    Mostly OK, but failed on ASHORE and THAW, no time to spend longer than 10 minutes. I may have got them if I’d have carried on. I didn’t think too much about optional extra at the time, but looking back, it does look a bit odd.

    Liked INNATELY.


  15. 1544 Captain Juan Pastene leads the first European expedition to Chile, claiming it for the Spanish. Keen SHERRY drinker, no doubt. Wikipedia muses that Sherry was the first wine in the Americas.

    I liked this puzzle, and I didn’t overthink OPTIONAL EXTRA, it’s just a “whimsical cryptic” like BROWNIE POINTS. But COD to INNATELY, if this hasn’t been done before.

    WOD both ROUÉ and Debauchee.

    Same as a few others, my last two were THAW and ASHORE.

  16. Optional extra leapt out of me and I thought it was quite clever at the time. Another word or two might have been helpful I suppose but the setter obviously declined optional extras 🙂 One or two other clues were much more tenuous in my opinion. I think of thawing in terms of recovering from a fall out maybe – relaxing is chilling surely! Overall though I enjoyed this – thanks all!

  17. Can’t see any problem about OPTIONAL EXTRA at all: thought it a neat clue. Quite tough overall, though. LOI ASHORE. Liked BROWNIE POINTS and INNATELY.

  18. Not my fastest ever time, but, finding myself in position 4 of 103 on the leaderboard (and the leader being a neutrino), I would consider it an outstanding performance by my standards. I’ll excuse the rather iffy OPTIONAL EXTRA because the rest of the puzzle had so many good things to offer.

    TIME 3:41

  19. My on line (classic version) missed out “losing head” at 4d producing a head scratching moment for lower as a definition of scowl. I could see that it was glower without the g but didn’t consider it a typo/misprint.

    No problem with optional extra.

    1. my printed version also said nothing about losing.the g, but LOWER is OK for scowl.
      THAW was tricky!

    2. My iPad version also missed ‘losing head’ but I’ve now learned that ‘lower’ also means to scowl

      1. RE Lower – “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York
        And all the clouds that lowered upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
        Richard III

  20. Made all the harder by my printed version missing the last two words: “losing head”. I wrote in Lower anyway figuring lower must be an archaic word for scowl or some other such negative face.

    1. Ironically I knew lower meant scowl, and couldn’t see what losing head had to do with it! Fortunately one of us does the crossword on paper , so we had both versions of the clue.

  21. Like others I was doing ok until my last two, and although my mind always turns to cricket when bye is mentioned in the clue, I couldn’t think of the appropriate cricketing term. Fortunately after a few minutes OPTIONAL came to mind and in it went without further thought. I do have a certain unease about the make up of the clue however, even though others have tried to justify it. It was a further minute before I was able to get my LOI 9ac THAW, which also earns my nomination for COD. Finally crossed the line in 11.43 with a sigh of relief. An enjoyable crossword so well done Teazel.

  22. I was nearly done in 13 minutes. As with others, 6d and 9a were my problems. EXTRA was already there but OPTIONAL took for ever, and I wasn’t particularly happy with the clue when it eventually came. I then started the alphabet trawl for THAW which gave me a 24:50 finish. Disappointed. COD INNATELY. Thanks Teazel and BR.

  23. After 11 minutes I needed two. I managed to think of OPTIONAL EXTRA and I agree with John Interred on how it works.
    LOI THAW which required a long alphabet trawl. A great clue though.
    And I liked INNATELY very much.
    16 minutes. Pleased to have finished.

  24. I had no trouble with OPTIONAL EXTRA, in fact it leapt out at me and I liked it. FOI was GRUB. Like Vinyl, it was THAW that held me up at the end. 8:19. Thanks Teazel and BR.

  25. 18 mins…

    I was left head scratching at the parsing/cryptic nature of 8ac “Tug of War” and 6dn “Optional Extra”, but other than a slight internal debate about whether brownies were a form of chocolate cake, I didn’t find this too bad.

    The fact that I missed the printing error for 4dn (I just assumed “lower” was some form of scowl, a bit like “leering”) didn’t seem to do any harm.

    FOI – 1ac “Grub”
    LOI – 16ac “Ashore”
    COD – 20ac “Innately” – made me smile

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Good puzzle with, as BR says, some chewy bits. It went pretty smoothly today which was a huge relief after my performance yesterday.
    I was 2 mins under target (just 15 secs slower than our esteemed blogger). BROWNIE POINTS was fine IMO and I had no issue with OPTIONAL EXTRA; as vinyl says: ‘if the word fits, and is vaguely related to the clue, that must be it’. I finished in the NE and needed the T of optional to get THAW.
    My COD was the clever INNATELY. Thanks to both, John M.

  27. This was Teazel at his most teasing. 20 minutes for me, oh dear, much longer than usual. Good crossword though. I think it was the cryptic definitions that slowed me down. Didn’t get any of them straight away and they all took up a lot of space on the grid Thanks Teazel and Bletchley R for the much needed blog.

  28. 13:25. Back to normal with Tricky Teazel, and the usual problem – about 2 minutes spent on my LOI! Just four letters, with two checked – but it still took an alphabet trawl.
    I plodded along and nothing stood out as a COD, but I think that’s just me – I am really tired today! I had similar feelings to BR re 3d and 6d, but I did like the definition of something fortified for SHERRY. I’ve never heard of apera, but I do like a glass of dry amontillado – perhaps in a Cambridgeshire pub while MrB enjoys a glass of ROUGE.
    FOI Grub LOI Thaw (I seem to be in good company with this one!)
    Thanks Teazel and BR for the usual excellent blog. You’re not in Milton Keynes then 😅

    I nearly forgot – I did the biggie in just over half an hour, and that’s despite the brain glue, so maybe give it a go?

  29. Pretty sure Brownie Points originated from the scouting movement, in the days when males were (boy) scouts, young males were cubs, females were (girl) guides and young females brownies. Ah, such simple times.

  30. Shout me down, but I chose to see 6 down as an optional extra when purchasing something, as in BUY(ing), so thought the clue was suggesting one didn’t have to run when doing so, but would need to run in relation to a BYE.
    So, overall for me it was about the comparative definitions of ‘buy’and ‘bye’.
    As you may have guessed I know nothing about cricket!!

  31. A tricky puzzle, but all done and parsed (to my level of satisfaction, anyway) in just under 11 minutes. Then I come here and see I had missed the multiple levels of intrigue and debate in Optional Extra; having read all the comments I can see why the clue is not as straightforward as I thought at the time! Apart from anything else I can’t think of any bye that one does have to run, so the idea of one that one doesn’t have to doesn’t really arise as a distinct thing.

    Like many others, Thaw was my LOI and a nice moment when the alphabet search revealed it, but it was Meaner, and specifically its interpretation as “one who means” that held me up most. Not a usage I have met in real life, even if quite clear and obviously legit.

    Many thanks to BR for the blog

    1. “i can’t think of any bye that one does have to run”. Perhaps you are confusing a bye (which you do have to run unless it is 4 byes as discussed before) with a wide which you don’t have to run.

      1. My fault I suspect for phrasing it badly. All byes (except 4 byes or the unimaginable 6 byes) are voluntary – you are not forced to run them, and you can always simply stay in your crease. Indeed if you are trying to protect a tailender it might be wiser to do so. So they are all in that sense optional extras.

        1. I like the explanation of when you might choose not to run one. But if you don’t run them they are not a bye, just a dot. If you don’t hit the ball and it is not bowled, lbw, a wide, leg-bye or a no-ball it is not a bye unless the ball goes to the boundary or you and your partner run and get to the other end without either of you getting run out. Wafting at the ball and missing and it going through to the keeper is not usually an “optional extra” unless you run and are very lucky! More likely at the death of a T20 than a Test Match, I’d say.

  32. Loved today’s QC – tricky but doable. Bunged in OPTIONAL EXTRA without understanding the clue – no cricket knowledge – and pleased to get THAW although it did take a while. Inside the SCC but always glad with a finish when it’s a Teazel QC. COD by miles INNATELY. Many thanks for cricket education above. Thanks to BR and Teazel.

  33. Found this quite hard in places and was beaten by 6d, 9a and 21a Innately. Could possibly have got them with more effort but was already well over my time limit.
    COD 19d Singe which was cleverly hidden.
    Enjoyed the puzzle, blog and explanations.

  34. After some thought, I put in both. OPTIONAL EXTRA and THAW, but considered neither entirely satisfactory. However, as a GOM, I seldom find anything completely satisfacory, and I enjoyed the puzzle which I found much more of a challenge than most recent puzzles. I also spent a long time on 8a, which had to be a CUP OF something; moved on then returned now having an R at the end; perhaps it was a three-letter beginning with R spelt backwards (“backed”). RAW came to mind, then WAR and the penny dropped. FOI GRUB, LOI AWRY, COD BROWNIE POINTS, a satisfactory😊 cryptic definition! Thanks, Teazel and BR.

  35. Chewy indeed! I jumped around the grid but ended up, like a lot of others here, with my penultimate solve OPTIONAL EXTRA (unparsed) and LOI THAW. I should have realised that I was going to be way outside target when I had a debate with myself over ROguE/ROUGE at 2d. 13:38

  36. Just scraped home within my target 25 with thaw LOI. Having seen the comments above I should be very pleased with this.
    Never noticed before that cassock was a combo of cock and ass. Do top shelf mags have cryptics? Not sure Mrs Johnny would approve. J

  37. Completed in about 20m which is good for us. Started from the bottom upwards, finishing with 9a thaw, which eventually came to mind. Perhaps dipping into boxes of chocolates helped!?

  38. I found this to be at the tougher end of QCs, finishing in 14:40. My two favourite clues were INNATELY and OPTIONAL EXTRA. I am one of the many who had a Mer at America=country; without any qualifiers America is two continents, containing many countries.

  39. Very quick comment as horrendously busy at work.

    Found this extremely hard and solved it in fits and starts. Held up badly by ASHORE. Resumed my normal seat towards the back of the SCC after a few good days.

  40. 5:49 this afternoon, above my average/ target but I usually find that Teazel devises clues for me to have to deliberate over. Can’t really add much to what’s been said already. Entered “optional extra” with a shrug and “thaw” eventually with a tip of the hat to the setter. Also liked “tug of war”and “innately”.
    Thanks to BR and Teazel

  41. I shared the raised eyebrows at BROWNIE POINTS and OPTIONAL EXTRA. My print copy also did not contain the “losing head” for LOWER, but it went in with a MER. Not the greatest QC.

  42. DNF!
    Did get MOA and biffed ASHORE , LOWER and OPTIONAL EXTRA, but failed several elsewhere.
    Oh dear.

  43. 10:42

    Another very quick solve (by my humble standards). Almost biffed TUG OF WAR but never did parse it but once the checkers were there it coulee anything else. Wasn’t sure where the prop was in ASHORE but that solved LOI CASSOCK was obvious.

  44. Well I’m sorry you all make such a fuss. I’m brand new to this game, learning the tricks from scratch since a couple of weeks ago, and I managed all of it except OPTIONAL and THAW. I agree AMERICA is dubious; I was in the car (parked!), so was puzzled by MOA (but will remember it in future in case of any Moabites, thanks Vinyl1), but worse, had never heard of MEANER as a noun (it’s not in either of my fairly large 2000 dictionaries). So I had to Biff both those M’s. Well we all live and learn!

    1. I’d say that meaner as the noun of someone who means to do something is just a play on words, rather than a real definition. I believe it’s the sort of word you might find in the Uxbridge English Dictionary, which is a game on the radio show, I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue. It’s worth keeping your eye open for other puns like ‘bunny’ meaning like a bun, or ‘vanish’ meaning like a van! The setters quite often pop that sort of wordplay in. Hope that helps!

      Welcome, btw 😊

  45. 19 minutes, held up by THAW (which comes in the spring, surely, not the winter) and OPTIONAL EXTRA (still don’t understand the cricketing explanations!) like everyone else. COD INNATELY. Thanks blogger and setter.
    I’m a pedant but I think AMERICA is fair game – it’s a recognised and very commonly used abbreviation of the United States of America, which is a country. The ambiguity often associated with the word’s usage is not important here. HOLLAND or ENGLAND, on the other hand, I might have taken exception to!

  46. Don’t see the problem with OPTIONAL EXTRA. If you don’t have to run it’s optional and a bye is a type of extra in cricket. A bye is a run scored when the ball has not been hit and has not hit the batter’s body. Don’t often see it in first class cricket it’s more likely in amateur cricket when the wicket keeper misses the ball.

  47. DNF because of 6d and 9a. Liking cricket confused more than helped with 6d and I never got OPTIONAL EXTRA. Not a term I’ve ever come across in cricket. Really liked INNATELY (INN AT ELY)

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