Times Quick Cryptic 2365 by Joker – Yanker, didel, doodle down

Hi everyone.  I’m relaxed about it, but where possible try to avoid seeing the name of the setter while solving.  I was surprised when I had finished to find that this puzzle was by Joker.  The last Joker was the infamous 2353 where, like many others, I had an OWL (one wrong letter).  I also took a long time to get there.  By contrast the time on the clock today was 2:28 faster than my average.*

What I really want to do is focus on enjoyment and of the quality of the clues, rather than the time taken.  Yet, yet again, I have little to say other than I enjoyed it and have no complaints.  The comments I do have are by the clues below.  Thanks Joker!

*Meanwhile, I have finally collated all my times for about 4 years’ worth of QC’s and have had fun crunching the numbers.  This interests me as an exercise, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s just that.  Feel free to skip.

Last’s year’s median time came out at 7 minutes exactly.  That is too neat not to use as my benchmark for the time being.  But I can see that my stats are in general improving year on year (long may that last, though I doubt it will for very long!) so I might still be reporting more faster-than-average times than not.

Back to today’s setter, comparing my median times for 2022 and this year to date across all puzzles and Joker puzzles, there is a marked difference.  Joker is taking me longer:

2022 – all setters: 07:00; Joker: 07:03
2023 ytd – all setters: 06:33; Joker 07:23

A blip or a trend?  We will see!

are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, explicit [deletions] are in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

6a Left in sea — could become this? (6)
SALINE L (left) IN SEA, if anagrammed, could become the answer.
Naturally I was trying to put an L into some sea or other.  It was my last in, and I had a bit of a mental block as I didn’t want to ruin a good time.
7a Parrot concerned with boggy soil (6)
REPEAT RE (concerned with) + PEAT (boggy soil)
9a Measure enclosed space (4)
YARD — A double definition
10a Bury born prisoner (8)
INTERNEE INTER (bury) + NÉE (born)
11a Ancestor representing European ursine (8)
FOREBEAR FOR (representing) + E (European) + BEAR (ursine)
13a Pour derision on loose dress — not small (4)
MOCK — [s]MOCK (loose dress) without (not) S (small)
15a Exhaust anger after argument’s ending (4)
TIRE IRE (anger) after argumenT’s last letter (ending)
16a Notice, at end of dead heather, young plant (8)
SEEDLING SEE (notice) by (at) the last letter of (end of) deaD + LING (heather).
I wondered if this works simply with D = dead, and “at end of” a juxtaposition indicator, but I think the way I have chosen is better.  Otherwise “end” has to be the beginning end rather than the end end!
18a Upholder of standards? (8)
FLAGPOLE — A cryptic definition, the standards being flags
20a Time verge is cut (4)
TRIM T (time) + RIM (verge)
21a Baby’s toy causing alarm (6)
RATTLE — Two definitions
22a Rebuilt Gretna’s a gem (6)
GARNET — An anagram of (rebuilt) GRETNA
1d A measure of gin or a Campari served up for old dandy (8)
MACARONI — Part of (a measure of) gIN OR A CAMpari reversed (served up, in a down entry).  I just channelled Yankee Doodle to get this, but although the reference is pertinent, the definition is precise
2d Boxer‘s a bit of fat around the waist? (12)
MIDDLEWEIGHT — Some fat around the waist could be termed MIDDLE WEIGHT
3d Authoritarian government gets émigré travelling (6)
REGIME — An anagram of (… travelling) ÉMIGRÉ
4d Evidence of impact speed in outskirts of Chester (6)
CRATER RATE (speed) in the outer letters (outskirts) of ChesteR
5d Come to funeral party (4)
WAKE — A double definition
8d Fighter‘s strangely impartial over a Republican Yankee (12)
PARAMILITARY — An anagram of (strangely) IMPARTIAL above (over) A, R (Republican) and Y (Yankee)
12d Cut a former partner returning (3)
AXE A + EX (former partner) reversed (returning)
14d Think about Conservative on party right (8)
CONSIDER C (Conservative) + ON + SIDE (party) + R (right)
16d One demonstrating bathroom installation (6)
SHOWER — Our final double definition
17d Appear to unite after end of divorce (6)
EMERGE MERGE (to unite) after the last letter (end) of divorcE
19d Half of capital includes a sum advanced (4)
LOAN Half of LONdon (capital) includes A

54 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2365 by Joker – Yanker, didel, doodle down”

  1. 10:21. I enjoyed SEEDLING and FOREBEAR most while SALINE took the longest and was LOI. I thought a REGIME was just any governing system not necessarily an authoritarian one but see after researching it often has that connotation. Thanks for sharing times and averages-very interesting!

  2. I have also crunched my numbers for the last year…actually they were pre-crunched, all I’ve done is upload a screenshot here: https://imgur.com/a/3deuIJy
    Interesting – I thought that Joker and Izetti would take out the top two spots but it’s actually Teazel. These numbers are free from “setter-bias” as I do all my solving on mobile, where the setter’s name is not visible.

    1. Interesting, Lou. I will also be doing a full setter analysis so we will be able to compare notes.

  3. Just over 14 minutes, which is brisk for me, having woken at 4 a.m. and been unable to get back to sleep. 6A/1D was my only real delay, and my last two, the rest going in without too much trouble.

  4. 10:43. SALINE was my LOI too and I’d just about given up on it before I saw what was going on. Same comment as curryowen re REGIME as ‘Authoritarian government’. Your parsing of SEEDLING is better than the D = ‘dead’, ‘at end of’ as juxtaposition indicator method I used.

    Thanks to Kitty – I was v. impressed with your technical wizardry with the bright green button and with your solving times – and to Joker

    1. The technical wizardry is WordPress wizardry really. I just saw the option in the editor and used it.

      My QC times always rather surprised me, because I’m an accuracy over speed type, and am prone to going rabbit-in-headlights when faced with a ticking clock.

      I’m never going to threaten the really fast solvers, though, especially for harder puzzles. For a start, I’m THIS* at anagrams, and also not amazing at other skills essential for solving: pattern matching from checkers, fast recall of synonyms / abbreviations / related words, identifying and remembering old chestnuts, etc. Yet, putting it all together in a crossword, somehow my mediocre skills pull together and I become not so bad overall. It feels quite magical!

  5. 10 minutes for this one. I would have achieved my target with time to spare if I had not originally written SEEDLING at 18ac instead of 16ac. Also on that answer I agree with the blogger’s conclusion that D is clued as [end of] {dea}D.

  6. Well, I was going great guns until I was undone by 9a YARD and put in HAND instead (albeit suspecting that it was stretching the second part of the double definition just a bit too far). I’d trawled the alphabet too.
    Overall this was an enjoyable start to the week but yet again no time given due to a careless error. Doh!

    1. I thought of Hand as well – although I initially had Room before any other checkers.

  7. 9:07 delayed considerably by MACARONI and SALINE and have only just made the “and called it macaroni” from Yankee Doodle Dandy connection some time post solve.

    Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  8. Thought this was going to be a real toughie when seeing the grid and the setter and my initial efforts seemed to prove this was going to be the case (FOI was INTERNEE).
    Things seemed to get easier further down the grid and I finished back in the NW with MACARONI, YARD and SALINE in an average(ish) time of 7.58.
    Unfortunately, it now seems I’m going to Yankee Doodle stuck in my head for the rest of the day 😢.
    Thanks to Kitty and Joker

  9. Very fast (for me) start to the week with a 6 minute solve. Like several others the Saline/Macaroni cross were the LOsI, but in my case I put Saline in first, then Macaroni which I suspected was right but as I did not spot the reverse hidden, I waited for all the checkers to confirm the guess.

    Very nice puzzle with some excellent surfaces – the clue for Loan is simple but particularly neat with its allusion to the financial meaning of capital.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

  10. 12:01. 1201 City of Riga founded by Teutonic Knights

    Like many, LOI SALINE. Also struggled with MACARONI, thought it would be a “hidden”, but missed the reversal indicator.


    The Big Brother is on the easier side today.

  11. Absolutely raced through this apart from the NW. A scarcely believable 4m on the clock with just four to go but I totally fell for Joker’s traps and couldn’t see how the easy in retrospect MACARONI (even if I didn’t know the definition) and SALINE worked. Those, together with YARD (LOI – that’ll teach me to restart the alphabet trawl before the end) took me to a final time of a still good 10.30. I was slow to the boxer because the checkers made me think it was going to be a longer version of something like ‘pot gut’ for fat round the waist.

  12. A good puzzle to start the week. I failed to see 1a until I completed a clockwise sweep around the grid to return to it as my LOI. Thankfully, I did see the reverse indicator and got MACARONI (which I would never have recognised – the Yankee Doodle Dandy reference passed me by until I read the blog). A good clue, as was PARAMILITARY.
    I managed this, all parsed, in 11.52 so am content with that.
    Thanks to Joker and Kitty. John M.

  13. DNF

    Couldn’t see what was happening with SALINE at all, but no complaints.

    Well done Setter.

    Thanks Kitty and Joker

  14. I could see how SALINE worked but was convinced it was going to be some obscure Mediterranean island and moved on. That was POI; LOI was EMERGE which took a bit of trawling.

    All done in reggo 08:56 for an estimated 1.9K for an OK Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Kitty.


  15. FOI MACARONI luckily. Must have read about the dandies recently.
    Felt fairly quick today, only hesitations being EMERGE (LOI), SALINE.
    An encouraging start to the week.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  16. I thought this was a little easier than some puzzles from Joker of late, and at the 17min mark just had loi 17d. At which point Flagpost (well, the more obvious Flagstaff wouldn’t fit) came back to bite. Several fruitless alphabet trawls on E*t*g* later, I finally realised that Flagpole would also fit 18ac and Emerge then did just that for a skin of the teeth sub-20. CoD to foi Macaroni – I was wondering when this little nugget of knowledge, picked up from this site some time ago, would come in useful. Invariant

  17. Humph. Thought this was another personal record – all done in about 20 minutes – but drat, got INTERNEE wrong, so no score. Otherwise all “plain sailing”. FOI WAKE, COD MACARONI (thanks to Kitty for explaining this), LOI EMERGE (for me, too). A good, friendly puzzle, though – unexpectedly mild for Joker. Thanks.

  18. 13 minutes middle of the road for me, with the same LOIs as most others in the NW. Many thanks Kitty and Joker.

  19. A speedy start to the week for me in 7.08 in spite of being a little slow early on. I would have been sub 7 minute if it hadn’t been for SALINE where The Joker fooled us good and proper into racking our brains for obscure seas. A good crossword Joker and thanks Kitty for your interesting blog – some impressive statistics!

  20. FOI MACARONI, LOI SALINE, COD FOREBEAR. I first noticed the unfriendly grid and a quick look at the NW corner suggested this would be a stinker, which seemed confirmed when 1d just had to be MACARONI, though I couldn’t see why. Since MACARONI gave only vowels as help for crossers, almost gave up. However, I persevered and finished in below average time wth only the one unpaersed, though enjoyed it rather less than I normally do with Joker.. Thanks, Joker and Kitty.

  21. All bar two done in 9 minutes, including SALINE. My problems were MACARONI where PAVAROTI had unhelpfully occurred to me; misspelt and did not parse -so what!
    Anyway I saw the reverse hidden and then took ages to get YARD. I nearly went with LAND or HAND but happily having two unparsed options made me rethink.
    The lesson is when you do an alphabet trawl don’t give up at X.
    15 minutes in the end.
    A good QC I thought.

  22. FOI 1d MACARONI, but t ook me an age to spot the reverse hidden and wasted time on the nearly-anagram, unsurprisingly as all the leters come from the clue.
    LOI SALINE at 6a as slow to see that this one WAS an anagram.

  23. 9:41, identical to my time last Wednesday, so back in the reign of Hywel Dda again.
    LOI flagpole, but obvious when I finally saw it.
    My favourite clue was 10a.

  24. Enjoyed this. Good time for us of 17 minutes.
    NHO macaroni but spotted the reverse hidden.
    LOI yard
    Agree with Kitty on keeping times in perspective but also do note our own times.
    Having doing quick cryptics a few years still hadn’t come across those described as chestnuts before- there must be a lot of nuts around! Paul

  25. Speedy start to the week for me, still a very neat and enjoyable puzzle.

    I was only really held up by my last two, being MACARONI and then SALINE, which was bunged in from checkers and “sea, could become this”, then parsed after the fact. Also COD, though I also liked PARAMILITARY.


  26. I initially drew a blank in the NW, with WAKE my FOI. A clockwise expedition back into that quarter saw me check out with SALINE. 9:02. Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  27. 16 mins…

    A good mix of more thoughtful clues and old chestnuts in my opinion – but probably on the more easier side for a Joker puzzle.

    6ac “Saline” took a while, and I couldn’t help but think if you replaced Right with Left in the clue, you could have got “Marine” which may have also worked. I also had a few issues with 9ac “Yard”, after first putting in “Room” and then “Hand”.

    DNK the “Macaroni” Dandy reference but it was obtainable.

    FOI – 3dn “Regime”
    LOI – 9ac “Yard”
    COD – 6ac “Saline”

    Thanks as usual!

    PS. I may post some stats myself, as I have just collated my first set of times for Q1 of this year (after much mucking about in XL and swearing at pivot tables – did you know you can’t get a median function in a pivot table? Only the mean…)

    1. Looking forward to seeing your stats. And I didn’t know that about pivot tables – so many thanks for the heads up!

  28. I just had one clue left at 2:52, but my final time tells you how much trouble I had with it. I biffed MACARONI, so thanks as ever Kitty.

    TIME 5:22

  29. 4:23

    Surprised at the quick finish as I did spend a few moments puzzling out PARAMILITARY, SALINE and TIRE.

    Nice to see that others are as interested as I am in measuring progress, though I wonder if this factor is taken into account – while over time, all solvers would hope to improve their times as their crossword vocabulary improves and they become more adept with the setters’ tricks. But, does each setter subtly change as time passes, does their clueing increase in complexity, do they use fewer /more anagrams, double definitions or ‘hiddens’ (or indeed any other clue style)? I would be truly gobsmacked if anyone has gone to the trouble of analysing that but it would sure make fascinating reading

  30. On seeing the setter and unhelpful grid design I thought I was in for a rough ride today, but I’m pleased to report that it didn’t turn out that way.

    My FOI was REPEAT and I made decent progress until being held up by my last four clues. I DNK about MACARONI, but I did see the reverse hidden (eventually). My favourite clues were SALINE, despite it being my second last in, and FLAGPOLE – both for their cleverness. My LOI was EMERGE and I crossed the line in 22 minutes, which is fast for me.

    Many thanks to Joker and Kitty (I will now go and peruse your data).

  31. All done in one sitting and in 24 minutes which is my best time this year.
    All the acrosses bar two went in on the first pass which helped with the downs.
    Thought I’d be stuck as usual with the LOIs but SALINE and MACARONI were quickly biffed then parsed (assumed M was a Dandy). COD: REPEAT.
    Nice start to the week. Many thanks to Joker for going easy on us this time and to Kitty for the blog.

  32. Held up like a few others by MACARONI and SALINE, but managed the rest fairly steadily.

  33. It was only when I was preparing to come in here that I noticed my time of 5:38 (it felt longer) was a little bit faster than last Thursday’s of 5:42, so no huge problems and an enjoyably swift session overall. MACARONI & SALINE not so easy.

  34. Like many others here I was held up in the NW corner. My last three were MACARONI (I missed the hidden and it was biffed), SALINE and finally YARD. I still prefer to use imperial measurements but completely forgot about YARD when I was going through mile, foot, feet and inch in my head. 9:14 for a so-so day.

  35. Took some time to get going with this and ended up solving from the bottom half up. All done in 14 mins and mostly parsed (didn’t see the reverse hidden in MACARONI). Took a long time to see PARAMILITARY despite writing out the anagrist for the first 9 letters. Easier than Joker’s recent puzzles imo.

    FOI – 15ac TIRE
    LOI – 13ac MOCK

    Thanks to Joker and Kitty

  36. DNF. Like Mendesest, I blazed through all but the four north-western clues in 4 minutes. After 15 minutes I gave up with MACARONI unsolved. It’s always a hidden! I hope one day to remember to check.

  37. Like almost everybody, the NW corner was the last to fall. Having seen that MARINE fit the crossers for 6a, it took an age to un-see it and spot the anagram. But that’s progress: there was a time when I would have biffed it and got a DNF. All done & parsed in 12:42, a couple of minutes inside my target.

    Thanks to Joker & Kitty.

  38. Completed the 15×15 so was surprised to find myself looking at a DNF (I always presume it is the same setter but I may be wrong). However after a break, I finished with garnet, emerge, middleweight, and yard.

    COD Macaroni.

  39. Another week blown! Was hoping for a sub 2-hour week but that’s now impossible.

    Well inside SCC cut-off for all but 6ac. Eventually worked it out but took 44 mins overall. I’m so close to getting on top of these crosswords and then something like this happens.

    Awful start to the week. There is nothing worse than sailing through a QC and then taking forever on the last clue.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. 6a was hard – especially if you don’t realise an abbreviation can be included in the anagram fodder like that. Tbh, I was surprised to see that in a QC.

      I think that would actually be against the house style for The Telegraph, where it would have to be more explicitly indicated (as a first letter, say) or constructed so that the abbreviation is inserted into the anagram, if that makes sense.

      Anyway, take heart!

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