Times Quick Cryptic 2449 by Mara

Quite a gentle one for a Friday from Mara today, if my time is anything to go by…. but I know from experience that ain’t necessarily so for everyone. Lots of double definitions today; I counted 8, some trickier than others. That and a full portcullis grid might dismay some of you. The “lift and separate” at 11A was a bit sneaky, but remember that trick for this weekend’s extra QC (see below) if you do it. I liked the imagery invoked by the surface of 10A so COD to that. Thank-you Mara. Oh, BTW, it took me 4:18.

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is my turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword, entitled “On Your Head Be It”,  here. (As usual the title is a bit of a hint to a theme). If you are interested in trying our previous none-too-hard offerings you can find an index to all 82 here.

7 What dog may do outside of wood (4)
BARK – Double definition.
8 Action on course, fried food ready to eat? (4,4)
CHIP SHOTCHIPS (fried food) HOT (ready to eat).
9 Religion embraced by Spanish in Torremolinos (6)
SHINTO – Hidden in, [embraced by], SpaniSH IN TOrremolinos.
10 Person who took animals to market, dog behind back of herd (6)
DROVER -[Back of] herD, ROVER (dog). Nice surface.
11 Bank manager the real McCoy, ultimately (4)
RELY – Final letters of, [ultimately], manageR thE reaL McCoY. A common setter’s trick – you have to split “Bank manager” into the definition and the first part of the wordplay.
12 You’re welcome on no occasion (3,2,3)
NOT AT ALL – Double definition, the second more of a cryptic hint.
15 Rubbish parroted, something salty (8)
TEARDROP – (parroted)* [rubbish]. Not the most helpful of definitions!
17 Written by yours truly, second note (4)
MEMOMO (moment; second) after, [written by], ME ( yours truly) -> MEMO. Another nice surface.
18 Reptile accompanying American flower (6)
CROCUSCROC (reptile) US (American).
21 Membrane sensitive to light: moving near it (6)
RETINA – (near it)* [moving].
22 Anonymous male swimming in Scottish loch (8)
NAMELESS – (male)* [swimming] in NESS (Scottish loch). I think I’d have omitted the “Scottish”. Or is there somewhere else that has lochs?
23 Toy with head removed that spins (4)
EDDY – {t}EDDY (toy) without the first letter, [head removed].
1 Money only for wool (8)
CASHMERECASH (money)  MERE (only).
2 Thin local dressed in sort of blue (6)
SKINNYINN (local hostelry) in SKY (sort of blue).
3 Ship catching halibut originally coming in earlier (8)
SCHOONERC{atching} H{alibut} [originally] in SOONER (earlier).
4 Current turn (4)
WIND – Double definition, the second a verb.
5 Guard different sector (6)
ESCORT – (sector)* [different].
6 European flag on this? (4)
POLE – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
13 Those perhaps hitting the high notes in fanfare for VIPs (3,5)
TOP BRASS – Double definition, the first a cryptic hint.
14 Article in French newspaper for pop? (8)
LEMONADEA (article) in LE MONDE (French newspaper).
16 Missile leaves (6)
ROCKET – Double definition
17 Grumble has come from middle of stomach, say (6)
MUTTER – {Middle of] stoMach, UTTER (say). I liked this.
19 Lift up posterior (4)
REAR – Double definition.
20 Discard shack (4)
SHED – Double definition.

85 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2449 by Mara”

  1. I wonder if the setter dithered between just ‘loch’ and ‘Scottish lake’? ‘Scottish’ is superfluous (Ireland has loughs).
    At 17ac MEMO, John, you’ve got ‘written’ and ‘note’ both underlined; can I assume that that’s a typo, and that ‘written’ should not be underlined (I note it’s not in italics)? I read the clue as =written (by me) second…

  2. 16:03. CHIP SHOTS was most fun for me. Because of the large number of Scottish explorers, traders, settlers, etc. Canada does have lochs, among them Lochs Garry, Long, and Lomond.

  3. 9’1” but with a pink square for ‘meme’ not MEMO because I got my second and third notes mixed up ‘ do, re, me’ and rushed it.

    I enjoyed CHIP SHOTS and LEMONADE.

    Thanks Mara and John

  4. 12 minutes, missing my target for the first time for a while. It was 4d WIND that did for me as I spent my last 3 minutes on it alone.

  5. A bit over 12 1/2 minutes. I really liked CHIP SHOT too and didn’t mind the oblique def for TEARDROP even if I did need all the crossers to see how it worked. Most of the double defs were OK but WIND wasn’t immediately obvious and I was half expecting it to be incorrect. Good way to finish the week.

    Thanks to John and Mara

  6. Unlike John I found this hard, but seeing I’m sitting on the verandah of a beautiful old hotel in Sorrento, overlooking Port Phillip Bay, having just spent an hour luxuriating in the hot springs, I don’t care at all. No time because I came and went but it would have been long, around 15 I’d guess. Was held up mainly by SCHOONER, EDDY, CHIP SHOT and TEARDROP. Nothing unparsed, but I’m sure I have heard muttering when no grumbling was involved. But then again, I don’t care. Nice puzzle from Mara.

    1. A nice reminder of 3 months working in Melbourne back in 2006. I nearly accepted a job offer to stay there but family circumstances meant I reluctantly turned it down, although I don’t think my wife has quite forgiven me. I see I did get to Sorrento, but didn’t get to enjoy the springs. See here. Woo! That’s a blast from the past!

      1. What a fantastic record John, and the photos are first class! I know the area quite well because my wife’s mother has a weekender in Dromana which we use frequently, but haven’t been to Portsea much and we’re yet to do the Point Nepean walk. Next time, it’s not far away. I can see why ‘echidna’ for you would be a write-in. I see you also photographed the Hotel Sorrento where we stayed in one of those fantastic rooms at the front with the huge balconies overlooking the bay. We just got back to Melbourne now but had the most enjoyable and relaxing breaks and I won’t mention the fabulous food!

  7. A very difficult one for me this morning with far too many pinkies to be awarded a time, but comfortably within the SCC. I was just not in tune with Mara today. I did smile at LEMONADE though.
    Have good weekends everyone 😊

    1. CHIP SHOT and WIND took the best part of 15 minutes to crack with a ‘phew’ when chip shot/chip shop finally resolved itself while current of air = wind was a final twist of the screw over the 30 minute mark. In the end it was a respectful hat tip to setter for CHIP SHOT and LEMONADE.
      Thanks Mara (frustratingly, setters name never appears on Android phone Times in Chrome) and John.

  8. What is SCC? I had thought it was a reference to the 15×15, but clearly not.

    1. Slow Coach Club
      There is a Glossary under ‘useful links’ which is top right.

    2. Slow Coach Club. For those of us destined to breach the 20+ minute solve mark. I have a semi permanently reserved corner chair by the window.

      1. Many of us have a comfortable and very well worn chair in the SCC. Slowly working through the (not very) quick crossword is fine.

  9. 9.53

    This was a mixture of easy and hard for me – and nothing wrong with that. WIND also brought up the REAR.

    CHIP SHOT was very good

    I see I just sneaked ahead of my twin so all good there though he’s probably thrashed me on Wordle/Bardle

    Looking forward to sampling your effort tomorrow John. Thanks Mara and have a good weekend everyone

  10. About 29mins … had computer issues so switched to desktop and struggled through. DNFed because I bunged in RaTiNe thinking it was a fabric material I’d NHO. Just too worn down by then to reread the clue and see the sensitive to light part.

    About 20mins in I got CHIP-SHOT in the NE. That unlocked WIND, DROVER, POLE, SCHOONER, ESCORT which all went in fairly quickly afterwards.

    It was only the desperation placement of the R for retina anagram which led me to TOP-BRASS which opened the long awaited TEARDROPS, ROCKET, NOT-AT-ALL, MEMO, LEMONADE, MUTTER, EDDY.
    Reckon those last 9 went in a couple of mins which really highlights why John found this easy and I didn’t.

    Would have like to enjoyed clues like BARK and TEARDROPS but the grind killed any appreciation I have for this one 🤷‍♂️ Slowest of the week and 2nd DNF for a 1hr35 total, somewhat killed my positive spirit.

    Have a good weekend everybody 👍

    1. That’s a real shame as you were on for a hugely impressive week. I think this was a QC that was all about getting a good start. I was fortunate to see chip shot straight away which gave me some of the answers you mention (fortune because I had just been watching the Seniors Open golf on TV and had seen some of the aforementioned shots!).

      Your time for the week is good overall and you have made enormous progress recently. I know it’s disappointing to finish the week on a low, but have a great weekend and come out fighting on Monday.

      PS I found the Quintagram very hard today but glad I persisted and finally got home (took ages)

      1. I wasn’t too disappointed with it. My optimistic viewpoint is that 29mins was okay for something I struggled mightily with. I had visions of not finishing at all.

        I was more irritated that I didn’t get an exact time, the computer issue began around 9mins – I think antivirus had kicked in or something – and meant I kept having to click back on the grid every 20-30secs to navigate. About 13-mins in, changed machine and went at it again.

        One day left of July but it’s been a decent month. 1st week came in at 2hr07, 2nd & 3rd weeks were 1hr55 if I remove the 25-mins wasted on the last 2 clues of the two Izetti’s and now this. Bear in mind though, I had a 1hr22 at the start of June which was also my last clean solve week – only had four of those all year.

        That’s really my target now getting rid of the DNFs. I was trying to be more careful and prioritise success over time in July but somehow it’s been the least successful for a few months. Seven DNFs this month which break down into 2 misreads (LeYLA and ANGELiS), 3 impatients and 2 more just didn’t know the answer – which is acceptable.

        Overall though, I’ve got my head in the right place. I no longer care enough – despite long missives! I just turn up each day and see what happens.

          1. Thanks John – very kind of you to say so. I scraped home on the Weekend Special in 19mins. I think you may have to recalibrate your idea of “gentle” and “none-too-hard” 🤣

            1. Glad you managed it. Perhaps not my easiest, but some words are not easy to clue with easy clues.

        1. I think that’s the right approach to take. I didn’t expect too much this week and so was pleasantly surprised at my overall weekly time.

          There is always something satisfying about avoiding a DNF, even if you run up a lot of time in the process. It’s surprisingly hard to achieve a full week of completions at the moment, particularly with Izetti making regular appearances. To crack one of his in 20 mins is one of my long-term aspirations.

          We’re both moving in the right direction (although saying that may be tempting fate).

      2. Just scraped under 7mins for the CQ. Had an error where I’d put RUN-ON which then gave me a LOI of FISH-OIL 🤣

  11. Not entirely straightforward with TEARDROP and SCHOONER proving stubborn. I also made ridiculously hard work of ESCORT and RETINA, which should really have been write ins, and I nearly followed MangoMan into going for MEME at 17a.
    Like others have mentioned I thought CHIP SHOT and LEMONADE were particularly good and I finished in 7.51.
    Thanks to John for the blog and in advance for the weekend Quickie.

    1. I really couldn’t make head nor tail of MEMO without checkers … cycling through possibilities of AMEN, MIME, MEME, ANON, MERE … while wondering whether “yours truly” was ME, IM, MY and second=MO or S or combined with note to be RE or that was N. All the while never getting closer to the actual answer.

  12. There were some terrific clues in there – take a bow SCHOONER, LEMONADE, TOP BRASS and CHIP SHOT. But did I not like WIND … a double def with the first letter hidden, the checkers matching dozens of words and one distinctly elliptical definition. Yes it took me over 3 minutes of trawling, yes I’m bitter! Golden Raspberry from me.

    All done in 10:09 for a TEARDROP Day.

    Many thanks Mara and John.


    1. It’s reassuring to know that I am not the only one who found WIND to be hard and frustrating. Thought it was just me being slow, but I think you’ve put your finger on why it was so tough.

      1. Oddly, perhaps, I immediately imagined a windlass for the second definition, and the nautical idea meant the solution became a breeze. Sorry. I couldn’t resist that, but it is how I solved the clue!

  13. I found his hard and had a DNF – just couldn’ see CHIP SHOT at all and struggled with the SE corner too. A bad day.

  14. A very good QC to end the week. I enjoyed it and finished in 11 mins with my LOI EDDY. My favourite clues are all listed by Plett11 above with LEMONADE a close second to CHIP SHOT as my COD.
    Many thanks to Mara and to John. John M.

  15. Inside target but not by much, 14:30. As others have said, some very good clueing from Mara. Did anyone else get sidetracked by chop suet or chow mien at 8a? My LOI was EDDY only after MUTTER came to mind. All very good. Thanks John and Mara.

  16. Only managed to complete this one with help from the cat. I did enjoy it though. A lot of people saying how much they liked CHIP SHOT. I thought it was dreadful.

    Wasn’t sure about drover, but it seemed like it might be a word, so in it went.

    Other than that, though I enjoyed it I can’t say I was too excited by it.

  17. As for many others, it seems, a mix of the fairly easy and the somewhat oblique for me. CHIP SHOT, WIND, NOT AT ALL and TEARDROP slowed me down, MEMO took ages to parse, but I enjoyed LEMONADE, DROVER amongst others. About 22 mins of tea fuelled musing.

  18. 11:35 (Death of Henry I. Stephen becomes King.)

    It felt faster than it was.

    21a was a write-in since I have recently had problems with the retinas of both eyes.

    LOI was TEARDROP – excellent misdirection by Mara, my mind was running through salty foods and marine creatures before the answer eventually appeared.

    Thanks Mara and John

  19. DNF, beaten by the Chip Shot/Wind combination. I’m clearly in the minority on Chip Shot, because nearly everyone else (except PW) thinks it extremely clever, but I thought it was a pretty meh clue: hot is not the same as cooked through and hot is also not the same as ready to eat (indeed if you are in rural Greece they positively prefer their food lukewarm, and if you start too soon when the food is too hot they will be most upset). Throw in a somewhat elliptic “action on course” – a wide definition, and golf is not the only game you can play chip shots in – and it was not a clue I have enthusiasm for.

    As for Wind, Templar has said it all more eloquently than me: a very loose DD, with current not equalling wind in my book (air current might, but Mara didn’t say that), and very unhelpful letters to boot. Since I couldn’t get chip shot I didn’t waste time on – – – D and accepted the DNF.

    Many thanks John for the blog and I look forward to your Saturday Special.

    1. I enjoy your considered observations on various crosswords and agree with your point that hot is not the same as ready to eat but if it helps I parsed it slightly differently and did not split the second part of the clue ie if the fried food is ready to eat the chips (are) hot. Which I think is less controversial.

    2. I think that perhaps you are being a bit harsh on our setter for introducing a level of ambiguity and allusion to the clues rather than precision. It would be sad if solving required only mechanical processing of clues such as an AI bot might do rather than the intuition of “Oh that’s what the setter meant” and resulting PDM.

      1. I suspect you are right, and I certainly couldn’t do any better myself at clue-setting. It is probably that mystic wavelength thing, and the boundary between “delightfully ambiguous” and “wilfully obscure” will vary between different people. And even for the same person on different days – on another day I might well have found these clues fell into the “delightfully ambiguous” bucket.

        1. I will try to buy a “delightfully ambiguous bucket” when I’m next in B&Q.

  20. Yesterday’s prediction of an SCC reunion more than came true. 36:09 and a pink square for CHIP SHOP, my LOI, because I’d almost lost the will to live by then and anything was better than nothing. Not sure why everything took so long today – just one to forget, I think. FOI BARK, COD DROVER for the great surface, as John pointed out. Thanks, John and (I think) Mara. 😉

  21. No MUTTERINGS here today. For me it was at the right level with some words going in easily to get me started, some to chew over, some great surfaces and some that gave me a smile especially when the penny dropped.

    NHO CHIP SHOT, so had to RELY on The Gentleman for that one.


    LOI WIND Why was that so hard?

    Thanks Mara and John

  22. I was held up by the NE quadrant but once I had parsed CHIP SHOT ( I thought the clue was fine, with the ?) , the rest followed and I finished with POLE.
    I had wondered whether Guard could be CORSET.
    13 minutes.
    I liked lots of the clues but am not a fan of grids like this with so many first letters missing.

  23. Steady away today with BARK FOI. I was held up at the end by WIND, for which an alphabet trawl was necessary. 8:59. Thanks Mara and John.

  24. Latter day reflection is 8 double defs made this harder than it should have been. You either know an answer and get some checkers or you’re left with blanks. There’s no inbetween.

    The inbetween is usually helped by having some clues where you can put in partial answers and build on them. But again, very few of those – the US of crocUS, the M of Mutter, chipsHOT, skINNy. Other than mutter – each time I saw one of those it led to a burst of solving in the area.

    I struggled to unravel the TEARDROP, RETINA, ESCORT anagrams without checkers and again that meant they provided none elsewhere.

    And then there was a distinct lack of biffability on many of the single defs. They were simple once you saw them but a struggle until you had some checkers. And as I say, those were difficult to get …

  25. 16.25 DNF. Gah. I biffed CHIP SHOP at the end but, as usual, as soon as the pink square appeared I realised what it should have been. Entering RCOKET made CROCUS more challenging though I was slow throughout. I did like BARK and TEARDROP. Thanks to John and Mara.

  26. Managed some of the difficult ones but needed help with some of the easier clues eg looked up toy for EDDY. MUTTER (looked up) gave me MEMO.
    Early solves were NOT AT ALL, LEMONADE.
    Failed on RELY. Biffed CHIP SHOP.
    So not a good day but enjoyed it all the same. Thanks, John.

  27. 8:13. DDs always give me a bit of grief, especially the two word ones, so no surprise that WIND, ROCKET and REAR were among the LOIs. It’s why I don’t get on terribly well with the concise.
    I remember some time ago counting the number of words in a Mara crossword, and comparing them with the number in a Pedro – there was quite a difference! A long Mara clue was frequently shorter than a short Pedro 😅
    I’m feeling conflicted – I’m not keen on very verbose clues, but I did find most of this a bit too terse. Not entirely surprising then that the clues I enjoyed most here were the slightly longer ones – SCHOONER, TOP BRASS and MUTTER. There’s always a middle way.
    FOI Bark LOI Rocket COD Drover
    Thanks Mara and John

  28. 20 mins…

    I really enjoyed this and thought there were some lovely, if chestnutty, type clues.

    Main hold up was 8ac “Chip Shot” where I kept flitting between “Chip Shop” and “Chip Snow” none of which really made sense.

    FOI – 6dn “apple”
    LOI – 8ac “Chip Shot”
    COD – 17dn “Mutter”

    Thanks as usual!

  29. A lot of double definitions today. I often struggle with these. However, with the exception of WIND, they came easily for once.

    I rather bucked the trend today and had all bar WIND with only 9 mins on the clock. It then took 5 mins and an ugly alphabet trawl to come up with WIND, which I wasn’t totally convinced by.

    Very disappointed to miss out on a PB, but am focusing instead on the joy of a 14 min solve.

    My weekly target has been achieved (5 solves in 1 hour, 49 mins – 11 mins under my 2 hour goal), so I am in a rare state of happiness.

    Best wishes to everyone for the weekend and thanks to John for the blog.

    PS Walking part of the Southern Upland Way next week so 🤞for decent weather.

    1. Impressive time whichever way you look at it. Back on form I would say.
      Enjoy the Southern Upland Way.

      1. I’m going to be based in Stranraer, hoping to tackle the first few stages.

        Very much looking forward to it!

        1. Enjoy, both of you. I hope you get decent weather. St. Cuthbert’s Way is on my to-do list – I have some friends who enjoyed it and I have a sister-in-law who lives near the start in Melrose. A lovely part of the country. Hmm. Maybe we should have a QCers walking holiday?

          1. Thanks John. Not sure how many other posters are walkers/hikers but I like the idea.

    2. Wow, you could easily have been under 10 minutes. Still 14 is great, I’m always pleased if I get that time. Have a good weekend and good walking!

      1. Thanks curryowen. That elusive under 10 min finish will need to wait, but I’m very happy with 14 after some bad weeks recently.

    3. Well done GA – great performance.

      Strange, isn’t it? WIND went straight in for me once I had the checkers. It was the rest that was the problem.

      A good week you’ve buoyed yourself up nicely 👍

      1. Thanks L-Plates, much appreciated.

        I find with double definitions that either I see them immediately or they are my LOI.

        Regarding WIND – I may be wrong, but, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we have had a very similar clue before. It certainly rang a bell as soon as the answer eventually went in.

        Well done for getting it straight away once you had the checkers, as many of the fast solvers seemed to have struggled with it.

    4. I too am content with my total times for the week, being nearly 2 minutes under my target at 23:03. A consistently proper QC week, perhaps?

      1. I don’t recall been many complaints this week of “are these getting harder?” variety. And certainly my times tend to agree with you John 👍

        1. May I submit a complaint? That there weren’t any out-and-out opportunities to complain, thi week.

  30. Phew that was pretty hard with some very good clues and some toughies.
    My LOI was TOP BRASS which took about three visits before the penny dropped.
    Wasn’t sure if WIND was correct until I pressed submit and didn’t really like CHIP SHOT, only understanding it now thanks to the blog.
    The anagrams were good and on 5d I tried to persuade myself a CORSET could be a sort of Guard before finally seeing ESCORT.
    Thanks Mara and John.

  31. Just under target at 14:52, but took an age (and Bradford’s dictionary) to get WIND and MUTTER, which then gave me enough to see my LOI, EDDY. I liked CHIP SHOT, despite the hand-waviness of the definition.

    Thanks to John and Mara. See you all next week.

  32. Submitted my comments earlier this morning, and they seem to have disappeared! Here we go again!
    I think I disagreed with Johninterred that this was easy as from a personal perspective as I had to really dodge around to make progress. In the end I crossed the line in 12.02 having spent over two minutes on my LOI (no surprises here) WIND.
    Total time for the week was 48.06 giving a daily average of 9.37.

  33. Some standout clues today, especially LEMONADE and CHIP SHOT. I don’t get on very well with DDs so unsurprisingly my LOI was WIND, and I also spent ages on ROCKET (groan). Pleased to finish though. Thanks all.

  34. 5:33

    Straightforward though I did have to think of an alternative for MITHER at 17d…

    Thanks both

  35. Catastrophic DNF for me today, failing to get CHIP SHOT, TEARDROP, ROCKET and at least a couple of others. Oh well. Thank you for both the blog and the extra puzzle, with which I will hopefully have better luck!

  36. Probably too late to comment but it seems that I was the only person who took ‘action’ in 8a to suggest an anagram of ‘on course’. With C- – – S-O- (I hadn’t solved 4d yet) I wasted ages and ended up with a DNF. A bit of a come down after yesterday’s PB. Thanks for the blog and for the weekend special which I am very much looking forward to attempting!

  37. I just tried to comment on the weekend QC but couldn’t make it work. This is what I wanted to say (in case you look back):

    Thoroughly enjoyable and having a theme helped me to a 17:46 finish. Anything that keeps me out of the SCC is greatly appreciated! My favourite was 7d because it made me laugh.
    Thank you for a great puzzle. MM

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