Times Quick Cryptic 2475 by Mara – Double double

Hi all.  Today’s puzzle is by Mara, a setter who likes to serve up a double definition or four.  We have a double double here; I hope you met no toil nor trouble.  For me, despite a few moments’ glazed look at 12a it went down like a charm.  My COD is 1d, the surface of which is rather appropriate as I write this.  Thanks Mara!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, specified [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.

1a Flatter and quite insipid? (8)
BLANDISH BLANDISH could mean quite bland, à la The Uxbridge English Dictionary
5a Stronghold was involved in battle, it’s said (4)
FORT — Sounds like (… it’s said) FOUGHT (was involved in battle)
9a Magnificent beer knocked back (5)
REGAL LAGER (beer) reversed (knocked back)
10a Design of road etc, old style (3,4)
ART DECO — Anagram of (design of) ROAD ETC
11a Full stop, perhaps, a little period otherwise (3)
DOT A little perioD OTherwise
12a Wicked chap who made pots in game (9)
BADMINTON BAD (wicked) + MINTON (chap who made pots).
I got a bit side-tracked along the lines of making a mint before I thought of actual pottery …
13a Contemporary colour back in the day (6)
MODERN — In reverse (… back) RED (colour) in MON (the day)
15a Moderate rage (6)
TEMPER — Two definitions, verb and noun
17a Incredible bird carrying first of twigs (9)
STARTLING STARLING (bird) holding (carrying) the first of Twigs
19a Family member in siblings, I sense (3)
SIS — Hidden in siblingS, I Sense
20a Young lady soaring all over the place (7)
SIGNORA SOARING anagrammed (all over the place)
21a A team, out of the way (5)
ASIDE A + SIDE (team)
22a Little bit I love that’s much appreciated (4)
IOTA I + O (love, zero) + TA (that’s much appreciated)
23a Certainly overwhelmed by figure, sensing ability? (8)
EYESIGHT YES (certainly) surrounded by (overwhelmed by) EIGHT (figure)
1d Reason for yawning in bedroom, shattered (7)
BOREDOM BEDROOM anagrammed (shattered)
2d Good way beyond an acutely anxious feeling (5)
ANGST G (good) and ST (way) after (beyond) AN
3d Thought democratic elections initially freeing (12)
DELIBERATION — First letters of (… initially) Democratic Elections + LIBERATION (freeing)
4d Put up with firm opinion (5)
STAND — Double definition
6d Openest, wild dance (3-4)
ONE-STEP OPENEST anagrammed (wild)
7d Spike Milligan finally overcome by God (5)
THORN — The last letter of (… finally) MilligaN underneath (overcome by) THOR (God)
8d Coloured panels where terribly sad angels sit (7,5)
STAINED GLASS — Anagram of (terribly) SAD ANGELS SIT
14d Current drink (7)
DRAUGHT — Two definitions
16d Have due regard for holding opening of parliament in secret, surprisingly (7)
RESPECT — The answer is holding the first letter of (opening of) Parliament in an anagram of (… surprisingly) SECRET
17d Vessel briefly transporting American food from the Far East (5)
SUSHI — Without the last letter (… briefly), SHIp (vessel) containing (transporting) US (American)
18d Country where that object lay abandoned (5)
ITALY IT (that object) + LAY anagrammed (abandoned)
19d Smart police operation (5)
STING — A final definition pair

86 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2475 by Mara – Double double”

  1. Sneaked in 2 seconds inside my target, at 14:58. Started quite quickly in the top right, then slowed down, until the BADMINTON / STAND pair came at the end. I thought the sport was going to be snooker.

    Kitty, you have a typo in your explanation of BADMINTON: you have MAD for BAD.

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty.

      1. I’ve played plenty of games of badminton that have been mad, so perhaps it can be a new variation of the sport 🏸

        1. When I first met the now Mrs Random, I discovered that her family played ‘Rugminton’ in their back garden. Basically, this was Badminton with tackling.

          1. I literally cannot conceive in my head how that is played. Does someone slip around the net and take out the person about to perform a mid court smash?

            1. Ah! I was similarly baffled back then, until I realised that spectators (siblings, friends, even parents sometimes) were permitted and encouraged to participate actively. I found out that the better a player was at Badminton, the worse results they achieved at Rugminton.

  2. Fun and straightforward offering from Mara. BEDROOM and BOREDOM are anagrams, who knew? Someone, somewhere, should be able to make something of that. Probably someone already has. I did it in 11.50, missed STAINED GLASS for a while (thought I needed a plural) and was mainly held up in the south-east by STARTLING and DRAUGHT. Thanks Kitty for alerting me to the wordplay of REGAL (I saw ale was in it and biffed), BADMINTON (with you re pots of money = mint) and EYESIGHT, never saw YES and EIGHT.

  3. You could have been thinking of “mad,bad, and dangerous to know”!
    10:34. Pretty straightforward although I would have thought a SIGNORINA would be a young lady whereas a SIGNORA would be more mature. Didn’t know MINTON so was guessing MIN (colloquialism for chap or man?) plus TON(pots,a lot?) COD to BLANDISH.

    1. You are correct, curryowen.
      The setter and the editor have made a mistake.
      SIGNORA is (Collins) “a married Italian woman: a title of address equivalent to Mrs when placed before a name or madam when used alone.” Nothing can be inferred as to her age.

  4. Finished but well outside target, so a seat in the SCC for me.

    Didn’t see the hidden for DOT, so was tempted by DAY/ANGRY. With RY=way. And then DAT where little period = TAD, ‘otherwise’ as a reversal indicator, and isn’t DAT what morse coders say? On lookup it’s DIT and DAH.

    NHO MINTON, so that took an age, Not really heard of BLANDISH either, but eventually thought of Blandishments.

    COD the anagram pair BEDROOM/MODERN.

  5. Am I the only here so far who printed this out?
    I am wondering what genius at The Times managed to format this so that the Across column would not fit on one page.
    So, instead of putting this aside for some idle moment in the next few days and settling down to focus on the 15×15, I had to work it first, so I could register my ever-so-urgent complaint.
    When I was a kid, my family used to play BADMINTON. Birdies were often lost on the roof of our one-story abode.

    1. Yes, I had the same problem on my print-out with the clues beneath the grid stretching less than half way across the page and the last line of the Across clues falling off the bottom. The format was dodgy on Friday too, though not to this extreme, with the name of the setter appearing beneath the crossword title instead of alongside it. Somebody at The Times appears to have been tinkering.

      1. 13 minutes, missing my 10-minute target yet again and I felt that this might at least be partly due to formatting problem as discussed above which I found a distraction as I read through the squashed up clues.

        I had the same thoughts as others about SIGNORA being clued as ‘young lady’.

        I wasn’t sure about STAND as ‘firm opinion’ and am still not 100% convinced of it.

        BLANDISH fitted the checkers and I saw the UED definition but ‘flatter’ didn’t come to mind. I justified it eventually by remembering ‘blandishment’.

        BADMINTON was my LOI.

        1. Jeff has taken a stand on the matter of corporal punishment / has a firm opinion on the matter of…

      2. I think someone generated the crossword from Crossword Compiler forgetting to change the number of columns setting from 4 (the default) to 2 (what we normally have). I lost the second half of the clue for 23A on my printout but there was enough wordplay to guess the answer with the checkers in place.

        1. This is a great way to slow you down, John. We’ll arrange for you only to have half the clue in future.

  6. Back on track today, albeit pretty slow with all green in 28 minutes – so well into the SCC and almost out the other side.
    It was all going quite swimmingly until I came up against BLANDISH, which wasn’t helped by biffing RIGHT instead of ANGST at the intersection. Once I’d sorted that out I then took ages trying to link BLANDISH to ‘flatter’, and still don’t see it if I’m honest.
    DELIBERATION was my most satisfying answer and I thought EYESIGHT was clever.
    Thanks to Mara and Kitty 👍

    1. The definition for BLANDISH in Collins (British English) is “to seek to persuade or influence by mild flattery; coax”—what’s the problem?

      1. I suspect people are not familiar with it as a verb but would recognise BLANDISHMENT without a second thought…

  7. A pleasing Monday exercise, apart from the previously mentioned MER with SIGNORA albeit clearly what was being intended. Liked 1A when I got it, with a few checkers in place, although I don’t recollect seeing it as a verb, only as part of blandishment. I now feel l should go out and try to blandish someone today.
    LOI Draught, brain was a bit slow to find more than current=now; it’s only Monday.
    COD to 8D for the smooth surface and the mental picture of all those less than jolly angels. They do often look rather stern and serious, if not downright sad.

  8. No major hold ups today, but LOI BLANDISH went in unparsed as I was unfamiliar with the ‘flatter’ definition. Had similar MER to others with SIGNORA being clued as a young lady but the answer was clear.
    Finished in 6.51
    Thanks to Kitty

  9. A bit slow getting started and I failed to see DOT was hidden. Doh! I liked the sad angels STAINED GLASS window. Thanks Mara and Kitty. 5:21.

  10. I looked twice at SIGNORA before entering it and adjusting my eyebrows. I was trying to work on the name of a snooker player (having had the same problem in another puzzle over the weekend) before BADMINTON became my SLOI. I agree with you on COD Kitty – and for much the same reason. Thanks for the blog.

    TIME 4:49

  11. A good puzzle which took me nearly 10 minutes. Far from straightforward though and I had to jump around the grid a bit before it started to come together. Despite commenting relatively early I see all my comments have already been made by others – the extraneous “young” in Signora, the unfamiliarity with Blandish = Flatter, the snooker player making pots (NHO Minton). So I shall say Many thanks to Kitty for the blog, and I hope this presages a slightly less chewy week than last week’s offerings.


  12. Rushed through in a Monday morning club-free 16.25 after assuming the flattish double def. No problem with Minton, although not my particular cup of tea. Assumed Signorina but squashed in SIGNORA and didn’t pause for a second thought.
    Thanks Mara and Kitty. Sun is shining here in the East. Pip pip.

  13. 8.55

    A bit tricky. STAINED GLASS was a very good anagram and surface (though I unaccountably struggled to see what the second word was even with the G). BOREDOM was also nice.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  14. An hour’s struggle (FOI FORT, then couldn’t see anything for ages) but got there in the end. COD (for its neat surface) STAINED GLASS, LOI SUSHI. Yes, SIGNORA for “young” is simply wrong. Despite all the comments, still haven’t quite understood MINTON, unless “pots” = MINT, “in game” = ON? (No: even if neat, “game” needs to be the definition.) No: look him up and find Thomas Minton was in fact a potter – NHO (but John Minton was a famous painter – more famous than the potter, maybe?).

    1. Wicked is “Bad”. “Minton” is chap who made pots. So the game is “Badminton”
      The Minton factory (1793 – 1968) founded by a Minton made a variety of ceramics including pots and Tiles, some of which are now fairly collectable.

  15. Dotted around the grid but everything went slowly in. I am happy with NHOs if, as here, they can be biffed.

    Loved some of the surfaces esp the STARTLING starlings and the sad angels in the STAINED GLASS.

    RESPECT for Mara and Kitty.

  16. 11 mins…

    An enjoyable start to the week. Wasn’t sure about 1ac “Blandish”, but it couldn’t really be anything else, and had to wait for checkers to decide whether 3dn was “Deliberating” or “Deliberation”.

    FOI – 1dn “Boredom”
    LOI – 14dn “Draught”
    COD – 7dn “Thorn” – just for the amusing wordplay.

    Thanks as usual!

  17. Just over 8 minutes. The SIGNORA that should have been SINORINA passed me by after I tried to make up time following a slow start caused by BLANDISH; same comments as others about the unfamiliarity of the word as a verb. Favourite was BADMINTON which had me looking for a bad boy snooker player of yore.

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty

  18. What a good surface for STAINED GLASS, chapeau!

    All done in 08:03 for a Good Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Kitty.


  19. A good start to the week – a minute under target at 14 mins. I slowed towards the end but found all the clues fair, once the small change dropped. I smiled at Kitty’s comment about the UED regarding my LOI and COD, BLANDISH. I always picture the cast of I’m sorry I haven’t a clue when I encounter words ending in -ish.
    Thanks to Mara and Kitty. Good to have an actual QC to start the week. John M.

  20. Tougher than the average Mara, I thought, but I just scraped under the SCC barrier with 19:57, albeit without having parsed EYESIGHT or BADMINTON. I don’t think I’d heard of Minton, though I have a feeling he’s come up on here before. I also didn’t really know BLANDISH and although I have come across blandishment, I’ve never stopped to consider what it meant. FOI was ART DECO, which amused me as I remember in the past pulling my hair out over it and thinking it was obscure. I still wouldn’t recognise a bit of it, but thanks to these, at least the term is familiar. COD to MODERN. Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  21. 11:17 (Henry I faces rebellion in Normandy)

    After the struggles of last week, pleased to have a QC at a comfortable level of difficulty. My LOI was BADMINTON, as I was also thinking snooker rather than ceramics.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  22. Not too difficult for me, though I was lost for a while with 3d.

    No clues that I did not like.

    However, a DNF as I had BLANDEST for 1a.

    Otherwise an enjoyable QC

    Now for a drop of Starfield.

  23. A lovely way to start the week. FOI the aptly clued BOREDOM and LOI STAINED GLASS. I had to wait for all the checkers to solve BLANDISH and discard a hastily typed maroon for MODERN. 7:37

  24. Nice start to the week.

    STAINED GLASS wins COD, or maybe BOREDOM.

    EYESIGHT was LOI because it was down there.


  25. My MER was about defining LAGER as beer, although I realise I am out of step with most of humanity by despising lager and cherishing bitter (beer), preferably served slightly warm and flattish. Now that’s a DRAUGHT. Just inside 13 minutes for me, so back to normality. Thanks Kitty and Mara.

    1. I’m not up in the technicalities but I tend to use ‘beer’ for all types and ‘ale’ to distinguish the real stuff.

  26. I struggled a bit today and came back to LOI 1a where the best I could do was BLANDEST with a large question mark.
    So a DNF in 15 minutes.
    COD to EYESIGHT but a nod to BOREDOM as well.

  27. A quick start to the week at 7.13, a vast improvement on last Mondays effort at over 15 minutes. Similar remarks to many others really, with BLANDISH as a verb not known although I am of course familiar with blandishment. I also noted the anomaly with SIGNORA but it really couldn’t be anything else. I’ve also seen enough Antique Roadshows to be familiar with the term Minton, even if I wouldn’t recognise it if put in front of me!

    1. It isn’t. As Kitty says it merely indicates that the G and ST go after (beyond) the AN which the setter kindly gave you in the clue

    2. Nuthatch – AN isn’t a synonym of BEYOND. The clue simply means that G(good) and ST (street) come after (i.e beyond) the word AN.

    3. It’s not. It’s just that ‘g’ (good) and ‘st’ (way) come after (‘beyond’) ‘an’.

    1. “Fort” and “thought” might only be homophones on Eastenders, but fort and fought are surely pretty good homophones?

        1. Hi hopkinb, my remark was a bit of a throwaway, and yes I would get the fort/thought homphone if the clue included an eastenders reference!

          Re fort v fought see my response to Martinu below.

        2. (cont) but I take your point its the diff between rhotic and non-rhotic. In fact the examples I give are probably all from rhotic areas (Scotland, Wales? USA).

      1. Hi Martinu, your earlier question doesn’t form part of a reply to me so I didn’t see it.

        I would pronounce fort with the “r” fully included. It would rhyme with port, which I presume you wouldn’t see as a homophone to “p-ought”? Maybe it’s my scottish upbringing (we like our “R”s) but I wouldn’t expect to hear people referring to “fought” William or “fought” Knox, or for that matter “p-ought” Talbot. Collins shows the pronunciation of PORT and FORT in exactly the same way.

        1. Hi Gerry! Thank you for your reply – but I’m mystified by this conversation. Indeed I would see port as a homophone to “p-ought” – identical. Are you (maybe) Irish and do you roll your Rs there – is that what this is all about? And I would always refer to “Fought” William – someone please correct me – what should (or could) it be?

    2. Homonyms are extremely hard for me. Grew up in rural South India. Learnt all my English from books and had never heard a native Briton speak I till about my 10th grade (in movies, cricket commentaries etc).

      1. I can understand that! There are many different pronunciations, idioms, accents to grapple with in the English speaking world. As I’m sure there are in India!

  28. I don’t know how else you could pronounce both FORT and FOUGHT but then I am from Lancashire. Perhaps we pronounce things differently here ???

    1. Don’t understand this at all. I’m simply from London and have NHO FORT / fought pronounced differently anywhere. How would you (from where?) like to pronounce which? Do some areas (West Country or Ireland, perhaps) sound the R in FORT?

      1. In Eastenders it’s doubtful the T would be articulated in either word but at least they’d both sound the same.

        1. When it comes to pronunciation it is best not to assume anything. During my recent US trip I was asked by an Argentinian whether I had ever been to Mora Camby, and by an American who was intending to visit the Hee Brides. The former took some time to comprehend. I expect there are equivalent reciprocal trans-Atlantic howlers.

          1. A few years back, French friends of ours wanted to know if we had seen a film: Bill Elio – it took some time to work that one out.

  29. Started well, then slowed. TEMPER took the longest at the end. Didn’t know BLANDISH and hadn’t heard of Thomas Minton but quite enjoyed reading up on him before coming here. Finished in 16 but with a pink square for a having managed to type DS not SS at the end of STAINED GLASS.

  30. Back to some degree of normaility after last week’s travails. Having said that I think I was probably over-complicating some of the clues and really should have finished in a quicker time than my 18 minutes. Didn’t manage to parse SUSHI and didn’t spot the hidden DOT. I was another that was trying to go down the snooker/billiards road at 10ac but no problem with MINTON when the penny finally dropped.

    FOI – 13ac MODERN
    LOI – 8dn STAINED GLASS (I would have been quicker with this had I noticed that the answer was two words rather than one)
    COD – 1ac BLANDISH

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty

  31. 8.38 Quick for me, no problems. I also thought BADMINTON was about the money. STAINED GLASS was nice. Thanks to Kitty and Mara.

  32. 10:15

    Started well but became bogged down in the NW corner. NHO MINTON so BADMINTON went in not fully understood, but it opened up DELIBERATION (parsed after completion). Momentary ums and ahs over 11a – could it be DAT (TAD in reverse) – but settled on DOT in the end.

    Thanks Mara and Kitty

  33. I started with ANGST and finished in a TEMPER, after BOREDOM set in. It was STARTLING to discover that sad angels sit on STAINED GLASS! My DELIBERATIONs over BADMINTON were a THORN in the side, but the STING was assuaged by a 7:38 finish. Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  34. Fairly typical for me at 32 minutes. Enjoyed it very much, particularly the bit about Spike Milligan which tickled me greatly. I wasted quite a while convinced that 12a had to be “billiards”, because it fit the checking letters that I’d found, and also mentioned pots.

    Thank you to Kitty for the blog, and to Mara for the crossword!

  35. My last pair, Stand and Badminton, turned a possible seat next to the driver into a standing room only SCC solve – just couldn’t see either one until an alpha-trawl produced Stand. Blandish was another time burner, but otherwise a steady top to bottom solve. CoD to Eyesight, a nose ahead of Modern. Kitty, the ‘n’ is after, not inside, Thor – . . .finally under God’s protection, perhaps? Invariant

  36. Major breezeblock with ITALY which I never did parse (thanks Kitty, failed to recognise abandoned’ as an anagram indicator). BADMINTON/THORN and DRAUGHT also took a while. DNK Minton as pottery. Otherwise all fairly plain sailing. Liked STAINED GLASS best. Thanks Mara.

  37. Living in Canada I did this in two sessions(sleep came in between), I without wishing to seem or be rude I tend to ignore solving times as I know I am a member of the SCC, but this was enjoyable, along with my coffee in bed, to me it was well written and no problems here.

  38. Much quicker than last week, held up by a few clues, 12a badminton was one. Mostly done in about 20m which is fast for us. A pleasant solve.

  39. Had to use the CCD for BLANDISH and DELIBERATION. Didn’t know of vb Blandish meaning to flatter.
    My excuse is I’ve been out all day and it was very hot.
    Otherwise fairly quick then fairly slow.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Kitty. Yes, Fort and Fought sound the same to me.

  40. 7.40 so a good start to the week. A few ticks along the way – BADMINTON * and STAINED GLASS in particular. I didn’t much like young woman for SIGNORA either, although a young wife would undoubtedly be one!
    FOI Fort LOI Temper COD Boredom
    Many thanks Mara and Kitty

    *I worked for Royal Doulton many moons ago and we ate off Minton china in the staff restaurant – it definitely wasn’t a canteen 😅

    1. In my last and final job we ate in a refectory, but it definitely wasn’t any better than a canteen.

  41. I was on for a sub 10-minute finish until held up by 1ac, 12 ac (NHO Minton) and 3dn. Just avoided SCC with 19 mins but very much a case of what might have been. Drat!

    Thanks for the blog Kitty.

  42. I solved this earlier this afternoon, but only now have the chance to post my thoughts.

    I found Mara a tad more challenging than usual and several clues (e.g. BLANDISH, BADMINTON, ITALY) held me up for varying reasons. Also, STAND required a full alphabet trawl at the end. However, I crossed the line successfully in 33 minutes, which is about par for me at the moment – and so much better than the days when a 1+ hour DNF would be the norm.

    Many thanks to Mara and Kitty.

  43. I made single digit! Top 10!! Hurray!!!

    Not today. I started at puzzle 1000 and caught in 19 months. Now I went back and I am doing Quick Cryptic 01 onwards.

    Puzzle #007 published 3/18/2014 has only 20 solvers!! A leisurely 24 minutes placed me in top 10! I made it, I am a topper too.

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