Times Quick Cryptic 2550 by Mara

Solving time:14 minutes


There were no fewer than 5 double definitions today and 8 anagrams. I’m not sure if this makes things easier, but my solving time suggests this was not entirely straightforward.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Supportive materialstrong (9)
Two meanings
6 Drink, dad? (3)
Two meanings
8 Youth after vessel, water bottle (7)
CAN (vessel), TEEN (youth)
9 Passage I seal off (5)
Anagram [off] of I SEAL
10 Bachelor for example in group sat date out (12)
Anagram [out] of GROUP SAT DATE
12 Bird strugglin’ for breath? (6)
PUFFIN{g} (strugglin’ for breath). The apostrophe indicates the deletion.
13 Big cougar originally aboard ship, wild feline (6)
B{ig} + C{ougar} [originally] contained by [aboard] BOAT (ship). More Americana.
16 Found again, divorcee’s red pants (12)
Anagram [pants] of DIVORCEE’S RED
19 Pollsters impressed with a native New Zealander (5)
MORI  (pollsters) containing [impressed with] A.  Market and Opinion Research International. ‘Ipsos MORI’ is the full name of the research group.
20 Los Angeles police operation impossible to forget (7)
LA (Los Angeles), STING (police operation)
22 Female animal, deer or elk, primarily (3)
D{eer} + O{r} + E{lk} [primarily]. Cue Julie Andrews…
23 Fragrance appalling to wearers (4-5)
Anagram [appalling] of TO WEARERS
1 Get rid of container (4)
Two meanings
2 Drugs cartel rotten, end conversation (4,3)
RING (drugs cartel), OFF (rotten)
3 Starter of pastry that is — for this dish? (3)
P{astry} [starter of…], IE (that is – id est)
4 Rubbish on rig ending in large skip (6)
Anagram [rubbish] of ON RIG, {larg}E [ending]
5 Surprising grade in, so impressive (9)
Anagram [surprising] of GRADE IN SO
6 Gone, a shell or bow, say? (5)
PAST (gone), A
7 Current offering (7)
Two meanings
11 New shirt and tie back on heater, drier (9)
Anagram [new) of SHIRT TIE, then {heate}R [back]
12 My rapid changes, solid (7)
Anagram [changes] of MY RAPID
14 Dispenser taking lid off medicine, one put in box (7)
M{edicine} [taking lid off] + I (one) contained by [put in] CHEST (box)
15 Many sketches needing no introduction (6)
{d}OODLES (sketches) [needing no introduction]
17 Bee, one going after doctor (5)
DR (doctor), ONE
18 Gelatinous substance again missing in recipe, initially (4)
AGA{in} [missing ‘in’], R{ecipe} [initially]/ Aka ‘agar-agar’.
21 Tool spied (3)
Two meanings

59 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2550 by Mara”

  1. 11:40. OODLES was the hardest for me to solve(doodles for sketches!). Didn’t know MORI, but then MAORI was the only word for N. Z. native I knew. I would have thought any cartel could be called a Ring so the reference to drugs threw me off.(In the novel, Howard’s End, there’s the Tariff Ring of insurance companies). BOBCAT, CHEMIST, and IGNORE were my favourites.

  2. I DNF on OODLES, about 17 min for the rest.

    Like Owen I didn’t know the Mori parsing for Maori and for some reason POP took me forever!

    I should collect a list of all the anagram indicators in today’s puzzle for my son’s amusement

  3. Yes, harder than usual. Had to stare squinty-eyed at a half-completed 15d till ‘oodles’ finally popped into my head. Fun puzzle.

    And a note on some of tonight’s fauna: I live next to a wild ‘green space’ in a very large city in the southwest US. Our local bobcats are not very big–most definitely not ‘big cougars’–they’re more like 20-25 lbs fully-grown, but not to be tangled with. The moms with their kits prowl through our neighborhood fearlessly and with virtual impunity, because even though they’re of modest size, they’re the co-apex predators around here, along with coyotes.

    1. With respect: the clue doesn’t say BOBCAT is a big cougar; that’s only there for its initial letters. The definition is “wild feline”. (Sorry if that was obvious?)

  4. Same as everyone else, 12.50 although I was distracted at the end by a fire alarm in the building – all resolved fortunately. LOI OODLES, but RING OFF and CHEMIST took a while. I didn’t remember Mori as a pollster and was trying to fit kiwi in there somewhere. Thanks to jackkt and Mara, nice level of difficulty.

  5. DNF–never got OODLES. I was wondering about MAORI–‘native’ in clues usually indicates an animal–but finally remembered MORI. I don’t think we Murcans would call someone with just a BA a postgraduate.

  6. Seems as if I am aligned with others – 13’13” with THIRSTIER my LOI after a tough test – BOBCAT and CHEMIST unparsed until Jackkt’s fine blog. STRAPPING also took a while as did SACK – a ‘container’ for me always feel solid, but I know that’s not always the case (no pun intended)

    I enjoyed the anagram for POSTGRADUATE

    Thanks Mara and J.

  7. Thought this was going to be a toughie when I drew an almost complete blank for the NW but the rest of the puzzle didn’t put up too much resistance.
    By the time I returned to the start my unconscious had clearly been working away in the background and figured out SACK and CANTEEN and the rest quickly followed.
    Crossed the line in a slightly under average 7.34 with LOI RING OFF and my favourite being the breathless bird.
    Thanks to Jack

  8. Re 19ac: one suggested and very small correction to the blog (and one that makes it even harder for those unfamiliar with MORI as a polling organisation) : it should be ‘was’ not ‘is’ because Ipsos MORI’ used to be the the full name of the research group. Nowadays it’s simply ‘Ipsos’.

  9. Taken over my target, principally by my LOI, but I found this quite tricky – albeit totally fair, and enjoyable.

    TIME 5:17

  10. There seems to be general agreement in the comments so far that this was on the tougher side, but quite doable. And I join the consensus, with a 14 minute completion after a slow start. I was held up on two clues: I had forgotten the “water bottle” meaning of Canteen and needed all the checkers, and I toyed with Amir for Agar (“again missing in recipe, initially”) until Lasting put me right. I knew Amir is another spelling for Emir, but who knows, it might also have been a gelatinous substance. There is an almost infinite amount of things I don’t know about gelatinous substances …

    I did think as I was doing this that there were an unusual number of anagrams and DDs, but I’m not sure what a usual number of either would be!

    Many thanks Jack for the blog

  11. Slow and steady as I ploughed the anagram fest to reach the club in 22.35. Enjoying a warm croissant in my usual corner chair. Not as easy as it looked but nothing to moan about. COD MAORI. Thanks all.

    1. Pleased to see a few pastries left in the SCC as I crawled in at about 33 mins. Heavy going… I find Mara more 15x15ish than most, and I struggle to get my head around the clues somewhat. However, THIRSTIEST was a fitting LOI as I rushed for a reviving coffee. Should have got 1A sooner which might have improved my time. Enjoyed the PUFFIN although I was keen on the Pantin at first glance, albeit no such bird exists, at least in UK.

  12. DNF
    Sometimes you just draw a blank, and how I missed POSTGRADUATE, after spotting it was an anagram at first reading. As more and more checkers appeared panic set in, and I got a pen out, but couldn’t see it as the click ticked over to 20:23.

    And there I was feeling smug about OODLES.

    Not sure about SACK= get rid of? Was tempted by SKIP and SHED.

  13. I always like a Mara QC and today s/he didn’t disappoint. Although I crept into the SCC at about 22 minutes, largely thanks to OODLES, I really enjoyed this one. THIRSTIER was my clue of the day, and I coincidentally bought some of the previously unheard of AGAR just last week for the first time ever.
    A good start to the week then for me.
    Thanks to Mara and Jack.

  14. I thought that was jolly tough, especially for a Monday, and my last two in (CHEMIST and BOBCAT) were definitely 15-flavoured. The QUITCH is only at 113, though, so maybe I just need a coffee. (I do actually need a coffee.)

    Pushed out to 10:17 for a Poor Day. I did like PUFFIN (I have an inflatable dinghy called Puffin, because to blow it up you put puff in it).

    Many thanks Jack and Mara.


  15. 13:54 (Robert Stewart, Steward of Scotland, refuses English demand to pay 90,000 marks to ransom his uncle King David)

    Definitely on the harder side today, but an enjoyable challenge. I wondered whether there was a bird called a PANTIN before spotting PUFFIN and kicking myself. THIRSTIER required pen and paper to untangle the anagram. LOI was OODLES.

    Thanks Jack and Mara

  16. Yay! I could do this one, albeit in a leisurely 23 mins. First non-DNF for a while (do we say DF then?). 🤗

  17. 17 mins…

    I didn’t find this too bad. Main hold up was unravelling 10ac “Postgradulate” which took a few minutes of my overall time.

    FOI – 6ac “Pop”
    LOI – 10ac “Postgradulate”
    COD – 6dn “Pasta”

    Thanks as usual!

  18. Yes it was a tough start to the week alright as my time of 12.35 attests. I couldn’t get my LOI BOBCAT for some time as I had somehow managed the reverse the I and the O in GRANDIOSE. Pleased to get to the end with all parsed though, and hope to be a little speedier for the rest of the week

  19. I rather think I overcomplicated this after not getting the first few, but let’s give Mara credit for misleading structures. Take Bachelor for example in group sat date out (12). In crossword land, you’d expect B(achelor) EG (for example) in (word meaning) group and a possible sat date out definition. No chance! So it was for a fair proportion of this one, and my 17.24, almost double what I’d normally expect, sends me off to Big Brother looking for relaxing stroll to compensate. On edit Some chance! Near enough 26 minutes!

  20. I thought it was toughish as I was going along, and needed all the checkers for my last 2, STRAPPING and THIRSTIER.

    I wasn’t helped by the mombled GASPIN – a small songbird, native to Southern France perhaps. PYRAMID soon put me right though.

    QUITCH says it was an average time for an above average puzzle, which I’ll take!


  21. 17:17
    I thought I was skipping through with 6 clues to go at the 10 minute marker. Four of them in the NW corner along with CHEMIST and (as others) OODLES.
    CHEMIST went unparsed – thanks Jackkt.
    (Never seen ‘pants’ used to signpost an anagram.)
    FOI: 6ac POP
    LOI: 15dn OODLES
    COD: 12ac PUFFIN (Never seen this one before either – it made me smile.)
    Thanks to Jackkt and Mara

  22. Biffed BOBCAT and looked up AGAR (NHO) and struggled with a couple of the anagrams, but finally completed it. Why does PYRAMID = solid?

  23. I too had to dart around the grid. I finished in 13 minutes with LOI SACK after CANTEEN.
    OODLES was quite tough. Everything as noted was perfectly fair.
    A good Monday challenge. COD to PUFFIN.

  24. 10:13

    This felt a bit tougher than it might have been, not helped by inadvertently entering PUFFER at 12a which screwed up the anagram at 11d for a while – didn’t see straight away that it was ‘that’ meaning of drier either. Similarly the definition for IGNORE seemed well disguised. OODLES and CHEMIST were my last two in.

    Thanks Mara and Jack

    1. I would guess that ‘pants’ is nod towards modernizing the language of The Times a little (although admittedly only a little because I first encountered the word in the newer context about 25 years ago).

      If you describe something as ‘pants’ you are saying it is rubbish or nonsense, which I think makes it a reasonable anagram indicator. It is certainly used quite a lot in the QC although somewhat less so I would say in the main crossword.

      PS – Good to see you back again Martinů!

      1. Thank you, and thank you! Yes clearly rubbish / nonsense are anagram indicators; just that NHO pants = rubbish. From the US, presumably? Will remember!

  25. I think I should mention that DDs would only have serious competition from Spoonerisms as my least favourite clue type – they tend to be either blindingly obvious or frustratingly difficult – so this wasn’t destined to be a great start to the week. Nevertheless, a steady plod and liberal use of crossers still got me within sight of a sub-20, only to be nudged into the SCC by loi Present (yes, I know it should have been easy, but. . .) CoD to 12ac, Puffin, for the smile, but Oodles ran it close. Invariant

  26. A little concerned at a first read through. Getting 1d and 12d helped a lot! NHO agar.
    Oodles was a real gem! Good start to the week.

  27. An average sort of time for me of 17 minutes for a puzzle which I found of average difficulty. Certainly easier than last Monday’s, although that’s not saying much. I progressed fairly steadily with no one clue or area holding me up unduly. Biffed IGNORE and THIRSTIER.

    FOI – 6ac POP
    LOI – 15dn OODLES
    COD – 19ac MAORI

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  28. Needed help with STRAPPING and OODLES , so a DNF. But I did enjoy it all the same. COD PUFFIN, also liked MAORI, LASTING, PYRAMID, CANTEEN, PASTA.
    NHO AGAR but biffed from cluing.
    Thanks vm, Jack.

  29. Enjoyed this one. Slightly held up by OODLES and LOI THIRSTIER. Biffed AGAR which I’ve come across in a crossword before but never encountered in real life. BOBCAT took a while to sort out. Liked the PUFFIN clue. Only one coffee needed today, but it was quite a large one. Many thanks all.

  30. The NW proved tricky until I spotted IGNORE, which led to CANTEEN. PIE then enabled STRAPPING which really got things moving. I plodded on eventually finishing with CHEMIST, and just scraped under my target at 9:41. Thanks Mara and Jack.

  31. 11 minutes which, for me, means it wasn’t easy but also not super hard. I join the long list of those finishing with OODLES which I suppose means it must be well crafted. Thanks all.

  32. Bucking the trend! I found this very doable although OODLES needed all the checkers. 7:08

  33. Hard going! Almost none in the top half after my first pass through the entire grid. Managed to populate the bottom half after a while, but working back up was a real struggle.

    Had to rely on biffing some clues (e.g. PYRAMID, STRAPPING, CHEMIST), but BOBCAT and THIRSTIER were the two most troublesome. I couldn’t fully parse either before coming here, with fingers well and truly crossed.
    Time = 37 minutes.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack.

  34. 15.53 Slow but steady. I’m another who wondered about the existence of the GASPIN and the PANTIN. The NW caused most bother but the chestnut OODLES was LOI.

  35. 27 mins – another in a long line of disappointing days.

    I missed some of the anagrams and spent a significant amount of time on AGAR. It was an NHO, but the wordplay was so obvious that I deserve a kick! I must have come back to it 6 or 7 times before I read the clue properly.

    Had SHED for 1dn for a while, which really didn’t help. Neither did taking ages to spot the screamingly obvious WATER in 23ac (once I had the W).

    On this poor form, I still have a long way to go before I can start to think about becoming an infrequent visitor to the SCC.

    I’m trying to relax as I solve but finding it hard. As soon as I begin to get bogged down, I start to worry about my time and relaxation is replaced by panic. I know I should forget the time, but that’s my measure of progress.

    Many thanks for the blog, informative and entertaining as always. 😊

  36. 7.30 DNF

    Biffed TOMCAT, took it out unparsed but when the O appeared it went back in. Got it as soon as I saw the pink squares

    Toughish but fair

    Mara 1-0 Dvynys

  37. 15:29 here. At 14 minutes, I thought this was going to be a slow one, as the NW corner was almost entirely empty. Then I untangled the anagram for GRANDIOSE, which led to STRAPPING and all its descendants (can we say that to mean “all the words that go down from this word”? I quite like it…) followed in a rush. But my LOI was CHEMIST, which I only parsed after hitting the “submit” button.

    Thanks to Mara and Jackkt.

  38. I nodded in agreement with all the comments made above. The mysterious Pantin bird really ought to exist.

    My parents (both pharmacists) used to insist that they weren’t ‘chemists’, but that word is undoubtedly in common usage. So I just tutted gently as I wrote it in.

  39. I think Mara might have been asked to lighten up a little as I generally find his puzzles harder but we had several answers that seemed so simple – pie/pop/aisle/doe included. Having put in some token simple ones I thought he then resorted to character and made me think very hard for some of the others…

  40. Well some of us struggled with this one, despite dabbing myself with some REDISCOVERED ROSEWATER. For me there were some easy clues to get started such as DOE and SAW, wanted to SKIP not SACK, some meatier ones which made me THIRSTIER. In the end after seeing the BOBCAT it was OODLES that got me. So DNF but smiles along the way so I am not complaining. C’est la vie.

    Thanks Mara and Jack

  41. I know I’m late posting . . . DNF by 8. And seemingly alone in objecting to POSTGRADUATE for “bachelor for example”. Based on 30 years teaching in a university, to me a bachelor is simply a GRADUATE.


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