Times Quick Cryptic 2578 by Joker – swings and roundabouts

Hello all.  Joker can sometimes be tricky but sometimes goes easier on the solver.  For me, this came very much in the latter category.  Your mileage may vary.  I really liked 12d and 15d; admittedly these are two of the more complex ones but there are some plainer gems too, such as 5d. Thanks Joker!

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 Heartily congratulating rugby players getting a round ahead (12)
BACKSLAPPING BACKS (rugby players, the ones behind the forwards) + LAPPING (getting a round ahead, the round being a circuit of a race track)
8a Work taking a long time — Parsifal, perhaps (5)
OPERA OP (work) + ERA (a long time)
9a One scheming young wizard, about fifty (7)
PLOTTER POTTER (young wizard) around (about) L (fifty)
10a Thanks on being fed last of the drink (3)
TEA TA (thanks) having inserted into it (on being fed) the last letter of thE
11a English and American work at key complex (9)
ELABORATE E (English) and LABOR (American work) + AT + E (key, in music)
13a Short of French cheese, only one piece of fromage (5)
BRIEF BRIE (French cheese) + one letter of (only one piece of) Fromage
14a Eminent lecturer returned around first half of term (5)
NOTED DON (lecturer) reversed (returned) around the first half of TErm
16a Distant US home rebuilt — a place in the country (9)
FARMHOUSE FAR (distant) + an anagram of (… rebuilt) US HOME
17a Bone carried by tribesman (3)
RIB — The answer is found inside (carried by) tRIBesman
19a Begin once more to relax with music, say (7)
RESTART REST (to relax) with ART (music, say)
21a First pair of elephants together with antelope (5)
ELAND — The initial tow letters of (first pair of) ELephants + AND (together with)
22a Abuse met at minster, unfortunately (12)
MISTREATMENT MET AT MINSTER anagrammed (unfortunately)
1d Put sole initially in footwear for lift (5)
BOOST — We are instructed to put the first letter of (… initially) Sole in BOOT (footwear)
2d Knight cold and hot over quivering Valerie (9)
CHEVALIER C (cold) and H (hot), as seen on taps, above (over) an anagram of (quivering) VALERIE
3d Modern painting restorers are concerned with this (5-2-3-3)
STATE-OF-THE-ART — Definition plus a literal interpretation of the answer: painting restorers are concerned with the STATE OF THE ART
4d Look — a penny on fruit (6)
APPEAR A + P (penny) on PEAR (fruit)
5d I, perhaps, fix declaration (13)
6d Fanatic beheaded king (3)
NUT — Without the first letter (beheaded) cNUT (king)
7d Finish after Friday, mate (6)
FRIEND END (finish) after FR (Friday)
12d How to make neat see-saw or yo-yo? (9)
ALTERNATE — How to make NEAT?  One way is to change around the letters in (ALTER) NATE.  To see-saw and to yo-yo both mean to fluctuate rapidly between two extremes, hence to alternate
13d Earlier tidal wave carrying energy and force (6)
BEFORE BORE (tidal wave – for instance the famous Severn Bore) carrying E (energy) and F (force), both abbreviations from physics
15d In gospel truth this reptile goes backwards (6)
TURTLE — In gospEL TRUTh the answer is found backwards (this … goes backwards)
18d Bathroom fitting I’d bet needs throwing out (5)
BIDET ID BET must be anagrammed (needs throwing out)
20d Almost miss out winter sports equipment (3)
SKI — All but the last letter of (almost) SKIp (miss out)

68 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2578 by Joker – swings and roundabouts”

  1. A rare foray out of the SCC for me today, albeit by the skin of my teeth. This was an enjoyable puzzle to begin the week, with the clues being nicely parseable. I especially liked MISTREATMENT and PRONOUNCEMENT, which were both extremely satisfying once they slotted in.
    Thanks Kitty and Joker.

  2. 7 minutes. I thought the cheese clue was clever. TURTLE is worth noting for the rarity of having its definition in the middle of a clue.

  3. Finished in 16 mins without the need of dictionary or other aids – not happened much recently!
    Very enjoyable.
    Clues of the day – state of the art and farmhouse

  4. An enjoyable start to the crosswording week although I made hard work of what should have been a relatively straightforward solve. Thinking of the right footwear at 1d took an inordinately long time as did the simple FRIEND and the hidden TURTLE.
    A bit of a pause at the end with ELABORATE/ALTERNATE which gets my COD.
    Finished in 8.13
    Thanks to Kitty

  5. 9’03” for a satisfactory start to the week after a tough run last week.

    Like Kitty I really enjoyed 12D mainly because it was my about-to-give-up LOI with a terrific PDM.

    p.s. Am I imaging it or is BIDET having a strong run of solution appearances at the moment?

    Thanks Joker and Kitty.

    1. I reckon that’s the third bidet I’ve seen, whether here or in the 15×15, this year

      1. Me too. Odd? Or just an example of the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon/frequency or recency illusion?

    2. BIDET was also 12a in the QC last Friday (Pedro) and 6a in the 15 last Tuesday. So that’s three in a week!

  6. I was slowed down by my belief that 12d had to be hyphenate, which almost (but not quite) worked.

  7. The turtle was tricky because I didn’t know where the definition was, and ALTERNATE was beyond me

    Had to add lots of bits and pieces to make up an answer sometimes, did make for a satisfying solve, for the clues I managed to parse

  8. All done today which was pleasing – but for the life of me I can’t see how “to fluctuate rapidly between two extremes” equates to ALTERNATE. Anyway, thanks to Joker for an enjoyable puzzle.

  9. Clues that really tickle me usually turn out to be “chestnuts” when I come here. So it was with PRONOUNCEMENT. And I was so proud of myself for working it out. Oh well – still gets COD from me!

    LOIs were ELABORATE and ALTERNATE, like Plett. It took me a while to see “American work” as LABOR rather than AMOP.

    Anyway, no serious delays on my way to 06:29 and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Kitty and Joker.


    1. The QC is for learning the tricks of solving and it’s only right that so-called ‘chestnuts’ should be given the occasional airing for newcomers to experience them.

      A little research in the archive has revealed this particular one (or variations on it) appeared in QCs twice in 2015, twice in 2017, and once in 2018, but never since until today. After a 6-year gap it was about due for resurrection!

    2. Me too on the “chestnut”! And I was not proud of myself at all for taking so very long. I kept trying to make “I” refer to some synonym of “Joker”! Oops.

  10. 4:45. Super crossword from Joker. Parsifal really is a long opera. I liked TEA, BRIEF and ALTERNATE too. Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  11. A gentle start to the week and my time of 12 minutes suggests I took it gently. I was held up by the very clever (in retrospect, once I had got it) Alternate, and the long anagram at Mistreatment also took time to emerge.

    I’m with Templar on the pleasure of solving Pronoucement, which was not diminished at all by the discovery that it was a chestnut. Even chestnuts give great pleasure when one meets and solves them for the first time.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

    1. Now and then a clue will have me grinning like an idiot, and today’s pronoun cement was definitely one of them!

  12. I thought I was heading for a PB with all but two done in 11 mins, only to then spend 10 mins stumped by ALTERNATE and ELABORATE which I had to come to the blog for. I’m glad I did as I would not have got them. ALTERNATE is very clever and gets my COD. The other clue, though, not so – use of American spellings and ‘key’ for a range of single letters always gets a frown from me.

    As an aside, I have lately noticed that I have had much more success with the bottom half of the QCs and so today decided to start at the bottom and work up. It seemed to work well but with only a single sample so far, I will give it a couple of weeks and report back.

    Thanks Kitty and Joker.

    1. The technique is always worth a try and I actually employed it myself today in the 15×15 with some success when I was unable to find more than a couple of early answers in the top half.

      There’s a theory that setters use up a lot of energy at the top of a grid and sometimes begin to run out of steam (or time) towards the bottom – especially in the SE corner. You can’t rely on this of course, but it’s something to bear in mind.

      1. An interesting theory that I think carries some weight. I often find more success in the bottom half of a crossword, and as I’ve pointed out before, I often find 1ac and 1dn the toughest to solve.

  13. Nice puzzle, ruined by fat fingers – AOOEAR also giving OLOTTER for 2 errors.


    4:53 but..

  14. 9’21 – agree with Kitty on the standouts.

    Like Prof, above, I found ELABORATE hard, and even when I got it took me a while to parse as I didn’t twig the American spelling reference immediately.

    LOI – ALTERNATE and also my COD probably

  15. 8:01 (Egbert of Wessex annexes Devon)

    ALTERNATE was my LOI and COD.

    Thanks Kitty and Joker

  16. Really enjoyed this workout from Joker. Shared Templar’s pride in working out PRONOUNCEMENT as it wasn’t a chestnut for me. Had to biff ALTERNATE – thanks Kitty for explaining what is clearly obvious!

  17. 5:12

    Gentle start to the week, aided considerably by biffing 1a (parsed later) which gave plenty of starting letters. Nice mix of clues from the Joker and thanks to Kitty for the blog.

  18. 11:33, back in the greens after too many pinks last week.

    LOI ELABORATE/ALTERNATE, I did not see work-American, so had AMOP which didn’t work. Whole clue is also “alternative-American”, as Americans use alternate and alternative as the same. I think there’s a clever clue in there.

    Loved PRONOUN+CEMENT, very clever.

  19. I enjoyed this one although spent far too long at the start on BOOST/BACKSLAPPING, mainly because I had OPERA as 1d instead of 8a meaning I was trying to think of footwear starting with an ‘O’ 🤪 Liked PRONOUNCEMENT, ALTERNATE and LOI ELABORATE which I bifd then parsed (American work – doh). Thanks for the blog kitty.

  20. 5.56

    Agree with comments that this was well pitched with some nice clues, amongst which I liked ALTERNATE and STATE OF THE ART

    Thanks Joker and Kitty

  21. Certainly a benign offering by the Joker’s standards, and I was comfortably within target at 7.19. One minor blip was to initially biff PLANNER for 9ac, but solving 5dn PRONOUNCEMENT showed me the error of my ways.

  22. A pleasant offering from Joker. I took my time and checked carefully, since my fat finger problem often manifests itself in longer answers. My LOI was indeed a PDM, but not quite COD for me.

    I noticed Mohn and Verlaine both submitted in under 2 minutes – I’m quite slow really.

    TIME 4:10

  23. Even though I was a dnf thanks to ELABORATE and PRONOUNCEMENT I thought this was a very well pitched QC with some lovely clues.
    Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  24. I started quickly on this but slowed down a lot when I was struggling with 12d, 5d and 11a.

    Fortunately the cat came to the rescue and gave me a little helping hand with them.

  25. I didn’t understand 12dn at all and eventually entered alternate with a shrug. I could see that both see-saws and yo-yos go up and down alternately but the ‘neat’ bit escaped me entirely. Thanks to Kitty for explaining it. Otherwise not too much trouble, completed in 14 minutes.

    FOI – 8ac OPERA
    LOI – 12dn ALTERNATE

  26. 15 mins…

    I really enjoyed this, and for once managed to be on the right wavelength to get some of the more cryptic clues – 3dn “State of the Art” and 12dn “Alternate” in particular. However, I took a strange route to get there, starting with 7dn and working my way around the grid in a clockwise spiral.

    FOI – 7dn “Friend”
    LOI – 12dn “Alternate”
    COD – 5dn “Pronouncement”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Well into my usual chair in the SCC with 24:27, a fair chunk of which was spent on ALTERNATE. Thank you to Kitty for the blog, very helpful!

  28. Finished and enjoyed. Yes, I too had to start at the bottom and finally wondered why on earth the top had seemed difficult. Liked BACKSLAPPING, FARMHOUSE, STATE OF THE ART, ELABORATE, among others.
    Failed to parse PRONOUNCEMENT initially, but maybe COD.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  29. 19:44
    Phew, just came in under my target time with my LOI’s ALTERNATE and ELABORATE (Biffed) taking 5 mins. Also biffed BACKSLAPPING – thanks Kitty for the explanations.
    As with Templar, felt very proud of myself when I worked out PRONOUNCEMENT (and ALTERNATE).
    Nice QC, a slow start circling through the clues to get checkers, to gradually populate the grid.
    FOI: 17ac RIB
    Thanks Kitty, and thanks to Joker.

  30. Was excited to see 2:xx on the clock with only one clue left to answer! Unfortunately it was ALTERNATE, which took me over a minute to crack. (Glad to see others struggled as well.) Finished in 4:01, obviously can’t complain about my time!

    Very solid puzzle. I was helped in my time by a good number of chestnuts, but the puzzle still felt fresh somehow.

  31. 9:39. Originally doubtful about see -saws and yo-yos giving ALTERNATE but otherwise really enjoyed the clue. When parsing NUT see-sawed between whether Knut or Cnut was the king then realized it didn’t matter. I have the capacity to enjoy chestnuts many times over due to fortunate increasing loss of memory. Shocked to learn Egbert and his West Saxons invaded Devon. I wonder if Plymouthian knows about this?

  32. Finished in 24 minutes, which is speedy for me, but slightly dissatisfying as I had to rely on quite a lot of biffing. I had NHO the opera, didn’t parse 1a until afterwards, wasn’t sure of the knight or antelope and had absolutely no idea what was going on with either ALTERNATE or PRONOUNCEMENT. Still, a result is a result and I will move on.

    Thanks to Joker and Kitty.

  33. CNUT failed to hold back the tide again as he dived into the grid and set me on my way. Having said that I had a relatively sluggish journey to LOI, ALTERNATE. There was no BACKSLAPPING until I’d been given a BOOST by the local CHEVALIER on his STATE OF THE ART BIDET. 9:00. Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  34. A Fellini for me, 8 and 1/2. Nice QC puzzle Joker, and thank you Kitty for explaining why ALTERNATE turned out to be right. I don’t care if PRONOUNCEMENT is a chestnut, it really worked for me and was COD. The mention of Cnut reminded me of the cute little polar bear who was in the news some years ago. When he died one of the TVs had a big banner behind the newsreader with the bear’s picture and the caption CNUT DIES. Unfortunately they transposed the two middle letters of little Cnut’s name…

  35. A better start to the week, with this all done and dusted in 9:24. I particularly liked OPERA, ELABORATE, PRONOUNCEMENT and FARMHOUSE. Although I’m not an opera fan (especially Wagner), Parsifal caused no problems – I both knew of the work and many years ago lived in Parsifal Road! ALTERNATE was tricky, and I’m glad I’m not a blogger who has to explain this sort of thing, especially first thing in the morning or just after midnight 😅 Thanks Kitty for making clear what I understood but couldn’t put into words!
    We’ve definitely seen quite a few BIDETs recently – STATE-OF-THE-ART or otherwise!
    FOI Opera LOI Alternate COD Backslapping
    Thanks Joker and Kitty

  36. 10 minutes for me on this enjoyable puzzle. LOI NUT.
    And I have just managed to finish the 15×15 today. Worth a look for aspiring QCers.

  37. I loved so many of the clues, most especially quivering Valerie! So I didn’t mind that the fast time I thought I would achieve stretched out many minutes for ELABORATE and (blush) PRONOUNCEMENT. Couldn’t account for the American in 11a until after I solved it, because *of course* labor is spelled that way. Or labour is spelt that way. Or something.

  38. Enjoyed many of the surfaces of this puzzle, especially those that gave the answers STATE-OF-THE-ART, FRIEND and TURTLE.

    Thanks Joker and Kitty.

  39. Biffed ELABORATE and ALTERNATE, but managed the rest reasonably quickly, given that I often struggle with Joker’s puzzles.

  40. Clog, shoe, sock then boot and finally I was off. The only two clues that really slowed me down were my last two ALTERNATE and ELABORATE. Lots to like including the clues for BACKSLAPPING and PRONOUNCEMENT but COD for me is ELABORATE. 7:23

  41. Was racing through mainly thanks to my down checkers (a common thing with me). But ALTERNATE took away my victory 😡

  42. Made it just under the hour again- thats 2 on the trot so fingers cross for tomorrow. Needed help from the blog to fully get the parsing on a couple – thanks Kitty.

  43. Held up by elaborate and alternate otherwise a fairly quick solve, relied on the checkers for some answers. About 25m which is good for us. Nice start to the week.

  44. 15:40 here and never managed to parse ALTERNATE, which retrospectively is very clever. Nice starting puzzle for the week.

    Thanks to Joker and Kitty.

  45. 8:12

    Gosh, that was easy. Perhaps too easy? My target is 20 minutes so to finish in a shade over 8 is rather unusual.

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