Times Quick Cryptic 2608 by Mara


Solving time: 8 minutes

Mostly straightforward for me, but how did you all do?

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 Show presenter in broadcast starring me! (10)
Anagram [broadcast] of STARRING ME
7 Untrustworthy in bed, perhaps? (5)
Two definitions of sorts
8 Heading for California, company following different boat leaves (7)
Anagram [different] of BOAT, C{alifornia} [heading for…], CO (company)
10 Wine in port I spoiled, certainly not bottled (5,4)
NO (certainly not) contained [bottled] by anagram [spoiled] of IN PORT I
12 Some tiger, a terrifying animal (3)
Hidden in [some] {tige}R A T{errifying}
13 Catch parent out (6)
Anagram [out] of PARENT
15 Man on board thrown vital rope, finally (6)
CAST (thrown), {vita}L + {rop}E [finally]. We all know that purists say ‘rook’, but ‘castle’ is also valid as confirmed by all the usual dictionaries.
16 Object assisting rowers, primarily? (3)
O{bject}+ A{ssisting} + R{owers} [primarily]
17 Chilean surprisingly screens commercial for Mexican dish (9)
Anagram [surprisingly] of CHILEAN contains [screens] AD (commercial)
20 Rubbish vehicle reversing — that’s driven across fields (7)
ROT (rubbish!) + CART (vehicle) [reversing]
22 From birth, that is removed from girl’s back (5)
NATAL{ie} [‘that is’ removed from girl’s back]
23 Cleaner words a pope used (4,6)
Anagram [used] of WORDS A POPE
1 Power drops, it’s said (5)
Sounds like [its said] “rain” (drops). I wasn’t sure of the equivalence here, but Collins has: reign (noun) – royal power, authority, or rule; sovereignty
2 Frightening prospect arming the jerks (9)
Anagram [jerks] of ARMING THE
3 In helmet, rookie underground (5)
Hidden [in] {hel}MET RO{okie}
4 Reserve   diver (3)
Two meanings – substitute player in sport / submarine
5 It’s only a part, but about right (7)
EXCEPT (but) containing [about] R (right)
6 Applauded on leaving, exhausted (7,3)
Two definitions of sorts
9 Where knives and forks are laid is up for discussion (2,3,5)
Two definitions of sorts
11 Fake ID general set straight (9)
Anagram [fake] of ID GENERAL
14 Huge blow to a party supporting Royal Navy (7)
TO, RN (Royal Navy), A, DO (party)
18 Freight in vehicle, move away (5)
CAR (vehicle), GO (move away)
19 Change rope with top sliced off (5)
{h}ALTER (rope) [with top sliced off]
21 First kitty up-ended (3)
POT (kitty – pool of money) reversed [up-ended]

79 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2608 by Mara”

  1. I was feeling quite happy and racing through this until EXCERPT and CASTLE really delayed my finish. I had been thinking about what man on board could be, but it took far too long for me to remember it could be referring to chess pieces, it’s one of those crossword-words I always get caught out by.
    Were there more anagrams than usual? I spotted them all quite quickly today (except for 1d), I often get held up.

  2. DNF, defeated by CASTLE, a clever clue that did not, in fact, involve an anagram of vital + the final e of rope. Annoying, but a decent QC that I did all but one of in about 12.

  3. I DNF this one but I didn’t hate it. I’ve never heard the term ‘clapped out’ for exhausted though, is it common?

    1. I think it’s reasonably common Tina, in the sense of old and worn out. It often seems to be applied to old cars to mean an old banger.

    2. It is in common usage. I believe the origin is of bells when they have been rung so many times (or poorly) that the clapper has damaged the bell.

  4. 8:45. Pleasant start to the week. Like LindsayO & vinyl1 I tried to make 15a an anagram of ‘vital’ + ‘e’ but eventually saw CASTLE. I never did get the parsing of NATAL. Favourite was OAR which I thought would do for an &lit.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack

  5. I biffed several, including, I think, NATAL, PINOT NOIR, TOBACCO, and probably others. Still couldn’t get under my target time. Glad to see CASTLE. 6:51.

  6. 21:50. I mislaid my anagram hat so this took me a long time. At one stage, I had the bottom half almost complete and the top half almost empty. Once all the letters of RINGMASTER moved into their rightful places, most of the top half then went in fairly quickly.

    Thanks to Jackkt and Mara.

  7. Defeated by EXCERPT and CASTLE so not a great start to the week for me. I found this one hard and am annoyed at myself for trying all the chess pieces but thinking of rook and not castle. Doh!
    Thanks Mara and Jackkt.

  8. Like Doofenschmirtz we had the bottom complete after FOI clapped out opened up lots. Lots of misdirection had us looking at wrong end of several clues and can’t believe our POI ringmaster was an anagram, was convinced broadcast meant homophone, grrr. Biffed my Mrs RH but we couldn’t parse. LOI also Exerpt. Also couldn’t parse pinot noir. All in all 33.20 for an enjoyable if trickier than normal start to the week.

    Thanks Mara and Jackkt

  9. It’s Monday, my regular DNF day, and today was no exception. Got most in good time but the last few defeated me. Hey-ho. Happy Monday, all. Pi

  10. Couldn’t see what was going on with 1a so started with CLAPPED OUT and all it’s offshoots and then made quick progress until getting breezeblocked by CASTLE, despite immediately thinking of chess pieces. Like others the vital + e anagram option took up far too much time.
    Finished in 6.27 with COD to REALIGNED.
    Thanks to Jack

  11. Miscounted my Ds so thought the NHO ‘soda powder’ was the cleaner – might have been like baking soda? Finally revisited and saw TOP immediately. Previously held up by CASTLE both because I was looking for a anagram of vital like everyone else but also I didn’t think of castle for rook – I didn’t try horsey for knight either. RINGMASTER held out for a long time. All green in 15.

  12. All flew in for a 5’5” near PB (think I once broke 5’). Would have been sub 5’ but I didn’t want to blow it so took a longer than necessary time over LOI TOP.

    Thanks Mara and Jackkt

  13. DNF with EXCERPT. Knew what was going on but could not get EXTRACT out of my head.

    NATAL parsing was tough.


  14. VITAL & E* = some kind of sailor wasted a lot of time…., so did EXCERPT. Everything else was OK.

    Taken a little over average time.

    I liked CLAPPED OUT


  15. 12:50. Slowed down by 1a, where I took forever to spot the obvious; only after having all the checkers and biffing RINGMASTER did I finally spot that I needed an anagram of “starring me”.

    Thanks Jack and Mara

  16. All straightforward except for the final EXCERPT/CASTLE crosser, where the nice bit of misdirection on ‘thrown’ was in a different league to the rest of the puzzle, making it LOI.

  17. I gave up with this one. I just found it tedious and boring to be honest. But then again I generally find Mara QCs to be quite dull. That wasn’t always the case. I used to really enjoy Mara QCs, but something changed.

    However, I did get all but six clues answered and was pleased with the ones I did answer, though I felt that 10a was unnecessarily convoluted.

    My verdict: Dull, but probably would have completed if the QC had retained my interest for longer.

    Pumpa’s verdict: Gone Fishing!

  18. I’d like to think a VALTIE is a vital sailor, but being sure he wouldn’t make it from the Mephisto to the Quickie I put CASTLE instead. Tricky in bits, 8.23.

  19. 12 minutes for me. LOI CASTLE.
    A tricky puzzle I thought.
    Took a while to see REIGN =Power.

  20. 6:24

    Seen the ‘Man on board’ thing enough times to think of chessmen fairly quickly, and CASTLE is a pretty common name for the rook (it often looks like a castle!). SOAP POWDER held me up but was able to work out without writing out the letters – otherwise pretty gentlish…

    Thanks Mara and Jack

  21. 18 min, including an age spent on parsing PINOT NOIR, not sure why. I remembered the ‘man on board’from previous QCs so it went straight in. I spent an age trying to make ‘through’fit in 5d (‘though’ meaning ‘but’ around the ‘r’ for ‘right’) and EXCERPT was my LOI. I seem to remember that one from a previous QC too; anyway as soon as I had all the checkers the word popped out and then the parsing.

  22. I didn’t think this was a particularly easy start to the week, although my time at 10.09 was only a few seconds outside my target time. I didn’t really get a foothold anywhere, and I was dodging all round the grid to get answers. It took me a little while to get CASTLE, even though I thought of the chess connection quite quickly. A quick run through of the pieces didn’t initially help, as I nominated rook as being the corner piece.

  23. 10:29. No problems, EXCERPT came quickly today as I’ve seen it a few times now. I like “of sorts” to indicate somewhat lukewarm approval!

  24. DNF as put MANTLE (despite not seeing how it worked) instead of CASTLE:just didn’t see that at all. Other big hold up was REIGN, but with R-I-N in, nothing else fitted. Lots of anagrams today.

  25. As a comparative newcomer to the sport, I rather like Mondays – a chance to feel slightly clever….a sensation that usually diminishes as the week progresses. However, today, I’m with Poison Wyvern and his feline friend. I was walking through treacle …then the blog showed that all answers were there, not hard to find…yet I was simply not on the wavelength. Nor did I get that ‘oh, that’s clever!’ response when being educated.
    Not sure what it that’s all about. I wait to see how Tuesday and I fare.

    1. Hello Too Often Lost and welcome to this delightfully eccentric forum. I look forward to reading about your experiences and to seeing your progress reflected in your name, from TOL to LOL (Less Often Lost), to NOL (Not ….), to RL (Rarely …) and so on. Good luck and enjoy the journey!

      1. Thank you : ) It could be a long journey. Just as I get my hopes up, they are dashed. Did smile at your possible monikers… let’s hope they loom large. Currently looming success frequently
        turns out to be a mirage. Will plod and mosey on. As S O’H said.. ‘tomorrow is…’

  26. Heavily over-caffeinated this morning and whether this is correlation or causation I made a very rare foray under 6 minutes. Along the way I had to reject the temptations of both LATVIE as a sailor and TAC as meaning “first” (well you never know).

    All done in 05:40 for a Red Letter Day. Many thanks Mara and Jack.


  27. I never really felt I was in control of this solve, dotting around and being held up/misled quite often, so it was a pleasant surprise that the clock stopped on just 12 minutes. I also queried Reign = power (modern monarchs tend to be more powerless than powerful) so thank you Jack for checking and clarifying.

    Main hold-ups though were parsing Pinot Noir – answer easy enough to biff but cluing No as “certainly not” is very sneaky in my book – and Realigned, where I got the clue completely the wrong way round and thought “set straight” was the anagrind and “fake” the definition.

    A good challenge to start the week. Many thanks Jack for the blog

  28. Took a long time to get RINGMASTER/REIGN/NIGHTMARE and then finally PINOT NOIR, so very much a bottom up solve. With hindsight really not sure why I made such heavy weather of all these clues. Not troubled by CASTLE or EXCERPT which went in fairly early on. Seemed a slow plod today but liked Mara’s misdirections. EXCERPT was COD. Many thanks Jack.

  29. My anagram hat must be in the wash, so another start on the back foot, with 1ac (and 6d! for that matter) needing crossers. Things improved later on, undoubtedly helped by Excerpt and Tornado having made recent appearances elsewhere, producing a comfortable sub-20 finish. Like others, Mara’s sneaky choice made the Vital + E combination too tempting to ignore, but that was soon dropped in favour of the chess piece. CoD to 14d, Tornado, for the parsing. Invariant

  30. All went swimmingly until I ground to a halt at the top, for a DNF that I wasn’t expecting. Foiled by REIGN/RINGMASTER/EXCERPT/TOBACCO/METRO.

    Thank you for the blog!

  31. I spent most of my time looking for an anagram of ID GENERAL that meant “Fake”. When I finally put in the answer REALIGNED the scales still hadn’t fallen. The “Real” in the answer made me sure that I was on the right track and this was a word Id never heard of meaning ersatz.

  32. A nice, do-able QC from Mara to ease us into the new week. RINGMASTER held out for quite some time, but LYING, RAT and ENTRAP got me up and running. As usual, I worked through the clues in order before dotting about the grid to fill in those I’d had trouble with. I smiled when CLAPPED OUT appeared and I wanted TOBACCO to be TaBAsCO. My L2I were REALIGNED and NATAL.

    Unusually, Mrs Random is (as I write) suffering from my usual ailment: namely LOI-itis. She has absolutely zoomed through the grid only to be blocked by CASTLE. Actually, she has now just got it and, despite her travails, has still managed to nick the family point away from me.

    Many thanks to Mara and Jack.

  33. Even before I looked at the name, I knew it was a Mara – and that was upside-down! With short clues taking up minimal space on the paper, it was obvious to me. And I made shorter work of this than most of last week’s beasts – 8:26, all done and dusted. So a good start to the week 😊
    It took a little while to get started, as my FOI proves. I liked a lot of these – RINGMASTER and SOAP POWDER made me chuckle, the surface for CASTLE was for vivid, and TORNADO being described as a huge blow was fun. I definitely didn’t find this one dull.
    FOI Rat LOI Excerpt (same problem as Vinyl) COD Realigned – which was the anagrind?!
    Thanks Mara and Jack

    I’m not a chess player but know that the rook and the castle is the same piece, but why has it got such different names, especially when it looks like a castle?

    1. As a boy I was taught that “rook” was a homophone for a Persian word meaning “chariot”, and that their war chariots towed a little fortress-like thing containing archers. We were also taught never to call it a castle, I think on the basis of nothing more than chess snobbery!

      1. Thanks Templar – I could have looked it up, but so much nicer to have it explained in person. I think I did know that rook was the preferred term – I never really understood that either.
        The last time I played chess was 50 years ago – I won and I realised then that it was unlikely to happen again, so decided to go out on a high 😂

      2. Oh that’s interesting. In Chinese chess, the piece that moves like a rook is called a chariot, and well, the Chinese character that labels it has a modern day meaning of ‘car’ so my dad (when teaching me how to play as a child) always called it a car piece. Maybe that’s the equivalent of calling a rook a castle

  34. 15 mins…

    I echo Jackkt here, I thought this was mainly straightforward – although it took me a while to get 15ac “Castle” and 5dn “Excerpt”.

    FOI – 3dn “Metro”
    LOI – 5dn “Excerpt”
    COD – 10ac “Pinot Noir” – although I liked 14dn “Torpedo” as well.

    Thanks as usual!

      1. Yep – I meant Tornado – but for some reason I had Torpedo on the brain right from the first time I saw the clue. Must have been the Royal Navy bit…

  35. 15.37 Slow going. I took far too long to spot some of the anagrams and like others I tried to make one of vital and e. Though I was pleased to quickly decipher “man on board” for once. RINGMASTER, REIGN and EXCERPT were the last three in. Thanks Jack and Mara.

  36. My main holdups were NIGHTMARE and RINGMASTER. I had to get most of the crossers before NIGHTMARE dropped in at which point RINGMASTER became obvious. CASTLE went straight in when I saw man on board and looked at the crossing letters. From METRO to NATAL in 6:58. Thanks Mara and Jack.

  37. Just pipping John D to the post! Similarly CASTLE wasn’t a problem but RINGMASTER was and ended up as my penultimate solve. My LOI because I needed the starting E was EXCERPT. 6:57

  38. Maybe I had too much PINOT NOIR last night, but my poor brain was CLAPPED OUT and the whole ENCHILADA was a NIGHTMARE in terms of time taken. It was truly inTRACTable and I was mentally ENTRAPped by much clever misdirection until at last I ALTERed and REALIGNED my view of several clever clues to finish. I’d be LYING if I claimed to have a TOP time, it was distinctly SUB par, and not in a good way. So put that TOBACCO in your pipe and smoke it!

    Thanks to our RINGMASTER Mara and blogger jackkt!

  39. Raced along for three quarters of this puzzle then ground to a halt.Put liars in for 7a and cat for 12a which caused most of the problems.

  40. A DNF with 15a Mantle – should have lingered over that Costa and seen the chess option. Grateful to Jackkt for the complete parsing of 10a Pinot Noir which went in on the basis of the crossers.
    FOI 12a Rat – an indication that I was very slow to get started this afternoon (but consoled myself with seeing it was by Mara)
    LOI 15 Mantle!
    COD has to be 6d Clapped Out, but chased by 17a Enchilada.

  41. DNF EXCERPT. I think I was too worn out by then. Biffed LOI CASTLE, RING MASTER, TOBACCO, NIGHTMARE.
    MER at vulgar 6d.
    Quite hard, I thought. Liked ALTER, TORNADO, SUB.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Jack.

  42. Very enjoyable puzzle thank you Mara.
    Took me my usual 30 minutes plus but I enjoy the challenge being fairly new to all this. Once ringmaster was in I could get excerpt. Wasn’t convinced rat was an animal – thought it was a rodent but it couldn’t have been anything else! Thanks Jackkt for the explanations.

  43. Busy day and tricky puzzle so a late entry for me. Was almost a DNF but for help from the Gentleman for RINGMASTER (he thinks he is one) after which the last few plopped in.

    I liked the rubbish vehicle being driven across the fields and the terrifying rat. I’ll probably have nightmares now.

    Thanks Mara and Jack.

  44. 17 minutes.

    Should have been a good time but forgot that broadcast can mean an anagram. Didn’t care for jerks as an anagram indicator, but that is me being grumpy.

    I suppose I should be pleased with this, but there was too much biffing and not enough parsing for me to count this as a satisfying day.

    Thanks for the blog.

Comments are closed.