Times Quick Cryptic 2626 by Teazel – rated PG

Hi everybody.  This felt a bit harder than usual for a Monday; it took me just under my average time for a midweek QC.  It was fiddlier to write up than some too.  You might expect 8a’s OUNCE to be my COD, and why resist being predictable?  I’d expect most of you to pick something else: there are other simple but effective clues to choose from, and some intricate constructions to admire if that’s your thing.  Thanks Teazel!

Parental Advisory: there are references to illness, injury and death, plus a gory kiss (even if it is just a PECK) so you may need courage, or NERVE, to tackle the puzzle.  The fetish in 5a, however, is of the kind suitable for all.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, most 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 Briefly, country squire in poverty (8)
INDIGENT — Without the last letter (briefly), INDIa (country) + GENT (squire)
5a One party line becomes a fetish (4)
IDOL I (one) + DO (party) + L (line)
8a Large cat formerly seen round university (5)
OUNCE ONCE (formerly) is found outside (seen round) U (university)
9a Upsetting but rewarding service (7)
TIPPING — Two definitions: tilting or overturning, or giving a gratuity
11a Spirited perhaps but anonymous author (5-6)
GHOST-WRITER — Cryptic definition, punning on “spirited”.  I enjoyed this recent article by one such anonymous writer, although it is plugging a book
13a Puts to rest every agreement? (6)
ALLAYS — The agreement here is AY (another spelling of AYE), so ALL AYS = every agreement
14a Struggle to get girl back in city (6)
VIENNA VIE (struggle) + ANN (girl) reversed (back)
17a Furtive air at reorganised administrative department (11)
SECRETARIAT SECRET (furtive) + AIR AT anagrammed (reorganised)
20a So frog went and died (7)
CROAKED — Two meanings
21a Courage is never wasted (5)
NERVE — This is an anagram of (… wasted) NEVER
22a Potentially, online agent’s spot (4)
ESPY — An ESPY could potentially mean an online secret agent
23a Chap handin’ out instrument (8)
MANDOLIN MAN (chap) + DOLIN’ (handin’ out)
1d Press contributing to environment (4)
IRON — The answer is part of (contributing to) envIRONment
2d County girl finished first (7)
DONEGAL GAL (girl) with DONE (finished) first
3d Film star’s good about bloody kiss (7,4)
GREGORY PECK G (good) + RE (about) + GORY (bloody) + PECK (kiss)
4d Write down music: number above gallery (6)
NOTATE NO (number) above TATE (gallery)
6d The meaning of a pile of snow (5)
DRIFT — Double definition
7d Cricket ball that would land one in hospital (3,5)
LEG BREAK — Definition (as you would find in a dictionary) plus literal meaning (the kind of leg break thesps wish each other because “good luck” is supposed to be bad luck)
10d Separated, note, catch up with one single daughter (11)
PARTITIONED TI (note) and TRAP (catch) reversed (up) followed by I (one), ONE (single) and D (daughter)
12d Lots of people lying over area of ground, after this? (8)
MASSACRE MASS (lots of people) above (lying over) ACRE (area of ground), semi-&lit
15d An ultra revolutionary is unaffected (7)
NATURAL — An anagram of (… revolutionary) AN ULTRA
16d Beach artist is a woman (6)
SANDRA SAND (beach) + RA (Royal Academician, artist)
18d Childish affliction initially resolved in major success (5)
CROUP — The first letter of (initially) Resolved in COUP (major success)
19d Control power of monarch in speech (4)
REIN — REIGN (power of monarch), sound-alike (in speech)

72 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2626 by Teazel – rated PG”

  1. All green in about 23 minutes for me this morning. This was a fair puzzle, I felt, but I shall nonetheless still be joining the Special Table for the rest of the day. That said I enjoyed this one with only MASSACRE, SECRETARIAT and (LOI) TIPPING really holding me up. So it’s a good start to the week at 1/1 so far. Woo hoo!
    Thanks to Teazel and Kitty.

  2. I knew I was going to be in trouble when I thought ‘festival’ was a possible answer to what ended up being MASSACRE. Whatever wavelength is I wasn’t on it. I’ve heard of GREGORY PECK (my mental block is to think he’s George Peppard – whose work I am much more familiar with). Took to the internet to see when Gregorgy Peck died – only 2003 and a lot later than George Peppard I can’t feel too indignant). Found PARTITIONED, INDIGENT and SECRETARIAT hard too which starved me of checkers. A tough day. All green in 16.

  3. 10.03, quicker than I expected at the start when one clue after another refused to yield until I resorted to the downs and broke my duck with DONEGAL. TIPPING and PARTITIONED were LOsI, and the lower half seemed to go in a lot quicker than the earlier clues. Thanks to Kitty and Teazel. Kitty I think at 17ac SECRETARIAT the solution is SECRET (furtive) plus an anagram of AIR AT rather than FURTIVE AIR AT reorganised. COD to GREGORY PECK.

  4. Thanks for the explanations Kitty. I DNF but disagree with you on explanation of 17a. Furtive = Secret plus anagram of air at. My COD is never wasted….

  5. I found this pretty hard at about 1.5 times average, and was surprised to see the QUITCH, which showed I was just off the wavelength. NHO INDIGENT or OUNCE, and at the time couldn’t quite see how REIGN = “power of ruler” (although when writing this I thought of “their reign” = “their time in power” and “reigning” = “in power”).
    I only got a very few clues quickly, which meant I struggled for checkers, but the clues are fair and I knew if I had the answer (except when I lacked the GK, but was still relatively confident).

  6. No problems that I can recall; but then I can’t recall the puzzle. I was told years–nay, decades– ago that ‘Break a leg!’ was out, and that one said ‘Shit!’. 5:03.

  7. Maybe a busy weekend lead to brain fog but this was a toughie here. Took ages to really get started with odd clues around the grid surrendering. Fixated on shopped for frog but knew it didn’t quite parse. Cod to croaked at the PDM.

    A long 43.16 finally got there with partitioned and espy unparsed, thanks kitty for unravelling those.

    Thanks Teazel for the work out.

  8. A challenging start to the week, as I took nearly 14 minutes to come home. Like LindsayO, I started with a run of blanks on the across clues and only began to fill the grid when I switched to looking at the downs. I’m sure I’ve seen Donegal clued like that before, but I was delighted to see it again as it prove my FOI. Slow but steady was the watchword from there on, with Partitioned the biggest hold-up, both to get it and then subsequently to parse it.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog.

  9. 10 minutes. My only problem was carelessly putting NEUTRAL at 15dn which held me up at 17ac until corrected. The anagrist didn’t fit, nor did the definition on reflection, so I don’t know what I was thinking of.

  10. This felt like I had a serious case of Mondaymorningitis but I see that I’ve got some good company in finding this quite tricky.
    After about 6 minutes I still had a very blank looking grid so decided to take a break and do Wordle which seemed to do the trick as, on returning, things started to make more sense and I crossed the line in 10.27 with the TIPPING/PARTITIONED pair.
    Thanks to Kitty.

  11. 5:11. I was a bit slow in seeing both the long down answers. Maybe I’ll remember what INDIGENT means now – I didn’t until I solved 1A. Thanks Teazel and Kitty.

  12. I thought this seemed quite tricky as I was solving it, and was surprised to finish under 5 minutes.

    Lots of good clues – MANDOLIN, CROAKED, NERVE. LOI was SANDRA.


  13. I found this very hard, needing 19:33 to complete. I didn’t help things by mistyping NEUTRAL for 15d, which greatly delayed SECRETARIAT, since I was looking for words ending in U, and thus thinking Furtive must be part of the anagrist.
    L2I were GREGORY PECK (eventually trawled from the back of my memory) and ALLAYS.
    Nice to see our old friend the OUNCE making an appearance.

    Thanks Teazel and Kitty

  14. Stinkerooni! Not at all surprised to come here and find it was a Teazel … boy that was tough, with a few clues that definitely escaped from the 15 (looking at you, INDIGENT and PARTITIONING).

    Admittedly I didn’t help myself by glancing at the anagram at 15d and bunging in “neutral” without checking the anagrist. And unfortunately that gave three correct checkers, so it took me ages to see that it was wrong. Grrr.

    Stumbled across the line next to Plett in 10:21 for 2K and a Bad Day. I need coffee.

    Many thanks Teazel and Kitty. COD to NERVE for the wonderfully smooth surface.


  15. After a good run of finishes last week, this one stopped me in my tracks. Could not see GREGORY PECK, had bloody=red and kiss=x.

    OUNCE is a crossword-only word for me, like OCELOT.

    Never really knew what INDIGENT meant: thought it vaguely like INDIGNANT or INDIGENOUS.

  16. So many girls!

    How dreamy was Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch though. My high school English lit movies were How to Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo + Juliet (baz luhrman version), Bladerunner and the Outsiders

    All movies with very handsome leads that probably informed my sexuality somewhat.

    1. My kids point out that whilst I think they see me as Atticus Finch, they actually see me as the William H. Macy character in Shameless. Harsh but fair.

      (It doesn’t help that the Shameless family shares our surname).

  17. I struggled to a 33min finish today. I did not know INDIGENT meant in poverty or that OUNCE is an old term for a snow leopard. Nice to gain some GK.
    I spent too long wondering what ‘potentially’ was doing in 22a and still think the clue didn’t need it. It took me an age to assemble PARTITIONED but the satisfaction when I eventually did makes that my COD.
    Thanks Kitty and Teazel

  18. After a fruitless struggle with the Sunday 15×15, this seemed straightforward mainly.
    I was home in 8 minutes. POI CROUP quite tricky and LOI was ESPY.
    With hindsight, I think I solved the clues in the right order so I didn’t waste time on the tougher ones.

    1. Ha, my experience also – simply can’t get the last two clues of the Sunday, despite coming back to it, and even using aids!

    2. Same problem on the Sunday 15×15 for me. I usually finish it, but defeated this week. I think it was the toughest for some time

      1. I don’t enjoy the Saturday/Sunday puzzles, so stopped attempting them. Part of it is not having the blog until a week later.

        1. I do them (or try to, not successfully yesterday) but do miss the blog. By the time I get to the following weekend I’ve forgotten what I found difficult or interesting.

  19. I found this really hard today. No time as the app timer wasn’t working for some reason, but easily over 30 mins. I did get there all on my own, but that was a slog.

    NHO OUNCE as a cat. Maybe Pumpa will have known that one.

    And, what a joy, some random names just to wind me up even more (ANN, SANDRA). I can sort of forgive Gregory Peck as that is GK.

    Happy Monday. Pi

  20. Have just realised I failed to parse PARTITIONED, so thanks for the explanation, Kitty. That and the crossing TIPPING were my last in. I would be a lot quicker at these if I always looked at alternative possible meanings, such as for upsetting. I toyed with the idea that a beach artist could be called a ‘sandie’, but luckily MANDOLIN brought me back to earth. No real holdups – nice puzzle.

  21. I found this to be on the tough side, but even so I think I would have made my target if I hadn’t made the foolish mistake of putting NEUTRAL in for 15dn, which of course had repercussions on the difficult anagram at 17ac. I see Jackkt made the same mistake as well, I wonder if any others will? I took a while to get MASSACRE, but once solved SECRETARIAT then followed and finally the rogue NATURAL. A good puzzle, but I feel a disappointing time of 12.14 could have been better.

  22. Again one of those where the timer shows some people finishing the grid before I had managed to get my first one in. Stopped at 30 minutes with 4 remaining. Better luck tomorrow

  23. I found this one tricky to finish, needing Pumpa’s help with 1a.

    Not so gentle start to the week.

    I really don’t believe ysbwrielllwyr’s scores on the online leaderboard. They always seem to score around the 1:30 mark. I suspect it’s a case of solve offline, then type in the answers online as quickly as possible. 🤔


    My verdict: Tricky but enjoyable
    Pumpa’s verdict: Meow!

    1. Your suspicions are borne out by Starstruck: he/she leads the list of neutrinos. If you go to the SNITCH, click on ‘neutrino’ at the top of the page.

      1. The Neutrino report was a fascinating read!

        “ This is actually pretty straightforward if you know a little maths…”

        “…if you know a little maths…” That’s me out for a start. 🤣

  24. 5:44

    I found this to be quite a gentle Monday morning offering from Teazel. Though I wrote in only five acrosses on the first pass, the downs were more generous and provided lots of useful checkers – didn’t have to think too hard for the longer words – the only answer I couldn’t have defined off the bat was INDIGENT, but the wordplay was clear.

    Thanks Kitty and Teazel

  25. Found this tough today, requiring a lot of staying power. Got there…eventually. Last two in were ALLAYS (ho ho) then LOI MASSACRE. Couldn’t get 1a for ages as it’s a word I’m only vaguely familiar with and I definitely needed the ‘D’ from DONEGAL (which also had me foxed for a while). OUNCE is known only from crosswordland. Totally misdirected by ESPY which gets COD, although TIPPING was also a contender. Much to like as ever with a Teazel puzzle. Thanks Kitty.

  26. 15:31 with post football hangover.
    Also fell for the neutral trap which needed rectifying before I could then get secretariat and LOI espy.
    COD leg break or croaked.

    15×15 is worth a go today. Currently 63 on snitch.

  27. FOI IDOL and LOsI PARTITIONED and TIPPING. I got GREGORY PECK very quickly which was essential for solving CROAKED. I wasted time today bunging in vERVE instead of NERVE, NeutRAL instead of NATURAL and reLAYS instead of ALLAYS but still managed to cross the line in 8:40. Thanks all.

  28. I didn’t find this too tricky, so I’m bucking the trend a bit here. All done in 14 minutes, but not all parsed. I had to come here for the parsings for ALLAYS and PARTITIONED and didn’t fully parse GREGORY PECK. Thanks to Kitty for the enlightenment.

    FOI – 5ac IDOL
    LOI – 19dn REIN
    CODs – 11ac GHOST WRITER and 20ac CROAKED

    Thanks to Teazel and Kitty

  29. Home in 21.18, about average for me. No significant problems, although I ended up biffing partitioned. I saw the last 5 letters but needed the crossers for the biff. Thanks to Teasel for the work out and Kitty for the entertaining blog.

  30. Like Templar I carelessly threw in “neutral” and had to correct it when I got SECRETARIAT. I was further slowed down by resolving three cases of fat finger (luckily spotted before submission for a change).

    TIME 4:35

  31. DNF.
    Much too hard for me.
    Went straight to the answers.
    Very depressing way to start the week.

  32. Tough. Struggled with PARTITIONED (couldn’t parse at all), INDIGENT (didn’t know it meant poverty) and SECRETARIAT. Hard work.

  33. Started very quickly, then a bit of a stagger, then a nice finish.
    LOI and COD to Secretariat for the smooth surface.
    Only a couple of seconds behind Busman today, which is a rare but satisfying achievement at my level of solving.

  34. I’ve recently started attempting the easier 15×15 puzzles, and typically find them more approachable than today’s QC. After half an hour I had a miserable eight answers in the grid, which I think is my worst performance since I started subscribing – brain not switched on, perhaps. All done (with a sigh of relief) in 43:04, LOI ESPY.

    I’m surprised at the rating on the Quitch today, and I wonder to what extent it’s influenced by all you clever-clogses banging in decent times. It would be interesting to see what the score would be if the reference solvers were habitual SCC members.

    Thank you Kitty!

    1. Yes, I’m sure a very tough QC like this slows the times of our top solvers only relatively slightly, whereas SCC regulars (like me) are knocked for six and have to spend maybe 20, 30, 40 or more minutes before they cross the line – if they do at all.
      The Quitch is a great metric, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

      1. My feelings too SRC. Today was a long slog, but I did have the GK for OUNCE (only exists in crosswordland?) and GREGORY PECK (I’m old!).

  35. I’m another member of the NEUTRAL club, which had me looking for the anagram of (furtive air at)* until that idea was MASSACREd. I got off to a quick start with IRON, OUNCE and IDOL, but got very few of the rest of the across clues on the first or second passes. PARTITIONED was biffed, TIPPING and LEG BREAK were last 2 in. Quite tough I thought. 13:27. Thanks Teazel and Kitty.

  36. Mondayitis, or stupidity, I really struggled to finish this, and LOI ESPY delayed me further. As often, it didn’t seem so tricky in hindsight. I’m not great on films, so Mr Peck took some working out; somewhat before my time. The cat also had me flummoxed until I concentrated on the cryptic rather than just fishing for cats. Liked the dead frog.

  37. 30:21 – I suppose I should be pleased to at least complete it as there was a time perhaps six months ago where I would have been much slower.

    Second worst showing of the year, if measuring by number of clues left at SCC cut-off which was ten.

    NHO INDIGENT. Couldn’t parse the AYS part of ALLAYS (seems weak) and ESPY needed the checkers. VIENNA LOI partly because I just ignored it once I had the checkers and figured it would need an alphabet trawl. Fortunately didn’t take too long as saw VIE.

    If this is Monday, I’m not looking forward to the rest of the week. My spideysense kept me away from it this morning until I had more time.

  38. About 12′, at least a reasonable amount of which was spent trying to parse the wrongly spelt “Sienna” before realising other cities were available..

  39. 33 mins…

    Definitely felt more on the tricky side, and took two sittings to get a few in the NW corner. Liked 20ac “Croaked” and 12dn “Massacre”. For some reason, tried to fit Gregory’s Girl into 3dn, but realised eventually the letters wouldn’t fit.

    FOI – 6dn “Drift”
    LOI – 12dn “Massacre”
    COD – 3dn “Gregory Peck”

    Thanks as usual!

  40. I found this one difficult to get going and was pleased to finish. Having said that I really enjoyed a lot of the clues, especially CROAKED, MANDOLIN and GREGORY PECK.
    Thanks Teasel and Kitty.

  41. 14.04 WOE. I really should have spotted that a COOP is the place where chickens live, not a major success. The spelling of CROUP should stick in my head now. DONEGAL took an age to come to mind despite being one of the four counties my grandparents came from. Anyway, I thought this was a nicely pitched challenge. Thanks Kitty and Teazel.

  42. 4:37 means I avoided the bear traps. Maybe had the inside running with a cricket reference, my ancestral home county, a childhood ailment that we saw a bit too much of and a favourite actor.

    Thanks Teazel for the fun puzzle and Kitty for the great blog.

  43. We found it hard to get going today and were amongst those hoping to be consoled with a rather higher QSnitch. Nevertheless, finished in about 15:50 and enjoyed many of the clues, random names excepted. Thanks, Teazel and Kitty.

  44. The stats from my first 1,000 QCs (reported last Friday, if anyone’s interested) indicated that I find Teazel the most challenging of all the regular setters and his offering today reinforced that finding.

    My FOI didn’t arrive until 5 minutes had ticked by and I had only four solutions written in after 10 minutes. My pace then picked up slightly, but soon slowed again to a crawl. Most of the LHS, including the entire SW corner, remained blank until sometime after the 40 minute mark. My last two in were MASSACRE and ESPY, but I could list 8-10 other clues that gave me serious trouble. Total time = 63 minutes, so it has to go in the ‘Oh well, never mind’ category.

    Mrs Random also found the going quite tough today. She finished well ahead of me in a more creditable 39 minutes, but she was on the verge of jacking it in just beforehand.

    Many thanks to Teazel and Kitty.

  45. DNF but enjoyed it all the same. Failed on ESPY and TIPPING, and revealed MASSACRE.
    Hard work, I thought, but fun in parts. A mixture of fairly easy and vv hard. FOI IDOL/LEG BREAK, good to see GREGORY PECK but only us oldies will remember him – except, I see above, some of you youngsters mention Atticus Finch.
    Liked CROAKED, DONEGAL, NERVE (PDM), CROUP, DRIFT, as well as Greg.P.
    Thanks vm, Kitty. I didn’t even try to parse PARTITIONED or SECRETARIAT.
    Does Furtive = secret? Not quite, imo. Earworm for opera fans: ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima.’


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