Times Quick Cryptic 2650 by Pedro

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

Hello everybody.  I completed this in a normal kind of time, with a normal level of enjoyment … and as normal I can’t choose a favourite!  I mean, I could be predictable and go with 7d, certainly my pet answer, but I also like the story hinted at in 22a and plenty more.  I expect to see a variety of nominations for Clue of the Day.  Thanks Pedro!

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 Being noisy is possibly vice of ours (10)
VOCIFEROUS — An anagram of (possibly) VICE OF OURS.  I think this also works if the definition is just “noisy”, with “being” a kind of link word
8a I put on a different description of ideal world (7)
UTOPIAN — An anagram of (… different) I PUT ON A
9a Disney character in book with reduced scope (5)
BAMBI B (book) + AMBIt (scope) without the last letter (reduced …)
10a Steal post, disposing of first letter (4)
TAKE — sTAKE (post), removing (disposing of) its first letter
11a Particular group bridging river in Southwestern county (8)
SOMERSET SOME SET (particular group) going across (bridging) R (river)
13a Force and pressure producing pain in muscle? (5)
CRAMP CRAM (force) and P (pressure)
14a Study not productive involving reading primarily (5)
LEARN LEAN (not productive) including (involving) the first letter of (… primarily) Reading
16a A lot of sin and passion seen around a religious dwelling (8)
VICARAGE — All but the last letter of (a lot of) VICe (sin) and RAGE (passion) seen around A
17a Plan One not working? Not quite (4)
IDEA I (one) + DEAd (not working) without the last letter (not quite)
20a Greek character and article coming with thanks (5)
THETA THE (article – a grammatical article) + TA (thanks)
21a Orchestra and artist interrupting an unimpressive performer (4-3)
ALSO-RAN LSO (orchestra – the London Symphony Orchestra) and RA (Royal Academician: artist) entering (interrupting) AN
22a Countess’s foremost milliner linked to TV gossip (10)
CHATTERBOX Countess’s first or foremost letter + HATTER (milliner) + BOX (TV)
1d Very grown-up to avoid opening of dark cellar (5)
VAULT V (very) + A[d]ULT (grown-up) removing (to avoid) the first letter (opening) of Dark
2d I obsess over timepiece, timepiece found in opening of college cupboard (5-7)
CLOCK-WATCHER WATCH (timepiece) found in the initial letter (opening) of College plus LOCKER (cupboard)
3d Market offering equal opportunities? (4)
FAIR — Double definition
4d Organised party with Mike on an irregular basis (6)
RANDOM RAN (organised) + DO (party) + M (Mike, radio codeword)
5d Unusual rum label covering a lot of things (8)
UMBRELLA — An anagram of (unusual) RUM LABEL
6d Criminal activity? Son with mother’s handbag possibly about right (5-3-4)
SMASH-AND-GRAB S (son) with MAS mother’s + an anagram of (… possibly) HANDBAG around (about) R (right)
7d Equipment to look after tailless pet (6)
KITTEN KIT (equipment) + TENd (to look after) without its last letter (tailless)
12d Native American mostly adopting expert methodology (8)
APPROACH APACHe (Native American) mostly taking in (adopting) PRO (expert)
13d Birmingham maybe securing a victory, initially hollow (6)
CAVITY CITY (Birmingham maybe) around (securing) A and Victory initially
15d Shocked a leader in Guardian has to appear before leader in Times (6)
AGHAST A + the first letter of (leader in) Guardian + HAS preceding (to appear before) the leader in Times
18d Additional building has former Queen cross (5)
ANNEX ANNE (former Queen) + X (cross)
19d One auction disposing of a piece of land (4)
ISLE I (one) + S[a]LE (auction) removing (disposing of) A

81 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2650 by Pedro”

  1. This was an encouraging start to my QC week coming in, as I did, all green in about 19 minutes. My last one in was UMBRELLA and my favourites were ALSO RAN, which raised a smile when I saw the orchestra, and SOMERSET – after having fallen into the trap of lazily biffing Cornwall, which consequently slowed me down in the NE corner considerably.
    Thanks to Pedro and Kitty.

  2. One of our best times at 19.20 this morning.

    Seemed to be a lot of clues needing a letter dropping from a word, but we found them all quite quickly.

    COD to the sin and passion going on in the vicarage.

    Thanks Pedro and Kitty for the parsing of clock watcher which was obviously involving clock and watch but didn’t spot locker.

  3. Got bunged up in the SW taking a while to see how to describe Birmingham and being slow to see how to parse CLOCK WATCHER as well as being tempted by a misspelled Synagogue just on the strength of ‘sin’ in the clue. Ended up finishing in 16 but with a pink square where I inaccurately corrected a typo I’d spotted – the across not the down clue got highlighted so I then had two mistyped clues and carlessly corrected the across clue I’d mucked up trying to correct a down (ended up with UTOtIAN after deleting the P when trying to correct a double L in CLOCK WATCHER).

    1. Been there, done that, feel your pain. Typing across when meaning to type down is so irritating.

  4. I never parsed CLOCK-WATCHER, in fact never looked at the clue. I’d say the definition in 1ac is ‘noisy’, an adjective like VOCIFEROUS, not ‘being noisy’. 6:15.

  5. 13:58 … steady solve. Parsing some of the clues seemed to be tougher than getting to the answers.

  6. LOI CLOCKWATCHER as I spent ages trying to parse it. COD CHATTERBOX which I enjoyed. On par 24 minutes to step into the club for a coffee and croissant in my usual corner.
    Thanks Kitty and Pedro.

  7. 8.13. FOI VOCIFEROUS, LOI the TAKE/CLOCK-WATCHER axis. Thanks Pedro and Kitty for parsing clock-watcher, I just biffed it and wondered vaguely where the cupboard was.

  8. Fast start to the week, all done and parsed in 6 minutes. Most unusual as I often find Pedro chewy. Some great clues but COD to Chatterbox because it looked so unlikely on first read of the clue.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

  9. A swiftish start to the QC week. I would have been quicker if I hadn’t bunged in VAgue at 1d….should have read the whole clue! I also needed to solve ANNEX before I got BOX. FOI VOCIFEROUS and LOI SOMERSET in 7:04.

  10. 13:22. Standard stuff. Standard time.

    The first Native American that came to mind was Apache, even though there are quite a few well known tribes, but then I had APACEACH (expert=ACE) before re-thinking.

    Also lazily biffed CORNWALL with an O sitting there at the second letter, and it had CON + WALL surrounding R. After actually reading the clue I tried Devon and Dorset.

    I always spell Annexe, and without an e at the end it looks as odd as ax.

    COD CHATTERBOX, but slim pickings. None of the clues seemed particularly COD-worthy today.

    1. Quite agree with you over annexe; ANNEX is one of those US spellings which our UK dictionary annoyingly also allows.

  11. 14 mins…

    Nice start to the week. Initially biffed “Adult” for 1dn, but realised fairly quickly it was wrong. The rest went in steadily, with only my LOI 12dn “Approach” making me hesitate. Never properly parsed 9ac “Bambi” – not that I needed to – and it felt pretty apt as I was looking out of the window at April showers (or hail – seems to change every other minute).

    FOI – 1dn “Vault”
    LOI – 12dn “Approach”
    COD – 4dn “Random”

    Thanks as usual!

  12. 4:15. No inhabitants of the stables were troubled. LOI TAKE only because I’d missed it. Thanks Pedro and Kitty.

  13. 8’00” (glad I looked when LOI SOMERSET went in because the app clock didn’t stop and congratulate me as usual).

    Steady build bouncing around the grid. No favourites but liked all clues.

    Thanks Pedro and Kitty

  14. 12 minutes for all of this bar 2d. I needed another 5 to get LOI CLOCK WATCHER; just could not get the Cupboard bit until I did the alpha trawl to W, starting at A.
    Some nice clues but, as noted, hard to pick a COD.

  15. 12:12 So par score.

    Annoyingly got held up by isle and LOI also ran where I was looking at the definition as orchestra.
    I also checked my crossword list of terms which I don’t use much now, and LSO wasn’t on there which was a surprise.

    COD also ran

  16. Failed to parse VAULT (stupidly) and CLOCK-WATCHER, but pleased to finish (without aids).
    COD VICARAGE, surely, but liked CAVITY and SOMERSET too (UMBRELLA told me it wasn’t Cornwall after all).
    Rather too many clues depending on the dropping of a letter – and I think unusually, not one hidden.

  17. I got to LOI APPROACH just inside 10 minutes I had plenty of time to check that time as I took a further minute and a half trying to get Arapaho out of my head for Apache and to see that mostly adopting expert wasn’t AC(E) but PRO. I also had to parse CLOCK-WATCHER post solve – clever clue.

  18. Feeling a bit of a clot as I just couldn’t see LOI FAIR, although this clue is probably about as easy as it gets 😆 No trouble with the rest which went in fairly smoothly. CsOD to VICARAGE and ALSO-RAN. Thanks kitty.

  19. 12:29 (Dafyfdd ap Llewelyn formally acknowledged as Llewelyn’s heir, to the exclusion of his elder brother Gruffydd)

    Steady going. Took a while to see VOCIFEROUS. APPROACHES was my LOI.
    ALSO-RAN was my COD. I heard the LSO at the Barbican last week, performing Daphnis and Chloe, plus the UK premiere of Marsalis’s trumpet concerto.

    Thanks Kitty and Pedro

  20. Struggled with a small number of clues meaning Pumpa had to come to the rescue. Neither of us have heard of ALSO-RAN. We both feel this is a made up phrase that the setter got by grabbing seven random letters from a Scrabble board and making a word up with the letters in hand 🤣


    My verdict: Not bad, could have been worse

    Pumpa’s verdict: 😼

    1. I thought of Pumpa earlier as I stumbled across an Instagram page called BeingAnOrangeCat, which unsurprisingly, is dedicated to orange cats. Perhaps Pumpa is the channel owner?

    2. But ALTO-RAN is in the dictionaries, both American and British. I’ve seen it a lot in my many years.

  21. A bit of a coin toss as to whether this was a sub-20 or not, with loi Umbrella needing to be written out horizontally before becoming obvious. Messing around earlier with a possible -able ending fortuitously prompted Learn, which helped to make up time lost with Cornwall. My own choice for CoD is 15d, Aghast, for the double meaning of leader. Invariant

  22. I had all but the NE done in 10 mins and it then took another 9 to do the last 5 or so clues. Held up by Bambi and Kitten (that’s a phrase I never thought I would say) and Somerset (which I had convinced myself would be Dorset with the name of a river in it). When I finally nailed Bambi (… ditto … phrase) it all fell into place.

    COD to unusually clued Clockwatcher.
    Thanks Kitty and Pedro, good fun today.

  23. Reasonably straightforward, a few biffs – CLOCK WATCHER leaps to mind. I liked VICARAGE, and SOMERSET was my LOI, which is a bit odd, as I spend quite a lot of time there escaping the broils and fumes of SW London.


  24. 8:56

    LOI -WATCHER, after too long with a bizarre fetishist CLOCK-FANCIER in my head.

    Enjoyed it, thanks Kitty and Pedro.

  25. 8.11

    Just couldn’t see VOCIFEROUS which together with FAIR were my last two in in an anti clockwise solve. ALSO-RAN was quite clever

    Thanks Pedro and Kitty

  26. VOCIFEROUS was FOI. I failed to parse CLOCK WATCHER as I obsessed on the clock being the timepiece. Doh! No particular problems elsewhere. LOI was CHATTERBOX. 8:20. Thanks Pedro and Kitty.

  27. 19:02. I thought timepiece, timepiece gave CLOCK and WATCH and then had no idea what to do with ER! CHATTERBOX and ALSO-RAN were great but COD to APPROACH.

  28. Was pleased to be on form after my holiday – managing this in one sitting.

    Lots to make me smile – especially those stealing the post at 10A, the grown ups avoiding the openings to the dark cellar and that umbrella at 5D which was very much needed here this morning!


    LOI Approach – I biffed then parsed that one.

  29. 48:43 I think I have a CRAMP in my brain, or possibly a CAVITY where my brain should be. Having failed to even APPROACH ALSO-RAN status today, I’m AGHAST and have no IDEA when my thinking processes will return to normal. Probably it’s best not to be a CLOCK-WATCHER and simply TAKE my time and enjoy all the great clues. Which they were! Ok, ISLE stop being such a CHATTERBOX (COD) now, over and out until thANNEX time.

    Thanks setter and blogger!

    1. 😂😂😂 Sorry you had a rough day, but it was worth it (well from my point of view) for the terrific post!! Fingers crossed you’ll have a different story to tell tomorrow 😊

  30. 5.50 so nearly a minute over my target time. All fair I thought, and like Jack I only parsed idea and clockwatcher after the event. Thanks Setter and Kitty.

  31. Finally, a proper QC. My mean and median times had been running at about the half-hour mark for the past six months, so I was becoming seriously concerned by a sudden loss of form (or was it a surreptitious increase in the level of difficulty?). The last 11 QCs have occupied me for an average of 46 minutes each – significantly longer than I would have expected and sustained over quite a long period.

    Today, however, I was delighted to cross the line in just 18 minutes. It feels strange not being banished to the back of the SCC for once.

    My FOI was VOCIFEROUS (very helpful), although I didn’t immediately get many of its danglers, and my LOsI in were APPROACH and firming up on CLOCK WATCHER. And it almost goes without saying that my CoD goes to of RANDOM.

    Thanks to Pedro and Kitty.

    1. Congrats on the great start to the week. Obviously, I thought of you straightaway when I saw 4d 😅 Regards to Mrs R.

    2. For a man who no longer keeps a spreadsheet, your ability to know the average of those 11QCs is 🤪

  32. Hit 30min target ( I know somewhat low hurdle) biffed CLOCKWATCHER, could’nt parse All good. I seem to hit it off with Pedro

  33. Felt like we were speeding through to start with but then hit a traffic jam in the SE. Spent too long trying to justify ANGER (from ‘cross’) in 18d before CHATTERBOX put an end to it. LOI APPROACH. Still managed to get home in 10:15 though, which is pretty fast for us.

  34. 10:38, so an OK start to the week. Not a lot say really, except I didn’t think much of CLOCK WATCHER . I got the general gist but it was so wordy that I couldn’t be bothered to parse it – sorry if that sounds rude. However, VICARAGE, CHATTERBOX and AGHAST all made me smile.
    FOI Utopian LOI Approach COD Vociferous
    Thanks Pedro and Kitty

  35. 18:16, making it a good start to the week for me. COD is probably AGHAST.

    Thank you to Kitty for the blog!

  36. 6:38

    Late to the party today. Pretty gentle solve on my ‘phone as cat has taken root on my keyboard (it’s warm). If I’d known it was Pedro, I wonder if I might have followed form and been much slower…

    Thanks Pedro and Kitty

  37. 12.46 CLOCK-WATCHER was biffed and parsed later. LOI APPROACH took two minutes. Thanks Kitty and Pedro.

  38. On first run through I anticipated a very lengthy attempt at this, but once started the answers flowed quite readily. COD KITTEN

  39. Very late today reporting my time as I’ve spent the entire day in a nhs hospital waiting area with my daughter in law. With only my copy of The Times to keep me occupied, the crosswords were a nice distraction. I didn’t have too many problems with this puzzle finishing in a fairly speedy 6.35.

      1. Thanks for your good wishes Penny. I was actually there for my daughter in law for a six hour stint. We were both glad to get back home, but with another potential visit planned unfortunately.
        She is German, and she told me her father back in Germany recently passed out and fell to the floor banging his head. An ambulance was called, he was taken to hospital assessed by three different physicians, a scan was taken and he was discharged as being OK, and back in his home in precisely three hours after his fall. She is not a great fan of our nhs!

        1. A hellish long time! And yet… I had to call 111 on Saturday evening, and I have nothing but praise for everyone I spoke to, including the GP who rang me at 10 pm, and spent 20 minutes going through everything with me.
          It’s just so sad that we can’t all have that experience as a matter of course. Hope your D-i-L is on the mend.

  40. Analogue timed 15 min finish. Needed blog to parse a few, thanks Kitty. My COD Clockwatcher. Thx Pedro

  41. 18:13

    Sped through the left hand side but struggled a bit on the right with SMASH AND GRAB, KITTEN and LOI LEARN taking me close to my 20 minute target.

  42. I never managed to post after a rather busy day. Felt like a pretty vanilla puzzle, from memory. Liked CHATTERBOX. LOI was APPROACH, where I was trying to fit an “ace” in.

    All done in 07:39 for an OK Day. Many thanks Pedro and Kitty.


  43. 16 mins

    Not particularly satisfying as I failed to parse many answers. That, together with another nightmare on the Quintagram (1/5) makes me a 21 ac.

    Had my usual idiot moment by not getting CAVITY straight away. I still don’t feel like I’m doing this properly, as I’m guessing words from checkers rather than understanding the word play. It would be nice, just once, to read a difficult clue in the manner intended by the setter.

    My confidence level remains very low after recent traumas, and it feels like the next bad day is imminent. Yes, that is pessimistic, but that is where I am at the moment.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Above average solving time for you, so I’m not sure why you are unimpressed with it. You seem to keep moving the goalposts as to what constitutes a good day. Your goal is 5 solves in 2hrs – this ticked off day 1 and put 8mins in the bank. What’s not to like.

      1. Thanks New Driver.

        I’m being a perfectionist as usual. Yes, it’s a good start to the week, target wise. 😊

    2. Don’t get too disheartened! Solving from checkers and/or enumeration and/or definition and then spending some time making sure you’re right from the rest of the wordplay is a perfectly valid way of solving these puzzles! It’s only when it’s a NHO word, or an uncommon definition where I’m solving only from wordplay, and even then, checkers can be a huge help in picking out bits of wordplay. If there’s a solver of the QC or the 15×15 out there who only gets the definition from the wordplay for each and every clue, I’ll eat my hat. Mephisto is a different kettle of fish.

      Keep on trucking.

      1. Thanks hopkinb, much appreciated. It will be a long time before I’m at Mephisto level, but I live in hope. 😊

    3. I watch a lot of the top solvers solve the puzzles on YouTube – they often attempt guess the word from the checkers before even looking at the clue! Then they try and justify the answer from the definition and the wordplay afterwards! It’s all valid


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