Times Quick Cryptic 2680 by Mara

EDIT at 10:40 AM: – I’m very sad to report that I just read on the Fifteensquared blog, that the death has been announced of Allan Scott, known to us all as QC setter Tracy. He will be sadly missed here.

Solving time: 12 minutes

A few answers here may be problematic but there are enough easier ones to build confidence and earn some checkers. We have four double definitions and another clue that could be counted as a fifth, which is perhaps a little excessive as I understand that some solvers find these the hardest to crack because there is no wordplay as such. How did you 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]. “Aural wordplay” is in quotation marks. I usually omit all reference to juxtaposition indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Shadowy figure in dodgy hotel suite (10)
Anagram [dodgy] of HOTEL SUITE
7 Shy  sales patter (5)
Two meanings, the first as in ‘throw’
8 Artist, one with pull? (6)
A definition with a barely cryptic hint in support
10 Go off in brotherhood (3)
Hidden [in] {b}ROT{herhood}
12 Wales site rebuilt anyway (9)
Anagram [rebuilt] of WALES SITE
13 Follow, otherwise adapt (6)
TAIL (follow), OR (otherwise)
14 Sea water finally entering US state (6)
{wate}R [finally] contained by [entering] MAINE (US state)
17 Horrible   disobeying authority (9)
Two meanings
19 Heated, or trendy, primarily? (3)
H{eated} + O{r} + T{rendy} [primarily]. Another with two definitions but there’s wordplay too. I don’t know quite how we get round the double duty that’s going on here as all of the clue is wordplay but only part is definition which doesn’t fit with either  &lit or semi &lit rules as I understand them. Best just to bung in the answer and move on unless you are the duty blogger!
20 A rod for whipping, in command (6)
Anagram [for whipping] of A ROD, then IN
21 Indian dish, boiled haddock and jalapenos is for starters (5)
B{oiled} + H{addock} + A{nd} + J{alapenos} + I{s} [for starters]
23 Cause of embarrassment, crazy family (6,4)
BANANAS (crazy), KIN (family}
1 Exercise in reordering of trousers in large shop (10)
PE (exercise) contained by [in] anagram [reordering] of TROUSERS
2 Large number missing introduction in storyline (3)
{p}LOT (storyline) [missing introduction]
3 Play, religious books and magazine (7)
OT (religious books – Old Testament), HELLO (magazine title)
4 Make like tip on corn (6)
END (tip), EAR (corn)
5 Breakfast item  completely finished! (5)
Two meanings, the second as in ‘defunct’
6 Wicked plate with wicked contents! (8)
DISH (plate) with EVIL (wicked)] contents
9 Uninspired  walker (10)
Two meanings
11 One inspired by the actual crime (8)
I (one) contained [inspired] by THE + VERY (actual)
15 Garble a complicated mathematical subject (7)
Anagram [complicated] of GARBLE A
16 Naive drunk touring northern capital (6)
Anagram [drunk] of NAIVE containing [touring] N (northern)
18 Animal in a shopping centre served up (5)
A + MALL (shopping centre) reversed [served up]
22 Make an inquiry while king (3)
AS (while), K (king)

57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2680 by Mara”

  1. 7:55. DEVILISH and THIEVERY were favourites. I think I always say leastways instead of LEASTWISE but the latter does seem to have older citations. I learned there’s a magazine called HELLO- very cheery title!

  2. Woohoo I finished one! 15:19 and we’re hoping for a good week.
    THIEVERY was my last one in.
    LEASTWISE was tricky, but I guessed it would end in ‘wise’ and that helped.

    Glad I remembered the coconut shy for the meaning of shy this week.

  3. Well done T! This one wasn’t easy, it took me 13.24 after I got myself in all sorts of trouble down the left hand side by trying variations of emporium and hypermarket until finally writing the anagrist down and figuring SUPERSTORE out. How novel. FOI PITCH, LOI ORDAIN (didn’t see the anagram) and the ENDEAR/DRAWER combo also came late.

    Can’t help but be reminded of Ogden Nash:

    The one-L lama he’s a priest
    The two-L llama he’s a beast
    And I will be a silk pyjama
    There isn’t any 3-L lllama

    Thanks Mara and Jack

  4. Only four on the first pass of acrosses but then sped up before slowing to a crawl to carefully extract ORDAIN, DRAWER and ENDEAR. Enjoyed getting to THIEVERY, although I did have to pause before accepting ‘very’ for ‘actual’ – wish I done as I was told faster for ORDAIN but found it hard to separate ‘in’ from ‘command’. Turns out the opposite of curryowen in mendesest – never say either ‘leastways’ or ‘leastwise’ but very aware there’s a magazine called Hello. Wait until you discover Heat. All green in 14.59.

  5. Ooh this one was tricky and slow, finally getting there in 34 dead.

    LOI also ordain not spotting the anagram either. MER that sea = marine and very=actual but there were some very clever clues. COD for Bhaji, we know a couple of restaurants that would probably serve boiled haddock and jalapeños 😂

    Bananas kin also raised a smile.
    Thanks Mara, and Jack

    1. The very thing / the actual thing?

      Marine / sea can work as adjectives e.g. marine snail / sea snail.

  6. Anagram hat was firmly in place today so both the 1s went in straight off the bat followed not long after by LEASTWISE all of which opened up the grid very nicely.
    Slowed towards the end with DRAWER, ENDEAR (I really wanted ear to go at the start), DEVILISH and LOI ORDAIN.
    Finished in 6.39.
    Thanks to Jackkt

  7. I needed three answers after two completed passes, and my LOI was delayed as I racked my brains to think unnecessarily what a candle holder might be called.

    TIME 5:00

  8. 20.54, so just missed an SCC escape.

    Content with that, however, as I found it somewhat tricky.

    Happy Monday, all. Step on.

  9. 11 minutes. I found it hard to spot the definition for ENDEAR, not helped by trying to think of the name of a specific ‘Artist’ and taking too long to get the relatively simple DRAWER. I’m glad I didn’t have to explain HOT for which, as suggested, I just bunged in the answer based on ‘Heated’ and ‘trendy’.

    I liked THIEVERY and especially the surface for ALGEBRA.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack

  10. Beaten by TAILOR and THIEVERY. No amount of staring and thinking was going to get me there so a failure with no regrets.

    Thanks Mara and Jackkt.

  11. Jolly annoying that on the first day ever that I remember “wicked” can indicate something to do with candles, it doesn’t. Grr. COD to DEVILISH from me.

    Few hold ups though – only THIEVERY, TAILOR (I wanted this to end OW for “otherwise”) and LOI ORDAIN (didn’t spot the anagram). Breasted the tape at 06:51 for a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Jack.


  12. A duff start to the week for me. One of those days where nothing makes sense and I fall for all the misdirections.

    THIEVERY, TAILOR and ORDAIN were the ones that caused the most trouble, along with having to write out the anagrist for SILHOUETTE.


  13. 13:08 (Robert Bruce defeats John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, at battle of Inverurie)

    Slowish going, not quite sure why. Struggled over LEASTWISE – I would generally say leastways. Wasted time looking for candles in 6d. L2I were ENDEAR and DRAWER.

    Thanks Jack and Mara

  14. 4:58. I liked the unusual double definition plus all-in-one wordplay for HOT, double-duty or not. I tried REBELLING for 17a but couldn’t get the “horrible” bit to work, so thought again. Thanks Mara and Jackkt.

  15. An excellently crafted puzzle. Thank you Mara. Struggled with LOI THIEVERY which led me patiently into the club.
    Thanks all.

  16. Tough start to the week for me. THIEVERY TAILOR ORDAIN held me up (more) at the end; “for whipping” being about as obscure an anagram indicator as I have met (in albeit a limited experience ). I wandered around the grid, piecing things together and eventually it came together deep into SCC territory. Enjoyed the struggle, however.

  17. 7:13

    Lovely puzzle. Despite SILHOUETTE going straight in, I struggled with the down clues from that and finished TOAST, ENDEAR DRAWER.

    Thanks Mara and Jack

  18. Definitely not at the races today taking 16.17 to complete. I biffed FIENDISH for 6dn and forgot for a while to check it, hence LEASTWISE caused me quite a delay. I always thought it was leastways anyway, so that didn’t help. Took great care on the spelling of SILHOUETTE which I would probably have misspelt without the checkers in place.
    So sad to hear the news of Tracy’s death, his contributions were always first rate.

  19. 5:35 but…

    …somehow typed in AAK at 22d! Nuts…

    Otherwise, this was a fairly gentle, some might say PEDESTRIAN, start to the week finishing with THIEVERY, ORDAIN, LLAMA and TAILOR in that order. Not sure 11d would have been as gettable without REVOLTING in place though.

    Thanks Jack and Mara

  20. Well I made a right pig’s ear of this one. Totally off wavelength. Accidentally revealed ENDEAR which I may well have struggled with as I didn’t really understand the definition (have just got it now 😁), then a very slow crawl towards the finish line with many false starts. Nice one Mara. SUPERSTORE/PITCH took me the longest. Liked BANANA SKIN. Thanks Jack.

  21. Wow, if this is how my QC week is starting then I’m going back to bed 🤣. What an awful attempt. Really got nowhere and gave up. Not using the “wavelength” excuse; this one just beat me fair and square.

    Hopefully I’ll have better luck tomorrow.

    My verdict: 👎
    Pumpa’s verdict: 💤

  22. A 10 minute completion, which suggests that this was on the friendlier end of Mara’s puzzles. But not without a few tougher nuts: I took time to work out Ordain, and did not immediately see Make like = Endear (I was going down the copy, replicate line).

    Like BR I just bunged in Hot without really worrying about the exact type of parsing – it’s a clever clue, whatever it is!

    Many thank Jack for the blog, and for advising us of the sad news of Tracy. His puzzles were always fair and always fun.

  23. Got off to a very slow start, with next to nothing going in until suddenly things started to click as I got to the end of the down clues. No idea whether these were easier or I suddenly got onto Mara’s wavelength. Basically a bottom up solve to finish all parsed in 20 minutes. Sad to hear of the death of Tracy with whom I enjoyed several protracted struggles.

    FOI – 10ac ROT
    LOI – 11dn THIEVERY
    COD – 23ac BANANA SKIN

    Thanks to Mara and Jackkt

  24. Groan. Beaten by TAILOR. Quite difficult in SW and not that easy in NE.
    Also put DRAGER for 8a, oh dear. I had wondered if it was slang for Drag artist but that might need double ‘g’.
    THIEVERY a late solve, along with ENDEAR and ORDAIN.
    Solved the long ones around the edge quite quickly but that did not help as much as I hoped. COD OTHELLO which made me smile.

    Thanks, Jack. Condolences to those who knew Tracy.

  25. Misparsed 2d (p)LOT as LOT(s). It sort of works:
    “Large number missing introduction in storyline”
    where intro in storyline=S.

  26. A challenging start to the week but got there eventually. LOI THIEVERY, COD DEVILISH. LOT didn’t reveal itself as, having the initial L, I was looking for a three letter word linked to a story line. Only when PITCH was entered did I have a rethink! This was an enjoyable QC as it was nicely balanced for my level.

  27. DRAWER, ORDAIN, ENDEAR, DEVILISH and THIEVERY were all too hard for me. As for “earning checkers”, all those five depended on another of them, so no help.
    Thanks for the instruction as always.

    1. Likewise soundly beaten today, by DRAWER, ORDAIN, ENDEAR and also by TAILOR. I did “get” THIEVERY but wondered whether it was a real word. I’d naturally take of THEFT.

  28. Got all but 2 clues in 12 minutes and was on for a very fast time, but ENDEAR and ORDAIN completly beat me and I never mamanged to solve them. ENDEAR I could have got maybe, although the definition is quite tricky. ORDAIN is extremely hard I think, I surprised more people didn’t get stuck. Times like this make me wonder how much biffing people are doing comparing to working from the wordplay.

  29. Well, 1d was a write-in and the initial S was enough of a hint to get Silhouette, so an excellent start. Naturally things went downhill from then on, culminating in minutes lost agonising over loi 2d. Wrong end of the clue issues (just for a change, eh ?) left me looking for a three letter storyline L*t, derived from a four letter large number. I could only think of (G)lut, and that didn’t work for the story. In the end I just bifd Lot for fate/story, still not really seeing how it worked. Tailor and Ordain also made significant contributions to a sluggish 25min solve. Not a good day, but put into context by news of Tracy’s sad death. RIP. Invariant

  30. Very sad to read of Tracy’s death. I enjoyed and got on reasonably well with his puzzles.

    A breezeblock experience for me. 26 minutes for the my 22 clues (so far, so good), followed by an agonising half an hour on my final two – DRAWER and ENDEAR. I tried interpreting both clues in every way I could think of, but they remained hidden until I found DRAWER … just after I’d supposedly given up. As for ENDEAR, I still don’t understand the definition.

    Total time = 56 minutes.

    Thanks to Mara and Jack.

  31. I started with SILHOUETTE, and even managed to spell it correctly first go. After that one or two entries were write ins, but most of them had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the clues. Took an age to see THIEVERY, which finally allowed me to decide between REBELLING and REPELLING! ORDAIN was LOI. Scraped in just under my target again. 9:29. Thanks Mara and Jack. Very sad to hear of Tracy’s death.

  32. Condolences to the family and friends of Alan Scott, RIP. Thank you for the puzzles Tracy.

  33. DNF. I had REBELLING, then REPELLING, but never got to REVOLTING. This knocked out THIEVERY.


  34. Sad to hear of Tracy’s death.
    17A reminded me of an old joke about a king who, when told the peasants are revolting, calmly replies, “You can say that again.”

  35. Sorry to hear sad news about Tracy. When was the last QC from Tracy? Remember quite a lot of QCs from Tracy in the early days and used to enjoy them.

    1. Looking up the answer to your question I was very surprised to find that Tracy’s last QC appeared on 19th July 2022. I had no idea that he had been missing for so long, but time seems to just hurtle by these days. Rather fittingly that puzzle was Tracy’s 200th and we marked the occasion here. From the comments in the blog that day I gather his retirement as setter had been announced although I have been unable to find the source of that information.

      Some solvers may be aware that Allan also set the ‘Everyman’ puzzle in The Observer for many years, which in his time was a useful training ground for aspiring cryptic solvers as it provided a regular supply of easier-to-solve 15×15 puzzles. His departure from that led to a somewhat erratic era of puzzles many of which seemed a lot more difficult and variable in quality. I gather things have improved now but I don’t go there any more.

  36. Dnf…

    Put in the unknown artist “Dragee” for 8ac and then put in 11dn “Thieving” without properly understanding the parsing (now I know why). As a result, I was left head scratching for 20ac “Ordain”. A good puzzle though, and I enjoyed 1ac “Silhouette” and 6dn “Devilish”.

    Sorry to hear about Tracy.

    FOI – 2dn “Lot”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 23ac “Banana Skin” – lovely surface and very apt.

    Thanks as usual!

  37. Sad news of Tracy’s death: his puzzles were excellent. This one from Mara was a spirited challenge, which he won, defeating me on thievery and ordain after 25 minutes. Follow, otherwise was an obvious (when the penny dropped) tail, or and bananas kin made me smile. 3d made me think how one would clue Verdi’s version of the play: Opera, religious books and cockney magazine?

  38. Spelling THIEVERY correctly would have helped ( ‘i’before ‘e’, except after ‘c’), but sorted after TAILOR lead to very slow time

  39. Altogether too much fun yesterday, followed by very broken sleep, led to a slow solve of 33:14 today. (Hah, I just mistyped it as 33!14, typical of my skills at the moment.)

    I thought there were some great clues today. I found DEVILISH very ENDEARing, and ENDEAR very DEVILISH. NHO BHAJI so thanks to the setter for the generous cluing. NHO Hello magazine so thank goodness I got enough crossers to make it obvious. As a former teacher of technical subjects I got a chuckle out of 15A ALGEBRA. THIEVERY gave me a lesson in the utility of filling in my hypothesis of at least part of what the wordplay is to the point where I could see the answer, after scratching my head over “truth”, “real”, “true”, “reality”, etc. etc. etc.

    My condolences to all who knew and loved Tracy!

    Thanks Mara and jackkt

  40. Solved this in fits and starts via train journeys etc. It was tough in places and my time would not have been quick.
    I too tried REBELLING and struggled to get rid of it.
    Last two were ENDEAR -another with the EAR in the wrong place at first- and DRAWER, where I tried to think of artists’ names for too long.

  41. 17.03 What’s the opposite of a purple patch? Stuck at the end again with DRAWER, ENDEAR, DEVILISH and MARINE taking an age. I very nearly biffed SALINE for sea water so I’m not too unhappy. Thanks Jack and Mara.

  42. DNF

    Failed on LOI DRAWER. Was too busy looking for an artists name. Was well over my 20 minute target anyway.

  43. That is sad news about Tracy, whose puzzles were always a pleasure.

    35 minutes today.

    Even by my very low standards, this was a shocking performance. Well inside SCC cut-off with 4dn, 8ac and 6dn to get. Then a complete breakdown.

    I could blame my time on the nasty cold I have, but the reality is that I’m just not very good at this.

    That’s another week blown. No way am I able to achieve my weekly target after that debacle.

    Signs of improvement are, frankly, nonexistent. After spending hours on the ‘big’ crossword, I had hoped the payoff would be that the QC became more straightforward. Nothing doing!

    Thanks for the blog.

  44. 18:14, and I was eyeing up my usual chair in the SCC until I finally twigged how the anagram worked in 20a and found ORDAIN. Many thanks for the blog, and my condolences to Tracy’s friends and family.

  45. A very much better start this week than last, finishing in a faster than average 11:39. POI AND LOI DRAWER and ENDEAR. Thanks, jackkt and Mara.


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