Times Quick Cryptic 2686 by Jalna – be sure to spell your down answers with care

Hi everyone.  Apart from a careless spelling error (I do know how to spell 3d, but apparently not when writing vertically!) this went smoothly.  Long anagrams have a tendency to hold me up and I did spend a little time (not enough, clearly) shuffling letters today.  Writing up the blog was also trouble-free, which is generally a good sign.  No particular favourite: maybe if pushed I’d go for 1d, but all enjoyed.  Thanks Jalna!

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 Newspaper group assigned period (4,4)
TIME SLOT TIMES (newspaper) + LOT (group)
5a A pan put back on (4)
ATOP A + in reverse (… put back) POT (pan)
9a European head going round German city (5)
ESSEN E (European) + NESS (head) backwards (going round)
10a Family member with a right to be vague (7)
UNCLEAR UNCLE (family member) + A + R (right)
11a Rudely infers travelling is easy to manage (4-8)
USER-FRIENDLY — An anagram of (… travelling) RUDELY INFERS
13a Some get a gin, eating stew (6)
TAGINE Some geT A GIN, Eating
15a That man has control at this place (6)
HEREIN HE (that man) + REIN (control)
17a Meat pie and fantastic chips on trays (7,5)
CORNISH PASTY — An anagram of (fantastic) CHIPS ON TRAYS
20a Father adopting an excellent cure for everything (7)
PANACEA PA (father) taking in (adopting) AN ACE (excellent)
21a Celtic flower next to hospital (5)
IRISH IRIS (flower) next to H (hospital)
22a Time in office is somewhat better, maybe (4)
TERM Somewhat betTER, Maybe
23a Shallow sort involved in leak (4-4)
SKIN-DEEP KIND (sort) inside (involved in) SEEP (leak)
1d Plane perhaps regularly turned east (4)
TREE — Regular letter of (regularly) TuRnEd + E (east)
2d Face coverings king used in church service (5)
MASKS K (king) used in MASS (church service)
3d A crass Finn ruined company somewhere in America (3,9)
SAN FRANCISCO A CRASS FINN anagrammed (ruined) + CO (company)
4d Work comes up, varies regularly (6)
OEUVRE — cOmEs Up, VaRiEs regularly
6d Step on edges of large pedal (7)
TREADLE TREAD (step) on the outer letters (edges) of LargE
7d Having fun is standard prior to making a connection (8)
PARTYING PAR (standard) prior to TYING (making a connection)
8d Picking up speed and later cocaine, possibly (12)
ACCELERATION — An anagram of (… possibly) LATER COCAINE
12d Vessel from Greater Manchester town with no river (8)
STOCKPOT STOCKPO[r]T (Greater Manchester town) with no R (river)
14d One maybe developing a plot, reportedly for Hollywood star (7)
GARDNER — Sounds like (… reportedly) GARDENER (one maybe developing a plot)
16d Backed away after the first hint of something hot and unpleasant (6)
SHRANK After the first letter of (first hint of) Something, H (hot) and RANK (unpleasant)
18d Dull ending for low-cost ceremony (5)
TRITE — The last letter of (ending for) low-cosT + RITE (ceremony)
19d Retailer opening for sales before spring (4)
SHOP — The first letter of (opening for) Sales before HOP (spring)

81 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2686 by Jalna – be sure to spell your down answers with care”

  1. Now you tell me. MAksS and SAN FRANsISCO gave me three pink squares. Serves me right for not checking the anagrist properly twice. ACCELERATIng made SKIN DEEP much harder than it needed to be. Five on the first pass of acrosses to finish not all green in 15.

    1. Oh yes, I also had ACCELERATING at first, but am used to swapping INGs and IONs at the ends of words, so that one didn’t cause too much trouble. Nice to have company. 🙂

      1. Add me to your merry band on the ING/ION front!

        [On reading all the way down – less of a band, more of an army.]

  2. 12 minutes, hampered in the SW by carelessly having ACCELERATING at 8dn until I got stuck on 23ac and decided to double-check its checkers. SHRANK was my LOI.

  3. Well I make the early commentators 4 for 4 on Accelerating before Skin Deep put that right. And I think that makes it a poor clue, because the definition is clearly a verb participle not a noun, and Acceleration doesn’t fit the definition closely enough.

    Still, it didn’t delay me long because checkers of -K-G for the start of 23A were most unpromising so one revisited and corrected. 9 minutes in all, with only Atop causing a delay as I didn’t see the definition “on”. Short simple clue, sleepy solver!

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

    1. Much as I’d like to find an excuse for my error I really don’t think it would be valid as those who settled for ACCELERATING either failed to work through the anagram (as I did) or chose to completely ignore the second part of the clue. There’s nothing wrong with ‘putting on speed’ as a definition of ACCELERATION and the fact that it uses different parts of speech is a facet of the setter’s art that we encounter almost everyday although perhaps not so frequently in the QC.

      1. Thanks Jack, and happy to learn that setters can play more loosely than I assumed with definitions. I’d still expect a singular definition not to lead to a plural noun though, for example.

        At least this answer had a checker for the last letter – I can imagine the grief if the last two letters were unchecked! It made it easy to correct -ING to -ION, and I duly did before completion. But, eg, “Addition of speed and later cocaine, possibly” would have avoided the controversy as well as keeping the very clever surface connecting speed and cocaine.

        1. Thanks, Cedric. I agree about singulars and plurals although there can be ambiguity in cases where something like a corporate entity is involved e.g. The BBC is? or The BBC are? I think there was an example of this in the discussions over the weekend.

          More generally I take the view that crosswords are intended to be solved as a whole, not as a bunch of isolated clues (hence the name of the puzzle), so if two answers are possible and can only be distinguished by a checking letter from another clue, for me that’s part of the deal. I think that setters and editors try to avoid such clashes as far as possible but if the occasional example slips through it doesn’t bother me. The problem arises when both possible answers share all the same checkers, and that’s definitely an error that should have been picked up.

          I see nothing dubious about today’s clue as mentioned previously because in my own case I didn’t think carefully enough about the whole clue and take time to work out the anagram which I knew was there. I suspect some of the others who went for ACCELERATING simply biffed it. That’s always a risk for those who favour speed over certainty.

              1. If I slow down any more Mrs R will have my guts for garters for not having the time to complete my never-ending to-do list. Having said that, if I speed up too much and overtake her I will be even more unpopular than I am already.

  4. Was also tempted by accelerating but spotted the parsing before typing and saw that with cocaine involved it had to be acceleration, phew.
    Clue of the month to Cornish pasty, brilliant anagram of chips on trays, bravo!

    Herein took ages. Was trying to persuade Mrs RH that aven must be something about control to give heaven. Also had time spot and span for a while before slot made itself known.

    LOI shrank took about 4 minutes of our 26.10

    Thanks Jalna and Kitty. Off to enjoy a rare sunny Bank Holiday 😀

    1. I agree. TRITE also took longer than it should. I matched your time, give about a minute or two longer.
      Sunny here but rain forecast. Early dog walk to avoid mud loving Bedlington.

  5. Another ‘ing’ here and it took far too long to spot my error which pretty much summed up my solve which felt like hard work. Nothing wrong with the puzzle just a bit foggy headed this morning.
    Started with ATOP and finished with OEUVRE in 10.31.
    Thanks to Kitty

  6. I also wrote ACCELERATING.. Because the definition is ‘picking up speed’ and that sounds like a verb to me for sure! I think ‘picking up of speed’ is more of a noun.

    I finished this in 11:30, TREADLE was my LOI. I nho of that word but I trusted the wordplay and hoped for the best.

    1. To be fair, I don’t think you can argue that ACCELERATION and ‘picking up speed’ can’t be used alternatively in a sentence. Also, with an anagram, there really is no room for dissent. It’s either in the anagrist or it isn’t!

      1. Oh yes, I’m not saying this is an incorrect clue – just saying why I ended up with ACCELERATING. Though, can you put picking up speed / acceleration in a sentence for me?

        I can only get it if I turn it into ‘picking up of speed’

        1. How about ‘picking up speed/acceleration at the edge of the city made for a quicker overall journey than expected.’? I’m not saying it’s grammatically accurate, just that it can be used in everyday speech.

          1. Ah yeah I’ll accept that. Also a good comment from Jack above regarding when and when not to be overly pedantic about this stuff

        1. Tee hee Tina! These days over here you’ll mostly find old sewing machine tables in retro pubs and bars – sometimes still with their treadles! Not much sewing going on though.

      1. It just so happens I put in a bid on eBay yesterday for a pre 1930 treadle sewing machine. Why? Because Mrs RH is unhappy at the idea of me repairing sails and boat covers with her beautiful modern electric one 😀

  7. 12:26. Most of this went in without too much trouble but I became stuck on STOCKPOT and SHRANK at the end.

    I really liked the surface reading of the clue (like Roundabout Here) and maybe I’m being pedantic, but a MER at CORNISH PASTY for ‘Meat pie’; I can see where Jalna is coming from, but in this neck of the woods if you went in to a pie shop or bakery, you would ask for one or the other and a pasty usually contains some potato and veg. as well.

    Thanks to Jalna and Kitty

    1. I frequently cook “meat and vegetable pasties”, following the recipe from the Hairy Bikers’ “Perfect Pies” book, so no problem with pasties as a subset of pies. I can’t call them “Cornish Pasties”, as I am 200 miles the wrong side of the Tamar.

    2. Do you know of the theory that all food is either soup, a salad or a sandwich? Google it if not, you can go down a rabbit hole and have many an enjoyable useless argument at the pub!

  8. Fairly straightforward, but my brain froze a couple of times, which made this seem harder. LOI was SHRANK, unaccountably. And CORNISH PASTY held me up for far too long, considering that I make them from time to time. ATOP also took forever and HEREIN, both excellent clues. I do like Jalna – he’s definitely more of a brain-stretch than some setters.

  9. Made heavy weather of this but did eventually cross the line all correct. Needed to solve POI OEUVRE before LOI TIME SLOT became obvious. Not sure why I had such a tussle with this one. Liked HEREIN although really wanted it to be heaven for a while. Another ‘accelerating’ before SKIN DEEP made me correct to ACCELERATION. No problem with the word play clueing a noun as ‘picking up speed’ is a suitable replacement in a sentence. Tricky in places but enjoyable overall. Many thanks Kitty.

  10. My immediate thought with TREADLE also was my old Singer sewing machine. It was certainly a large pedal. Fell into the same initial thought of ACCELERATING until it clearly didn’t fit. An enjoyable puzzle today. Thanks Jalna and Kitty.

  11. 12:53 (Simon de Montfort has brief reconciliation with Henry III)

    Fast start, then held up in the SW corner, taking a long time to see SKIN DEEP and SHRANK.

    Thanks Kitty and Jalna

    1. FWIW, poor Simon’s end showed up in the clue at 21d in Sunday’s 15×15. You probably knew that.

      1. Yes, the battle of Evesham will never be one of my random facts after a solving time, since it falls in the last 40 years of a century, but 1265 was certainly a year with more than its fair share of historical events.

  12. 7.52

    Just couldn’t see OEUVRE at the end. Also had ING but the G looked wrong in the across clue.

  13. This seemed a little tricky as I solved it, but six minutes is an acceptable time for me. Another with accelerating, but even as I wrote it I knew it needed an O , so didn’t take any time to amend.
    LOI oeuvre

    Thanks Kitty and Jalna

  14. A struggle but I don’t know why. Finished and enjoyed in parts but slow on eg CORNISH PASTY, SKIN DEEP, HEREIN. Also had to change Ing to ION. LOI SHRANK. Liked STOCKPOT, TIME SLOT.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  15. An even solve where I was never on for a quick time, but I managed to finish just under target at 9.50. I thought of both alternatives as an option for 8dn, but a quick check of the anagrist showed no G, so ACCELERATION went straight in. My only notable holdup was on my final two where I spent too long on SHRANK, but once solved SKIN DEEP then quickly followed. I am another who struggles a bit with CORNISH PASTY being defined as a pie.

    1. Amusingly, under American English Collins gives “British – a pie, esp. a meat pie”, but under British English gives only “a round of pastry folded over a filling of meat, vegetables, etc”!

      (To be fair, Collins Cobuild does say “In Britain, a pasty is a small pie which consists of pastry folded around meat, vegetables, or cheese.”)

  16. T’north not my strong suit so was delighted to see quickly that 12d was going to include “buy” (Bury without a R). Oh. So then I had to get all the crossers to see it.

    Otherwise a fairly smooth solve with lots of enjoyable tricks to overcome. Like the Roundabouts, COD and “bravo” to CORNISH PASTY.

    All done in 09:06 for a Decent Day. Many thanks Jalna and Kitty.


  17. 8:01

    Slightly sticky in places – wandered around a bit trying to pick off the low-hanging fruit, a strategy which certainly helped to provide extra checkers where they were most needed. I momentarily entered ING at 8d but quickly saw that the anagrist didn’t contain a G so corrected the ending. HEREIN had me slightly puzzled before all of the checkers were in place. LOI was TREE. I did wonder though, is STOCKPORT well known to our overseas solvers?

    Thanks Kitty and Jalna

  18. Well, I finished.

    I’m following Invariant’s advice and trying to ignore the clock this week.

    I made some silly mistakes as usual and was rather frustrated by the end. It’s so often the easy ones I struggle with because I’m looking for complexity that isn’t always there.

    GARDNER a real guess. Ava Gardner??

    Thanks for the blog

    1. She was a little before my time! The only film of hers that I have seen is ’55 Days at Peking’.

  19. I know that cryptic clues are not intended to give factually correct definitions but Stockport can actually boast three rivers, the Tame, the Goyt and the Mersey. The Tame and the Goyt form a confluence in the centre of the town to become the Mersey, under the aptly named Mersey Square.

  20. Had great fun this morning teaching my granddaughter how cryptic crosswords work. She put in an impressive performance, getting many of the clues unaided and most of the others with teeny nudges. Well done her!

  21. 24:49

    That was all going smoothly with 3 to go at 14 minutes but struggled with TIME SLOT (had the TIMES bit) and SHRANK. But it was LOI HEREIN that really caused problems taking up the last 6 minutes.

  22. I was quite quick in the top half, and lower down wasn’t too bad either (Herein took some thought), but I had to settle for a seat at the back of the coach thanks to my last three: Skin Deep (via Accelerating 😏), Trite and Shrank. Nothing wrong with the clues, but it took me a good 5mins to get those three put to bed. CoD has to be 17ac, Cornish Pasty/Chips on Trays, a wonderful choice of anagrist. Invariant

  23. Tried ACCELERATING but decided it was too short as brain in neutral. Never noticed that my stupidity had helped me for a change. Thanks Jalna and Kitty.

  24. About 17 mins.
    No accurate time due to interruptions.
    The main culprits were shrank, and skin deep.

    COD Cornish pasty. Yum.

  25. 14:27, pretty much the same experience as everyone else.

    Cornish Pasty= Chips on Trays is top anagramming.


  26. A good workout for my brain on a Monday and pleased to finish all correct in 25 minutes.

    My FOI was ATOP and my LOI was HEREIN, which I initially dismissed as I’d NHO a place pronounced ‘herrine’. MY last-to-parse (after I’d finished) was the clever SKIN DEEP and I never did fully parse TIME SLOT.

    Many thanks to Jalna and Kitty.

  27. Another ING here. Needed SKIN DEEP to correct me. I was also delayed by ensuring I had the spelling of SAN FRANCISCO correct and being blindsided by CORNISH PASTY as a pie. LOI SHRANK also took a while. All fair though. JKust over my target at 10:11. Thanks Kitty and Jalna.

  28. This puzzle made me feel hungry – those tagines, Cornish pasties and stockpots…better go and have some lunch.

    COD 17A

  29. The words I can never remember how to spell are Oeuvre and its relatives. Thankfully today’s clue gave us all the letters in the correct order.

  30. 25:55, with my solve being a process of deCELERATION. Miraculously, I saw the hidden TAGINE immediately although I wasn’t even sure it was a word. Put it in with a “we’ll see” shrug. Lucky. But CORNISH PASTY was a long, long labor. I must have seen it somewhere once but had no faith in my knowledge of British meat pies. When the crossers suggested PASTY I had enough leverage to dig out the rest of it. OEUVRE also held me up as I rejected V,R,E a couple of times as simply not likely in English. Hmmmm. Why was PARTYING so hard? I’ll never know. Also allowed myself to be frightened by my total ignorance of Greater Manchester, which much delayed STOCKPOT.

    Very nice puzzle with lots of plausible surfaces. Somehow I really like “face coverings king used in church services”, just for the weird imagery. SKIN-DEEP was clever.

    Thanks to Jalna and Kitty!

  31. I thought this was definitely USER-FRIENDLY! I smiled when I put that in and hoped it would continue as I went down the grid, and so it proved, as I finished in 8:10.
    I’m always very wary of ING / ION endings and usually wait to see what the crossers give me – I’ve been caught out too often. But this time I just double checked the anagrist – it was worth it! ATOP took far too long, even though I could see what was needed. I liked UNCLEAR, TREE and GARDNER.
    We had TAGINE for supper a couple of nights ago, and MrB was threatening to make us pasties today. I say ‘threaten’ because it can be a bit of an event when he cooks – loads of queries, it takes ages and there’s lots of clearing up, although it usually tastes very nice 😅 We’re having cauliflower curry!
    FOI Essen (the most popular German town in Crosswordland?) LOI Atop COD Cornish pasty EOD Skin Deep by the Stranglers
    Thanks Jalna and Kitty

  32. A satisfying but unexceptional 11:08 today. Another one in the knee-jerk ‘ing’ rather than ‘ion’ camp until it clearly didn’t fit the anagrist. LOI SHRANK. Thanks, Kitty and Jalna.

  33. Hurrah for Cornish pasties, especially from Philps in Hayle, or Chough in Padstow. Great anagram too. The surface for ACCELERATION was also very good. For once I was not guilty of biffing in haste, perhaps because I’m on a phone by a Canarian pool, instead of fingers dancing nimbly (hahahahha) across a keyboard.

    TREE was LOI, tucked away up there as it was.


  34. Share the experiences above: NHO TREADLE but hoped for the best; and first wrote ACCELERATIng. But just couldn’t see SHRANK.

  35. Time was when I rarely took over 20 minutes and was thus denied entry to the club. Now the reverse seems to be true and I have gone from an occasional guest to a permanent member. Either these are getting more difficult or (much more likely) my brain is atrophying. Anyway this took 26 minutes spread over 2 sessions. Didn’t stop to parse TERM and couldn’t parse SHRANK (why ever not?). Managed not to fall into the ing/ion trap as I recognised the two possibilities and checked the anagrist.

    FOI – 10ac UNCLEAR
    LOI – 4dn OEUVRE
    CODs – 17ac CORNISH PASTY and 14dn GARDNER – wonderful surfaces both

    Thanks to Jalna and Kitty

  36. Traps cunningly set by Jalna, I thought. Accelerating gave me the last letter of plug, so I wasted thinking time here: if only shrank had yielded earlier! My cod was par for standard and tying for making a connection – brilliant! All in all, very enjoyable but well into the SCC today, alas. Hey ho! Thank you Jalna and Kitty.

  37. DNF as, like others, put ACCELERATING so couldn’t get TRITE or SKIN DEEP (or SHRANK). A poor effort on my behalf, not thinking straight. Ah well.

  38. 9.27 Along with nearly everyone else I was briefly held up by ACCELERATING but I didn’t get properly stuck anywhere. CORNISH PASTY needed most of the checkers because it isn’t a pie. SHRANK was LOI. A nice challenge. Thanks Kitty and Jalna.

  39. As I had a bit of time on my hands with it being a bank holiday, I had a go at the big crossword this afternoon.

    Somewhere around the 2.5 hour mark. Got a few wrong (mainly anagrams I couldn’t work out) but an interesting exercise.

    The gap between that and the QC remains vast. Perhaps when I retire I might have the time it requires.

    1. See what I mean ? Getting to a ‘finished’ state is an achievement in itself. As long as you enjoy doing it, the time taken is really neither here nor there.

  40. 18:22 here. Think I’ll have a go at making some Cornish pasties later today! Yet another person who biffed “accelerating” and then thought, “hang on, where’s the O gone?”

    Thanks to Jalna and Kitty.

  41. SHRANK, CORNISH PASTY AND STOCKPOT – lo’si in that order, all took an age. However an enjoyable tussle. Thanks all. 14 mins.

  42. Dnf…

    Completed in 19 mins, but mindlessly put “Thwack” for 16dn, which admittedly didn’t make a lot of sense, but I was struggling to see any other answer at the time. Oddly enough, I also initially put in “s” for “c” in 3dn “San Francisco”. I’ll have a look above for tree = plane, as that also left me puzzled.

    FOI – 2dn “Masks”
    LOI – 16dn (incorrect)
    COD – 17ac “Cornish Pasty”

    Thanks as usual!

  43. 17:06, struggling with SHRANK and HEREIN. Also found STOCKPORT a bit of a challenge which, having been born there, is slightly embarrassing. But overall I’m pleased that I generally seem to be getting somewhat faster at these, albeit from an extremely slow baseline.

    Thank you to Kitty for the blog!


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