Times Quick Cryptic 2716 by Des

Solving time: 11 minutes with an error corrected whilst preparing to blog.

Des is one of the many pseudonyms of the late Richard Rogan and set the very first Quick Cryptic puzzle which appeared on 19th March 2014 which I was privileged to blog. The name was used only 25 times, the last two occasions before today being in November 2021 and March 2023.

Whilst researching this an amazing fact came to my attention. Richard’s most widely used pseudonym was Felix who  set 93 Quick Cryptic puzzles beginning in April 2014, and I have blogged 306th since March 2014, yet I never blogged a Felix!  What would be the odds on that I wonder?

We identified a Nina or theme in 7 of Des’s previous puzzles (GREETINGS FROM THE EDITOR was hidden in QC #1) so I was looking for one today but I haven’t been able to spot anything. Can you?

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 Behold one’s girl (4)
LO (behold), I’S (one’s)
4 Football club employing round ball is concentrating (8)
FC (Football Club) + USING (employing) containing [round] O (ball)
8 Sponsored youngster did clog dancing outside hotel (8)
Anagram [dancing] of DID CLOG containing [outside] H (hotel)
9 Amphibian that we notice partially retreating (4)
Hidden in [partially] {tha}T WE N{otice} reversed [retreating]
10 What kids never play at school (6)
A first rate cryptic definition
11 Draws group — to scale, initially (6)
LOT (group), TO, S{cale} [initially]. I only knew this as the name of a game so wasn’t sure about pluralising it, but the dictionaries confirm it’s also simply an alternative word for a lottery.
12 Smelt absinthe being distilled in business premises (13)
Anagram [being distilled] of SMELT ABSINTHE. I also wasn’t sure about the definition here but SOED has: establishment – an institution or business; the premises or personnel of this
16 Has to contain brief rash causing bother (6)
HAS containing RAS{h} [brief]
17 Is capable, then led astray? That’s wicked! (6)
CAN (is capable), then anagram [astray] of LED
19 Pole to fight, but not seriously (4)
Two meanings
20 Olga Grey is up the spout (8)
Anagram [up] of OLGA GREY. She was an actress from the silent film era if you wanted to know.
21 Game: it follows daily dance (8)
SO (it follows), FT (daily – Financial Times), BALL (dance). For my LOI I biffed FOOTBALL. I’ve no idea why but I realised my error when marking up my print-out for the blog.
22 Hard to follow some elite military band (4)
SAS (some elite military), H (hard)
2 Hum nothing gloomy (5)
O (nothing), DOUR (gloomy)
3 Very disappointed not to be quite qualifying for Python sketch? (4,2,1,6)
A colloquial meaning followed by a cryptic hint with reference to the most famous Monty Python sketch
4 Impose fine on illegal street trader first of all (5)
F{ine} + O{n} + I{llegal} + S{treet} + T{rader} [first of all]
5 Cooks in less than boiling water, and spoils (7)
Two meanings. The first is usually a way of cooking eggs. The second is akin to ‘mollycoddle’, to overprotect and spoil with kindness.
6 Pi to be worked out: so sum in action! (13)
Anagram [to be worked out] SO SUM IN ACTION. Considering we come across ‘pi’ in this sense almost daily, I took far too long to see what was going on. The surface worked as a clever distraction, for me at least. Enjoy such clues whilst you can as The Times are planning to exclude ‘archaic slang and the kind of abbreviations you know only from doing crosswords’ from the QC puzzles, so we can look forward to years of arguing about anything such as ‘pi’ that’s allowed through.
7 Recently arrived in Spain, Rob went climbing (7)
Hidden [in] {Spai}N ROB WEN{t} reversed [climbing]
10 Little piggy from the west? (3)
Coming from the west implies going TO the E (east)
13 Preparation for locks is fake, low-quality, mostly (7)
SHAM (fake), POO{r} (low-quality) [mostly]
14 Pasta dish ruined alas and starter of guacamole not available (7)
Anagram [ruined] of ALAS, then G{uacamole} [starter of…], NA (not available)
15 Restrict   clothing for male  couple (3)
Triple definition
17 Joyous song Lorca composed (5)
Anagram [composed] of LORCA
18 Lounges with sweets: ie has gone missing! (5)
LOLL{ie}S (sweets) [ie has gone missing]

86 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2716 by Des”

  1. I also bunged in FOOTBALL, while thinking that didn’t work, and once again forgetting to come back to it. GARGOYLE took a while, as did SANCTIMONIOUS. 8:31.
    Is today a bank holiday? There’s no Jumbo, but the 15×15 is being treated as a competition puzzle.

    1. No Bank Holiday. The format must be a hangover from Saturday. Bank Holiday puzzles are not competitions anyway.

  2. DNF(13:19) I couldn’t see “it follows” for SO and instead entered an unparsed FOOTBALL. I liked LOTTOS, LOLLS, and TOE most. I don’t see why “not to be quite qualifying” is necessary in Python clue?

    1. Because the Parrot is dead in the sketch, presumably. If the parrot is merely sick there would be no sketch.

  3. I gave up half way through but one of these days, one of these days, I’m going to remember Pi and that wicked can mean the candle kind.

    I also watched the Monty Python sketch just now, I’d never heard of it – I’ve only seen the movies. I learnt a lot of euphemisms for ‘dead’ I tell you what 😂

    I nho coddling eggs.

    1. I’m sure PINING FOR THE FJORDS has been in a jumbo cryptic, if not, it should be. Here’s my effort

      Messing about on Grinder, John tips off that he is no more. (6,3,3,6)

  4. Try the cheese shop next T, you’ll be amazed at how many cheeses you don’t know! I couldn’t get going with this one and with various interruptions don’t have a time but it certainly was not quick. Once again I’m confused by the identity of the setter. Jack says it’s the late Felix, the online paper says it’s Des. Que? Also, is there somewhere where we can read all the proposed revisions to crossword rules that Jack mentioned?

      1. The link by one of the posters didn’t go to the relevant information which was in Mick’s ‘Puzzles’ newsletter, but I posted the details in full in a later comment myself on Saturday here .

        The Puzzles newsletter email is available to all Times subscribers but you need to sign up for it here. Scroll down to ‘Puzzles’ and activate the slide button.

      1. On Friday the on line version said the setter was Corelli. But John’s blog referred to the late Felix, who I then discovered used both names. So maybe he had a third one? In the end it doesn’t really matter because a puzzle is a puzzle is a puzzle, but it is rather confusing…

      2. Yes, Des was another of at least 10 pseudonyms used by Richard and I have revised my intro accordingly. Apologies for the confusion.

        1. Thank you Jack, for this and the earlier info. Did Richard leave behind a stash of yet-to-be-published puzzles? Perhaps we should get rid of the various pseudonyms and just say ‘by Richard’!

  5. Wow, found this really tough and needed Jack’s blog to understand a few. However, we persevered finishing in 37.27

    Really liked sick as a parrot, “not quite dead” 😂 yes Tina, many of those euphemisms get used in chez RH on at least a weekly basis.

    Softball took a long alpha trawl to find and lottos held for a long time too.

    As is often the case frustrated to find that newborn was a reverse hidden, biffed from the crossers and Rob climbing without looking wider, d’oh!

    Thanks Jack.

  6. Bit of a slog. SOFTBALL went in but not at the first pass. Smiled at Pi – nice to see it as a definition – and I’ve seen ‘wicked’ enough to know not to fall for it but ‘draw’ still had me in trouble at the end before I stopped rejecting –TTOS as a possible word. Also held up by CODDLES where I only sort of knew one half of the double. Ended up all green in 18.08. Some high points but a bit of a grind,

  7. No serious hold ups today and the wicked/candle device even seems to have finally settled in at the front of my memory banks. Initially fell into the elephant trap at 21a but revised it to SOFTBALL when it wouldn’t parse.
    Started with FOCUSING and finished with SOFTBALL in 6.52 with COD to GARGOYLE.
    Thanks to Jackkt

  8. DNF, as I have not heard of SOFTBALL and would not have guessed it anyway as I had carelessly put in LASAGNE (which is how I spell it; I see that, in the words of our late Queen, “recollections may vary” on how it should be spelt and -A is an allowed version). Memo to self – must check anagram fodder, even when you think there is only one way to spell a word you know. Also NHO LOTTO as a draw, or CODDLES meaning spoils – I put them in with fingers crossed and needed the blog to confirm my guesses. And despite TIE being (a) only 3 letters long and (b) a triple definition it took an age as neither restrict = tie nor couple = tie came readily, and I was looking for another way, any other way, to read the wordplay.

    In fact I seem to have been off-balance throughout this puzzle: the 13 letter anagrams were tough, I was surprised to find two reversed hiddens, and while I am no longer surprised to find that almost any word can be used as an anagrind, “up” in 20A is certainly a new one for me. So, beaten all ends up.

    Many thanks Jack for the blog. And I second the motion (from LindsayO) that all future puzzles left by RR should be bylined RR, or perhaps RR-RIP.

    1. I’m curious about you not hearing about Lotto… What do UK people call lottery tickets? Just the lottery then?

        1. I think Lotto is the main game operated by The National Lottery, along with others like EuroMillions, Thunderball etc. I’m still in a work syndicate from 2 jobs ago, and the tickets I get emailed every few weeks definitely say Lotto at the top. I can also hear Billy Connolly saying “Don’t live a little, live a Lotto”, which must have been from an old advert (just looked it up -2002!).

      1. Its one of the examples of Brits abbreviating with the Australian English -o, suffix. Arvo, defo, bottle-o. And of Course our blogger, Lindsay-0.

  9. I thought this was superb, and was delighted to finish in 4:54 – but that delight was quickly soured by a pink square as I entered SANCTIMONIOUS with a double S at the end.

    COD to GARGOYLE, but honourable mentions to GODCHILD, TRUANT, and SOFTBALL.

  10. Pleasant solve untimed from FOI ODOUR to LOI SPAR. Had to think carefully to avoid the unparseable FOOTBALL once I realised SO = ‘it follows’ SOFTBALL went in.

    I also looked for a NINA or Theme, only spotting the many O’s 15 in total but couldn’t make anything from them.

  11. After a week off-grid, delighted to get back to a (for me) challenging and entertaining QC. Fell into the FOOTBALL trap (no chance of parsing that without the blog) and LASAGNE (the A-ending is the Italian singular [one sheet of pasta] and therefore not a ‘dish’, so I have some excuse, even if a poor one as my answer didn’t fit the clue!)

    Much biffing, but got over the line (football notwithstanding) in a little over 30 minutes.

    LOI: the guessed, and wrong, FOOTBALL

    Thanks for the blog – really needed it today!

  12. Yet another FOOTBALL victim- how do you play softball? Still don’t get the “Pi” reference in 6d and took ages to figure out SANCTIMONIOUS anagram. All rather hard going.

  13. 21:58
    Slow one, and with a typo as well.

    PI is not dead it seems, even after the article last week. I guess it is PI-Ning for the Fjords.

    Messing about on Grinder, John tips off that he is no more. (6,3,3,6)

  14. Well I’ve learned two things today. I didn’t realise that a GARGOYLE is a decorative waterspout. A decorative carving with no function is called a grotesque…..I’ve been calling all of them gargoyles up until now. I also didn’t know that a SPAR is a pole on a sailing vessel but then I don’t sail. I thought the crossword was tricky and I was saved from getting my LOI wrong because I biffed LASAGNe (like Cedric et al) which then meant I had to focus on the word play (initially had -O-TreeL) for my LOI SOFTBALL. 8:39 and very high up the leaderboard!

  15. Another careless FOOTBALL here. Checked the QUITCH, and there are nearly more solvers excluded with errors than correct solves!

    Quite a stiff test anyway I thought. A few tricksy definitions. Took me well over 8 mins to see the unwelcome pink squares..


  16. A terrific crossword, thoroughly enjoyed. Richard will be missed – an absolute master compiler.

    Like many others, I do hope the new compiling ‘rules’ won’t spoil our pleasure too much, but I’m very fearful they will.

    1. I share your fears. I’ve given up American crosswords because they’re so topical. If The Times goes the same way, I’ll have to take up something more productive! (And cancel my subscription.)

      1. Me too. I understand that the editors want to reel in a new generation of solvers, but it seems unfortunate to risk alienating the ones you’ve got by going too contemporary, too fast. We all had to learn the rules / vocab / twists and tricks, so I don’t see why younger generations can’t too! After all, I was 10 years younger than now when I started this addictive activity! And even if some of it is a bit dated, it is all part of our language and history.
        I’d like to believe that that is not what is going to happen, but we only have to look at how often brand names sneak in these days, when they used to be quite a rarity, to be a little wary.

        1. Surely the best solution re. reeling in new solvers is to make the The Sign of the Times version a new addition (daily?) and keep everything else the same. I rather like the rule that every actual person named has to be dead.

  17. 9:42

    Quick Snitch currently running hot at 131, so was pleased to sneak in under ten minutes here. Mostly comfortable until the last three! SASH was the first of those to fall, which cleared up the last letter of 6d which meant it probably ended NIOUS freeing up the remaining letters to make SANCTIMONIOUS. Finally a long think about 11a, which eventually landed on LOTTOS, though I would say that is probably 15×15 material, as perhaps was 6d.

    Thanks Jack and setter

  18. DNF Disaster. Will draw veil. Only finished about half before I lost patience.
    But thanks, Jack. I did get SOFTBALL and CODDLES and Monty Python.

  19. DNF. What a tedious QC this was. There was nothing in it that really motivated me to continue.

    Did like TRUANT though. Other than that I think I’ll give myself a day off from the QC if I see Des as the setter again.

    Time to dig out my Times QC crossword book and do one from there today.

    My verdict: 💤
    Pumpa’s verdict: Did not even bother subjecting Pumpa to this one. Didn’t want the RSPCA knocking on my door. 🤣

    1. As you can see from Jackkt’s intro, Richard (Felix/Des etc) passed away so there will only be a limited few remaining, I enjoy his crosswords.

  20. Decided to draw stumps after 22 minutes. LOI LOTTOS after CODDLES, which I barely knew the meaning of.
    I had spent a good chunk of time looking for something better than FOOTBALL ( just like yesterday evening), but I could not find Softball, so another DNF here.
    Lots of tricky stuff in this puzzle.

  21. My run of eleven sub par ten minute target times finally comes to an end, and it was really no surprise to me on this toughie. I was about to stop the clock at just under eleven minutes when I decided to return to the unparsed FOOTBALL. I’m glad I did, as the correct answer came to me after a further forty five seconds including a speedy alphabet trawl. I eventually stopped the clock at 11.38, and bearing in mind the difficulty, I think that was a relatively good time.

  22. 8:41

    I played mixed, slow-pitch softball in Regent’s Park in the 80’s and 90’s. One year the men’s UK national semi-finals fell on Thanksgiving, so all the Americans went home and I was drafted in as catcher. I broke a finger getting an out at 4th, but we won.

    COD Pi

    Terrific puzzle today, thanks all.

    1. I played mixed slow-pitch softball in the seventies in Riverdale Park in Toronto. I escaped injury but friends broke noses(catching) and shoulders(outfielders colliding). Is out at 4th at home plate? Hope finger is better now!

      1. We had a softball league at work which our American boss started. He was insistent on the base running rules that you had to be stood on the base or you could be tagged out. This led to runners pulling hamstrings and twisting ankles as they tried to stop dead on the base.

        We also had someone who had took a softball in the face and their glasses were smashed and thankfully they avoided significant eye injury beyond a small cut beside it.

        After seeing all this I decided after one or two games that I would be unavailable for the rest of the games.

        That is until we made the Championship game when I put my name forward. I think our boss knew I wasn’t that committed so only let me play in the last 4-5 innings.

        Just as well he did though as I hit the only home run of the match as we won 2-1.

        Not that I boast about these things obviously … (or remember them 29 years later!!)

        1. Great story for your memoirs some day- when you ever tire of New Driver as your name here you could always switch to The British Babe Ruth!

  23. A visit to the SCC today at 20:54. Quite hard. I had trouble with LOTTOS, CODDLES and SOFTBALL though at least managed to avoid the “football” trap.

    I look forward to more RR puzzles from The Times repository.

    Thanks to Jack and our much missed late setter

  24. 11:51
    Adding a new ailing animal simile to the roster, as up until this morning I’ve only encountered sick dogs and pikes, the latter being a memorable line in Withnail and I. Parrots on the whole I thought of as either being alive or dead, and not much in between. Took my time over the ball sport as it seemed ripe for pink squares, and hesitated for far too long over CODDLES because I wasn’t thinking it was as straightforward as a DD, but mercifully a Green Day.

    1. I always uncork a fine bottle of wine whenever Withnail and I is mentioned here in TfTT and enjoy it with a tasty slice of cake.

  25. 10:35, with a good while trying to parse FOOTBALL, or wondering if I was in fact looking for a dance, before it dawned on me.

    Thanks Jack and Richard.

  26. My brain is either still in holiday mode, or this was a tough one to come back to. Either way, it needed two sittings, with Godchild (🙄), Lottos, Coddles and Softball all needing that period of extra time to find the net. . . Probably not far short of 30mins in total, with CoD to 17ac, Candle, because, for once, I spotted straight away what was going on with wicked. Invariant

  27. DNF due fOoTBALL. I couldn’t parse it, but I also never thought of SOFTBALL. So, what to do? I decided to accept defeat. 31 minutes, but the error renders that meaningless.

    Many thanks for the blog.

  28. I was brutalized by this puzzle! I refused to give in and finally came in at 52:32 with everything parsed (not parsing=not solving in this puzzle). COD SOFTBALL, of course it couldn’t be football but darn that was hard to get away from, sharing hono(u)rs with TRUANT. FOI LOIS, LOI SANCTIMONIOUS, argh.

    British things I never heard of: “up the spout” (is this not the anagrind for 20A, making it a semi-&lit or something?), “sick as a parrot” (haha), LOTTOS plural, hum for smell. British things I vaguely recall: lollies, SAS. British thing I really should have learned by now but didn’t: pi. Maybe now it’s been kicked into me by having spent an incalculable amount of time pointlessly dredging my memory for mathematical terms.

    Thanks to jackkt for blogging, and all respect to the lamented RR for the schooling I just received.

  29. 25m
    Not in the best solving state, and got stuck on sanctimonious, softball, lottos, coddles, and LOI focusing.
    COD Focusing.

  30. All over the place on this one which ended up being a complete biff-fest. There were so many answers I couldn’t parse that I entered FOOTBALL at 21ac with a shrug and carried on. Luckily all the other biffs turned out to be correct. Struggled with the anagrams, especially SANCTIMONIOUS as I had forgotten the use of pi as an abbreviation for pious. All in all a fairly wretched 36 minute solve.

    FOI – 1ac LOIS
    LOI – DNF due to football error but my last entry was 22ac SASH

    Thanks to Jack for the much-needed blog.

    1. Yeah, it’s part of what I call “the code”. British slang, short for “pious” apparently.

  31. DNF. A flying start on the crosses was later met by firm resistance from Sanctimonious and Lolls. Thanks all

  32. Dnf…

    Thought I’d finished this in 30 mins, but then realised I’d made three errors: 21ac “Football”, 5dn “Cuddles” and 17dn “Coral”. For the latter, not sure what I was thinking of (probably “Chorale”), but obviously missed the straight forward answer. At the time I didn’t think Football worked, and probably should have trusted my instinct – but, as I couldn’t think of anything else that fit, I stuck with it.

    FOI – 1ac “Lois”
    LOI – 5dn “Cuddles” (incorrect)
    COD – 6dn “Sanctimonious”

    The more I think about it, the more I’m not really happy about the archaic terms disappearing completely from the QC.

    Thanks as usual!

  33. The pasta is lasagna but the pasta dish is lasagne as there are several sheets of lasagna. But we can’t engage with our setter as he is in the great trattoria in the sky.
    So I was another who thought 21a ended in reel.
    So 1 wrong and 3 DNF.

  34. I looked after Richard and his death upset me more than most. As evidenced yet again today his was a greater brain than mine. I regret not having had the opportunity to talk to him -at least he was spared listening to my ward round….

    Gave up with 2 to go DNK Pi for sanctimonious (saw the anagram but lacked a pen and paper) but I really should have got Lottos

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. At these times one has no words. Thank you for looking after him and caring about him.

  35. Don’t bother reading this unless you want to see just how bad I am.

    55 minute DNF.

    Put CORAL for CAROL. Not a typo, I really am that bad. Even by my standards, that is a very poor error.

    Took 25 mins over CODDLES and LOTTOS. Saw CODDLES quickly but couldn’t parse it.

    Another day of utter humiliation and another week shot to pieces. The fact that this was a QC largely for the enjoyment of the more skilled solver does not excuse my pathetic display.

    Why do I delude myself into believing I will ever attain one iota of respectability here? I simply cannot do this!

    Don’t respond. I’m turning off my computer so that I can wallow in self-recrimination. There is absolutely nothing positive I can take from today, and motivation for the rest of the week will be hard. Last week was bad, but this was in a different league.

    Is it so difficult to achieve my very modest target? Apparently it is.

    Thanks for the blog.

  36. A somewhat slow but enjoyable solve this morning, and a very late post! But I thought the whole thing was worth it just for 20a. I have just finished reading Alan Connor’s book on crosswords ‘Two Girls, One on Each Knee’ and the last chapter was called RACY 😅 Some very entertaining examples of naughty / smutty / rude clues, and I’d say that ‘Olga Grey is up the spout’ should be there too! The book was published pre-Quickie, but is a good read – recommended.
    I really liked GODCHILD and ESTABLISHMENT, wanted to spell the pasta dish with an E, and put SOFTBALL in with a shrug. No idea on the nina though – any sign yet? So sad to think that in the old days, RR would have put us out of our misery by now.
    15:43, FOI Lois LOI Coddles COD Gargoyle (truly laugh out loud)
    Thanks for the blog Jack, and thanks to Des

    1. Penny I have it on my bookshelf and read a long time ago. I shall now read again and I’m sure enjoy again! Thanks for the nudge!

      1. I got it for Christmas and have been reading it in dribs and drabs – a lovely book for dipping into. I hope you enjoy it all over again 😊

        1. Something to dip into when I’m tearing my hair out over an ungettable clue 😂

  37. I thought I’d got it all right until checking here only to discover I also scored an own goal with football and I biffed lithos for 11a. Thanks jackket

  38. I don’t understand the ‘Pi’ link at all. I’ve never come across it in crosswords. Can anyone explain it to me?

  39. DNF

    Really struggled with this. Took me too long to recall the meaning of pi, struggled with TRUANT, had exactly the same mix up as James with CAROL, thinking of chorale and rounded this disaster off just under 40 minutes with football.

  40. 11:16
    LOI was SOFTBALL and it was very tempting to just write in FOOTBALL there, but I couldn‘t see how that would work, then I was looking for -OITBALL but couldn‘t make anything of that, finally I thought of SO for It Follows and then ***finally*** realised how that clue parsed!!
    Thanks „in absentia“ Richard for a good puzzle with a nice trap at the end.

    1. Haha I spent a long time muttering foitball? toitball? poitball? yoitball? even though I knew it was ridiculous. The moment of revelation was very pleasing.

  41. A long and enjoyable slog, this one, and (like many) I opted for football: could it be that there’s a tournament going on somewhere? Liked Lottos for draws and sanctimonious for Pi – lateral thinking required. 30 minutes plus but I started late and my brain was full of opera, having weekended at Grange Park for three terrific productions. Back down to earth now for rest of week.

  42. I was determined to finish, although it almost finished me in the process. Well into the SCC, but all green and parsed.

  43. 35.57 I found this really hard though the late hour didn’t help. I spent a good while trying to fit ADDLES into 5d and finished with LOTTOS. Thanks Jack and Des.

  44. I struggled and took longer than same days cryptic
    Please dont go too modern Times Cryptic as you will find yourself becoming old fashioned rather quickly.


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