Times Quick Cryptic 2722 by Mara

Hi everyone.  This took me a normal kind of time for a QC, and I enjoyed it a normal (that is, very good!) amount.  I also noted and appreciated the decent variety of clue types.  Thanks Mara!

Apologies, I have had to lean towards the terse side today, but if anything needs further explanation please ask in the comments.

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are usually in italics and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

7a Maxim in marketing era? (5)
ADAGE AD AGE (marketing era?)
8a Broadcast around auditorium far from profound (7)
SHALLOW SOW (broadcast) around HALL (auditorium)
10a Desert safer, OK travelling (7)
FORSAKE — An anagram of (… travelling) SAFER, OK
11a Sketch ending in drivel, speak slowly (5)
DRAWL DRAW (sketch) + the last letter of (ending in) driveL
12a Country organising a trial, USA (9)
AUSTRALIA — We are anagramming (organising) A TRIAL, USA
14a Slide down some mountains, Kitzbuhel? (3)
SKI Some mountainS, KItzbuhel?
15a Indication in letter read aloud? (3)
CUE — Sounds like (… read aloud?) Q (letter)
Cue is also the spelling of the letter Q, so the clue would also work without the last two words.  It is of course perfectly fine and good this way too.
16a Brilliant green space in pitch (9)
SPARKLING PARK (green space) in SLING (pitch)
18a Leave small stuff (5)
SCRAM S (small) + CRAM (stuff)
20a Figure in Tonga excited by backing of company (7)
OCTAGON — An anagram of (… excited) TONGA by the reversal (backing) of CO (company)
22a Flood complete, scarper (7)
OVERRUN OVER (complete) + RUN (scarper)
23a Soldier after playful life in the woods? (5)
FUNGI GI (soldier) after FUN (playful)


1d US city where European money once invested in dodgy casinos (3,9)
SAN FRANCISCO FRANC (European money once) put into (invested in) an anagram of (dodgy) CASINOS
2d Finally, channel dealing with English sport (8)
LACROSSE — The last letter of (finally) channeL + ACROSS (dealing with) + E (English)
3d Greek letter, maybe tau’s included (4)
BETA — MayBE TAu’s included the answer
4d A toff too (2,4)
AS WELL A SWELL (a toff)
5d Book challenging champion (8)
HARDBACK HARD (challenging) + BACK (champion)
This one was much easier once I’d given up the idea it would start with B …
6d Insect that jumps to escape being caught (4)
FLEA — FLEE (to escape), homophone (being caught)
9d Very happy experiencing levitation? (7,2,3)
WALKING ON AIR — Definition plus a literal interpretation of the answer
13d Girl carrying wine for Herb (8)
ROSEMARY MARY (girl) underneath (carrying) ROSÉ (wine)
14d Lively serenade about faction (8)
SWINGING SING (serenade) around (about) WING (faction)
17d A spherical present (6)
AROUND A + ROUND (spherical)
19d Dance film (4)
REEL — Double definition
21d Head scratched in difficult argument (4)
TIFF — The first letter (head) is removed (scratched) in sTIFF (difficult)

76 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2722 by Mara”

  1. 10 minutes with SPARKLING as my LOI.

    I think the clue at 15 is plenty hard enough for a QC without omitting the homophone indicator since it gives little indication of the letter involved, but if we’re looking to remove extraneous words we could do away with ‘once’ in 1dn as the franc is still very much in use in Switzerland.

  2. Five on the first pass of acrosses before an acceleration and then a fade as SWINGING took a fair while to come at the end. Ended up all green in 12.10 to banish memories of last week’s typofest. Enjoyed FUNGI.

  3. Nice puzzle for a steady solve in 20.07. Couldn’t see the forsake lacrosse/pairing despite returning several times but, finally, as L2I we wrote out the letters of safer ok , and still expecting to find some unknown African desert, until the PDM (even though Mrs RH had been shouting “no its de-sert not des-ert”)!

    COD to fungi and also liked as well, have an inkling that might be a chestnut?

    Thanks Mara and Kitty, especially for the help understanding being caught as the homophone indicator, we had to wait for the crosser to be sure of flea/flee

  4. A fairly gentle start to the week. My only minor hold ups were the parsing of ROSEMARY where I was looking for the wine to be inside the girl – serious forehead slap when the penny dropped, and SWINGING where I wanted to find a faction from an anagram of ‘serenade’.
    Started with SAN FRANCISCO and finished with SPARKLING in 5.51.
    Thanks to Kitty

  5. An enjoyable amble through the grid for a steady start to the week. No horrors, but most clues took a little bit of time to parse. The obvious 1D city gave a useful base for the western side, but 9D held out until much later. Liked FUNGI.
    Sorry to see that the change of Government has done nothing to improve the weather so may have to go and try grappling with the Biggie as my gardening plans will have to wait, unless I try planting rice.

  6. I seem to have bucked the trend here as I found this a stiff test for a Monday morning, taking 15 minutes to complete the grid and even then some question-marks remained over some of the parsing. The long geographical anagrams, Australia and San Francisco, were very getable and opened up the puzzle for a quick start, but thereafter things went more slowly and it took a time to understand Across = Dealing with in 2D, or see Around = Present in 17D. And like Plett11 I rather assumed that “Girl carrying wine” implied a girl’s name with a wine inserted into it. But all green eventually, even if a bit of a struggle and not a fast time. I think that is what “not on wavelength” means.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

  7. Had to think twice about SPARKLING, TIFF and LOI & COD FUNGI. But otherwise they went straight in for 05:28 and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Kitty.

    (PS the Quitch is currently running at 81 so seems a relatively gentle one)

  8. 11:31. About average difficulty for me with LACROSSE and AROUND the ones that held me up most. I liked ROSEMARY; as capitalised in the clue, a male with three girl’s names.

    Thanks to Kitty and to Mara – SPARKLING, SWINGING and WALKING ON AIR are a good way to start the week.

  9. I biffed ROSEMARY (they can’t lock me up for it) and so thanks to Kitty for the parsing. After the first pass I’d missed quite a few, but the second pass left me with just FUNGI and my LOI.

    TIME 4:03

    1. That’s the advantage of not having to blog it! Biff, shrug shoulders and move on. Despite my best endeavours, I sometimes have to come here for the parsing as I just can’t see how they work. Today it was TIFF and HARDBACK. Wasn’t totally convinced that “across”=”dealing with” either but it looked plausible.

        1. Yes, I’ve seen that in the blog. Not sure I’ve come across that usage (no pun intended). Didn’t come up when I searched either. Must be one of the new fangled terms – who says the QC is stuck in the past?!

  10. 9:56 (St Dunstan goes into exile, after embarrassing incident at Eadwig’s coronation feast)
    Slow to get going, then raced through. Had the same delay on HARDBACK, looking for a word beginning with B.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  11. Fairly easy, I thought smugly, but then realised I had not completed 15a.
    LOI otherwise SWINGING. Hm.
    Biffed LACROSSE fairly early on. In fact, a steady solve, or so I thought.
    I was trying the arid desert to start with too.
    Yes, better get on with the gardening until Wimbledon starts.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  12. 4:44. Held up at the end by SPARKLING and SWINGING. I liked FLEA best for the excellent surface. Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  13. A slowish 18:11, as I couldn’t find my anagram hat to start with. Had WHY for the “letter that sounds like an indication” until realising that there was no W in the anagrind for 1d. Liked ROSEMARY, AROUND and FLEA the most today.

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty.

  14. Slightly distracted waiting for a ‘possible’ visit from Openreach (what a misnomer!), but I lean towards Cedric’s view in finding Mara quite a handful this morning. Although the LHS went in quickly, thanks to foi San Francisco, the right side of the grid was a different story, with some tricky target spotting (looking at you, Fungi), and parsings. Finally crossed the line around the 25min mark, with CoD to 16ac, Sparkling, for the surface. Invariant

  15. 6.05

    Excellent puzzle. W/p and surfaces very neat such that I had to resort to more biffing than I like. SAN FRANCISCO and FUNGI both enjoyed

  16. 10 minutes including time on LOI SWINGING. I nearly biffed Stinging-but, of course, it doesn’t parse.
    A nice QC.
    COD to FUNGI.

  17. First sub 4 in a while, and ahead of Busman and johninterred, so I’m going to say it’s a red letter day for me.

    LOI was BETA and it added ~15 seconds to my time, I did call myself an idiot when I saw it there in plain sight. I liked SAN FRANCISCO a lot.


  18. Finished it! – though I have to thank Mrs M for LOI SWINGING, just couldn’t see it. Maybe we can get her properly on board before long! Thank you, Kitty, for your blog – CNP TIFF (that was a sTIFF one).

  19. 36:11. Nice mix of clues though I biffed LACROSSE as I could not see how ‘dealing with’ means ‘across.’
    For 6d did not see ‘being caught’ as a homophone indicator (on second thoughts it could as in ‘overhear’)
    COD FORSAKEN because it took so long to solve the anagram and desert was nicely ambiguous.
    Thanks both

    1. Yes, “being caught” is part of what I call The Code. I had to learn it early on as a homophone indicator and I still don’t catch it 🙃 sometimes. Same for “picked up” I think.

  20. Lots of PDMs today, especially FORSAKE (looking for an unknown desert), FUNGI and LOI SWINGING. Biffed FLEA (didn’t spot the homophone) and SHALLOW (expecting a homophone). Thanks for explanations kitty.
    Some challenges and therefore lots of enjoyment. Liked BETA because for once I spotted the hidden straight away!

  21. 7:18

    Steady enough until the SE, where I was slow to spot all three that provided checkers for LOI FUNGI.
    Liked WALKING ON AIR when the P D’d.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  22. Looking at the completed puzzle, I think I made heavy weather of this finishing in 11.55. It was about the nine minute mark with just 5dn to get, but it just wouldn’t come. I then realised I had got 16ac wrong with an unparsed STARTLING, and once I had sorted this out HARDBACK didn’t delay me further.

  23. 6:06 but…

    …nuts! Had bunged in SEE at 15a and didn’t go back to fix once SAN FRANCISCO has replaced the S with a C. Otherwise, it was a gentle Monday grid.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

    1. I thought about SEE but didn’t like it – then realised I’d misspelt the city so changed letters to Q. Loi HARDBACK for the same reason as our setter. 8:09 for a breezy QC – thanks all.

  24. From ADAGE to SWINGING in 6:42 but could someone please explain how ACROSS = dealing with? Thanks

    1. Collins sense 4: “fully informed about, dealing with”. Gives the example “We are across this problem”.

  25. Finished correctly in 45 minutes. Hooray.

    23 Across – Fungi.

    Cannot help thinking of the Benny Hill classic song – Garden of Love. And I quote :
    “But Gus the gardener’s left now, and you went with him too.
    The fungus there reminds me of the fun Gus is having with you.”

    13 Down – Aided by my memory of a favourite song by Simon and Garfunkel :
    “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
    Remember me to one who lives there
    She once was a true love of mine”

    And there I must end (just in Thyme – you may say.)
    This one is for free, on the subject of herbs :
    ” But at my back I always hear.
    Thyme’s wingèd chariot hurrying near”.

    1. Thyme’s wingèd chariot 🤣, so apposite to those numbers ticking away on my screen. (Actually I always just scroll them away until I’m done, it seems to help.)

  26. SWINGING proved a problem apart from that no major issues although HARDBACK took some time to get head around, but biffed in anyhow

  27. In the end I was well pleased to finish in just 27 minutes, despite a challenging start. Very little went in early on. In fact, my L4I (SHALLOW, FLEA, LACROSSE and ADAGE) were all right at the top of the grid. I alai ground to a complete halt further down for a while, but SWINGING and SPARKLING appeared out of the the mist and triggered a number of other successes in the SE corner.

    Many thanks to Mara and Kitty.

  28. Glossed over my SAN FRANSISCO and SEE without putting my brain into gear. 7.06, but, drat! Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  29. Unlike our blogger, this took me a less-than-normal time at 13:41. A fun mix of write-ins and PDMs. FOI BETA, LOI REEL (oh for heaven’s sake!), COD SPARKLING. A little bit of foreign-ness to keep me guessing (ACROSS = dealing with).

    Many thanks Mara and Kitty!

  30. 8:50 is certainly pretty fast for us. It could have been a PR though if it hadn’t taken so much headscratching to see that the faction we needed was ‘wing’. SWINGING didn’t easily come to mind as a synonym for lively either – seems rather dated now. Thanks to Kitty for the blog and to Mara for a nevertheless enjoyable puzzle.

  31. A somewhat interrupted 18 minutes, although it had seemed faster. Not too bad, certainly in comparison with last Monday, or so I thought. Alas the dreaded typo, cue becoming cee for some unknown reason. Other than that no great problems although I was slow to get a foothold at the start.

    FOI – 7ac ADAGE
    LOI – 15 ac, the misspelt CUE

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty

  32. This blog is a haven of good manners and learning for which I thank all contributors. We normally complete the QC in the metal household later on in the day and so do not post here, for which I apologise. Today is an exception:

    At first sight this seemed ridiculously easy but after naming a city after Saint FranSis, not paying attention to “forEsak” and noticing that both 20 and 22a were 7 letter clues begining with O and ending with N making it the natural choice to transpose the answers, the crossword became impossible to finish!

    COD lacrosse, which I used to play. It is commonly shortened to lax and would make a good candidate to replace ski as the 3 letter sport.

    Many thanks to Mara and Kitty

    1. . . .hmm, several ways to clue that 😉, but thanks for the tip off about the unknown abbreviation.

    2. I agree heartily about the good manners, so rare on the internet. Come for the parsing, stay for the company!

  33. 7.35 This was going very quickly but CUE, BETA, HARDBACK and TIFF took a while at the end. Thanks Kitty and Mara.

  34. We enjoyed this one, completed quickly for us, delayed a little in the se corner. Thanks to Mara for a good start to the week.

  35. Nice puzzle spoiled by two ridiculous clues – tiff and lacrosse. “Dealing with” is no way defined by “Across” – why can’t the setters be accurate with their definitions?

    1. See Templar’s explanation above of “across” = “dealing with”. It works for me. Not sure what your problem is with TIFF, it’s fair enough, I think, although initial letter deletions can be hard to spot.

  36. 14:35. Held up by most of the snags others have mentioned already. DANCING ON AIR was a false step too. I really liked FUNGI, SPARKLING, and HARDBACK.

  37. Found the SE corner a bit troublesome but finished in 18:06, a bit surprised that I wasn’t quicker.

    Thank you for the blog!

  38. 19 minutes

    The gap between my time and what I consider to be a decent time remains a yawning chasm. Unlike many other solvers, there is no sign of improvement. I found this stressful and frustrating in equal measure. Enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment elude me. ☹️

    Thanks for the blog.

  39. Stupidly had cee instead of CUE. Was happy I’d got all right until checking in here!
    Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  40. Did most of the big crossword but took well over a hour. Never going to get there at this rate! My brain just doesn’t work in the way that a cryptic demands.

    There is a world of difference between the QC and the big crossword if my performance today is anything to go by!

    Just noticed that the blog said the big crossword was easy today. That puts me firmly in my place.

  41. 17:27

    Not too bad but took far too long to get the almost trivial LOI CUE. I even went back to check I had San Fran spelt correctly. Thankfully a quick alphabet trawl got me there in the end.

  42. 9:19
    A late one but a fun one. SWINGING took a while to see, but the rest I found pretty straightforward.

  43. 15 mins…

    A day late on this one due to being away. I thought this was a fairly gentle start to the week from Mara. Only problem was trying to parse 6dn “Flea” – I didn’t realise “being caught” was a homophone.

    FOI – 1dn “San Francisco”
    LOI – 9dn “Walking On Air”
    COD – 23ac “Fungi”

    Thanks as usual!


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