Times Quick Cryptic No 1269 by Joker

A bit of a quirky puzzle from Joker today, I think. It felt like there was almost a theme hidden somewhere, but not quite. A lot of Es Ns and Xs. (Hmm. Have I missed something?). Well I guess we can expect to be teased by Joker, and here he is at his tricksy best keeping me puzzling for the second longest time for a QC this year so far, taking over 7 1/2 minutes. I fell for more than a couple of misdirections (was I the only one?), such as expecting a V for five in 12A, the “say” at 19A and expecting an author in 12D… and more! And as for 13D… well what do you think? I enjoyed this a lot. I hope you did too. Plenty of lovely clues and no GRs; I give RETRO the COD award. If you found it hard, like yesterday’s, and missed your target or failed to finish I hope you won’t be discouraged, and if you didn’t, you’re smarter than me! Thanks Joker for a teasingly mind-bending and enjoyable Friday puzzle.

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, deletions and “other indicators”.

8 General rule in doorstep receptions (7)
PRECEPT – We start with a hidden word “in” doorsteP RECEPTions. Quite well hidden. Tip. If you can’t work out what is going on with the wordplay in a clue, try looking for a hidden word.
9 Humble sailor, like slave, ultimately (5)
ABASE – AB (sailor) AS (like) slavE, “ultimately”. Humble the verb, not the adjective!
10 A lot of Cologne, perhaps has European landscape (5)
SCENE – Cologne is a type of SCENT, (the “perhaps” indicating a definition by example); drop the last letter to get “a lot of” it, and add E (European). Anyone else think “European landscape” might be the definition at first?
11 Support old horse, note, quite young (7)
TEENAGE – TEE (support for golf ball) NAG (old horse) E (musical note).
12 Unity over five points (7)
ONENESS – There I was looking for a V in there somewhere, but in vain; its ON (over) E N E S S (five points of the compass).
14 Beast of burden carrying large Tibetan priest (5)
LLAMA – L (large) LAMA (Tibetan priest). Lovely surface; poor thing carrying a heavy weight at those heights.
15 Apply authority without power (5)
EXERT – The authority is an EXpERT and we enter it “without” the P (power). No I won’t mention the Brexit turmoil.
17 Some esteemed a Cambridge backing the scholarly world (7)
ACADEME – A reverse hidden; “some”, “backing”, in esteEMED A CAmbridge. Sadly, the surface doesn’t quite seem to work – what’s “a Cambridge”?
19 Former news media, say (7)
EXPRESS – This one had me confused….EX (former) PRESS (news media), the “say” making me think it was a semi-&lit asking for an example. But The Express is still being published so it can’t be “former”. Sneaky definition! Well done Joker. Now, then, blog reader – you didn’t just bung it in from the checkers, I hope. Did you?
20 Old-fashioned beer brought back without pressure (5)
RETRO – the beer is a pORTER, “brought back” and “without” P (pressure). Neat to have a backward looking clue for Retro.
22 Tedium starts to exhaust now nothing usually interests (5)
ENNUI – “starts to” Exhaust Now Nothing Usually Interests. Not with this crossword, though.
23 Ridiculously, any line is wrong (7)
INANELY – (any line)* “is wrong”. Describing a nonsense verse, perhaps? “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one!”

1 Soup prepared for work (4)
OPUS – (Soup)* “prepared”. Hmm. Maybe I should try the soup option from the canteen for lunch at work.
2 Respect always joining queen and English (6)
REVERE – R (regina – queen) EVER (always) “joining” E (English). The verb, not the noun. And nothing to do with with Paul of that ilk.
3 Give up something to plant, reportedly (4)
CEDE – Sounds like (“reportedly”)  SEED (something to plant).
4 Politician’s quality says chap’s fashionable (13)
STATESMANSHIP – STATES (says) MAN’S (chap’s) HIP (fashionable). A nice charade.
5 Desert creature with trouble lifting evergreen shrub (8)
CAMELLIA – CAMEL (desert creature) with AIL (trouble) “lifting” i.e. reversed in a Down answer.
6 An area under prohibition for fruit (6)
BANANA – AN A (area) “under” BAN (prohibition). Reminds me of the song... “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today”. Hear it here.
7 Need gear to move rat (8)
RENEGADE – (Need gear)* “to move”.
12 Astonished old writer spotted (4-4)
OPEN-EYED – Led astray again, I was looking for an old Author as the first word, but it’s O (old) PEN (writer) EYED (spotted).
13 Redesigned tech site is visually pleasing to Americans (8)
ESTHETIC – “Redesigned” (tech site)*. It looks very odd to me without the A on the front.
16 Former husband quiet with increase (6)
EXPAND – EX (former husband) P (piano – quiet) AND (with).
18 One or the other solvent absorbs iodine (6)
EITHER – The solvent is ETHER which “absorbs” I (chemical symbol for Iodine). And here is an experiment you can do with it – larn yersel some stinks today; and hello to my chemistry teacher sister-in-law!
20 A lot of paper’s pale yellow with no carbon (4)
REAM – Another chemical symbol. This time we remove it…. cREAM (pale yellow) “with no” C (carbon).
21 Variety of agate needs working unknown times (4)
ONYX – ON (working) Y (unknown) X (times). we are talking the gemstone here, not the Pokémon with a similar name.

39 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1269 by Joker”

  1. I had the same reaction to ‘a Cambridge’ as you did, John; maybe ‘… a Cambridge reversal in …’ would have been better? I was going great guns but two in the SE slowed me down: RETRO and ONYX (LOI). Finally thought of PORTER, and the O gave me ONYX. Gellett Burgess followed up later with “Ah, yes, I wrote ‘The Purple Cow’; / I’m sorry now I wrote it; / But I can tell you anyhow, / I’ll kill you if you quote it.” verb. sap. 5:46.
    On edit: I meant to say that I cordially dislike clues like 12ac, which ask the solver to pick from (NSEW/ABCDEFG/etc.).

    Edited at 2019-01-18 02:17 am (UTC)

  2. Within my target 10 minutes, but only by a few seconds as I struggled with the anagram at 13dn and needed all the checkers before it fell into place.

    I also struggled parsing 14ac to fit the answer as the clue appeared to be the wrong way round: LLAMA (beast of burden) containing [carrying] L (large) which would give us L(L)LAMA. If it were a Down clue we could have got to the same (incorrect) answer with ‘carrying’ indicating L (large) on top of the beast of burden – L LLAMA. To get to the right answer one either has to ignore ‘carrying’ completely, treating it as padding which seems to be what our blogger has done, or read it as an enclosure indicator by inserting an imaginary comma in the second part of the clue: carrying large, Tibetan priest – L(L)AMA. Perhaps instead of wrestling with all this which will probably be shot to pieces anyway, perhaps I should have just biffed the obvious answer and moved on!

    1. I suppose, since John introduced the purple cow, I could cite Ogden Nash’s llama:
      The one-L lama, he’s a priest;
      The two-L llama, he’s a beast;
      And I will bet a silk pajama,
      There isn’t any three-L lllama.
    2. I see your point. It never occurred to me, though, that ‘carrying’ wasn’t just a cheeky joining word to make the surface work as using it as an inclusion indicator doesn’t work.
  3. A red square again but this time a typo, so I’m letting me off as I’d never have done it on paper – ONESESS. A tricky puzzle made harder by the grid with each corner pretty much self-contained. The NW was the last to go and for the second time this week I finished with a hidden. R for Queen never comes readily to mind, so REVERE was SLOI. My best week of 2019 so far. Have now started the 15×15 at lunchtimes, no finishes yet but I’m getting halfwayish most days. See you all Monday.
  4. I agree with our blogger and others, this was a tricky puzzle with an odd grid. The whole SW was blank for me as I went through the clues.
    My last two were OPEN EYED and EXERT. I liked Retro very much and Onyx was my FOI.
    16:38 today. Well done Joker for a subtly different test.
  5. As usual, perfect surfaces and lots of misdirection from the excellent Joker.
    27 minutes, but I spent four or five on my LOI ‘Either’ due to mis-spelling ‘AcadAme’ (unforgivable in a hidden word).
    Still under my current target of 30 minutes, but as I’ve been under for the last week or so (apart from yesterday), I’m officially reducing it to 20 from next week.


  6. Enjoyed today very much. Still struggle to get below 25 mins! Maybe I should deduct tea and toast making!
  7. I agree this was another tricky puzzle, but unlike yesterday I managed to complete it withing my 10 minute target, but only by 1 second! RENEGADE was my LOI and, like Vinyl1, it took me a while to spot it. 13d certainly seemed odd, but in it went on wordplay. I liked RETRO too. Nice puzzle. Thanks Joker and John.
  8. I agree that this was a tricky one but in a good way. An enjoyable end to the week; still in the SCC (but under 20 mins). Too many nice clues to list but I did like ONENESS and OPEN-EYED. My LOI was EXERT. Many thanks to Joker and John.
  9. It did feel like a lot of Es, didn’t it? Not that it was an easy puzzle, ho ho. I really enjoyed it and had them all bar 3dn after 10 mins … but _E_E really leaves a lot of possibilities, in fact I can now say 63 possibilities, and it took me another SIX MINUTES to come up with CEDE. Dear oh dear. So nearly three Kevins and a Disappointing Day. Thanks to Joker and to John for a really excellent blog.

    On edit – I looked for a NINA but could only see a DAMN in the second row!

    More than making up for today’s disappointment, however, is the fact that on the train home yesterday I finished the Big Boy Puzzle!! (For only the second time!) Absolute scenes. If you could do a fist-pump and knee-slide in a silent commuter train I’d have done it; as it was I had to content myself with looking up hoping someone would make eye contact and note my modestly triumphant expression. No-one did, of course. Almost everyone on modern trains seems to be watching a screen of some sort.


    Edited at 2019-01-18 10:07 am (UTC)

    1. Yey. Well done with completing the 15×15. It’s great to hear of a success of the QC as a training ground.
    2. Congratulations! I got my first 15×15 completion just before Xmas and even though it took about 2 hours and had both me & Mrs Bulgaria working on it, the sense of satisfaction was enormous so I can only dream of how pleasing a solo effort in the time of a train ride would be!
      1. I do the crossword on a screen when I’m on a train…
        Finished! A rare event, and very reassuring after yesterday’s disaster.
  10. I’ll join the chorus and agree it was tricky. I got stuck on the idea that astonished was wide eyed and dismissed open eyed as being more about aware.
  11. Inside my target time for once this week, but still at the upper end (my target range is 10 to 15 minutes). I originally went for O{ver} and a total of 6 ‘points’ and I wondered how Joker could have miscounted, and it took me a minute to realise that ‘over’ could also mean ON. Enjoyable work out all round, with the RETRO PORTER winning my CoD nomination. Thanks setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2019-01-18 10:39 am (UTC)

  12. It took me 36 minutes. I thought my average was about 20 but I’m not too sure after the last 2 days…. I have to say that I much preferred today’s puzzle over the previous one though as this one was just about as challenging as I want the QC to be (of course – just my opinion!). That said I agree with previous comments about 12ac – when the clue just a random series of a given set of letters I’m not a fan.

    My COD was undoubtedly retro – it made me smile.

    Thanks Joker & to John for a really good blog.

  13. At 17ac, the clue seems to have been mangled somehow – perhaps it should have read ‘… a Cambridge back in the …’, so that the surface suggests the Backs or football. (Or else a word such as ‘don’ was lost?)

    Edited at 2019-01-18 11:44 am (UTC)

    1. I like your suggestion. I wonder if that was what was intended. It makes a better clues, for sure.
  14. Some more unusual words today – PRECEPT, ABASE, ACADEME, ESTHETIC (urgh!), etc. – demanding due diligence to complete correctly. I share Kevin’s dislike of 12a style clues.
    Many thanks to setter and w.
  15. After several years at this, I’ve reached the stage where I can often remember having seen a clue before (eg 11ac), now if only I could remember the answers as well… A 30 min solve, which makes it average, but it seemed tricky at the time, especially the SW corner – I took one of the NE pairs in 12ac to be north-east to keep the points down to five. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fit Theresa into 15ac. Joker’s tongue in cheek 4d gets my CoD vote. Invariant
  16. As an author who frequently finds his text altered by the publisher to suit the American market, I have never seen esthetic and its normal spelling would have been used in my work fairly frequently.
  17. Very tricky and I couldn’t parse oneness until I read the blog – so thanks for that! All in eventually in about 40 minutes. I still class myself as a beginner so I don’t mind that time given some of the other comments.
  18. Well I needed 15 mins plus to complete this Joker QC. I nearly made a mistake with 9a ABASE/abash, I biffed 12a ONENESS but knew it had something to do with compass points, couldn’t parse RETRO and DNK ESTHETIC but nothing else would fit.

    LOI 7d RENEGADE and COD 15a EXERT. Thanks John for the blog.

  19. A little bit confused by 12D as I always thought OPEN-EYED indicated awareness rather than astonishment ?
  20. 30 mins, on my phone which is not as satisfying as paper or desktop.

    Last 2 took ages, esthetic and exert.
    Dnk camellia
    Cod renegade or express.

  21. 13.26 not too bad for me on a tricky Joker. Looking back, it all seems so obvious – which, I suppose, is a mark of a good quick cryptic. Also pleased to finish the big one yesterday, though, as usually the case after a completion, it’s then slightly depressing to read how easy it is!
  22. …. there are LLAMAS ! A very early Python sketch and still one of my favourites.

    I made the mistake of doing this on my Smartphone. It wasn’t a Smartmove, and I’d have been sub-four minutes on paper, as the only ones not written straight in were RETRO, and ONENESS.

    TIME 5:07 on the official timer.

  23. I always enjoy Joker’s puzzles and today was no exception. It took me about half an hour of steady but amused plodding. No huge stumbling blocks although I couldn’t parse “oneness”. I knew it had to be right but didn’t know why. Wouldn’t a clue involving the word “cape” or “promontory” etc have been easier (for both setter and solvers)? Then again, I suppose easy is not what we’re necessarily looking for here… Really liked 4 down. Thanks so much, John, for your witty and interesting blog and thank you, Joker, for providing a pleasant end to my crossword week.
  24. Unlike everyone else, I found this the easiest of the week. I always do the QC in the newspaper and don’t time myself, but this went in very quickly. Perhaps it was because I did it straight after lunch, which included two glasses of Malbec!
  25. Quite a relief after yesterday, although we were still a little over our average of 30m. Slowed down in SE by 12a and untangling th spelling on 13d. Why is ennui such a favorite in crosswordland? Thanks to setter and blogger.
  26. Quite a relief after yesterday, although we were still a little over our average of 30m. Slowed down in SE by 12a and untangling th spelling on 13d. Why is ennui such a favorite in crosswordland? Thanks to setter and blogger.
  27. I was on Joker’s wavelength today and it all went in fairly smoothly. As Jackkt mentioned 14a felt a bit back to front to me but the answer couldn’t really have been anything else so I moved on. I left 13d until last having seen the anagram fodder by which point it was easy enough to fill in the blanks. I also wondered if there was a plant called a CAMELODA but fortunately left the answer blank until I had more checkers.
    A lovely puzzle completed in 11.04
    Thanks for the blog
  28. What does GR stand for?

    This was my quickest one this week, statesmanship being the COD.


Comments are closed.