Times Quick Cryptic No 1953 by Orpheus

How is your knowledge of Dutch portraitists, Indian transport systems or Caribbean capitals?  You’ll need them all for this puzzle from Orpheus.  I completed this comfortably inside 11 minutes, and knew all the General Knowledge except the Dutch portraitist, which was gettable, but needed checking after completion.

I have to give my COD to 12d despite the use of the bra = supporter old chestnut, with FOI 1d.  Thanks Orpheus.


1  Friend carrying artist’s old sunshade (7)
PARASOL – PAL (friend) around (carrying) RA’S (artist’s) and O{ld}.
5  Reportedly wander round capital (4)
ROME – Sounds like (reportedly) ROAM (wander round).
7 State originally lauded in a lot of papers (5)
REALM – L{auded} (originally) inside REAM (lot of papers – a ream is defined as between 480 and 500 sheets of paper).
8  Source of grapes, fish and sour-tasting liquid (7)
VINEGAR – VINE (source of grapes) and GAR (fish, similar to a pike).
10 Bird of prey biting head off chicken (3)
OWL – fOWL (head off chicken).
11  Officiating priest sporting new bracelet (9)
CELEBRANT – Anagram (sporting) of N{ew} and [BRACELET].
13  Pay to take up residence (6)
SETTLE – Double definition.
14  Destructive type left at rear of London museum (6)
VANDAL – L{eft} after V AND A (London museum, the V & A – Victoria and Albert).
17  What pupils should pay? A strain, by the sound of it (9)
ATTENTION – Cryptic clue (pupils should pay attention) together with a homophone (by the sound of it), ATTENTION sounds like A TENSION (a strain).
19  Reduced price for salad ingredient (3)
COS – COS{t} – price reduced = drop the last letter.
20  Northern woman’s childminders (7)
NANNIES – N{orthern} and ANNIE’S (woman’s).
22 Girl from Addis Ababa initially eating egg (5)
ANITA – A{ddis} A{baba} (initially) containing NIT (egg).
23 Extreme anger? It’s the fashion (4)
RAGE – Double definition.
24  Possible runner’s articles about obstruction at Wimbledon (7)
ATHLETE – A and THE (articles) surrounding (about) LET (obstruction in tennis, or at Wimbledon).


West Indian Capital or Vigo, possibly? (4,2,5)
PORT OF SPAIN – Cryptic hint or double definition maybe? – PORT OF SPAIN is the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago (in fact where I joined my first ship in January 1971).  Vigo is a city and port in the NW of Spain, so is an example of a Port of Spain.
Again share out genuine sale item (7)
REALLOT – REAL (genuine) and LOT (sale item).
3  Army officer in house on short break (9)
SEMICOLON – COL{onel} (army officer) inside SEMI (house) and ON (on).
Animated quartet captured by Dutch portraitist (6)
LIVELY – IV (four, quartet) inside LELY (Sir Peter Lely, Dutch portraitist).
5 Manage to move at speed (3)
RUN – Double definition..
6 Molten rock mother found crossing top of gorge (5)
MAGMA – MAMA (mother) containing G{orge} (top of …).  Hands up those who first thought of lava?
9  Eternal task diverting a venomous reptile (11)
RATTLESNAKE – Anagram (diverting) of [ETERNAL TASK].
12  Indoctrinate supporter swimming off Hunstanton? (9)
BRAINWASH – BRA (supporter) IN WASH (swimming off Hunstanton).  The Wash is a rectangular bay and estuary at the north of East Anglia, and Hunstanton is a town on its coast.
15  Refuse to go to seed (7)
DECLINE – Double definition.
16  In Florida’s borders, strange site for a carnival (6)
FIESTA – F{lorid}A (Florida’s borders) containing an anagram (strange) of [SITE].
18  Vehicle used in India, not over Georgia (5)
TONGA – NOT reversed (over) to give TON and GA (Georgia).  A TONGA is a light, two-wheeled vehicle used in India.
21  Frozen matter encountered in Arctic exploration (3)
ICE – Hidden answer found in {arct}IC E{xploration}.

45 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1953 by Orpheus”

  1. 38 minutes, which is quite quick for me. I had to Google Vigo and Tonga. And Lely, of course. And, gar.

    I liked pupils paying attention, but was held up by that as I assumed it would be something to do with eyesight.

    Edited at 2021-09-02 03:20 am (UTC)

  2. 8 minutes helped by seeing PORT OF SPAIN and TONGA and a carriage in recent puzzles. I knew both, but might have taken longer to dredge them from memory but for that.
    1. I meant to say this earlier but somehow posted it to the 15×15 discussion: The one interesting thing I know about Hunstanton is that it’s on the east coast of England but actually faces west, which affords it a view of the sun setting over the sea, something unusual on that side of the country.
  3. Sub 30, so faster than yesterday’s hop arround the grid.
    At least managed without interruption from puppy. Oh, spoke too soon. I’ll grab my shoes (one of which appears to have a bite mark).
  4. 19:34 though with too long on the last two : DECLINE & SETTLE (working title for Evelyn Waugh book?)

    Happily started writing PORT AU PRINC (E) before running out of space. NHO Vigo, i thought he might be the prince from an opera.

    At 20a (NANNIES) I stated to parse NANS=‘Northern.Women’, being the common term for a grandmother in those parts. Didn’t quite work.

    12d BRAINWASH Is a good clue, but in this article one Times editor says

    Grimshaw’s favourite cryptic clue is “bust down reason” (5,4). The answer is “brain wash” because brain washing will literally “bust down your reason”, but you can read it another way as “bra in wash”. If your bra is in the wash that might be the reason your bust is down.


  5. Starting to get a little bit despondent with these QCs. For the past few days many of the clues have been utter nonsense to me. Today I was using aids so much that I might as well have just looked up the answers here first.
    1. This was a tricky one so don’t be too hard on yourself! Took me nearly 25 minutes and I had to use Google. There were plenty of challenging devices in the cryptics which I half parsed and then BIFD; fully parsing with the help of Rotters explanations.
    2. It’s probably heresy, but I say if you need to come here and look an answer up, do it. That might be all you need to unlock the rest of the puzzle – and it’s better than abandoning the whole thing just for the sake of ‘purity’.

      We relative newbies can’t ‘compete’ with experienced solvers, so let’s just do whatever we have to do to learn enough that one day we might!

      1. Hi

        I appreciate the suggestion. The only problem with coming here for a single answer as I am still solving, is that it is very easy to see other answers.

        I occasionally attempt the Daily telegraph Crossword (sometimes I do better there than I do on the Times QC). There is a website called “Big Dave” that helps people solve the DT cryptic by giving alterative cluing. The answers are covered up and you have to press a button to reveal therm. That makes it easier to get extra help without seeing the answer, or other answers, unless you actively reveal it. I do not believe the same can be done on these Livejournal sites. It’s a shame as Big Dave really has great system for helping people solve clues they are stuck on.

        I won’t give up on solving the Times QC, but I have to admit that sometimes I get tempted to.

        1. The Times iPad app has the capability to do a reveal for a single clue. But if you choose the Crossword Club, this option is not available.
          1. You posted this whilst I was typing my comment below so there is overlap, but just to clarify, I don’t know anything about Times crossword apps on i-pads, phones etc, but accessing via a browser on a PC/laptop the Club version has the same facility to reveal answers as is found in the on-line newspaper.

            Edited at 2021-09-02 08:54 am (UTC)

        2. There are websites that will give you single answers if you input the clue — Danword for example. Just enter Danword Northern woman’s childminders into Google and you will get Nannies as the suggested answer.
        3. You presumably have access to the Times crossword online and you either solve there or print from there and solve on paper. Either way there is a facility to reveal individual answers to help you on your way. Click on the clue wording to highlight it, then click Reveal. You will then be given an option word/grid to reveal just that answer or the whole grid.

          Big Dave’s Telegraph site is a different beast from TfTT, and I for one would not be blogging if we were required to drop hints or write alternative cluing.

          1. You can also use the check button on line if you get very stuck. I sometimes biff an answer and then use check to see if it is correct. Note that this doesn’t work if you go in through the crossword club, only on the main site. You can also do this with letters, getting the right vowel is a great help in working out the word.

            1. Just for info — when online, I only do the crosswords via the club site and don’t have any problems using the check or reveal buttons — they’re a real life saver sometimes!
        4. I often do the DT 15×15 online and find it very variable. I used to do it quickly but many recent puzzles have been quite difficult. Currently, I can take any time between 10 and 40 mins to complete it. It used to take me longer. I do normally find it a lot easier than the Times 15×15. Big Dave’s Blog is very useful if you want hints rather than the full answer, as you say. Good training — a bit like stabiliser wheels in that you don’t need them once you gain expertise and confidence. John.
        5. Good man. You have had great results before this week and will do, again. A lot of us have found the last few quickies tough.
  6. The answer to your question Rotter is pretty poor. I figured out LIVELY and TONGA relatively quickly but I stared gormlessly at 1d for 5 minutes before the answer came to me. I thought Vigo was a star but then realised the star is actually Vega. My LOI with the S checker in place was SETTLE. 16:59 on the clock, so a really bad day. I will file away the GK for future use.

    Edited at 2021-09-02 07:25 am (UTC)

    1. I followed a very similar path to you except that I have heard of a Tanga but was wary about a Tonga (even though the clueing left no choice). I have been to Vigo a few times so the clever Port of Spain should have hit me sooner. My time was within a second or two of yours, too. Over target but just a poor day for me. John M.

      Edited at 2021-09-02 11:50 am (UTC)

  7. Snuck in under target today for the first time this week, so pleased with that. PORT OF SPAIN had to be dragged from the depths but TONGA, the painter and the priest were unknown and the latter two were my last in. Particularly enjoyed BRAINWASH and REALLOT but my COD goes to RATTLESNAKE as anything that diverts a venomous reptile has to be a good thing. Finished in 9.58.
    Thanks to Rotter
  8. ….all of the required GK, and as a result I found this quite gentle. I’ve seen the PORT OF SPAIN trick in 15×15 puzzles on more than one occasion, but using different ports to Vigo (Cadiz was the last I remember).

    TIME 3:25

  9. Cadiz would have made PORT OF SPAIN a shoo-in for me as that is where my son is based for his pilot training.
  10. ….with 71 completed and only 51 all correct. There are some quite eminent solvers among those failures. An epidemic of fat finger ? Or is there an elephant trap that I’ve managed to avoid.
  11. PORT OF SPAIN was a write-in for any cricket fan … the Queen’s Park Oval is the biggest and best test ground in the Caribbean!

    Nearly four minutes on my last three, just pushing me over target. Grr. Orpheus always keeps you on your toes; I thought that “short break” as the definition for SEMICOLON was particularly sneaky! Lots of good clues.

    FOI PARASOL, LOI SETTLE, COD ATTENTION, time 10:28 for an estimated 2K and an OK Day.

    Many thanks Rotter and Orpheus.


  12. Lots of gentle ones but a few trickier ones as well.

    Thought some of the clues had very smooth surfaces — LIVELY and SEMICOLON and there were a couple of excellent anagrams CELEBRANT and RATTLESNAKE

    Knew P-o-S; didn’t know TONGA but the w/p was clear

    No idea what was going in with BRAINWASH but an easy biff once I had all the checkers

    Nice puzzle

    Thanks Orpheus and Rotter

  13. ….may like to stretch themselves on his 15×15 in today’s Guardian, where he is Pasquale. The puzzle is free online, and I found it not very much harder than one of his QC’s, finishing in 8:31
  14. … as 22A Anita, my LOI, didn’t come, wouldn’t come, and eventually needed me to write down A-I-A and all the umpteen possibilities for the missing two letters. As a result the clock stopped just shy of 9 minutes.

    A shame as before that I was on for a really fast time. Port of Spain came straight away — as Templar says, not unknown to cricket fans, but doubly easy for me as I have been to both PoS and Vigo in my time. Only real holdup other than the charming Anita was 18D Tonga, which I had NHO, but the wordplay was extremely clear.

    Many thanks Rotter for the blog. I agree with you that 12D Brainwash was a great clue, good enough indeed to allow Orpheus to get away with the cliché of supporter = bra!

    1. I recall a clue (almost certainly from Private Eye) :

      Aftermath of wild garden party in Essex ?

      The answer was BRAINTREE.

  15. Definitely a puzzle for those who have been around the block a few times. Answers such as Semicolon become write-ins once you have seen them before (or for me, once you’ve seen them several times before). With that proviso, this became a pleasant 17min solve, but only once I sorted out what was wrong with Port Au Spain… Brainwash and Athlete were my last pair, by which time the checkers were more than helpful. CoD to 16d, Fiesta. Invariant
  16. As well as the peerless BRAINWASH in today’s QC, 14a in today’s 15×15 is also a brilliant clue:

    I am leaving to find out how long Rossini opera lasts? We’ll see (4,4,4)

    1. What a lovely clue! A quick look in the reference books shows that Rossini wrote no less than 39 operas in just over 20 years, which was going it somewhat. And the answer to this clue refers to the last of all 39 to be premiered — and the one with possibly the most famous and easily recognised overture.
  17. Ten minutes today, half my usual time. FOI parasol, all going in up to celebrant, then nothing until starting again on the downs, then solving all over the place. LOI tonga, NHO but clue was clear enough. Thought I was all parsed but reading the blog I found nuances in nannies, semicolon and brainwash which I must have semi-biffed from the definitions. Though I solve on paper I did not need to write out the anagram material to solve the two long anagrams, they leapt out. COD rattlesnake, but enjoyed all the clues. Thanks, Rotter, and Orpheus. GW
  18. I found this a mix of easy write ins and quite tricky general knowledge. I knew the ports so that was fine but nho Lely and was trying to fit in another Dutch painter (so many) for a while. Southeast was slowest for me with Vandal, Anita & decline my LOIs.

  19. Carelessly put Celebrate instead of CELEBRANT which held me up in the SE at the end. After the penny dropped, I was OK but couldn’t parse ATHLETE. Not so keen on random names but ANITA was fairly clued.
    Finally remembered LOI TONGA from all those novels about India.
    Also had a PDM with SEMICOLON and REALM. FOI PORT OF SPAIN jumped into my head luckily.
    Thanks for helpful blog, Rotter.

    Edited at 2021-09-02 10:38 am (UTC)

  20. OWL was held up by a biffed PORT AU PRINCE, which I failed to notice was slightly too long for the grid, but was eventually put right by paying ATTENTION to 17a. SEMICOLON also caused a short pause. Otherwise, all done within my target. FOI, PARASOL. LOI, SETTLE. 9:18. Thanks Orpheus and Rotter.
  21. Over target for the 4th day this week. This took me 26 mins and even then I had to resort to aids. In my defence there was a lot of background noise/activity at the time making it difficult to concentrate (well I need an excuse for my run of very poor times this week, otherwise I shall just have to put it down to loss of brain cells due to advancing years). Lely rang a faint bell, although I would not have been able to say that he was a portraitist, and I’ve never heard of tonga as a mode of transport. However some lovely clues in todays puzzle and I thoroughly enjoyed the struggle – thanks Orpheus.

    FOI – 1ac PARASOL
    LOI – 22ac ANITA
    COD – 20ac NANNIES

    Thanks to Rotter for the helpful blog

  22. An enjoyable puzzle which I finished in 13 minutes, very quick for me. I didn’t know Lely was Dutch and had never heard of Vigo but I found most of the clues straightforward, once I had some checkers, with plenty of entertaining clues.
    FOI parasol
    LOI rage
    COD I did like Anita and vandal and semicolon but as a retired teacher I think I shall have to choose attention.
    Thank you to Orpheus for a satisfying solve and to the Rotter for his explanations- I hadn’t parsed brainwash!
    Blue Stocking
  23. Had a day trip to Lancaster today so came to this late. Unfortunately it was a big fat DNF, with 1dn “Port of Spain” and 3dn “Semi Colonon” failing to materialise.

    Put “Intention” for 17ac which didn’t help. Not necessarily an excuse, but probably wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

    FOI — 1ac “Parasol”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 14ac “Vandal”

    Thanks as usual!

  24. Solving and posting late after a very busy day, but it turned out to be A Good Day, as I finished in 8:16 all parsed and no fat fingers 😊
    I too liked BRAINWASH, although I’d put Brancaster and Holkham above Sunny Hunny for quality of beach if not the freezing winds even on a summer’s day! VANDAL also got a tick.
    FOI Parasol
    LOI Rage
    COD Lively
    Thanks Orpheus, and Rotter for a lively blog 😊
  25. A big DNF. Maybe too wound up with Covid in the family but this was very tough IMO.

    Thanks all
    John George

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