Times Quick Cryptic No 1958 by Pedro

A bit on the tricky side today from Pedro, with a generous dose of originality that made it great fun. It would be easy to get bogged down with the harder clues, so a good lesson in hopping around the grid, giving all the clues a chance, and building up a few entry points into the puzzle. I only managed five clues with a first pass of the acrosses (8,12,13,21,22), but the easier clues opened up the grid and I ended up only missing my 10 minute target by a few seconds. A lovely puzzle – many thanks to Pedro!

1 Italian dish found a little way into the dictionary? (5)
PASTA A little way into the dictionary would be “past A”.
4 Shellfish at sea? British tucking in with hesitation (7)
LOBSTER – LOST (at sea = confused, etc.), B(ritish) tucking into it, along with ER (hesitation)
8 Exasperation when serving tea with a smile (7)
CHAGRIN –  when serving CHA (tea) with a GRIN (smile)
9 Fourth in order took first place, backed by cheers (5)
DELTA LED (took first place) backed = reversed, by TA (cheers)
10 Favourable slant by nearly all newspaper piece — and backbone (6,6)
SPINAL COLUMN SPIN (favourable slant) by AL (“nearly” all), COLUMN (newspaper piece)
12 Get old school guy with money to entertain area (6)
OBTAIN – OB (Old Boy = old school guy) with TIN (money) to entertain A
13 Relatives? Legally sons (2-4)
IN-LAWS – IN LAW (legally) S(ons)
16 What might you tell children about to go out? (7,5)
BEDTIME STORY cryptic definition, with a pun on “to go out” (as in “to sleep” in the cryptic; and “to go out to play” in the surface reading). I briefly wondered if NIGHTIE NIGHT could possibly be spelt that way.
18 Heading for this lake to catch raw fish (5)
TRAWL – “Heading” for This Lake to catch RAW
20 Core material in support of golfer recalled in well-chosen words (7)
EPITHETPITH (core material) in TEE (support of golfer) recalled = reversed
21 Inhale and swim round about (7)
BREATHE – BATHE round RE (about)
22 Panic, losing head? That’s a mistake (5)
ERROR tERROR (panic “losing head”)

1 Painter’s picture: a ship on top of ocean (7)
PICASSO – PIC(ture) A SS (SteamShip) on O (“top” of Ocean)
2 Insult with impact one has to countenance? (4,2,3,4)
SLAP IN THE FACE – a straight definition, and then a cryptic definition with puns on impact and countenance: the surface reading is “FORCE one has to TOLERATE” and the cryptic reading is “SLAP one has to FACE”.
3 It is a real crackpot that would be a trapeze artist (9)
AERIALIST – anagram (crackpot) of IT IS A REAL
4 A Parisian engaged in flimsy, crazy thinking (6)
LUNACY – UN (a, Parisian) engaged in LACY (flimsy)
5 Dreadful book promotion? (3)
BAD B(ook) AD (promotion)
6 Demand for 16 possibly producing incredulous expression (4,2,7)
TELL ME ANOTHERdouble-ish definition, the first referring to the child in 16ac not wanting to sleep.
7 Staff seen around a street (4)
ROAD -ROD (staff) seen around A
11 Secure team bagging 50 in big victory (9)
LANDSLIDE – LAND (secure) SIDE (team) bagging 50 (L in Roman numerals)
14 Dodgy lawyer retiring — rest regrouping (7)
SHYSTER SHY (retiring) and an anagram (regrouping) of REST. Etymology obscure.
15 Here’s politician before supporting a current measure (6)
AMPERE – MP (politician) ERE (before) supporting A. The “here’s” at the start is best thought of as an oddly-placed linkword, there for misdirection.
17 Upset crazy attempt (4)
STAB BATS (crazy) upset = reversed
19 Item at auction offering good deal? (3)
LOT double definition

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1958 by Pedro”

  1. I was confused with PASTA since I read it as “a little way” giving A ST meaning the dictionary was P A (which was a dictionary I’d never heard of). Also, very tempted at 17D to put STUN (“nuts” up) before I realized it had to be STAB. I was a little bemused at LOBSTER defined as “shellfish” since that’s not the type of shell usually meant (and is a lobster a fish anyway?).
  2. I didn’t care for “Here’s”, but omitting it would leave an awkward surface. Didn’t understand PASTA, but forgot about it. 5:22.
  3. Another solver who lost time seeing how PASTA worked and until I did I wasn’t sure enough to write it in. 9 minutes.
  4. Slow start before a quick but careless finish. All done a shade under 14 but with typos in both LANDSLIDE and EPITHET giving two errors from two pink squares. Biggest hold up was SLAP IN THE FACE where I had all the checkers was so fixated on ‘stare in the face’ despite it no even fitted let alone parsing that ‘slap’ didn’t emerge from S_A_ for ages!
    1. I had fat finger too (CHAARIN) and was woefully slow (6:59). Not on Pedro’s wavelength this morning. Surprised to see “raw” in both clue and answer at 18A. COD TELL ME ANOTHER.
  5. Set off at a cracking pace with write-ins for 1A, 1D and LOBSTER (my go to 7 letter shellfish) after a a quick scan through realised I would struggle with the 2×12 and 2×13 letter clues so left them till the end. A mostly on par difficuly QCC for me with a couple of head scratchers thrown in for good measure.
    Thank you Pedro and Roly.
    I suppose yesterday’s glorious sunshine was the start, middle and end of the summer. Fortunately I had time to put the roof down, slap on factor 50 and enjoy a drive through the countryside.
  6. Lots to like in Pedro’s offering today — a good mix of clever clues which were fun to solve. We finished in 14 minutes.


    Thanks to Rolytoly and Pedro.

    Edited at 2021-09-09 07:08 am (UTC)

  7. A nice puzzle with enough challenges to make it worthwhile. A much better solve for me than the last few days; I still went slightly over target but enjoyed it. I rather liked BEDTIME STORY and SPINAL COLUMN and my COD was AMPERE. All parsed except PASTA which was too clever for me. Thanks to Pedro and Roly. John M.
  8. Completed but not all parsed …
    … as I did not see how 9A Delta or 20A Epithet worked until I read the blog. But all done in 14 which in retrospect is not displeasing for a puzzle by Pedro.

    I too wondered what the “Here’s” is doing in the cluing for 15D Ampere. I came to the conclusion it was trying to rescue a fairly clunky surface — and not very successfully either.

    New word of the day for me: 3D Aerialist, which I had not heard of. But a well signposted anagram.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  9. FOI: ROAD

    (Like others, I failed to parse PASTA)

    Thanks to rolytoly and Pedro

  10. I absolutely loved that, what a cracking puzzle. Completely agree with roly – original and witty. Began with a bang on PASTA, which really made me chuckle when the penny dropped, and carried on from there.

    SHYSTER was a write in for me as I am old enough to remember a spectacular court-room row between Bob Alexander QC and Gordon Pollock QC, two titans of the Commercial Bar, in which Bob called Pollock an “elephantine shyster”. Scenes.

    Excellent blog, roly, thanks. I needed it for BAD, since I thought “promotion” meant “reading upwards” and was really struggling to see how DAB meant “book”.

    FOI PASTA, LOI BAD, COD BEDTIME STORY, time 08:59 for 1.7K and a Very Good Day.


    1. I enjoyed the ‘elephantine shyster’ story. What a memorable comment. John.
      P.s. and a great time today
    2. I also like the elephantine shyster – I just googled him and read his obit in the Times from May 2019. Quite a character all right!
  11. Didn’t do it for me today as like Mr McPaul @ 17dn I went NUTS instead of BATS!
    Sashimi @ 18ac in the clue and the answer! 1ac PASTA wasn’t a great starter clue.

    So I limped over the line in 18 minutes!

    FOI 5dn BAD

    LOI 21ac BREATHE

    COD 4dn LUNACY


    The QAnons are filing more complaints. And now we hear from ‘Cedric the Wise’ that this is not a proper QC anyway! Where is Lord Humblebrag? Poland equalise in the last minute. And it’s still only Thursday!
    Bad breath, lunacy and chagrin about sums it up.

    Edited at 2021-09-09 09:05 am (UTC)

  12. Way off wavelength today, which isn’t unusual with Pedro. I think I must have written in and deleted PASTA about 3 or 4 times as I couldn’t work out how PA could be dictionary.
    Eventually it was my LOI and I decided to come here for enlightenment (thanks Roly). Other hold ups included TRAWL, where I was overcomplicating things, AMPERE, AERIALIST and SLAP IN THE FACE.
    I enjoyed PICASSO but COD goes to PASTA now I can see how it works. Finished in 13.06
  13. Started a new (for me, not everyone else) method of going through all the acrosses and downs rather than getting my first word and working out from there. Feels slower but we’ll see.

    Liked this one

    “In support of golfer” had me flummoxed as I was thinking G for golfer. Doh. EPITHET was my LOI

    Not always a fan of cryptics but liked BEDTIME STORY. Not difficult to understand what was going on but still needed some checkers (I also wanted NIGHT as the second word)

    Thanks Pedro and Roly

    1. Stick with it! I’d never even considered it before someone on here mentioned it as a method, and now it’s my habit. Attempting half the clues “pure”, with no checkers, has definitely improved my solving. And it gets faster, since (a) I have learned to move on quickly and (b) the downs can be PDQ if the acrosses have gone well!

      This method also holds out the tantalising prospect of what I call the “true” clean sweep, in which every single clue is solved in order, without ever revisiting one. I’ve hardly ever done it but it’s immensely satisfying when achieved.

    2. I’ve always done them in order, acrosses and then downs. Never achieved a clean sweep, but have got close once or twice.
  14. I was going very quickly until a few at the end held me up.
    TELL ME ANOTHER needed most of the checkers (and 16a); I was slow to see LUNACY and LOBSTER; and I did have a couple of biffs at the end including LOI EPITHET.
    Time was 10:05.
    I loved PASTA having seen the parsing quickly so I’ll make that COD.
  15. Yet again I got nowhere.

    I do not know whether it’s me or the setters, for whatever reason, setting clues that are much more trickier than I would expect to see in a QC. For the past week or so these QCs have been getting, at least for me, much harder.

    1. I would agree, and Monday’s in particular was I think very tough. Though if it is any consolation I think these things go in waves. If you want rock-solid consistency and totally fair QCs you need to turn to the fortnightly Saturday Specials by John and Phil — every one is a model of what a QC should be.


  16. My FOI was PASTA, although I did wonder if a PA would have a good enough memory to be classed as a dictionary! I then had to apply both neurons to the rest of the puzzle, which certainly needed a bit of lateral thinking. I needed TELL ME ANOTHER to provide me with the last crosser for STORY before I saw BEDTIME STORY. Like Phil, I elevated an eyebrow at TRAWL. I finally returned to the almost blank NE corner and finished off with LOBSTER. A quick proof read revealed no typos and I submitted at 9:40. Thanks Pedro and Roly.
  17. Liked PASTA among others. I found all the clues gettable or biffable with a bit of thought.. The long downs helped. Am now fluent enough in Crosswordese that when I see support for a golfer I think of TEE.
    Could not fully parse BREATHE, OBTAIN, LOBSTER, DELTA.
    So thanks, as ever, Roly.
  18. Another puzzle that was just beyond my target time, coming in at 21:14.

    Not so often 1a is FOI and COD, but I thought PASTA was a great clue.

    LOI OBTAIN due to unfamiliar OB for old boy, not so common at the secondary modern.

    Was very tempted by PACIFIC for PICASSO, with “ocean” the definition. Did not parse EPITHET, so thanks roly.

    Regarding clue order, my approach is to start with the acrosses, spend just a short time until I can get one and then work the downs and subsequent crossers from there. I find a “virgin” clue, (one with no crossers) so much harder I try to work the grid such that the FOI is the only time I have to do it.

  19. A real tester today and very proud to have completed it, thanks to a few inspired guesses which proved correct. By far the hardest this week.
  20. Back to my twenty minute solving time on this one. FOI pasta with a smile, LOI stab, easy with the rest filled in. Liked all the clues except for the one for trawl which was a bit of a plodder, particularly when looked at alongside the quality of the others.
    Again, the blog has revealed that I did not fully parse some clues – obtain, epithet, breathe, slap in the face, shyster – all gettable from the clues, but enjoyed reading how they were properly parsed. Lobster is sometimes referred to as a shellfish, it’s a cullinary term and not correct biologically speaking because a lobster is a crustacean, like crabs and prawns etc., as you probably all know. Thanks, Roly, and Pedro. GW.
    1. Shellfish seems to be a pretty broad term according to Lexico: “1 An aquatic shelled mollusc (e.g. an oyster or cockle) or crustacean (e.g. a crab or shrimp), especially one that is edible.”
  21. A five letter Italian dish screams Pasta, but I did wonder about the non-existent Osted until Picasso came along. The Past A parsing at least warned that this was going to be a quirky solve. Main hold ups over the 22mins were CoD Bedtime Story, where I needed Tell me Another to realise what Pedro intended, and Shyster, where I was focused on Dodgy without the lawyer — I know they go hand in hand (🙂 sorry Templar). Loi was Slap in the Face, which I had down as a more energetic Stab in the Back for ages. I did think Tin for money was a bit of a stretch for a QC, but overall this was one of the more interesting puzzles. Invariant
  22. 5:21 this morning. Another harder-than-average QC in my opinion but really enjoyable. I felt that I had to perform several pieces of quick(?) thinking throughout the solving process and so was happy with my time, albeit above my personal target.
    20 ac “epithet” — I didn’t realise it could refer to adjectival phrases as well as a single adjective but a post-submission check of Chambers clearly indicated that it does.
    I agree with earlier comments regarding the clunkiness of 15 d “ampere” but otherwise it was a very well constructed puzzle.
    Particularly liked COD 1 ac “pasta” — clever and raised a smile of appreciation when I parsed it.
    Incidentally yesterday was the hottest September day in Scotland for over 100 years and having just had the back garden re-planted, I thought the best thing was to water everything in late in the evening. I finished in the pitch darkness and reckon I must have watered my feet as much as the plants. Even though more typical local weather has returned this morning, I still feel the effort was not wasted. Brownie points from Mrs P if nothing else.
    Thanks to Roly for the blog and Pedro for the workout.
  23. 24 mins – same time as yesterday. Failed to parse PASTA and EPITHET (thanks Rolytoly). Same experience as others really, except rather slower. Needed TELL ME ANOTHER before the paenny dropped for 16ac.

    FOI – 8ac CHAGRIN
    LOI – 18ac TRAWL

  24. …which went like this:

    0-10 mins: All clues read/considered, but only 5 solved.
    11-27 mins: Good progress, so now only 5 clues to go.
    28-42 mins: No progress at all, so still 5 clues left.
    43-46 mins: Breakthrough with DELTA, then last 4 fell quickly.

    DELTA led to TELL ME ANOTHER, which in turn led to EPITHET and BEDTIME STORY. My LOI was SHYSTER, which had crossed my mind sometime earlier, but which I had discarded as being slightly rude or racist slang. Obviously not.

    Mrs Random also found it quite tricky, but avoided any significant hold-ups and finished in exactly 30 minutes. She has since knocked off last Thursday’s Orpheus in 24 minutes and is now writing an old-fashioned letter to a friend, using her fountain pen and some nice paper. The most interesting letters I ever get arrive by e-mail from someone called Spam Report.

    Many thanks to rolytoly and Pedro.

  25. Time 4:16 minutes for a real flier – with biffin’ aplenty!
    I liked Bedtime Story and Shyster (Breaking Bad!) but my COD was Pablo at 1dn – from Pedro.
  26. Phew! Thought that was a toughie — and this was reflected in a 30 min completion time. Nothing difficult in terms of the answers, but the clueing to get there needed a lot of concentration.

    Nearly came a cropper when I thought 1dn could be “Pacific” — but that left me head scratching both 10ac and 12ac. Biffed 6dn, although I never really parsed it and like many I knew 1ac must be “Pasta” — but I ended up translating “a little way” as “ast” which left me with the original, but non existent, PA range of dictionaries.

    Not a political comment, but at one point “Starmer” came to mind for 14dn.

    FOI — 5dn “Bad”
    LOI — 12ac “Obtain”
    COD — 14dn “Shyster” — for providing a comical moment.

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2021-09-09 01:24 pm (UTC)

  27. Finished it in about 30 mins. I count 6 clues I didn’t really understand. But still managed to answer. It has been a good week in my view. Challenging but doable. I am glad they aren’t all equally easy as that would, IMHO, be boring. Fred
    1. Hello Fred,
      I agree with the point you make and it reminds me of an example from the sporting world. I used to be a volunteer swimming coach with a local club and, as part of my CPD, I attended a one-day workshop with Bill Sweetenham (then the performance director of British Swimming) and other national squad coaches. Bill S said he strongly believed that coaches should enter their junior swimmers into 3 competitions in every 6 at their own level of ability, 2 in every 6 at the level below (to get used to winning when you’re expected to win) and 1 event in every 6 at the standard above (for experience). The coach’s role was to prepare their swimmers mentally for each level of competition.
      An interesting parallel to your point about these QCs, I think.
  28. Having been steadily improving to around a 20 min solve over the year, this is one QC I just DNF. I found it too tricky for me. Sometimes I guess the answer but always try to justify it — no luck with that today.
    Particularly tricky:
    20A Epithet 11D landslide, 15D Ampere. Just too much going on in each clue!
    Thanks for the explanations, and bring on tomorrow’s QC!
  29. On reading rolytoly’s blog did I realise how much I had biffed…PASTA, AMPERE, EPITHET.

    Favourite was BEDTIME STORY.


  30. Tricky but fair I thought. FOI was PASTA (and PARSED As well) but after that very little came easy until I got down to BREATHE and ERROR. I got down to two to go after about 20, but I was afraid that 14d and 16a would take ages. I thought I was looking for an abbreviation for a lawyer going backwards in 14, with the definition being dodgy. Once the penny dropped on that one, the Y released the penny for BEDTIME STORY and I stopped my watch on 24:58. COD to EPITHET. Thanks Pedro and Roly.
  31. Enjoyed but did not ‘Obtain’ a good time

    Overall loved this one, although like many others I could not parse ‘Pasta’. Now I get it I am chuckling.

    ‘Obtain’ was a DNF for me as I did not know ‘tin’ as money or ‘ob’ as old boy. Perhaps I went to the wrong school 😉.

    Agree with others that the ‘Here’s’ at the start of 15d is clunky. Better clue might have been simply ‘A politician before current measure’ which works well in my view.

    COD ‘Lobster’ for the lovely surface.

    Thanks Pedro and Roly.

  32. …..also I meant to add – could anyone explain please how 13a works? I get that ‘in law’ is ‘legally’ but wouldn’t ‘sons’ give us two s’s on the end rather than the one required? Thx

    1. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe (as per the blog) it’s just a shorthand for “son” and the singular/plural is irrelevant.

      There are quite a few words used in crosswords that are abbreviated to just their first letter. For example, in some grids you will see “with” just shortened to “w”.

      1. Thanks, it probably is that simple. However, in my experience of several years of QCs the singular/plural is followed specifically. So you would see ‘sons’ used to indicate double s. I can’t think of a use in language where ‘s’ might mean more than one son.

        1. Chambers and Lexico both have s. for son(s). I think to clue ss it would have to be specified as “two sons”. I’m sure we’ve has TT for two times, for example. And only in yesterday’s 15×15, daughters was used to clue d. The only instance I can think of it being used is in something like a genealogical record: s. 0, d. 2, type thing. But I take your point – I’ve just come to accept there are a ton of abbreviations and take it on trust that they exist outside crosswords!
          1. “Sons” can be parsed as s or ss (or sss, etc).
            See QC 667 by the late great Flamande for this counter example:

            Festival finished after meeting between father and sons (8)

            Edited at 2021-09-09 11:36 pm (UTC)

  33. Technically a DNF as I transposed the I and E in Aerialist. Another struggle outside my 20 minute target not helped by not seeing bedtime story until I had the checkers.
  34. Dave and Sal thought this really hard and much harder than some recently . For example CHAGRIN stumped us for a long time having to come up with two new words. NHO tin for money nor aerialist. Fingers crossed for a better time tomorrow.
  35. What a strange puzzle! It took me a while to find anywhere to start then I biffed nearly every clue finishing in under half an hour — not bad for me on a difficult puzzle but I had no idea how most of the clues worked. And I spelled 3D airealist which I DNK. Thank you Roly for explaining it all and to Pedro for what seemed to me an unusual puzzle.
    FOI in-laws
    LOI lunacy
    COD pasta
    Blue Stocking
    1. I imagine they said ‘cave’, which is pronounced ‘cavy’ (or KV). (Or was; ODE marks it as ‘dated’.)
      1. Yes, I would pronounce Cave/beware as Kah-vey but sons confirm they said KV at school though they all knew the Latin.

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