Times Quick Cryptic No 1959 by Izetti

Another Izetti Quick Cryptic for me to blog today. It took me just over 7 minutes, so, as with my last QC blogging duty 2 weeks ago, it is somewhat on the harder side of average if my time is anything to go by. I’m not sure where the time went, but 4D and 7D were a little tricky and there’s a clue that requires you to solve another one first. My last one in, 22A, didn’t come easily but maybe because the definition doesn’t seem quite right. I think it is a mistake. What do you think? [Edit: Izetti has kindly dropped by in the comments to confirm it was a slip]. But another good test from Izetti with lots of instructional clueing, such as a the trick in 1A where the definition is a verb in the clue and a noun in the answer. Nice puzzle. Worth it for 1D, my clue of the day, alone. Thank-you Izetti. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the latest crossword here. Enjoy! And if anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to them here.

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

1 Sit back in a tree awkwardly and study (8)
TREATISE – SIT back -> TIS “in” (a tree)* “awkwardly”. Study the noun, of course.
5 Incentive in some useless purchase (4)
SPUR – Hidden “in some” uselesS PURchase. BOGOF to you too. How much gets wasted as a result, I wonder?
9 Greek character‘s mark of disgrace, with time passing (5)
SIGMAStIGMA (mark of disgrace) losing the T,  (time), “with time passing”. That was a bit sneaky for a QC.
10 Rough home with old lover getting to perform (7)
INEXACTIN (home) EX (old lover) ACT (perform).
11 Upper-class racist actor, nasty about India (12)
ARISTOCRATIC – (racist actor)* “nasty”, “about” I (India in the NATO phonetic alphabet).
13 A land in flames (6)
15 One minister and another holding firm (6)
DEACONDEAN (another minister) “holding” CO (company; firm). It wouldn’t be a pukka Izetti crossword without an ecclesiastical reference of some sort. By the way – my local dean has just had a beer festival in his cathedral. What fun it was too!
17 Pontificate wildly about king being turned to stone (12)
PETRIFACTION – (Pontificate)* “wildly” “about” R (rex; king). I had a teeny eyebrow raise at the definition, but it’s there in Chambers.
20 Work cut short, time to be frugal? Wealthy! (7)
OPULENTOPUs (work) “cut short” LENT (time to be frugal).
21 Traffic in East Devon river heading west (5)
TRADE – E (east) DART (Devon river) “hading west”, i.e. reversed -> TRADE. I’m off to East Devon for a few days with a few friends at the beginning of October. Yippee!
22 Kick and pulled along, we hear (4)
TOED – Sounds like, “we hear”, TOWED (pulled along). My last one in. Hmm. Shouldn’t it be “Kicked” rather than “Kick”? Surely a mistake. Or can anyone explain why it isn’t? [Edit: Izetti has dropped by in the comments to explain it was slip].
23 Cor — heartless newspaper boss — you must give that person their due! (8)
CREDITORCoR “heartless” EDITOR (newspaper boss).
1 Pitchwhat happens on one before match? (4)
TOSS – Double definition, the second cryptic, where you have to replace the reference “one” with “pitch”. My favourite of the day.
2 Composer who could be regal (5)
ELGAR – “Could be” (regal)*. Perhaps with an allusion to “Pomp and Circumstance”… It’s the last night of the proms tomorrow, you know. All together now : “Land of….”.
3 Atheist hated being abused? You’ve got it! (5,3,4)
THATS THE IDEA – (atheist hated)* “abused”.
4 City boy holding a US soldier up (6)
SAIGONSON (boy) “holding” A GI (US soldier) “up”, i.e. reversed in a down clue, -> IG. Not the first city that came to my mind!
6 Synthetic cobbler’s model featured in illustration (7)
PLASTICLAST (cobbler’s model) “in” PIC (illustration).
7 Modest about a bit of money (note being pocketed) (8)
RETICENTRE (about) CENT (a bit of money), outside, “being pocketed”, TI (7th note of the scale). A bit tricky that one, but the wordplay is clear.
8 A retired Eton criminal set out in a new direction (12)
REORIENTATED – (A retired Eton)* “criminal”.
12 Support for 13 malfunctioning palmtops (8)
LAMPPOST – A rare (for the Times QC) cross-reference clue. i.e. “Support for a light”… (palmtops)* “malfunctioning”.
14 To trespass with intent — not half impolite! (7)
INTRUDEINTent “not half” RUDE (impolite). Is the “To” at the start of the clue necessary, I wondered?
16 Mad character to talk having lost head (6)
HATTERcHATTER (talk) “having lost head” -> (mad character). “The Hatter is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He is very often referred to as the Mad Hatter, though this term was never used by Carroll. The phrase “mad as a hatter” pre-dates Carroll’s works.
18 Love some style of abstractionism (2,3)
OP ARTO (round letter; zero; love) PART (some).
19 Obvious, not the first tragic old king (4)
LEAR – Another first letter deletion to finish with… cLEAR (obvious) “not the first” -> (tragic old king).

48 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1959 by Izetti”

  1. I didn’t even notice when I put in TOED, but it must be an error. I’m so used to ‘work’ cluing OP, that I (briefly) wondered if ‘work cut short’ was O! Slowed down at SAIGON because I’d misparsed the clue and could only come up with AGISON. 6:02.
    1. I like your comments on 8d and 17a. I fell into the same holes and took time (more time than you!) to climb out. John
  2. 10 minutes, so only just on my target but to be fair I was delayed on my LOI by the apparent error in the clue. In the end, rather than miss my target, I bunged in TOED and hoped for the best. The matter has already been raised in the Club forum, so we may hear from the editor on this later.

    Edited at 2021-09-10 05:10 am (UTC)

  3. 17 today with 1 min on my LOI op. I had art but failed to see part and was trying to imagine how of art could possibly work… Optical art of course! Must remember last=shoe template along with many other crosswordland words like saw=proverb.
    Very enjoyable and testing, which is how I usually find Izetti puzzles. Thanks John
  4. Just outside target again, with LOI TOED being responsible. A lot of possibilities to run through. Not a very satisfying answer, as well as the tense, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a commentator say “he toed it”. “Shinned” or “toe-pegged” maybe.

    A reference to another clue which intersects is a bit unfair. I can’t get 13 without the initial letter, and to get that I need to solve a clue that refers to it. In Microsoft Excel, at this point you get the Circular Reference warning.

    Hatters went mad from the Mercury vapours inhaled during the felt-stiffening process.

    COD OP ART although I don’t really know what that means. One to look up.

    1. I agree with your point on tense, but as a young footballer I occasionally “toed” it into the net.
  5. Enjoyed this thanks Izetti and johninterred. Only hestitation was Toed but it does seem to be a (small) error
  6. Good quality puzzle (TOED apart) as usual from Izetti, which was chewy in places. I had to do more writing out of anagrams that I would prefer and spent some time wanting 17a to be PETRIFICATION despite having too many letters. Art being one of my weak suits I thought the expression was OB ART and couldn’t work out the parsing so spent a couple of minutes at the end working out the correct answer.
    Finished in 11.06.
    Thanks to John
  7. I can never resist a pair of matching clues and since my eye first lit upon 12dn I started with ALIGHT in order to get LAMPPOST. At that point I looked at the setter and was not surprised!

    From there it was a largely anticlockwise solve with plenty to think about but no real hold ups apart from deciding to leave TOED to last to see if any better ideas occurred. They didn’t.

    FOI ALIGHT, LOI TOED (or TOSS, since I’d already thought of TOED and it has to be a typo), COD – lots of competition but I’m going for SAIGON because of the wonderfully apt surface, time 11:16 for 1.9K and a Decent Day.

    Many thanks Don and John.


  8. A good puzzle (apart from 22a which I spent too long on) but another slow one for me — a good (?) 5 mins over my target.
    After this week, I think I must revise my target upwards. Sad — am I losing it or are there other ‘steady’ solvers who feel the same after the last week or more? I used to dip below 10 mins quite often during the first few years of the QC but I can remember only one sub-10 min time in the last year or so.
    Still, the puzzle is the thing and perhaps I should strike away from most bloggers and stop obsessing about speed? Looking back over John’s blog, there were many really superb clues to enjoy, once the clock had stopped ticking.
    Thanks to Don and John. John M.

    Edited at 2021-09-10 08:45 am (UTC)

    1. I don’t think many if any “obsess” about speed, John – well, maybe with the exception of my eternal and Sisyphean quest to get below 1K! But if your times are making you feel down then you should definitely step away from them and just enjoy the art of the setter. These puzzles are for enjoyment, not to stress over.

      I know I’ve posted this before but I’m going to again, because it says it all rather well. This is an extract from a much longer post about solving times by Nick the Novice back in November 2017. I hope that it puts your mind at rest, especially the last sentence!

      “Individual completion times seem to me a complete irrelevance in terms of indicating the degree of difficulty of a puzzle. Some might regard a 30 minute solve as indicating an “easy” solve: for others “easy” might equate to 5 minutes. It all depends on your level of experience and overall capability.

      “I personally think an indicator of “degree of difficulty” is useful – hence my use of “quite tricky”, “fairly straightforward” etc. etc. This seems to me far more useful than a solving time, given the point made in 2. above.

      “Finally I’ve personally never understood the interest in completion times for crosswords anyway. I suppose if you are someone who enters the competitions then these things matter. However, I’ve always regarded crosswords as a fun recreation rather than a competitive thing (I get plenty of competitive adrenalin flowing in my ‘real’ life). Rather, one might (in a loose kind of way) equate doing a crossword with recreational sex: it’s fun, and the longer it goes on the better – do you set a stop watch?”

      Or as Izetti put it more pithily – “Relax, gentle solver, and enjoy!”

      Hope that helps

      1. Of course, in my case, as a Competition solver, time is an important factor. It doesn’t limit my enjoyment — but it does mean that I can get impatient with an obvious clueing error (TOED) and a clue where I get totally stuck at the end (REORIENTATED). Having already tried twice to enter “petrification”, I lost patience after 8 minutes and gave up.
      2. Thanks for your reply, Templar. We have been over this many times since QC number 1 and I agree with what you say, of course.
        I always try to read blog posts before posting to avoid repeating other people’s thoughts without fair acknowledgement. Perhaps that is my mistake because the early comments always set the tone with times quoted. To be fair, many of the quick solvers just post their time; thankfully, there seem to be fewer others these days (no names, no packdrill) who still add self-deprecating comments about how their (fast) time is ‘terribly/woefully…. slow’. We do still have comments from solvers who are concerned that their typing is not fast enough, though. I rest my case (but with little conviction).
        I’ll stop mentioning my own time in future and just work to my own target. I do try to comment on the quality of a puzzle and that is surely worth more of my time.
        The only problem is: when I am on wavelength and have a single-figure time again (ha!) I won’t be able to brag about it! John.

        Edited at 2021-09-10 11:51 am (UTC)

    2. Stop obsessing about speed! I only look at my times out of curiosity if I feel it was a quick solve – most are completely untimed. While speed is a perfectly good metric for those who are that way inclined, I prefer to approach these puzzles (especially the slightly chewy ones) like a fine meal – something to be savoured and enjoyed. They are a pleasure, so why rush? Theres far too much ‘hurry’ in the rest of the day!
      1. Good advice. I don’t think I obsess, exactly but perhaps the QC blog does encourage me (and many others) to place some emphasis on times. I still enjoy many of the blog comments and am reassured when other setters I respect are ‘in the same boat’.
        I must admit to doing the DTelegraph online most days after the QC and I like the way you can stop the clock if you need a break. I take the odd break and always forget to hit ‘pause’ (or forget to re-start it) so my times are meaningless and I am left simply knowing if I was unusually quick or slow. I prefer that approach and I don’t read or contribute to the DT cryptic blog. John
          1. Thanks for that. Would a single malt work as well do you think?
            On second thoughts, a post- breakfast malt might have a less helpful effect! John.

            Edited at 2021-09-10 05:46 pm (UTC)

      2. The problem is that this blog was set up as ‘Times for The Times’. It has ever left ‘Time’ as an important component of these ‘pages’. Mention of Nick the Novice, who never gave a time, brings back some odd memories.

    3. I would agree, John, that there is a case for focusing only on the puzzle and not the time. I have the timer permanently off, which is why I rarely comment.
      My feeling is that if I try to get speedier, I will finish something I enjoy doing, even sooner.
      Would you rush eating a cake? Just a thought.
      1. With two greedy brothers I had to eat cake at speed when I was young, otherwise my slice would go missing.
      2. I first started learning on the main Times crossword maybe 15 years ago, failed a lot, then when the QC started, did that daily until I got better and quicker, then restarted the main 15×15 on days when the snitch is <100, then started doing the Guardian Quiptic and Observer Everyman (their “easier offerings” free on the Guardian website), then the Guardian Cryptic (also free). The Guardian doesn’t have a built in timer.

        I suppose the next step is regularly trying the >100 snitch main puzzles and then on to barred puzzles.

        There are always more cryptic crosswords…, just like there is always more cake…, but there is only so much time in a day, especially working full time.

        I only time the puzzles because I have a competitive streak a mile wide, and like to see how I compare to the quicker solvers who post here on any given day. I actually do them because I love the challenge, and because along with cycling, it’s my hobby.

        I suppose my aim would be to get to the stage where I can do 3 Times 15×15’s in less than 60 mins regularly, and then enter the Championships for a giggle (not in any hope of winning obviously).

        Edited at 2021-09-10 03:33 pm (UTC)

  9. Thought 12 down must be a position in rugby league. Pencilled in LAMPPOST (two words in Br Eng) but, dimly(!) could not parse. Did not think of looking at 13a. Failed on TOED.
    Very slow today. Not helped by trying, like others, to fit in Petrification.
    No problem with OP ART or SAIGON.
    Thanks all, esp John.

    Edited at 2021-09-10 11:09 am (UTC)

  10. TOSS was my FOI, followed by ELGAR. I had to write out the anagrist for REORIENTATION, and discovered that I needed to rethink PETRIFICATION in the process. TOED was LOI with a mental note that it should be Kicked in the clue. That error cost me some thinking time. 9:21. Thanks Izetti and John.
  11. Badly held up by the 1s, so rather jealous of JD having it as first in — that T at the start of TREATISE would have been handy as I was totally misdirected by the clue — in retrospect ‘sit back’ couldn’t be clearer. Like others I paused over PETRIFACTION wanting it to be longer and just generally took my time in the SW but without noticing the tense TOED issue. A little more than a little over 20m to end a toughish crosswording week.

    Edited at 2021-09-10 09:44 am (UTC)

  12. Even more thick-headed than Rotter. Too much red wine resulted in a lengthy 18 minutes solve and an alphabet trawl for my LOI TOED.
  13. On the blog yesterday there was some comment about method and speed of solving. Today, I tried the recommendation to go through all the clues without going back over any to see if it would speed me up. I do like to ruminate on the clues and I am a seasoned go-overer. I do think I could get quicker by adopting a new approach, so thanks for the suggestion. People who study crosswords probably think this is elementary. I just attempt to do them, I don’t read up about them at all. FOI today was spur, and I had eleven on first pass. I ended up with a DNF as I could not decide between hatter and natter, and went for the wrong option. I couldn’t tell which had lost its head, the hatter or the chatter, though there is nothing in the clue to suggest the letter n anywhere. I also had test instead of toss, as in test match, the word “test” coming before the match. I got lamppost before alight as anagrams seem to be my thing. So though I thought I had completed the puzzle, to my surprise the blog put me straight. I don’t get down on myself for being incapable of a full solve, as I do enjoy the crosswords immensely. LOI and COD reorientated. I agree that kick should be kicked. Thanks, John, and Izetti. GW.
    1. Not like you Don ! It’s been a long time since I failed to finish one of your puzzles, but today you had me fair and square ☹️
  14. Thick-headed after an excellent start to my reunion last night, so over target at 16 minutes this morning. I didn’t notice the TOED issue, just bunged it in, and struggled for far too long to see my LOI SAIGON, looking for a four letter word for a boy to surround IG. Thanks to Don and John (Don Juan?).
  15. TOED, PETRIFACTION and REORIENTATED being the culprits.

    Couldn’t get going, nothing unfair though, except as the setter himself admits, kicked for kick.

    Thanks all.


  16. 5:48 this morning.
    As with others, my LOI was 22 ac “toed”, deciding not to agonise over the clue and simply trust the wordplay.
    Anagrams today proved a little more troublesome but got there in the end. Another fine QC from Don.
    COD 23 ac “creditor”.
    18 months ago when lockdown began, I decided I would focus more on the Times Crosswords that I had been doing virtually every day for years and try to maintain my personal standards as I got older.
    One measure is the time taken to completion but it’s not the only one. As far as I’m concerned the only person I’m competing against in this regard is myself!
    Sharing our qualitative experiences of the daily battle of wits with the compiler is where a lot the fun lies. That’s why I continue to enjoy the TftT site so much.
    Thanks to John for the concise blog and to Don.
  17. Much the same experiences as a number of other solvers. Attempted to fit petrification in at 17ac, failed to parse aristocratic, reticent and reorientated. Started off really fast as well, but after a few went in the pace slowed to a crawl and I ended up taking 32 mins. I used to manage to solve most puzzles comfortably within my target solving time of 15-20 mins, with occasional forays below 15 mins and a couple of sub-10 solves. However I have not managed to break 20 mins in the last 2 weeks, twice going over the 30 minute mark. Permanent mental decline seems to have set in.

    FOI – 5ac SPUR
    LOI – 8dn REORIENTATED. I hadn’t a clue what was going on here and needed an aid to finish.
    CsOD – 6dn PLASTIC and 14dn INTRUDE

    Thanks to Izetti and John

    1. Or, it’s just been a tough couple of weeks, qc-wise and your brain remains in good fettle. 😉
  18. 44 minutes! Why so long? I’ve no idea at all. But it was a real struggle today. And I can’t blame TOED because I guessed it was a mistake.
    Maybe because I was up in the night watching the tennis?
    Perhaps today’s not a day for having a go at the 15×15……
  19. I really can’t do these crosswords whilst being distracted. Currently on a packed train to London, there is a small child behind me who insists on watching some cartoon on maximum volume on his tablet and I’ve just found out the buffet car is cash only.

    I therefore blame my dnf as a result of my brewing displeasure and increasingly furious anger.

    Other than that — a good puzzle, although I agree with the circular reference of 12dn and 14ac. Main problem was 1ac “Treatise”, 8dn “Reorientated” (no excuse really) and 21ac “Trade” where I was convinced it had to be “exe” in there somewhere.

    Not a great week overall I think.

    FOI — 1dn “Toss”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 23ac “Creditor”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. parsed me by: ‘in the good old daze’ – if one ‘TOED’ the football it was known as a ‘gog-ender’ and one was down in the second-eleven the following week. But until about 1961 boots had big round toe-caps which lived on ‘Dubbin’. Until the instep became the thing, when the very stylish 5acs won the League under Bill Nicholson



    COD 4dn SAIGON – lovely Post Office by Gustav Eiffel


    Edited at 2021-09-10 04:24 pm (UTC)

  21. Cracking puzzle. Really enjoyed it as I do all Izetti’s. And of course my view is helped by having finished it really quickly for me. About 20 mins. Which is good for me for any TQC but especially pleasing to get an Izetti right that fast. Nice week and a very enjoyable end to it. Fred.
  22. Joined the petrification crowd, took ages to get it right. Failed to see the 13 reference in 12d and very slow to see toed for 22a. Good puzzle with excellent comments above.
  23. Just a brief post today, as too much happening here this afternoon.

    I tackled this QC this morning and was very pleased to finish, all correct, in 34 minutes. My last four in — REORIENTATED, DEACON (a very clever clue, IMHO), TRADE and OP ART — took 10 minutes or so, but it’s rare for nothing to hold me up at the end.

    Luckily, I didn’t get thrown off track by TOED, probably because Mrs Random often calls me a TOAD when I am or have been up to no good.

    Many thanks to Izetti and johninterred.

  24. If Izetti is himself the Editor – then he didn’t double check! I was a yard slower than yesterday with 6:35 mins.
    My COD to 1dn TOSS
  25. 13 minutes but with one wrong — it was 1d that did for me. Such a great clue too now that John has explained it 😅 11a made me smile.
    I’m with Pitcaithlie that my only competitor is myself (just as well) but I do find it interesting to see how other posters are doing, especially those who joined this merry crew around the same time as me.
    FOI Spur
    LOI Reticent
    COD Op art
    Thanks Izetti and John
  26. Much enjoyed this puzzle …
    … which despite the discussion above I shall briefly note took me 12 minutes. Not because it is fast (there are many here who are much faster) or particularly meritorious, but because I do like to see how it compares with my other goes at a puzzle by Izetti.

    I was another who tried to get Petrification into 17A — perhaps a slightly more common word than Petrifaction but it suffered from the fairly fatal flaw of having the wrong number of letters. So one tried again.

    I also puzzled over 13A Alight. I can see that the parsing requires A + Land=Light, as John has explained, but that struck me as odd as the more normal is Land = Alight. That would make the clue a straight Double Definition (“Land in flames”, perhaps?).

    And now on to the latest Saturday Special. Many thanks to John for the blog and a good weekend to all.

  27. Oh, that was tough going! At my 20 minute target half the grid was empty. Only when I saw lamppost did the rest quickly fall into place.

    Always seem to struggle with Izetti, so just finishing is something.

Comments are closed.