Times Quick Cryptic No 1963 by Trelawney

A rather hurried blog today as I have little time.  I completed this puzzle from Trelawney inside 11 minutes, finding it at the easier end of the Rotterometer scale.  1a didn’t come to me straight away, but there were plenty of easy descendant answers to help me find it.  I hope that you found it equally unproblematic.


1  One fighting to grab a pencil’s lead – it can be used for doodling (5,5)
SCRAP PAPER – SCRAPPER (one fighting) containing (grabbing) A (a) and P{encil’s} lead (first letter).
Absolutely tiny child with friend (7)
TOTALLY – TOT (tiny child) and ALLY (friend).
9  Cared about tree (5)
CEDAR – Anagram (about) of [CARED].
10  Fixes unstarted conclusions (4)
ENDS – mENDS (fixes, unstarted).
11  Roughly trample front of edible plant from the tropics (4,4)
PALM TREE – Anagram (roughly) of [TRAMPLE] plus E{dible} (front of).
13  Recall crumbling basement (6)
CELLAR – Anagram (crumbling) of [RECALL].
14  African country’s former coin (6)
GUINEA – Double definition.
17  Food from old king’s rule? (8)
COLESLAW – COLE’S (old king’s, as in old king Cole) and LAW (rule).
19  Small dog eats large piece of fruit (4)
PULP – PUP (small dog) containing (eats) L{arge}.
21  Hostility within stag group (5)
AGGRO – Hidden in {st}AG GRO{up}.
22  A tango Elgar composed for free (2,5)
AT LARGE – A (a) and T (tango) followed by an anagram (composed) of [ELGAR].
23 Socialiat hospital going wrong – that’s a distraction (3,7)
RED HERRING – RED (socialist) with H{ospital} and ERRING (going wrong).


Fortress with unusual dialect (7)
CITADEL – Anagram (unusual) of [DIALECT].
3  Sack covers top of luxury car part (4)
AXLE – AXE (sack, as in ‘got the axe / sack’, containing (covers) L{arge}.
4  Father with celebratory cry, pocketing dosh primarily on this (3,3)
PAY DAY – PA (father) and YAY (celebratory cry) with D{osh} (primarily) included (pocketing).
Toddler’s request, perhapsa stiff drink? (4-2-2)
PICK-ME-UP – Double definition, the first cryptically amusing.
6 Jockey’s amendment (3)
RIDER – Double definition, the second referring to an amendment to a contract.
7  Releases plenty of product for testing (4,5)
FREE SAMPLE – FREES (releases) and AMPLE (plenty).
8  Technocrat’s ragged piece of clothing (6,4)
TRENCH COAT – Anagram (ragged) of [TECHNOCRAT].
12  Personal assistant’s weapon – that will get you access! (8)
PASSWORD – PA’S (personal assistant’s) and SWORD (weapon).
15  Temperature inside nerve cell particle (7)
NEUTRON – NEURON (nerve cell) containing T{emperature}.
16  Superhero’s accessory conceals an appetizer (6)
CANAPE – CAPE (superhero’s accessory) concealing / containing AN (an).
18  Beer of kings served up (5)
LAGER – REGAL (of kings) reversed (served up).
20  Obscure description of book that’s unfinished (4)
BLUR – BLURb (description of book, unfinished = drop the last letter)

55 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1963 by Trelawney”

  1. Puzzle 1963, the year of my birth, yielded a Pb, breaking the eight minute barrier with a straightforward clockwise solve.

    1a was PLOI, and did not parse until just now. LOI AXLE, as I was sure the L would be at the end, ‘covers’ on a down clue would seem to indicate so.

    COD COLESLAW, very neat, although PASSWORD also good and a similar device, splitting up a word in a non-obvious way.

    1. Not born in 55 then! You’re a mere sprig — we passed my birth year more than a week ago 😢 Congrats on the PB 😊
    2. Well done on the pb. As so often, you’re a few minutes quicker than me. I’m putting it down to your 13 years extra life experience.
  2. At 8 mins this was a stroll.

    8dn TRENCH COAT was simplicity itself – and so my COD

    FOI 1ac SCRAP PAPER – used for 19ac PULP fiction no doubt.

    LOI 3dn AXLE (missed!)

    WOD 4dn PAY DAY! Always 20th of the month for Meldrew

    I would prefer 23ac RED HERRING to be at 5ac or 5dn – just Sayers-ing. I’ll fetch me coat!

  3. Not the romp others seem to have had but still fast for me at slightly under 9m. Six on the first pass of acrosses but then good progress ending up with PICK ME UP, PALM TREE and GUINEA. Enjoyed CANAPE and COLESLAW. I’m a little relieved it was quick as I have to go to the office today and the roads are getting busier so every minute counts! From October everyone is expected to be in an average of two days a week.
  4. We also found this one to be much easier than yesterday’s toughie. Lots of enjoyable clues made it a fun puzzle to complete — 8 minutes.

    COD: PICK ME UP (made us laugh)

    Thanks to Trelawney and Rotter.

  5. Many thanks for the blog. I didn’t see the parsing of BLUR(b) when I biffed it. Took a few checkers to get 1a.
    A bit easier than last few QCs.
  6. Completed this with no aids in 35 minutes. Most of these clues went in with no real difficulty. 5d – PICK ME UP – was probably the one that took me the longest, but it eventually came to me.

    LOI: 14a. GUINEA

    Didn’t manage to complete yesterday’s QC, with 3 clues unanswered.

    1. … was funnily enough my fastest and a very rare case where I guessed the answer from just one checker (the M) without even reading the clue! Of course I did then read the clue before writing it in to make sure I wasn’t making a complete fool of myself, but I believe this is what more experienced solvers call being on wavelength …
  7. 11 minutes missing my target by 1. I had no real problems but I did lose a little time over YAY as ‘celebratory cry’, a word I’ve never used and never really thought about its meaning when used by others, beyond its being an alternative to ‘yes’.
  8. Nice steady solve, delayed by TOTALLY for a while and a brain fade on GUINEA, but no big problems. Liked the clever TRENCHCOAT. About 20 mins whilst watching the world go by in the sunshine.
  9. After yesterday’s total failure, a reminder of why I enjoy QCs so much. Almost a sequential solve in under 15 (too much to enjoy to rush it!). A number of easy anagrams helped fill the grid and provide useful crossers, and clear wordplay kept things moving nicely.
    FOI 1a, although the exact parsing came after a lucky intuition
    LOI 3d – got fixated on ‘sack’ as meaning a kind of bag
    COD – among the witty delights I’m torn between 7d and 17a
  10. Having completed the QC within my target I’m now wondering why I wasn’t quicker. I think this was quite a gentle offering. I did need most of the checkers for 1a so that did slow me down. My FOI was TOTALLY and my LOI was AXLE. 8:32
  11. Gentle — probably should have shaved a little off my time as some of the easier clues did need a second pass

    No clue particularly stood out — but liked PAY DAY

    Thanks Rotter and Trelawney

      1. As a self-employed cabbie, EVERY day was payday (though in reality you’d be on the fourth or fifth day of your seven day week before you covered your overheads !). These days it’s pension day that does it for me.
  12. A slowish start for me but I made rapid progress when I reached the SW. It was then a bit of a slog (with some interruptions that broke the flow). I must have been off-balance because I spent too long on PULP, BLUR, AXLE, and CANAPE, none of which were difficult when pennies dropped and I did not see YAY for a while even though PAY went in early (doh). I liked AT LARGE and NEUTRON.
    I was quicker than yesterday but still over target. I do think the standard of recent QCs has changed for some of us.
    Thanks to both. John M.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 08:40 am (UTC)

  13. Couldn’t see 1ac, so started with the tempting 8d and its offspring (bar Coleslaw — I needed some crossers for that one). After that a steady enough solve, even avoiding a Passport rabbit hole at 13d, before loi Canapé brought me to a halt. I thought *a*a*e might be a particular appetiser, but the alphabet trawl didn’t take too long, finishing in 18mins. CoD to 17ac, Cole’s Law, but Pick-me-up certainly ran it close. Invariant
  14. … and all done in 7 minutes, which while not a PB is very fast for me and adds to the evidence that this was on the gentler side. For which, after recent head-scratchers, many thanks to Trelawney.

    I wonder how many people initially read “pencil’s lead” in 1A as the bit of graphite in the pencil rather than its initial letter. I certainly did.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  15. A change of pace today after some tricky QCs recently. 1a went straight in which is always a bonus and finished with CANAPE, AT LARGE and BLUR. PASSWORD was my COD, although there were plenty of contenders. Finished in 6.38
    Thanks to Rotter
  16. It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but have attempted the QC daily now for past 5 months or so. Whilst I’m still not finishing at least half of these, I usually get pretty close and feel myself improving as the months go by.

    Today’s offering by Trelawney felt like the culmination of many days of slogging through the more tricky QCs and trawling through Chambers, as this was basically a write in in around 15 minutes. I couldn’t really believe it when I had finished! No particular hold ups, maybe due to generous definitions from the setter.

    I couldn’t parse 17a COLESLAW, as DNK Cole, however was obvious with the checkers in place. 23a was clearly RED HERRING, however I didn’t understand the wordplay until coming here.

    Maybe I was on the setters wavelength today, but this was so enjoyable and I felt pitched perfectly for a QC.

    I would like to pass my regards onto poison_wyvern — whether it’s taking comfort in the fact you’ve also had a DNF or sharing jubilation in a quick finish, I often come here to find your comment which usually accurately matches my experience!

    Thanks to Rotter and Trelawney.

    Edited at 2021-09-16 09:14 am (UTC)

    1. Well done tonestaxis, from another confirmed member of the SCC (although I nearly escaped its clutches today). I would like to hear your comments more often as, like you, I take comfort from realising that there are others out there who have to graft.
  17. Like Rotter I did the danglers before getting SCRAP PAPER. I then worked gently through finishing with AT LARGE in 6:03. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.
  18. FOI cedar, LOI pulp – not really a piece of fruit, I agree. Ten minutes. Not all parsed, though, and the blog cleared up the question marks for me. COD free sample. Still sticking with reading through and passing on any that I don’t solve immediately and getting some faster times. I think this was on the easier side – I solved 17 clues on first pass which is unusual for me. I tried the 15 x 15 yesterday and was totally wiped out, I did not solve a single clue. I just read the clues, had a moment of total confusion and gave up. On the plus side, if there is one, it didn’t take me very long!
    I’m always delighted to solve a 15 x 15, it doesn’t happen all the time. But yesterday was my first complete no-show, a milestone of sorts, one that I’d rather not repeat. So I was relieved to find that I could still do a crossword today. Might have a tentative pop at the 15 x 15 later. Thanks for the blog, Rotter, and the reassuring puzzle, Trelawney. GW.
    1. Agree that yesterday’s 15×15 was way harder than Mon, Tue or today. I think I only solved one clue.

  19. I picked the right day to play golf yesterday; weather was kind and I missed a fiendish 15×15 and Oink’s tricky puzzle (which I did solve late on in around 20 minutes).
    No such problems today. 08:48 on the clock and that after quite a long pause resisting PAY PAL in 4d. This was my LOI and I had to be very strict about the parsing; thought YEA was the shout for a while.
    Otherwise a very enjoyable QC. Difficult enough and rewarding.
  20. A very quick solve today – perhaps my quickest ever. Everything pretty obvious – unlike yesterday’s! (Could not find yesterday’s blog, incidentally.)
  21. 4:58 this morning.
    Easier than yesterday’s offering and nothing too obscure, although I nearly went wrong with LOI 4d “pay day” which I almost biffed as “pay pal” but realised I hadn’t taken account of the “d” in “dosh primarily”. Also wasn’t entirely convinced by “yay”.
    COD 1 ac “scrap paper”.
    Thanks to Rotter and Trelawney
  22. Phew! After yesterday, that was a relief. Six minutes of fun with lots to smile at. I noticed there were a few clues of this style (I don’t know what you’d call them) — PAS SWORD, FREES AMPLE and COLES LAW. I always like those type of clues, maybe three is an embarrassment of riches though.
    5d particularly made me smile — when my daughter was a toddler, she used to say ‘My up’ when she wanted to be carried. I think it was her first phrase 😅
    FOI Ends
    LOI Pulp — I had it much earlier but was also doubtful about piece. I suppose strictly speaking pulp is a piece of fruit, but …..
    COD Pick-me-up
    Thank Trelawney and Rotter

    Edited at 2021-09-16 11:18 am (UTC)

        1. I grew up with ey up m’duck, and it was always my opening words when meeting my mother until we lost her a few years ago. Thanks for the memory!
  23. Thoroughly enjoyed this offering from Trelawney after a massive DNF yesterday, despite having 3 separate attempts at it. Today’s yielded fairly easily in an interrupted 16 mins. MER at equating PULP with a piece of fruit and it took me a long time to come up with GUINEA but otherwise no particular difficulties. Thanks to Trelawney and Rotter.

    FOI – 10ac ENDS
    LOI – 16dn CANAPE
    COD – 17ac COLESLAW, although there were several others that ran it close.

  24. 11 mins overall, which is my best time for quite a while.

    Funnily enough I got 5dn “Pick Me Up” just from the “M” and just about didn’t fall into the 12dn “Passport” trap. I wasn’t convinced about “pulp” being a piece of fruit though.

    FOI — 8ac “Cedar”
    LOI — 17ac “Coleslaw”
    COD — 5dn “Pick me up”

    Thanks as usual!

  25. ….but I was slowed down a little by recurrent fat finger, which stretched out my endeavours. Almost failed to enter my LOI — AGAIN !!

    TIME 4:00

  26. A rapid solve (for me) in just 23 minutes, today. Like some others above, I didn’t get SCRAP PAPER straight away and didn’t really get going until I found myself down near the bottom of the grid, so I worked back up to the top from there.

    AXLE was my LOI and BLUR was my last one to parse (I again remembered to double-check any question marks before coming here). I missed GUINEA on my first alphabet trawl, but saw it the second time through.

    Mrs Random appeared to be really struggling, as she started before me and was still going when I finished. However, I have just found out that she finished in 18 minutes and then went seamlessly into yesterday’s Oink, which she needed to catch up on. Mrs R completed that in 36 minutes which, coincidentally, is the same time that I managed yesterday. So, at least half a family point for me this week.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and to therotter.

  27. PB today at 13 mins. Never thought I would get below 15 mins so feeling really chuffed, especially as I am recovering from a bad bout of Covid, until I saw that everyone else also found it gentle. Very enjoyable all the same.

    COD to Red Herring which made me chuckle (always welcome but perhaps betraying my slightly jaded view of some of our hospital administrators).

    Thanks Trelawney and the Rotter.

    1. Dear Prof.
      Very well done today (a PB?), and I trust you make a quick and full recovery from the dreaded lurgy.
  28. So in with the Greyhounds. 1ac Scrap Paper was a bit of a wordy clue! COD Trench Coat as worn by Sam Spade.
  29. At 11:17, my fastest time since my pb in early June and 6th on the all time list, although I confess I didn’t parse CANAPE until I’d stopped my watch. Very enjoyable anyway. FOI TOTALLY, LOI SCRAP PAPER, COD CANAPE. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.
  30. Didn’t quite work out axle but no other car part fitted. Otherwise pretty easy and well inside my 20 minute target.
  31. Been to IKEA, not in the crossword sense, but the Croydon branch, and then assembled purchases.

    Crossword mostly straightforward, AXLE my LOI, and took some thinking.


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