Times quick Cryptic No 1973 by Joker

This was a bit of a struggle in places, but not enough to take me past my 15m target.  The two long answers ending in …MONIOUS came to me fairly easily, which helped, but I struggled to remember 13 down before constructing the answer from wordplay, and I think this answer alone may cause some problems for the SCC.  See my comments below regarding my MER at 18 down and a question mark over the classification of 6 down.  My only other real problem was deciding between ANTI and ANTE for 1 across, but that is entirely my fault – at 70 years old I should be able to distinguish between a frequently seen gambling term and a common enough prefix or term for someone who is against something.  On the other hand, I thought that 11 across was simple, if novel.

Many thanks to Joker for exercising the old grey matter.  Please let me know how you found it this morning.


Stake a new note (4)
ANTE – A (a) and N{ew} followed by TE (note – from do, ray, me, fa, so, la, te).
Act of taking over commercial selection (8)
ADOPTION – AD{vertisement} (commercial) and OPTION (selection).
9 Deal with company backed in printed media (7)
PROCESS – OC (CO backed – reversed) inside PRESS (printed media).
10  Female in army group is out of condition (5)
UNFIT – F{emale} inside UNIT (army group).
11 Dispute in Camargue when river’s blocked (5)
ARGUE – {cam}ARGUE (when river’s blocked – take the river CAM out of Camargue).
12  Reddish-brown and gold stream (6)
AUBURN – AU (gold) and BURN (stream).
14  Affecting moral superiority to nuncio’s aims for reform (13)
SANCTIMONIOUS – Anagram (for reform) of [TO NUNCIO’S AIMS].
17  Young cat – chap embraces it tons (6)
KITTEN – KEN (chap) containing / embracing IT and T{ons}.  In my version of the crossword on-line, the enumeration for this clue was wrongly given as (3) when there were clearly (6) squares to be filled for the answer!
19  Weld remade around ring for fixing pin (5)
DOWEL – Anagram (remade) of [WELD] around O (ring).
22  Caught looking embarrassed over initially expression of belief (5)
CREDO – C{aught} (cricket scoring notation) with RED (looking embarrassed) and O{ver} (initially – cricket scoring notation again).
23  Individual’s trapped male deer – a tragedy may unfold here (7)
ONSTAGE – ONE (individual) containing / trapping STAG (male deer).  The definition is a cryptic hint.  This word is hyphenated in my on-line Chambers, and I don’t think I have seen it expressed as a single word before.
24 Solitary revolutionary supporter of Charles 1 (8)
ROYALIST – Anagram (revolutionary) of [SOLITARY].
25  Refuse dumped beside northern motorway, last of all (4)
DENY – last letters (last of all) of {dumpe}D {besid}E {norther}N {motorway}Y.


Value a very quiet increase in salary (8)
APPRAISE – A (a) with PP (very quiet – pianissimo in musical notation) and RAISE (increase in salary)
Skimpy garment a great many have thrown right out (5)
THONG – TH{r}ONG (a great many with R{ight} thrown out.  ‘With a thong in my heart…’
Clashing recipe with part of octopus and a lot of onion put before us (13)
DISHARMONIOUS – DISH (recipe) with ARM (part of octopus), a bit of ONIO{n}, all before US (put before us).
5  Fruit black?  Exactly! (5)
PLUMB – PLUM (fruit) and B{lack}.  If something is PLUMB it is exactly right.
6 Non-fire?  That’s wrong (7)
INFERNO – This is a combination of an anagram (that’s wrong) of [NON-FIRE] as well as an &Lit, where the whole clue gives the[JM1] definition.  &Lits are my weakness – if I have misled you, I am sure that someone will put us right.
7 Fruit mostly smelt awful when brought up (4)
NUTS – STUN{k} (smelt awful – mostly), when brought up (reversed).
Change one’s mind regarding church fast (6)
RELENT – RE (regarding) and LENT (church fast).
13  Pressure initially seems to change unknown instrument (8)
PSALTERY – P{ressure} and S{eems} (initially) with ALTER (to change) and Y (unknown – in equations).  A PSALTERY may not be familiar to everyone, but is a zither-like instrument that is plucked by the player.
15  Lack of wisdom I test in statement of denial (7)
NAIVETY – I VET (I test) inside NAY (statement of denial).
16  One regularly uncovered chap in barrel turning up (6)
NUDIST – SID (chap) inside TUN (barrel) all reversed (turning up).
18  Time to crush online troublemaker (5)
TROLL – T{ime} and ROLL (crush).  ROLL = crush caused some consternation hereabouts.  The best I can excuse it is that to ROLL someone is to attack, crush and rob them, or that a steam-roller is designed to roll / crush a newly laid layer of tarmacadum in the same way that the heavy roller in cricket is used to roll / crush the pitch between innings.  Can someone do any better than this?
20  Large mammal is healthy when putting on weight (5)
WHALE – W{eight} and HALE (healthy).
21  Steep cliff is mostly frightening (4)
SCAR – SCAR{y}  (frightening – mostly).

60 comments on “Times quick Cryptic No 1973 by Joker”

  1. I wondered about ROLL, too, but assumed it must have some crush-like meaning, and I’m happy to take Ulaca’s. I liked the idea of a revolutionary royalist; not surprising that he was solitary. 6:26.
  2. 11 minutes, so missing my target by 1.

    Two things made me pause momentarily interrupting my progress, one being the incorrect enumeration at 17ac and the other being crush/ROLL. I don’t see the latter at all but if as ulaca suggests it’s sport terminology I’d be unlikely to know it anyway. It’s not in my Collins thesaurus. Chambers Crossword Dictionary has ‘roll’ = ‘crush’ but not ‘crush’ = ‘roll’.

    1. Having grown up in the shadow of a sugar mill (a short walk from my current avatar photo) I have no problem equating “crush” with “roll”. The cane is crushed, or rolled, to extract the juice. Presumably there are other analogous industrial practices.
      1. (If you squint you can see the cane being transported to the mill in punts. Small locomotives were also used. All replaced by trucks carrying bins in the mid-70’s, sadly).
  3. This meaning of ROLL caused me no problem, but perhaps it’s an Australian thing.

    Definition no. 34 in the Macquarie Dictionary (Australian English usage) is
    34. Colloquial to defeat; overcome.

    Couldn’t find it in Chambers, Collins, or SOE.

  4. Arrrgh, worked hard to get PSALTERY and then when I finally saw stream = burn typed in ‘aubrun’ to muck up INFERNO too. Not all green in 13.
  5. A brisk start in the NW but slowed towards the end. Neither of the long answers were obvious so had to wait for a few checkers to point me in the right direction. At 5d I was looking for a fruit beginning with a B until ADOPTION fell. The unknown PSALTERY was my LOI had to be carefully constructed from the word play and TROLL went in with a shrug.
    Finished just over target in 10.12.
    Thanks to Rotter
  6. Lord Galspray:’In the Shadow of the Sugar Mill’ would make a decent title of your recently penned autobiography, which is obviously why you have taken a couple of years off!?

    FOI AUBURN – the colour of my dear Mother’s hair in her youth.

    LOI 9ac PROCESS which I had earlier but rejected.


    WOD 2dn THONG

    1. Not sure a book would do it justice ‘Orryd. Hard to capture the “unique” smell and noise in text.
  7. Really enjoyed this, felt like a good workout!

    I finished all but 13d PSALTERY in 35 minutes.

    Whilst this is verging on a PB, I don’t time them accurately and since I didn’t actually finish it’s largely irrelevant! It did feel fairly accessible though.

    Must have stared at PS_L_E_Y for 10 minutes and just couldn’t make any sense of it, was looking for a 6 letter word between P and Y which meant ‘seems to change’… not realising that P was short for pressure and the initial was from ‘Seems’.

    With regards to ‘roll’ = ‘crush’, I had no problem with this as there are currently roadworks outside my house — the gentleman with the roller spent most of yesterday crushing his workmates pistachio shells into the new roadsurface… let’s see how that holds up in the final product!

    4d DISHARMOUNIOUS was a cracking clue, I loved crunching the wordplay and felt pleased when it dropped in.

    20d WHALE, NHO Hale = Healthy, but with W_A_E it couldn’t have been anything else.

    23ac ONSTAGE felt odd being clued as one word, especially as I was expecting ONES rather than ONE from Indiviual’s. I put it in anyway as the STAG part was clear enough.

    Thanks to Rotter and Joker.

    Edited at 2021-09-30 07:48 am (UTC)

  8. I was surprised to have been able to complete this, with only one trip to Chambers (14a).

    I managed to work out the “onious” part of 4d quite quickly, but then struggled for a long time with the rest of it. I wanted to put tentacle in there (part of octopus). It was not until I saw “dis” that everything else fell into place.

    I answered 13d quickly as it’s a word I recognise from the Bible.

    52 minutes with one aid.

  9. Not sure what was in the oats this morning but this is one of my highest places on the leaderboard. Above Kevin and Jeremy! A Red Letter Day 🙂

    Ive been experimenting with doing all the acrosses and then downs but haven’t been able to help reverting to getting an easy one and using the checkers to progress from there.

    Anyway enjoyed the puzzle. Don’t normally like long Ikean clues but DISHARMONIOUS (LOI) made me smile.

    Thanks Rotter and Joker

  10. Mr. Wyvern, seriously – do please throw away your Chambers – you use it as a crutch – the answers are, believe it or not, in the clues! Sorry to be so 14a.
    This was bang-on five minutes in Wolverton. Onstage one word!? As per Mr. Rotter – a hyphen surely? COD 6dn INFERNO as it was the Joker.
  11. I didn’t bother to parse my LOI, DISHARMONIOUS as the checkers made it obvious. ANTE was FOI. 8:13. Thanks Joker and Rotter. PSALTERY well known from 15×15 land.
  12. Some of that felt a little below Joker’s usually high standards – ARGUE was weak, “initially” was superfluous in 22ac and made it a fairly clunky surface (in which it was not alone). A workmanlike puzzle.

    Delayed myself somewhat by putting COOPTION instead of ADOPTION and thus not being able to get DISHARMONIOUS without a rethink.

    FOI ANTE, LOI DISHARMONIOUS, COD UNFIT, time 10:56 for 1.7K and a Meh Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Rotter.


    Edited at 2021-09-30 08:14 am (UTC)

  13. I should have got PSALTERY, which came up in the 15×15 recently- I think Jack said something about it. The rest went in in less than 20 minutes.
    Not very optimistic about my 15×15 chances today. I seem to be going backwards at the moment.
  14. No problem with roll for me. We buy rolled oats that have been crushed. I remember road rollers crushing the surface down. At school we had a heavy metal roller to crush the cricket pitch and make it flat.
    Thanks for the blog.
  15. … which pushed me out to a 15 minute solve, as none of 16D Nudist (my usual problem thinking of random chap’s names), 23A Onstage and LOI 13D Psaltery (which needed aids) came quickly. Until then I was going along very nicely in what I thought was an enjoyable puzzle.

    As for the psaltery, I am impressed with anyone who has heard of, let alone remembers, an instrument which, to quote the Encyclopedia Britannica, is “probably of Middle Eastern origin in late Classical times, reached Europe in the 12th century and was popular until about the 15th century”. I wonder how many of those filling in the answer have ever heard one played!

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  16. ….and had to dart about all over the grid to get home. I was with the “rolled oats” brigade.

    TIME 4:57

  17. Seventeen minutes. All going very well – 15 on first pass. Five more went in. Slowed up by the last 5. LOI nuts. Nuts again. We talked about fruit and nuts recently. Some write-ins, particularly kitten. COD whale. Thanks, Rotter, and Joker. GW.
      1. I just wanted people to make the connection. Happy with either. Thanks for your message. GW/shnwombat
    1. I was amazed that nobody but you and me thought it odd that fruit=NUTS. Held me up for ages and still don’t understand it. Can someone explain?
      1. The popular definition of NUTS (and the first definition in my online Chambers) is “Popularly, any FRUIT with an edible seed in a hard shell”. NUT is therefore definitely a fruit, which is also described first in Chambers as “The produce of the earth, which supplies the needs of humans and animals”.
  18. A very poor show from me today after a quick start in the NW. Too too many interruptions. The road has been closed outside and a gang has been digging up the road and pavement to locate a water mains problem. Repeated knocks on the door to locate external stop taps and constant requests for cold water tap to be turned on/off.
    No time (but it would have been slow). Rotter has said it all very well. Thanks to him and Joker for some fine but testing clues (not his fault I didn’t laugh a lot today). John M.

    Edited at 2021-09-30 09:17 am (UTC)

  19. I was thinking of a rolling pin crushing nuts (in baking), so I didn’t have any issues with 18dn.

    Overall, this took me 30 mins, but I initially got misdirected by putting “Post” for 1ac which caused issues for the NW corner. Thought the clues for 11ac “Argue” and 17ac “Kitten” were a little weak. Thankfully, 4dn and 14ac didn’t take too long to decipher.

    I can vaguely recall 13dn “Psaltery” from previous puzzles, but it was deductible from the wordplay.

    FOI — 3ac “Adoption”
    LOI — 13dn “Psaltery”
    COD — 6dn “Inferno”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Didn’t enjoy this, so pulled stumps at 30mins when the crossers for loi 13d looked unpromising to say the least. I think you would need a very large Ante, Rotter, to get a useful return on your assessment of its identification. Invariant
  20. Always the case after a fast finish, a slow one to bring you back to earth.

    I had CO-OPTION for 3a, which looked fine (CO=commercial) which meant that 4d wouldn’t work. I also was convinced that reddish-brown would be either AMBER or UMBER followed by G=gold (we’ve had it before). So I went with AMBERG, thinking it was something to do with Ambergris.

    I even thought that coöption and naïvety there might be a thing going on with diaereses. So looking for ‘Brontë’ and ‘Noël’

  21. I think I was in such a good mood after laughing at THONG I didn’t notice the MER and question mark raised by Rotter. My last three were ADOPTION, DISHARMONIOUS – as constructed from the wordplay – and finally PSALTERY which I have seen in a cryptic before but still couldn’t have told you what it is until I read the blog. 8:52 with COD to THONG….a most uncomfortable garment.

    Edited at 2021-09-30 11:34 am (UTC)

    1. Unless you’re in Australia, where I believe thongs are what we call flip-flops. Actually, I’d say they’re extremely uncomfortable too — I gave them up years ago after one too many blisters 😅
  22. 3:45 this morning, an improvement on yesterday simply because I didn’t experience any delays.
    With this type of grid, cracking the two longest clues quickly is very advantageous. Today I came to tackle them when there were already a few useful crossers in place. It isn’t always the case.
    COD 4d “disharmonious”. I like this type of clue where you have to solve a sequence of component cryptic elements.
    Didn’t have an issue with 18 d “troll”, as the road roller link made sense to me.
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and Joker.
  23. with a sense of achievement.
    Liked APPRAISE, SCAR, TROLL ( I agree, no problem roll meaning crush)
    Thanks all, esp Rotter.
  24. I haven’t done the last two puzzles, been too busy with work. I seem to have done OK. Being puerile meant that NUDIST and THONG made me smirk. I see that I biffed disharmonious, I didn’t even try to unpack it. Pretty sure I’ve seen PSALTERY somewhere else recently, someone may have already mentioned it.

    Only a few seconds sub Phil, but nowhere near pitcaithlie.

    Off to have a bash at the last 2 puzzles now.


  25. Some lame items (ARGUE, KITTEN, PLUMB), some real teasers (PSALTERY – had to check and the 13 letter ones) and a dodgy one – TROLL. As with other solvers, I can’t equate ROLL with CRUSH, although answer is obvious.
  26. That was a great puzzle — lots to work out which made it very satisfying to solve. We were all done in 21 minutes.


    Thanks to Joker and Rotter.

  27. Didn’t like 4d. RECIPE is instruction for making dish not the DISH itself. Also octopus tentacles are not ARMS. On the other hand PSALTERY was not difficult because not many words begin PS.
  28. … I hope some musicians still play it. The tone is beautiful (and that’s coming from, first and foremost, a prog-rock fan).
  29. … while I still had hardly any checkers. However, it’s strange that I even thought it might be a real word. That’s what 16 months of tackling these QCs has done to my vocabulary.

    The LHS went in quite quickly, but I had to work very hard to make progress around the rest of the grid. Both 13-letter clues held out until just before my usual finishing burst – just 10 minutes (!) to solve NUTS and PSALTERY.

    Mrs Random cruised through the puzzle at a leisurely pace, finishing in 30 minutes, and she’s now in the kitchen making what will probably be her final batch of raspberry jam for this year. Any remaining fruits on our raspberry canes are unlikely to ripen sufficiently.

    Many thanks to Joker and to therotter (P.S. I frequently get mixed up between ANTI- and ANTE-).

    1. Raspberry jam is the king of jams. Lucky Mr and Mrs Random!

      Each year my brother, who is a chef, makes 2 or 3 batches of marmalade. Last year’s lime and bergamot was historic.

    2. 1 TENTACLONIOUS — momble-tastic!
      2 We bought some locally made blueberry, lime and vanilla from a farmer’s market the other day — jam-tastic 😋
  30. Still in very wet Wales — got completely blasted by the wind at Caswell Bay but it was invigorating 😅 I mostly enjoyed this too, although agree that KITTEN was not typical of Joker’s usual standard and was also a bit baffled by crush = roll. Although I do see the points everyone else is making, I still think it’s a bit of a stretch. Just because you’re using a rolling pin to crush some biscuits doesn’t mean you’re using a rolling action! On the other hand, THONG made me chuckle.
    Again can’t remember the details as I did this a few hours ago but as it was online, I know it took 11:37 with spelling mistakes!
    Thanks Joker and Rotter
  31. Was struggling with this one anyway and already 10 minutes over my 20 minute target when I called it quits and came here for the answers. Psaltery had me completely stumped and I could have spent another 10 minutes without getting there. That’s 3 DNFs in a week. My worst ever run.
    1. Dear dearhector,
      Just to say, if it helps, that if I pulled stumps after just 30 minutes my “worst ever run” would be many consecutive DNFs more than three.
      Mr R
  32. Wrecked it by putting adopting as 1a. Nuts…..! Psaltery had to be psaltery, but I’m still none the wiser! I don’t know what a zither is either….

    Edited at 2021-09-30 08:16 pm (UTC)

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