Times Quick Cryptic No 1993 by Joker

An excellent QC as usual from Joker, I think one of our fairest setters.  I took just 11 minutes to complete, all parsed, which is at the faster end of the Rotterometer scale, but not startlingly fast, so there are some traps here to catch the unwary solver.  However, this proved significantly easier for me than other recent puzzles (yesterday excepted) where I have been pushed over target or into the SCC.

I may have slightly over-compensated for Jeremy’s brevity yesterday in the blog today – hopefully, you won’t find it tedious.  Jeremy, hopefully your wife is recovering from her injury.

7a and 8a went straight in to give a good start, but there were plenty of other clues to tax my brain, not least LOI 17d.  I really liked 16d and award that my COD.

Many thanks to Joker.  I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did.  Please do let us all know how you got on.  I wonder if 15a is universal, or will cause some problems for non-UK solvers?


Sleep with at least 24, but no Poles (4)
DOZE – DOZEns (at least 24) but without the N and S poles.
Stress European parliamentarian has one son (8)
EMPHASIS – EMP (Euro parliamentarian, European MP) and HAS (has) I (one) S{on}.
9  Thus fortify with alcohol for consolation (6)
SOLACE – SO (thus) and LACE (fortify with alcohol, as in to LACE a coffee with brandy, or a drink with more drink – very topical at the moment, what with University ‘freshers’ getting spiked and laced on nights out – not good!
10  Christmas decoration can seem extremely large initially (6)
TINSEL – TIN (can) and first letters of (initially) S{eem} E{xtremely} L{arge}.  Note: other brands of religious celebration may also be decorated with TINSEL.
11 Force to retreat right away from home (4)
ROUT – R{ight} and OUT (away from home).
12  Correct account given by clergyman (8)
ACCURATE – AC (account) and CURATE (clergyman).
15  Disordered exercises left learner and me with lines (4-4)
PELL-MELL – PE (exercises) with L{eft} and L{earner}, and followed by ME (me) and LL (lines).  The origin of PELL-MELL is from the old French pésle-mésle where the mésle is from the verb méler (to mix or meddle).
17  Fine and soft plant fibres  (4)
FLAX – F{ine} and LAX (soft).
18  Insult succeeded with brilliance (6)
SLIGHT – S{ucceeded) and LIGHT (brilliance).
21  Airman crashing in harbour (6)
MARINA – Anagram (crashing) of [AIRMAN].
22 Wild puma trek appealing to the affluent traveller? (8)
UPMARKET – Anagram (wild) of [PUMA TREK].  I’m afraid to say this clue could be referring to me.  When asked by Mrs R to choose between two potential purchases, my stock answer is to go for the one that is ‘reassuringly expensive’!
23  Game no good: yet medal results (4)
GONG – GO (game – Japanese) and N{o} G{ood}.


Unvaried sound not found in satellite echo (8)
MONOTONE – MOON (satellite) containing NOT (‘not’ found in) and finally E{cho} (NATO alphabet).
2  Concerned with now ended meal (6)
REPAST – RE (concerned with) and PAST (now ended).
Tea, say, always carried in item of luggage with English (8)
BEVERAGE – EVER (always) inside (carried in) BAG (item of luggage) and finally E{nglish).
4  Sudden flood cut short argument (4)
SPAT – Sudden flood is a SPAT{e} – cut short = drop the last letter.
5 One who forbids the use of flag (6)
BANNER – Double definition.
6 Quote view delivered in speech (4)
CITE – Homophone (delivered in speech) – sounds like SIGHT (view).
13  Disaster with area hit hard in major town (8)
CALAMITY – A{rea} and LAM (hit hard) inside CITY (major town).
14  Having a shower perhaps after time working out (8)
TRAINING – RAINING (having a shower perhaps) after T{ime}.  There seems to have been rather a lot of ‘having a shower, perhaps’ recently – it has been persistently precipitating in these parts at least.
16  What’s blocked movement to cut down trees and conserve (3,3)
LOG JAM – to cut down trees is to LOG and JAM is a conserve.
17  Horse and cattle fodder adapted to season (6)
FORAGE – FOR (adapted to) and AGE (season).  No problems here with the definition, but the wordplay didn’t spring out at me.  FOR to mean adapted to is the 10th definition for FOR in my Chambers, so valid but not obvious, and AGE for season I think is equally remote, but reasonable.  Hence my LOI.
19  Full opera needs cutting down for run (4)
LOPE – Hidden in {ful}L OPE{ra} and visible when the phrase is ‘cut down’!.
20  Accept post when head is sacked (4)
TAKE – [s}TAKE (post, with the first letter removed – head is sacked).

49 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1993 by Joker”

  1. A very enjoyable puzzle that delayed me only 8 minutes. My only query was why ‘traveller’ in 22ac?
    1. An affluent traveller is more likely to buy an upmarket puma trek than an affluent stay-at-homer… does it add a clue to the fact that it’s a commodity that could be purchased and therefore ‘upmarket’

    2. I agree. I looked at the grid, saw ?p?a???? and thought UPMARKET?. I read the clue as far as AFFLUENT and put it in. The suggestion that TRAVELLER is superfluous is correct; I solvedvthe clue without even reading it
  2. For some strange reason I lit upon CANDLE at 10ac, when it was TINSEL we were after.
    That completely ‘spannered the works’ in the North East for a while. (Doh!)


    LOI 6dn CITE for sore eyes!

    COD 17ac FLAX

    WOD 15ac PELL-MELL — helter skelter!

    Always good to see Mr. Rotter — The Blogmeister on duty.


    Edited at 2021-10-28 06:04 am (UTC)

  3. No problem with PELL-MELL; ODE’s examples are half UK, half US. The surface seemed a bit odd, though. I think I briefly noted ‘traveller’; in any case, I can’t explain its presence in the clue. 6:46.
  4. My only thought here was that if one ‘goes’ up-market, whether that be a person or a commercial enterprise and that ‘ to go’ is to travel.

    Someone ‘Going Places’ would therefore equate to an affluent traveller, might it not?

    Edited at 2021-10-28 06:03 am (UTC)

  5. It was a grid of two halves for me with the top going in easily and the bottom, particularly the south west, more of a struggle.

    I think this was a pangram? I was looking out for one from my FOI doze and it certainly helped me with my LOI Flax.

    Also struggled with forage, gong and rout.

    Thanks rotter and Joker.

  6. All green in 15 after coming to a screeching halt trying to get ROUT where Joker seems to have crammed an impressive amount of misdirection into only seven words. Not too much interconnection between the corners on this grid where i could have done with some help getting going in the SW. PELL MELL went straight in from its recent outing in another puzzle but the others needed careful extraction, though I can’t explain why on revisiting. Good one.
  7. Needed a coffee to get the neurones firing on this one. Once I got some of the top half, and a few checking letters, it started to come together. Finished with GONG and FORAGE. Nice hidden clue with LOPE.
    Thanks Setter and Rotter!
  8. Fairly easy going today, with brief hold ups over LOG JAM and and a mind blank with LOI SOLACE. Whether or not traveller was necessary for UPMARKET it made the surface so good that it gets my COD, with WOD going to PELL-MELL. Finished in 7.25.
    Thanks to Rotter
  9. I’ve just had a look at this puzzle and only managed to get 3 clues on the first pass! I’m not even sure if 17d SPRING is correct as I can’t parse it.

    A demoralising start to the day…

    I’m going to have a coffee and revisit a bit later on.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 07:47 am (UTC)

    1. 17D It isn’t! I struggled too and realised for the first time that all 4 seasons have 6 letters. Annoying. Also meandered through Salted and other seasonings before the checkers dropped in. No doubt your coffee will spring in some answers.
  10. I got off to a flying start but then hit a bit of autumnal fog and moved to sunnier climes in the SW.
    DNF as I put LIVE for 6D as I could not see the wood for the trees but was pretty confident it was wrong.
    Looked in vain for a Q then remembered there is a type of pangram which features an absence of one letter. Not sure if the missing letter has significance. Probably.
    1.3xSCC for my DNF which is otherwise a good result.
    Thank you Rotter and Joker. You have the last laugh today.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 08:02 am (UTC)

  11. A steady solvwe …
    … which took 14 minutes. Nothing seriously held me up except my last 2: 17D Forage and 1D Monotone. Both got from checkers and parsed later, but there I think the similarity ends, as while 1D is a very good clue once you see it, I join our blogger in thinking that the links in 17D for both For and Age are a little stretched.

    Thank you Rotter for your very full blog. My sympathies with your wet weather: I once had a holiday in the Lake District which despite the forecast of “intermittent showers” was unremittingly wet. It was only later that I realised that it was indeed “intermittent showers” — intermittent with cloudbursts.


  12. 18:51, with a well timed break half way through. LOI BEVERAGE where I had ERE=always in the middle which allowed several plausible looking answers such as “serenade”. In fact nearly submitted with “berevage”, but a final check saved me from another Pink Day.

    WOD PELL MELL. There’s an interesting bit of research about double words like this. There are many more than you think (harum-scarum, helter-skelter, Knick-knack etc). They are always ordered so the tongue moves forward as they are said. “Mell-Pell” just sounds wrong.

    I agree with mendesest that ROUT had a fearsome number of misdirection in it. Joker living up to their name, with “force” not meaning “f”, “retreat” and “away” not meaning reversal, “home” not meaning “in”, “right away” not meaning remove an “r”.

    1. The tongue doesn’t change position from ‘mell’ to ‘pell’ or vice versa. In eg ping-pong, fiddle-faddle,, see-saw, pitter-patter, etc., the tongue is higher in the first vowel than in the second. We don’t have pong-ping, faddle-fiddle, etc. And eg ‘mumbo-jumbo’ sounds OK.

      Edited at 2021-10-28 01:01 pm (UTC)

  13. I tried the ‘new’ Times download format today instead of my usual ‘Classic’ online Times. I don’t know whether it was this format change (unlikely) or simple brain fog but I couldn’t make a serious start on this. Apart from MONOTONE, SOLACE, SLIGHT, nothing seemed to fit. A short break, and suddenly the LOG JAM broke and I was hurtling PELL-MELL towards a finish.
    However, I was held up in the final straight by candle instead of TINSEL (I was not alone in that), FORAGE, and My LOI ROUT (I couldn’t avoid the urge to biff host).
    Deeply discomfiting. It was a fair puzzle and I am used to having ‘blind spots’ now and again but my awful performance today reminded me of my hesitant steps when faced with my first ever cryptic crossword. Thanks to Joker (no laughs for me today) and to rotter for his usual excellent blog.
    I’m just off to do a rival cryptic to see if my brain is really as dead as it felt earlier. John M.
    Note. Good to know that some other regular solvers had the odd hiccup (or were ‘thrown’ by this one) — see later posts.
    Anyway, I finished the DT cryptic in less time than I spent on today’s QC so there are still some neurons firing.

    Edited at 2021-10-28 01:45 pm (UTC)

  14. Most enjoyable, and only eleven minutes. FOI emphasis. Solved pell-mell. Thought the city would be at the end of the disaster which held me up for a while. Each clue solved helped several more. LOI accurate. Did not parse monotone, beverage, calamity. Biffed from definitions. Did not see the s at the end of dozen, so was left with a head-scratch until I came here. Thank you for the blog, Rotter, and for the puzzle, Joker.
  15. I wasn’t really held up though had to hop around the grid. Must have been on the wavelength today.
    Some biffs like CALAMITY and PELL MELL.
    Liked BANNER, DOZE, SOLACE, among others.
    Thanks all, esp Rotter.
  16. I was a bit sluggish getting started today, but REPAST and SOLACE eventually got me going. I certainly wasn’t on fire, but gradually filled the grid, finishing appropriately enough with LOG JAM. 10:27. Thanks Joker and Rotter.
  17. Not on the right wavelength today and had to abandon with at least 5 clues to get. Struggled with the NW corner (Solace, Repast and Rout) and DNK “forage” for horse and cattle fodder.

    Enjoyed 1dn “Monotone”, 15ac “Pell Mell” (haven’t heard that in a long time) and 3dn “Beverage”.

    FOI — 7ac “Doze”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 13dn “Calamity” — it certainly was!

    Thanks as usual!

  18. We often come here asking the question: was it just me?
    Today I got stuck in the SW. Assumed the traveller was some sort of KRAT- plutocrat type of word, variant spelling. Took ages to get SLIGHT. And had to consider many options before getting LOI LOG JAM.
    All that added up to 16:45.
    Another high quality and completely fair puzzle from Joker. COD to MARINA.
  19. ROUT did for me today – I ended up doing an online alphabet trawl because, as Mendesest and Merlin say, there was so much going on and my (post booster) brain was not up to trying to work it out on paper! Also, I’ve got a very sore arm! Up to that point, I’d got everthing in 9 minutes.
    But this was fun – I did also wonder for a bit if there was going to be a pangram.
    FOI Doze – under the circs, perhaps it should have been dozy 😅
    LOI (and DNF) Rout
    COD Upmarket
    Thanks Joker and Rotter – an entertaining and informative blog as ever 😊

    Just realised: it’s another important number! #1993 — the year my daughter was born. That’s it now 😅

    Edited at 2021-10-28 05:02 pm (UTC)

  20. ….until I got left with only ROUT to complete after just seconds over 3 minutes. It took an alpha-trawl of almost half as long again before the brilliance of the clue was revealed. Not quite COD though. An excellent puzzle from Joker and the usual entertaining and informative blog from The Rotter.

    FOI DOZE (also a COD contender)
    COD MARINA (an excellent surface)
    TIME 4:20

  21. 5:11 this morning. Nothing too problematic here — a fair and enjoyable QC from Joker, as is normally the case.
    LOI and COD 11 ac “rout” , solved once I stopped trying to remove “r” from an elusive 5-letter word for “home”. Having read Merlin’s excellent analysis of Joker’s trickery, I am quite chuffed I got it at all!
    Thanks to Rotter for a fine blog and to Joker for a nicely pitched puzzle.
  22. A tip of the hat to those who managed anything like their normal time for this. I knew I was off wavelength when the first pass barely warmed up the biro, and in the end I needed a second stab after a coffee to crack the NW corner. Total time must have been getting on for 40mins, including parsings. Hard work today. Invariant
  23. Really struggled in the NW — ROUT is one of those clues where I get tangled up with the w/p rather than focussing on the literal.

    All fair enough though.

    Thanks Rotter and Joker

  24. I found this hard and took a while to grind my way through. Managed it all except for PELL-MELL – can’t see how it = disordered.
  25. DOZE and EMPHASIS went in fairly quickly, although both required some thought, but any thoughts of an easy solve ended there. After 30 minutes I had only solved 10 clues, and after an hour I still had 8 clues to get. I stuck it out for a while longer, but gave up after 82 minutes with two clues unsolved (REPAST and SOLACE) and one incorrect (I put BLIGHT instead of SLIGHT).

    I never managed to parse GONG and FORAGE, was unsure about ROUT, had never heard the word PELL-MELL, and did not know the meaning of REPAST. Also, MONOTONE, FLAX, UPMARKET and ACCURATE all took absolutely ages to come. Not a good day at all, and I’m astonished at how so many above came through relatively unscathed.

    A week ago last Monday, I completed what is by far my longest ever successful run – a scarcely believable 18 consecutive solves, averaging just under 40 minutes each. I couldn’t believe it.
    Since then however, my record has been DNF(76), 40, 49, 57, DNF(22), DNF(79), DNF(29), DNF(82). I haven’t hit such a bad patch of form since June/July last year – my first two months of battling with these puzzles, and I’m facing the prospect of a first ever weekly 0-5 whitewash if I don’t get my act together tomorrow.

    Many thanks to Mr Rotter, and (I suppose) to Joker.

  26. All done nicely. Took a bit of time TBH but that is usually me and Joker, so no need news there! Enjoyed the test. Fred
  27. The old tin can misled me for a while, but when Candle didn’t work I did see Tinsel. And Monotone took a while, I even did a Google search for names of satellites. After mentioning slow coaches yesterday, I timed my efforts for the first time ever, a result of 2.1 score minutes, which felt pretty fast to me, a personal Pony Express!
  28. We thought we were heading for a DNF — the NW corner proved quite a challenge. However, we persevered and eventually finished in 21 minutes.


    Thanks Rotter (we had biffed a couple of our answers and appreciated your explanations) and Joker.

  29. Late in the day I know, but I managed to put REVISION for 12 across and felt very smug for a while . . .


  30. Slight! Since when was S synonymous with succeeded? Also failed with forage and flax, not a good day.
    1. s (lower case) = succeeded in my Chambers, along with second, section, shilling, singular and son. I admit that it is a bit of a stretch, and I’m not sure of cases where it might be appropriate, but the rest of the wordplay is very clear.
  31. THought this was going to be a pangram once I had DOZE, LOGJAM and then FLAX, but no. Enjoyed MONOTONE, and my LOI was REPAST. But I was undone by 6dn, which I had as LINE. I know it would be unconventional parsing (well, it is Joker, and 11a avoided lots of conventions), but I parsed it as a LINE/quote from a book or play, and LINE as an argument or position that a politician might give in a speech. It could work, if only CITE wasn’t a better fit …
  32. A tough one today. Missed out on rout and flax but a good mental workout nevertheless. I’m finding Joker to be a very hard setter recently.

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