Times Quick Cryptic No 1999 by Joker

A neat and pleasant Quick Cryptic from Joker today to finish the week’s Times series. Some gentle clueing, I think, helped me complete this in my fastest time for a while. I liked the building skills shown in the construction of 9D and the reminder of one of my favourite English composers at 21D. I also liked 22A, but COD, though, to 14D, which made me smile most. Thank-you Joker! I was all done in 3:55. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Sawbill’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment (his second). 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.

7 Pick up king in play to take knight (5)
LEARNLEAR (King in the eponymous play) N (Knight in chess notation).
8 Difficult and tiring with right pair in Australia (7)
ARDUOUSR (right) DUO (pair) “in” AUS (Australia).
10 Conspirator left trapped by Voldemort’s enemy (7)
PLOTTERL (left) “trapped by” POTTER (Harry – Voldemort’s enemy).
11 Record name in traditional stories from the east (5)
ENROLN (name) “in” LORE (traditional stories), “from the east”, i.e. reversed -> EROL.
12 Detachment of troops mostly came back abnormally thin (9)
EMACIATEDDETAIl (detachment of troops) “mostly”, CAME, “back” -> EMACIATED.
14 Pressure from retired dandy (3)
FOP – Our third reversal in a row! P (pressure) OF (from) “retired” -> FOP.
15 Climber starting off in vertiginous Yosemite (3)
IVY – First letters of, “starting off”, In Vertiginous Yosemite. Nice surface. “Yosemite Valley is the most famous rock climbing area in America, which is dominated by the granite big walls of El Capitan, Half Dome and Sentinel“.
16 Variable is a mere part in working out (9)
PARAMETER – Anagram of (a mere part)*, “in working out”.
18 Lennon music regularly banished boredom (5)
ENNUI – Alternate letters, “regularly banished” of LEnNoN mUsIc. So Joker is a Lennon fan?
20 Student upset choral society’s leader (7)
SCHOLAR – “upset” (choral + s)*, Society‘s “leader”
22 Because Jeremy’s heart is honest and true (7)
SINCERESINCE (because) jeREmy “‘s heart”. As a Corbynista might say about why they like him?
23 Rice dish gives us hiccups to some extent (5)
SUSHI – Hidden in giveS US HIccups, “to some extent”.
1 Press piles in, dreadful for evasive character (12)
SLIPPERINESS – (Press piles in)* “dreadful”.
2 Lots confining a pig in a wood (8)
MAHOGANYMANY (lots) outside, “confining”, A HOG (pig).
3 University can set up module (4)
UNITU (University), TIN (can) “set up” -> NIT.
4 Arrives in secure room at the top (6)
GARRETARR (arrives, as shown in a timetable) “in” GET (secure, the verb).
5 Mend a dud after ordering supplementary material (8)
ADDENDUM – (Mend a dud)* “after ordering”.
6 Pleasure trip to old Sumerian city (4)
TOURTO, UR (old Sumerian city). UR is worth remembering – it comes up often in crosswords.
9 The Spanish family initially left by artist in pose for his picture? (4-8)
SELF-PORTRAIT – This one came from Ikea… EL (the in Spanish) Family “initially” PORT (left side of a boat looking forward) RA (artist) “in” SIT (pose). Phew! Of course I biffed this and only worked out the parsing later. Top clue!
13 Flawed Member of Parliament involved in current broadcast (8)
IMPAIREDMP (member of parliament) “in” I (electrical current in equations such as V=IR) AIRED (broadcast)
14 One who accepts what happens with obese top celebrities? (8)
FATALISTFAT (obese) A-LIST (top celebrities).
17 Apple user’s confused time (6)
RUSSET – (user’s)* “confused”, T (time).
19 Nobody is working in north-east (4)
NONEON (working) “in” NE (north-east). Oo. That’s a bit unfair on hard-working Geordies!
21 Composer of The Planets turning out large Mass (4)
HOSTHOlST (Gustav, composer of The Planets – listen to Tomita’s entertaining version of Mars here) without, “turning out”, the L (large). He never wrote a Mass, as far as I’m aware, but his daughter Imogen did, in 1927. Listen to the Kyrie sung by a choir I used to sing in here. Somewhat reminiscent, I think,  of the Vaughan-Williams one, from 5 years earlier.

57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1999 by Joker”

  1. I biffed SELF-PORTRAIT, too, and worked it out, slowly, post-submission. I wasted some time on HOST, trying to do something with Orff. 5:27.
  2. Another 14 minutes for a decent QC.


    LOI 6dn TOUR did not parse!!

    COD struggling to find one presently.

    WOD 14ac FOP

    A bit flat all in all

  3. 11 minutes, missing my target time by 1. The intersecting answers ARDUOUS and TOUR held me up and took me into my amber zone. No idea why.

    I enjoyed the EMACIATED FOP and the ENNUI SCHOLAR and wondered if SMUG in Row 1 was a coincidence or intended as some sort of comment!

    1. I meant to add that by a quirk of something or other today’s puzzle is the two-thousandth Quick Cryptic but the milestone will be marked on Monday when I blog the official QC 2000. It’s a bit like the Queen having two birthdays!
  4. 16:15, although I had been hoping to stop the clock on 16:05 to mark Nov 5th.

    FOI SLIPPERINESS, LOI MAHOGANY. Tried A SOW in it for quite a bit.

    EMACIATED was a tough clue, there a many units in an army from squad, corps, cohort, battalion etc. with unknown length that gave a lot of options.


  5. Special mention to 9d for cramming as much into a clue as I’ve ever seen — five stages to fill 12 letters! I ended up all green in 13 after a decidedly slow start only getting the low-brow PLOTTER and IVY in the top before making better progress below. Downs were more forgiving and those checkers set me on my way before a pause on GARRET. Nice to see both current and the old Sumerian city today — neither caused grief!
  6. … with the grid completed in 7½ minutes (my fastest time for a while) but several clues only parsed post completion. Like I suspect quite a few today, I took rather longer to work out the construction of 9D Self-portrait than to enter it in the grid, and I also only parsed 14 Fop in retrospect — F-P could not be anything else but the “From = Of” connection is new to me.

    LOI was 7A Learn, but only because I did not see it on first pass (I completely misunderstood how the clue was constructed, and was looking to put R for king into a word meaning play) and then forgot about it until checking the grid at the end.

    I wondered for a moment if 22A was a voice of support for our blogger PlusJeremy, after the somewhat mixed reception for his recent rather minimalist blog …

    Many thanks John for the blog — a Phil Jordanesque time! — and I am much looking forward to Sawbill’s second Saturday Special. A good weekend to all

    1. ‘Mr. Mainwaring of Kent and his partner Mr. Wilson from Surrey, were in attendance.’?
      1. Yes that works, doesn’t it. Thank you. It’s just that I hadn’t seen it in a clue before. Mind you “the Duke of York” does not have to be from York, or have any connection with the place. For which, perhaps, the good people of/from York might be grateful.
  7. A decent time for me for a change — nearly 4 mins under target and a few seconds over 2K. I started early when it was quiet and the absence of noise and interruptions clearly made all the difference. A contrast with yesterday which was full of distractions and took twice as long.
    A nice puzzle. Like others, I biffed a few but all were parsed before the clock stopped. SINCERE took a little longer to parse than most. I liked MAHOGANY and FATALIST but my COD has to be SELF PORTRAIT. Many thanks to Joker and John. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-05 08:00 am (UTC)

  8. I thought that this was a neat crossword and good fun. I, too, laughed at FATALIST.
    Thanks John for the blog and for posting my second QC. I look forward to everyone’s comments.
      1. I can only thank ‘merlin’ for his blog – which is excellent. It is his second blog and my second crossword.
        Please let us know how we both did.
  9. Yes faster time today for me just over 12 min. I think that’s because the definitions were quite generous. Lots of half parsed biffing. Nice end to the week. Thanks Joker and John

    Edited at 2021-11-05 08:24 am (UTC)

      1. Is the time we have tiffin, usually about 4.30pm. Most of my biffing is half-arsed. I’ll fetch me coat!
  10. Nice end to a good week for us. With lots to enjoy we finished in 8 minutes.

    FOI: IVY
    COD: the very amusing FATALIST

    Thanks John and Joker.

  11. Made heavy weather of this to end up at 2x Slowcoach Club. Couldn’t get going clockwise around the grid so pushed on A-CW and did better. Biffed SELF-PORTRAIT, COD FATALIST and LOI GARRET. I put it down to lack of sleep and stress or yesterday’s ‘flu jab. After a succession of immunisations I ought to feel like a warrior in a video game after picking up the syringe to activate “indestructible mode”, but sadly, reality and fantasy seem far apart.
    Thanks John and Joker. Have a good weekend.
  12. Pretty smooth going for me too, today with a 15 minute solve. Paused at Garret as didn’t understand the parsing but couldn’t think of anything else that could fit. I also didn’t parse self-portrit but again generously clued. The clue did make me think of Velasquez’ masterpiece Las Meninas where he is meant to be painting the Spanish king and queen but actually paints himself painting them, with their reflection in the mirror. It’s very clever.
    FOI: Plotter – nice to see a more modern literary reference
    LOI: Slipperiness
    COD: Fatalist

    Thanks John & Joker

  13. Just inside target at 15 minutes, with LOI GARRET taking some time to come. Not a lot else to say really.
  14. Than yesterday, 40 mins compared to 69. However – I’m always pleased when I finish.
  15. Which were ENROL and then TOUR, which made me groan, I’d have probably got it much quicker if Joker had left off the “Sumerian”. “Old city” = UR immediately usually, but the additional detail had me flummoxed for a while.

    I liked EMACIATED and IMPAIRED (the latter esp. given parliamentary events of the last day or so).

    Dragged a minute or so over target.


  16. This one was very tricky in places, with my LOI being GARRET, which took me forever and a day.

    My FOI was PLOTTER. Voldemort’s enemy simply had to be Potter.

    Not timed, but completed without the use of aids.

  17. A well-constructed puzzle I thought; and interesting that comments above show problems in different areas.
    I started with UNIT and PLOTTER and then proceeded very quickly until a pause in the NE. I could not get TEDIOUS out of my mind for 8a; and was racking my brains for a four letter Sumerian city. In the end I got ARDUOUS from careful parsing and TOUR was LOI.
    11:11 on the clock.
    COD to FATALIST -has to be.
  18. I started with LEARN and finished with ENROL, biffing EMACIATED and SELF PORTRAIT en-route. 6:54. Thanks Joker and John.
  19. SLIPPERINESS and LEARN went in straight away, and I thought I was on to a quick time. Not so! ARDUOUS, SELF-PORTRAIT, EMACIATED, and GARRET all conspired to slow me right down.

    LOI MAHOGANY after 15 mins.

  20. Back to a more reasonable time after not being on the wavelength at all yesterday. Finished in 16 mins but didn’t parse (or only half-parsed) several including SELF PORTRAIT, IMPAIRED, EMACIATED and SINCERE. Thanks for the explanations John. Very enjoyable crossword as usual from Joker.

    FOI – 10ac PLOTTER
    LOI – 4dn GARRET
    COD – the wonderful 14dn FATALIST

  21. Started quickly with 1d and associated offspring, but struggled with the NE trio of Garret, Arduous and Enrol (which always looks a letter short, but I see that’s the US spelling). A few too many biff then parse solutions for my liking, but even so 9d, Self Portrait, gets my CoD vote. Stopped the clock at 25mins, with Fop still unparsed, as I was another with of/from blindness. Invariant
    1. Interesting! I’d say that ENROL (like instal, fulfil, appal etc) were the UK spellings. They were certainly standard spellings when I was training, although that was some time ago and, as we know, things are very fluid in our eccentric language!
  22. I did not find this easy at all. Needed some help to get EMACIATED and IMPAIRED and guessed GARRET – not sure about arrives = in.
    1. “arrives” = ARR, which is in GET = “secure”, as per blog.

      Edited at 2021-11-05 12:02 pm (UTC)

  23. 11 minutes (more or less) so 2K or 1 x Blighter 😊 I thought this was fun with lots of entertaining surfaces. I liked FOP, UNIT, RUSSET and ENNUI, although I can’t say that Lennon’s music post Beatles does much to banish boredom for me!
    The clue for 9d, and answers for 1d SLIPPERINESS and 13d IMPAIRED are very topical – what are the chances of that?
    I’m another one who semi-parsed 9a as I wrote it down, only getting the full IKEA aspect afterwards. Ironic really, as I’ve got a little job to do following my visit to said superstore yesterday and I think it will rather easier!
    FOI Slipperiness
    LOI Self portrait
    COD Fatalist 😂
    Many thanks Joker for the fun and John for the usual quality blog
  24. 4:34 this morning, everything parsed en route.
    A typical QC from Joker, nothing too obscure and several neat and witty clues.
    LOI 13 d “impaired” , where after yesterday’s brain freeze, I had a fleeting sensation it was going to happen again, but with component elements “I”, “mp” and “air” all identified, there was no repetition.
    COD 9 d “self-portrait”, the type of clue I particularly enjoy piecing together.
    Thanks to John for a fine blog (looking forward to Sawbill’s puzzle over the weekend) and to Joker for an enjoyable end to the week.
  25. A satisfying end to a most successful week. Managed to complete Joker’s offering despite the fact that I had NHO ennui, but it couldn’t be anything else from the wordplay. Spent a while trying to get SOW into a wood until HOG jumped out. LOI GARRET as I couldn’t get GET to tie in with secure.
  26. I seem to be on a different wavelength to most commenters. I had no problems yesterday but today I had gaps a plenty starting with the -INESS of 1d, MAHOGANY, ENROL, IMPAIRED and my LOI GARRET. There were no biffs with the exception of SELF-PORTRAIT. 13:25 for a pretty poor day (for me).
  27. This time last Friday I felt completely mauled, having only just managed to avoid a 0-5 whitewash for the week, but only after having ground out a 62-minute completion against Felix. Whereas today I feel both pleased and optimistic again, having achieved a 5-0 week at an average of 31 minutes per puzzle. I finished today in exactly 20 minutes (very very fast for me), but it might have been several minutes quicker had I worked up from the bottom of the grid to start with, as it took me 4+ minutes to get my FOI (IVY). Also, SLIPPERINESS (the key clue) didn’t come until just a couple of minutes before the end.

    Whilst I just failed to escape the SCC, a feat I have achieved only eight times in 375 attempts, Mrs Random successfully snuck below the threshold by finishing in 19 minutes today, and thereby securing the Random family point yet again.

    Many thanks to Joker and johninterred.

    1. Mr. Random,
      You did escape the SCC as you snuck in under 21 minutes as per Pedwardine.
      I would estimate that this time next year, ‘er indoors will be in your rear-view mirror!
      Ad Astra!
  28. A quick time by my standards today – eleven minutes, which normally means a puzzle is less challenging, but I didn’t think so today, I thought it had its moments. FOI learn. 17 on first pass. Worried about Voldemort, thinking if we are going into the realms of popular culture as new as that I was in trouble, but no-one, not even me, has not at least heard of H Potter. With the checkers, OK. Completed the grid but for host and scholar, then saw those. Several half-biffed – emaciated, sincere, mahogany – I biffed majority having Major from Animal Farm, wasn’t worried about the wood, till I solved emaciated, then I saw the hog. Self-portrait solved from definition only. COD fatalist. Thanks for the blog, John, and for the puzzle, Joker.

    Edited at 2021-11-05 01:15 pm (UTC)

  29. A rare lunchtime solve today which may account for finding this a bit of a struggle, especially in the NE where GARRET, TOUR and ENROL were particularly chewy. It was all worth it though for my COWeek, FATALIST, which prompted a rather loud snort, leaving me grateful that I was on my own, apart from a rather startled dog. Finished in 11.49.
    Thanks to John
  30. Like many 1d proved evasive. Is slipperiness not a characteristic? Clued as such would clearly end in -ness making the anagram an easier solve. J

  31. As it was the 1999th crossword (or not), I was hoping for some Prince related Nina — but it looks like it wasn’t to be.

    A tricky one this, which I would have completed in 18 mins if I hadn’t had a brain melt for 4dn “Garret”. In the end limped in around 26 mins.

    Took me a while to get my head around the right meaning of 1dn, even if the anagram was straightforward. The rest were well clued with some nice surfaces.

    FOI — 7ac “Learn”
    LOI — 4dn “Garrett”
    COD — 13dn “Impaired” — nicely topical.

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Definitely not here, where I loathe anything to do with “the boy wizard” so DNK Voldemort.

    Nothing else of real note, and I found it all straightforward enough.

    TIME 4:05

  33. Dotted around this puzzle, then filled in the gaps. Did not get the word play for some eg 14a, fop, but finished in reasonable time for us, abr 30m.
  34. Well it looked like Errol to me, maybe an actor or even a dance (reel) with an Earl’s title attached, but if you go to the place it is small on the map and quite windy. Of course in QC land it’s just ‘N’, and I didn’t get it. Oh, and Can Tin is back. 1.25 score minutes today.
  35. Gave up on Garret and then discovered that a careless Errol for 11a didn’t cut it! (No surprise really!)

    I’m not sure that I would have got garret even if I’d tried for hours. arr? Mer

    Thanks all
    John George

    Edited at 2021-11-05 08:26 pm (UTC)

    1. Close but no cigar… Blogger failure again: I never anticipated the blind alley of Errol, which you are not alone in being misled by, and Garret, which defeated quite a few.
  36. Failed on just 2 clues :

    7 Across : LEAR
    2 Down: MAHOGANY

    7 Across- I was convinced this was a a Homophone because of ‘pick up’ which I thought meant ‘hear’ – missed the King Lear allusion altogether. Getting this one correct would have helped with 2 Down – but I just could not get the wordplay at all.
    I will just have to treat 2 Down as a lesson learnt.

    9 Down. SELF PORTRAIT. Very tough one. I guessed this correctly and worked out the wordplay later. I found on the Internet that very many famous painters did self portraits — some did several. Rembrandt made nearly 100 self-portraits. Van Gogh 35.
    Gauguin made more than 40 self-portraits.

  37. Found this one tricky. Snuck a look at the blog for IMPAIRED (would never have thought of ‘I’ for current) and PARAMETER. Otherwise just really slow going for me. Enjoyed SELF PORTRAIT and PLOTTER. LOI (pre-cheating) EMACIATED. Thanks to Joker and Jon for great explanations. Maybe I’ll do better next week…
    1. Lol. No worries. By the way you can edit a comment you’ve made as long as no-one has replied to it. Just click on the pencil icon when you hover over the comment. Oh, and “I” for current is quite common in wordplay.

      Edited at 2021-11-06 11:33 am (UTC)

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