Times Quick Cryptic No 2003 by Tracy

I needed all of my 15 minute target, save a few seconds, to complete this puzzle from Tracy, despite plenty of anagrams, hiddens and double definitions to get my teeth in to.  The top half didn’t come quite as easily to me as the bottom, but the standard was fairly uniform across the grid, I found.

COD to either 8d or 14d, WOD to 15a and LOI to 3d after 1a finally fell.  I couldn’t remember the name for the cardinal’s cap, and had to work at that to recall it, but otherwise, no great problems for me.  How did you all do?


1  Grey coat, out of place in class (8)
CATEGORY – Anagram (out of place) of [GREY COAT].
Having little or no rain in Kalahari Desert (4)
ARID – Hidden answer in {kalah}ARI D{esert}.
9 Philanthropic scientist in Brazil’s capital during Christmas (5)
NOBEL – B{razil’s} (capital) inside NOEL (Christmas), referring to Alfred Nobel.  Interestingly, having made a lot of his fortune out of Dynamite and cannons and armaments, Nobel was inspired to found the Nobel Prize institution after reading an erroneous obituary which described him as a war profiteer.  The institute’s aim is to annually recognize those who “confer the greatest benefit to humankind”.
10  Mixture of mostly tropical fruit (7)
APRICOT – Anagram (mixture) of [TROPICA]{l} – mostly indicating to dop the last letter to get the anagrind.
11 Sheep in wood, by the sound of it (3)
EWE – Homophone (by the sound of it) – sounds like YEW (wood).
12  Exercised control, with name for duke proposed(9)
NOMINATED – DOMINATED (exercised control) with the first D (Duke) replaced by N (for Name)(with name for duke).
13  Put on leg pad, ultimately (6)
STAGED – STAGE (leg) and {pa}D (ultimately).  STAGED as in put on a show.
15  Lift boy picked up  (6)
FILLIP – Homophone – sounds like (picked up) PHILLIP (boy).
17  Has girl confused about an imaginary paradise (7-2)
SHANGRI-LA – Anagram (confused) of [HAS GIRL] outside (about) AN.  The imaginary paradise of SHANGRI-LA was described in the 1933 novel ‘Lost Horizon’ by James Hilton.
19  Daughter must leave expensive organ (3)
EAR – D{aughter} leaves {d}EAR (expensive).
20 A bitter drunk – it may go to a cardinal’s head (7)
BIRETTA – Anagram (drunk) of [A BITTER].  A BIRETTA is the square cap with three or four projections on the crown worn by RC clergy.  In the case of a cardinal, it would be coloured red, but black (for priests) and purple (for bishops) are also available.
21  Supporter with two sons gives money (5)
BRASS – BRA (supporter – where have you been stranger?) and two S{ons}.
22  Peculiar piano seat (4)
RUMP – RUM (peculiar) and P{iano}.
23  In excellent health all right (4,4)
VERY WELL – Double definition.


1  Becomes the winner, reportedly, in children’s game (7)
CONKERS – Homophone (reportedly) – sounds like CONQUERS.
2  Story involving British item of furniture (5)
TABLE – TALE (story) containing B{ritish}.
3  Health’s going, suffering in disputed ME territory (5,7)
GOLAN HEIGHTS – Anagram (suffering) of [HEALTH’S GOING].
Royal domain in actual miles (5)
REALM – REAL (actual) and M{iles}.
6  Article misrepresented performance(7)
RECITAL – Anagram (misrepresented) of [ARTICLE].
7 Went out, being no longer fashionable (5)
DATED – Double definition.
8  Head pupil at Eton, say, may get a pantomime role (9,3)
PRINCIPAL BOY – Almost a DD, but this is a cryptic definition arrived at from PRINCIPAL (head) and BOY (pupil at Eton, say).  Eton remains a boys only boarding school.
14  What can make salt last? (7)
ANAGRAM – An &Lit in which the whole clue acts as definition and wordplay.
16  Soldier, in consequence, left umbrella (7)
PARASOL – Slight MER at equating PARASOL with umbrella, but PARA (soldier) SO (in consequence) and L{eft} is unambiguous enough.
17  Frightful bores, sedate and rational (5)
SOBER – Anagram (frightful) of [BORES].
18  Furious judge after one (5)
IRATE – I (one) and RATE (judge).
19  Delete part of chapter, as expected (5)
ERASE – Hidden in {chapt}ER, AS E{xpected}.

55 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2003 by Tracy”

  1. I managed to confuse myself over 12ac even though it’s not ambiguous, and waited for GOLAN HEIGHTS, which I biffed, to settle the matter. I also wondered if Eton had a PRINCIPAL BOY, not that it mattered. Not pleased to see BRA yet again. 5:09.
  2. Never heard of GOLAN HEIGHTS, and after carefully constructing it in my head, and deciding GOLAN was marginally more likely than GALON, I lazily entered STAKED for LOI 13a – seemed good enough. Still does actually, if you squint a little, and ignore the pink.

    EDIT: isn’t 14a just a cryptic definition? To make it as an &lit, you have to have two readings that fit the answer

    Edited at 2021-11-11 02:35 am (UTC)

    1. Never heard of the Golan Heights? I wish I hadn’t but the place has rarely been out of the (bad) news since 1967.

      9 minutes for the puzzle today.

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

  3. Thanks setter & blogger but relative beginner here – Please can someone expand on the explanation for this?
    1. Doh! Thank you. Was so busy looking for some connection I’d never heard of that I missed the blindingly obvious. Also now remember that &Lit = ‘literal’ and not ‘literary reference’. Can you re-learn something new every day or is it something old by definition?!
  4. An excellent start to the day, I like anagrams.

    Eton normally appears in the answer not the clue … there are usually one or two girls there I think — daughters of masters. ( or beaks, if you want the local nomenclature).

    Now off to Heathrow to hopefully clear all the hurdles placed in the way of getting to the US to see our son and family for the first time for far too long.

    Thank you, Tracy and Rotter.


    1. Hope you have a wonderful time 😊
      You probably know this but have you cleared out your history reently? It will log you out of accounts.
  5. Excellent puzzle with lots of lovely anagrams. We were all done in 9 minutes.

    COD: RECITAL but we were amused by VERY WELL and PRINCIPAL BOY

    Thanks Rotter and Tracy

    Edited at 2021-11-11 07:48 am (UTC)

  6. Completed, not timed. It was an okay puzzle. Some tricky clues there. I could see that ANAGRAM was the answer to 14d, but just could not see how it worked, until Rotter explained it. Then it was a forehead slapping time.
  7. The first two went straight in and spirits were high but I ended up with only five on the first pass on the way to all green in 16. GOLAN HEIGHTS went in but I needed a lot of checkers — not quite never heard of but not my go-to occupied territory. Appreciated the setter’s art at 10a APRICOT — possible chestnut but impressive to spot in the first place. Big groan for CONKERS and NOMINATED took a while to make itself known. BIRETTA was unknown but the checkers were helpfully placed. A few lessons to learn today!
  8. Like mendesest, I started quickly and had high hopes of a straight run. The whole of the right-hand side went in quickly (though I biffed Dominated instead of Nominated at first and I hesitated over FILLIP). Some very clever clues and neat misdirection at times. I wasn’t impressed by the BRASS support or CONKERS but I suppose some old chestnuts are unavoidable.
    In the end, I was a minute over target. It seemed like a quicker solve because I was immersed. Many thanks to Tracy for a very good puzzle and to rotter for his fine blog. I was glad to be within a minute or so of rotter once again after my excursion into the SCC yesterday. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-11 08:40 am (UTC)

  9. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Tracy. Had to hop around a lot to get to the last which was indeed so. Just under x2 SCC because there was quite a lot of unravelling to do but nothing that was unfathomable. NHO BIRETTA. I have now.
    Thanks Rotter.
  10. … and quite enough to get one’s teeth into. Fortunately the GK was familiar (Golan Heights, Biretta, Nobel) and this led to a solve in just under 10 minutes, with my LOI being 13A Staged, which I took some time to see. There are a lot of words that go S-A-E-!

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog, and Happy Birthday to Phil Jordan from a fellow Scorpio!

  11. Most of this went in without any problems but then got stuck on STAGED, BIRETTA, ANAGRAM and PRINCIPAL BOY (NHO the panto role). None of them were overly complicated in hindsight, so just me being dozy. COD to ANAGRAM for the PDM. Finished over target in 11.44.
    Thanks to Rotter
  12. I started with REALM and headed clockwise, as nothing else immediately revealed itself in the NW. I felt as though I was making heavy weather of the puzzle but found myself entering CONKER and submitting at 7:48. Thanks Tracy and Rotter.
  13. Tracy tied me up in knots today at the end. I needed three after 12 minutes.
    A PDM to get COD ANAGRAM. That led to STAGED, another excellent clue, but quite tricky at QC level. Finally CONKERS, which replaced CANTERS; if it doesn’t parse it’s not right!
    19 minutes in the end.
    A good demanding QC. Nice to know article is an anagram of recital.

  14. What a mixed bag! I completed most of the grid in 6 minutes and then I ran into difficulties with GOLAN HEIGHTS (needing many checkers) PRINCIPAL BOY (NHO pantomime role) FILLIP and ANAGRAM (very clever) BIRETTA (NHO) and finally STAGED. 14:35 and hoping for an easier Friday. Thanks Rotter for the explanations.
  15. Nine minutes so on the easy side. FOI category, LOI Principal Boy. COD Golan Heights, went over these in a bus in 1993, and was told not to get the camera out along them or I might be shot. So I didn’t. Thanks, Rotter, and Tracy.
  16. brain fade for the last few.

    I wasn’t going that well anyway, but ANAGRAM, CONKERS and then finally STAGED took about 2 minutes. I always get a bit confused by those self-referential ones, but was a good pdm today — last being an anagram of salt etc.


  17. 12:42, with a couple of minutes on the LOI COD ANAGRAM.

    Very nice anagram at 1a (grey coat=category), always amazed at how many clean anagrams there are and how setters still find ‘em.

    Was able to recall BIRETTA from other crosswords. Please to get STAGED as checkers did not look promising, and sympathies to those who put STAKED which seems almost as good. If I’d come across it first I’d have gone for it as well.

    I didn’t really parse NOMINATED, with “name” already in there I was getting confused. So thanks for clearing that one up.

  18. Started quickly and thought Tracy was in a generous mood, but hit a brick wall with Fillip, Rump and Anagram remaining. Those three pushed me into the SCC (I’m considering getting a season ticket…) by the best part of 4mins. No excuses, as I’ve seen the anagram trick before, but didn’t expect to find it in a QC. I was however grateful for the anagrist at 20ac, as I can never remember which is the hat and which is the gun. CoD to 7d, Dated. Invariant
  19. Don’t know why I didn’t get RUMP. Only understood ANAGRAM when I read Mendesest’s comment. Slow on STAGED (failed to see stage=leg so biffed) but everthing else fell into place quickly. PRINCIPAL BOY made me smile as no doubt there is an esoteric name at Eton (and dare say setter put Eton to tease). Also liked CONKERS, FILLIP, BIRETTA.
    FOI CATEGORY. No problem with GK.
    Thanks all, esp Rotter.
  20. I’ve seen the device at 14d more than once but it still took me a minute or so to see what was going on! Still this was a quick one for me, with all done and dusted in 8 minutes. I thought it was a super puzzle – witty, neat and far less wordy than yesterday’s offering. I shan’t do this every day, but after my word count yesterday, I totted up today’s, and it comes in at 155 over 26 clues – quite a bit shorter than Pedro’s.
    As I went through it, in some logical order for a change, I thought that Tracy was being kind to us today – several just jumped out at me. Funnily enough, BRASS didn’t 😅 I liked APRICOT, RUMP and CONKERS. GOLAN HEIGHTS on the other hand made me rather sad – a clever surface making a strong point.
    FOI Arid
    LOI Golan Heights
    COD Anagram
    Many thanks Tracy, and thanks to Rotter for another excellent blog
  21. Quite straightforward for me today with 14 mins on the clock. I wasn’t sure about Biretta – thought it may be a gun – but stuck it in and hoped for the best.
    FOI – Arid
    LOI Very Well
    COD – Conkers

    1. Beretta vs Biretta — there’s probably an Italian movie out there that features both.
  22. 23 mins for me, with the main hold up being 1dn “Conkers” (does anyone play that anymore?) and 14dn “Anagram” which I failed to parse. Also NHO of Biretta, although I nearly confused it with the Italian bottled beer of a similar name.

    FOI — 5ac “Arid”
    LOI — 14dn “Anagram”
    COD — 15ac “Fillip”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. No, schools don’t permit conker contests (in the south of England, anyway): health and safety reasons (?) Also, no outdoor break times, when there is snow on the ground, for the same reason.
  23. Gave up on 30 mins and resorted to aids for the last three: BIRETTA (nho), STAGED (should have got this) and ANAGRAM (still didn’t understand this even after reading Rotter’s blog). Didn’t parse NOMINATED but I had all the checkers so it couldn’t really have been anything else. Not one of my better days!

    FOI – 5ac ARID
    LOI – 14dn ANAGRAM
    COD – 14dn is very clever – I had no idea what was going on. I also liked the 2 neat anagrams (!!) at 6 & 17dn.

  24. My blistering form over the past few days ran out of steam today. I had reached four to go after just 17 minutes (very fast for me), but only managed to solve two of them and gave up just over half an hour later.

    The two clues that beat me were STAGED and ANAGRAM, neither of which I got anywhere near parsing. RUMP and PRINCIPAL BOY held me up for what seemed like an eternity, and BIRETTA was basically a lucky guess.

    Many thanks to Tracy and therotter.

  25. DNF today as I just couldn’t get RUMP and ANAGRAM. In hindsight I can’t say why I struggled with the former but I don’t mind not getting the latter as it was such a brilliant clue. Well done Tracey for a very enjoyable QC and beating me. Thanks as always for the helpful blog. Prof

  26. To the HEIGHTS of GOLAN and memories of Moshe Dayan – 3dn my COD.

    FOI 5ac ARID

    LOI 13ac STAGED


    I note that 21ac had Kevin reaching for the smelling salts!

    Has anyone mentioned that 8dn PRINCIPAL BOY is traditionally a gal?

    Edited at 2021-11-12 03:26 am (UTC)

  27. Made good progress until getting to 13a and 14d where we were defeated. Must remember leg and stage.
  28. A first DNF for a while today. Just could not see STAGED or ANAGRAM at all. Lucky guess with BIRETTA – NHO. Fed up seeing BRA = Support.
  29. DNF.
    2 Unsolved – but it was as least do-able. That is all I ask.

    Failed on:
    14 Down: What can make salt last? (7) => ANAGRAM.
    Very clever. I will remember this one.

    13 Put on leg pad, ultimately (6) => STAGED
    Don’t know why I did not get this one.

    N.B. Got Biretta but initially spelled it Beretta. I must have been thinking of Godfather 3 where the hired gunman is disguised as a priest.

    Thanks to Tracy & Rotter.


  30. Started well as saw Category straight away and getting 1AC (and then 5AC) always seems to give me confidence. Delighted when I saw Golan Heights and Principal Boy which helped with the remainder of the NW corner.

    However didn’t see Staged or Nominated and Anagram totally had me flummoxed

    Thanks all

  31. Plain sailing at 12 minutes with only 3 to go but then conkers and staged took another 5 minutes and anagram as long again. Was looking for something to do with salt, so that was me fooled. Still, got there in the end.

    Edited at 2021-11-11 07:51 pm (UTC)

  32. I was obviously channelling Ian Fleming and James Bond and put in BERETTA (9mm, presumably).

    Otherwise, I was clearly on the setter’s wavelength and found this the most straightforward QC for weeks. No doubt tomorrow I’ll be on long wave while the setter is on FM.

  33. and thanks to setter and blog, but never Staged a finish and got no Fillip from trying Salt so sat on Rump stumped! A tiring day.

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