Times Quick Cryptic No 2013 by Joker

A neatly concise QC from Joker which took me one minute over target to 16 minutes, so towards the tougher end of the Rotterometer.  There are some old chestnuts (Eton (again!), the chatty judge, etc.) but also some new devices such as that used in 15a, as well as a nice triple-definition at 24a.  Thanks Joker.

After comments on yesterday’s blog about the (apparently) growing unpopularity of some types of clues and devices (Eton, Pi, dodgy homophones, Spoonerisms, cockney dropped ‘aitches, etc.) I’d like to issue a kind of spoof Times Crossword Clue Writing Challenge to write a clue that will annoy the most regulars the most. To kick us off, please write an annoying clue for the answer SPIDER PHAETON (6,7) and post it here, and I’ll award a Gold Star to the most annoying.  Judge’s decision is final, the Gold Star has no monetary value.


1  Part of collection’s a breach-loading weapon (5)
SABRE – Hidden answer inside {collection’}S A BRE[ach}.
Unexpected danger parking the thing before autumn (7)
PITFALL – P{arking} and IT (the thing) before FALL (autumn).
8  Preach movingly about Lot’s end in part of Genesis? (7)
CHAPTER – Anagram (movingly) of [PREACH] outside {lo}T’s end (last letter of loT).
9  Time after Post Office returned major work? (5)
OPERA – P{ost} O{ffice} (returned / reversed to give OP) and followed by ERA (time).
10  Small pig hearts tough to pierce with a blade (3,7)
RUN THROUGH – RUNT (small pig) with H{earts} and ROUGH (tough).
14  United approach is never coming back (3-3)
ONE-WAY – ONE (united, as in of ONE mind) and WAY (approach, method).
15  On-screen icon gave data card, but no peripherals (6)
AVATAR – Take away the first and last letters (no peripherals) of {g}AV{e} {d}AT{a} {c}AR{d}.  Unusual device!
17  Son gutted about swine making a display at match  (10)
SCOREBOARD – S{on} and CORED (gutted) about BOAR (swine).
20  Old judge to make a speech (5)
ORATE – O{ld} and RATE (judge).
22  Girl’s after church goblet (7)
CHALICE – ALICE (girl) after CH{urch}.  We had goblet as an answer the other day I believe.
23 Lieutenant in utter retreat (7)
SHELTER – LT (Lieutenant) inside SHEER (utter).
24  Catherine earmarked money for cat (5)
KITTY – A rare triple definition, diminutive name for Catherine, a money KITTY (usually earmarked for a particular purpose), and a young cat.


Dismiss society hack wasting hours (4)
SACK – S{ociety} and {h}ACK (hACK wasting hours, losing H).
2  Runs in to catch crow (4)
BRAG – R{uns} inside BAG (to catch).  Crow as to BRAG or boast.
Train and inspire to hope getting time for clubs (9)
ENTOURAGE – ENcOURAGE (inspire to hope) replacing the c with a T (getting T{ime} for C{lubs}).
4  Talk foolishly about one copyright infringer (6)
PIRATE – PRATE (talk foolishly) around I (one).
5 Couple starting to work out (3)
TWO – First letters (stating) of T{o} W{ork} O{ut}.
6 Sufficient nowadays to regard as equal (8)
ADEQUATE – AD (Anno Domini, nowadays, although CE (Common Era) may be more politically correct these days) and EQUATE (to regard as equal).
Tough lay there quivering (8)
LEATHERY – Anagram (quivering) of [LAY THERE].
11  Perhaps Windrush side split over right place to keep money (5,4)
RIVER BANK – RIVE (split) and R{ight} plus BANK (place to keep money).  The River Windrush is a tributary of the Thames in Central England, joining the Thames near Newbridge in Oxfordshire.  Good misdirection with the recent / current Windrush scandal still raging.
12  Semolina made by US company in company with us (8)
COUSCOUS – US CO (US company) inside CO (company) with US (us).  Nice, but not the semolina stuff!
13  Go off having assignation outside school (8)
DETONATE – DATE (assignation) outside ETON (school – now, where have I heard that before?).
16  Agree to swindle scoundrel (6)
CONCUR – CON (to swindle) and CUR (scoundrel).
18  Beer?  Mine’s got nitrogen in (4)
PINT – PIT (mine) with N (nitrogen) inside.
19  Refuse 500 yen for working (4)
DENY – D (500 in Roman numerals) and an anagram (for working) of [YEN].
21  Dine on steak, say, but not medium (3)
EAT – {m}EAT (steak, say – meat) but not M{edium}.

51 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2013 by Joker”

  1. Saw her camp century on this cart? Sounds like it! (6,7)

    I quite enjoyed this, I liked COUSCOUS and RUN THROUGH

  2. Miss Muffet – taxi for one!? (6,7)

    I was interrupted. Slowed considerably by ‘er indoors.
    My time was officially 11.30 – I may appeal.

    FOI 1ac SABRE which rattled-in!

    LOI 22ac CHALICE

    COD 11dn Tales from the RIVER BANK – please support the ‘Windrush Widows’

    WOD Might I humbly suggest 2dn?

    COUSCOUS – oft known in China con-gee and served by ‘er indoors for brekker with a fat black – salted date in the middle. There is plenty of rice con-gee too. In GZ they boast Con-gee Restaurants. Never ever again!

      1. Guangzhou? Canton to you and me, and home to one of China’s more familiar cuisines, Cantonese (aka Hong Kong style)
  3. This was one of my longest QC solves finishing well into my red zone at 21 minutes. I had all but three answers as my target 10 minutes passed but SCOREBOARD and RIVERBANK delayed me a little and ENTOURAGE as my LOI delayed me a lot. Windrush as a river was unknown to me.

    Edited at 2021-11-25 05:50 am (UTC)

  4. Brash Padres without supporters scattered around very good school bus (6,7)

    Started fast and kept up the pace until the SW where I need to work hard to recall COUS COUS (I’ve heard of COUS COUS and remember semolina from school dinners (it was the only thing worse than rice pudding. Rice pudding would have been worst but it came with a redeeming dollop of jam) but I never remember they are the same thing). I needed those checkers for SHELTER and ONE-WAY (which I’d overcomplicated). Ended up with ENTOURAGE where even with all the checkers needed to be stared at for a while. All green in 14.

    Edited at 2021-11-25 08:48 am (UTC)

  5. Means to convey privileged sanctimonious quality in poorly phrased message from the East (6,7).

    Thought this was on the tough but enjoyable side of Quickiedom today. Steady solve with no major hold-ups until my LOI, ENTOURAGE, where I could see what was being asked of us but took ages to find a solution.

    Thanks Rotter and Joker

  6. Usual time. Did Joker set the 15 x 15 today? Same style, I think.

    Deploy step and hop in a red carriage (6,7)

    Edited at 2021-11-25 07:59 am (UTC)

  7. Most of this impressive puzzle went in very quickly and I honestly thought I was in for an unusually quick time. However, the SW slowed me, especially the brilliant COUSCOUS. I had a wobble with BRAG in the NW having biffed Bird early (Bid and r; no it doesn’t work, does it?).
    Having sorted BRAG properly, I spent what seemed like ages on *U* THROUGH. Sad, really — I ended up thinking CUT and couldn’t parse it and then settled on RUN. Clever clue — I should have got ‘little piglet’ earlier. Finally, I finished 3 mins over target, a bit slower than our esteemed blogger.
    I won’t list the clever clues — too many. I’ll just read through the blog and enjoy them all again. Many thanks to Joker for a great puzzle and to Rotter for a fine blog. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-25 08:58 am (UTC)

  8. Scoreboard held me up the most….COD 3dn ENTOURAGE.

    As for Spider Phaeton:- Fly-trap? (6,7)

    Edited at 2021-11-25 09:07 am (UTC)

  9. It must have been quite a PDM when ENTOURAGE appeared! I also had never heard of the River Windrush, but RIVER BANK was obvious from the checkers, which meant it must be so. I entered it and checked for its existence afterwards to confirm my hunch.
    1. … which means it probably isn’t, in my experience, at least. Yesterday, 15d (E_I_O_E) was obviously EPISODE – except that it wasn’t!
  10. Quite the challenge …
    … and it needed an alphabet search to get my LOI, 3D Entourage, only parsed after entry. 17 minutes in all so much longer than recent puzzles.

    Also held up by 10A Run through — I spotted small pig = runt, but rough = tough eluded me for a long time.

    Rotter, many thanks for the blog. I can’t compete with the clue-writers, but I will register a small disappointment that you have not managed to get that other very overworked device in there, supporter = bra.


      1. So he has. Brilliant! Actually, given the quality of the clues so far you may have quite a challenge deciding who to award the Gold Star to.
  11. Some tricky clues today, particularly ENTOURAGE (a clue type I always struggle with), SCOREBOARD, COUSCOUS, RIVER BANK and LOI SHELTER where I doubled up on the wrong type of retreat and the wrong definition of utter.
    A top quality puzzle from Joker which I finished over target in 12.21.
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and the interesting challenge which I may try to enter if time (and talent) allows later.
  12. After a promising start, I decided I wasn’t at the races after all, culminating in a dnf with at least 5 answers to get after 30 mins.

    Lots of sighing when I read the blog and realised that 8ac “Chapter”, 6dn “Adequate” and 17ac “Scoreboard” were not that exceptional. How on earth I didn’t see 4dn “Pirate” I have no idea (I think the “p” at the beginning led me down the “plagiarism” route).

    Did have a moment where I wasn’t sure whether “rough” really did mean “tough” — seemed odd to have such a similar word as part of the solution.

    Has to be said, I’m finding Joker more and more of a struggle these days. It’s just not funny anymore. 😀

    FOI — 1ac “Sabre”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 17ac “Scoreboard”

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2021-11-25 09:59 am (UTC)

  13. Failed on SCOREBOARD, CHAPTER, had Bird not BRAG, Cut THROUGH, looked up ENTOURAGE.
    So a bad day but thanks Rotter!
  14. A good job I had nothing much to do this morning as I got very stuck on this. I was not going that quickly from the off but COUSCOUS took me ages as I did not equate it with semolina. The Windrush clue left me wondering about RIVER. And my biggest problem was 3d where I failed to really see the definition for ages. I got the T for C bit but struggled with Educate and Enthuse as base words for the answer. Anyway after 39:45 I finally crossed the line all correct.
    I have no problem with Pi and Eton etc partly because having leanrt the conventions, they seem part of the crossword landscape. Obscure birds, fish and poets are another matter.
  15. Only finished with help from aids. Found it really difficult: ADEQUATE, ENTOURAGE and RIVER BANK – NHO Windrush river. SCOREBOARD took ages too. Another poor day.
    1. Agreed. I spent well over an hour on this. This setter is considerably harder than the others!
  16. Never really got going, over thought ONE WAY, was going down the “enthuse” (=inspire)route for ENTOURAGE, and for scoreboard I had “son gutted” as SN which led to a trailing N, plausible but nothing fitted.

    And I thought I was being clever putting in REEVE for “old judge”, wrong chestnut.

    Brilliant clues submitted by the bloggers today. My vote goes to “FLY TRAP”.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all, even if you’re not American, take time today to give thanks.

  17. This was not at all straightforward, in my book. However, I never gave up hope and came in successfully after 46 minutes – which, if I include my many DNFs, is still 5 minutes faster than my overall median time since I started a year ago last June.

    ADEQUATE, SCOREBOARD, RIVER BANK, ENTOURAGE and RUN THROUGH (my LOI) all gave me trouble towards the end. In fact, I nearly put down my pencil with CUT THROUGH, but it wouldn’t parse, so I alphabet-trawled – and I’m pleased I did.

    Unfortunately, after a record-breaking run of 48 consecutive solves, Mrs Random came to grief today. Having struggled long and hard with SCOREBOARD, ONE WAY and ENTOURAGE, she “didn’t have the willpower” to revisit CUT THROUGH, so a DNF ensued. And I had so been looking forward to reporting her unbeaten half-century tomorrow. It may even have elicited a ripple of applause from around the boundary.

    Many thanks to Joker and therotter.

      1. DNF. Today’s QC a total write-off.

        If tomorrow’s is the same I will give up and spend the time framing a crossword clue for schadenfreude.

      2. No, I would never harbour such a feeling (even if I was allowed to). We do not compete with each other, but we do try to improve gradually against ourselves and the setters. It’s nice to get a family point occasionally, but only really when Mrs R has also done quite well.
  18. An absolute disaster 🤯 I got totally stuck on 10a (I had SAW THROUGH with the S for small and then a mass of confusion) and 14d (ONE OFF instead of ONE WAY) so just couldn’t get ENTOURAGE, even though I’d thought of it when I first saw ‘train’. Not a day to remember!
    The Windrush is a very pretty river in the Cotswolds which runs through the much visited Bourton-on-the-Water.
    I remember loathing semolina pudding as a child but have rather taken to it recently in its halva form – lovely with spices, nuts and dried fruit.
    FOI Sabre
    COD Kitty
    DNF after about 20 mins – it wouldn’t have mattered how long I stared at the grid, I wasn’t going to finish it!
    Thanks Joker (my problem, not yours!) and Rotter.
    Love the idea of the clue comp – you cheered me up no end after the above debacle 😄

    Edited at 2021-11-25 12:55 pm (UTC)

  19. This was tough for me. I had half an hour at it and couldn’t find a way forward. After a break I managed to see through the murk and finish, but probably took forty-five minutes overall. So I enjoyed cogitating over it. FOI sabre, LOI scoreboard, with sparks coming out of my head as I scratched it in determination to find the answer. COD to that. Didn’t parse river from river bank, or eat. Thanks, Rotter, and Joker.
  20. Slow but steady, then blanked out on ENTOURAGE where I was juggling Ts and Cs but missing the substitution point, and failing to see a word that fitted. One of those obvious afterwards ones; should have but didn’t. Nice puzzle though, just not my day.
  21. Well it was all going so well until it wasn’t. I was slowed down by RIVER BANK, AVATAR, SCOREBOARD, ENTOURAGE and LOI ONE WAY but based on the comments above I’m scoring my time of 11:35 as a win.
  22. 6:46 this morning. Undoubtedly the toughest QC of the week and a cracker from Joker.
    Was held up for a while at LOI 17 ac “scoreboard” where for too long I was looking for a 10-letter word beginning with “Sn”.
    Forgot that semolina and couscous were virtually the same and needed to piece together the rather clever cryptic elements to remind me.
    Many neat constructions by Joker and I particularly liked 15 ac “avatar”.
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and to Joker for a top notch puzzle.
  23. We raced through this one but ended up crashing into a 4 clue wall. After 36 minutes we threw in the towel and looked up ENTOURAGE, ADEQUATE, AVATAR and SCOREBOARD. Oh well, tomorrow is another day….

    LOI: DNF

    Thanks Rotter and Joker

  24. Saw her Barney on Eastenders, we hear; carry her off on this.

    Just to prove that I do follow your blogs Rotter.

  25. This took us abt 50m, but we were pleased to finish with a minimum of help for what was a testing puzzle. Elinian.
  26. Well, after launching my ‘how long to solve’ index only yesterday, I didn’t expect to arrive at GN0 quite so quickly. After exhausting all my thoughts on a meaning for ‘train’, not educate or chuff-chuff train or even wedding dress train, I never got near to retinue or entourage, my mistake. Impressive puzzle. Thanks all.
  27. Had bird for 2d which prevented me from getting chapter. I also failed with adequate. All very annoying!
  28. Toughest for ages I thought, but I persevered because I know Joker rarely puts anything in that is ungettable for me, so giving up is sure to result in kicking myself. Thus I eventually stopped my watch on 68:58. The four that really held me up were SCOREBOARD, RUNTHROUGH, ADEQUATE and ENTOURAGE which I got in that order. As James said above, Joker seems to be getting ever tougher. Thanks anyway, and to Rotter of course.
  29. Discouraging DNF today. Some seriously tricky clues, 17A and 3D in particular. NHO river Windrush (very obscure?) though got there with the checkers. And who uses the word “prate” these days? Sad Dave and Sal
  30. Revolutionaries returned, detaining sanctimonious noisy lot on horse-drawn carriage

    Found the crossword quite easy until I realised who the setter was. Swine? Pig? Must be Oink, right? Wrong.

    Almost 7 minutes in the end

    Edited at 2021-11-25 09:31 pm (UTC)

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