Times Quick Cryptic No 2021 by Mara

It’s my turn to come off the blogging team substitutes’ bench again today for this crossword of the year – or is it just the year of the crossword? Yes, we’ve reached Quick Cryptic number 2021! But it’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary, just a regular neat QC from Mara today, although it was only when writing the blog that I noticed how many double definitions we had in the Down clues. I liked the dastardly spanish supporter, but COD to 17D; is it a reference to sleaze perhaps? My LOI was 24A being slightly puzzled at first by who is hugging what. You need to take care to identify the definition correctly in 13D. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be much to frighten the horses. Well not to me, anyway, as I got through this 4:31. Thank-you Mara. How did the rest of you get on?

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and “” other indicators.

8 Different part of America: no, the reverse (7)
ANOTHER – Hidden in, “part of”, AmericA NO THE Reverse.
9 Sound feature: one installed (5)
NOISENOSE (feature) with I (one) inside, “installed”.
10 Belgian city banishing an idiot (5)
TWERP – AnTWERP (Belgian city) without, “banishing”, the AN.
11 Darwin’s survivors set it out in newspaper (7)
FITTEST – (set it)* “out” in FT (Financial Times; newspaper).
12 Penny I invested in bust we chose, artwork on display (9)
SHOWPIECEP (penny) I inside, “invested on” anagram of, “bust”, (we chose)*
14 Young setter, maybe, changing nothing by going back? (3)
PUP – A palindrome, “changing nothing by going back”. And Mara is not referring to a member of his profession, but a dog, of course.
16 Backing achieved today (3)
NOW – WON (achieved), “backing” -> NOW.
18 Round chapel Sir dashed (9)
SPHERICAL – (chapel Sir)* “dashed”.
21 Cold in head of boy going fast (7)
BRACINGB (boy) RACING (going fast).
22 More dull, rug sent back by Queen (5)
TAMER – MAT (rug) “sent back” -> TAM, ER (queen).
23 Time to access food in tin, for example (5)
METALT (time) inside, “to access” MEAL (food).
24 Attack tree-hugging oaf (4,3)
LASH OUTASH (tree) being hugged by LOUT (oaf). The hyphen makes all the difference to the wordplay.
1 Awful rat, Spain supporter (8)
PARTISAN – “Awful” (rat, Spain)*.
2 Very damp, old township (6)
SOWETOSO (very) WET (damp) O (old).
3 Posh nuts in store (4)
SHOP – (posh)* “nuts”.
4 Sweet little thing (6)
TRIFLE – Double definition.
5 Swimming in water after ending in brook, jumpers say? (8)
KNITWEAR – “Swimming” (in water)* “after” “ending in” brooK.
6 Surrender? I don’t know! (4,2)
GIVE UP – Double definition.
7 One side went (4)
LEFT – And another double definition.
13 Boy slips all over the place, perhaps (8)
POSSIBLY – (boy slips)* “all over the place”.
15 Equality inspires leaders on official list in opposition (8)
POLARITYPARITY (equality) including, “inspires”, first letters, “leaders” of Official List.
17 Fortune made breaking the law (6)
WEALTH – “Breaking” (the law)*.
19 Embrace Cambridgeshire city in a big way (6)
HUGELYHUG (embrace) ELY (Cambridgeshire city).
20 Ordinary park (6)
COMMON – Yet another double definition.
21 Sign one’s expecting minor collision (4)
BUMP – and another
22 Check river in Hampshire (4)
TEST – And what better to finish with… a double definition!

54 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2021 by Mara”

  1. Managed all of the acrosses except for METAL on the first sweep, fortunately before my brain was pulverised by today’s 15×15.

    The only real hold-up then was not knowing (or more likely having forgotten) that there’s a river named TEST.

    Hard to go past WEALTH being achieved by breaking “the law” as COD. Lovely piece of clue-setting, seems like it should be a chestnut, but I don’t recall having seen it before.

    Thanks John and Mara.

    1. Good question… it did sort of ring a bell with me, so I did a search of The Cryptic Crossword Clue Database which told me it had come up very similarly clued (i.e. as an anagram of THE LAW) in the QC twice before, most recently in 1896 by Jalna in June this year, and also in about a dozen other places. So I guess it is a chestnut.

      Edited at 2021-12-07 08:23 am (UTC)

  2. Only four on the first pass of acrosses and all those on the right, so lots of work left to do. I didn’t particularly notice all the double definitions in today’s puzzle but I did start to grow weary of anagrams. Enjoyed solving SHOP and HUGELY both made me smile. Ended up with LASH OUT and then POLARITY. No typos so all green in a little under 15.
  3. Not often that my COD is the one that causes the big struggle to finish but SHOWPIECE gets the accolade. TRIFLE the last double definition for an answer that was anything but one for me. 11:19
  4. This was no easy ride and I struggled somewhat.

    FOI 3dn Posh all over the SHOP!

    LOI 2dn SOWETO I was inexplicably diverted, for a short while, to TOLEDO but I should have taken more notice of the ‘township’.

    COD 5dn KNITWEAR – might have been a tad shorter perhaps?

    WOD 10ac TWERP

    I also liked 18ac SPHERICAL but it was NQT. At 1dn nice to see BELGRADE get a mention.

    Edited at 2021-12-07 07:47 am (UTC)

  5. Took just 4.46 mins even with the unhelpful ‘portcullis’ grid. COD tob 19dn HUGELY as it avoided the word ‘see’. Also liked Zuppa Inglese at 4dn – a mere Trifle.
  6. 17:15 on thus crossword of the year, which I felt was pretty close to a perfectly judged QC. Not much dropped in on the first pass, but clever clues appeared all over the grid. No obscure vocabulary or tiresome “conventions” (ok, maybe setter=dog)

    FOI ANTWERP, very nice clue to start off with.

    COD WEALTH, great anagram. But BUMP and FITTEST made me smile as well.

    My only confusion was trying to be too clever with “Soke” for damp/township at 2d, as in the Soke of Peterborough. Maybe the Cambridgeshire city from 19d was still stuck in my brain.

    I also thought ‘supporter’ would be something like scaffold, bannister etc. so a bit slow to see PARTISAN

    15×15 pretty tough, but this QC was great, and thanks john for sub-blogging.

    1. That was all to do with usage of the local ‘soke mill’ – where corn was ground – one had to live within the ‘Soke’ to attain that privilege.
  7. I did not finish this one. I was doing rather well, but I was left with four I simply could not answer, even with aids.
    1. At least you don’t seem to get too dispirited about a DNF, these days. Good effort!
      1. Hi

        Indeed. I approach these crosswords differently now as I once did. I used to see defeat as a sign of my lack of intelligence, and therefore would become very despondent.

        However, now I look at it from an educational slant. Each time I attempt the crossword, I am learning more, and, of course, I’m gaining experience. I do sometimes get frustrated when I cannot answer a majority of the clues, but I’ve learnt not to take it personally.

  8. …I cannot believe it… I’m always pleased to be sub 4K and delighted to be sub 3…but at 11:13 I’m just over 1K! Oh joy! Something to do with ‘wavelength’ I guess. Thanks John and Mara (and Kevin for making my morning!)

  9. I enjoyed this after failing with AGA SAGA yesterday. Anagram at 17 v good, but nice to see TWERP make an appearance.
    I think I’ll avoid the grown up puzzle today. Not enough time.
  10. Very fine puzzle …
    … and a true QC with nothing unfair or too obscure. All done in 12 minutes, though my heart was in my mouth after my failure at the last hurdle yesterday as I approached my LOI 7D. -E-T did not look promising, but fortunately the DD was kind and the answer emerged before too long.

    COD definitely 17D Wealth, alas all too accurate that one very good way to riches is to break the law!

    Many thanks to supersub John for the stand-in blog

  11. A good puzzle that started well for me — I thought I was on course for a record. However, I was slowed by clues mentioned by others and ended up a couple mins under target (but less than 1.5K which has to be good). Slowed a little by KNITWEAR (got the K but didn’t see the anagram right away), LASH OUT (needed crossers) and LOI POLARITY. Liked TWERP.
    Thanks to Mara for an accessible but clever QC and to John as usual. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-07 09:25 am (UTC)

  12. Nice puzzle. Liked WEALTH. Started with SHOP, finished with POLARITY. Biffed LASH OUT. 9:23. Thanks Mara and John.
  13. Twenty-two minutes, all done. A nice QC to ruminate over. All clues enjoyed. Three held me up at the end – showpiece, knitwear and Soweto. Don’t know how the penny eventually dropped. Wish I did, then I could do it on purpose. Thanks, John, and Mara.
  14. I was AWOL yesterday for personal reasons — I did finish the puzzle, but no time as severely interrupted, and no time to look at the blog or comment. Back to normal today, but very close to the SCC with this fine puzzle from Mara. I never really got going, but still enjoyed the challenge. LOI SOWETO after SHOWPIECE gave me the township’s final letter. WEALTH, HUGELY and BUMP all nice clues, but I didn’t really like the definition for POLARITY. Thanks John and Mara.
  15. Failed on SOWETO (good clue) and SHOWPIECE tho as I had pencilled in Piece and knew it began with S I was exceptionally dim.
    Liked FITTEST, PUP, BUMP, NOW. The TEST is a lovely river.
    Thanks all, esp John.
  16. by a call from the test and tracers. I pressed back on the browser, but I reckon it always adds a bit of time.

    A v good puzzle I thought. I liked TWERP and WEALTH, though I reckon I’ve seen it before. LOI was POSSIBLY, which is also a good clue.


  17. I struggled with this but got there in the end. KNITWEAR and SHOWPIECE took a lot of the time. Second time for TWERP recently.
  18. 20 mins for what I thought was one of the best QC’s in quite a while and fitting as it’s number 2021. Lots of smiley faces next to a number of clues which I thought were wonderfully constructed.

    Special mention must go to: 10ac “Twerp”, 11ac “Fittest”, 24ac “Lash Out” and 21dn “Bump”.

    I’m guessing for seasoned solvers some of these are old chestnuts, but I always enjoy simple clues with a great surface.

    FOI — 3dn “Shop”
    LOI — 15dn “Polarity”
    COD — 17dn “Wealth” — so true for some!

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2021-12-07 11:34 am (UTC)

  19. As they used to say, ‘many a slip between cup and lip’. After a good start in the NW, I found myself ticking one clue after another as a potential CoD, and was well placed for a sub-20 with just two to go (14ac, 15d). Unfortunately, I had entered Give In for 6d, so thought 14ac was some obscure printing term for a newbie typesetter. Eventually POI Polarity, even gave me the last letter, but I couldn’t make any sense of N*p. Halfway through a restorative cup of tea, I finally spotted Give Up and hence Pup… CoD to the self description at 10ac. Invariant

    PS. I do hope Templar drops by later with the result!

    Edited at 2021-12-07 12:09 pm (UTC)

  20. My brain cells seemed to be on strike as I made my way through this – I could see how all the clues worked, I just couldn’t figure out the answers 😂. As usual they all made sense once I’d solved them so no complaints about obscurities etc. Finished with the SPHERICAL and POLARITY in 13.11.
    Thanks to John for filling in and to Mara for a good workout.
  21. Slow going today. Much like plett11 my brain seemed to have gone missing and I struggled over even the more straightforward clues. Eventually finished with all parsed in 24mins. Still at least I finished, which is more than I can say about yesterday’s [aga] saga (a very unfair clue imo, as there was no way of obtaining three letters of the palindrome if you didn’t know the phrase). A nice puzzle today with no obscure vocabulary and fair clues – unfortunately that means that I have to take sole responsibility for my slow time!

    FOI – 8ac ANOTHER
    LOI – 19dn HUGELY
    COD – 2dn SOWETO – made me smile

    Thanks to Mara and John

  22. 6:14 this morning. I found this tricky but enjoyable with all the clues well constructed, concise and fair and some requiring a little bit of thought.
    LOI 2 d “Soweto”. Tried briefly to find a six letter name beginning with “v” but in crosswordland, if that is looking unpromising, try using “so”.
    COD 11 ac “fittest” – Darwin’s survivors. Also 17 d “wealth” brought a smile or was it a sigh of resignation?
    Thanks to John for a succinct blog off the bench and to Mara for a fine QC.
  23. ….unlike others here, and it was a perfect QC in my opinion. Every clue read smoothly, and the only remote obscurity (SOWETO) was clued very fairly. Thanks Mara, and to John — I hope they’ve kept that bench warm for you !

    FOI NOISE (I actually biffed ANOTHER on the second pass, and only spotted the excellent concealment afterwards).

    LOI POLARITY (ANOTHER post-solve parsing).

    COD LASH OUT (I’d have been clueing one of my efforts with “The French are noisy and react angrily”).

    TIME 3:57

  24. 8 minutes today on this most enjoyable crossword. I got my first eight or nine clues pretty quickly, but then things slowed down a bit, particularly in the SE corner.
    My immediate reaction on seeing 1a was to look for a reverse hidden – but it was more obvious than that! Clever misdirection. Inevitably, I focus in on clues which feature my name, but I did like 12a SHOWPIECE.
    FOI Another
    LOI Polarity
    COD Wealth – it may be a chestnut, but it’s still a good one
    WOD It was TWERP the other day, and still is 😅
    Many thanks Mara and John the sub
  25. I hate grids like that, aarrggh.

    I remembered WEALTH as familiar though I’m hardly a seasoned solver. I can also recommend practising the law, rather than breaking it, as a reasonable strategy for accumulating wealth!


    Thanks Mara and John.


  26. We finished over our target, finding some clues tricky eg 7d left, and the anagram 17d wealth. Our avatar picture has vanished for some unknown reason, now jusr pic and a long number?
  27. … I almost escaped the SCC. But, my sundial doesn’t do seconds, so it goes down as a 20-minute solve – right on the cusp!

    I enjoyed, TWERP, SHOP, POLARITY and BUMP (my LOI), but my CoD goes to POSSIBILITY. Given the semi-awkward grid design, I was very pleased to get 1d (PARTISAN) and 18a (SPHERICAL) quickly and without any checkers. These both helped me progress at what for me was quite a breathless pace. And, for once, I did not suffer any real brain freezes – a pleasant rarity for me.

    Mrs Random is currently working on Friday’s Corelli, before turning her attention to today’s QC.

    Many thanks to Mara and John.

  28. 26 minutes today but I had the distraction of listening on Spot to Black Acid Soul by Lady Blackbird….rather fine subtle jazz….
    And I think this was a great crossword because although not easy, all clues were accessible after thought (and as the checkers assisted) which often doesn’t happen for me.
    Like Rotter, not too happy about Polarity definition but still….
    Enjoyed Bump as my COD..which was also my LOI

    Thanks all
    John George

  29. Probably my most complete solve for a while. Managed to disentangle the clues and notice the tricks. A setter Pup is one you won’t forget, if you’ve ever known one. I even had the knowledge where needed. 33 min a GN6 why not.
  30. Finally a puzzle I manage to complete in a reasonable (sub-20) time. Seems like it’s been ages. Not one of my fastest at 18:48, but no real hold ups even with my son talking to me for much of it. COD to KNITWEAR, though I liked METAL too. Thanks John and Mara.
  31. I put give in instead of give up so couldn’t get the puppy or polarity — which I don’t think I would have got anyway as I don’t know what it means. No scientist, me.
    I enjoyed the crossword though, I thought the clueing was clever and interesting and quite funny. Thanks.
  32. A day late again…. but if we’d known we would finish in 7 minutes we might have had a go yesterday! Very enjoyable puzzle — we were definitely on Mara’s wavelength.


    Thanks John and Mara.

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