Times Quick Cryptic No 2023 by Joker

Another very fine puzzle from Joker (my second in a row whilst blogging), which took me 12 minutes to complete, fully parsed.  There was only one piece of unknown GK (12 across) and some fine surfaces and clever anagrams.

I have indicated my WOD below, and I award my COD to 19a for reminding me of my dad’s final joke just before he ‘crossed the bar’ a few years ago.  After pleading for months for some Dandelion and Burdock (an unusually flavoured soft drink once popular in the Midlands), I finally tracked some down and took it to him in his care home.  When I handed it to him, he took one look and said ‘Can’t stand the stuff!’.  God bless him!


Charm one’s way in? (8)
ENTRANCE – Double definition.
Change over hands, right to left (4)
SWAP – PAWS (hands) reversed (right to left).
8 Spot beer, getting round in (5)
POINT – PINT (beer) containing O (round, getting round in).
Like older buildings with fancy oriels round either side of window (3-4)
LOW-RISE – Anagram (fancy) of [ORIELS] and W (either side of WindoW) – take your pick which one you use!
11 Joined English National Opera on retirement (3)
ONE – E{nglish} N{ational} O{pera} reversed (on retirement).
12  Wild growth in free line dance (9)
CELANDINE – Anagram (free) of [LINE DANCE].  The CELANDINE is either of two plants (the Greater or Lesser CELANDINE) which legend has it will flower when the swallows come, and perish when they depart.  Not known to me, but gettable from the anagrist and checkers, if not ‘gettable’ at this time of year.
13  Material for roofing the little church over there? (6)
THATCH – THAT CH – CH = little church, and THAT one = over there.
15  Big cat is company, a sweet thing – but not small  (6)
COUGAR – CO (company) and sUGAR (a sweet thing, but not small = drop the S).
18  Support pageant or plays (9)
PATRONAGE – Anagram (plays) of [PAGEANT OR].
19 Fizzy drink for father (3)
POP – Double definition.
20 Study printed work and background (7)
CONTEXT – CON (study) and TEXT (printed work).
21  Half expected learner to drive out (5)
EXPEL – EXPE{cted} (half) and L{earner}.
22  What may be seen in one area close by (4)
NEAR – Hidden answer (what may be seen) in {o}NE AR{ea}.
23  Keep quiet with book (8)
PRESERVE – P (quiet) and RESERVE (book).


Take advantage of exit poll almost being wrong (7)
EXPLOIT – Anagram (being wrong) of [EXIT POL{l}] (almost POL{l} indicating to drop the last letter).
Stomach for eating rubbish (5)
TRIPE – Double definition, but in my case, stomach for NOT eating.  When spending 6 months in the Falkland Islands at the conclusion of the ’82 war, I was amazed to discover that Argentinian Other Ranks’ ration packs existed almost exclusively of tins of ‘Mondongo á la Genoise’, or tripe in tomato sauce!  Yeuk!
Atmospheric flow pattern, neatly conic in circulation (11)
ANTICYCLONE – Anagram (in circulation) of [NEATLY CONIC] – nice surface.
4  Conservative supporter keeping millions coolly (6)
CALMLY – C{onservative} and ALLY (supporter) containing M{illions}
6 Swimmer dealt a blow in flank (7)
WHITING – HIT (dealt a blow) inside WING (flank).
7 King perhaps wants an end to hostilities declared (5)
PIECE – As in chess PIECE, sounds like (declared) PEACE (an end to hostilities).
10  Several new among reds, say, with sulphur and appealing quality (11)
WINSOMENESS – SOME (several) and N{ew} inside WINES (reds, say) and followed by S{ulphur).  A bit of an Ikea clue, but WOD to the answer.
14  One feeling for insect in a number trapped by girl (7)
ANTENNA – ANNA (girl) containing / trapping TEN (number).
16  Not all red lentils, say, cause aversion (7)
REPULSE – RE{d} (not all Red) and PULSE (lentils, say).
17  Joshing in bar, they’re regularly ignored (6)
BANTER – BAN (bar) and the odd / alternate letters of ThEy’Re
18  American nut exercises about noon (5)
PECAN – PE (physical exercise / exercises) with CA (circa / about) and N{oon}.
19  Copier under pressure in exam (5)
PAPER – APER (copier) underneath P{ressure}.

61 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2023 by Joker”

  1. I biffed WINSOMENESS and never checked the anagrist for ANTICYCLONE. It took me a moment to remember WHITING (‘Can you walk a little faster? he said to the snail) and to see how BANTER worked. 6:29. Rotter, you have a typo at BANTER.
    1. Thanks Kevin, now fixed. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, or twixt solve and blog in this case.
  2. Having completed the top half with relative ease I had some problems staying up to speed in the remainder of the puzzle. 11 minutes.
  3. This puzzle kept me 13:30 minutes this morning.


    LOI 4dn CALMLY

    COD 15ac COUGAR


    13ac had me wary as it came up recently.

    Edited at 2021-12-09 06:36 am (UTC)

  4. Held up by CELANDINE and WINSOMENESS at the end even with all the checkers. Just couldn’t decide how to arrange the letters, although on reflection the two Ns should have made it easier than I made it. WINSOMENESS just didn;t occur to me even though I could see most of the parts. PRESERVE also held me up as did POINT where I spent an age trying to justify ‘pinot’ — oh dear.

    Edited at 2021-12-09 06:57 am (UTC)

    1. after Celandine’s Day 21 February exactly a week after Valentine’s Day! AKA as St. John’s Wort. The first flower of winter and Wordsworth’s favourite wild flower which wasn’t the daffodil – it was the lesser celandine. He wrote no less than three poems about it: The Small Celandine; To the Same Flower and To the Small Celandine.
      Confusingly the Greater Celandine is not related – but more to the poppy.
  5. I couldn’t get 17d parsed because I tried the same as shown here, but seeing it written down the penny has dropped that it’s BAN = bar + the TER from the alternate letters.

    I’m still stumped on CON = study though


    1. From Lexico, sv con 5?
      Study attentively or learn by heart (a piece of writing)
      Archaic it may be–well, is–but it lives on in crosswords, so you’d do well to remember it.
    2. As Kevin says, although Chambers attributes it to Spenser, but also shows its origin from Old English, from ‘cunnan’ to know, or ‘cunnian’ to seek to know, examine. It is so common in Crosswordland that I didn’t think to explain it in the blog.
        1. The term is Conning Tower, the position from which the submarine is ‘conned’ (the steering is controlled) whilst surfaced. To CONN (can be spelled con) is to direct the steering of, and comes from a different route to con as in study. Conn as in steering or conning tower is from the French ‘conduire’ or conduct.

          Where CON means study, it comes from the Old English ‘cunnan’, meaning to know, as stated earlier in the thread.

  6. The left went in much quicker than the right, where LOW RISE (hmm, not keen) and CELANDINE held me up. The parsing of BANTER delayed me too, although the answer was clear. After that laboured effort, back to the cricket…
  7. Much too difficult for me. So many of the clues with utter gibberish to me. Oh well, tomorrow is Friday!
    1. With the mean average at circa 13.45 minutes from some fifteen finishers, I feel you are being somewhat unfair to the hard working setter. Our esteemed blogger notes ‘Another very fine puzzle from Joker.’
      1. Nothing unfair about it. I’m referring to my own inability to decipher many of the clues. I’m not talking about the setter’s abilities. Regardless of what the blogger says, I struggled with this one.
        1. I’m inclined to sympathise with PW here. Whilst many of the answers went in without too much difficulty, once the checkers started getting in place, I really struggled with my last few. Knew celandine, one of them is a rampant weed in our garden, but couldn’t get the anagram without resorting to an aid. Wanted 10d to winsomeness but took me a while to justify it. Last 3 (4d, 6d and 15a) took ages to get — I was trying various ideas in the app and checking to see if they were correct before finally seeing the light.
      2. ‘Non est ad astra mollis e terris via – There is no easy way from the earth to the stars’ – Seneca
        1. ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’ Mahatma Gandhi
  8. Bumbled through in a distracted 20 mins with the final indignity of two pink squares in first attempt with CALENDINE but as it was a NHO it was a toss of a coin with regards to the order of the first A and first E.

    I always forget CON = study…understand the use of ‘archaic’ but seems to appear with more frequency than it merits. But clearly not enough that I remember it.

    I liked 7D

  9. 27 min today. one of those where you wonder why you found it so tricky. Very enjoyable workout from Joker and thanks for the blog as always.

  10. Or maybe I was dimmer than usual.

    Anyway, a very good puzzle, with some sightly unusual definitions & vocab making it one to think about rather than merrily biff away at.

    LOI was PIECE.


  11. I thought this was quite tricky. I was held up by low-rise – I’ve heard of high rise but not really low rise. Winsomeness I needed the blog to explain, another archaic term IMHO, I don’t think it’s been used since my Grandma’s time, and Nho Celandine. I also wanted 6D to be warthog although it clearly wasn’t!

    Slow half an hour for me. Thanks Joker & Rotter.

  12. Seventeen minutes rumination to complete. FOI thatch, nine on first pass, LOI banter, COD’s cougar, whiting. Did not parse winsomeness. Very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks, Rotter, and Joker.
  13. Didn’t have the willpower to finish off the NE. I put CALENDINE, a mistake in the A&E department. Didn’t figure out how PAWS was going to work, was looking to replace an R with an L, did not expect a reversal. And finally King possibly left too many options, and of course I was led up the garden path with “end of hostilities”=S.

    I “parsed” POINT as POT[beer] getting round IN. Worked for me, though probably not quite what Joker had in mind. Pot as slang for beer seems more likely than the tiresome “con”.

  14. An odd one — I found it hard to get to grips with. Just not on Joker’s wavelength today. The NW was opaque at first but then seemed easy when I came back to it. 6D & 7D slowed me down — I wanted to use ‘side’ to make Sardine but couldn’t parse, of course. Piece was a nice sneaky one. I needed these two before I could make sense of LOW RISE (I wanted to use either side in the sense of both sides and couldn’t squeeze 2 x W into the answer.
    Ah well, I was just into the SCC. As poison_wyvern says ‘tomorrow is Friday’. Joker certainly tricked me today.
    Thanks to rotter for the blog with the amusing asides.
    Btw rotter, Dandelion and Burdock was popular much further North, too. I can still taste it! John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-09 01:43 pm (UTC)

    1. Dandelion and burdock pop was popular in South Wales when I was a lad in the 60s. We also had the very similar Sasparilla, with a temperance bar in one of the Cardiff arcades dedicated to serving the stuff.
  15. Had to work at this one as none of the clues just sprang into view. Eventually squeaked under my target at 9:58. FOI, ENTRANCE, which was in a puzzle I solved yesterday, and negates my earlier statement that nothing came easily, and LOI, PATRONAGE. Thanks Joker and Rotter.
  16. Failed on SWAP, CELANDINE and various others. Not on wavelength.
    Managed WINSOMENESS thanks to red wine. COD COUGAR.
    Posted at length before but LJ said
    Thanks, Rotter.

    Edited at 2021-12-09 01:12 pm (UTC)

  17. 17:32 today with a final yet correct guess at 12a CELANDINE which I have NHO. I do wish when anagrams of lesser known words are clued that the vowel positions are made obvious as I could have easily gone with CALENDINE. As it was I got completely snarled up in the NE corner which doubled my solving time. Still a very clever puzzle from Joker nonetheless. Thanks Rotter for the extra info.
  18. My struggles this week continued and I only avoided the SCC by skipping on my usual proof reading, so submitted with fingers crossed. No particular hold ups, although the unknown CELANDINE took some figuring out, just general sluggishness. Finished in 19.36 with LOI BANTER
    Thanks to Rotter
  19. ….but those of you who do should have been all over 1A, as it’s a clue that I provided for ENTRANCE a couple of months ago.

    Apart from only parsing WINSOMENESS after completion, I found this very straightforward. Consequently I’m surprised to be currently 7th on the leaderboard.

    TIME 3:39

  20. 24 mins to complete the grid but I got 12ac “Celandine” wrong.

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with Rotter about this being “gettable” from the checkers. I put in “Calendine” as an educated guess – so it was a bit of a lottery if you didn’t have the GK.

    Enjoyed the rest of it though, even if I spent too long trying to fit some derivative of “Cucumber” into 4dn.

    FOI – 1ac “Entrance”
    LOI – 7dn “Piece”
    COD – 7dn “Piece” – took a while for the penny to drop.

    Thanks as usual!

  21. … which I worked through in 13 minutes, all parsed except my LOI 10D Winsomeness. I’m not very good at these “constructed-from-components” clues, but I like the phrase IKEA clue which captures it in one and which I am not sure I have seen before.

    I was held up most by 17D Banter, where I started by looking for a 3 letter word for Joshing to insert into Bar. I then saw banter as a possible answer but was so fixated on my original parsing that I dismissed it because NTE did not make sense as the insertion. Thoroughly muddled all round!

    I thought we had seen the clue for 1A Entrance quite recently!

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

    1. IKEA has been in the TfTTGlossary for several years now and I believe derived from Lord Galspray. It is far more commonly used on the 15×15 entries.
  22. … was the LJ site down for a couple of hours? I notice no posts between John Dun at 11.13 and Countrywoman at 13.01 — and I did try to post around 12.00 but was unable to.
    1. It took me 6 attempts and an hour wait before I was able to post on the 15×15 blog. Fortunately I’ve got into the habit of doing a “copy” before I submit comments as I’ve lost a few dissertations in the past due to LJ problems!

      Edited at 2021-12-09 04:19 pm (UTC)

  23. Top to bottom solve from ‘Entrance’ to exit – ‘Expel’.
    COD 10dn Winsomeness. The LJ was indeed down – that nice Mr. Putin just checking all was well.
  24. All finished correct in 27m which is ok for us. Celandine known, 10 d biffed in. No real hold ups. Thanks Joker for a pleasant puzzle.
  25. Bit of a struggle today and unable to parse a couple, but managed to finish with a little help.
  26. Many of you who may have NHO celandines will undoubtedly have seen them! One of the earliest wild spring flowers, which grow in any shady place — a real splash of yellow to brighten up your day.
    I didn’t have too much trouble with this and finished in 11 minutes, although I didn’t parse WINSOMENESS.
    FOI Entrance
    LOI Whiting
    COD Anticyclone
    Thanks Joker and Rotter
    1. My celandines come up year after year but the flower buds are eaten before we have a chance to enjoy them. The snowdrops are also food for some creature as well. Very frustrating.

      I couldn’t finish this, not on the same wavelength at all. I look forward to tomorrow.


      1. I’ve got some copper leaved celandines that just appeared a few years ago – they’re so pretty! I’m a bit worried about the recently planted bulbs this year though – we’ve got too many squirrels visiting these days 🙁 Better luck tomorrow!
    2. I do know CELANDINES, a common wild spring flower as you say – I was just being rather dim this morning and didn’t see the anagram.
  27. This is turning into a really bad week. That’s 3 DNFs in 4 days. Undone by CELANDINE. Having NHO I transposed the a and e. Also put CONCEPT by mistake.
  28. … given several of the comments above. And with all but PIECE fully parsed, no less. Rather embarrassed however not to think of ‘king’ as a chess piece, as I have been avidly following Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi’s ongoing battle for the world chess championship in Dubai.

    43 minutes for me, but 20 of those were spent on my last three in, which were:
    PECAN – Took ages to parse. (Why is ‘noon’ abbreviated to N?)
    CONTEXT – Thought ‘study’ was DEN (CON doesn’t mean ‘study’ in my world), then took more ages to get TEXT for ‘printed work’.
    WINSOMENESS – Took even more ages to parse, and had OPENNESS for ‘appealing quality’ for a long time. Also, DNK the meaning of WINSOME.

    Mrs Random took ever so slightly longer than me, but her time also included doing yesterday’s Trelawney immediately prior to tackling today’s puzzle. Her only obstacle was taking rather a long time (for her) to find CONTEXT. I find doing one QC in a row quite a challenge, so I’m always mightily impressed when she knocks off two or three in one go.

    Many thanks to Joker and Rotter.

    Edited at 2021-12-09 05:43 pm (UTC)

    1. Well done RC, I always enjoy hearing about Mrs R’s dominance in the marital challenge between you. I think you can take today as a moral victory. Mrs Rotter won’t join me in a competition, preferring to enjoy the puzzles at her own pace, which is fine.

      N is listed as an acceptable abbreviation for noon in Chambers – what else would you use?

      1. Thankyou for your vote of confidence. Whilst she may occasionally slip up (and she has yet to record a sub-10), Mrs Random is in no danger from me. I think my improvement curve is approaching an asymptote well short of the standard she already regularly achieves.

        N.B. Please don’t tell her, but I have bought Mrs Random a hardback copy of the Chambers Crossword Dictionary as an extra for Christmas.

        Edited at 2021-12-09 06:31 pm (UTC)

  29. Got Whiting at last minute, after desperately trying to fit in my newly learned ‘ide’, and got all the others right as well. Some sparse parsing, and very close to caving in before the finish at 48 min a GN10 (qualified). Thanks for all meanders of xword world.
    1. Well done, GN. Please remind me: Does GN1 = 5 minutes? If so, I recorded GN9 today — the same as you, if we squint a little.

      Edited at 2021-12-09 06:33 pm (UTC)

      1. Yes, I thought of comparing with the blogger of the day but their times jump around a lot, even the quickest solvers do the same. I settled on 5 min as the baseline. It seems ok, if our times are long the index is not astronomic, and if we are quick it sounds like a good low handicap figure! What do you think?
  30. Found this very tough. I’m hoping it was because I was tired. Took 46 minutes to put my LOI PATRONAGE, and then found that there’s no such printed work as the CEPT. Should have known Joker wouldn’t have put anything really obscure in (even if the clues can be hard), but I no longer had the will to look for anything better. I’m hoping that Joker reverts to the slightly friendlier version of himself in 2022, but thanks to him anyway, and to Rotter of course.
  31. I found this one a bit tricky and nearly didn’t finish. 3d and 10d both came from staring at the letters I had and waiting for inspiration – it can be a long wait. Thanks to Rotter for the clear explanations in his blog. I believe Mr Rotter comes from Leicester, so he may understand why I was distracted by events at Napoli.
    1. Indeed I do, very disappointing for the Foxes, thank goodness for the Tigers. I believe that the Foxes will yet turn their disappointing season around, but the European adventure looks lost for this campaign.

      I come from Leicester, but don’t live there – I live in Surrey. I am an ex Gateway OB if anyone out there remembers Gateway Boys School – happy toil, fruitful rest!

      1. I’m a City Boys OB; there was always a friendly rivalry between the grammar schools. I started visiting Filbert Street when Arthur Rowley was firing those old leather footballs into the back of the net.
  32. Tried posting this morning but couldn’t…. I see issues for others….

    An enjoyable 30 minutes but despite having all the checkers for each I just couldn’t see either Context nor Winsomeness. (After approx 10 minutes of the 30)
    Otherwise a pleasant slow crawl for me through the rest.
    Enjoyed Celandine since I saw that quite quickly.
    Thanks Rotter — enjoyed your Falklands story. I knew Clive Dytor who is a larger than life character who was out there.

    Thanks all
    John George

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