Times Quick Cryptic No 2039 by Breadman

We have reached the last Quick Cryptic of the year, so Happy New Year to all our solvers and setters when it comes tonight. Our setter today is Breadman and I found this mostly straightforward apart from my last one in – the English river, which I hadn’t heard of. Eventually I put my trust in the wordplay and was relieved to see all green. COD to 17D for the great surface.Thank-you Breadman. I was finished in a time of 4:40, my fastest of the week. I think it’s definitely a lot easier than yesterday’s Izetti, but how did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is my turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the latest crossword, “Goodbye 2021 and Hello 2022” here. Enjoy! If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 41 here.

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

7 Classical hero to relax in sea to the west (8)
ACHILLESCHILL (relax) “in” SEA reversed, “to the west” -> AES
8 Greek character joins learner and others (2,2)
ET ALETA (Greek character) L (learner).
9 English river’s constant — woman following it (6)
ITCHENC (constant) HEN (woman) “following” IT. The River Itchen is in Hampshire, apparently. I’d never heard of it. It is world-famous as a chalk stream for fly fishing.
10 Raymond entertains non-drinker, irritable (5)
RATTYRAY (Raymond) “entertains” TT (teetotaller; non-drinker).
11 Stain wood navy blue last of all (3)
DYE – Final letters, “last of all”, of wooD navY bluE.
12 Card game‘s deck controlled by captain (6)
BRIDGE –  Double definition. Nice surface including “game’s deck” of cards.
14 Beam of light reflected terrace’s herbal plant (6)
YARROW – RAY (beam of light) (hello again Raymond) “reflected” -> YAR, ROW (terrace). “Yarrow is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. It is also commonly known as achillea, bloodwort, carpenter’s weed, devil’s nettle, nosebleed, old man’s pepper, staunchweed, thousand-leaf, and wound wort (among other names).
16 The German introduces beer merchant (6)
DEALERDER (the, in german) “introduces” ALE (beer).
18 Well-mannered cops, having time for Charlie (6)
POLITEPOLIcE (cops) replacing the C (Charlie) with T (time).
19 Poem daughter’s seen in Old English (3)
ODED (daughter) in O (Old) E (English).
20 Block used by blacksmith in Asian village (5)
ANVIL – Hidden “in” AsiAN VILlage.
21 Dicky clear about new soldier (6)
LANCER – “Dicky” (clear)* “about” N (new).
23 Fruit couple heard of (4)
PEAR – Sounds like PAIR (couple), “heard of”.
24 Once seabird confronting Alan outside (8)
EXTERNALEX (once) TERN (seabird) AL (Alan). Hmm. Not sure I get the surface meaning.
1 Maybe Glaswegian father evacuated estate without harm (4-4)
SCOT-FREESCOT (maybe Glaswegian) FR (father) EstatE “evacuated”.
2 Detective’s hot meal (4)
DISHDIS (detective’s) H (hot).
3 Fair-haired British duke in isolated environment (6)
BLONDEB (British), D (duke) inside, “in…environment”, LONE (isolated)
4 Poser troubled unknown raptor (6)
OSPREY – (poser)* “troubled” Y (unknown).
5 Muscle training on hill in California (8)
PECTORALP.E. (training), TOR (hill) “in” CAL (California).
6 Body of seamen lifted vehicle with Yankee (4)
NAVY – VAN (vehicle) “lifted” -> NAV, Y (Yankee in the NATO phonetic alphabet).
13 Supply food shop particularly (8)
DELIVERYDELI (food shop) VERY (particularly).
15 Running away, knight enters hotel abroad in the morning (2,3,3)
ON THE LAMN (knight in chess notation) in (hotel)* “abroad”, AM (in the morning). Does anyone use this phrase any more, I wonder?
17 Posh car that might be stuck in Barnet (6)
ROLLER – Double definition, the first ROLLER (Rolls-Royce; posh car) and the second a cryptic hint using the Cockney Rhyming Slang Barnet (Fair) = hair, i.e. ROLLER (something that might be stuck in your hair). With the M1 ending in, and the A1 passing through the Borough of Barnet, I can imagine the traffic there might well be rather busy. Nice one. My COD.
18 European group interrupting dad’s ball game (6)
PELOTAE (European) LOT (group), inside PA (dad). “Pelota is a game that is played in Spain, America, and the Philippines, in which the players hit a ball against a wall using a long basket tied to their wrist“. I knew this, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it played.
20 Middle Eastern port, a retreat (4)
ADENA DEN (retreat).
22 Spy initially navigates rescue boat (4)
NARKNavigates “initially” ARK (rescue boat).

85 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2039 by Breadman”

  1. This took me a long time. LANCER & DISH were slow in coming; and I’d never heard of the ITCHEN, so I dithered over it. In fact, I finally looked it up before submitting, even though the wordplay was clear. 8:45.
  2. After yesterday’s DNF this was welcome as an easier solve and I finished in 7 minutes, my first sub-10minute (i.e. target achieved) since 23rd December. It was also my best solving time since Breadman’s last appearance on 30th November for which I also needed 7 minutes.

    It was fortunate that I knew of the River ITCHEN and the expression ON THE LAM, the answers I think may slow other solvers down.

  3. I took ‘stuck in Barnet’ to mean a hair roller stuck in your hair. Barnet also being slang for a mop of hair.
    1. Yes. Sorry. I should have been clearer in the blog that that is what was meant be the second definition. I’ve updated it.

      Edited at 2021-12-31 07:29 am (UTC)

    2. Barnet is Cockney rhyming slang for hair, I think — Barnet Fair, possibly. My mother was born within the sound of Bow Bells making her a genuine Cockney. She has used the term occasionally.
  4. Rare sub-Kevin but I wouldn’t fancy having to know little-heard of rivers in his neck of the woods. As it was ITCHEN was known as was PELOTA but ON THE LAM was a real “is this the quickie” headscratcher. Thankfully it had to be from the w/p.

    May I add my New Year wishes to everyone. I’m not a daily poster as I often catch up at the weekend but it’s always a pleasure to read everyone’s comments

    Thanks to John and Breadman for today’s puzzle and blog

    1. … that the ITCHEN is one of the best known chalk streams in England and is very far from “little-heard of”!
  5. Held up by forgetting to take the C out of police and put in the T at 15d. I knew Pelota- I think it features in a Dirk Bogarde film, also starring Michael Hordern- I can’t remember title of film.
    Thank you for the blog, John. Thanks to Breadman.
    Happy New Year!
  6. Thought I was on for my first sub-20 minute solve, but it was not to be. 24 minutes in the end. Never heard of “On the lam”, but it just had to be, so in it went. Never heard of Pelota either, so needed help with that one.
  7. I felt sorry for any non Brits struggling with Barnet and Nark. Calling a woman a hen seems rather non PC these days. There seems to be no end of obscure rivers that cruciverbalists have heard of, but I haven’t.
    1. Barnet for hair and many other CRS terms are hardly obscure in Times puzzles so I imagine practised overseas solvers will know them by now, and those who aspire to tackling the puzzles regularly will need to learn them. Nark is old-fashioned slang so may not be known to younger native solvers. Those of us brought up on ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ and the like will have an advantage. I’m told that hen for woman or wife is an affectionate term in Scotland.
      1. I came across ‘hen’ for the first time–maybe the only time–in a Monty Python sketch, where two gay judges are talking; it was a vocative.
      2. Always knew it used as ‘a copper’s nark’ ie an informant. I suppose that is a sort of low class spy.
  8. Reasonably straightforward today although I didn’t know the river, it was fairly clued. Slight hold up in the SE corner with lancer, nark and pelota slow to come. I was wondering if there was an alternate spelling for Petanque for a bit, but remembered pelota which I think I have seen played in Madrid.

    Thanks to John for the blog, looking forward to trying the new year crossword later today. And to Breadman and all the setters for their daily challenge, it’s become an integral part of my day.

    FOI Et al
    LOI Nark
    COD Roller

  9. 13mins
    Didn’t know pelota or itchen.
    On the lam appears quite a lot in the newer version of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
    Loi navy not racy.
    Cod external.

    Happy New Year. Hope 2022 is better.

  10. A steady solve today for me and I finished a couple of minutes under target at ca.1.5K which is very good for me (and a relief after yesterday!). Yes, there was a need for ‘local’ knowledge (as mentioned above) and I worked out PELOTA without knowing it. Some nice clues. I biffed a few and was less than completely rigorous in my parsing so I will now go back and read the blog in detail.
    Thanks to Breadman and johninterred. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 09:27 am (UTC)

  11. Great puzzle on which to end the year — very entertaining. We know the Itchen well as it’s one of our local rivers (it’s said to be one of the best fly fishing rivers). We were all done in 13 minutes.


    Thanks John and Breadman. We’d also like to say a big thank you to the setters of the Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic — we look forward to it and enjoy completing it.

    Happy New Year!

  12. So I do know the ITCHEN but came to grief in SE corner. Had to look up PELOTA which I had heard of, on reflection, but didn’t know NARK = spy, though cd have guessed from cluing.
    A mix of easy and difficult. BRIDGE and ANVIL v easy and the aforementioned v tricky.
    Yes, ON THE LAM v obscure phrase, only seen here.
    Dicky a dicey anagrist.

    Thanks vm, John. Happy New Year to all🎆

    Edited at 2021-12-31 09:47 am (UTC)

        1. Quite so. I suspect 1/1 is the default on registering for LJ.
          Never mind, please keep it in reserve until the appropriate date!
  13. ET AL and RATTY were first 2 in. I had to construct ITCHEN from wordplay and discounted ITCHER when the BLONDE came along. PELOTA was familiar and ON THE LAM also as a result of watching US Gangster movies. EXTERNAL was LOI. 8:11. Thanks Breadman and John, and Happy New Year to all.
  14. Mostly straightforward, as I knew the river and game. I biffed EXTERIOR, which made ON THE LAM take up some thinking time. Luckily it was well clued, which made me revisit exterior and realise it was EXTERNAL.

    Happy New Year to all bloggers and solvers.


  15. Enjoyed this – thanks setter and blogger. Itchen is one of England’s better known rivers but I remember it in the name (currently or formerly??) of a Southampton constituency. Lam comes up in crosswords only in my experience, never heard of it as thumping someone which is the usual clue. My OED says that in North America it means running eg away from the police. I expect us Brits have as much chance of knowing that as Americans have of knowing the Itchen. Happy New Year all!
  16. Mostly straightforward with some great surfaces. Hadn’t heard of ON THE LAM until I started doing these, but it seems to come up quite regularly so it was actually a write-in. Finished in 18:42, but did not give enough thought to my last one in and hence scored a DNF with NARC. CsOD to POLITE and SCOT FREE. Thanks Breadman and John.
  17. ….sits proudly between the rivers ITCHEN and Test (which latter is a gimme for setters clueing ‘river’ and will doubtless appear soon in a crossword near you).

    I had no problems at all with this one, although ON THE LAM is another of those inhabitants of Crosswordland that never turns up in conversation.

    TIME 3:26

  18. I found this quite friendly, ten minutes or so. FOI et al, thirteen on first pass but then solving all over where the clues already solved were very helpful. Didn’t really pause for breath until lancer, nark and pelota were required – had to think about these, did not know pelota, maybe there’s a video of a game on Youtube, will have to look. Did not parse Scot free or see the upside-down van. COD osprey. Thanks, John, and Breadman.
  19. 12:00, rounds the year off with a good time.

    Pleased that my local knowledge from my university days (Southampton) came in handy today. Let’s have more Soton based clues to even up the Oxbridge ones (2 yesterday)

    Pleased to also get YARROW, which sounds like another Watership Down rabbit.


    HAppy New Year to all.
    In my scheme, the target time for the QC from tomorrow is now 20:22.

  20. Over target again at 17 minutes, but at least I avoided the SCC. I liked this puzzle, despite not knowing the ITCHEN which was very generously clued. I got stuck on peseta for PELOTA but couldn’t make it work, so persevered until I managed to drag the barely familiar sport from the deep memory banks. I think I became aware of it from huge murals advertising it when driving through southern Florida. ON THE LAM was also slow to call to mind. Thanks Breadman and John. Here’s to faster times in 2022.

    Edited at 2021-12-31 10:38 am (UTC)

  21. Life is easier when one knows the GK …
    … and with all three of the River Itchen, the game Pelota (which I have seen played — it is incredibly fast) and the phrase On the lam familiar, I romped home in a few seconds under 8 minutes for my First Ever Sub 1K finish. Won’t happen again officer, I promise …

    Thus finishes another year of QCs, and much enjoyment they give me. As does this blog and the comments of other contributors day in day out.

    Many thanks John for the blog and (in anticipation) for the Saturday special, and a Happy New Year to all.

  22. John,

    I received this query yesterday and wasn’t able to help. I wonder if you (or anyone else) can?

    I have accessed the 15×15 indexes and use them regularly for the books, but do you know whether there is an index anywhere for the QC books? I cannot work out how to relate the QCCs in the book to the blogs.

    1. Sorry. I don’t know as I’ve never tried the QC books. What I’ve done in the past for the 15x15s is to search TfTT for an unusual word in the solution in the right timescale (the 15×15 books are generally for a year and in the puzzles in chronological order of them appearing) or searching forward from the last one I’ve identified.
      1. Many thanks, John. I think someone has done the groundwork on this. Let’s hope they see it.
        1. I started working through the QC books a good while ago. Then I mislaid the one I started with, only finding it recently. The upshot is that I have one completely indexed, one nearly done and another half done.

          I did have some correspondence with someone about it but forgot who. I presume it was Jackkt?

    2. There are various indexes in the Memories section of the site, however there are no QC ones to my knowledge – only some 15x15s and Jumbos. As suggested by johninterred, one can find the blog for the first puzzle in the book by searching for an unusual answer, and then use the fact that the compilations are in chronological order to find the next one (80 puzzles per compilation out of about 260 QCs each year means on average every 3rd or 4th QC makes it into the compilation). You could also search for an entire clue, but I don’t think some of the earlier QC blogs included the clues.

      I’m pretty sure that, yonks ago, these indexes had a tag as well as being within the Memories section, so you could find them all easily. However the last time I was trying to add an index I couldn’t even add to Memories, let alone add a tag to indicate that it was an index – not sure if this was a LiveJournal quirk or if I just didn’t have the appropriate user privileges.

      Finally, happy New Year to all.

      1. Many thanks for your input, John. I shall pass this on to my correspondent directly in case he doesn’t see it here.
        1. Ah – just reading through the link that I posted on filbert42’s comment above, it appears that the QC books are not in chronological order.
  23. I was on the 8.45 flight from Hitchen to Aden


    LOI 15dn ON THE LAM

    WOD 18dn PELOTA played on a very large pitch/court.

    Nice to see an OSPREY circling overhead at 4dn

    1. A lot of Japanese wouldn’t say that: There have been numerous protests against the US placing its Osprey helicopters here; they seem to have a tendency to fall out of the sky at odd moments.
      1. Yes, some 260 breeding pairs of Osprey are now established in Britain producing 250 chicks per annum. Their collective noun is a Duet as they don’t collect too much!
        1. A few years ago, a friend who is a keen birder took a group of novices (inc me) out for an evening walk. On our arrival at the lake, an osprey flew straight over. Our friend couldn’t believe it — he’d waited 25 years to see his first one. We’d waited about 25 seconds 😅

          Edited at 2021-12-31 05:43 pm (UTC)

  24. An enjoyable, but still testing, 21 mins for me.

    Quite a few I DNK but they were solvable, notably 15dn “On the Lam” and 18dn “Pelota” (my only experience of, I believe, being in the opening credits of that classic 80’s TV series “Miami Vice”).

    Being an alumni of Southampton University, 9ac “Itchen” was familiar.

    FOI — 8ac “Et al”
    LOI — 18dn “Pelota”
    COD — 5dn “Pectoral”

    Thanks as usual and a happy new year to everyone on here — both regular contributors and those that just dip in and have a look every now and then.

    I say it every year, but it’s always nice to see who’s done what for a couple of minutes every day.

  25. A curious mix of the very straightforward and the decidedly tricky. One of the latter, Pelota (lot/set 🤔), ensured that I continue to get good value from my SCC season ticket. On the Lam went in with a shrug, and Itchen also took a long time to recall. CoD to the Norwegian Blue’s close relative in 24ac, External. Invariant

    And, of course, a Happy New Year to everyone.

  26. Very much enjoyed that one, sneaking it in with a quick coffee while shirking the endless preparations for tonight going on around me.

    FOI & COD ACHILLES, LOI DISH, time a pleasingly symmetrical 09:09.

    Happy New Year all! And thanks Breaders and John.


  27. Mostly straightforward but I was held up by Aden and nark. The first because I was trying to fit ME into the answer somewhere and generally over-complicating it and the second because I failed to remember the somewhat outdated nark for an informant. These two accounted for about 4 mins of my 16 mins overall time. Other GK, such as the river in Hampshire and the herbal plant were known to me and I managed to remember the American slang (also outdated I think) on the lam.

    FOI – 8ac ET AL
    LOI – 22dn NARK
    COD – 17dn ROLLER

    Many thanks to Breadman and John (and all setters and bloggers) and a Happy New Year to everyone.

  28. For the first time ever I think I had eight or nine write in’s and was thinking this was a very generous offering by Breadman. I then came to a shuddering halt although being a Hampshire lad dragged Itchen from the memory but the SE corner defeated me. Didn’t get Lancer or External and DNK Pelota.

    Biffed Yarrow as David Yarrow is one of the worlds leading wildlife photographers and I guessed his surname might have another meaning.

    Happy New Year to all, setter, bloggers et al


  29. Can someone explain how dicky translate to lacer. I could not see dicky as anything other than a name,a bow tie, or something slightly off. Where does lacer fit in. Thanks Tim
    1. Dicky is the “anagrind”, i.e. the word that indicates the wordplay is an anagram (which is why it is in inverted commas as an indicator)… of CLEAR, shown in my notation as (clear)* and an N is inserted to get to LANCER. Yes “Dicky” is maybe a dicky anagrind!

      Edited at 2021-12-31 01:09 pm (UTC)

    2. It is “something slightly off”. Lacer is an anagram of clear. I didn’t get it either.

      I also biffed ITSHEN for the river, but the woman and the constant are the wrong way round. And it’s not a river.


  30. Quite straightforward in a ponderous way but some answers jumped off the page. Had to think about ITCHEN a bit as I had NHO the river but used to sail in Chichester harbour from Hayling Island and knew Itchenor. ON THE … had to be LAM which brought Cool Hand Luke to mind, a firm favourite and one to watch over the weekend perhaps.
    Thank you Breadman and John and all for your comments, wit, insight and entertainment.
    I hope you have all made your NY resolutions to last beyond 1/1/2022.
    Happy and healthy New Year
  31. We are near the Itchen too so that went in easily.

    Back from the USA and isolating so thankful for these puzzles to keep me occupied.

    To my shame, failed to get ARK. Not a boat that springs to mind!

    Thanks Breadman and John.


        1. I lived in Hampshire for a few years during my childhood. Then, without moving house, I lived the rest of my childhood in Dorset.
  32. Mostly straightforward but a couple to get the grey matter working. I’m in the NHO ITCHEN camp and like Rotter and Invariant spent some time wondering if PESETA could possibly be a ball game, before dredging the correct answer from the depths. YARROW and ADEN, where I had a brain freeze, were my last two in, with COD to ROLLER. Finished in 8.20.
    Thanks to John and happy new year to all
  33. Taken just over 10 minutes by ‘pelota’ and LOI ‘on the lam’ which I’d never heard of.
  34. A nice way to finish the year, at just over 2xPhil or just under 1K! No problem with the GK – I knew of the Itchen although the Test is more familiar, not just from Crosswordland but because we have spent some lovely holidays in the area. DISH took longer than it should have but otherwise it was a relatively smooth solve.
    FOI Blonde (just spotted it from the off)
    LOI Dish
    COD Roller
    Many thanks to Breadman and John for today’s fun, and a collective thank you to all setters, bloggers and posters for making this such a entertaining part of my day 😊 I wish I could say the same about LJ – still having all sorts of problems on my laptop. I’m going to have to go to the new tablet in order to post a few 🔥s and 🧡s!
    Happy new year one and all 🍾
  35. Much quicker than the last few days but held up in thse corner with on the lam etc. Lived in Romsey for some years, so no problem with Itchen, perhaps th Test will arrive some day. A nice puzzle to finish the year, happy New Year to all.
  36. COD to 15dn ON THE LAM I haven’t heard this for yonks. WOD POLITE NOTICE as per local parking signs.
  37. I have a feeling that ON THE LAM appeared here not too long ago. Otherwise, I would never have come across the phrase.
  38. Fairly easy though technically a DNF as had ITSHEN, she being the woman and n the constant, but of course the wrong way round.
  39. … and I nearly escaped the SCC (a very rare occurrence). I had only one clue to get after 17 minutes, but I’m afraid NARK took me 4 minutes. I’d heard of a copper’s NARK (Didn’t Ronnie Barker use the term in Porridge?), but I was slow to parse the clue and couldn’t convince myself it was the answer for a while. PELOTA went in faintly and wasn’t firmed up until the end. Total time = 21 minutes.

    many thanks today to Breadman and John, and many thanks generally to all setters, bloggers, contributors and readers for making this such an enjoyable read and intellectual pastime.

  40. Missed out on 2 which about sumd ip the year in general.
    Best wishes to all and lets hope 2022 is better
  41. Very late to the blog today: mildly surprised no-one has pointed out there’s also a River Itchen in Warwickshire.

    Jim R

    1. Well that’s interesting. Thanks, Jim. I didn’t even know the one in Hampshire so didn’t know to mention it in the blog. Thanks for the enlightenment. Surely there must be others who live in Warwickshire here who could have said? I see though it is a bit of a tiddler at 12 miles long. For anyone wanting to know more, read about it here. Incidentally we have a couple of chalk streams locally here, the Rivers Lark (50km long) and Linnet (10km long, so shorter than your Itchen). See here.

      Edited at 2021-12-31 07:32 pm (UTC)

  42. What a great QC to end the year. An excellent mix of the straightforward, the tricky and the difficult. Thoroughly enjoyed this after struggling yesterday.

    Thanks to all the setters for providing us with QCs throughout the year. Thanks also to the bloggers for making everything so clear.

    Best wishes to everyone for 2022.

    Gary A

  43. 5:11 this morning but only got round to a quick contribution here, following a protracted battle with the 15 x 15 and a pleasurable Hogmanay dinner thereafter ( Beef Wellington and a 2009 Ribero del Duero if anyone is interested)
    Really enjoyable QC from Mr Baker with, for me, 2 NHOs “itchen” and “lam” which I entered with a shrug.
    COD 18 ac ” pelota” , reputed to be the fastest ball game in the world ( apart from a shank at golf) which Mrs P and I witnessed in Biarritz in 1979. Never seemed to catch on outside the Basque region for whatever reason.
    Thanks to John for the blog and to setter. And more generally to all setters, bloggers and contributors throughout the year. Its been a lot of fun!
  44. Can someone explain how dicky translate to lacer. I could not see dicky as anything other than a name,a bow tie, or something slightly off. Where does lacer fit in. Thanks Tim

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