Times Quick Cryptic No 2043 by Tracy…

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
… and The Rotter Awards for 2021.

At under 7 minutes this was one of my fastest QC solves for a long time, and everything just seemed to roll off the tongue for a mostly sequential solve.  Hopefully, you all found it equally quick and easy.  I certainly can’t see anything to frighten the horses, unless POTUSs in the 19th Century are your blind spot.

As indicated before Christmas, you can find my favourite clues from the puzzles I blogged during 2021 at the end of this blog entry.  These choices are obviously subjective, and reflect my taste only.  To all Setters, if you aren’t listed, please don’t despair, you may have been one of the very close runners-up in one of the categories, and I appreciated each and every one of you during the year.

To all readers, bloggers and commentators, you probably have your own favourites (remember, my choice is just for those puzzles I blogged (those with numbers ending with a 3) on alternate Thursdays).


Rain very lightly in small mine (4)
SPIT – S{mall} and PIT (mine).
Crucial trial dictates changes (4,4)
ACID TEST – Anagram (changes) of [DICTATES].  Originally, an ACID TEST was a test for gold using acid.
8 Spotted former US president at party being held (5,3)
POLKA DOT – POLK (former US president, James K POLK, 1845 – 1849) followed by AT (at) containing DO (party – being held).
Element of skill on piano (4)
PART – P{iano} and ART (skill).
10 Unguarded ring, enclosure (4)
OPEN – O (ring) and PEN (enclosure).  An OPEN prison is an unguarded one.
11  Police officer enthralled by famous writer’s version that’s printed (4,4)
HARD COPY – COP (police officer) surrounded by (enthralled by) HARDY (famous writer – Thomas Hardy).
12  Doing wrong to storm after her, heading off (6)
ERRANT – RANT (to storm) after {h}ER (hER – heading off, drop first letter).
14  Is to touch down in Madagascar, perhaps?  (6)
ISLAND – IS (is) and LAND (to touch down), Madagascar being an example of an ISLAND.
16  TV programme, extremely childish – so what’s new? (4,4)
CHAT SHOW – Anagram (new) of [SO WHAT] and C{hildis}H (extremely).
18  Black bird of prey in hollow (4)
BOWL – B{lack} and OWL (bird of prey).
19 Cab charge beginning to irritate (4)
TAXI – TAX (charge) and I{rritate} (beginning to).
20  Nothing left? That’s OK (3,5)
ALL RIGHT – Double definition.
22  Ran out of gear? (8)
STREAKED – All-in-one or &Lit clue.
23  Benevolent type (4)
KIND – Double definition


2  Professional agents, upwardly mobile, do well (7)
PROSPER – PRO{fessional} and REPS (agents) reversed (upwardly mobile in this down clue).
3  Acceptable to enter number, or symbol (5)
TOKEN – OK (acceptable) inside (to enter) TEN (number).
4  Servant blowing top gets help (3)
AID – {m}AID (servant) blowing top = drop first letter.
Meeting with candidate in Bury to contend with (9)
INTERVIEW – INTER (bury) with VIE (contend) and W{ith}.
6 Newsworthy subject – Capone? (7)
TOPICAL – TOPIC (subject) and AL (Capone).
7 Remove second slip (5)
STRIP – S{econd} and TRIP (slip).  Nothing to do with cricket!
11  Husband at church with second car (9)
HATCHBACK – H{usband} AT and CH{urch} plus BACK (second).
13  A celebrity embracing one eastern dancer (7)
ASTAIRE – A STAR (a celebrity) containing I (embracing one) and followed by E{astern}.  Fred ASTAIRE – surely the greatest dancer of (nearly) modern times.
15  Reproachful words? Let me see (3,4)
NOW THEN – Double definition
17  Runs in preliminary round, showing courage (5)
HEART – HEAT (preliminary round) containing R{uns}.
18  Quick chance to support British (5)
BRISK – RISK (chance) beneath (supporting) B{ritish}.
21  Top firm?  Not so (3)
LID – {so}LID (firm = solid) remove so (Not so).


My choice of some favourite clues from the puzzles I have blogged through 2021 (in no particular order).  Some of my record-keeping is a bit shambolic, so I hope that I have all of the references correct.

Rotter’s IKEA clue of the year – Hurley QC 1923 – ‘French article, popular monk’s garment, editor finds lifeless’ (11)
Rotter’s COD of the year – Hurley QC 1823 – ‘Denied win, unwind in rugby playing, wine producing region’ (8)
Rotter’s DD / TD of the year – Joker QC 2013 – ‘Catherine earmarked money for cat’ (5)
Rotter’s Anagram of the Year – Wurm QC 1783 – ‘We help in their shambolic call to vote’ (5-4,4)
Rotter’s Word of the Year – Noel QC 1893 – ‘Large stain ruined old pegs’ (6)
Rotter’s Cryptic of the Year – Orpheus QC 1953 – ‘Indoctrinate supporter swimming off Hunstanton?’ (9)

And finally, my themed crossword of the year goes to – Alfie for QC 1893.

My sincere thanks to the Editors and the Setters for their inspiring and challenging work in 2021.

Readers, bloggers and commentators, thanks to you too, and happy 2022.

57 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2043 by Tracy…”

  1. Slowed myself down by bunging in TEST CASE and INTERFACE, until ISLAND forced me to read the clues more carefully. Demi-biffed 8ac (POLK) and 11ac (COP). 6:25.
  2. 7 minutes for me. But I rushed at the end and put in BLINK instead of BRISK. I biffed quite a few from the enumeration, a few words of the clue, and whatever checkers I had: POLKA DOT, ACID TEST, HARD COPY, CHAT SHOW.
  3. Thank you Sir for your dedication and dedications. I would further add The Meldrew Award for QC Blogmeister of 2021 — to Mr. Rotter: Self effacing, IKEAN and erudite. Good Show!

    My time was 6.30ish with a pen problem after just two minutes. Sub used.

    FOI 1ac SPIT

    LOI 3dn TOKEN


    WOD 15dn NOW THEN — sounds better if repeated in a Yorkshire accent

    Is MADAGASCAR WEEK over yet!? Or is it to be MADAGASCAR MONTH?

    Edited at 2022-01-06 03:38 am (UTC)

  4. I had to show considerable restraint to stop myself following Paul down the ‘blink’ route before BRISK went in. Ten on the first pass of acrosses which must be a record and then good progress on the downs before needing to make multiple return visits to each of ERRANT, HEART and STREAKED before the SW fell to finish all green in a shade over 9m. Didn’t know POLK, perhaps I’ll use a coffee break to find out more later in the day.

    COVID wife demands an early start so I can give the dog his 90m before the school run. I can use some of that to decide what to make for tea. Having done chicken pie and pizza this week already (both homemade so don’t judge too harshly) it’s going to have to be something with pasta. But what?

    1. Tuna and tomato pasta — dead easy and quick — only need an onion, garlic, can of tuna, can of chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, a bit of basil and some Parmesan cheese.

      A bit studenty — but surprisingly tasty.

    2. For a veggie option, you could try Linguine with mushrooms and pesto (I’m lucky that Mrs R makes her own). Add some freshly ground black pepper, freshly grated parmesan, and a green salad to the side. Absolutely yummy!
    3. I wouldn’t judge if you did get ready made – it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate! Here’s a quick one — any pasta shape, add broccoli florets to the last few minutes of cooking, fry up some bacon or add chopped ham / gammon (any left over from Christmas?) stir in creme fraiche and grated cheese, salt’n’pepper — job done. Hope Mrs M gets better very soon.
  5. 9 minutes and hoping that tomorrow I can continue my current run of targets achieved to make up for my disastrous showing last Monday.
  6. I made the same mistake as Paul, biffing blink instead of brisk. So all done in 12 but with 2 errors – a typo in now then too, more care needed!

    Thanks Rotter for the blog and great summary of the clues of 2021. I will attempt to resolve them now!

    FOI Spit – always nice to get 1A first
    LOI Streaked – although technically a DNF as got brisk wrong
    CoD Streaked

    Edited at 2022-01-06 08:20 am (UTC)

  7. I did not think I was going to do very well on this one, as I had only answered three on my first trip around the grid. However, as more answers trickled in I did pick up speed.

    I did answer POLKA DOT, but I did not get the ex-President part, having never heard of President POLK. However, from the letters I had, POLKA DOT was the obvious answer.

    25 minutes, with Chambers used three times.

    1. I too had never heard of President Polk but guessed correctly. STREAKED took a long time but enjoyed once solved. Still reliably in SCC but edging ever closer to sub-20 😊 Many thanks Rotter and Tracy
    2. I too had never heard of President Polk but guessed correctly. STREAKED took a long time but enjoyed once solved. Still reliably in SCC but edging ever closer to sub-20 😊 Many thanks Rotter and Tracy
  8. getting slower, or I’m in a run of relatively poor form.

    I chuckled at STREAKER, but was forced to think throughout. LOI BRISK, once I’d shaken BLINK out of my mind.


  9. I didn’t find this quite as straightforward as some seem to have done, but no major issues. Hadn’t heard of the president so that went in semi-parsed and needed all the checkers to make sense of NOW THEN.
    Finished in 8.48 with LOI BRISK and COD to HATCHBACK.
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and I shall return later to enjoy your top clues when I have a bit more time.
  10. A good start at the top followed by rather steady progress from the bottom up. Almost exactly on target at a smidgin under 15 mins with BRISK as my LOI (I, too, spent time with ‘blink’). I liked STREAKED and INTERVIEW.
    Thanks to rotter (a bit of a streaker today — good time!) and to Tracy for a good QC.
    Now to see if I can still solve rotter’s favourites. Won’t be easy — I have a sieve-like short-term memory so I will be starting from scratch but with no crossers to help. 🙄 John M.

    Edited at 2022-01-06 09:18 am (UTC)

  11. Surprised to be the first to make the mistake of FONT for “benevolent type”, (font as in font of mercy) which then dovetailed with BRIEF. I can’t usually parse all clues, so was surprised to see pink today.

    COD and LOI was STREAKED

    1. I had BRIEF/FONT too. I wasn’t happy with them, but I was in a hurry to finish with a half decent time (for me) of 15:36.
  12. 10 minutes on paper today with LOI STREAKED after HEART.
    A puzzle with lots of good clues. I’ll pick ACID TEST as my COD.
    I’m now going to read Rotter’s awards. Thanks Rotter for this and to all the bloggers who do a great job.

    Edited at 2022-01-06 10:20 am (UTC)

  13. A fairly gentle offering today. SPIT went in first followed by a biffed TOTEM which was changed to TOKEN after POLKA DOT arrived. Then steady away until LOI, BRISK, which took a moment or two. 6:55. Thanks Tracy and Rotter.
  14. Ten minutes with two clues to go – strip and part, which took another two minutes, slightly frustrating as time was good otherwise. A friendly offering from Tracy, still requiring some thought. FOI spit, seventeen on first pass, COD hard copy, two unparsed – polka-dot and interview. NHO Polk, will also have to look him up. Thanks for the blogs and awards, Rotter, and for the puzzle, Tracy.
  15. Horryd is being nice to someone! The end times are upon us.

    NHO POLK (was trying to work in ABE), mis-read “servant” as “serpent” and biffed in ASP, and on first pass at the acrosses carelessly put STREAKER not STREAKED. Still came in at K+30 seconds so this must have been an easier one. Lots of fun on the way.

    FOI SPIT, LOI LID, COD STREAKED (made me chuckle), time 06:55 for an Excellent Day. Many thanks Rotter and Tracy.


  16. Today my latest avatar is a tribute to Arthur Wynne – see the 15×15 for my explanatory note.
    Never heard of Polk!!? James Knox Polk 11th president 1845-9 ‘As President he oversaw the largest territorial expansion in American history — over a million square miles of land —acquired through a treaty with England and war with Mexico.’ Wikipedia. This took me 5:30 mins with Polka Dot my COD & WOD.

    Edited at 2022-01-06 10:39 am (UTC)

  17. I managed 17 minutes falling into the Streaker trap before 21d forced a rethink.
    Just when I thought I was getting stuck another nice clue was presented to get me going again. e.g. 4a, 5d, 6d and 11d.
    I considered Blink but Brisk came in time as LOI.
    Three letter ‘k’s helped.
    Thanks all.
    John George
  18. round in 8 mins today, continuing a New Year’s streak of sub-10 minute solves which is gratifying.

    Only stumbled on POLKA-DOT having NHO of Polk before, and STREAKED where I had to scratch my head for a while before parsing.

    Thanks Rotter and Setter

  19. Wrote a long contribution which disappeared. Doh!
    Anyway thanks, Rotter. I enjoyed this puzzle but slowly.
    In Cumberland in days of yore people would say NOW THEN as a greeting.
    Congrats to winners of the Rotter awards!
  20. Raced past (*cough*) the queue for the coach with a 19min solve — loi Brisk was Blink for ages, but I thankfully couldn’t make link/chance work. Lots to enjoy in this unusually friendly offering from Tracy, with 13d Astaire just pipping 11d Hatchback at the line for CoD. My thanks to Tracy and of course Rotter — I’m all right, Jack was on the box yesterday, with a short but classic performance from your avatar. Invariant
  21. After just avoiding the SCC yesterday, I slipped into it today with a solve of 21 mins.

    Based on the times above, probably should have done better. Enjoyed 20ac “All Right”, 22ac “Streaked” and 16ac “Chat Show”.

    FOI — 1ac “Spit”
    LOI — 22ac “Streaked”
    COD — 11dn “Hatchback”

    Thanks as usual!

    Will now have to have a look at Rotters list for 2021.

  22. Not too bad – all went in ok as I worked round the grid. However, biffed POLKA DOT and LID. NHO the president and couldn’t see how to parse LID – I can usually get the three letter clues without too much head-scratching but not that one.
  23. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I had no problem with POLK and the cluing of POLKA DOT is up there with CHAT SHOW for COD. My FOI was PROSPER and my LOI NOW THEN. 7:09 for a very good day.
  24. Started quite well with several of the 4-letter clues (SPIT, OPEN, TAXI, BOWL), then sped up until I had six clues to go. That was when my quarter-hour brain freeze kicked in – a frustrating period of no progress until I biffed CHAT SHOW, which I never did parse. INTERVIEW followed quickly and, re-heartened, I knocked off PART, LID, HEART and STREAKED to finish in 36 minutes. POLKA DOT, HATCHBACK and LID also remained unparsed until I came here.

    P.S. Why does BACK mean ‘second’?

    Mrs Random “whizzed” through the grid until she got stuck right at the end. STREAKED was her LOI, but she was hamstrung by spelling ASTAIRE incorrectly. In the end, 24 minutes for her today.

    Many thanks to Tracy and Rotter (I will try to solve the award-winning clues a little later).

    1. From duelling, a Second is the trusted agent of the dueller, who backs him up, and I suppose, has his back.
      1. You may be right about the origin but in the more modern world of business, committees, Parliament etc, proposals are put forward and somebody else ‘backs’ or ‘seconds’ them.
  25. On the easier side today which meant I finished in the (for me) quick time of 13 mins. Only half parsed interview and chat show and only parsed polka dot after entering it. Although I had heard of President Polk he didn’t exactly spring to mind.

    FOI – 1ac SPIT
    LOI – 21dn LID
    COD – 20ac ALL RIGHT

    Thanks to Tracy and the Rotter

  26. Love the Rotter Awards!

    Lovely puzzle today — fairly straightforward but entertaining. We finished in 9 minutes.

    COD: STREAKED and I liked ACID TEST too (great anagram).

    Thanks Rotter and Tracy.

  27. Like PeregrineF, I solved 8a before realising that I’d heard of Polk (probably on Pointless). LID went in unparsed but otherwise everything was done and dusted in nine minutes. Just had another look through the clues — there are some real gems: I particularly liked ACID TEST, PART and CHAT SHOW.
    FOI Spit
    LOI Polka dot
    COD Streaked
    Many thanks Tracy and Rotter. Thanks also for the league table — your cryptic of the year certainly justifies the use of the ubiquitous supporter 😅
  28. Another enjoyable puzzle

    Slightly held up at the end wondering how ISK could mean chance. D’oh!

    Also liked POLKA-DOT.

    But loved the Rotter Awards 🙂

    Thanks Tracy and Mr R

  29. … and after a very fast time two days ago, then a very much slower one yesterday, this one was, as in Goldilocks, “just right”. 10 minutes on the button, all parsed and much enjoyed.

    It is probably a worrying sign that I am thinking in crosswordese too much that when I saw “former US president” in the clue for 8A and a K as one of the checkers, I immediately tried to fit Ike in there somewhere. But the other checkers soon put paid to that and Polk was dredged out of the deep memory to complete the clue. Not being that good on US history, I couldn’t have told you his dates though, or even a rough idea of them. Mind you my knowledge of my own country’s political history — eg prime ministers from the mid-19th century — is pretty ropy too.

    Much enjoyed Rotter’s Awards, but I wonder if we might also have a list of “Rotter’s Raspberries” for clues that send eyebrows into orbit or otherwise elicit a groan. Anything to do with a certain school near Windsor would certainly make my list!

    1. I got bogged down too with IKE, trying to make it work. Everything else went in quickly. I had never heard of POLK.
  30. We seemed to make hard work of this. Finished the left hand side in reasonable time but held up with part of the right. Having read the blog there was no good reason. Just one of those days.
  31. Thanks for everyone’s kind comments. I deliberately left out the answers and blog comments for The Rotters, as I wanted to give everyone a chance to solve them again, or for the first time. Obviously, this is a more difficult task if you don’t have any checkers to help. Now, at the end of the day, I thought I’d post the answers for those that want to see them, or who have been stumped by these lovely clues.

    Rotter’s IKEA clue of the year – Hurley QC 1923 – ‘French article, popular monk’s garment, editor finds lifeless’ (11) — UNINHABITED
    Rotter’s COD of the year – Hurley QC 1823 – ‘Denied win, unwind in rugby playing, wine producing region’ (8) — BURGUNDY
    Rotter’s DD / TD of the year – Joker QC 2013 – ‘Catherine earmarked money for cat’ (5) — KITTY
    Rotter’s Anagram of the Year – Wurm QC 1783 – ‘We help in their shambolic call to vote’ (5-4,4) — THREE-LINE WHIP
    Rotter’s Word of the Year – Noel QC 1893 – ‘Large stain ruined old pegs’ (6) — SPLODGE
    Rotter’s Cryptic of the Year – Orpheus QC 1953 – ‘Indoctrinate supporter swimming off Hunstanton?’ (9) — BRAINWASH

    If you need further help, I can only refer you to the original blogs.

    Thanks again

  32. After 3 DNFs in a week that’s now 3 sub 15s in a row, but I suspect, no, I know from the other comments, they’ve been on the easier side this week. STREAKED took a little lateral thinking but obvious once the checkers were in.
  33. I’m feeling rather thick after seeing all these good times. I found this tricky and was glad to finish in just under the hour with one error (blink rather than brisk).
  34. Not on Tracy’s wavelength today.
    Got bogged down on the RHS — streaker had me fooled for ages.
    Well over the hour — watching the golf.
    Viktor Hovland is quite a player.
    1. However, you appear to be on Victor Hovland’s wavelength!
      I try to watch the footie while I’m doing the crossword,
      That slows me down nicely!

  35. Haha. Glad you found it easy. I must have had my brain in backwards yesterday! I don’t normally struggle with Tracy. 🤔

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