Times Quick Cryptic No 2123 by Mara

An interesting puzzle that didn’t take up too much of my time, unlike the last couple of days where I was over target.  At 9 minutes to complete, this was one of my quicker solves, with very little GK required, and I thought easier clues than normal.  There was a 17a of double definitions and no real 4a to fall into.  I hope you found it equally approachable.


Repair plot of land (5)
PATCH – Double definition.
4  Something often repeated quietly – a hidden danger? (7)
MANTRAP – MANTRA (something often repeated) and P (quietly, musical notation, piano).  I’m not sure that the question mark is needed here, unless it is indicating that not all mantraps are hidden.
8 Particular art nice, surprisingly (7)
CERTAIN – Anagram (surprisingly) of [ART NICE].
Fight in civil war brutal, looking back (5)
BRAWL – reverse hidden (looking back) inside {civi}L WAR B{rutal}.
10 Fly down, daring (10)
BLUEBOTTLE – BLUE (down) and BOTTLE (daring, as in courage).
14  Colour spectrum beyond ordinary, originally (6)
ORANGE – RANGE (spectrum) after (beyond) O{rdinary} (originally).
15  In a book, end of paragraph, penned(2,4)
AT HOME – (end of) {paragraph}H inside (penned) in A TOME (a book).  I had an MER initially at equating AT HOME with PENNED, but then spotted the short definition nicely hidden away at the other end of the clue.
17  A little secret initially significant (10)
SMATTERING – S{ecret} (initially) and MATTERING (significant).
20  Heroes one defrauds (5)
ICONS – I (one) and CONS (defrauds).
22 Ideal pan out for cooking, one covered (7)
UTOPIAN – Anagram (for cooking) of [PAN OUT] around I (one covered).
23  Warm colour with similar qualities (7)
KINDRED – KIND (warm) and RED (colour).
24 Giant bronze encapsulating sex appeal (5)
TITAN – TAN (bronze or sun-bathe) surrounding (encapsulating) IT (sex appeal).  IT for sex appeal is a very 50’s / 60’s thing which has probably now passed its usefulness IMHO.


Choose possession of miner, say (4)
PICK – Double definition.
Pie begins with edges trimmed (4)
TART – sTARTs (begins) with edges trimmed = drop first and last letters.
3  Hit, glad he receives treatment for shiner (9)
HEADLIGHT – Anagram (receives treatment) of [HIT, GLAD HE].
4  Finally problem gone, fixed (6)
MENDED – {proble}M (finally) and ENDED (gone).
5 Nick has restriction lifted (3)
NAB – BAN (restriction) reversed (lifted in this down clue).
6 Response to Racine mixed (8)
REACTION – Anagram (mixed) of [TO RACINE].
Nicked, sweep finally going over discombobulated fielder (8)
PILFERED – {swee}P (finally) followed by (going over) an anagram (discombobulated) of [FIELDER].
11  Total doubly inaccurate? (3-3-3)
OUT-AND-OUT – A cryptic hint.  A total rotter might be an out-and-out rotter, or even an utter rotter!
12  Girl getting criticism, controller of game (8)
JOYSTICK – JOY (girl) and STICK (criticism).
13  Biscuit: a cookie originally in dark colour (8)
MACAROON – A and C{ookie} (originally) inside MAROON (dark colour).
16  Earth pulverised (6)
GROUND – Double definition.
18  Pristine sweet (4)
MINT – Double definition.
19  Article working soon (4)
ANON – AN (article) and ON (working).
21  Teacher heads off spluttering in rage (3)
SIR – Initial letters (heads) of Spluttering In Rage.

28 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2123 by Mara”

  1. I have trouble remembering the various meanings of ‘nick’, and here we have two of them. AT HOME went past me, apparently; I may have had a brief MER at ‘penned’, but I don’t think I actually parsed the clue. Thought of SIR early on, but didn’t see how to get it until I came back to it later. Slower overall than I should have been. 7:00.
    1. I too just realised that the definition was “in” (thanks Rotter). “Penned” for “at home” would have been a bit of a stretch, but given some of our experiences over the last couple of years, maybe not!

      10:50 for me, some nice clueing from Mara.

  2. Almost gave up on BLUEBOTTLE but when I realized fly was definition the light went on. Also especially enjoyed MANTRAP and SMATTERING. Thanks for informative blog!
  3. …as I wasn’t able to finish the first three this week. Curiously, I am actually doing better than usual in the main puzzle – go figure! I was finally back on track, finishing without too much difficulty in 9:20. I still couldn’t solve easy anagrams like certain and utopian very quickly, but I’ll take it.
    1. I have also been below par on recent QCs, missing my target 10 minutes on four of the last five puzzles (the exception being Monday’s by Tracy), and two of those four required 15+ minutes, taking me into my ‘red’ zone. Today I needed 12 minutes.

      This seemed to be a straightforward solve and I was cruising home with time to spare but then I got stuck on the last two, 18dn and 20ac and had to resort to alphabet trawls. MINT eventually came to mind for the double definition at 18, but unfortunately at 20 I suddenly thought of IDOLS, which fitted the definition and although I knew the wordplay was a problem I let my answer stand.

      1. I had IDOLS at first (seems closer to ‘heroes’ than ICONS does), but changed it to fit the wordplay.
          1. Me three. Except I never changed it because I figured it unlikely to be another word that fitted I-O-S and have just come to accept there are words I don’t know (dols?)
            1. There is “Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)”. You get to know about these when you have aging relatives, unfortunately.
  4. 18 minutes so a fairly quick time for me.
    LOI: MINT which also needed an alphabet trawl.
    I thought IT (sex appeal) worked well for the surface.
  5. Nothing too tricky, but some nice misdirection – I was thinking of blackeyes at 3d, trying to find of synonyms of referee at 12d and looked at the wrong end of the clue for the definitions of LOI BLUEBOTTLE and SMATTERING.
    Finished in 8.16 with COD to AT HOME.
    Thanks to Rotter
  6. I seemed to go down every blind alley in this puzzle. I was less than half way after 5 minutes, but then found the grid completed at under 9 minutes. I paused to proof read and came in at 9:16. PICK was FOI. HEADLIGHT, UTOPIAN and CERTAIN took ages to unravel. BLUEBOTTLE was POI, and MENDED brought up the rear. Thanks Mara and Rotter.
  7. Just snuck in under my abandon time — but it was touch and go with 12dn “Joystick” and 10ac “Bluebottle” both creating groans and various smacks to the forehead when they eventually presented themselves.

    I actually thought 12dn might be a video game controller, but then switched to thinking it was some unheard of name for a gamekeeper before realising I was right in the first place.

    Unlike Rotter, I thought this was another tricky one — with lots of misdirection (tried fitting Indigo for 14ac for a while).

    FOI — 1dn “Pick”
    LOI — 10ac “Bluebottle”
    COD — 15ac “At Home” — very cleverly disguised.

    Thanks as usual!

  8. I also fell into the idols trap. Couldn’t parse but unfortunately let it stand. I don’t seem to be improving my times or performances over the last few weeks. I have had covid so maybe it’s still brain fog. Regardless I’m still really enjoying the challenge. FOI PATCH, held up by MANTRAP (very nice) and SMATTERING, latter also my COD. Very pleased to see ‘it’ clued by ‘sex appeal’ as I’ve just learned this from the biggie! Many thanks to Rotter and Mara.
  9. Found this hard again. Over 20 minutes and two errors from three pink squares. Idols for ICONS and pitch for PATCH — breakfast talk of camping to blame. Took ages to get GROUND so clearly off wavelength and I won’t blame solving unusually late on a phone!

    Edited at 2022-04-28 11:01 am (UTC)

  10. I fairly rattled through the top half of the grid, reaching 9 or 10 clues to go in less than a quarter of an hour (fast for me). The bottom half, however, was like trying to run up sand dunes. I then averaged about 4 minutes per clue to finish unscathed, but unimpressively in 55 minutes.

    I did fully parse every clue along the way, but some were very hard to work out. My last two in were JOYSTICK and SMATTERING, the latter of which had me scratching my head for quite a while, even once I had decided it was S_ATTERING.

    Mrs Random also found today’s puzzle tricky. I think her LOI was AT HOME, but at 48 minutes she took around twice as long as usual.

    Many thanks to Mara and Rotter.

  11. Nice.
    Got stuck on kindred, joystick and mended, must be down to an excess of products from the Stroud brewery watching the football yesterday.

    COD Bluebottle or at home.

  12. I liked the definition “in”, for my LOI AT HOME good bit of disguise. MANTRAP was my favourite though. I was looking at the wrong end of the clue for BLUEBOTTLE for too long.


  13. A DNF at 52-mins due to putting IDOLS and not believing anything else could fit I-O-S.

    Noticed I had a high level of inner tension/anxiety as clue after clue initially went by unanswered. Only released when I sorted out the top left – helped by PICK and TART having been in recent QCs.

    Getting NAB was a settler as I don’t think I’d have seen this wordplay the past few days.

    Pleased to all-but-finish and have a steady solve after recent efforts. Did take a break at 30-mins with LHS done. Then resumed after lunch with SMATTERING immediately and only 22-mins for the remaining 12 clues.

    FOI HEADLIGHTS (anagramming head on today)
    COD PILFERED – Noticed the surface on as being cricket-related on a later parse. And then marvelled at how the answer unravelled.

    Thought there were some very good surfaces in there – kudos to Mara.

    Thanks to TheRotter for the explanations

  14. English languagewise … are there any articles beyond THE, A, AN ?

    Never did this stuff at school beyond nouns, verbs, adjectives.

    1. Articles can sometimes clue foreign words for a, an, the etc. Such as Der, Die (German for ‘the’) or La, Le or Les (French).
      1. Thank-you. So, for clarity, the only English articles are A, AN, THE ?

        I’ve also seen IL / EL in Italian/Spanish. Any other languages?

        Might we occasionally have “article” used to clue item, thing, bit, piece or some such?

        Edited at 2022-04-28 04:42 pm (UTC)

        1. I think only those four – they’re the main European languages). I can’t recall any others and I certainly wouldn’t know the articles in any others (except Dutch, and that’s a bit out or the way for most people, I would think)
  15. We also were slow on this. Needed an alphabet trawl for 18d mint and the sw corner seemed to take us an age.
  16. Nothing difficult here so no excuses for being well over target. Struggled over JOYSTICK and LOI BLUEBITTLE.
  17. Put IDOLS for ICONS and never gave it a second thought, so DNF. Struggled with BLUEBOTTLE and MINT. Did not find it easy at all: it’sbeen a hard week.
  18. Found this very difficult. I suppose if you’re a real crossword solver and can tackle the 15×15 this might have been easy. I can’t do more than one or two of the big one so this took me well over two hours.
    And I still got it wrong as I put in idols!
    But some nice misdirections so very enjoyable.
  19. I don’t think macaroon is a biscuit is it? They are sold with pastries and cakes in bakeries.
    I really liked at home but didn’t get mint 😔

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