Times Quick Cryptic No 2162 by Tracy

5:17, reflecting a gentler affair, by my standards. Last one in was 1 across, where I shewed my ignorance of British royalty (sorry to say).  No eyebrow raises for any of these clues, which are very polished and well put together.

My conventions in the solutions below are to underline definitions (including a defining phrase); put linking words in [brackets]; and put all wordplay indicators in italics. I also use a solidus (/) to help break up the clue where necessary, especially for double definitions without linking words.

1 British king, during parade, [finds] London landmark (6,4)

I couldn’t remember a King ARBLE, but that’s because there wasn’t.

7 Shy obscure Italian returned (5)
TIMID – DIM + IT reversed
8 Yearbook bound by local man, a craftsman (7)
10 Person of exceptional intelligence / was / hard to indoctrinate (9)
12 Conceit [of] English turn (3)
EGO – E + GO
13 I grew worriedhaving swallowed a small insect (6)
EARWIG – anagram of I GREW around A
15 Left in order [to find] stronghold (6)
16 Purpose [of] first-class motorway (3)
AIM – A1 + M
17 Gnarled thing, stout stick [in] disco (9)
20 Start defending learner driver / beginning to turn red (7)
SCARLET – SCARE around L + first letter of TURN
22 Load vehicle then leave (5)
23 Prevailing mood at second ball (10)
1 Mother holding black snake (5)
MAMBA – MAMA around B
2 Standard rule involving lairs (3,6)
3 Pounds carried by Buddhist priest[‘s] pack animal (5)
4 Branch / member (3)
ARM – double definition
5 Fight prisoner on trial (7)
6 They work with horses, all beasts duke trained? (6,4)
9 Subject not understood [in] finished novel? (6,4)

The ‘?’ means ‘novel, for example’.

11 A teacher upset / after husband [causes] grief (9)
HEARTACHE – anagram of A TEACHER after H
14 Unrestrained, a politician during tirade (7)
18 Rose achieved / at university (3,2)
19 Generous lager poured out (5)
LARGE – anagram of LAGER
21 Some bottle-openers [in] house (3)

I don’t have any use for astrology, but my younger son is a Leo and boy does that aptly describe his nature…


81 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2162 by Tracy”

  1. 11:58 Moved along smoothly with no hitches. ATMOSPHERE and CLOSED BOOK were probably favourites. Thanks for showing me how SCARLET worked and rest of blog.

  2. 24 or so minutes but not all of it was parsed. No unknown words for me today though!
    I didn’t know the zodiac signs were houses and didn’t parse castle, atmosphere or scarlet.
    I remembered Lear as a British king and Lama from previous crosswords.

    Grateful if someone could explain why UP = at university? Also how scare = defending. Thanks so much.

    FOI: almanac
    LOI: castle
    COD:I liked red ensign

    Thanks Jeremy and Tracy!

    1. Hi Tina,

      I think start = scare (like startle) and defending is an indicator that it goes around the L

      1. Oh that makes much more sense than whatever I was thinking. Thanks for pointing that out!

    2. Ah yes, I forgot to write in the blog my confusion over the king… it wasn’t LEAR! I’d misparsed the clue and thought it was referring to King ARBLE.

    3. Tina, Lear was fictional, allegedly based on a mythological King of Britain. Not that his kingdom is relevant to the clue as ‘British’ is cluing the B.

      Students need to be ‘up’ at university so that when they misbehave and are suspended or dismissed they can be ‘sent down’.

    4. People used to talk about going UP to Oxford or Cambridge and conversely ‘when are you coming DOWN at the end of term’. Old fashioned now I guess

    1. KAh, so it’s literally a meaning I didn’t know lol

      OK that looks like one that I have to write down, thanks Kevin 🙂

      EDIT: it was already in my notes. It’s literally the THIRD NOTE. I have a brain like a sieve!

      1. Jumped straight in to 1A without thinking and popped in ALBERT HALL then realised 1D was MAMBA which made me stop and parse. More haste less speed. Nothing too troubling with a friendly grid gave a sub 20 minute solve for a change (18.10).
        Thanks Tracy and Jeremy

    2. UP as in ‘she went up to Oxford’ – for ages I thought it meant ‘University of Plymouth’ (or Portsmouth or some other P town) until I twigged!

  3. Biffed ALMANAC, only spotted the hidden after submitting. Biffed MARBLE ARCH, and forgot to parse it. 6:01.

  4. A fun 10:24 for me, which makes me happy. Isn’t the second definition of CLOSED BOOK just referring to what you do when you finish reading a novel?

    1. That makes more sense that what I was thinking, which was finishing writing a novel! Either way it is a bit of a silly definition.

      1. I’d put it in realms of cryptic hint, rather than silly definition. It’s not intended to be entirely serious, hence the QM at the end.

        1. Yes, lift and separate! That dispenses with the second definition element completely and just leaves wordplay.

          1. The cleverness of the clue is that Alfweard’s parsing works … and so does the jokey second definition. Very neat.

  5. Scrapped under 10 which was pleasing after a tough start in at the top. Thought I’d parsed the lot but it turns out MARBLE ARCH went in on the strength of being in London and featured ‘march’ and had the letter B and R, so I missed a bit of the setter’s craft there. Loved HEARTACHE, a real surprise when it appeared from the anagrist and ALMANAC is another in a line of great hiddens. Eyebrows raised at ‘stable mate’ until that turned out not to be the answer – sorry Tracy, shouldn’t have doubted you. Ended up with ATMOSPHERE which I thought was a great clue. All green!

    1. Mr. Mendesest -I have only just seen you comment on art appreciation from yesterday. I will get back to you later in the day. Mr. Meldrew.

      1. Dear Meldrew,
        Are you referring to my comment/question? I tackled yesterday’s QC this morning and replied, as an (open-minded) art ignoramus to your impressive CV.
        Please do reply.
        Mr Random

      2. Mr Random is right, he posed the question but I’ll be most interested in the answer. Mr M.

  6. 19 minutes again. I thought I was on for a faster time as I was almost writing in the answers as I read each clue but slowed down considerably in the lower half.
    FOI: MAMBA followed by MARBLE ARCH and all its downs.
    Favourite: RAMPANT.
    ALMANAC BIFD. Not spotting the hidden.

    1. If you are not enjoying this then take a time out and just study the answers from the blog and fill them in as you go. Do not submit!
      Try this for one week and you will learn a lot – and quickly!

      1. I already take the weekends off for a break. It may surprise you but it is possible just to be slow at these things, just as there are people who are slow runners and no amount of training will get them faster. Or some people aren’t good at maths.

        I didn’t not enjoy the process today; I just didn’t think it was a very entertaining QC. Nothing among the answers made me think “Ha ha brilliant”, most of them were simply a resigned “Oh I see”.

        Just expressing my opinion as a typical heart-on-the-sleeve Leo!

  7. After a bit of a slow start, the gentle nature of the clues got me going and I fairly whizzed through this. COD to BRAINWASH. Thanks Jeremy and Tracy. 3:52.

  8. ARM, LLAMA and MAMBA allowed me to see MARBLE ARCH which I was then able to parse before moving on. I eventually biffed RED ENSIGN which gave me NIGHTCLUB. LOI was ATMOSPHERE. 6:24. Thanks Tracy and Jeremy.

  9. 919 (King Edward annexes Mercia)

    9:19 for a first sub-10 in a long time, many biffs. LOI ATMOSPHERE. Dare I say it, but I found this offering a little on the easy side to be enjoyable.

    UP for “at university” is another of my pet peeves, being both dated and exclusively Oxbridge. I attended a red brick on the South Coast, and every said they were going “down” to Southampton.

    COD RED ENSIGN, nice misdirection of “standard” when Red Thread, Red Letter looked good.

    1. And if a ‘good chap’from Eton goes ‘up’ to Oxford or Cambridge? That might be result in something bigger than a peeve 😅

  10. 4.56

    Decent time from Johninterred I see 👍

    Rare sub-5 for me reflecting the gentler nature of this offering – a bit of a relief after a massive fail on the Concise (thank goodness for the cryptic bits of these clues…)

    MARBLE ARCH was clever (though biffed once I had the M) and I also liked EARWIG ALMANAC ATMOSPHERE and most of all HEARTACHE

    It takes a bit of getting used to but I think the extra annotations from our blogger are potentially helpful (the square brackets round the connecting words particularly (I’m thinking of my kids who are starting out on their Crossword journeys))

    Thanks Tracy and Jeremy

    1. I wouldn’t do it for the main puzzle but I think around these parts it pays to account for every word precisely. At least that’s been my philosophy during my tenure here.

  11. An unchecked random ‘E’ mysteriously appeared in my grid at the start of 17a which made my last two in, ENSIGN and NIGHTCLUB, a bit challenging until I spotted my error.
    Apart from my fat fingers a relatively straightforward solve with the hidden ALMANAC and CASTLE being particularly good.
    Crossed the line in 7.01
    Thanks to Jeremy

  12. Well done to the speedsters!

    I was bang in target range. CLOSED BOOK proving just that to me for a little while..

    I think I liked EARWIG best of all. Simple, but a good surface.


  13. A very nice puzzle and definitely on the less demanding side as I finished this inside 8 minutes with all parsed. Red Ensign the last to fall, as I was well led astray by other possible meanings of both standard and rule (I think I understood the word dens first time though).

    Much to enjoy and difficult to pick a stand-out clue. A wry chuckle at Aim though – the A1(M), which I know well having had two daughters who went to university at Durham, is anything but “a first class motorway”, as it was built on the cheap and remains two lanes for much of it, and poorly provided with services too.

    Many thanks to Jeremy for the blog

  14. Just within target. Would have been much quicker but I stupidly biffed RAMPAGE (amp during rage) and this made 23a impossible. I scrabbled around for a while and, finally, the ATMOSPHERE cleared.
    Good puzzle. Thanks to Tracy and Jeremy. John M.

  15. 3:10. Very pleased with that. Must be a wavelength thing. Might be a record for me too.

  16. A happy romp across the broad sunlit uplands, for once. I too put RAMPAGE at first, which caused a bit of head scratching over 23a until it got sorted out. I saw LEO straight off but didn’t enter it because I didn’t know that a sign of the Zodiac could be called a “house”. Otherwise they went straight in!

    FOI MARBLE ARCH, LOI LEO, COD SCARLET, time 06:34 for 1.1K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Jeremy and Tracy.


    PS on edit – there are some insane times on the Club leaderboard. Mohn knocked this off in 01:49!!!

  17. Finished in 10.55 today, and judging by others quick times was not really on form today. Wasn’t helped by biffing HEADACHES for 11dn before seeing the light, and for some extraordinary reason initially putting in CLOSED SHOP at 9dn. These union strikes are clearly getting to me !

  18. I was inside target at 14 minutes, but solved on my iPhone whilst sitting outside M&S where Mrs R was shopping. I think I’m about 5 minutes per QC slower on an iPhone than on my iPad. Thanks both.

  19. A gentle offering from Tracy, albeit with a few parsing teasers. Slight mer at brain(s) for person of exceptional intelligence, but the intended answer was clear. Other than that, the Closed part of the book took me to the 20min mark via C*over. CoD to 23ac, Atmosphere, where I had no idea what was going on until the crossers gave it away. Invariant

  20. Very fast then stuck on ATMOSPHERE.
    Liked CLOSED BOOK, BRAINWASH and RED ENSIGN – had to think about the latter too.
    Thanks all, esp Jeremy.

  21. On the easy side, as evidenced by my time of 11 mins. No difficult vocab to wrestle with, although I suppose you have to know your London landmarks. Left-hand side went almost straight in leaving just the right to study further. Thanks to Tracy and Jeremy.

    FOI – 7ac TIMID
    LOI – 20ac SCARLET

  22. l was on the 8:00 from Marble Arch which terminated at Elephant (Earwig) & Castle!

    FOI 1dn MAMBA

    Under two minutes for MOHN is quite exceptional! He used to be a regular on the 15×15. Brilliant!

  23. Yes, this must have been on the gentler side today as I finished (all parsed) in under 14 mins – very good for this mainly SCC member! Thanks Tracy. I know others found this too easy but I enjoyed finding this eminently doable. LOI was ATMOSPHERE, also my COD. Many thanks as ever for the informative blog and comments.

  24. This one was not too bad at all. Closed book and stable lads hindered me a little. Not timed.

  25. I would have broken 6 minutes had I not had to make the boy into a LAD at 6d. I also biffed artisan for craftsman and then saw the hidden ALMANAC….such a lovely clue. 6:04 for an A1 day.

  26. All done and dusted but a lot entered in pencil! I think Tracy was being kind today. Thx Jeremy for indicating the hidden at 8a – which I missed, but shouldn’t.

    FOI 1a Marble Arch
    LOI 5d Contest
    COD 22a for the simplicity of Cargo

  27. RE:
    “21 Some bottle-openers [in] house (3)
    LEO – hidden in BOTTLE-OPENERS”

    Why does LEO = house ?

      1. OK. Thanks for that.

        Never heard of houses of Zodiac before – just signs of the Zodiac. Googled this and it seems that for each house of the Zodiac there is one sign – the 5th house (house of pleasure) has the sign Leo.

  28. A potential PB was thwarted by incorrectly finding RAMPAGE (A MP inside RAGE) and not knowing LEO is a house (very weird, indeed), both making ATMOSPHERE more challenging to find. I had also biffed RED INDIAN for 2d, which I knew was wrong, but it took several minutes to find RED ENSIGN. So, 10 minutes (only) for 20 clues, plus 13 minutes for the remaining four = 23 minutes in total. Still an excellent time for me, but not a PB and in the SCC (as ever).

    Many thanks to Tracy and Jeremy.

  29. Mr. Medesest

    I have taken a bit of time to answer your question on art and how to appreciate it.

    Remember much art comes fro the observance of nature, from Cave Painting to the nude.

    Take a broad canvas and try to find just one image that you could live with, up on your living room/ kitchen wall at home. It may be a painting that you remember from your childhood or school. It might be a poster that brings back happy memories. Or an image you saw in a magazine. An evocative photograph that your recall.
    Discover the artists name where possible. It might be Kandinsky, Monet, Manet,
    Constable, Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, E.H. Shepherd, Warhol, Jeff Koons, David Bailey, Braques, Seurrat, Hockney, Stubbs, Picasso, Magritte – even an unknown.

    Try and find two or three pictures similar, even perhaps by the same artist. Then
    Join ‘Pinterest’ on line – it’s free – and send in your small group to ‘Pinterest’. Their computers will send you back, on a daily basis, other pictures by the same artists that may take your fancy and develop your experience.

    Let’s say you like Jack Vettriano. You will soon have an ‘on-line ensemble of his paintings and other artists who lie within his’oeuvre’. Eventually select a print and have it framed for Hall. Then take it from there. Every Christmas or birthday buy another picture from the same artist this does make make it fun, and an ongoing challenge which involves you and your partner. This is how rich Americans support budding artists. We bought modest Yayoi Kasuma works in Kyoto, and works from developing artists from Stockport College of Art.

    My father used to say he could knock off a Picasso in ten minutes or so! But he never did! Picasso was a genius. So too Paul Klee, Miró and Leonardo. They controlled line and layout, colour a style and had imagination plus an x-factor.

    Try and copy one, just a sketch.You might have a talent! it happens! Picasso said he drew like a child – no inhibitions. Jackson Pollock looks dead easy. It ain’t.
    My brother collects Aboriginal Art from galleries in Adelaide and London.
    That has a long pedigree an is full of meaning and history.

    When does art become’ kitsch’? ’Tretchikov’s ‘Green Lady’ sold million’s of copies in the sixties, mainly through F W Woolworth! It was ubiquitous and he was a talented artist but variety is the spice of life.

    So try and find a less well known artist that appeals read up on his/her life and soon you will get the feel for that artist, whether it be Vermeer or Inshaw or Banksie. The internet is loaded with the greats.

    I’m a big Eric Ravillious admirer – he has a permanent exhibition in Eastbourne.
    If you just prefer daubs, then daub on, dude!

    Try and avoid ‘Chocolate Box’ an do visit an art auction in your area, there are cheap bargains to be had.


    1. I’m a member of a U3A art appreciation group, and it is so interesting. You get to explore so many different works and learn a lot from people who are far more knowledgeable, but keen to share their expertise and enthusiasm.
      Funny you should mention Vermeer, Banksy and Ravilious, Horryd. I’ve long been a Vermeer fan (thanks Tracy Chevalier), enjoyed exploring Bristol for the Banksies, and have learnt more about Ravilious quite recently after seeing an item on tv about him. I’ve just been reading that there is a new film coming out soon about him too. We also regularly go to the degree show at our local art college – nearly always interesting, sometimes amazing, just occasionally a bit meh!
      I think that’s one of the joys of art – keep your mind open, because you never know where you’re going to see something you might like or learn something new.
      Finally, I can thoroughly recommend a series which is on i-Player called The Art that Made Us – a look at British history through its art.

  30. Just under 2 Templars today! Couldn’t get a grip on this and finished in 12 minutes.
    FOI Ego LOI Red Ensign COD Heartache (which I’ve got, seeing how well everyone else did, so Not a Good Day!)
    Thanks Tracy and Jeremy

  31. 09:08 with LOI CLOSED BOOK.
    No real hold-ups.
    An enjoyable romp after a very pleasant round of golf in glorious weather.

  32. Late on parade today. Not quite as easy for me as some others seem to have found it, but I scraped inside my target.

    COD SCARLET (went two wrong ways before I nailed that one !)
    TIME 4:58

  33. I was held up by entering rampage and I didn’t know signs of the zodiac were houses. Still I reckon I avoided the SCC for the 2nd day running.

  34. I struggled with much of this but got there in the end. Guessed LEO – unaware of anything to do with “house” and took ages over NIGHTCLUB and SCARLET. Hats off to those of you who zoomed through this.

  35. Yet another DNF for me having completed all but CLOSED BOOK inside my target 20 mins. Despite having all the checkers I just could not figure it out and had to quit at 30 mins to do other things.

    Still not clear how closed book means subject not understood but I get the finished/closed book/novel part.

    Coming back to write this now I have enjoyed todays comments very much. Thanks all.

    1. It’s just an expression – it was a closed book to him – implying that he had never bothered to read up on the subject

    2. It’s a closed book to me = I really don’t understand / I really don’t get it. Quite apt under the circs I guess 😅

  36. Late again today…wow, the comments sections seem to be getting larger and larger every day.

    Found the comments regarding art interesting, especially as I paint landscapes and dabble in illustration.

    Anyway, finished in 20 mins although it felt longer. Only issue was parsing 20ac “Scarlet” and 21dn “Leo”.

    FOI – 1dn “Mamba”
    LOI – 17ac “Nightclub”
    COD – 23ac “Atmosphere”

    Thanks as usual!

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