Times Quick Cryptic No 2169 by Izetti

Today we a treated to a Quick Crossword by Izetti. It’s a little out of the ordinary… see the explanation at the end of the blog for how and why. On the tricky side, I think, including both a word and a couple of meanings that were new to me and some clever wordplay. It took me 7:40. All perfectly fair, though, and entertaining as ever. Thank-you Izetti, and congratulations! How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find his crossword here. Enjoy! If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 54 here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Pair in slow train travelling west (3)
TWO – Reverse hidden [in], [travelling west] in slOW Train.
3 Invader was brave enough, having lost a number (7)
HUNDREDHUN (invader) D{a}RED (was brave enough) without the [having lost] A.
8 Waste product from home getting into river (5)
URINEIN (home) inside [getting into] URE (river in Yorkshire). The river is signed where the the A1 crosses it. I’ve been up and down the A1 more times than I care to remember and, since I was a schoolboy, I’ve always wondered what the river would be called if it flowed into the Rhine… I’ll get my coat.
9 Drunk and lass in casual footwear? (7)
SANDALS – (and lass)* [drunk].
10 Illness having one fade away when crossing oceans? (7)
DISEASEDIE (fade away) [crossing] SEAS (oceans).
11 External course, beginning at the wrong end (5)
OUTER -ROUTE (course) moving the first letter to the end [beginning at the wrong end] -> OUTER.
12 Put on party attended by any number (3)
DONDO, N (any number).
13 Prig losing head becomes unmannerly (4)
RUDE – {p}RUDE (prig) without the first letter [losing head].
15 Seen in Scottish mountain, a runner? (4)
BEANA [seen in] BEN (Scottish mountain). My sister got her and my kids playing the bean game, where they had to act out the type of bean… Runner, Broad, Black eyed, Navy, Jumping… I don’t think they managed Haricot, though.
16 One thousand coming to an isle (3)
MANM (one thousand in Roman numerals) AN.
19 Scots to put up with terrible hotel (5)
THOLE – Most educational – a new word for me, despite hailing from Scotland. Fortunately the wordplay and checkers are unequivocal. [Terrible] (hotel)*.
20 Rouse an ape? It is to be avoided! (7)
ANIMATEAN, IM{it}ATE (ape) without the IT [to be avoided]. Hmm. A little tricky for a QC I think, but fair enough.
22 Not a major underground development (7)
ROOTLET – Cryptic definition. Nice one!
23 Nothing found in small department store (5)
DEPOTO (nothing) [found in] DEPT (abbreviation of ; small department).
24 English ship with very good external polish (7)
FINESSEE (English) SS (ship) inside, [with… external] FINE (very good).
25 You heading back to lake and grassland (3)
LEYYE (you) and L (lake) all reversed, [heading back]. Another new one on me – I’d only heard of LEY LINES.
1 Modern truths about violent weather event (12)
THUNDERSTORM – (modern truths)* [about].
2 Newspaper articles? Old pieces (5)
OBITSO (old) BITS (pieces). Short for Obituaries.
3 More than one wild animal has to restrict desire (6)
HYENASHAS outside, [to restrict], YEN (desire).
4 Built comfortable home in street beset by poverty? (6)
NESTEDST (street) inside, [beset by], NEED (poverty). Not the easiest of definitions.
5 Manage to get that American writing funny stories (6)
RUNYONRUN (managed) YON (that). I love Damon Runyon‘s short stories, a couple of which were used as a basis of the musical Guys and Dolls. I think my favourite is A Piece of Pie. Sorry. I digress.
6 New soldier suffering defeat around end of war (7)
DRAFTEE – [suffering] (defeat)* [around] [end of] waR.
7 Severely modified trains using little energy? (12)
ASTRINGENTLY – [modified] (trains)*, GENTLY (using little energy). I didn’t know this meaning , but the dictionary has ‘severe – e.g. “his astringent sense of humour”‘.
14 Smallest amount of drink — then away for doze! (4,3)
DROP OFFDROP (smallest amount of drink) OFF (away).
16 Bird spotted in summer — linnet? (6)
MERLIN – Hidden in [spotted in] suMER LINnet. And a big shout-out  to one of our faithful regular commenters!
17 Put grandma up in French city (6)
NANTESSET (put) NAN (grandma) reversed, [up], this is a down clue -> NANTES.
18 Row about theologian being a fraud (6)
FIDDLEFILE (row) [about] DD (Doctor of Divinity; theologian). Well it wouldn’t be a proper Izetti crossword without a church-related clue, would it?
21 Dad upset friend, creating shock (5)
APPALPA (Dad) [upset] -> AP, PAL (friend).

Did you spot the Nina?

63 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2169 by Izetti”

  1. This was a tough one. DNK THOLE, but as John says. I spent some time on ANIMATE, and only parsed it post-submission. 8:47.

  2. 27:44. Also didn’t know THOLE in this sense, knew it as a pin on a rowboat but it was clearly indicated. Could only see agitate for ANIMATE for a long time but finally tried the latter but couldn’t parse it. It had animal missing last letter or primate missing first two but nothing really relevant. Finally saw ape wasn’t an animal or a primate but rather “imitate”! I think I might have had a touch of BEAN URINE DISEASE a few summers ago. Thanks for useful and fun blog!

  3. “No, YOU’RE in sandals.”

    Maybe even TWO HUNDRED BY DON MANLEY? This was possibly the only Nina I have ever spotted.

  4. Can’t imagine setting is easy, let alone setting 200 of these and squeezing in a Nina. Congrats to Izetti!

    I only managed the left half of the puzzle. There were a lot of multistep clues, especially ones that made me take away letters, which is tricky.

    Remembered the river Ure and the SS for ship

    HUNDRED – I assumed the definition was an invader, cos I couldn’t think of any short words for invader. I’ve seen Mulan at least twenty times!

    OUTER – this is the first time I’ve seen this mechanic of moving a letter to make a new word, in a QC. I’ve seen the mechanic in the 15×15.

    BEAN – I remembered Ben, couldn’t work out how to put ‘seen’ in it. Love this clue now that I’ve read the blog.

    NHO: THOLE, but it was easy wordplay. RUNYON, I’m sure Meldrew will be by shortly to educate me there. YON. ROOTLET. LEY (without the lines). Fraud =FIDDLE. DD = theologian.

    ASTRINGENTLY was very hard. Maybe I would have worked out more of the right side if I managed astringently. Or vice versa.

    Are the QCs harder on a Friday?

    Thanks John and Izetti!

    1. If you check The Glossary you will find ‘multistep clues’ are defined by IKEA.
      As for Damon RUNYON, John has already covered that off!

  5. Took forever! First five or six went in very quickly, but then ground to a halt. FOI TWO, LOI HYENAS. Nothing was particularly hard (apart from THOLE: what the heck?), but time ticked swiftly past.

  6. I was on the 16:00 (again!) from Nantes with Nina.

    FOI 1ac TWO
    LOI 25ac LEY

    Already mentioned, Mr. MERLIN @16dn also got a mention!

  7. 16 minutes with the upper half easy and the lower half not so. I wasn’t particularly delayed by THOLE as it was obviously an anagram and I had all the checkers by then. Also I knew it was a word but not its meaning (the pin, as it turns out, not the one required here).

    No, I was stuck on the intersection 20ac and 18dn where my first thought had been DIDDLE but I couldn’t justify the wordplay nor get it out of my mind for ages, but eventually I came up with FIDDLE for the fraud and FILE for the row. That left me with 20ac by which time I had 16 minutes on the clock and was out of steam so I biffed AGITATE for ‘stir’ and ignored the rest of the clue because I knew I was wrong.

    I had spotted DON as a self-reference by the setter but missed the rest of his name. On completion I noticed TWO HUNDRED across the top and checked my QC records to confirm this was indeed Izetti’s 200th puzzle. At that point I should have gone back to the grid and looked for more but neglected to do so. Many congratulations, Don, and I’m sorry I am unable to display my cheery Congrats! avatar for you at the moment.

    Seeing IKEA mentioned above (glossary terminology is optional, btw) I’ve now remembered where I have seen the word THOLE before — the wooden pin, not the Scottish thing. It was on the self-assembly instructions to a book-case or desk I bought some years ago. It used the word a number of times and had me mystified for a while but then I noticed the component was identified elsewhere on the page by means of a diagram. Iirc it differed from a standard wooden pin by tapering flat down one side.

  8. Persevered for 35 minutes determined to finish this but ended with one wrong.
    FOI: TWO. Then having got THUNDERSTORM thought I was on for a good start.
    LOI: And wrong RANDON that American being DON and I assumed an unknown to me writer.
    THOLE NHO but just a matter of the H and L.
    I did spot the Nina. And enjoyed the exercise.

  9. NHO of THOLE (in either sense) or RUNYON and I don’t think I’ve come across a ROOTLET either. I think I can safely forget thole again but I ‘ll look into Runyon over the weekend. Six on the first pass of acrosses which is OK but with a sense that I would struggle. Which I did. The early downs were hard and so I had big gaps at the top with HYENA and HUNDRED holding out to the end. ASTRINGENTLY was hard, the ‘gently’ bit mainly. Nice to see the shout out to MERLIN. All green in 20.

  10. It’s still early in the day but all my comments have already been made by others: Thole NHO (in this sense) but got from wordplay, tick. Last two in the Fiddle/Animate cross, tick. Smiled at the name check for Merlin, tick (perhaps more challenging to get Cedric into a QC but setters, do give it a go!). Overall a real Izetti puzzler, hard but enjoyable, tick tick. And I even (for perhaps the first time ever) spotted the Nina.

    Many thanks John for the blog and I look forward to the Saturday Special.

  11. Blimey. As Fred Trueman used to say when bowling a tailender with a really good ball, “That were wasted on thee, lad”. Far too good for me and despite a fast start with THUNDERSTORM, a struggle from there. Couldn’t convince myself that HUN could be invader; couldn’t begin to work out ANIMATE (thought it was an anagram of “an ape it” for ages, and all checkers fitted that!); stared blankly at ASTRINGENTLY for a long time trying to understand how it could possibly be right; and many other tales of woe. I’m not up to this level!

    FOI TWO, LOI ANIMATE, COD DISEASE, time 13:05 for 1.5K but a Poor Day.

    Many congratulations to Don and thanks for the blog, John.


  12. Saw the Nina very early so this made the crossword much easier.
    Congratulations Don and thank you for all of the hard work here and elsewhere.

  13. Jack, Reading through today’s comments ‘the beginners’ got little or no enjoyment nor much satisfaction from this QC. It was indeed hard but with a brilliant COD. (Hoopla)
    So if what you maintain about ‘The Concise’ is correct, then there is little to encourage novices in The Times portfolio. (Your view?)
    I sincerely wish that perhaps the Monday QC was bit on the easier side for us all! Meldrew

    Reposted from Thursday QC comments

  14. Oof, a proper Izetti. My last run in with Don was a much gentler Guardian Quiptic on Monday, which probably took less time than this!

    What everyone else said. I semi biffed ANIMATE – thought it had something to do with AN and (PR)IMATE, so shoved it in anyway.

    I very much liked ROOTLET.


  15. Well! Despite a very quick start, my wish for an easier end to the week was confounded (and how!). Another great, tricky puzzle but, sadly, not a QC IMO. I enjoyed the challenge but ended up taking 24 mins to finish all correct.
    I have said before that a nina can always be anticipated when the clues become convoluted, arcane, and/or downright odd (for a QC). THOLE: I mean, really? I have no interest in ninas in a QC and wish they could be confined to the 15×15 to avoid the distortion they bring. Very clever but a bit too clever for me. (Interestingly, my infernal iPad spell-‘checker’ tried to convert Nina to Tina – she gets everywhere! 😆).
    Thanks to John for an excellent blog. John M.

  16. Good to see my handle making an appearance. I think I’ll be posting a DNF today as I still have many blanks in the grid.

    COD 16d 😉

  17. Congrats to Don! Sadly as I pressed the submit button I spotted a typo where my fat fingers had turned MERLIN into MERKLN and ROOTLET to ROOTKET, so my 9:53 is in vain. Thanks Izetti and John.

  18. A rare DNF for me today – beaten by HUNDRED, HYENAS and THOLE. I was in a rush to get out to the golf club, and didn’t have time to stick at it, otherwise I’d like to think I would have finished, albeit in the SCC. Obviously, not getting HUNDRED meant I didn’t spot the Nina either, but many congratulations to the Don for an excellent challenge.

  19. As noted by others above, a toughie again today, and this pushed me outside my target at 13.20. LOI 7dn which although known to me as a word, is not one you hear in conversation very often. A good crossword very well constructed by an excellent setter, but dare I say it again, one that may be a little too difficult for beginners.
    Don’t go off on one again Meldrew! 🤭

      1. I see you’ve morphed from Meldrew to Robin Hood, or is it Jocky Wilson!
        I think we’re definitely in agreement that todays offering was a test for the less experienced. My comment was a light hearted suggestion that you didn’t go down the route of yesterdays suggestion that beginners should perhaps look towards the Concise Crossword.
        Talking of which I note it is no longer called ‘The Concise’, when did that change? I hadn’t noticed. It is now simply ‘times2 crossword’. As I suggested on yesterdays post, this non-cryptic is much more solvable than it was previously, and indeed I managed it today without having to look anything up. I had to delve into the deepest recesses of my memory bank however to get the name of a British PM called Henry (6). As Jack said yesterday, it is very useful in terms of searching for synonyms, and for this reason alone is good training for cryptic crosswords where the answer may be a synonym of either the first or last word in the clue.

  20. Wowzer, a real struggle which brought back memories of struggling with Izetti’s puzzles back in the early days of the QC. Hold ups all over the place and I never did parse LOI ANIMATE where, like Templar, I tried making an anagram of ‘an ape it’ for some time.
    Staggered across the line in 21.27 so well into the SCC today.
    Thanks to John and congrats and well played to Izetti

  21. Congratulations Izetti – your work is always appreciated chez SR.
    Also many thanks for the blog, John, we wouldn’t have understood ANIMATE without it.
    I have come across THOLE in this sense in the Hamish Macbeth series of books which helped a bit.

  22. Another poor dnf…although it seems I’m not alone.

    Still – better than yesterday, with a only a few blank at my cut off. Unfortunately, I didn’t get 3ac “Hundred” which now seems so blindingly obvious (at least to biff) that I am half embarrassed to even mention it. DNK 5dn “Runyon” and couldn’t get to grips with the anagram of 7dn “Astringently”. Struggled with 5dn “Draftee” and 20ac “Animate” as well.

    At least I got 19ac “Thole” and 3dn “Hyenas” which are some consolation I guess.

    FOI – 1ac “Two”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 8ac “Urine” – just love a wee joke.

    Thanks as usual!

  23. Meh


    DNFed with ROOfLaT (not A-Major so must be a musical ROO-FLAT) – how do you get this if you’ve never heard of it? And went with ApInATE as I’m just too simple.

    Slowed by putting DASH-OFF which blocked THOLE. I philosophically question whether a DASH or a DROP is the smallest amount of drink if we’re being precise about this stuff!

    Along the way pleased to remember BEN=mountain, DD from a previous odd clue, to figure out RUNYON and to get about 10 answers on my first pass. Unfortunately that meant a large portion of my 1hr25 was spent staring cluelessly (answerlessly?).

    Anyway my big learning point for the day is that if I ever reach a milestone and want others to celebrate it and congratulate me then I shouldn’t make the experience so unenjoyable for them, that they end up meh about it.

    Many thanks to Johninterrd for the blog explanations.

  24. As a Yorkshireman, I always thought “t’hole’” was somewhere you were instructed to put the wood in when it was draughty. A normally rare event, I have taken over 10 minutes for the QC two days in a row now – old age creeping on or two pints for lunch (or possibly both).

  25. Did this on my phone unable to see the setter but immediately suspected the Don due to degree of difficulty. LHS ok but the east was a Siberian wasteland. Even hitting reveal clue after clue didn’t help and couldn’t parse with the answer in front of me.
    Isn’t the IKEA dowel called a DIK? My kids found that funny and learnt lots more rude words watching me assemble.
    Congrats Don and thx all.

  26. 2 wrong, rooflet and apinate.

    Liked urine sandals, reminded me of the old Wembley!

  27. I began well and filled in plenty of words. I then ground to a halt and gave up leaving a lot of gaps – definitely difficult for a QC. DNK Runyon and guessed thole and ley. I couldn’t make sense of astringently as I was trying to use ‘trains using e’ for the anagram. I felt a bit of a mer over rootlet as I thought there were always supposed to be two ways to get at the answer. Still Izetti managed a remarkable NINA without contorted or unreasonable clues. Thank you and well done.

  28. Yikes, DNF again, but congrats to Izetti on 200! Needless to say, I didn’t see the Nina.
    CCD helped with ASTRINGENTLY.
    I began well on LHS then ground to a halt, tho did manage RUNYON after a struggle.
    Thanks vm, John.

  29. Thanks for suggesting Damon Runyon’s A Piece of Pie. I just found and read it -very funny ( and made me hungry).

  30. We found this very tricky and we were left with a number of unsolved clues, eg 7d, 5d and some others. Congratulations to Izetti, we always know his puzzles will be a challenge, which we all need from time to time.

  31. This was definitely tricky. It’s right that those of us who may only have been doing the QC a relatively short time should be challenged, but this was downright disheartening. I have heard of THOLE – about 40 years ago. It was one of the few I managed to parse. A good crossword, but one I would rather forget.

  32. Oof – that was hard. I did it this morning but have been very busy all day, so no time to post until now. At 26 minutes, it was 2 Templars and my worst time for ages – a Very Poor Day. As always with Izetti, everything was fair – just took a hell of a lot of working out today! But I did fully parse it, so at least it wasn’t total disaster. I hadn’t looked for a nina, although I did notice DON, but I think he quite often pops that in anyway, so didn’t think twice. As soon as John gave his hint at the top of the page, I had another look and saw the theme immediately. I guess we’ll be getting a few more
    of these bicentenaries over the next few weeks / months.
    FOI Two LOI Hyenas COD Bean
    Thanks and congratulations to Izetti and thanks to John too 😊

  33. Another very tough one which I looked at after golf. Guessed the NHO THOLE.
    But I had ROOFLET- a small development which is not underground. I have never come across the word ROOTLET, which I presume is underground.
    Will now look at the comments.

    1. Rooflet indeed. That was my thinking until I went down the even worse musical ‘route’.

  34. Yet another really hard QC. Managed about half at first attempt, but managed to complete when I came back to it. Guessed THOLE having NHO, took ages to see ANIMATE (tried to find an anagram for APE IN AT) and ASTRINGENTLY.

  35. I didn’t enjoy today’s or yesterday’s as much as usual. Yesterday’s was simply far too hard for a QC – and I still don’t fully understand two of yesterday’s clues even with the explanation. Today’s had too many obscure words. Although they could mostly be worked out from the clues, you don’t get that penny drop moment when the word is something you’ve never heard of. I thought “Runyon” might be “Runwon” – Manage followed by Get – but cheated by typing Runwon into Google, which suggested Runyon for me. Of the week, Wednesday’s was my favourite because some of the clues were very witty and clever.

  36. Not sure what the Q in QC stands for anymore. Very rare that there is a moderately straightforward setter these days. Not sure how enjoyable not being able to complete anything from 2-8 clues most days is tbh. As much as I love wordplay and solving clues (especially as I write creatively for a living) I’m finding the frustration of spending 30+ minutes each day staring at these clues is beginning to take its toll. This is my first and probably last post.

      1. Action is required! There is little in The Times Crossword portfolio to encourage beginners these days.

    1. Rob. Do not despair. It’s unfortunate we’ve had two really hard ones in a row. But do make use of the blogs. They will help you (as they did me when I was learning) to see through what seemed opaque and bring enlightenment. I too have suffered from getting stuck and only being able to do a few clues. Sometimes it’s momentum – if you start to get going then it gets easier, but when you are stuck at the start it can be daunting. I’m an experienced solver now so it doesn’t happen often with me, except with the Mephisto and Monthly Club Special. But it still does, and I find leaving it when I’m fed up and coming back later gets me going again.

      1. ‘The Club Monthly Special’ is so very special that there were only three takers here yesterday! Which isn’t very ‘ Clubby’!

    2. Stick with it Rob. Back in April, I had 12 days in a row where I couldn’t complete one at all. Then a few solves then back to frustration and a bit more whingeing on the forum about how tough they are. Then about 3 weeks ago, something clicked and I’ve been solving (or nearly there) every day. I think of it like when you’re at the beach and the waves are lapping at your feet as the water comes in then goes out meanwhile the tide is always coming in.

      (As for the past two days – total confidence knockers. Well over an hour on each to get to the grid filled out. The days when I had a 24-min solve in my first couple of weeks seem eons ago and I feel like I might give up at my 1-year anniversary in December if I can’t start getting them in under 30-mins regularly. Get over myself and just take it day-by-day)

  37. This made Wurm’s QC yesterday look like a walk in the park. No fun whatsoever, with some very obscure answers.

    Why does the letter ‘a’ mean seen?

    Thank goodness it’s Friday.

    1. ‘A’ mean seen? Not sure what you are referring too. Is it 15A? Maybe I didn’t explain it well… X ”
      seen in” Y means stick X inside Y… in this case it’s phrased as “seen in” Y, X. Hence “A” is “seen in” BEN to get BEAN. Does that help?

      1. Thanks John. Got it now. My brain is thoroughly scrambled after today’s QC.

        1. As is mine after today’s Monthly Club Special. IQUIQUE? “Surely not”, I thought, but it is the answer to one of the clues!

  38. This is a re-registration test post as something seems to have gone wrong with my earlier registration/profile so I have started over.

      1. Am unclear when the old registration failed; am advised all recent posts have been ‘Anon’ although Comments box showed User Name… Doh

        1. Hi Andrew. You are properly registered now, as evidenced by your avatar appearing (and you show up in the registered user list in the admin area). Before registering you could still comment by entering name and email, but not get notifications of replies to your comments… which you should do for this.

  39. Today’s and yesterday’s were certainly hard, but that doesn’t bother me too much. As I’m retired I can afford to take my time, and enjoy dipping in and out of QCs over the day. Indeed, if I get everything done over breakfast I feel a bit disappointed. And there is a great sense of satisfaction when I finally solve those last tenacious clues.

    Mrs L, whose first language isn’t English, can’t really see how cryptic clues work (“is it an anagram?” she asks, and it usually is) but she is brilliant at seeing words when all the checkers are in place, which I often can’t. So rather like Norma Major, she is my secret weapon.

    I wondered whether THOLE is related to the Yorkshire word THOIL, which Alan Bennett describes as meaning to tolerate the trouble or expense. In one of his essays he says that he can’t thoil the expense of flying to the USA first class.

  40. Well, that was a disaster for me! Hahahaha! I sensed it wasn’t my day when I spent way too long on 1-across puzzling whether “OWT” could be some obscure British slang for a pair … sigh.

    I figured 8-across must be the name of a river with “home” added somehow but guessed that would be a letter H and spent a lot of time looking at lists of four-letter British rivers!

    I wouldn’t have gotten BEAN anyway but having just read several autobiographies from ultrarunners “across the pond” all I could think of was Scottish FELL running.

    Never heard of THOLE, MERLIN, LEY, NANTES, or Mr. RUNYON — lots for me to learn this week! — or FILE meaning row (is that also a word for argument, or do they mean a line like “single file”?)

    Whew! My brain is exhausted now!

    1. I took file to be using the “single file” version of row.

      I always have to remind myself “row” can be used for tiers, arguments or done in a boat with oars.

      Hang in there Ellie, good to hear from you on the forum

  41. Another disaster for me, and I’m not alone. Surely the job of the QC is not to blow beginners out of the water?

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