Times Quick Cryptic No 2172 by Mara

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

7:06, reflecting the chewiness of this puzzle. Judging from some of my fellow solvers’ times, I didn’t do too badly!

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.

8 Bird, wolf and ape muddled (7)
PEAFOWL – anagram of WOLF APE
9 Place nothing in drink (5)
10 Feature a country (5)
11 Vehicle connected, later I turned right (7)
TRAILER – anagram of LATER I + R
12 Massive shop baffling most agree (9)
14 Constant / appetite, ultimately, [for] food (3)
PIE – PI + last letter of APPETITE
16 Novel written in one week (3)
NEW – hidden in ONE WEEK
18 Awful brats also curse (9)
21 White church / Basil built (7)
CHABLIS – CH + anagram of BASIL
22 Insect say with dark back (5)
MIDGE – EG + DIM reversed
23 Wear / down when retired? (3,2)
PUT ON – NOT UP reversed

Where the question mark indicates that ‘down’ is not exactly a definition of NOT UP.

24 Source of crude painting, in all likelihood (3,4)

As in, “That could well be right.”

1 Second bowler, Armstrong for example? (8)

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon.

2 Culinary skill [shown by] family filling container (6)
3 Drink [in] local almost / drunk (4)
COLA – almost all letters of LOCAL, anagrammed

I do not think this is a great clue. (Sorry, Mara.)

4 Wasted header in box leading to draw (6)
BLOTTO – first letter of BOX + LOTTO
5 Visible, person initiallyadopted by a mum or dad (8)
APPARENT – first letter of PERSON in A PARENT
6 Lift charge, one penny (6)
7 Prison sentence that is right, first of all (4)
STIR – first letters of SENTENCE THAT IS RIGHT
13 Bird looking to eat lugworms, primarily (8)
STARLING – STARING around first letter of LUGWORMS
15 Wind alert: yes, windy! (8)

This was tricky for me because I thought ‘wind’ was the anagram indicator.

17 Plenty bending the law (6)
WEALTH – anagram of THE LAW
19 Dance impressing his fancy man (6)
BISHOP – BOP around anagram of HIS

A ‘man’ on the chessboard, that is.

20 A lot caught in tassel, door swinging up (6)
OODLES – hidden in TASSEL DOOR, reversed
21 Head[’s] carbon copy (4)
22 Read out letters [for] bloke (4)
MALE – homophone of MAIL

58 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2172 by Mara”

  1. Just over half hour. Spent a lot of time on each of SPACEMAN, BISHOP, CHABLIS and ALBATROSS but really admired them after finally seeing the light. Could only think of peahen and peacock on first attempt but coming back to the clue PEAFOWL jumped out. Similarly FILLIP was always going to end “ip” but took me a while to remember a word I’ve come across but never used. Didn’t like definition of TRAILER too much but answer was obvious.

  2. 5:20 but with BISOOP at 19dn
    I love my mistakes; I love to pick at them like scabs. What is a Bisoop? It’s a soop that swings both ways, sloshing over the side and leaving a pink blob on my otherwise clean solve

  3. 11 minutes, missing my target because I didn’t spot the wordplay at 7dn and therefore wasn’t convinced of STIR as the correct answer until the checkers gave me no alternative. Should have biffed it.

    Compare the clue at 23ac: Wear down when retired? (3,2) with 24dn in yesterday’s 15×15: Don to back down…(3,2). The discussion about that was still going on at 22:49 last night!

  4. If I recall correctly, EASTERLY took me some time to sort out, and BISHOP. We just had PUT ON in a 15×15, where it was better clued: to wear something is to have put it on, to have it on not to put it on. 8:52.

      1. Because you wouldn’t say “What did you put on?”, you’d say “What did you have on?”

        But you would say “I’m going to put on”, so there’s that

        Right, that’s enough pedantry for today

        1. Some people would say it, but “I’m going to put on/wear” is a clearer example. Both ‘don ‘ and ‘put on’ are listed under ‘wear’ in Chamber’s Crossword Dictionary so if setters are using that for inspiration they probably feel it’s safe enough.

  5. Birds! 🐦 (it’s been how many years and yet still no corvid emoji)

    I struggled with a lot of lesser known (to me) definitions today, but lots of anagrams which help because at least the letters are all there.

    I continue to not know anything about wine 🙁 I thought Chablis was red, no don’t ask me why.

    MIDGE… I don’t love that wordplay, but easy to biff.
    OILWELL – I understand this definition of ‘well’ but I will never remember it, not even if I write it down
    NHO Fillip, and thus my DNF
    Prison = STIR?
    CAPE = head.. Is that a geography thing

    I always find Mara quite difficult I think.

    Shout out to my fellow commenters re: Blotto 😂

    1. “Stir” is probably an Americanism. If you’re confined to home because of covid, you might start to go stir-crazy.

      1. Definitely British too. Per Lexico “Mid 19th century perhaps from Romani sturbin ‘jail’.”

  6. Collins and SOED suggest STIR is of Romany origin. Anyway we have STIR here where prisoners do their porridge. I don’t know if there’s any connection.

  7. This was a cracker. Lots of holds up but a big smile raised by them all on cracking. SE in particular which was mostly still blank with the rest of puzzle solved. EASTERLY, MALE and BISHOP all had me utterly baffled. CHABLIS too. Liked PUT ON when I saw how it worked – I must have said “put on your shoes” about sixty million times in my life.

  8. I was on the 18:00 from Hong Qiao (China) heading in an easterly direction.
    (A ‘portcullis’ grid which usually makes things more difficult to get going.)

    LOI 4dn BLOTTO
    WOD 21ac CHABLIS is strictly white: made solely from Chardonnay grapes.
    One of my favourites at 5.30pm – needs to be quite chilled. Maybe a red version is made in the Hunter Valley, but I doubt it!

    20dn Does anyone remember the London restaurant OODLES up near Habitat back in the seventies? Salad daze! Tres chi-chi.

  9. 23 minutes from FOI: NEW to LOI: BISHOP once I realised what was required.
    I got held up in the NE corner for a while which added to my time.
    Three favourites: CHABLIS, PUT ON and STARLING.

  10. Possibly my slowest completed puzzle for a couple of years at 22 minutes – a wee while since I was a regular in the SCC but it seems the doorman still recognises me as I was let in with no difficulty.

    Not really clear what took the time – I did not parse Blotto (in from checkers) and took an age to see Point = Place and Well = In all likelihood, but it was probably just a mixture of a chewy puzzle and not being fully on wavelength.

    Enjoyed the discussion above on Put on. I was just rather pleased to get it at all.

    Many thanks to Jeremy for the blog.

  11. Great excitement when my train finally emerged from a tunnel to show the leaderboard – the place immediately below Kevin! Be still my beating heart.

    I found that quite straightforward and enjoyable.

    FOI SPACEMAN, LOI OODLES, COD BISHOP, time 09:09 for 1.03K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Jeremy.


  12. This was a cracker which I pulled together at my leisurely pace in 28 minutes to find the club already well attended with several of the usual crowd and some occasional visitors. Thank you for leaving my corner chair available.
    NHO Peafowl but felt confident after FOI 1D SPACEMAN.
    As often, my comments agree with Mendesest’s who is usually here before me, and this one ticked all the boxes for me with its many excellent entries, although I was left wondering if PUT ON was well clued as I had missed its crypticality.
    Thanks Jeremy, Mara and all.

  13. Slow going today having misplaced my anagram hat again and generally finding Mara a bit too clever for me. The bottom half of the grid was particularly troublesome but perseverance paid off and once ALBATROSS went in the rest followed soon after.
    A good puzzle finished in 13.25 with LOI MALE.
    Thanks to Jeremy and Mara

  14. I was flying for a 5-er then hit MALE and MIDGE which required a 15minute break and both flew in on return. Why did MALE take me so long?!? No idea.

    Really enjoyed this puzzle although while whizzing through at the start it seemed that there were lots of relatively easy anagrams.

    Enjoyed BISHOP and OODLES

    Thanks Mara and Jeremy

  15. Way off the pace today. No problems with the LHS but the RHS of the grid was tough. Like Plett I misplaced my anagram hat so there were a few choice words when I finally got ALBATROSS, TRAILER and EASTERLY. LOI FILLIP in 17:50!

  16. 1336 Aberdeen is burned by the English.

    13:36, just about my average these days. Was pleased to see FOI PEAFOWL a bird I had never really come across. Surely everyone calls them “peacocks” if of indeterminate sex.

    ALBATROSS=curse caused head scratching.

    And there it is, BLOTTO, as I predicted on Monday.


    I’m not sure Pi is a “constant”, it’s just a number like 6. Constants are either algebraic such as c in the equation y=mx+c, or physical constants, like c (speed of light) big G, or Planck’s constant.

    1. I think of things such as pi or e as mathematical constants, so was happy with the definition

    2. Pi – denoted by the lower-case Greek letter π, is a mathematical constant that is approximately equal to 3.14159. In Euclidean geometry, π represents the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of any circle, or equivalently, the ratio between a circle’s area and the square of its radius. Wiki

    3. I don’t think it’s possible to mistake a peahen for a peacock unless dead and plucked.

  17. A very good puzzle – chewy (as Jeremy says) but with some great clues. I took quite a while to get a serious foothold but then accelerated encouragingly until I hit my last few:
    BLOTTO – I initially entered SKETCH (draw) based on the K from Peacock (yes, I know) and the T from TRAILER but couldn’t parse it.
    PUT ON (a biff); EASTERLY (easy enough with hindsight); BISHOP (when did I last hear ‘bop’ as dance? -not in this century); and ALBATROSS (again, a massive crash when this penny dropped). I ended up with almost the same time as yesterday – SCC again.
    I think I am losing the plot (can I blame a touch of long Covid?). I yearn for the sub-10 min times of yesteryear. I think the longer times of one or two regulars today perhaps reinforce my belief that the QCs are getting consistently tougher. Thanks to both. John M.

  18. 13 and a half minutes of satisfaction from Mara this morning. All very enjoyable, with LTI PUT ON and CAPE only because I got to them last. ALBATROSS made me think a bit, but nothing else was particularly sticky. Thanks Jeremy and Mara.

  19. A shot of COLA in a CHINA cup got me going, and I made steady progress until MALE held me up. STIR also held me up as, like Jack, it took me an age to see the parsing. LOI was PUT ON which I dithered over for a while. At least there were no tpyos today! 9:17. Thanks Mara and Jeremy.

  20. Back to a toughie again, and I crossed the line over target at 12.20. All clues seemed perfectly fair, but many just that bit more hard to fathom than normal. Although correctly putting in PUT ON at 23ac, I still failed to parse it in spite of a similar clue appearing in yesterdays 15×15, with the NOT UP derivation. In the end I thought a PUTON must be some sort of obscure terminology for a duvet! 🤭

  21. Failed on ALBATROSS and BISHOP. (The curse of the Ancient Mariner did not occur to me.). Always forget about chess piece too.
    With huge struggles and a pause, I managed the rest. PDM with PEAFOWL.
    FOI Spaceman.
    A very difficult puzzle.
    Thanks, Jeremy.

  22. Carelessly biffed SODA instead of COLA, meant to go back to it, but didn’t, so it left a stain on my solve…

    I quite liked the puzzle – agreeably tricky. ALBATROSS, EASTERLY and MEGASTORE all top anagrams, but I think I liked FILLIP best.

    6:39, but…


  23. And again 2 Templars! I whizzed through most of this in 7 minutes and thought I was on for a good time then disaster. It took me 9 – yes 9 – minutes to do the last 4. What strange words CHABLIS and ALBATROSS are – the checkers just didn’t look like anything I could recognise 🙄 I’m embarrassed to say that I went blank at 22d – how many times have we seen MAIL / MALE ? I think my brain was worn out by then.
    Typical terse Mara cluing – he doesn’t waste words, does he! I didn’t much like OIL WELL either, but otherwise I thought it was quite fun, despite the pain.
    FOI Peafowl LOI Bishop (that sneaky man again) COD Starling
    Thanks Mara and Jeremy

      1. 😂 It didn’t feel like it!

        Did that come across as a humblebrag? Soz – wasn’t meant to!

  24. “….with my crossbow I shot the ALBATROSS”. The typo has been my albatross for some time now (both puzzles yesterday !), so you’ll notice a marked slowing down as I scrupulously check every answer before submitting.

    It was certainly on the chewy side, and I biffed PUT ON, only parsing it followin quite some thought after completion.

    My LOI took a good minute in its own right.

    TIME 5:45

  25. What a relief! My first completion since last Thursday, although I had to endure a 10-minute barren spell before succeeding in breaking into my last four. They were in two pairs – CAPE/PUT ON and MIDGE/MALE. Up to then I had made good progress, despite not being able to parse ALBATROSS and CHABLIS, and I reached the finish line in 32 minutes.

    Many thanks to Mara and Jeremy.

  26. 13 mins…

    I think this has been my most enjoyable QC for quite a while. Apart from obviously being pleased at the time, there were some lovely clues. Special mention must go to 23ac “Put On”, 6dn “Fillip” and 19dn “Bishop”.

    My first thought for 1dn was “Alexander” and in completing 12ac “Megastore” I lamented the hours wasted away in Virgin’s flagship London store looking for records and CD’s. Respect must also go to other chains that no longer exist including Dillons, Borders, John Menzies, Our Price and many, many more.

    FOI – 1dn “Spaceman”
    LOI – 19dn “Bishop”
    COD – 4dn “Blotto” – brilliant surface and overall clue.

    Thanks as usual!

    1. … but vinyl LPs are still available through independent stores, auctions and online. And, some bands/artists are releasing new material on high quality vinyl. I still buy some from time to time. Definitely not time wasted.

      1. I know…it was more a misty eyed recollection of my youth before the days of the internet.

        The art of reading a whole magazine article without paying for it is, I believe, consigned to history.

  27. Held up for a minute at the end by STARLING having mistakenly decided it had to start with SEA. I also took a while to see CHABLIS. Nice puzzle though. As well as PUT ON, that has already been mentioned, I’ve seen EASTERLY recently too. Nice puzzle, though. COD to the neat hidden NEW for the surface. 6:50. Thank-you Mara and Jeremy.

  28. My plea for something more approachable obviously went unheard. Another DNF, defeated by the SE corner. This is getting depressing.

    1. It really is.

      Unfortunately I’m doubtful this is the place to petition for something easier. And even if it were, it will take time for easier grids to come into print.

      Hang in there

  29. DNF over 19d where the ‘dance’ became the fixation and could only fit in an unsatisfactory Boston. Also forgot go back to 11a where I had all the available letters but failed to see some more needed filling in. Probably just too much sun working outside this afternoon…

  30. Late to this after golf. I see my 17 minutes does not look too bad glancing at the comments. LOI was PUT ON. Prior to that EASTERLY.
    Some tricky stuff.

  31. 9.42

    Yes chewy (unlike the tasty Durmitor lamb recently consumed)

    MALE I suspect took time as I wanted it to be a homophone of the plural of a letter of the alphabet

    ALBATROSS needed checkers

    BISHOP showed up something I always get confused about – impress implies to me that the anagram of his goes outside the dance not vice versa but I’ve got it wrong before and I’ll get it wrong again

    Liked BLOTTO a lot

    Thanks Mara and Jeremy

  32. Another day, another shitshow.

    Started this morning and had only NEW, WEALTH, CHABLIS on my first pass. At 10-mins I began to lose the will to live when I couldn’t think of the four letter word beginning with C(ape). Added CHINA and COLA before giving up at 25-mins.

    Another 25-mins after lunch immediately added MEGASTORE, SPACEMAN, BAKING with PEAFOWL (NHO) and POINT being added over the remaining 20-mins.

    A lie in the sun and an untimed attempt to unravel “yes alert” and “brats also” had no success.

    Final hour saw light dawn as I BIFFED STIR for prison then realised it was initials. That helped spot the TRAILER anagram then BLOTTO. FILLIP (another NHO) eventually came from PIE and finally unravelled the anagrams.

    Total time – 1hr50.

    Clearly my brain is not functioning when I can BIF PUT-ON but not sure enough to put it in because I can’t see how NO-TUP would parse the retired bit. Even so, I find it frustrating that I can parse everything post-solve.

    Usually find Mara okay but clues like POINT seem impossible without checkers (“place” and “drink” have far too many possibilities). Pretty much the same with BISHOP. I could rant on about the vagaries of CAPE=head, ALBATROSS=curse, CHABLIS=white, the WELL=in all likelihood just making this unapproachable for someone of my limited ability. Not helped by NHO FILLIP, PEAFOWL today.

    As I recall there was a change of Crossword editor in mid-April and I’m therefore left to wonder whether this is causing some of the recent difficulties.

    1. I don’t know how the responsibilities are divided up at The Times and there may have been changes that I am not aware of but my understanding is that the Crossword Editor is still Richard Rogan who sets QCs under at least 8 pseudonyms. The person who moved on was David Parfitt, the Puzzles Editor, replaced in that position by Mike Hodgkin. I very much doubt that there’s been any change of policy regarding level of difficulty.

      1. Thank-you for the clarification, I agree it’s unlikely to be a change of policy.

        I’m vastly aware my brain is not in a great place for these at the moment, so maybe it is just me. And, of course, randomness can just lead to a run of difficulties.

        I soldier on …

  33. Chewy unlike tonight’s blue burger. Fair enough though fooled by TRAILER. I initially had ATE for PIE but that gave me enough of a following wind to get EASTERLY. I also had CHILE for CHINA at first! My COD is STARLING as a nice tight clue. Thanks!

  34. 21:31

    All going well but really come unstuck in the SE corner first with BISHOP and finally MALE and LOI MIDGE which I only parsed afterwards.

  35. I’ve just completed this a day late and have very much enjoyed the blog and all your comments… I agree with the consensus and found this tricky, but perseverance finally paid off and I finished in just over 30 mins. I dredged ALBATROSS/Ancient Mariner from the depths of my memory and remembered FILLIP from a previous QC. Held up significantly by OIL WELL (hmmm), BISHOP and EASTERLY. No problems with PUT ON for wear here. Very much enjoyed WEALTH 😆 Off to try today’s now… thanks all.

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