Times Quick Cryptic No 2268 by Mara

A bit on the trickier side today.

I finished up in 8:32, a good couple of minutes slower than yesterday.

I take issue with the definition at 1ac, but then we were given an abundance of good definitions at 1d, so I won’t 17d. I particularly liked the leap year at 15d and the smoking car at 23ac – many thanks to Mara!

1 Stop thinking underwear is being laundered? (9)
BRAINWASH – BRA IN WASH = underwear is being laundered. I dunno, if anyone can come up with a sentence where BRAINWASH is even vaguely synonymous with STOP THINKING, I would be keen to see it.
6 Drop in numbers a godsend (3)
SAG – “in” numberS A Godsend
8 Eating badly, first of lentils consumed for protein (7)
GELATIN – anagram (badly) of EATING, consumes L (“first” of Lentils)
9 Clearflat land (5)
PLAIN – double definition
10 Anger after boy’s Christmas gift (12)
FRANKINCENSE – INCENSE (anger) after FRANK (boy)
12 What’s said to raise a smile  in  Cheshire? (6)
CHEESE – double definition, the question mark indicating the latter is a definition by example.
13 Animal shelter  built with solid foundations? (6)
STABLE – double definition
16 State phrase when I’m requiring translation (3,9)
NEW HAMPSHIRE – anagram (requiring translation) of PHRASE WHEN I’M
19 Dance  affair (5)
FLING – double definition
20 Popular, extravagant youth (7)
INFANCY – IN (popular) FANCY (extravagant)
22 Cereal grass slightly bitter, we hear? (3)
RYE – we hear the same as WRY (slightly bitter)
23 Smoke in car, get it fixed before end of race (9)
CIGARETTE – anagram (fixed) of CAR GET IT, before E (“end” of racE)
1 Claims  containersa lot (4)
BAGS – nicely obscured triple definition: reserves; sacks; plenty.
2 Great lad, almost entirely unruly, free from jail (2,5)
AT LARGE – anagram (unruly) of GREAT LA (LAd, “almost entirely”)
3 Egg container up-ended (3)
NIT – TIN (container) “upended”
4 Relation: a funny tune inspiring one (6)
AUNTIE – A, anagram (funny) of TUNE, inspires I (one)
5 Trip put an end to children’s game (9)
HOPSCOTCH – HOP (trip: as in to hop/trip along) SCOTCH (put and end to)
6 Short trip around a country (5)
SPAIN – SPIN (short trip) around A
7 Fliers about no Italian (7)
GENOESE – GEESE (fliers) about NO
11 Sentimental cast sing a lot, crying initially (9)
NOSTALGIC – anagram (cast) of SING A LOT, C (Crying “initially”)
12 Felon with fire destroyed tree (7)
CONIFER – CON (felon) with an anagram (destroyed) of FIRE
14 Scribbled note under counter for man with title (7)
BARONET – anagram (scribbled) of NOTE, under BAR (counter)
15 Leap  year’s first full season (6)
SPRING – very nice double definition, what with winter starting in December.
17 Upset when I complain (5)
WHINE – anagram (upset) of WHEN I
18 Wheel surround revolving in every turn (4)
TYRE – “revolving in” evERY Turn
21 Nowhere near fifty, Australian restrained, first of all (3)
FARFifty Australian Restrained “first of all”


63 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2268 by Mara”

  1. A MER at BRAINWASH; the best I could come up with was that ‘stop thinking’ is causative, to stop the brainwashee from thinking (considering) and just take something as fact, unthinkingly. Of course, if you’re brainwashed to believe X, you think that X, so you haven’t stopped thinking. 6:10.

    1. My explanation of BRAINWASH as I solved was along the same lines, and only later did I realise that it didn’t work for the reason you go on to explain. Having researched it further I came across this in the Collins COBUILD entry: If you brainwash someone, you force them to believe something by continually telling them that it is true, and preventing them from thinking about it properly.

      As has been discussed here previously, COBUILD entries are extended explanations of words for the benefit of non-native English speakers, and not every part of the wording is intended as a valid definition, especially if taken in isolation. One hopes that setters bear this in mind.

      1. My main issue wasn’t even that slightly odd COBUILD definition, it was more that “to stop someone from thinking” is not the same as ” to stop thinking”: in the first you’re the brainwasher and in the second you’re the brainwashee. Quite different things! Along with the odd definition it all seemed unusually loose.

        1. As I said, ‘stop thinking’ can be causative, ie to stop someone from thinking: compare e.g. “the mayor told the police to stop gambling”.

          1. I see what you mean, in that: “to stop Jemima thinking” is the same as “to brainwash Jemima”. My issue was if that is an acceptable substitution, because “to make Jemima stop thinking” is the opposite of “to make Jemima brainwash.” Hmn, I think I need to stop thinking about this!

  2. For once I’ve managed to do well on a morning when I’ve got a train to catch. All green in 11. Only five on the first pass of acrosses and then filled from the bottom to the top, ending up with AUNTIE. Had ‘swing’ for FLING which I thought was a generous definition of ‘affair’ but CONIFER put that right and you can make ‘lentil’ with only A and G left over from the letters in GELATIN, if you use the L twice. That held me up. Good one. Off to stand on a soggy platform.

  3. I think this was the easiest one I’ve done since I started doing these. There were no crosswordy acronym-definitions, I mean Idk about brainwash = not thinking, but nothing else would fit so you could submit with confidence

    I did this in under 10 min!

    1. Great effort! Interesting, I hadn’t picked up on the lack of acronyms and crosswordese – they becomesecond nature, and there really aren’t a huge amount to learn, so when that’s out of the way you should be rattling through these most days!

  4. 8 minutes. I was heading for faster than that but the clue at 7dn resisted my attentions several times along the way and I knew I was going to be stuck with it to the end, perhaps staring at it for ages as my LOI. Once it had my undivided attention it held its ground for another full minute and then suddenly the answer came to me.

  5. Looking at other times I’m very pleased with 7’30”. In my penultimate-one-in BRA IN WASH the construction was new to me and so the clever novelty overcame any immediate concerns about the definition as discussed above. On reflection I’m still ok with it.

    Also I could see a triple definition at work for 1D but couldn’t find LOI BAGS until I had the B in for 1A.

    Thanks Mara and Roly.

  6. 21 minutes from FOI: NIT to LOI: GENOESE.
    As with Vinyl1 I just went with the wordplay for BRAINWASH as I tend to parse as I go.
    GENOESE I left till the end for that reason as I was thinking birds until the wordplay became clear.

  7. I am a very plodding crossworder compared with some of the people commenting above – it takes me 30 mins on a very good day. But if you brainwash someone you stop (them) thinking (ie thinking in the deeper sense in a reflective or analytical way). I mention only because this was my COD.

  8. The controversy over Brainwash largely passed me by as I was still enjoying unpicking the Bra In Wash construction. it may be a bit of a chestnut but even the hoariest old chestnut is new to someone.

    I wasn’t familiar with the construction of Auntie and whether “inspiring” indicates inclusion, but it was the only possible answer so I store that piece of wordplay away. Otherwise all parsed and a very pleasant 9 minutes solve.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

    1. I rather like “inspiring”, as breathing in, as an inclusion indicator. I must use it myself some time.

      1. I tend to agree! It got me thinking, fitted the surface and as you say works rather well as a mental image.

  9. A slow start as my vaccine fogged brain struggled to click into gear but things got easier at the bottom of the grid and when I returned to the top everything fell into place.
    Enjoyed the word play for BRAINWASH but agree with previous posters that the definition is a bit iffy.
    Started with PLAIN and FINISHED with GENOESE in 8.22 with my favourite being HOPSCOTCH.
    Thanks to Roly

  10. Managed to finish this one without too much difficulty, and without the use of any aids.

    I didn’t get the underwear being laundered part of the clue until I came here and saw mentions of BRA IN WASH (very clever) However, I did answer it due to the letters already in place.

    At first I had TUNS for 1d. I thought claims might be a homophone indicator. I thought TONS can be a lot and so TUNS was containers. However, shortly after this I wanted to put GELATIN in 8a, but it would not fit due to my 1d, causing me to rethink TUNS.

  11. A good puzzle from Mara. A steady start but I gained momentum as I moved around the grid. Any minor quibbles over definitions soon vanished as crossers emerged and the answers began to come to mind almost automatically. I have never had so many answers simply appear in my head before I went back to the clue to see if my mind was playing tricks.
    I managed to relax and enjoy the puzzle rather than obsess over my time and found myself almost 4 mins under target at 11.04 all parsed (apart from BRA IN WASH; I simply saw brainwashing as altering people’s minds so they stop thinking for themselves). My LOsI were BRAINWASH and BAGS; my COD was GENOESE.
    Many thanks to Mara and Roly. John M.

  12. Sluggish today. I am definitely not yet back to normal post Covid (noticing this at work as much as with the QC!). Slow to see BARONET, FRANKINCENSE, INFANCY and LOI STABLE. Agree definition of BRAINWASH was iffy. COD to CIGARETTE.

    Enjoyable puzzle all done in 08:57 for 1.4K and an OK Day.

    Many thanks Mara and Roly.


  13. 9:20

    Took a little while to get going, only starting to fill in the acrosses with any confidence in the bottom half.

    Same MER as others for BRAINWASH, though satisfied more with the causative approach.

    FRANKINCENSE last in requiring all of the checkers.

    Thanks Mara and Roly.

  14. I didn’t have a problem with BRAINWASH as I thought “stop thinking” close enough. I never noticed TYRE was a reverse inclusion as I thought it was just a cryptic definition. Plenty of nice clues but COD to CIGARETTE. Thank-you Mara and rolytoly. 3:53.

  15. I did enjoy this but more than once I found myself thinking it doesn’t really mean that! To brainwash is surely to try to make someone think in a certain way. Also, I tend to think of youth as teenage days, infancy makes me think of early childhood! Hop for trip another! Thanks though

  16. GELATIN got me started and I finished in NEW HAMPSHIRE. Managed not to get BRAINWASHed en route, although I did get 1a once I had the crossers:-) 8:13. Thanks Mara and Roly.

  17. Pretty quick today.

    Never even thought about the “stop thinking” part of the clue after seeing BRA IN WASH. Mind you, I had all the checkers by then. What’s the opposite of bifd? Bifwp?



    1. Aah the bifwp, a very satisfying way to solve – who needs a definition in a crossword, eh?!

  18. I thought some of this was tough for a QC.
    My POI was GENOESE; quite a sophisticated clue.
    LOI needing all the checkers and a lot of thought was FRANKINCENSE. 12 minutes in all.
    I enjoyed constructing BRAINWASH. COD to CIGARETTE.

  19. Just inside the SCC today. Last two in were BRAINWASH and BAGS. The former seems to be a chestnut for most but was new to me. Didn’t see BRA IN WASH until blog – many thanks roly – same mer about ‘stop thinking’ as others. Nothing especially tricky otherwise yet a frustratingly slow time for me. Brain still sluggish post-vaccine maybe… Thought CIGARETTE was especially well-constructed and liked CHEESE 😁 Many thanks roly and Mara.

  20. I didn’t over think the cluing for BRAINWASH but enjoyed the discussion in the comments. My FOI was NIT followed by 2,4 and 5 down so brainwash became the obvious answer at 1a. My only significant delay was solving my LOI FRANKINCENSE. If it weren’t for the cluing I probably would have misspelled it. 6:43 for an excellent day.

  21. A surprisingly gentle puzzle from Mara, who I usually find a bit trickier. Having said that, it’s a good job there was only one place to put the ‘no’ in my loi Genoese, as first time round I thought the flier was going to be a gnat! 17mins in total, with CoD to 1ac Brainwash for the lol. If you want a short sentence involving Brainwash and Stop Thinking, try: Brexit. Invariant

  22. I though this was on the easy end of the scale, and certainly a lot easier than yesterday’s. 7.33 was my fastest time for over a week.
    I had no issues with BRAINWASH – it had to be that from the wordplay, and I stopped thinking about whether the definition was entirely correct.

  23. 13 minutes with FOI BRAINWASH – no problems for me with the definition, I just thought that to BRAINWASH someone was to stop them thinking (in a meaningful way). I also saw FRANKINCENSE early, immediately thinking of gold, myrrh and f. on reading Christmas gift – I just couldn’t spell it immediately, getting the S and C transposed initially, but HOPSCOTCH soon sorted that out. An enjoyable solve. Thanks Mara and Roly.

  24. I’m another that doesn’t have a problem with BRAINWASH, I think these things can be over analysed at times perhaps? In fact I’m happy to award it my COD.
    I missed my target finishing in 12.35, although it seemed faster than that. Mainly held up by GENOESE.

  25. Again a pause helped. I had left the NW unfinished, partly due to not being able to read my own writing. Anyway I had a PDM with BRAINWASH (COD), having tried Whitewash. Also slow on GELATIN and NEW HAMPSHIRE, despite living in the original version. Most of the rest went in pretty quickly. Liked FRANKINCENSE, CONIFER, INFANCY, RYE, among others. Quite a lot of lucky guesses today.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  26. I found this a bit of a struggle, so was surprised to find I’d finished in 10 minutes. I started on the downs, as I couldn’t get a grip on the first few acrosses, but even then it took until 3d to get going! It was a bit of a disorganised solve overall. Maybe this awful weather has put a damper on things 😅 The construction of BRAINWASH made me smile – to start with, I thought it was going to be an anagram of underwear (being laundered). I agree that it was a slightly dodgy definition, but for once a clue referencing bras was entertaining!
    FOI Nit LOI Whine COD Cheese (after I’d stopped thinking about cats!)
    Thanks Mara and Roly

  27. Tricky and above average time bur very enjoyable. If you BRA IN WASH Fred, you make him STOP THINKING X and START THINKING Y, and though the emphasis is on Y it takes more of a stretch to raise either of my eyebrows.. This was only one of a number of witty, sometimes wacky surfaces which made the puzzle so much fun.
    FOI AT LARGE, LOI WHINE, COD TYRE, which seemed to have a definition, a crypric definition and a hidden word. Thanks, Mara and Roly.

  28. I managed to find a bit of time at work to attempt this so, with one eye on my boss and another on the newspaper, I was happy to finish in around 25 mins. So many great clues today.

    Thank you for the blog.

  29. 1ac. My initial thought was that it was an anagram of underwear being 9 letters and laundered being the anagrind. Hopscotch put pay to that. Target 25 while having sandwich crisps and beer. J

  30. Having waited more than two months for an SCC-escape, which finally came along a couple of weeks ago, I am delighted to be able to report another such occurrence today. All done and dusted (incl. parsing) in 17 minutes.

    It was great to see HOPSCOTCH making an appearance – it made me all NOSTALGIC. Both BRAINWASH and FRANKINCENSE required all of their checkers and I was much relieved to remember that a NIT is an ‘egg’, as I have DNF’d on that before.

    Many thanks to Mara and Rolytoly.

  31. 19 mins…

    Found the NW corner to start with very tricky, so it was a bit of a scatter gun approach. Main hold ups in the end were 3dn “Nit” and the 1ac “Brainwash” and 1dn “Bags” combination.

    Luckily, I saw “Hopscotch” somewhere else the other day so that was a write in.

    FOI – 6ac “Sag”
    LOI – 1dn “Bags”
    COD – 7dn “Genoese” – after spending too much time trying to think of the Italian for “no”.

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Most of my problems were in the NW which remained obstinately blank for far too long. I was therefore so happy when the penny dropped for BRAINWASH that I never considered whether or not the definition was a bit loose. Never saw the anagram at 11dn so NOSTALGIC remained unparsed until I came here. I did see the anagram at 16ac and instantly realised that the first word was probably NEW but needed most of the crossers before HAMPSHIRE revealed itself. All complete in a little under 20 minutes

    FOI – 6ac SAG
    LOI – 1dn BAGS
    COD – 1ac BRAINWASH (also liked CHEESE and STABLE)

    Thanks to Mara for an enjoyable puzzle and to Rolytoly for the blog

  33. I also tried WHITEWASH first but it blocked the corner, then couldn’t initially see how BRAIN equated to underwear; finally the Penny dropped. Then I had NUT which I thought could be considered as EGG and was reverse of TUN (container).
    A bit tricky but enjoyable.

  34. 15:40. Another who thought first of tun as container but luckily after trying to justify nut as egg rethought the matter and remembered NIT. I didn’t mind the BRAINWASH definition as causing someone to merely parrot what you’ve inserted into their brain instead of them doing their own thinking seems close enough.

  35. 10.25 mins. i can’t quite believe it!!! This is my first ever solve under 10 mins and a PB by 3 mins. They just all seemed to fall in.

    No issues with BRAINWASH, in fact it is my COD.

  36. About 10 mins. Bit of a Christmas theme to get us in the mood! Frankincense, stable, and conifer.
    Liked the cheese stable, sag.
    COD brainwash. Hard to clue:
    implant underwear is being laundered?

  37. 17:11

    Was on the lookout for a Nina when FRANKINCENSE, STABLE and INFANCY went in on the first pass, but not to be. Slightly held up in the top left with BRAINWASH (nice clue) and LOI NIT.

  38. The message said I was 9th of 203, the display shows me in 12th…..and after I’ve removed the known neutrinos above me from the reckoning I think I’m actually 7th. All of which points to a Monday puzzle on a Thursday. I was quite intrigued by the dispute over BRAINWASH. I simply slapped it in without overthinking it. I quite liked the Private Eye clue from some years ago :

    “Evidence of a wild garden party in Essex ?”(9)

    Answer at the foot of this post !

    TIME 3:06

    And the answer is Braintree.

  39. Bra in wash reminded me of clue from years ago:
    Flouncy mink underwear? Furbelow…

  40. 16 minutes today.
    It felt on the easier side for me apart from LOI Genoese. (Hopscotch being a bit of a chestnut did help as did the State anagram).
    Lots to enjoy.
    Thanks all

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