Times Quick Cryptic No 2293 by Mara

A typically neat and succinct puzzle from Mara, if a bit anagram-heavy, which will suit some, but not all.  I took 13 minutes, which is about average for me.  How did you do?

Later today, and over Christmas, I shall be cruising down the Rhine, so may be slow to respond to questions, but I’m sure our stalwart regulars can help if needed.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  See you in 2023.


1  Act ends after moving melody (7)

DESCANT – Anagram (moving) of [ACT ENDS].

5  Sort what writer might do (4)

TYPE – Double definition, the second slightly cryptic.

Animal with sensitivity not entirely laid back (3)

CAT – TAC{t} (sensitivity) not entirely (drop last letter) and reversed (laid back).

8  Party game has raced off (8)

CHARADES – Anagram (off) of [HAS RACED].  It is the season for CHARADES.

10  Jewellery gives someone a buzz (5)

RINGS – Double definition.

11  Crown originally in iron is adapted for tooth (7)

INCISOR – C{rown} (initially) inside an anagram (adapted) of [IRON IS].

13  Itinerant nature – leaves home? (3,3)

TEA URN – Anagram (itinerant) of [NATURE] with a cryptic definition – a home for tea leaves might be a TEA URN.

15  Flash chaps in test of vehicle (6)

MOMENT – MEN (chaps) inside MOT (test of vehicle – Ministry of Transport test).  As in ‘in a flash’, ‘in a moment’.

17  Love interest finally greeting Shakespearian character (7)

OTHELLO – O (love) and {interes}T (finally) and HELLO (greeting).

18  Hindu ascetic moved through water, heading for India (5)

SWAMI – SWAM (moved through water) and I{ndia} (heading for).

20  Start of cannelloni in Romania, cooked pasta (8)

MACARONI – C{annelloni} (start of) inside an anagram (cooked) of [ROMANIA].

22  Prosecute little girl (3)

SUE – Double definition.  The only SUE I know is far from little!

23  Score hundred inside the ground (4)

ETCH – C (one hundred in Roman numerals) inside an anagram (ground) of [THE].

24  Income cheers leaders  (7)

TAKINGS – TA (cheers) and KINGS (leaders).



1  Co-ordinate works, painting etc (10)

DECORATION – Anagram (works) of [CO-ORDINATE].

2  Modelled fashionable cloth (5)

SATIN – SAT (modelled) and IN (fashionable).

3  Shocking rates clan inherited (9)

ANCESTRAL – Anagram (shocking) of [RATES CLAN].

Unfortunate accident’s ending with rising smoke (6)

TRAGIC – {acciden}T (ending) and CIGAR (smoke) reversed (rising).

Drink in pot, easy! (3)

TEA – Hidden in {po}T, EA{sy}.

6  Iron that is for gift (7)

PRESSIE – PRESS (iron, as in press a pair of trousers) and IE (that is, id est).

9  Extraordinarily persistent beauty (10)

PRETTINESS – Anagram (extraordinarily) of [PERSISTENT].

12  One of a pair at the table: cut of meat’s second (9)

CHOPSTICK – CHOP’S (cut of meat’s) and TICK (second).

14  Basically, two articles on craft (2,5)

AT HEART – A and THE (two articles) on ART (craft).

16  Ready to play violinQuit! (3,3)

BOW OUT – Double definition.  If a violinist had his BOW OUT he would be ready to play!

19  Criminal activity served up in casinos, rampant (5)

ARSON – Reverse hidden (served up in) {casi}NOS, RA{mpant}.

21  Wood, equally hard (3)

ASH – AS (equally) and H{ard}.

82 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2293 by Mara”

  1. 16 minutes. I knew DESCANT had something to do with music but no idea of definition. PRESSIE was unknown -I think I might have heard prezzie on some occasion. Many fun clues- I especially admired TEA URN and ETCH .

  2. Straightforward, although it took me a while to see that 13ac ‘itinerant’ was an anagram indicator; a nice surface. I was a bit surprised to see both TEA and TEA URN in the same puzzle. I only know DESCANT from Richard III: “to descant on my own deformity”. 5:53.

    1. Nice quote Kevin. Despite being completely non-musical, I seem to have known DESCANT forever. To me it is the twirley bits at the end of singing one’s favourite carol, where better singers with better voices and probably some training, depart from the usual melody and do their own thing, usually in a higher key or register.

      1. Descants are usually an additional harmonic line above the melody of hymns or especially carols, often to add interest to the last verse. They are usually sung by sopranos/trebles but tenors have been known to join in!

        1. I love how a word can prod the memory, Descant takes me back 60 odd years to St. Dunstan’s Church Cheam. At this time of year the school carol service took place there and being a treble had the joy of singing the descants. Was one of the few times in the year when the girls school joined us. Different times.

          1. Would that have been St Dunstan’s Primary School? There weren’t any descants when I was there, but that was before your time!

      2. Sir David Wilcox wrote most of the Descants we all know for the Christmas carols.

        But is a Descant really a “melody” as clued? As I recall from my own choir days, less assured choristers “sang the melody” along with the congregation. Show-offs, who would usually turn out to be Tenors in the future, warbled the Descant.

        1. I feel I must point out that Sir David spelled his name Willcocks.
          IMHO a good descant is a melody in its own right, and complements the main melody; other descants just harmonise. Can’t really remember what I was like when I “warbled descants”, but we currently seem to be a rare breed!

  3. 11 minutes. I have an issue with 13ac as tea leaves are not stored in a TEA URN, which is a large vessel with a tap on its side used for dispensing hot water for making tea or sometimes made-up tea directly. Traditionally tea leaves are stored in a caddy or canister.

    1. I think the question mark covers it Jackkt. If a tea urn dispenses tea, then there will certainly be tea leaves within, and the urn could be described as being the ‘home’ for those leaves, without us having to stretch the definition to imply that this is where they are usually stored.

    2. Perhaps this is out if place, jackkt, but today’s QC is shown as 2295 at the top of this TFTT page on my ipad. The crossword itself is shown correctly as 2293 if I access the paper online using either the ‘new’ Times format or the ‘classic’ format on my ipad.
      Incidentally, I am probably one of the few who prefers the ‘old’ format of the newspaper and finds the ‘new’ version a step backwards in terms of easy accessibility.

      1. Thanks. Thursday puzzles end with 3 or 8 so 2293 is correct. I have amended the title of the blog.

          1. I’m rather partial to quirks. For example, did you know that today’s QC 2293 is actually the 2294th Quick Cryptic since they began on 10th March 2014?

              1. . . . I seem to remember we had a bonus unnumbered QC one Christmas that didn’t escape Jack’s notice

    3. I had “TEA RUN”, as in going out of the office to the Tea Shop. “I’m going to get a brew, anyone want one?”

  4. 9:04. Off to a slow start with DESCANT, which I’d mainly come across before in the sense of describing a musical instrument, a descant recorder, rather than as a ‘melody’. I liked the anagrams, even if you can argue the toss as to whether PRETTINESS and ‘beauty’ are the same thing; close enough for me. My favourite was CHOPSTICK.

    Thanks to Mara and to TheRotter – hope you enjoy your Christmas cruise on the Rhine

  5. 6.10

    Loads of very neat surfaces – really liked this one from Mara with (for me) some never-seen-before anagrams (co-ordinated for DECORATION and persistent for PRETTINESS). And thought TEA URN was going to be one of my clues of the year (yup thought it was that good) but Jackkt’s very reasonable objection has downgraded it to just very good.

    Thanks Mara and Rotter

  6. 12’37” but was going to throw in the towel with CHOPSTICK and TAKINGS refusing to yield until the last seconds. The former, begrudgingly, gets my COD.

    Seemed to be lots of anagrams but maybe because they went in first, although PRETTINESS didn’t show itself immediately. DECORATION as an anagram of COORDINATE is a nice surprise.

    While I can see where Jackkt is coming from re TEA URN, it is where leaves may ultimately end up, so I’m not raising an eyebrow too high, especially as it is such a fine clue if I don’t.

    Is ARSON the only crime in crosswords?!

    Thanks Mara and Rotter.

    1. I initially biffed ABETt when I saw casino but SUE put me right on that front. It’s only one T – abet unless its abetting.

      Re Doof’s Treason – it was earlier this week on a down clue in the SE corner. “Betrayal of something ends in T with rationale for it” or some such.

      1. I remember that TREASON from earlier in the week, and I’m sure I’ve seen FENCE and FENCING as answers with clues referencing illegality, but the use of a singular word ‘crime’ in a quickie clue always (or certainly in recent times) seems to me to refer to an answer of ARSON. Of course I may have missed others.

        1. We’ve seen THEFT quite a lot – often clued along the lines of stealing a newspaper! I think BIGAMY has made an appearance too 😅

  7. 19:14 here, just avoiding the SCC. I agree that this one was overloaded with anagrams, but liked both PRETTINESS and DECORATION once I had enough crossers to nail them down. Both were new to me and I’m going to try to add them to my (very short!) list of known anagrams, along with T. S. Eliot/toilets and phone boxes/xenophobes.

    FOI TYPE, which came easily after TYPESET from yesterday’s puzzle.
    LOI TEA URN, with a groan
    COD BOW OUT, can’t resist a good pun.

    Thanks to Mara & TheRotter.

  8. Had my anagram hat firmly in place today so I raced through the top of this one. A very fast time was delayed by a painfully slow alphabet trawl for LOI BOW OUT. Annoyingly I decided to start at the end of the alphabet and work backwards 🤦‍♂️, which is something I’ve not done before and also made me realise how difficult remembering the order of it is when going in reverse.
    Finished in 7.31 with COD to TEA URN despite the slightly loose definition.
    Thanks to Rotter

  9. I found myself slow to start in the top half and worked up from the bottom, accelerating as I rose. Finished with PRESSIE and TYPE. Didn’t see why I had early problems because the whole puzzle was accessible, fair, and offered some very neat clues, especially the anagrams. From these, CHOPSTICK is my COD.
    I was a minute under target at 13.58.
    Many thanks to Mara and Rotter for the usual high quality offerings. Enjoy your Christmas afloat, Rotter. John M

    1. My early problems were not realising there were a bunch of cleverly hidden anagrams. Once you slotted in DECORATION, TEA-URN, PRETTINESS, CHARADES, ANCESTRAL, INCISOR, MACARONI – you had a lot of checkers to work with and more became apparent.

      1. I’m sure that my early problems were also down to a shortage of crossers and I increased speed as they emerged, as always.
        It is surprising how often a word comes to my mind on the basis of crossers alone and a look at the clue then confirms that it parses and is the correct answer. I tread carefully, though – it can lead to lots of wasted time for me if my parsing is sloppy.

  10. I had just composed an erudite, witty but vastly over-long comment when for some reason my phone wiped it. It therefore demonstrates that it has more aesthetic sense than me and the TftT world is no doubt grateful to be spared my effulgence. Suffice it to say that I found this a struggle at first – unusually, because I find Mara one of the more approachable setters – until the two long down anagrams Decoration and Prettiness emerged. Both of the highest calibre, and they unlocked the rest of the puzzle for a 12 minute solve.

    Small query over Pressie, not really a word and I’d spell it (and pronounce it) with Zs anyway – but ’tis the season to let such things pass.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog, and enjoy your river cruise. At least the water is back up to cruising levels – we had a holiday afloat cancelled this summer for lack of water.

    1. I’ve never liked PRESSIE (‘never’ being since I came across it here a couple of years ago)–feels twee– but ‘Aussie’ is pronounced ‘ozzie’, no?

      1. We could go down a real rabbithole here to make the debate over the pronunciation of that river yesterday look like child’s play! Ozzie or Ossie, both can be heard, though you’re right that Ozzie is perhaps the more common. But I’m struggling to think of too many other words where -ss- is pronounced -zz-, and if one saw Pressie written the natural pronunciation is surely -ss-, to rhyme with Bessie, Jessie, Lessee, Messy, Nessie, etc.

        OTOH anyone who expects consistency in English spelling/pronunciation is setting themselves up to be disappointed! The simple four letter world Says has the two Ss pronounced different ways, for a starter …

  11. 19 minutes and some nice definitions like TEA URN, MOMENT, CHOPSTICK and AT HEART.
    Favourite: MOMENT although I liked TEA URN too.

  12. I was under 4 mins for all but two, but they needed another 2 minutes. Unusually for me, the anagrams didn’t cause too much difficulty.

    They were CHOPSTICKS and TAKINGS. Not sure why in retrospect, which is how it should be I think, as it means the clue was fine and it just beat me.

    I liked TEA URN very much.


  13. Unlucky 13 – after a run of 12 successes it ended here. NHO DESCANT, didn’t realise it was an anagram until I came to the blog and a 10min alphabet trawl was wasted. Had BOW-OUT wrong anyway – put got-OUT. Just wasn’t in the frame of mind for this one. It was a grind.

  14. Some nice clues. I liked DESCANT, OTHELLO and SWAMI in particular and enjoyed the whimsy of a TEA URN as a leaf container (when the tea is brewing/brewed). But too many anagrams for me. I thought “Oh. Not another one” when I got to 3D and then 9D followed. Fun puzzle though. Thank-you Mara and Rotter. 3:55.

  15. 9 minutes for me; LOI CHOPSTICK.
    A lot to like in this especially TEA URN; also BOW OUT and the PRETTINESS anagram.
    Quite happy with PRESSIE ; an interesting discussion above.

  16. Didn’t do very well on this one today. For me it was one of the worst puzzles I’ve attempted for a long while now.

  17. Whipped through this pretty smartly finishing in 7.21. My LOI was actually TEA URN and I’m with Jackkt in having certain reservations about it. Judging by the comments above we are in the minority, but certainly a Marmite clue.

    1. Sadly yes, but I won’t die in a ditch over it and I take Rotter’s point about the question mark – a convenient get-out for many a dodgy definition. It seems to me that rather than being a home for tea leaves the TEA URN is merely a brief resting place along the journey from storage to the kitchen bin.

  18. I seemed to tiptoe around the edge of the puzzle today, filling in bits inside as I went around at my usual ponderous pace.
    No real head scratchers but no time as there were too many interruptions.
    Thanks Mara and Rotter, bon voyage, or perhaps Gute Reise.

  19. A near target solve despite not having my anagram hat on. My FOI was TYPE. DESCANT was a much later solve and it came to me because I used to play the descant recorder. My last three were TEA URN which I didn’t fully parse, BOW OUT and CHOPSTICK. 9:09

  20. I normally print off the puzzle, and use a pen, but did this one on-line today. 23:30, so a bit slow. The TEA URN clue eluded me for a while, as did CHOPSTICKS and TAKINGS.
    I will now attempt the 15×15

  21. On the wavelength today. Started with CAT and finished with CHOPSTICK in 5:50. Thanks Mara and Rotter. Merry Christmas.

  22. Still working while under a double red, but more than happy with 18mins for Mara, especially as a couple of those were spent on my last pair – Chopsticks and Takings. Lots to enjoy, including (begrudingly) Chopsticks, but 13ac Tea Urn gets the prize, with 16d Bow Out a close second: little things please little minds ☺ Invariant

  23. Nothing here to slow me up. I was having a mug of 5D while solving, and, whilst its effective reappearance at 13A was a little surprising, it didn’t detract from the cleverness of the latter clue.

    TIME 3:12

  24. Quite a few on the first read through but almost all on the right hand side, leaving the left distinctly sparsely populated. Nice puzzle, if a bit anagram-heavy. I needed nearly all the crossers to get PRETTINESS despite being aware of the anagram. In common with quite a few my last two were CHOPSTICK and TAKINGS, neither of which I managed to parse. Didn’t like PRESSIE much – don’t like the word and agree that it is twee. 21 minutes in all.

    FOI – 5ac TYPE
    LOI – 24ac TAKINGS
    COD – 4dn TRAGIC

    Thanks to Mara and Rotter

  25. 9:30, which was surprising, as it felt quicker – I prefer it the other way round 😅
    I like anagrams and there were some fun anagrinds, but even I felt there were a few too many. All the same, getting a few of the longer ones helped open up the grid. I liked OTHELLO and TAKINGS, and TEA was easy but a nice clue. Hmm, time to put the kettle on?
    FOI Type LOI At heart COD Bow out
    Thanks Mara, and vielen Dank to Rotter – hope your trip is wunderbar

  26. Laughed out loud at TEA URN, when penny finally dropped, so therefore COD. (Liked BOW OUT too). Had to work from the bottom up, but then saw DESCANT. FOI SUE, LOI TRAGIC.
    OTHELLO was the first Shakespeare character to spring to mind so that was lucky. On the other hand ETCH took a while. No problem w CHOPSTICKS tho.
    Thanks for blog, Rotter, and Happy Christmas to you and indeed to all.🎄 I really enjoy this group.

  27. 30 mins…

    Just wasn’t on it today – not sure if it was me or the puzzle was chewier than I thought.

    Took ages to see 1ac “Descant”, 12dn “Chopsticks” and 24ac “Takings”.

    FOI – 5ac “Type”
    LOI – 12dn “Chopstick”
    COD – 13ac “Tea Urn”

    Thanks as usual!

  28. Into the SCC today taking a good 4-5 mins over LOI CHOPSTICK (could not see tick = second until I read the blog 🙄). Much to like including BOW OUT and the tricksy TEA URN. Many thanks Mara and Rotter.

  29. I struggled with parts of this, probably because I missed some of the anagram indicators. I felt the puzzle was a little heavy on the anagrams, but, as always, there were some brilliant clues. Time somewhere around the 30 min mark, which I am disappointed with. After two great days at the start of the week, the last two have been frustrating because I haven’t got on the setter’s wavelength at all.

    FOI – TYPE

    Enjoy your cruise Rotter and thanks as always for your informative and entertaining blog.

  30. A very enjoyable puzzle from Mara. Struggled with 1a Descant but the down clues made it the only choice. Liked 10 aTea Urn, 17a Othello and 24a Takings. No objection to the number of anagrams. Not keen on 6d Pressie – it never seems, to me at least, to be a proper word.
    FOI 5a Type
    LOI & COD 13a Tea Urn
    Enjoy your cruise Rotter!

  31. This one was on my wavelength for once. Finished in 6.40

    Only the mildest of shrugs at TEA URN. I used to sing in a choir, and agree that DESCANT was generally used to mean the twiddly bit written by Willcocks that contrasted with the melody, but I put it straight in anyway, since even a descant is a melody of sorts.

  32. Anagrams suit us, so a fairly quick solve, for us. Held up a little by putting in present for 6d, which caused problems with adjacent clues, until the penny dropped. Enjoyable puzzle, thanks Mara.

  33. Tiptoed around the grid finishing in the top half with TRAGIC. 10:50 of entertainment. COD, for personal reasons, to BOW OUT. 😊

  34. Beaten by 23a where the choice was ITCH or ETCH and I couldn’t see the parsing. Didn’t think of to etch as to score.
    Time taken was 1h22 after spending ages on CHOPSTICKS and TAKINGS which were both biffed then parsed.
    Learned that O can be love and that ground can, rather appropriately, be an anagrind.
    So after 3 solves in a row it’s back down a snake again.
    COD 13a TEA URN
    Thanks Mara and Rotter.

    1. I was wanting to put itch until etch occurred to me. If you’ve haven’t already realised “score” as in when you create a preliminary line or mark for deeper cutting. Even once I got etch, took me another minute to see ground anagrinding “the”. I recall one poster saying when they began cryptics the kept a list of anagrinds and when it went over 100 they came to realise setter pretty much use anything that fits the surface and indicates mixing up. I wasn’t particularly happy with “off” as an anagrind on charades clue.

      O=love does come up regularly though, so worth making a (mental) note.

  35. Finally completed after an hour and five minutes. Eventually got the TEA URN from the anagram but the reference to leaves completely passed me by. ETCH also took a while as I was thinking of the wrong sort of score.

  36. 21:59

    Well, this one started ok but the top left slowed me down before grinding to a halt over BOW OUT, TAKINGS and LOI CHOPSTICKS.

  37. Defeated today. Only got TAKINGS after I’d had some help with CHOPSTICK. Otherwise it seemed to slot in fairly well for me. Thanks Mara and TheRotter.

  38. raced through the first few clues and then slowed down
    thought pressie was a type of golf club for a while 😖

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