Times Quick Cryptic No 2303 by Trelawney

A nice puzzle from Trelawney, early in this new year. I thought I had completed in 9 minutes until I came to write the blog, when I discovered that I had made a mistake at 18d, which means a DNF for me. It was only when I tried to parse my original answer at 18d that I realised the error of my ways, and saw the light.

Thanks to Trelawney, and how did you all get on?


1 PM and a baker initially studied unleavened food (5,5)
PITTA BREAD – There are two William PITTs to choose from as a candidate for the PM part of the clue. Whomsoever you choose, he is followed by A (a) and B{aker} (initially) and finally READ (studied).  I like PITTA BREAD!

8 Small vehicle to rent out is red (7)
SCARLET – S{mall} CAR (vehicle) and LET (to rent out).

9 Commanding officer conceals dog (5)
DINGO – Hidden inside {comman}DING O{fficer}.  A DINGO, of course, is an Australian wild dog.

10 A number flipped over for part of graph (4)
AXIS – A (a) and SIX (number) reversed (flipped over).

11 Scotsman wearing delicate fabric for sport (8)
LACROSSE – ROSS (Scotsman) inside (wearing) LACE (delicate fabric). I worried at first about ROSS only being a Scotsman, but looking it up afterwards, I found that Wikipedia gives it as ‘an English-language name derived from Gaelic, most commonly used in Scotland’, so I guess it is justified.  Incidentally, I am a great fan of Wikipedia and its philosophy.  I have just made my small annual donation, and urge others of you to do the same if you agree with its aims and are able to do so.

13 Agreement to have lunch, perhaps, during test (6)
TREATY – EAT (have lunch, perhaps) inside (during) TRY (test).

14 Fuss about a US soldier’s slow movement (6)
ADAGIO – ADO (fuss) containing (about) A GI (a US soldier).

17 Bowler, perhaps, might ultimately strain to get this? (3,5)
HAT TRICK – HAT (bowler, perhaps) {migh}T (ultimately) and RICK (strain). A HAT TRICK in cricket is achieved when a bowler gets three wickets with successive balls – a rare and difficult feat.

19 Food shop I ran in retirement (4)
DELI – I LED (I ran) reversed (in retirement).

21 One is playing music, perhaps (5)
NOISE – Anagram (playing) of [ONE IS]. As I attain an age in the mid-70s, I appreciate more and more that the difference between music and noise is a question of generation.

22 Run dramatic work with empty theatre (7)
OPERATE – OPERA (dramatic work) with the outside letters of T{heatr}E (empty theatre).

23 Crooned with young ladies in shades (10)
SUNGLASSES – SUNG (crooned) and LASSES (young ladies).


2 Picture from one publication in English (7)
IMAGINE – I (one) MAG (publication) IN E (in E{nglish}).

3 Instruct famous archer (4)
TELL – Double definition, the second referring to William TELL, the Swiss folk hero who was a supposed marksman with the crossbow.

4 Cricketer leaving middle a hero (6)
BATMAN – BAT{s}MAN (cricketer, dropping middle letter – leaving middle).

5 Adore old ruined city that’s fabulously rich (2,6)
EL DORADO – Anagram (ruined) of [ADORE OLD].

6 Some Sudanese people found in Scandinavia (5)
DANES – Hidden (some) in {su}DANES{e}.

7 Father and uncle finally phone for VIP transport (10)
POPEMOBILE – POP (father) and {uncl}E (finally) with MOBILE (phone).

8 Device her postman misdirected (10)
SMARTPHONE – Anagram (misdirected) of [HER POSTMAN].

12 Fish with temperature taken in by medic (8)
STURGEON – SURGEON (medic) containing T{emperature}.

15 Something explosive seen regularly in class (7)
GRENADE – EN (sEeN regularly) inside GRADE (class).

16 Teach group of swimmers (6)
SCHOOL – Double definition.

18 Pursues one of two options (5)
TAILS – Double definition, the second being one of two options when flipping a coin. Initially, I entered TRIES for this, which wasn’t right and didn’t parse. I don’t know what I was thinking – probably rushing to get inside 10 minutes. Serves me right!

20 Soldiers’ dining room is a shambles (4)
MESS – Double definition.

64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2303 by Trelawney”

  1. Just over 15 minutes. I misread the clue for BATMAN and was puzzled Batter and Batsman wouldn’t work and thinking a batman was a signaller on an airfield. Also I was held up by thinking the number was X not SIX in AXIS. And this is after trying out grid before AXIS. ROSS for the Scotsman was slow for me to see too. I grumbled over POPEMOBILE because the definition VIP transport seemed too general for a vehicle designed for just one person. Still , I see it does work- sometimes it’s just fun to grumble.

  2. Also put TRIES, and thought it might be a double def, and saw the coin toss with an earlier attempt at FLIPS. I was sure the cricket thing was going to be OFF something, ( drive, break, etc ). My main problem was the broad definition of “ device” for the SMARTPHONE anagram, which took an age. Just about anything could be called a device. Even an anagram is a device.

    Struggled also with finding a Scotsman for LACROSSE, trying Ian, Mac, Fergus, Angus. Also slow to see STURGEON, and that’s a chestnut for sure.

    DINGO & DANES were two similar, intersecting “hidden” clues.


    1. The Golux, in Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks, describes himself as ‘the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device’.

  3. 7:16. Good to be able to get off to a quick start in the top left corner and no major hold-ups with the rest, though inexplicably I couldn’t shift the officer’s valet sense of BATMAN out of my mind until true to form, Pow!, the caped crusader appeared like a flash. Incidentally, we’re not supposed to refer to a BATSMAN or batswoman these days, but to a “batter”. Mm…, I’ll say no more.

    No problems with ROSS for ‘Scotsman’; makes a change from Ian or Mac. I liked POPEMOBILE for ‘VIP transport’ (a bit of a pity, but I suppose to have fitted in “Batmobile” would have been too obvious) and especially the HAT TRICK semi-&lit.

    Thanks to Trelawney and to TheRotter – I agree with your comments about Wikipedia and your recommendation to make a donation (if possible) to keep it going

  4. Struggled with a couple of the clues, especially SMARTPHONE. As Merlin says, ‘device’ is an infelicitous (all right, poor) definition; and I had a hell of a time juggling the anagrist around in my head (I never write the letters down in a QC). I put in LACROSSE because it had to be, but didn’t see ROSS until after that. 8:44.

  5. Nice puzzle. Loved Popemobile and surface of 23a Crooned with… Struggled with Lacrosse. Got misdirected in 6a and got wondering about a (non existent) ancient African tribe the INAVI hidden in the letters of Scandinavian. Less than 30 mins in the middle of the night a good time for me.

  6. Fast start but slowed to a crawl with just BATMAN and LACROSSE to go. Knew what I was looking for with LACROSSE but couldn’t bring either half to mind – spend a while trying to remember if there weas something particular doilies are made of – and LACROSSE wouldn’t come to to mind when trying to think of sports. Good surface for BATMAN but I held myself up trying to get ‘batter’ to parse. Ended up all green in 15.

  7. FOI: TELL.
    LOI: TAILS once the penny dropped.
    Favourites: HAT TRICK, SUNGLASSES and TAILS.
    All done in 20 minutes.

  8. COD to DINGO.
    As it’s Trelawney I looked for a theme but cannot see one other than SMARTPHONE and MOBILE

    1. Interesting you should mention a theme as I don’t have any noted in my records for this setter other than a hint of a sea-faring flavour in his very first puzzle QC1420 blogged by me in August 2019. That might have fitted in with Trelawney as the name of the Squire in R L Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Of course my records are far from infallible as far as Ninas and themes are concerned as who knows what we have all missed over the years?

      Another reason to expect a theme would be if Trelawney were to be yet another pseudonym of RR, the Crossword Editor, who delights in such things, but I have no evidence of that one way or another at the moment.

        1. Many thanks. I commented early that day before the suggestion had been made, and never returned. I have noted it now.

  9. 29 mins with a 15 minute break and was about to give up when LOI POPEMOBILE popped out of nowhere.

    Re 8D I agree there are many types of device but I don’t think it’s an unfair or poor clue at all. In tech and media (not what you’d call specialist fields) ‘device’ is frequently used to refer specifically to mobile phones (and/or tablets, as the one on which I type).


    Nice to see ROSS not Ian as the Scot today (I always think it should be Iain anyway)

    Thanks Trelawney for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle and thanks Rotter, particularly for the fine parsing of HAT TRICK which had eluded me.

  10. Like others, I got stuck on my LOI, the SMARTPHONE anagram for a while and pondered without success as to how BATMAN worked before putting it in. COD to HAT TRICK. Thanks Rotter and Trelawney. 7:10.

  11. A nice puzzle, done but not quite all parsed in just over 9 minutes, with the unravelling of Hat-trick escaping me – thanks Rotter for explaining that! (In passing, I’ve always hyphenated it – anyone else?)

    LOI was Batman, as I too tried Batter at first when I only had the B-T— checkers. Sometimes one can try too hard to be politically correct! It took the third checker to finally set me straight.

    Many thanks Rotter for the blog. I do rather agree about the difference between music and noise being a generational thing.

    1. “Batsman” is no longer an approved term. In these days of equality the term is “Batter”.

  12. A good puzzle. Unlike Kevin, I had to write out the anagrist for SMARTPHONE before it clicked. My last in were LACROSSE and POPEMOBILE and these three clues took me a couple of minutes over my target. A mer regarding music/noise – I get it but it is an unfortunate association.
    Thanks to Trelawney and Rotter for a good blog – well worth a re-visit to check my, sometimes, superficial parsing. John M.
    P.s. Like Rotter (and others), I made my modest annual contribution to Wikipedia a while ago.

  13. Pretty similar experience to above. I did revert to writing out the anagrist for SMARTPHONE – no problem with the definition .

    TAILS was my LOI, and a contender for COD. The other was BATMAN. POPEMOBILE was also decent in that I constructed it.

    Overall, I thought this a very good puzzle.


  14. 7.45 with a typo

    SMARTPHONE needed only a couple of checkers but LACROSSE and LOI POPEMOBILE were what delayed me at the end. Even with POP…I was struggling to make sense of it. Nice PDM.

    Thanks all

  15. Started off well, finished badly. Had to use my three lives and still had four to answer after that. Got two, then got fed up and just entered HAT TRICK for 17a and TRIES for 18d. By this time I just couldn’t care.

    DNF as 18d was wrong.

    DNF (1 incorrect).

      1. Thanks.

        The lives thing was something I used to do when I first started solving cryptic crosswords. However, because I was a noob to these types of crosswords I found it too restrictive. Now that I’m celebrating the start of my third year here, I thought I’d re-introduce the limitation. Also, I consider any solve time over 60 minutes to be a DNF. I’ll gradually reduce that down to 45 then 30 minutes.

        I consider TheRotter to be the level I aspire to.

  16. Unlike yesterday most of the long perimeter clues needed some checkers before revealing their secrets. No problem with devices as a definition for SMARTPHONE – I often hear at the start of meetings and things the expression ‘please ensure all devices are turned to silent’.
    My initial thought that 7d might be limousine took me down the root of luxury vehicles rather than VIP ones until the hidden DINGO put me on the right track.
    Finished in 7.37 with LOI NOISE and COD to SUNGLASSES
    Thanks to Rotter

  17. 22:38 … I get on well with Trelawney’s setting and actually a little disappointed not to have escaped SCC. Had 4-5 left at 12mins but couldn’t unravel SMARTPHONE or see POPEMOBILE. The latter wasn’t helped by missing the hidden DINGO so while I thought it was that, didn’t commit to it. I even put POPE- in for a while and it was only when I wrote it down horizontally that it immediately jumped out. Other two problems were NOISE (should have seen that quicker) and TREATY which really needed the T from SMARTPHONE to get as –E-T- aren’t much to work with.

    An interesting mix of old and new clues with SCARLET, EL-DORADO, STURGEON, SCHOOL going in quickly on the old side while HAT-TRICK, TAILS and GRENADE required more thought.

    Not particularly happy with Device as a definition for SMARTPHONE. Not because it’s wrong but because there’s so many possibilities. But I’m not sure how you clue it better without turning it into a BIF. But maybe that’s what the QC is allowed to do.

    Anyway, all done fairly quickly and another one in the successful solve column.

  18. Solved steadily, although taking time to see both POPEMOBILE and TAILS. COD HAT TRICK for me.

  19. An enjoyable puzzle. I was held up by 10a as my IMAGINE had gone in as IMASGIN due to FFT. I could therefore make no sense of __G_ until I spotted the typo. SMARTPHONE then dropped into place and LOI, NOISE, followed. 7:58. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.

  20. Some who know me think I’m a bit of a rotter, and I certainly endorse our blogger’s views on noise (of which muzak is the most objectionable!) and wikipedia, to which I also have a modest standing order. I also pencilled in TRIES at 18d until the penny dropped. A pleasant solve, several laughs and not too easy, completed in average time. FOI IMAGINE, LOI BATMAN, COD TAILS. 4d took me ages. I kept trying to make something of BATTER, believing that, now that women play cricket, BATSMAN would nor have got past the PC censor! Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.

  21. Mostly fine but stumped by BATMAN. Eventually put Botham in after 34 minutes (the last 15 spent on that one clue) though I knew it couldn’t be right for multiple reasons. It seems so simple when you see the answer. COD to POPEMOBILE. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.

    1. I think Botham is a splendid answer! As one who saw him bat at Old Trafford in the 1981 Ashes series where he achieved immortality, I think it is entirely appropriate.

  22. I struggled with this. Thought of DINGO and BATMAN early but could not parse until later, much later.
    SMARTPHONE took me ages to unravel despite having the correct anagrist and LOI was NOISE.
    No complaints. Lots of excellent clues. COD to SUNGLASSES.
    Just over 20 minutes but at least all correct.

  23. A fairly steady solve, but the occasional head scatchers provided enough of a challenge to push me out to 18mins -thankfully a last minute second look at an unparsed 18d came up (with) Tails. Overall, an enjoyable QC with a good blend of clues, my favourite being 4d, Batman for the eventual pdm. Invariant

  24. Another reasonable time for me coming in at just under 15 mins – getting SMARTPHONE and POPEMOBILE fairly quickly certainly helped. FOI IMAGINE, LOI TAILS, after being tempted by TRIES like many others. I liked SUNGLASSES but COD for me HATTRICK. I support Wikipedia as well.

  25. Knew Tries was wrong but failed to get TAILS. Struggled but finally solved POPEMOBILE and SMARTPHONE. FOI SCARLET. Luckily LACROSSE sprang to mind. Put DINGO but failed to see hidden at first. Liked HAT-TRICK, SUNGLASSES. No problem with BATMAN!
    Thanks vm, Rotter.

  26. Stumped by BATMAN and POPEMOBILE which I looked up at the 20 min mark. No time unfortunately to persevere today. Failed to spot hidden DINGO, otherwise all parsed as I went along. A few chestnuts which I was pleased to spot early on (STURGEON, DELI, EL DORADO, MESS, SCARLET). Liked SUNGLASSES, HAT TRICK and TAILS.
    Many thanks to Trelawney and to Rotter for an informative blog.

  27. 14 mins…

    Enjoyed this and thought there were some nice clues, although it took an age to see the hidden “Dingo” in 9ac.

    Currently travelling across country on bus (as there are no trains) – trying to fill in the grid whilst it was moving around was like that test scene from Men In Black.

    FOI – 1ac “Pitta Bread”
    LOI – 4dn “Batman”
    COD – 4dn “Batman”

    Thanks as usual!

  28. Held up by batman, not associating him with being just a hero.
    Also lacrosse, hat trick, tails and popemobile. Pop for father took a long time.

    COD Tails.

  29. After a good run of fairly speedy finishes I struggled a bit with this finishing in 13.07.
    POPEMOBILE held me up for a long time, but my main problem was 4dn where I had BATTER for a long time, thinking BATT(L)ER was a bit on the weak side as a definition for hero! It was only when ROSS as a Scottish name occurred to me, that LACROSSE fell into place. My LOI was therefore BATMAN, where I finally returned to correct my mistake.

  30. Solved steadily in 17 minutes. Failed to parse PITTA BREAD and GRENADE, so thanks to Rotter for the explanations. Otherwise no lengthy hold-ups, although I did spend a little time trying to think of a sport beginning MAC… at 11ac. Managed to avoid putting in TRIES at 18dn (only because it never occurred to me). Took far too long to see the rather obvious STURGEON at 12dn – should have been a gimme.

    FOI – 8ac SCARLET
    COD – 23ac SUNGLASSES, closely followed by 14ac ADAGIO

    Thanks to Trelawney.

  31. A rare completion for me and needed couple of hints from friends! Took me just under an hour. Lacrosse was tough. Needed all the other letters to see the sport. Wasn’t getting Ross in lace.

    1. Well done Adam.

      Worth make a mental note of LACE as a fine material or delicate fabric as it comes up from time to time. I’m fairly sure the letters LACE are useful in a variety of words although I’m struggling to think of any beyond LACROSSE and NECKLACE!

  32. 18.21, having spent five minutes on NOISE and TAILS.

    Minor nit: pitta is a leavened bread.

    If you donate to Wikipedia I would recommend a look at where they spend the money. The encyclopaedia is surprisingly cheap to operate.

  33. As I said yesterday – really inconsistent! Heading towards the SCC today, with 17 mins on the clock and one to go which I was stuck on, so I went away for a bit. That worked – LOI solved in a matter of seconds on my return. Phones seemed to have caused me a couple of problems today. SMARTPHONE and HAT TRICK took ages, I didn’t understand TAILS till I read the blog, and hiddens continue to be my stumbling block! So Not A Good Day 😕
    But quite a fun puzzle for all that – the problem was definitely mine!
    FOI Scarlet LOI Popemobile COD El Dorado
    Thanks Trelawney and Rotter

  34. A dnf after 1 hour (my personal time limit for 2023] with 7 clues still to go.
    The hidden clues such as Dingo should be easy but are often, as in this case, well hidden so that gets my COD.
    I also donate to Wikipedia as it is an invaluable resource.
    Thanks to Trelawney and Rotter.

    1. The usual advice is ‘when all else fails, look for a hidden’. The problem is, when you are new to this game, you can end up spending a lot of time looking for hiddens. . .

  35. Very tired today after watching the panto at Leeds City Varieties last night. I laughed so much I was in pain. Anyone remember The Good Old Days, which was recorded there?

    Busy at work as well so only a brief comment. Loved this QC by Trelawney and came in just short of 20 mins. A host of fine clues, with POPEMOBILE taking the laurels.

    Great blog as always. Thanks Rotter!

  36. Getting PITTA BREAD straight away set me on the path for a very fast solve (for me) – 18 minutes and a rare adventure out of the SCC.

    The down clues put up slightly less resistance than the acrosses, but I found myself jumping around successfully all over the grid. I particularly enjoyed POPEMOBILE, SUNGLASSES and HAT-TRICK.

    My LOI was BATMAN (I always struggle with clues where one or more letters have to be removed) and, for once, I fully parsed every clue.

    Many thanks to Trelawney for a true QC and TheRotter.

  37. 18 mins for me but it is still a good day if I finish it .
    A device immediately made me think of smartphone – had the P and an H available made it jump out.
    Completely stumped by Ross for Scot ?
    Loved popemobile ……

  38. 10.12 – slower than yesterday, but better than earlier in the week.LOI SMARTPHONE – happy with device as the definition, since it allows the pun about everyone being left to their own devices.
    Good to see Ross as the Scotsman instead of the usual Ian.

  39. I am surprised that I am the only one who started off biffing BROWN BREAD and then WILL instead of TELL but I am not complaining as I still romped home with all correct in 6:51. COD to SUNGLASSES.

  40. In my experience of cricket there is no such thing as a batman. There is a batter or a batsman.

    1. It is BATSMAN as the cricketer, from which the middle letter (S) is dropped, to leave BATMAN (hero, as in BATMAN and Robin).

  41. That’s why the clue said ‘leaving middle’. Take out the middle letter of BATSMAN and you have BATMAN, a comic book hero.

  42. On edit: This post was intended as a reply to mozbadel’s question to me (above), but I have placed it incorrectly in the trail.

    SCC = Slowcoach Club. The SCC is populated by those ordinary mortals who finish in 20+ minutes. I am fast approaching my 700th QC, but have gone sub-20 on fewer than 20 occasions. Good luck, mozbadel.

    On edit (again):
    I now can’t find mozbadel’s question to me. Am I going mad?

  43. Some fun clues today but a DNF as I forgot that I hadn’t resolved 4d – Botham fitted but obviously incorrect solution then left it uncompleted. Doh. Surely an error in 1a as pitta bread is yeast leavened…….. (even says so in Wikipedia, to which I also subscribe). Missed the hidden Dingo but what else could it have been! Liked 10a axis, 17a hat trick, 8d smartphone.
    FOI 1a Pitta bread – despite the error
    LOI 9a Dingo
    COD 23a the easy enough but engaging Sunglasses.

  44. 18:42 here. I tried to get the long ones around the edge first, but only SUNGLASSES came, so that tactic probably backfired on me. All parsed except for DINGO, my LOI, so that was a face-palm moment when I came here and saw the hidden.

    I’ll echo chabuduo’s comment about pitta being a leavened bread: at least according to the Greek cooking lesson that I took last week! I held off on entering that answer until it could be nothing else.

    Thanks to both Trelawney and TheRotter.

  45. DNF

    Romped through this 6 minutes inside my target only to find I’d been rather too hasty biffing TWINS for one of two options. D’oh!

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