Times Quick Cryptic No 2337 by Izetti

Solving time: 7:43

A medium-paced challenge from Izetti requiring a little extra thought in places.

Initially, I was jumping around somewhat in this grid from Izetti. I wasn’t quite sure whether a couple of words in 9d were part of the definition or the parsing. And secondly, the definition of 18a seemed a little vague? However, I enjoyed building the answers to 8a and 14d but my COD goes to 12d.

What did you make of it?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 In first half of last month I would settle (6)
DECIDE – I’D (I would) inserted into DECE{mber} [first half of last month]
4 Gets along without replacement items (6)
SPARES – Double definition, the first of which I checked in Collins, an archaic meaning of SPARE is ‘to act or live frugally’.

Please shout if you prefer another definition!

8 Notice the heartless miser troubled in period before Christmas (13)
ADVERTISEMENT – Anagram [troubled] of T{h}E [the heartless] and MISER contained by [in] ADVENT (period before Christmas)
10 Obese woman needing to eat right (5)
LARDY – LADY (woman) containing [needing to eat] R (right)
11 Oliver, with some hesitation, becoming a crook (7)
TWISTER – TWIST (Oliver) with ER (some hesitation)
13 Hero’s lover hiding in very large shrubs (9)
OLEANDERS – LEANDER (Hero’s lover) inserted into [hiding in] OS (very large – OS is the abbreviation for ‘oversize’)

Spoiler alert: both LEANDER and Hero end up as toast.

17 Idiot for example with excellent weapon (7)
ASSEGAI – ASS (idiot) EG (for example) with AI (A1 = excellent)

A common weapon in Crosswordland – a pole used for throwing, made up of a wooden handle and an iron tip

18 Sound of brook at edge of forest (5)
TRILL – RILL (brook) [at edge of i.e. first or last letter of] {fores}T

Thought the definition was somewhat vague. Am I missing something?

19 Ruthless ego, if terribly smug (4-9)
SELF-RIGHTEOUS – Anagram [terribly] of RUTHLESS EGO IF
21 Tenacious, being followed (6)
DOGGED – Our second double definition of the day
22 A reply that’s silly for an actor (6)
PLAYER – Anagram [that’s silly] of A REPLY
1 Daughter arriving ahead of time with affection (6)
DEARLY – D (daughter) EARLY (arriving ahead of time)
2 Like big dark space with a cover, sun being obscured (9)
CAVERNOUS – Anagram [being obscured] of A COVER SUN
3 Revolutionary turning up close to city (5)
DERBY – RED (revolutionary) reversed [turning up – apposite as this is a down clue] gives DER then BY (close to)
5 Some top residents take a leading position (7)
PRESIDE – Hidden (some) in top residents
6 Grass in Sussex location (3)
RYE – RYE is a small town in East Sussex and an important member of the mediaeval Cinque Ports confederation

The grain of RYE grass is used to make flour, bread, beer, whisky and vodka.

7 Sally Army with performance for another world! (6)
SATURN – SA (Sally Army i.e. Salvation Army) TURN (performance)
9 Meaning to be at home, needing looking after (9)
INTENDING – IN (at home) TENDING (looking after)

I questioned whether INTENDING defines ‘meaning to be’ or whether IN defines ‘to be at home’ but didn’t seem to be crystal-clear either way

12 I am performing in bad-tempered act of witness (9)
TESTIMONY – I’M ON (I am performing) in TESTY (bad-tempered)
14 Procedure ultimately no good — read out words of warning (2,5)
EN GARDE – {procedur}E [ultimately i.e. last letter] NG (no good) followed by anagram [out] of READ
15 The old man getting exploited had a breather (6)
PAUSED – PA (the old man) USED (exploited)
16 More stuffy person finishing (6)
CLOSER – A person finishing off a presentation or a negotiation might be termed as a CLOSER
18 Little kid, a learner getting sum (5)
TOTAL – TOT (little kid) A L (learner)
20 Prisoner to droop with head hidden (3)
LAG – FLAG (to droop) without the first letter [with head hidden]


59 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2337 by Izetti”

  1. I can’t remember what slowed me down. Wonderred about SPARES. I think ‘to be’ in 9d is just connective tissue. 7:41.

  2. 10:52. The crossing CAVERNOUS and ADVERTISEMENT slowed me at the start as did (appropriately) CLOSER for ‘person finishing’ at the end. Don’t remember having come across TWISTER for ‘crook’ before. I liked OLEANDERS – about the first time I can remember the feared ‘shrub(s)’ def being a write-in.

    Thanks to Izetti and Mike

  3. 9 minutes. I thought this was a little easier than many of Izetti’s QC offerings. Although I spotted ADVENT as ‘period before Christmas’ right away, 8ac needed close attention to wordplay for me to come up with the answer. That was my only real delay.

  4. A bit too hard to be fun for me. Glad to finsh in a bit over 20. It look serious willpower not to bung in Derry where DERBY ended up to to finish – I fell hook, line and sinker for ‘close to city’ clueing Y even though I knew city was the definition. Didn’t know Leander so OLEANDERS went in on the strength of OS at the ends and the checkers I had. Not all green as despite solving ASSENGAI and feeling pleased with myself, I then typed in ASSENGiI. DOGGED and DOGGED and CLOSER and CLOSER sharing spelling but not pronunication slowed me down as those things always do. Thanks for the blog Mike, it’s showed me some of the craft I didn’t appreciate at the time.

    1. Yes, I fell for DERRY too, but didn’t think long enough about it, resulting in a DNF. Lord knows where I thought the second R came from – very careless of me. My time wasn’t good either, at 18 minutes. This one I have to award to The Don, with thanks to Mike for the blog.

  5. About 9 mins with a pinball of a grid and SPARES my LOI (not 100% parsed)

    Nothing too tricky looking back bar relying on previous puzzle memory to be relatively confident of ASSEGAI. Nice anagram for SELF RIGHTEOUS

    Like MikeH I thought the clue for TRILL was somewhat vague – is that close to an example of a ‘green paint’ clue?

    Thanks Izetti and Mr H

    1. Definitely vague. Collins has ‘trill’ – to sound sing or play (a trill, or with a trill), but that doesn’t really get us further. No green paint though.

    2. I can’t think of a one-word answer that would be green paint (just as ‘green’ isn’t, and ‘paint’ isn’t), since they would presumably be in the dictionary. ‘Green paint’, on the other hand, presumably wouldn’t be in a dictionary–as opposed to, say, ‘green room’, ‘green belt’, ‘Green Beret’, etc., which are all lexical items in their own right. (Of course, as Guy has pointed out, now that ‘green paint’ is being used as a term in crossword talk, it’s no longer green paint. As it were.)

      1. I love the thought that because “green paint” is now a saying it is no longer green paint. It reminds me of a mathematician friend of mine who insisted that all positive integers are interesting and there are no boring ones. When I challenged this he said “if there are boring integers there must be a smallest boring integer – which then by that fact alone becomes interesting”.

        1. .Ha! You’ve got to love a discussion around a least boring integer.

          I too love the thought that by the very fact that there is some sense of a crosswordland definition of it then no longer might something be truly described as ‘green paint’ unless of course it is paint that is green. Perhaps ‘green paint-ish’ does the job.

        2. ‘Green Paint’ would still need to find its way into one of the approved source dictionaries in order to be valid.

    3. “sound of brook” = “trill” and “brook (rill) at edge of forest (t)” = “trill”. Isn’t this a partial “& lit” or whatever you call it. I liked the clue! Or do brooks not trill, poetically at least??

      1. I suppose they could. Then again, ‘poetry’ allows for a laxer application of many syntactical and definition-based ‘rules’. For me, budgies trill, not brooks. That’s not to say there isn’t a perfectly good poem out there in which they do.

  6. All green in 11 minutes but not all parsed – I didn’t fully work out the anagrist fodder for Advertisement and didn’t get the second meaning of Spares at all. Oleander was my LOI but mainly because I had a mental blank on Hero and Leander and knew I was in for a letter search – fortunately it didn’t take too long.

    Not sure I see the issue with the clue for Trill. Perhaps not the tautest of clues but unless we are all holding Izetti to a higher standard than other setters, it seems passable to me.

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

  7. Felt as if I was still suffering from some of yesterday’s brainfog and was taken just over target as a result.
    Started with DECIDE and ADVERTISEMENT but the rest of the NW proved troublesome with DEARLY and LARDY holding out to the very end. A careless biffing of TESTAMENT also caused me problems in the SE until I paid attention to the wordplay.
    Crossed the line in 10.34 with SPARES remaining unparsed
    Thanks to Mike

  8. Finished and enjoyed. Liked OLEANDERS, SELF-RIGHTEOUS.
    Luckily someone was mentioning ASSEGAI the other day.
    TRILL (LOI) OK, biffed it early on but wanted to be sure. Also slow on CAVERNOUS.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

  9. SPARES was LOI, since I was very pleased with myself for remembering “without” as meaning “on the outside of”. Huh.

    Otherwise plain enough sailing though I needed TOTAL to be sure of the slightly iffy TRILL. All green in 07:54 for 1.2K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Izetti and Mike.


  10. 14.02

    Ouch! Got completely stuck on DECIDE and DERBY at the end – just couldn’t shake the certainty I was looking for a word meaning revolutionary with the last letter of city at the end.

    I’ll give that my COD for the personal bamboozlement.

    May not have helped that I also did this on paper and couldn’t decipher half of what I had written!

    Thanks all

  11. Medium paced is a good descriptor, one of those nagging medium pacers who is always on a length. Much better than yesterday for me though, when I took over 9 minutes, though I don’t recall why.

    LOI was LARDY, after the “D” triumvirate of DEARLY, DECIDE and DERBY. I think I liked SELF-RIGHTEOUS best of all.


  12. Looked harder than it turned out to be. Stuck SPARES in because they are replacement items , but without seeing what gets along with has to do with it. A steady solve otherwise – TRILL seems OK to me.

    1. So did I. And I think SPARES second definition is very abstruse. And TRILL is also extremely vague as “sound”.

  13. All correct but not all parsed in 11 minutes.
    LOI was OLEANDERS despite thinking of Leander when I first read the clue; shrubs are my problem.
    Prior to that CAVERNOUS; DECIDE was one of my unparsed which 2d helped to nail.
    There’s always something to learn in an Izetti puzzle and new solvers should remember ASSEGAI for example.

  14. After yesterday’s 39:12 I was greatly relieved to be home in 16:30 for this one. FOI DEARLY, LOI OLEANDERS. Didn’t know the second definition for SPARES but felt fairly confident it was ok. Nearly biffed DERrY for the city until I suddenly realised BY was in the vicinity of (close to) rather than Y being the end of (close to) city. No real issues with TRILL but I wasn’t convinced by LARDY=obese. It was helpful that all the anagrams came fairly quickly. COD TESTIMONY. Thanks Mike and Izetti.

  15. Way too difficult for me. Some very tough clues where I had no idea where to go.

    Never heard of ASSEGAI or OLEANDER

    Gave up in the end. Sorry, Izetti but I really did not enjoy this “QC” at all.

  16. 38:10 – Izetti always a challenge but have grown to feel I can get them done although having three NHOs – ASSEGAI, LEANDER*, TWISTER made it rather difficult to be confident when added to difficult defs for SPARES and CLOSER; plus a tough anagrind to spot in “being oscured”

    I assumed the def for INTENDING is “Meaning to be” as IN usually seems to be clued as “At home” in the QC.

    Reached last two of LARDY and DEARLY at 30-mins and required alphabet trawls.

    Liked PAUSED and DECIDE

    * Was always on my mind after yesterday’s Harry Potter clue and the wandmaker Mr Olivander, I think.

  17. Completed in 8.15 with all parsed, so quite happy with that as I thought it on the tougher side of average. Wasn’t sure about CLOSER for some reason, and spent a little time trying to think of an alternative. My LOI was OLEANDERS as I couldn’t remember the name of Hero’s mate. It helps however to have a wife who’s an avid gardener, and I’m sure there are some in our garden somewhere!

  18. Only three solved in first pass. A break and a cup of tea lead to it all going smoothly on the second attempt. Total time probably around 25 mins.

    ASSEGAI would be well known to any fans of Wilbur Smith novels.
    The first definition of SPARE (meaning get along without) is used in the phrase ‘Home James, and don’t spare the horses’.

    The use of Twister to mean crook is a new one for me.

    Thanks Mike and Izetti

    1. SPARE is also used in this definition in “I’ll spare you the details.” I don’t think it is really that obscure.

  19. Dnf…

    Looks like I’m going on a bad run. Had everything after 23 mins, but couldn’t pick out “Oleanders” for 13ac. My Greek mythology (or whatever it is) is non existent, so I wasn’t going to get it from the wordplay, and my knowledge of shrubs is poor as well. However, that’s no excuse, as this has come up time after time.

    Have to agree that “trill” for sound was vague. Always a difficult one to get your fingers around when playing the piano.

    FOI – 6dn “Rye”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 3dn “Derby” – for tricking everyone into thinking Derry.

    Thanks as usual!

  20. An on target solve but with a couple of unknowns. The second definition of SPARES is a new one for me and if I have seen ASSEGAI before then I don’t remember it. My LOI and COD is OLEANDERS. I have a driveway edged with them in Mallorca and they are bloomin’ lovely in late Spring. 8:27

  21. 7:05, all parsed and .9K makes for a Very Good Day, especially as it’s an Izetti! It was by no means a clean sweep, but I did solve in a fairly organised manner, which definitely speeds things up 😅
    I PAUSED for a few seconds as I pondered SPARES, but read it the same way as Mike. I put a tick next to TRILL – it may be a bit loose as a definition, but what a charming surface. OLEANDERS seem to make a regular appearance in crosswordland, but have mostly seen them in Mediterranean climes. * I wonder how well they’d do in the East Midlands?
    FOI Decide LOI Player COD Self-righteous
    Many thanks Izetti and Mike

    * Our Mallorca correspondent posted while I was typing – I can just imagine the border of oleanders in the sunshine 😊

  22. Had to ponder carefully over SPARES, SELF RIGHTEOUS and DERBY, but otherwise a steady solve. FOI, DECIDE, LOI, CLOSER. 8:57. Thanks Izetti and Mike.

  23. The importance of perseverance! My internet connection has been on the blink lately so I have persevered with QCs, without cheating by looking at the blog, more often of late. This was a case in point. Completed in 69 mins. Dredged up assegai and oleanders from somewhere eventually (did the Zulus use assegais? Nod to Michael Caine) Enjoyed the contributions above looking up ‘green paint’ and ‘interesting integers’ ….

  24. 19.14 Nearly went with Derry, spent too long trying to put something like self-regarding into 19 and finished with CLOSER and TRILL. Tough.

  25. Six minutes in, first pass of the acrosses complete, but no clues solved! Outlook bleak, but DEARLY and RYE (I live in Sussex) got me started and I had five answers in after my first pass of the downs. Moderate progress over the next 20 minutes or so meant that I arrived at the half-hour mark with seven clues to solve.

    Then, nothing at all for the next 15 minutes (how can that still happen?) until DOGGED and LAG finally appeared. My last five clues (OLEANDERS, TESTIMONY, TRILL, PLAYER and CLOSER) together took a further 10+ minutes and I crossed the line in 58 minutes. So much for my plea yesterday for an easier ride after two very hard days earlier this week.

    No real gripes today – just my lack of GK, poor vocabulary, inexpert parsing and geologically slow recall processes in the brain.

    Many thanks to Izetti and Mike.

  26. DNF – Derry instead of DERBY. Completely fooled by ‘close to city’. Knew it didn’t parse but foolishly stuck to my guns! Otherwise slow, steady progress around the grid. LOI TRILL. TWISTER and ASSEGAI were new to me but generously clued. COD to PAUSED. Thanks Mike and Izetti.

  27. Slightly over average difficuly for me so slightly over average time, and enjoyed the challenge. I parsed 4a as in “SPARE me your blushes!”, but suspect that Mike’s definition is what Izetti intended. No problem with TRILL: it is the sound made when a musician rapidly plays two adjacent notes in succession several times. I think I have heard it applied also to birdsong.: DEARLY and LARDY both took far longer than they should.. FOI DECIDE, LOI CLOSER, COD DOGGED. Thanks Mike and Don.

  28. Having read and been richly entertained by all of the above, I feel the need to share a couple of thoughts I had while solving. “Spares” caused me to remember Mr Godfrey (Dad’s Army) asking to be spared from guard duty, drill etc. which would get along without him. Assegai made me think of Charlie Drake’s bent version, which happened of course because his boomerang would not come back. Thanks to Izetti and Mike.

  29. I don’t have an exact time for this, due to a fairly traumatic car issue taking up most of the day and leaving me in a state of mind not ideal for solving an Izetti. Having said that, I did manage to finish with everything parsed – though just partially in the case of Spares. Tricky but rewarding, with CoD to 17ac, Assegai. Invariant

  30. 6:15 – Could have been quicker as I dithered over 18a, not knowing the word ‘rill’ for brook, until I decided that I couldn’t think of another answer and wrote it in.

    However, since I wrote ‘DERRY’ instead of ‘DERBY’ (despite not being able to parse the ‘RY’), it was all in vain – DNF 🙁

    As for Hero and Leander ending up as toast – they made rather soggy toast.

  31. I always find Izetti tricky, and today was no different. Finished with aids (for OLEANDER and LARDY) in 21:something. If I ever knew that Hero was a specific person in mythology, I forgot it today, and spent ages trying to make a hero’s name work with the crossers. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.
    Thanks to Izetti and Mike.

  32. DNF. 4 clues short. A tough workout but no complaints. I always thought brooks babbled rather than trilled but that may be just alliteration.
    Derby sailed in Londonderry would max out 13 letters. But the clue? – cockney arse loses wind in NI city, we hear. J

  33. Poor showing after nailing the 15×15 early today. Walked into the DERRY trap. And just couldn’t think of the shrub. SPARES and TRILL both felt a bit dodgy.

  34. Not as easy as many recent Izettis for me. I was pleased to finish just 2 mins over my target but completely bamboozled by DER?Y. I joined rotter and many others by entering DERRY (in desperation) so it was actually a dnf.
    I got trill but didn’t like it and I thought SPARES was a duff clue.
    Not a great week for me so we’ll see what the next 2 days bring. John M.

  35. I finished this one but was somewhere just short of the hour mark. How is is that I recently achieved five escapes from the SCC in the space of six days but now feel like a total beginner once again? Baffling and utterly frustrating. I can’t decide if I am just on a bad day or if this was a truer reflection of my abilities when confronted by a challenging QC. Most of the word play simply passed me by.


    Thanks for the blog which, as always, I found both interesting and illuminating.😊

  36. I’m with Poison Wyvern, very hard and very discouraging. My wife got 2 clues in 10 minutes and gave up. I persevered and “only” had 5 unsolved when I gave up. Do I even bother tomorrow?

    1. It has felt very discouraging recently for us of lesser ability. I can only say have a look tomorrow and if it’s setter you feel confident with give it a go. If you struggle give up before you get frustrated. I have essentially given up hoping for fast completions and just hoping to grind them out to a solve.

  37. Completed this late due to other commitments. Solved 16d without understanding the word play, but much delayed by 1a decide, We were looking to January as last month, presume the word last is elastic? Eventually decided Decide must be the answer, it would have helped if we had solved 1d dearly before.

    1. I failed on that one too (in the sense of ‘like you’, but also in the sense of it not being my only failure today!). It would have helped if it had been clued as ‘in first half of THE last month…’ I don’t generally get to print these until late afternoon for an evening solve – this means I benefit from all the Comments, but seldom get to join in with any added value. Regards.

  38. Thanks for your comment, we should have thought more laterally on the word last to include last month of the year. We are not beginners by any means, but still learning!

Comments are closed.