Times Quick Cryptic No 2349 by Felix

A neat and entertaining Quick Cryptic from Felix today. I have several ticks of appreciation for good clues on my copy but my COD goes to excellent semi-&lit 7D. Now we always get some sort of theme or Nina from Felix, but I’m afraid he has defeated my attempts to identify it today. Can anyone find it? The puzzle took me 5:47, which is just a little over average for me. Thank-you Felix. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword here. If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 72 here.

Update: Apologies, but I wont be able to respond to any more comments until the evening as I am walking a distant stretch of the Angles Way today. But I’m sure you wont miss me.

Further Update 13th March : After an appeal to our Puzzles Editor, I can reveal the Nina in the puzzle….

SPEEDY and ARCANE across the middle of the puzzle are synonyms for QUICK CRYPTIC as are the symmetrical answers FAST and DARK and UNCOMPLICATED and ROCKET SCIENCE.

Thanks Mick and Richard for the enlightenment!

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Sensitive of Parisian to tell tale about pet (8)
DELICATEDE (of in French) LIE (tell tale) about CAT (pet).
5 Not eating quickly (4)
FAST – Double definition.
8 Simple clue I can’t do MP compiled (13)
UNCOMPLICATED – (clue I can’t do MP)* [compiled]. Are there any MPs who are crossword compilers, I wonder?
10 Singer that’s forgotten organist’s central piece (5)
TENOR – Hidden in forgTEN ORganist [central piece].
11 Chaps in hole next to old tree (7)
PIMENTOMEN (chaps) in PIT (hole), O (old). The tree that produces Allspice berries. I didn’t know that.
12 Quick and quiet, sickly on the outside (6)
SPEEDYSEEDY (sickly) outside P (piano; quiet).
13 Cryptic formula for caustic soda in use, last of all (6)
ARCANE -Final letters of formulA foR caustiC sodA iN usE, [last of all]
16 Hidden bay, the colour of a sunset? (7)
COVEREDCOVE (bay) RED (colour of a sunset).
18 One often walked on after quiet sign of indifference (5)
SHRUGSH (quiet) RUG (one often walked on). Nice.
20 It’s difficult stuff, researching salad ingredient? (6,7)
ROCKET SCIENCE – Doubled definition, the second a cryptic hint.
21 Edna broke every so often: not fair! (4)
DARK – Alternate letters of eDnA bRoKe, [every so often].
22 Free from distress, father, getting out more? (8)
PAINLESSPA (father) IN LESS (out more). Ha ha.
1 Point about unemployment benefit initially causes hesitancy (5)
DOUBTDOT (point) about Unemployment Benefit [initially].
2 Permit enclosed grabbed by parasites (7)
LICENCEENC (enclosed) in, [grabbed by], LICE (parasites).
3 Companionship displayed by river, on a road, around a lake (11)
CAMARADERIECAM (river), A RD (road) [around] A, ERIE (lake).
4 Useful, extremely, to have bits of advice about flowers (6)
TULIPS –  Outside letters of U{sefu}L, [extremely], inside TIPS (bits of advice).
6 Chekhov for example in Cantonese (5)
ANTON – [in] cANTONese.
7 One developing to leap around pond finally? (7)
TADPOLE – [developing] (to leap)* [around] ponD [finally]. A lovely semi-&lit, where the whole clue is the definition and all but the “One” being the wordplay.
9 End of majestic spoonerism ruined concentration (11)
COMPRESSION – [End of] majesti(c spoonerism)* [ruined].
12 Guaranteed sore on the outside has healed (7)
SECUREDS{or}E [on the outside], CURED (healed).
14 A large stove, we hear, put in order! (7)
ARRANGEA, RRANGE, sounds like, [we hear], RANGE (large stove).
15 Soda’s drunk with eastern port (6)
ODESSA – (soda’s + e (eastern))* [drunk].
17 Minister taking vehicle after six (5)
VICARVI (six in Roman numerals) CAR (vehicle).
19 Invitees have no time to speculate (5)
GUESSGUES{t}S (invitees) without the, [have no], T (time).

76 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2349 by Felix”

  1. 19:35. 1935-Detroit Tigers win their first of four baseball World Series! Enjoyed PAINLESS, ROCKET SCIENCE and TADPOLE most (although I tried toddler first for the latter). I was looking for a “spoonerism” in the clue for COMPRESSION but then luckily suspected something else was going on with the small”s” to start.

  2. I also looked for a Spoonerism at 9ac, and wasted some time doing so. I also took ‘sickly on the outside’ to indicate S__Y; another chunk of time wasted trying to parse SPEEDY until I finally twigged. 6:26.

  3. I am probably missing something but for 5A how is Fast defined by ‘not eating’? FastING obviously is but I am struggling with Fast. Nice puzzle though. I started and finished steadily for me but annoying got held up in the middle to finish just outside my target of 30 mins.

    1. I think this from SOED covers it, but it’s marked ‘rare’: fast n. the action of fasting; abstinence from food.

      1. Thanks. You beat me to it. I was about to say a FAST is an act or period of abstinence, e.g. not eating. A bit like STASIS is not moving. I didn’t know the use of FAST as a noun was rare, though.

        1. It may not be marked rare in other dictionaries. After SOED I only tried Collins but there’s so much to read in the entry there I gave up without finding the meaning I was looking for.

  4. 14 minutes, so another missed target making 3 of 5 this week. No clues in particular held me up but my brain was running slow.

    If there is a theme it’s surely something obscure. Or perhaps Felix is teasing us today by not having one after a run of at least 20 consecutive puzzles with something extra to be discovered?

  5. Not enough care on LICENCE meant I earned a pink square for ‘license’, saw ‘lice’, assumed ‘ens’ was what used to get put in letters and moved on. Enc makes much more sense. I found this to be generally tough, I was miles away from ROCKET SCIENCE and took multiple alphabet trawls to get science from S_I_N_E – a P at second letter was too tempting. Also held up my COVERED, SPEEDY and ARCANE. Not all green in 17 to end a good week on a low.

  6. 13:06. There wasn’t too much ARCANE here and I can’t remember what I found difficult though the surface ROCKET SCIENCE was very sneaky and PIMENTO was a new, not an ‘old tree’. Can’t see a theme or anything else in the grid.

    TADPOLE was the best QC clue of the week for me.

    Thanks to Felix and John

  7. 17:31. 1731 Treaty of Vienna is signed between the Holy Roman Empire, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic and Spain.

    Just got over the line, when a PAINFREE had blocked the RHS. After trying to remember the formula for Caustic Soda I twigged what was going on in ARCANE. things fell into place with LOI DOUBT. I thought Unemployment benefit was Universal Credit, so tried getting UC in. Doesn’t everyone call it the Dole, not UB?


    1. I also tried to get Dole in 1D, especially with the first D checker, but I think the clue is Unemployment Benefit initially, which gives the UB.

    2. UB40, English reggae band, chose their group’s name after the form that unemployed persons were given to mark their attendance, I believe. I too was looking for a dole link.

  8. 18.05 for back-to-back SCC escapes and 4th of the month albeit TADPOpE typo but this ain’t the world championships. Finally getting the sort of times I knew I was capable of when I started out and which gave so much frustration that they took so long to come.

    Nothing too troubling but also enough to provoke thought in places and some witty definitions and wordplay like ROCKET-SCIENCE, PAINLESS, rug of SHRUG, COVE-RED.

    NHO PIMENTO but trusted the wordplay and forgot about it. As I saw LICENCE, I envisaged a C/S spelling disaster but LICE was clear enough – well done Felix!

    COMPRESSION was my LOI, I realised it was unlikely to be a Spoonerism as a single word but had to get the pen and paper out for a couple of minutes and cross off letters.

    Time for the week 3hr09. Unsurprisingly bogged down by Tuesday’s 1hr16 and Weds 55+. The other 3 were a 19-min avg.

    Have a good weekend everybody 👍

      1. Thanks John – definitely not a write-in today but I was obviously in the right mindset

  9. All done in just over 10 minutes, which is fast for me for a Felix puzzle – and a bonus snippet of GK learnt too, as I never knew Pimento was a tree. Camaraderie needed careful attention to get the spelling right – I have had a pink square for CamEraderie before now.

    I join those in awarding Tadpole the COD. A lovely clue.

    Many thanks John for the blog and I look forward to the Saturday Special

  10. 20mins for a careless fat-thumbed pink square. Nice puzzle.
    CAMARADERIE and COMPRESSION my favourites – like others here I was thrown looking for a Spoonerism in the clue.
    Thanks Felix and John

    1. I thought that quite clever of our setter sending everyone up the garden path looking for a Spoonerism.

  11. A throroughly entertaining puzzle – and no Dickens as an added bonus.
    Unfortunately carelessness led to a pink square for a rogue ‘e’ in CAMARADERIE and completed a tricky week of QCs for me.
    Huge sigh of relief when I realised that there was no actual Spoonerism in 9d which almost got it my vote for COD but like others TADPOLE pipped it in the end.
    Crossed the line in an average time with LOI PIMENTO.
    Thanks to John

  12. A nice puzzle. Initially I wasn’t too happy with Compression meaning concentration. However, it’s in the Chamber’s Crossword Dictionary. I had to use a life on this one with an anagram solver. I should have hung on a bit longer as I am sure I would have got it in the end, giving me a QC solve with no aids. Oh well.

    Didn’t we see tadpole yesterday, or perhaps the day before?

    It’s Friday. Candy treat.


    1. I wondered about compression = concentration as well, but assumed it must be valid.

      1. I thought it a little loose too at first, but then I thought of the physical process… if you compress something it becomes more condensed and hence concentrated. I confess I never checked in the dictionary in constructing the blog, but I see, checking in my copy of Chambers now, compress has “to condense or concentrate”.

    2. I don’t recall TADPOLE recently and a quick search suggests it hasn’t appeared in any of the blogs for a while

      Anyway glad to see you’re having some success again PW 👍

  13. Raced through most of the top half and then shuddered to a halt, blundering down almost every blind alley on offer. Eventually worked out SECURED and PAINLESS (excellent) then returned to chew over 7d TADPOLE. I was parsing it as TO (“to”) followed by D (“pond finally”) followed by a four letter word meaning “leap”, and just couldn’t make it work. Considerable slapping of forehead ensued at the PDM.

    All done in a far from SPEEDY 13:18 for 2K and a Bad Day.

    Great blog, John, and great puzzle, Felix. Thanks both.


    PS since it’s Friday – weekly total 49:10.

    1. Good cumulative total for a tough week! I strayed a minute or two over my (newly minted) ambition of 60 minutes.

    2. Nice work all on your weekly totals 👍

      Impressive that you didn’t even spend as long in a week week as I did on Tueday and Weds individually 😂

  14. Nearly misspelled CAMARADERIE, but checked at the last minute.

    I found this a little difficult, and was taken over target, not by anything specific – it just all took a bit longer than usual.

    I liked PIMENTO, but COD to TADPOLE.


  15. An excellent puzzle – I enjoyed doing it and didn’t get uptight about feeling I was going steadily rather than speedily. I enjoyed being wrong-footed by 9d and the spoonerism reference. COMPRESSION came to mind at once as soon as I realised it was a sneaky anagram but I waited for the checkers before I rationalised it. It was a possible COD but, really, there were too many fine clues to pick out a single COD and I have nothing to add to the positive comments above.
    In the end, it took me nearly 4 mins over target at 18.52 but I was content to stay out of the SCC. A good start to the day in terms of pleasure (rather than time which becomes less important these days).
    Thanks to Felix and John. John M.

  16. Despite getting the three long answers early on, I still managed to miss out on a sub-20 by a minute or so. No excuses really, just a bit slow to see what was going on with the (far from) Speedy/Secured intersection, and wondering how to get NaOH into 13ac. Tadpole was a good clue, but my CoD vote goes to loi Painless for the pdm. Invariant

  17. 11 minutes including time at the end carefully going over COMPRESSION, as I too did not equate it to Concentration.
    So all seemed well. But I should have spent an extra minute on CAMARADERIE where a rogue E slipped in.
    A nice puzzle. COD to PAINLESS.

  18. Back to 18 minutes for me, after yesterday’s brief resurrection. I did wonder about an Anton Chekhov theme, with him being named in one of the clues / answers. A PIMENTO is also a cherry pepper rather than a Cherry Picker, In The DARK and DARKness were both works by him, but I can’t see very much more, being unfamiliar as I am with his oeuvre. Perhaps some of you can do better.

    1. I thought of Chekhov as a theme too, but couldn’t get it to work either, although I don’t no much about his work either

  19. It looked really difficult initially and I only managed 5 answers at first. However, things improved when I got the long words in and I saw the light with the rest, although not seeing ARCANE (LOI) again held me up. A good workout!

  20. A nice challenge from Felix. I don’t see a theme either. Took me to just under my target. DOUBT went in first and the very nice TADPOLE was LOI. 9:26. Thanks Felix and John.

  21. I think Felix gave us a tough offering today, but my brain seemed to be geared up to this one, and I finished in 8.39. I took care to check the parsing of LICENCE to make sure of the correct spelling in this instance. I forgot to return to CAMARADERIE however to check the parsing, but was fortunate to find I had spelt it correctly anyway. Like others my heart initially sank at the mention of Spooner, but I quickly cottoned on to what was happening. I enjoyed this one as one often does I suppose, when you perform better than you might have expected.

    Edit: My cumulative total for the week was 46.45 giving a daily average of 9.21. A slight improvement on last weeks 9.32

  22. I know perfectly well how to spell CAMARADERIE but managed to echo plett’s rogue E for a pink square in 19:25. This was mostly a top to bottom solve with no major holdups. I was looking for a Spoonerism in 9d before I suddenly twigged the anagram. Couldn’t parse 10a but the crossers left no choice. FOI DELICATE, LOI PIMENTO after COMPRESSION provided the M. COD, without a DOUBT, was TADPOLE! Thanks Felix and John

  23. About half an hour, with ARCANE LOI – was trying to do something with NaOH, too. ‘Lake’ at 3d had me looking for a word starting COMO- as I had that checked.

  24. Very few on the first pass and those mostly in the bottom half, so I thought I might struggle with this one. However I seemed to speed up as I solved it from the bottom up and ended up with a time of 20 minutes, all parsed. Just about acceptable by my standards.

    FOI – 13ac ARCANE
    LOI – 2dn LICENCE
    COD – 22ac PAINLESS, closely followed by 20ac ROCKET SCIENCE

    Thanks to Felix and John

  25. A smidgen over 8 minutes. Nothing too taxing but I was held up a bit by 9d because, like some here I see, I was looking for some *actual* spoonerism. 20a was a fun clue and one I think I’ve seen before, and I enjoyed the cheeky wordplay on 21a. PIMENTO sort of qualifies as my NHO – I’ve heard the word but not in this context – and LICENCE continues to be a crossword pitfall for the unwary. I never know whether to put a C or an S…

    1. I can’t speak for American spelling but in English spelling LICENCE with a C is a noun and LICENSE with an S is a verb.

  26. On the wavelength today. Zipped through at speed BUT now see there is the dread careless rogue E in CAMARADERIE.
    Liked lots inc ARCANE, ROCKET SCIENCE, DELICATE, SHRUG, and COD PAINLESS. I didn’t know PIMENTO could be a tree. I kind of imagined they grew like other peppers. FOI FAST. LOI COMPRESSION.
    Thanks vm, John.
    Later. Ingredients sold in jars as pimentos actually are small peppers. How confusing. Did not know pimento=pepper in Spanish. Did not know the conquistadores thought Allspice fruit tree was a pepper tree.!

    1. I too knew of pimentos as peppers, so was confused by the tree reference and had to look it up for the blog.

  27. What a strange week! A rare SCC escape (15 minutes) on Monday followed by two tortuous DNFs on Tues./Wed., both of which took >70 minutes. I didn’t get to yesterday’s Wurm until this morning, but another SCC escape (19 minutes) restored my faith in the QC. Finally, yet another SCC escape (19 minutes again) just now with Felix leads me to wonder what has been going on.

    My FOI today was FAST and I made pretty good progress throughout – mostly ‘breeze’ and no ‘block’. I enjoyed PA-IN-LESS and ROCKET SCIENCE, and I even spelled CAMARADERIE correctly this time.

    Mrs Random’s week followed much the same pattern as mine, but she only experienced one DNF and always managed to undercut my time.

    Many thanks to Felix and John.

    1. Great work Mr (and Mrs) RCC. Those SCC escapes are beginning to roll in for you 🔥

  28. I found this a strange QC. I solved it on target but I wasn’t overly enamoured with the cluing. My FOI was DOUBT. I didn’t realise pimento (allspice) was from a tree and I had to wait for all the checkers for my LOI COMPRESSION = concentration. Then I wondered if I should be looking for a NINA but couldn’t see one. 8:26

  29. 16 mins…

    An enjoyable end to a mixed week I thought. Some nice clues, and whilst I did wonder about concentration = compression, the rest felt fairly straightforward (or, do I say painless?)

    FOI – 5ac “Fast”
    LOI – 22ac “Painless”
    COD – 22ac “Painless”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. I took well over a minute with my LOI, but otherwise found this straightforward

    TIME 4:45

  31. Enjoyable puzzle. I saw the SNITCH and decided to take refuge here. Excellent clue for TADPOLE, but good all round. I can’t see a theme.

  32. I’m back earlier than expected. Walk abandoned after 6 miles when the 40 mph winds and unexpectedly heavy horizontal snow dampened more than our enthusiasm. We’ll have to do that stage again some time to do the remaining 8 miles.

    1. Hard luck, Mr I.
      At least with the snow being “horizontal”, the going underfoot would have been as normal.

  33. Completed in 39 minutes and a very nice puzzle to end the week. Just right for a QC in my opinion with enough wordplay and misdirection to make it enjoyable but nothing that seemed unfair.
    I thought my LOI 9d was going to stop me until I spotted the anagram.
    Thanks Felix and John.

  34. Steady solve and finished within our modest 30m target. Pleasant end to the week.

  35. 10.09 I started out spending the best part of a minute fiddling with the browser zoom, so this is a very good time for me. Like other solvers I didn’t know PIMENTO as a tree and I was distracted by spoonerism and attempting to shove NAOH into ARCANE. Very enjoyable.

  36. Well I breezed through this in 15 well below my target 25 thus proving the 2 pint rule.
    Mini break in Cheshire. No golf due to snow so country walk involving a pub. Less than 2 drinks too tense. More than 2 and focus is lost. 😀

  37. 6:21 this morning. Another tougher than average QC to finish off the week imho.
    Some excellent clues from Felix, chewy long ones along with a few gimmes.
    Like many others, was taken by the clever surface for 7 d “tadpole” and again was one of those whose brows furrowed initially at the unlikely spoonerism in 9 d “compression”.
    Feel I maybe should have been a little quicker overall but it was great fun, and after a bracing walk in the hills behind Edinburgh in crisp sunshine, I have little to complain about. Unusual for Edinburgh weather to be better than Down South but we do have snow forecast overnight up here.
    Finally I ‘ve always kept a weekly average of QC and 15×15 times and am going to join others in reporting a weekly aggregate time, if I remember. This time it was 27:38, a little above the long term average but the range of times this week was of interest (to me at least!) going from 2:54 to 6:54, much broader than normal.

  38. This was pitched perfectly for me. A top to bottom solve held up on 22a as I had carelessly put 19d Guest. Not being able to find the second half of 22a led me to re-examine the crossers and my error.
    FOI 1a Delicate
    LOI 22a Painless
    COD 3d Camaraderie – for the construction
    Will look forward to the Saturday bonus.

  39. 14:53

    Thought this was going to be really quick but the more checkers I had the slower my answers. Finally held up by LOI ARCANE until I realised last of all didn’t just apply to the final E.

  40. A day late due to other engagements.
    one course only so fairly easy.
    Tadpole was just too obvious but did like painless

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