Times Quick Cryptic No 2358 by Wurm

Quicker than the last few days, but another tricky enough puzzle in a tricky enough week for the QC.

I was slow to get started, only getting five acrosses on a first pass, and would probably have been over ten minutes for the fourth time this week if I’d stopped to parse everything.

Quite a lot of very neatly-constructed charade-type clues. Throw in a couple of lovely cryptic definitions and some amusing surfaces, and you have a top notch puzzle – many thanks to Wurm!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 Considers criminal person holds diamonds (7)
PONDERScriminal PERSON holds D(iamonds)
7 Pair with a sales pitch — nutty stuff! (7)
PRALINE – PR (pair), A, LINE (sales pitch). Line for sales pitch? Yeah I guess.
9 Pudding a firm one Irishman sent back (7)
TAPIOCA – A, CO (firm), I (one), PAT (Irishman) “sent back”
10 Driller dies — TNT unstable (7)
DENTIST – DIES TNT unstable. Good surface!
11 Informer ultimately done for speed (4)
RATE – RAT (informer) E (“ultimately” donE). When solving I took it to be the last letter of informeR, and was wondering how ATE could be DONE FOR. (I didn’t hang around wondering for too long, in fairness.)
12 Illness going round place causes upset (9)
DISPLEASE – DISEASE (illness) going round PL. (Place, as in a town square)
14 Story about maiden delicate in public eye (9)
LIMELIGHT – LIE (story) about M(aiden), LIGHT (delicate)
16 Sword combative peer sheathes (4)
EPEE – combativE PEEr “sheathes”
17 Anagrammed in Games and Puzzles (7)
20 Coppers to accept an imposed punishment (7)
PENANCE – PENCE (coppers) to accept AN
21 Ears got bashed in boxing for example? (7)
22 Cowboy made rapid progress, he being in credit (7)
RANCHER – RAN (made rapid progress), HE in CR(edit)
1 Amusing actor looks to absorb short lines (5,7)
PETER SELLERS – PEERS (looks) to absorb TERSE (short) LL (lines). Biff central.
2 Male model uncovered rising bias (8)
NEPOTISM – M(ale) SIT (model) OPEN (uncovered). Another biff, but very neat now I look at it.
3 Lover boy angry after rejection (4)
EROS – SORE (angry) “after rejection” = reversed
4 Gardening tools passed around (6)
5 What’s taken up as challenge, but punishing for runners? (8)
GAUNTLET – somewhere between a cryptic and a double definition: the first as in taking up the gauntlet, the second as in running the gauntlet.
6 Small mouse heard? (4)
MINI – sounds like MINNIE (mouse)
8 Course about PR by new European business person (12)
ENTREPRENEUR – ENTREE (course) about PR, by N(ew) and EUR(opean)
12 I’m damsel, distressed: these are tough choices! (8)
13 Move cautiously after a short strike if absolutely necessary (2,1,5)
AT A PINCH – INCH (move cautiously) after A, TAP (short strike)
15 One out of breath? Here’s a ciggie! (6)
GASPER – double definition
18 Pressing need? (4)
IRON – cryptic definition: read the clue as a need (or requirement) for pressing (as in ironing). Which an iron certainly is. Like it!
19 In due time, a refusal from the French (4)
ANON – A, NON (refusal from the French)

87 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2358 by Wurm”

  1. 17:17. I had in a pinch instead of AT A PINCH at first so DISPLEASE was slow to come. Also I was looking for a synonym for criminal instead of realizing criminal was the
    anagrind to unravel PONDERS. MINI was slow to see until I had the two “i”‘s staring at me. I did think of and dismiss Mickey early on though! STORAGE for boxing was clever and LIMELIGHT was my COD. I didn’t think of cowboy as RANCHER because my memories from the genre long ago were of the poor footloose lonely cowboy up against the wealthy RANCHER!

  2. 14:36. Good puzzle, but hardest of the week for me. NEPOTISM, GAUNTLET and my LOI PETER SELLERS didn’t yield without a fight. I was even slow to see the old EROS / sore reversal chestnut and the (maybe just in retrospect) not too hard PONDERS, so this clearly wasn’t my day.

    Favourite was the misleading surface for the non-pugilistic STORAGE.

    Thanks to Wurm and rolytoly

  3. Another DNF. Didn’t really have the stamina to get the last few of these. Getting PETER SELLERS would have been the key to unlocking the LHS

  4. 17:18 here, so outside my target 15:00. Like rolytoly, a slow start, but then things started to come more easily. COD NEPOTISM, which I actually entered from bottom up.

    Does anyone know what has happened to the Crossword Club on the Times iPhone app? It seems to have vanished entirely from the “Puzzles” page. Or is that just me?

    1. Just checked my iPhone and the Crossword Club is the first item on the Puzzles page.

      1. Hmm. Thanks. I logged out & then back in, but no change here. Will try again tomorrow: probably just a glitch.

            1. I had the same on my iPad this morning, but havent looked at it since. I’m on my laptop now and that’s ok……Just checked on my phone App and the Crossword Club is there.
              On edit: Just checked the iPad and the Crossword Club is back.

              1. Thanks all, I checked again just now (morning in California), and it’s back.

    2. Gone from my android (Google pixel) phone too. Noted a format change in last few days also. Perhaps it’s an android iPhone iOS thing.

  5. 15 minutes. RH easy, LH not so, possibly because I needed checkers to find PETER SELLERS and without him in place some of the intersecting clues were difficult to solve. I resisted IRON until the very end as although it came to mind easily enough I was unable to make sense of the wordplay. This puzzle along with today’s 15×15 did not start my day well!

  6. Hard work throughout but especially in the NE. Only five on the first pass of acrosses and didn’t really pick up the pace until the end. There was a blue plaque for PETER SELLERS just up the road from where I had a flat in Highgate – it always annoyed my Dad because he’d only lived there for a few years as a boy “before he was Peter Sellers”. Totally fell for ‘boxing’ so even as an anagram STORAGE took an age, really appreciated ‘anagrammed’ as anagram indicator and liked NEPOTISM when I finally saw it – MSITOPEN was hard to juggle in my head. ENTREPRENEUR and PRALINE were last to fall as I finished all green in 15. Good one.

  7. Too tough for me. This week is HARD!

    Beaten by too many to mention but
    PONDERS, GAUNTLET, PETER SELLERS, DISPLEASE, LIMELIGHT, NEPOTISM, GASPER among the others that all refused to yield.

    Would have biffed IRON but didn’t and still don’t see how the cryptic works to be honest

    Thanks (of a sort) to Wurm and thanks to Roly for a fine blog.

  8. Like others, I found this tricky with some well disguised anagrams and clever wordplay which meant there were lots of PDMs to enjoy along the way. GAUNTLET was too clever for me and required an alphabet trawl and like MangoMan I still don’t understand how LOI IRON works.
    Finished in 11.24
    Thanks to Roly

  9. I was surprised to see the comments here about it being hard as I whizzed through this. Perhaps I was helped by seeing all of the many anagrams (6, if I can count correctly) and the 2 long downs pretty much instantly. LOI DISPLEASE. 3:33.

    1. 🔥

      And I thought I was quick !

      I too thought it was the easiest of the week and was expecting to start by saying “Few of us should have struggled today” !

      TIME 3:37

      1. I think what this shows most of all that there are not only different standards of puzzle (hard through to easy) but also different styles. Looking at the comments here, this seems to be not so much a hard puzzle as one that more suits experienced solvers. I cannot really put a finger on why I found this puzzle difficult, but it is clear that most of those I consider much more experienced than me have solved it comfortably, while most of those I usually consider my peers have found it more challenging.

        But it takes all sorts, and if one never found a puzzle challenging one would never progress.

    1. It’s just a simple pure cryptic. The question mark reinforces that view. If you’re going to press your clothes, you’ll certainly need an iron – a device I last used about 15 years ago !

  10. RHS seemed to go well but then gave an almost empty LHS.
    DNF at 30 mins missed out on that elusive Pink Panther but lots else set a trail of mystery today.

  11. Toughest of the week for me, but the clues were all good, so I enjoyed the challenge. FOI PONDERS, LOI PRALINE, COD PETER SELLERS – what a talent, not since repeated! Ronnie Barker was close, but nobody funny now, or has my sense of humour changed?
    IRON gave me most difficulty, as I saw it as a definition with no wordplay. I accept our blogger’s explanation, but here, i initially read PRESSING as a metaphor (as it usually is when preceding NEED), and eventually saw that iit need3to be taken literally. Aren’t cryptic definitions usually the other way round? Thanks Wurm and Rolytoly.

    1. Your sense of humour hasn’t changed. Neither has mine. It’s what passes for humour that has changed. I’m watching a sitcom that I’ve never seen before, and which actually makes me laugh. Unfortunately it’s “The Mistress” from 1987 which I missed first time around.

  12. Hugely impressed by John’s superfast time but count me among those who found this hard, as I completed the grid in a few seconds under 20 minutes for my slowest completion of the year so far (and at 5.6 JI’s, my worst ever relative finish). And that time does not include the parsing of those I biffed first – of which there were several, including Peter Sellers, Entrepreneur, Ponders (did not initially see Criminal as an anagram indicator) and Iron, where I was looking for a double definition, a word meaning both pressing and need. I do now understand Roly’s parsing but unlike him I confess am not a fan.

    This week has indeed been tough, in fact we seem to be in a mini-run of setters challenging us more than usual. But over the year to date my times are in line with previous experience, so I don’t think it is a permanent shift (and nor do I think I am losing my ability completely). At least none of the words today were completely unknown to me (I’m looking at you, Cantilena!).

    COD to Storage, magnificent misleading with boxing in the surface. And many thanks to Roly for the blog, needed more than usual today.

  13. I agree that this hasn’t been a great week for the quickies. Today was better than yesterday which was in turn better than Monday or Tuesday. Peter Sellers for example needed to be more strongly clued for a quickie. Great as he was he wouldn’t be very familiar to younger solvers so ‘amusing actor’ wouldn’t get you very close. Thanks setter and especially blogger

  14. Lots of biffing today which got me home in 11 minutes. I would have needed many more minutes for full parsing.
    I wasn’t at all sure about IRON (but no other letters came to mind) and having read all the comments above, I’m still uncertain. A pressing need arises from crumpled clothes. The iron is the solution.

    1. If you read ‘pressing’ as the act of ironing clothes, and ‘need’ as a requirement, then the clue becomes ‘Ironing requirement?’. To do ironing requires an iron. Hope that helps

  15. It’s interesting to see the divergence of opinion on whether this was a tough one or not. It seems some of the fastest solvers were even quicker than usual, whilst others found it hard going. I thought it was tougher than average as all the QCs have been this week.
    I finished just outside my target at 10.29, but I was greatly hindered by the fact that I wrote in the answer PRALINE in 9ac instead of 7ac, and as a result the north west corner took much longer than it should have. I also wrote in ITCH instead of IRON for 18dn with just the first letter in place, before correcting once STORAGE was solved. Considering all the setbacks I’m happy with my time.

  16. I thought I might need a guest pass to the SCC. I parsed PETER SELLERS just before coming to the blog. I never parsed AT A PINCH so thanks for that Roly. I didn’t really understand GASPER or IRON. My last two took an age DISPLEASE/GAUNTLET. I agree with Cedric et al that the cluing for STORAGE was clever and it took me some time to unravel. 18:32

  17. At nearly 30mins this was my slowest solve of the week (so far. . .), but still an enjoyable enough challenge. If I had gone with my instinct and started with a bifd Ponders at 1ac, it might even have opened up the NW corner for an early run at a sub-20. Instead, joint CoDs Nepotism and Peter Sellers were almost my last pair. We just need a little teaser from Izetti now to round off this week. Invariant

  18. Glad to be green in 25:53 as there were more than usual biffed and unparsed. Quite a few clues to like – GAUNTLET, NEPOTISM, DENTIST, PONDERS (criminal fooled me for a while, too), AT A PINCH, but COD was STORAGE for its clever deception. PETER SELLERS only emerged after detailed attention to the word play and LOI was IRON, which I really didn’t much like. Thanks Wurm and roly.

  19. I’m on the “that was quite easy” side of the Marmite Line here, especially for a Wurm! Really liked STORAGE and RANCHER but COD to the excellent GAUNTLET, a super clue.

    All green in 08:14 for 1.2K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Wurm and Roly.


  20. 28:49 … struggled to enjoy it. The surfaces felt like a collection of words, couldn’t unravel DILEMMAS, STORAGE for an age; many things I couldn’t parse unless I was willing to spend a minute or two doing so even though I knew they were probably correct. Can see, on reflection, that some of the clue were literally built from each individual word e.g TAPIOCA, NEPOTISM. Really highlights how automatic these little things are for the accomplished like John and Busman who found it easy. Time and practice.

    LOI was GAUNTLET … does anyone else struggle with seeing Down answers? As soon as I wrote out -A-N-L-T across on paper, I could see it.

    Another I couldn’t fully parse though – had gone from Mo Farahs to runner beans but didn’t make the jump to the 3rd level of medieval punishment. Recent discussion on “what is a QC?” and that’s my suggestion – shouldn’t be descending too far. I’m in the “IRON was tough to understand” camp although at least that’s all it could be and thanks to Busman for his explanation which made it clear.

    Pleased to get another solve and sub-30 isn’t too bad considering I only had four on the first readthrough.

    1. I often have to write out the down clues horizontally to help me solve them. It’s one of the reasons I shall never regularly solve in sub-15 minute times. I accept that, though, as I enjoy the solving process more than the speed and if I can regularly do it in less than 30 mins I am happy.

      1. Acceptance is everything! As is knowledge of your own weaknesses. I immediately wrote down the checkers when I reached it and didn’t waste too much time with it. I continue to be fascinate by these little things about how we learn

      2. I frequently have to write down clues across – and sometimes find that I’ve seen the answer before I’ve finished putting down the checkers. I guess it’s the same principle that allows us to read just the tops of letters in our own language and see exactly what is required.

    2. ‘Struggled to enjoy’ – that’s what I should have said earlier in the week rather than the blunder, grumpier version I employed.

  21. Above average time for the third time this week, yesterday’s being the only QC that I managed to complete within my target range. This one took all of 24 minutes but at least I completed it, unlike Monday’s horror. Never managed to parse ENTREPRENEUR but I had most of the crossers by then so it was obvious. Did not really like or understand IRON which I thought of immediately but didn’t enter until I had both crossers.

    FOI – 11ac RATE
    COD – joint favourites 10ac DENTIST and 21ac STORAGE for the misdirection. Also liked the cleverness of 9ac TAPIOCA

    Thanks to Wurm and to Rolytoly

  22. I very much enjoyed this QC after a string of DNFs and was going to report a sub-20 mins with only one answer unparsed. However, the reason I could not parse 14a is because the answer was LIMELIGHT rather than LAMPLIGHT! So a DNF again! Hey ho.

    Thanks for blog Roly and to Wurm for an excellent puzzle today.

    1. Well after the very much not Quick start to the week, this was a delight and one of the most enjoyable puzzles I’ve done since recently getting into the hobby. Perhaps I was just in the zone!

      Came here to understand the parsing of RANCHER as I guessed it from the HE and definition but couldn’t see how he rest works.

      Also no idea about the second definition of “Here’s a ciggie” – what does that refer to?

      1. The zone / wavelength counts for a lot! The ciggie definition is simply gasper = cigarette – quite a dated expression, for sure.

  23. 33 hard going minutes which is 10 more than our usual time for hard puzzles.
    Enjoyable though as find all the QCs are – especially with the blog.
    COD enigmas though probably a chestnut

  24. DNF.
    Another very nasty one.
    I just go in to get the answers from this blog now – do not even try to solve the crossword.
    Just too hard for a “quick cryptic”.

    1. Don’t give up – when I started out I couldn’t get anywhere near solving Wurm and got quite cross about it. But little by little you learn new tricks and now I really enjoy his puzzles.

    2. It wasn’t easy to get into. I would have been whining and kvetching about that a year ago.

      It’s definitely a case of finding an equilibrium between giving it a good go and giving up. I’m prone to hanging in there too long which leads to the whining and kvetching!

      There will be easier ones at some point 👍

  25. I fared slightly better with this one, but certainly didn’t walk it. Some serious PONDERing required for some of the clues. However, I got from EROS to ENTREPRENEUR in 8:10. Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  26. I’m another one on the “found it very hard” side. Got hardly any first time round, then a few more but got really stuck on the NW corner. Abandoned for a while, then suddenly saw PETER SELLERS without being able to parse it and a dictionary trawl gave NEPOTISM, again couldn’t parse, as with a few others! Hats off to the quick finishers!

  27. Totally on the wrong wavelength with this today. 11.15 which is double any of my times this week. All fairly clued though. LOI gauntlet. Lots of you seemed to like the storage clue, but I can’t imagine a sentence in which I would be easily able to swap boxing and storage without changing the sense of it.

  28. 9:22 and very much in the zone for my quickest (by my standard) solve in ages. I’d have been even quicker if I hadn’t dithered over IRON for so long. And yet another day out for good old SORE/EROS 😀

  29. Just inside target, solving later in the day than usual. Last three in were NEPOTISM, PONDERS and PETER SELLERS in that order (is this your minkey?). TAPIOCA reminded me of my Dad, who complained bitterly about never having it any more, until we gave him some, which seemed to shut him up! Thanks Wurm and Roly.

  30. Phew, got there in the end. I, too, found LHS pretty difficult. Biffed PRALINE and ENTREPRENEUR. FOI SPADES. Liked DENTIST, ANON, STORAGE.
    Have the young heard of PETER SELLERS (maybe LOI) or TAPIOCA or GASPER as cigarettes were called in the 60s?
    Thanks for much needed explanations, Roly.

    1. The 60s? I only knew GASPER because a character in ‘Dance to the Music of Time’ uses it, in an episode that takes place during World War I!

      1. I smoked gaspers a few years before I read Anthony Powell, I reckon. Just checked, I still have 9 paperbacks but will I ever re-read him, I wonder. Not sure he will have withstood the music of time.

          1. Kevin. The only reason you have the time to read Dance is that you rip through these cryptics at the pace you do.
            I know gaspers from Bertie Wooster.
            I’m so late today I’m technically yesterday. DNF. J

      2. Yes, Henry Williamson novels set during WW1 have mentions of soldiers in the trenches smoking gaspers.

  31. 32 mins…

    Had to do this in two sittings as I got I interrupted. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, as during the second sitting things just seemed to slot in place (albeit there was quite a bit of biffing in the NW corner).

    Main problem was that I put “Marathon” in for 5dn which caused numerous issues until I realised it couldn’t be right. I also thought 1ac would be either “Ice” or “DD” for diamonds (with the plural) rather than just one D.

    I’m with L-Plates on this, a good challenge but I didn’t really enjoy it for some reason.

    FOI – 9ac “Tapioca”
    LOI – 5dn “Guantlet”
    COD – 1dn “Peter Sellars”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Our run of back and forth continues!

      I also always want to spell him Peter SellArs (assuming that’s not a typo) which made unravelling ENIGMAS harder.

      1. Yeah – it’s a typo – damn autocorrect on my phone. I did spell it correctly on the grid – honest!

      2. I’ve always thought it was spelled with an A too. It may qualify as an example of the Mandela Effect. (Don’t judge me, but I had a crafty google before typing the answer in 😉 )

  32. 11:06 but…

    …failed to spot that I’d pink-squared myself with a B instead of an N at the crossing of 19d and 22a – does that make me ANOB?

    Failed also to spot the parsing of PETER SELLERS (bunged in from three checkers) an initially torn between LAMPLIGHT and LIMELIGHT before choosing the correct one.

  33. Challenging! My FOI was DENTIST, but I found only six more by the time I’d completed my first entire pass. However, the LHS came together bit by bit and I was preparing myself for a tough fight to get to the finish line. Then, all of a sudden, ENTREPENEUR appeared out of the fog and it magically unlocked the rest of the RHS. My LOI was MINI and I was much relieved to put down my pencil on the dot of 30 minutes.

    So, despite the increased level of difficulty, this week has gone well for me, so far at least.

    Mrs Random started well after me, but is now stuck on her LOI (GAUNTLET). She has resorted to an alphabet trawl and has, so far, come up with ‘barnslot’ and ‘gainalot’. I’m not allowed to say anything, or I’ll get my head bitten off.

    Many thanks to Wurm and Rolytoly.

  34. 14:05. Wiggly Woo as usual! I do find Wurm’s puzzles tricky and I didn’t have my anagram hat on today, so writing out all the anagrists slowed things down a bit too. All the same, I did like the surface for ENIGMAS, and MINI made me smile. I was a bit baffled by the clue for IRON. I thought it was something along the lines of Roly’s parsing, so glad to have that confirmed, but I agree with others that it’s a bit dodgy. I never did fully parse PETER SELLERS (seems rather an odd phrase there!).
    FOI Tapioca LOI Gauntlet COD Storage
    Thanks Wurm and Roly

  35. 16.56 This started badly. I was on my ninth clue (TAPIOCA) before I got one but speeded up and all but four were done by the twelfth minute. ENTREPRENEUR (which should have been obvious), PENANCE, PRALINE and GAUNTLET took the rest of the time. I did like DILEMMAS and STORAGE.

  36. Thanks setter, I enjoyed this. Many good clues but I’ll opt for ‘Pressing need’ as my COD.

  37. Does your dog bite?!

    13 mins. Didn’t parse Peter Sellers.
    COD dentist and liked boxing, Koppite I just read it as a whimsical wrapping/boxing type, hence the ?

  38. Sorry Wurm, I wasn’t on the same wavelength as you today! Took two attempts, between the rain showers and had to come here to the blog to find out how several of the clues were parsed – PETER SELLERS, IRON notably. Got PONDERS and RATE quite quickly which made me think that PETER could be the first word and PETER SELLERS did spring to mind, however I didn’t have a clue how it worked. It wasn’t until I’d got the crossers lower down that I put it in with a shrug.
    Some very antique words today – GASPERS, TAPIOCA, PETER SELLERS (probably not too well known by a lot of people younger than 40!). IRON not a very good clue, I feel.
    Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.
    Many thanks for the blog.

  39. Well that was a battle. Back and forwards at least 5 times and must have taken 90 minutes in total. LOI GAUNTLET appeared just as I was about to give up.
    Although there were some good clues there was far too much biffing for me to say that I enjoyed it and many remained unparsed until reaching the blog.
    PS did no one else have FAGGED for 15d? I was pleased with this until it was obviously wrong from crossers. Although I see that it doesn’t really work as ‘a ciggie’

    1. Well done sticking with it #5 – a lot of biffing as you say 👍

      The F-word crossed my mind but I’m not sure whether it’s allowed in this day and age 🤷‍♂️

  40. We found this difficult and had to look up many answers. Not on Wurms wavelength today. Hoping for an easier ride tomorrow after a difficult week so far.

  41. 20:45

    Slow to spot PETER SELLERS, PONDERS and EROS taking me outside my 20 minute target.

  42. Only 1 out of four so far this week so worst showing since we started

    NW corner did for us

  43. Another bad week . Over an hour of utter torture today. I just cannot keep all the abbreviations in my mind (such as PR for pair and PL for place). Totally off the wavelength and I struggled with most clues. My brain was mush by the end.

    To say that I was staggered by John’s amazing time is a massive understatement. Sheer brilliance!

    Thanks for the blog. I needed it more than ever today.

    1. Well done for persevering.
      It took me three times longer to solve one clue, GAUNTLET, than it took John to solve the whole puzzle.

  44. Thanks Ian. My experience with GAUNTLET was remarkably similar.

    Let’s hope for better today!

  45. I came to this a day late and wish I hadn’t. Very tough for a QC in my opinion. Just too quirky for a QC and the hardest of the week (so far). It took me well into the SCC.
    I used to enjoy puzzles from WURM but I think I will avoid him in future unless I feel unusually sharp. John M.

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