Times Quick Cryptic No 2418 by Joker

I found this quite tricky and made heavy weather of my last three.

Did Not 9ac, in fact.

About 8 minutes to get to those last three (9ac, 5d and 7d), before throwing in the towel at the 12 minute mark for 7d. Perfectly gettable, of course, I think more the curse of last-clue-itis than anything. Lots of good, tight cluing made the rest of it a lovely solve – many thanks to Joker!

Anagram indicators in italics.
1 Goods in shop, yet not moving (5,5)
STOCK STILL – STOCK (goods in shop) STILL (yet)
8 Almost November first? (6)
NEARLY – N (November in the phonetic alphabet) EARLY (first). I think as in “one of the early/first settlers”, say.
9 End spoken language (6)
FINISH – is “spoken ” the same as FINNISH (language)
10 Slope in field, ending by barn, finally (4)
LEAN – LEA (field) ending by N (barN “finally”)
11 Picture rodent eating one beyond harbour (8)
PORTRAIT – RAT (rodent) eating I (one) beyond PORT (harbour)
12 Weapon plot is badly organised (6)
PISTOL – PLOT IS badly organised
14 A piece of bread sliced off roughly (6)
AROUND – A, ROUND (piece of bread sliced off)
16 Soldiers with child seen by railway (8)
INFANTRY – INFANT (child) seen by RY. (Railway)
18 Celebrity of note — yours truly (4)
FAME – FA (musical note) ME (yours truly).
20 Judge of performance regularly displayed acerbic twitch (6)
CRITIC – “regularly displayed” a C e R b IT w I t C h
21 Small-minded about Romeo charming (6)
PRETTY – PETTY (small-minded) about R(omeo)
22 Concerned with diplomatic mission going down (10)
RELEGATION – RE (concerned with) LEGATION (diplomatic mission). “Their going down/relegation came as a shock”, say.
2 Time European is accepting border idea (5)
THEME – T(ime) E(uropean) is accepting HEM (border)
3 Noble’s headgear, gold one used within court (7)
CORONET – OR (gold) ONE used within CT. (court)
4 Eg, something initially taking a year (3)
SAY – S (Something “initially”) taking A Y(ear)
5 One not keeping company in sick bay (9)
INFIRMARY – I (one) NARY (not, described as dialect or US. As in “nary a chance”, say) keeping FIRM (company). Very nice.
6 Stay too long, missing good cruise ship (5)
LINER – LINgER (stay too long) missing G(ood)
7 Allocate a small token (6)
ASSIGN – A S(mall) SIGN (token)
11 Left one in Capitol unusually attached to party (9)
POLITICAL -L(eft) I (one) in CAPITOL unusually
13 Contrive not to see ogre in ground (6)
15 Unusual where patrolling police go after work? (7)
OFFBEAT – cryptic hint, as with police going OFF their BEAT
17 Not all dealt a round for table (5)
ALTAR – “not all” deALT A Round
19 What’s outrageous in second phrase on family arms (5)
MOTTO – OTT (over the top = outrageous) in MO (second)
21 Person immensely greedy, primarily (3)
PIGPerson Immensely Greedy “primarily”


56 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2418 by Joker”

  1. 12:12. Liked OFFBEAT and STOCK STILL most. INFIRMARY and MOTTO both took a while to figure out the parsing. The last half of CRITIC is interesting as the letters T I C appear “regularly” in twitch but at the same time a TIC is also a twitch! I didn’t like EARLY for first as to me EARLIEST expresses first better.

  2. I got round in about 8.45. At 1ac I was convinced we needed an anagram of SHOP YET NOT, which was a real dead end. Still a bit confused by AROUND, I assume a round is another word for a slice. Completely missed the hidden ALTAR and wasn’t sure about soldiers being WITH child to get INFANTRY, I don’t think the surface works. Good clues for MOTTO and RELEGATION. I had delegation until the very end.

    1. A round of bread = a slice of bread in UK English
      It was my last clue and it defeated me as I was looking for the other meaning of roughly (ie harshly / violently)

      1. Suppose it refers to a cut from a round loaf, not a square one. I too was waylaid by looking for a definition involving roughly…I guess that’s what we do cryptics for

        1. Collins has this: A round of bread is a slice of bread. A round of sandwiches is a sandwich made from two slices of bread.
          …four rounds of toast.

          It seems to date from the mid-Victorian era when perhaps loaves were more commonly round than square, but the term applies to any shape now.

          1. Not that it matters in this case, but your Collins definition is from COBUILD, a dictionary for non-native speakers of English. (The language of the definitions is usually a giveaway, as here.) The Collins def is
            a single slice of bread or toast or two slices making a single serving of sandwiches
            The Collins American def (Webster’s New World Dict.) is
            a circular slice, as of bread
            As I said, not that it matters

            1. Actually I didn’t need to look it up as I’m familiar with the meaning and I was just looking for something convenient to copy and paste in response to LindsayO’s comment so I didn’t pay attention its source within Collins.

              Whilst ’round of toast/bread/sandwiches’ is not a construction I would ever have needed to use in a domestic setting it’s commonplace when ordering food in pub or cafe. I’ve experienced that since childhood but it would never have crossed my mind that in asking for this I was specifying the bread had to be circular as per the American definition quoted.

          2. Thank you jackkt, I am indebted. I suspect this usage will never occur in my life again but I will workshop it at breakfast tomorrow and see if it resonates…

      2. LOI for me also due to the same mental direction of travel with roughly. Only an alphabet trawl eventually prompted the answer with a satisfying but somewhat relieved PDM!

  3. Some tricky moments but done in 09:37. Struggled with AROUND, where ABOUND and AMOUNT were contenders. Never really knew what a “round of bread” was, I thought it was a slice each, like a round of drinks.

    A LINER is not a cruise ship, it goes in a line from A to B, a cruise by definition takes in multiple points.

    Also befuddle by the non-anagram of “shop yet not”.


  4. I fair raced through this only to be held up by OFFBEAT and ultimately defeated by AROUND. So no time given, but very satisfied up until those last two. Definitely firmly within the SCC yet again though.
    I liked POLITICAL and RELEGATION especially.
    Thanks Joker and Roly.

  5. 8 minutes. No problems although the clue that stumped Roly was my last one in and for a moment I also feared the onset of last-clue-itis which I am prone to on occasions.

    Merlin may well be right that liners originally went from A to B but if so, that meaning changed over the years to include any large passenger-carrying ship belonging to a particular company (or line). Indeed the Collins entry includes as an example the cruise liner, the QE2 .

  6. NHO of a round of bread only of sandwiches but Chambers has them as definitions 3 and 4 so I’ll stop grumbling and try to retain the information. Also struggled to parse MOTTO – good one! Thought I might be in for a tough time after only getting five on the first pass of acrosses but the downs filled gaps nicely and after a delay with MOTTO and then AROUND I was home. All green in 12.

  7. For some reason I skipped over the parsing of quite a few answers today. CRITIC went in as soon as I read judge and INFIRMARY from the checkers. Unfortunately STand STILL and RELEGATIng slowed things up and were corrected with CORONET and MOTTO. I went through the various notes before getting FAME but the clue that pushed me over target was AROUND. 10:30

  8. Like others was looking for an anagram of ‘shop, not yet’ in 1A at first and DNK ROUND of bread (my LOI with a shrug). Nicely clues as always from Joker. I liked FAME best for the immodest surface. Thanks Joker and Roly. 4:49.

  9. A sluggish start, not getting my FOI until LEAN, and thought it was going to be a tough day, but once I’d tuned in I didn’t have any serious hold ups. I was another who looked for an anagram of shop yet not at 1a before the ‘c’ of CORONET pointed me in the right direction.
    Finished in 7.59 with the tricky AROUND with my COD to STOCK STILL for the misdirection.
    Thanks to Roly

  10. DNF, failing to get AROUND and PRETTY and putting LAY instead of SAY originally, as I didn’t read the clue correctly.

    Biffed INFIRMARY and MOTTO, which is why I come to this blog to get the parsing!

    Cheers all

  11. 6.51

    Felt a bit sluggish but time says differently.

    NOVEMBER was clever though like Kevin the eyebrow started to twitch.

    Thanks Joker and Rolytoly

  12. Just under 11 1/2 minutes. In good company in that I took a while to see what was going on in 1a and I also bunged in INFIRMARY from the def near the end, not parsing the NARY for ‘not’. Like Mendesest I’d heard of a ROUND of sandwiches, but not bread, so yes, one to file away for the future.

    Thanks to rolytoly and Joker

  13. Another in a mini run of better times starting to move the average back down, though that’s bound to bring down a stinker tomorrow.

    AROUND was LOI, and took a little while – I went down the “sliced off” = remove last letter of a synonym for “piece of bread” – this was not productive! I liked STOCK STILL – thankfully I didn’t notice the potential anagram until coming here.


  14. Another under-target solve (by a minute or so) but I, too, was held up at the end by ASSIGN, INFIRMARY, and my LOI AROUND.
    I was not helped by solving whilst sitting in the car in a car park with vehicles trying to squeeze into adjacent narrow spaces in order to leave their vehicles out of the sun.
    Enjoyable, nonetheless.
    Thanks to Joker and Roly. John M.

  15. Lots to enjoy but spoiled by one or too which were just plain ridiculous – eg ‘nary’ for goodness sake!

  16. I thought this was poorly clued in a number of places, but only my LOI prevented a top to bottom solve. I was helped by a number of answers having featured in my own Weekend Specials with clues not massively different from those I produced (STOCK STILL, PRETTY, and OFFBEAT). Now for what the SNITCH indicates is a stiff challenge…..

    TIME 3:10

  17. Similar difficulty, pleasure and time to yesterday, except that I finished todtay. Suspect I am not alone with MER at NARY which I did not fully parse. FOI SAY. LOI ASSIGN, COD PORTRAIT. Thanks , Joker and Roly.

  18. 4:54

    Nothing too troublesome here though INFIRMARY was bunged in from checkers and parsed beyond the FINISHing post. NARY not my favourite word either.

    No problem with A ROUND of bread or of sandwiches, though the latter was used by my parents if preparing a packed lunch for their six kids!


    Thanks Joker and Roly

  19. 10 minutes for all bar 14a. Then 5 minutes to get around to LOI AROUND.
    This sounds similar to reports above.
    I too had never really thought what a round of bread is. But the clue seems fine; has to be COD given all the challenges it posed.

  20. Chewy in places but managed to finish after a bit of head-scratching. LOI AROUND. Couldn’t parse INFIRMARY but now I understand the wordplay I think this is my COD – contrary to others I like ‘nary’ 😁 MOTTO took a while to sort out but is another great clue. NHO ‘legation’ so RELEGATION was biffed. Also liked OFFBEAT. Many thanks to roly and Joker.

  21. I’m another in the list of people mugged by the false anagram at 1a. Congratulations Joker, you bamboozled most of us there!

    Difficult and very enjoyable. COD to OFFBEAT for the chuckle. Home and hosed in 09:17 and even though that’s 1.9K I’m still calling this a Good Day.

    Many thanks Joker and roly.


  22. Jumped straight onto the (shop yet not)* hook at 1ac, and that set the tone for a slow struggle as I wandered around the grid building up crossers to help solve Joker’s traps. An outside chance of a sub-20 was comprehensively dashed by loi Around, which required a tea break and a ‘lift and separate’ pdm to isolate roughly as the target. CoD to 2d, Theme. Invariant

  23. I found this one a tad tougher than the rest of this week’s offerings and was tipped over my target. Looking back it all seemed fair, although nary is a rare usage these days. LOI, AROUND, came eventually, taking a while even though I’m familiar with the term for a slice of bread. 10:20. Thanks Joker and Roly.

  24. Enjoyable, quite quick, then quite slow, rubbing out bad guesses in NE corner.
    LOI OFFBEAT (COD) not helped by originally putting Name instead of FAME.
    FOsI all over the place.
    No problem with AROUND.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Roly.

  25. I will be perfectly happy soon, as completing a Joker in 30 minutes is very good for me. However, after having spent the final 10 minutes (STOCK STILL) trying to find AROUND, just at the moment I’m gnashing my teeth . The wordplay was fine, I knew ’round’ for bread (although I usually associate it with toast or sandwiches) and the solution was a common word, so I can’t blame the setter. LOI-itis knocks me flat so often that perhaps I should IGNORE my final clue in future and re-ASSIGN the FINISH line to its predecessor.

    Otherwise, all fine today, except that LEGATION for diplomatic mission was new to me.

    Many thanks to Joker and rolytoly.

    1. LEGATIONS don’t exist any more, except in literature. See Wikipedia.
      🙂. Although, come to think of it, there are still Papal Legates, I believe.

  26. Cruised through this one in a time of 7.52, and am more than happy with that as my overall feeling was that it was tougher than my time suggests. Held up a little at the end where ASSIGN took a bit longer to solve, but once I had that my LOI AROUND followed shortly afterwards. I really enjoy Joker’s offerings as I think a good standard of clueing is always maintained, so I must disagree with Busman on that one.

  27. 7:46 LOI was ASSIGN

    The round=slice of bread brought to mind the Kipper Family’s version of Hollow Ground, in which in true folk tradition a man is murdered by his wife after the gift of a bread knife, since “the bread we use is sliced- narrow rounds, narrow rounds- so would I be in a trice….”

    Thanks Joker and Roly

  28. I have struggled with Joker’s puzzles of late so I was happy to finish this one in 14 minutes. Could have been a mite quicker if I had not originally entered ‘delegation’ at 22ac. Didn’t manage to parse either INFIRMARY or MOTTO – I haven’t heard or read the word ‘nary’ for many years!

    FOI – 8ac NEARLY
    LOI – 17dn ALTAR
    COD – 15dn OFFBEAT

    Thanks to Joker and Rolytoly

  29. Coming late in the day means most of my comments have already been made. So in brief – 14 minutes for another slowish one, LOI Around with same uncertainty as many others, otherwise no real issues, puzzle much enjoyed.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  30. 2d theme and 10ac slowed us down, also 14ac around, where we disagreed about the use of round.

  31. 20.24 STOCK STILL went straight in but then I was mostly just slow again with THEME dragging me into the SCC at the end. Once solved it all seemed quite straightforward.

  32. For me this was the easiest of the week so far, and perhaps the less tricky of Joker’s, who I’m not really a fan of.

    AROUND had me stuck for a while as did OFFBEAT. Being ex-Military Police, I should have got that one. 🤣

  33. 17 mins…

    Didn’t think this was too bad – although wasn’t sure about 1ac “Stock Still” as an expression. Wondered whether 18ac could be “Meme”, but it didn’t fit with 15dn “Offbeat”.

    FOI – 3dn “Coronet”
    LOI – 1ac “Stock Still”
    COD – 15dn “Offbeat” – although it’s fair to say seeing a policeman on the “beat” nowadays is unusual.

    Thanks as usual!

  34. Some friends, hiking recently in the Lake District and pre-ordering their lunch, ended up with twice as many sandwiches as they expected through different interpretations of whether a “round” meant one or two slices of bread. I certainly wouldn’t be sure.

    Jim R

  35. 30:59 for me, which is about normal for me (on those occasions where I do not DNF). A large chunk of that was spent on OFFBEAT.

    The use of ALTAR as a word for table feels weird, though I accept that it’s valid.

  36. A PB for me at 14:37. Not sure I’ve ever heard of STOCK STILL and definitely not come across NARY but neither held me up long and, besides, I frequently enjoy a ROUND or two of toast. Thanks to Joker and Roly.

  37. For a few minutes today I experienced what it must feel like to be a ‘proper’ solver, rather than someone groping in the dark.

    After drawing a blank with 6 of the first 7 across clues (only got PISTOL), I then got all the rest of the ac clues as I went and, working from the bottom up, got from 21dn to 5dn without stopping – 14 in a row.

    Then, as always, it went pear-shaped. Struggled badly with STOCK STILL, THEME, LEAN and AROUND (LOI). Another in a long line of frustrating QCs, as I finished in 27 mins.

    There are times when I feel so close to cracking this and others when I feel like a complete beginner. Not getting LEAN immediately is unforgivable, as is THEME (couldn’t get rim for edge out of my mind).

    Looking back, there was nothing particularly difficult here which makes my time all the more frustrating. ☹️

    Not a good week so far.

    Thanks for the blog, always excellent!

    PS Never heard the phrase a round of bread used. A round of sandwiches or toast perhaps, but not bread. You live and learn.

  38. Found this remarkably straightforward and seems to be on Joker’s wavelength until OFFBEAT and AROUND which together took as long as all the other clues.
    Thanks Joker and Roly for parsing MOTTO.

  39. 21:58

    Better than of late but still over my 20 minute target. Held up for 4 minutes on LOI AROUND.

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