Times Quick Cryptic No 2429 by Mara

After Juno’s very tricky QC yesterday, we have another difficulty one from Mara today. If you managed to finish this, then well done! Some nebulous definitions and deceptive wordplay made it slow going for me but it was 4A that kept me scratching my head for an extra 30s at the end as I took an embarrassingly long time to spot it was an anagram. In all it took me 7:36, which is 2 1/2 minutes over my target. More than our ration of double definitions (5) and anagrams (6), I think, but there were some good clues along the way. I particularly liked 18A, 6D, 10D and 15D. Thank-you Mara. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. I can promise you it’s easier than today’s or yesterday’s Times QC! So do give it a go. You can find the crossword here. If you are interested in trying our previous none-too-hard offerings you can find an index to all 80 here.

P.S. You can read about and see pictures from our gathering in London last Saturday here.

P.P.S. Off to the Stowmarket Beer Festival later but will take my tablet to check in on comments so apologies in advance for any typos on replies.

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

1 Reserved, and put in, fizzy drink (6)
SHANDYAND put in SHY (reserved). Not the first fizzy drink to come to my mind.
4 Listed jerks least likely to offer help? (6)
IDLEST – (listed)* [jerks]. A bit of an elliptical definition, I think, and I’m not sure I can make sense of the surface. My LOI.
8 Fine head on glorious object (5)
THINGTHIN (fine) and first letter [head on] of Glorious.
9 Opposing move, one reckons (7)
COUNTER – Double definition.
10 Fellow into pickled onions (3)
DON – Hidden in pickleD ONions.
11 Witch, old killer (6-3)
BATTLE-AXE – Double definition. The first definition seems a bit of a stretch. “A domineering (usually older) woman” is what Chambers has for battle-axe. Doesn’t sound much like a witch to me.
12 Where biblical waters parted waves erased (3,3)
RED SEA – (erased)* [waves].  This reminded me of Handel’s great oratorio Israel in Egypt. The story referred to in the clue is in Part II. “He rebuked the Red Sea”. You can listen to it here.
13 God last of all entering a game (6)
APOLLO – [last of] alL in A POLO (game).
16 Insect with wings on earlier, one in test? (9)
CRICKETERCRICKET (insect) and outer letters [wings on]  of EarlieR. Somewhat topical with the match on at Lords currently.
18 Letter, I say (3)
GEE – Double definition and great surface. Our generous setter (or editor) avoided the temptation to mislead us further by punctuating it “Letter I, say” as I might have done.
19 Discharge English chap at end of conference (7)
EMANATEE (English) MAN (chap) AT [end of] conferencE.
20 Furious criminal losing power initially (5)
IRATE – {p}IRATE (criminal) without the P{ower] [initially].
22 Quite good-looking (6)
PRETTY -Double definition and, I think, a bit of a chestnut.
23 Poor grade E established (6)
AGREED – (grade E)* [poor].
1 Radio or TV adjusted (3)
SET – Double definition.
2 Dodgy dealing in order (7)
ALIGNED – (dealing)* [dodgy].
3 Pig’s ear, pet food? (4,9)
DOGS BREAKFAST -Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
5 Driver’s inconsiderate action you can see in middle of stoppage? (6-7)
DOUBLE-PARKING – The middle of stoPPage gives you P (parking) twice. Nice one.
6 More people, six? Eight for quota finally? (5)
EXTRA – Last letters of peoplE siX eighT foR quotA [finally]. Neatly deceptive surface.
7 Rogue meets hero in group of musketeers, for example (9)
THREESOME – (meets hero)* [rogue]. Porthos, Athos and Aramis, I seem to remember. The Dumas novel is set in 1625-8, apparently. Or so it says here.
9 Reference some Gaelic item (4)
CITE – Hidden in, [some], GaeliC ITEm.
10 Repairing of pitch dear? Far from it! (4,5)
DIRT CHEAP – (pitch dear)* [repairing of].
14 Toboggan filled with funny things (7)
LUGGAGE –  GAG (funny) in LUGE (toboggan). Funny the noun (and not an anagram indicator). Things as in personal belongings. A little tricky this one, I think.
15 Bacterial infection seemingly troubling your eye, firstly (4)
STYE – Initial letters, [firstly], of Seemingly Troubling Your Eye. Which is, of course, an eye infection. Clever.
17 Silly, fashionable article ending in garbage (5)
INANEIN (fashionable) AN (article) [ending in] garbagE.
21 Stop goal (3)
END – Double definition and, fittingly, the last clue.

80 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2429 by Mara”

  1. Biffed DOUBLE-PARKING, never got around to parsing it. Ditto CRICKETER. PRETTY is more than a bit of a chestnut; it seems to show up with the same clue each time, or as near as dammit. I think ‘jerks’ is new as an anagram indicator. The surface is stilted, but I think it can be parsed “those jerks on the list are …” 5:52

  2. 18:46. Many difficult clues but luckily all finally gettable. The parsing for DOUBLE PARKING was clever and I needed blog to see it. LUGGAGE had me looking hard for the simple hidden in plain sight definition. Definition for IDLEST was somewhat strange as John says. DOG’S BREAKFAST was my favourite. D’Artagnan always gets short shrift as only the fourth musketeer. In the seventies Richard Lester directed the films The Three Musketeers and a sequel, The Four Musketeers, with Oliver Reed and Michael York among others. At least in that sequel D’Artagnan finally gets to share top billing. Thanks for musical link to Handel!

  3. What everyone else says about DOUBLE-PARKING, a clever clue which completely eluded me. I also spent too long on EXTRA, parsing post-solve to discover it was just about the easiest clue here. No particular problems otherwise, 8.34. Thanks for the blog John and for the report and pics from Saturday’s totally abstemious gathering. When ‘tabard’ coincidentally cropped up the other day I hazarded a guess The George was in the vicinity of where Geoffrey lay, and that would appear to be so. Galspray said they were all awful people who made him drink too much, so I’m guessing he had a good time.

  4. 12 minutes, with EXTRA and DOUBLE P parsed post-solve. I achieved my target 10 minutes only once this week (Wednesday, by Orpheus) and twice last week (Tuesday, by Orpheus and Wednesday, by Teazel).

  5. Only two on the first pass of acrosses (DON and RED SEA) before I suddenly had nearly all the LHS but none of the right. IRATE got be going and I finally finished all green in 17 back at 1a when I gave up trying to do something with ‘soda’ to see SHANDY.

    I think I remember a discussion on here from ages ago when when the quickness of the QC was said to be down to it being smaller rather than easier than the 15×15- from a crossword editor I think – but that the QC was pitched at DT level with the 15×15 equating to the DT Toughie. My pre-breakfast pre dogh walk QC is still my favourite bit of crossword but I have recently been doing the DT too (puzzle subscription £1!) just to check I’m not losing it.

        1. Ah yes. I do those at the weekend. I like them and they’re usually very doable. My puzzles subscription is £3.99 pm.

      1. I failed to find the thread I thought I could remember but did find this from Vinyl’s introduction to QC 820 (April 2017), so they’ve been getting harder for a long time:

        This is just about my worst time ever on a Quickie. Are they getting harder, or was I completely off the wavelength? I started out finishing between 6 and 10 minutes, but the last week has been a different story. The wordplay seems to have gotten more complex, and it is no longer a matter of drawing on old chestnuts and stock cryptic components. They’re beginning to look a lot like a smaller version of the regular puzzle on the easier days.

    1. I’ve not heard the suggestion that the QC was quicker because it was smaller than, rather than easier than, the 15×15. My own experience is rather contrary to this – I finish 90-95% of the QCs (though of late I notice that percentage is slipping to the high 80s), and about 15% of the big ones I try – and I don’t even try those advetised here as stinkers.

    2. It has been, I think, a tough set of crosswords this week. I only managed Orpheus’ on Wednesday in under my target time. But even so, on average, the QC is significantly easier than the 15 x 15. On average the latter takes me nearly 3 x as long, so it’s not down to there being fewer clues or limited to 13 letter answers max. I equate the QC with The Guardian’s Quiptic, but it’s a long time since I did the DT regularly (nealy 40 years) so I can’t really compare with that or the Toughie.

    3. I, too, have been looking in the direction of the DT Cryptic more often and for the same reasons. Recent QCs have made me begin to worry about mislaid marbles…… John.

    4. I’m with you: I too had DON and RED SEA, then all the LHS but none of the right.

    5. I just had an email offering a DT puzzle subscription for £1 for the whole year.

  6. Well, that is one hour, 2 minutes and 50 seconds of my life I’m never going to get back! I’m glad others recognised it as hard as I was losing the will to live by the end.
    BATTLE AXE was a questionable one, in my opinion and wasn’t until I got DOUBLE PARKING and DOGS BREAKFAST that I began to gather ‘speed’. IDLEST and THREESOME held me up most. I especially liked CRICKETER and COUNTER. All green in the end, however, so I’m partially satisfied.
    Thanks for your comment (above) Mendest as I was wondering how the definition of ‘Quick’ crossword was arrived at as the majority have been anything but quick of late.
    Enjoy your weekends everyone. Hazy sunshine down here in Dorzet but a much nicer temperature for an old fogey like me.

  7. Chewy in places. An early spot of DOGS BREAKFAST opened up the left hand side of the grid very nicely but DOUBLE PARKING took longer to do the same for the right.
    I thought I was going to be taken over target by my last two, IDLEST and THREESOME, where I was inexplicably trying to make an anagram out of ‘rogue’ and ‘hero’.
    Finished in 9.47.
    Thanks to John

  8. 13 minutes. Another quite hard one, though not as difficult as yesterday’s. I had no idea about the parsing of DOUBLE-PARKING either and was just glad to get it as my last in; very good now it’s been explained. I was thinking of the wrong part of speech for ‘funny’ for LUGGAGE and am still having trouble seeing it in the singular as a noun. Six of one…, but I parsed SET as a triple def.

    I liked the Handel link; playing in the background as I type this.

    Thanks to John and Mara

  9. Another real struggle, another 19 minute completion (a bit like London buses, I’ve had none for months then 2 in two days). Yes I am getting older, yes the brain cells are probably not what they were, but my experience and that of too many others here suggests that these QCs really are getting harder. I don’t know why, or who decided they were too easy, but I suspect I am not entirely alone in regretting this.

    Hard to pick out any clue in particular that held me up as they all did. I didn’t enter a single answer for the first 3 minutes, and thereafter most of them had to be prised out. Even when I was down to the last two (the Luggage/Gee cross) it still took over a minute to finally nail them down. Wading through treacle …

    Time for comments like “good workout, no pain no gain, this is how one improves …”. Yes, but one can have too much of a good thing and I would prefer the QC to be more like it used to be please. if the editor needs guidance as to what a proper QC looks like, may I suggest looking at John’s, Phil’s and Sawbill’s Saturday Specials, which are consistently excellent and also consistently of the same standard. And have been since the very first of them.

    Thank you John for the blog and a good weekend to all

      1. John refers to them in the introduction to his blog, under “Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic” – I’m afraid “Saturday Special” is merely my affectionate nickname for them. They are always very enjoyable, always entirely fair and the most remarkable thing is that they have maintained pretty much the same standard of difficulty from the very first one – despite being set by three different setters. (For the mathematical, the standard deviation of my solving times for the Monday-Friday puzzle is about 4-5 minutes, but for the Saturday Specials is well under 2 minutes).

        As I meant to say and should have said in my main post, “Consistently excellent and excellently consistent”.

        1. Thank you. I have now created a link so look forward to trying them 👍

          1. Enjoy. Phil, Sawbill and I have recognisably different styles, I think, but we strive for accuracy and a similar level of difficulty through the well-oiled machine (ha ha) of our editing and test solving process.

            1. Really enjoyed the weekend puzzle, thanks John. I managed to complete it all despite never having heard of a TITLARK, which was a bit of a biff given the available letters. Some great clues in there 👍

  10. Tricky but fun and not too much over average time. All parsed except the DOUBLE P. Saw JERKS as anagrind immediately, but didn’t solve it until getting the crossing T much later. A god ending in O seemed daunting, but I was lucky APOLLO came to mind fast giving me enough crossers for the long down clue. FOI SHANDY, LOI AGREED, COD LUGGAGE. No prob with BATTLE-AXE, as I took OLD as applying to both definitions. Thanks, Maraand John

  11. Biffed without parsing the same ones as those already mentioned for a 30 minute completion before ambling into the club. CITE opened up the top right hand corner and CRICKETER was my topical COD while trying unsuccessfully to parse EXTRA in a similar vein.
    Missed yesterday’s puzzle but will catch up over the weekend. Sounds like it was a brow beater and may be a welcome intermission from mowing and household repairs.
    Thanks Mara and John.

  12. I found this a slow steady solve. I actually finished with all correct, unlike any of the others this week. Helped I think by the lack of NHOs, even though I quite like the odd one to improve my vocabulary so long as its construction is more straightforward. Well it’s still early so time now to do the Sudoku for a change.

    Thanks Mara and Johninterred and for the weekend pics and pages.

  13. A good puzzle now I have had a bit of time to reflect. Some very good clues but some (e.g. DOUBLE PARKING) were just too clever and had to be biffed from crossers and parsed later by John (thanks!). I thought of GEE early on but waited for a the G before I entered it. I confess to taking quite a while to see THREESOME and my LOI, IDLEST, which also took too long to click. I ended up a couple of minutes into the SCC.
    What a week! As I said earlier this week, I intend to spend more time with the DT Cryptic unless there is a marked Editorial re-think on the difficulty of (alleged) QCs.
    Btw I got a lot of pleasure from the Eye Crossword this week. I found it harder than usual but had fun. Am I allowed to mention the competition?
    Thanks to Mara and John. John M.

  14. Only got a few at first attempt and feared the worst. However, managed a couple more and gradually filled in the right hand side. Biffed DOUBLE PARKING which helped and was pleased to finish in about half an hour whilst listening to Desert Island Discs. Chuffed to bits!

  15. Bet there was a bit of tension in the Setters’ Common Room today.

    “I say Mara!”. “Yes Oink old boy, what’s up?” “Pig’s ear, pet food? How dare you? I do the porcine clues round here chum.”

    “Oi Mara!” “Hello Izetti, how are you?” “Where biblical waters parted waves erased … I do the Biblical clues round here sonny. Do that again and I’ll marmalise you.”

    *Mara fills pipe, looks awkwardly out of the window, shuffles off to supervise the Remove*

    Reggo 09:26 for 1.6K and a Pretty Decent Day. COD to DOUBLE-PARKING. Many thanks Mara and John.


    PS I don’t think they’re any harder on average (obviously there are peaks and troughs). They’re miles easier than the 15, which I hardly ever finish. They’re consistently pretty much the same level as (or maybe slightly harder than) the Telegraph, which I’ve been doing because I got a free year’s Puzzles subscription from some other publication!

    1. I always wondered what SCR stands for. Lol.
      As for getting harder. Here are my 6 month rolling average times for the last few years:
      June 20 – 5:17
      June 21 – 5:29
      June 22 – 5:29
      June 23 – 5:20
      It doesn’t look like, on average, they are getting harder to me.
      Perhaps we should get starstruck_au to do a QC SNITCH to give us a broader statistic.

      1. I think this is a case where the function of increased difficulty is not linear and does not affect all solvers equally. It may be that anyone who is solving in 5 minutes, like you John and (on a bad day for him) Busman, is untroubled by a marginal increase in complexity, much as someone who is really fit and strong will not be noticeably slower walking with a 20 kg backpack than with a 15 kg one. Others will find this extra 5 kg slows them considerably (so, my times for the QC go out from c.10-12 minutes to c.17-20), and others still will find the extra 5 kg means they cannot walk at all (so, some solvers will go from a 30 minute solve to a DNF).

        1. I was only reporting my average times. I probably have as much variability, relatively, as anyone else with difficulty. This is quite an interesting topic which I have discussed with startstruck_au (Mr. Snitch). I contend that a standard distribution is not the best statistical model to use but there are various complicating factors, such as how do you treat times when the solver has got one (or more) wrong, the problem of using a leaderboard that only has the 100 fastest times (which is why the SNITCH decreases during the day), the base time to just fill in the grid when you know the answers, etc that means it is good enough. Have a look at some of the SNITCH profiles of NITCH v SNITCH. My correlation factor for the 15×15 is more than 1, which means that I take longer than I should when the crosswords are harder. A SNITCH for the QC would be quite interesting.

      2. Getting a QC Snitch would be a great idea. I don’t mind a slower time if I know I’m on a Par-5, and a Snitch rating gives an excellent idea of how other solvers are doing, relative to their own averages.

        The Snitch also advises me of which 15×15 Days are worth a shot. Anything over 100 means approach with caution.

        It’s a very clever use of mathematics, especially the neutrino detector, and even the ability to weasel out times posted in our blogs.

        1. I’m not sure what the SNITCH tells us but I would still love one

          – I tried a 61 from end of May and was left with 5 clues unsolved.
          – By accident, I had first attempted the 95 from the day before and also had 4-5 left.

          – I did last Monday’s 63 and had 8-9 I couldn’t get.
          – Meanwhile the 76 and 79s of the previous week had 4-5 left.

          I am going to give yesterday’s 15×15 a go later which is rating 64.

          (All of the above, I impose an hour time limit to maintain the will to live!)

          EDIT: yesterday’s 64. Got down to about last 9 clues in 25-mins and then apart from a couple of guesses, was never going to complete it. Pleased with that though.

      3. Dear Mr Interred,
        “A broader statistic”? Here’s one:
        S T A T I S T I C

      4. I would love a QC SNITCH. Ever since I read about how it works, I’ve thought that being a “reference solver” would be glorious, but I’ve no chance at all of achieving that for the biggie.

    2. Excellent. I look forward to more fly-on-the-wall excerpts from the Setters’ Common Room.

  16. Taken one minute over target to sixteen minutes, mostly by the LUGGAGE /.GEE crossers, but I liked this puzzle and enjoyed completing it. DOUBLE-PARKING was very clever, as were a few other clues.

    Thanks to John for the blog, and for the report on proceedings from Saturday, where I enjoyed meeting everyone.

    For anyone still pondering Juno’s theme yesterday, he dropped by fairly late in the day with an explanation on the blog – no wonder none of us could see it!

        1. Our editor’s themes/Nina’s can be a bit impenetrable. He doesn’t necessarily expect people to find them.

      1. Clearly never been a professional fundraiser. Had we all ripped through it in below-average times, he might have won a few converts to the cause! Instead, as The Rotter implied, it put people’s backs up and turned them off.

        1. Or maybe just specifically mention it, and ask kindly if people would like to contribute. The whole point of fundraising is to make it as easy as possible to donate.

  17. Excellent clue for DOUBLE PARKING – thanks very much for the parsing. Just biffed it as I couldn’t see it. We always called a revolting mess a dog’s dinner, which clearly didn’t fit.

  18. Certainly tricky, and after last night’s stellar performance I missed my target.

    Nothing much to add to what others have said, although I must defend BATTLE-AXE, for which I think “witch” is a perfectly good synonym.

    Thanks to Mara, and to John for the usual fine blog.

    TIME 5:23

  19. Hooray! Finished it (eventually). FOI DON(!), three CsOD DOGS BREAKFAST, DOUBLE PARKING and DIRT CHEAP, only MER was my LOI LUGGAGE (having learnt LUGE a few days ago, thank you): surely “funny” is an adjective whereas GAG is a noun, and what do you all think about “things” as an adequate definition of LUGGAGE? But thank you, Mara, for the enjoyable CsOD.

  20. A shade over 20, held up by IDLEST (never seen “jerks” as an anagrind) and THREESOME. I got the anagram wrong, and was looking for ROGUE+HERO. I was a fan of The Flashing Blade TV series from the 70s.

    “Letter I say” looked like EGO, with EG=say.

    I didn’t put SHANDY in straight away on the basis that it is always clued S+HANDY.


  21. Yesterday’s tough puzzle took me 15 minutes. I thought this seemed much easier with several write-ins but it still took me 14 minutes.
    LOI was LUGGAGE which I had biffed but it took me a minute or so to parse it. Prior to that IDLEST held me up; did not read the clue carefully so missed the anagram indicator.

  22. 6:46

    Very slow start – just three in on first pass of acrosses – but those three gave enough checkers to take a punt on DOGS BREAKFAST and to see the DIRT CHEAP anagram quickly which opened things up considerably. Another punt on DOUBLE PARKING (from the U and L checkers in the first word – though I failed to see the parsing at the time – very good!) opened up the RHS. Last two in were IDLEST and THREESOME.

    Thanks Mara and John

  23. 15:26 (Publication of Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament)

    Another hard QC. EMANATE and COUNTER my last ones in.


  24. I agree with most that this was another tough puzzle, but even so I finished only just outside target at 10.37. I was surprised to find that it was as quick as that, as it felt much slower in solving. It was one of those crosswords where only a few answers flew straight in, and there was much diving around the grid to complete.
    I know there is much talk about QCs becoming harder and for the majority of people I think they are. A few people have made the valid point that those solvers who generally post the quickest times are the least affected, and Johninterred’s times seem to confirm that. I don’t imagine Verlaine would find much of a difference for sure.
    Having said all that, to me the greatest satisfaction comes from solving a crossword that stretches you, even it exceeds your target time, and today was no exception. Some excellent clues by Mara with so much clever misdirection.
    My total time for the week was 55.45 giving me a daily average of 11.09. A tougher than average week then!

  25. This week really has been overly difficult in QC land.

    I did managed to complete this one with a little help from the cat. I was right on the border of enjoying and not enjoying this one, but I’ll sway towards enjoyable. Certainly far more enjoyable than any of the other setter’s offerings this week.

    I wasn’t too happy with “witch” meaning battle axe. But then again I remember a certain teacher we had in primary school who we all called “That old witch!” Or “That old battle axe!”

    A happier end to an otherwise miserable week of QCs.

  26. 15:43 Another enjoyable one. It was a challenge but never frustrating though I did biff SHANDY at the end. And I’ve just noticed I never parsed DOUBLE PARKING either. Thanks to John and Mara.

  27. I found this easier than yesterday but there were still some challenges here and there including IDLEST (took an age to spot the anagram) and THREESOME (was hung up on soldiers or guns). My favourite was DOUBLE PARKING; I usually biff these sort of clues but was delighted to solve this one from the wordplay. I also liked the surfaces for DIRT CHEAP and LUGGAGE. LOI EMANATE, just because I skipped around the grid. Really liked this one. Thanks Mara. Pitched just right for me – had to think but not too much 😁 Thanks for the blog John. I also really enjoyed seeing the photos from your get together. I would love to join you all next time. R.

  28. Had to solve this in dribs and drabs, with family here. But I got there in the end, plodding up and down and around the grid.
    Yes, I guess one’s LUGGAGE is one’s things, but seems tenuous.
    A BATTLE AXE isn’t a witch, I agree. DOUBLE PARKING unparsed.
    Thanks vm, John.

  29. Harder again. My spreadsheet tells me that this week took longer than any other week so far this year – 43 mins and 1 second. However, the last 3 weeks were easier than average from a time perspective – around 31 or 32 mins. I’m not sure they’re getting harder, but I am sure that this was a tough week!

    DOUBLE PARKING biffed, thanks to john for the parsing – and that’s another retrospective COD! LOI was GEE after I got LUGGAGE = things.


  30. A sub-30, so a bit quicker (or, more accurately, less slower) than yesterday, but it certainly didn’t feel any easier. Quite a few ‘no idea’ clues that seemed impossible until they were suddenly obvious. What a week. Invariant

  31. 14 mins…

    I didn’t find this too bad, although I’ll fully admit I never parsed 5dn “Double Parking”. Now, I’ve read the blog I can see it, but a little too obscure for me. Agree with the comments on “Witch” not equating to a “Battle Axe” – I very much think of the latter as being a hardened, old lady who takes no nonsense.

    16ac “Cricketer” very apt – although based on this morning, I will question whether a test is currently suitable for many .

    FOI – 8ac “Thing”
    LOI – 4ac “Idlest”
    COD – 5ac “Double Parking”

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Another tricky one, but at least I finished within my target. SET was FOI and THREESOME brought up the rear. Biffed DOUBE PARKING. 9:48. Thanks Mara and John.

  33. I was pleased to see Mara’s name above the grid today and it proved to be a much more comfortable ride than Juno delivered yesterday. All done in 27 minutes, which is good going for me. And, no ridiculously long hold-ups. I enjoyed DOGS BREAKFAST and BATTLE-AXE.

    Many thanks to Mara and John.

  34. I avoided making a DOGS dinner of this. For some reason I struggled to come up with BREAKFAST and needed most of the checkers including the B from the less than helpful BATTLE AXE clue. I biffed DOUBLE PARKING and parsed post solve. Ditto my LOI CRICKETER. 8:53

  35. Not our day with only about two thirds completed. Worst performance for many a day. A very up and down week.

  36. Slow start for me too and the finish was only marginally quicker. At least I was all green in 28:39. Some clever clues, a number of which I didn’t parse, so thanks for the blog. FOI DON, LOI SHANDY, COD DOUBLE PARKING. Thanks Mara and John

  37. My approach is a bit different to that of many here. Rather than trying to do the QC as fast as possible and all at once, I prefer to spread it out during the day. I start at breakfast while waiting for Mrs L to finish part one of the paper, and then dip into it again throughout the day. And biffing is not my style: I won’t write in an answer until I have parsed it.

    So I can be a little disappointed when it’s all wrapped up by lunchtime or earlier. On the other hand, if Mrs L and I are still stumped by bedtime (as we were yesterday) that can be a bit frustrating, as I don’t like using the various aids available.

    For me, today’s was still in the ‘enjoyably challenging’ zone as the final two clues dropped into place at tea-time, when I suddenly saw that ‘jerks’ was an anagrind, and finally solved 19A. I had been looking for a 5 letter word -A-A- meaning ‘chap’ until I twigged that AT in the clue was part of the answer. Enjoyable penny-dropping moments.

    I think that morale can also be important. Often when finishing I have a handful of linked clues where I can’t see any of them. When I return to the crossword, of course my subconscious has been working on them in the meantime, but I will suddenly see one of the answers and the rest quickly fall into place. Partly this is a matter of having more crossers, but I think it is also getting back confidence in myself. Part of the trouble yesterday was that I was making such slow progress that I began to think that I wasn’t clever enough to solve the clues. (Which, to be fair, I wasn’t!)

    1. Nice contribution. Thanks. I am always pleased when I solve a difficult crossword without aids and failing to parse the clever clues misses a lot (or even most) of the fun. Solving times are a bit of an irrelevancy really in comparison.

  38. It took longer than normal, but eventually solved.
    LOI – LUGGAGE. “Things” is an extremely poor definition, not to say abysmal. But there is not a lot of choice of words to fit L-G-A-E. Eventually worked out the answer through the wordplay.
    Otherwise a very enjoyable puzzle.

  39. Another poor week in QC land.

    Took 40 mins today.

    After recent experiences, I approached today with little confidence or enthusiasm.

    I was twice completely stumped for a few minutes and on the point of giving up. My total inability to work out simple anagrams has returned, largely because I’m looking for something more complex.

    Didn’t like BATTLE AXE or DOUBLE PARKING, although my inability to see the latter suggests that I simply do not have the kind of mind that is suited to cryptics.

    The last 6 days on the QC have been depressing. As I have said before, if the objective is to deter new solvers or those, like me, of limited ability, then many more periods like this will achieve it.

    Thanks for the blog John and I enjoyed reading about your get together.

    I hope everyone had a great weekend.

    1. 22 QCs this month – ended up successful on 17 of them, 1 frustration DNF, 4 quits.

      First 7 – 7/7 – avg. time 16:40 … median 15:21
      Middle 8 – 6/7 – avg. time 32:20 … median 26:30
      Last 7 – 3/7 – avg. time 41:13 … median 33:33

      Avg. time 30:10 … median 26:30
      Izetti-less avg. time 26:03 … median 22:36

      1. Perhaps it’s the crossword editor getting back at you for such a cracking start to the month? 🤣🤣🤣

        Interesting stats which really say it all.

    2. FWIW I had what is for me a bad week too taking 32:07 in total for the week compared to 24:30 two weeks ago. Sometimes we get a cluster of harder ones. But Orpheus on Wednesday was easier, wasn’t it? There will be easier weeks.

  40. 38:09, which I’m quite happy with having spent the late afternoon and early evening at the pub. Slow going but I never felt completely stuck. Thank you for the blog!

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