Times Quick Cryptic No 2452 by Alex


One at the gentle end of the scale from Alex today, as shown by my time of 9:07, which is very fast for me.

My FOI was CARDS, LOI DAMSON, mostly because I had convinced myself that the mother was going to be ‘MA’. There were a couple of anagrams that required hardly any letter shifting (CAR and TASSELS), and the crossers were helpful on the two long anagrams that crossed in the middle of the grid.

Alex being an infrequent setter, I wonder whether there is a theme or Nina in here, but after a few minutes I haven’t spotted one.

Definitions underlined in italics, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in squiggly brackets.

1 Thread from sack catching tip of briar (5)
FIBREFIRE (sack, as a verb) including the first letter [catching tip] of Briar.
4 Mother and child producing fruit (6)
DAMSONDAM (mother) + SON (child).
9 Stop  chorus (7)
REFRAIN – Double definition, the second being the repeated part of a song, rather than a synonym for ‘choir’, which was my first thought.
10 Rotters holding right means of payment (5)
CARDSCADS (rotters) containing [holding] R (right).
11 Recalled part of great Cabaret performance (3)
ACT – Hidden in [part of] “greaT CAbaret”, reversed [recalled].
12 Unfairness of popular union (8)
INEQUITYIN (popular) + EQUITY (actors’ union).
15 Famous studies hiding criminal (13)
17 Creature with protective covering for flower (8)
FOXGLOVEFOX (creature) + GLOVE (protective covering).
18 Speaker’s entirely boring object (3)
AWL – Homophone [speaker’s] of ‘all’.

An awl being a tool used to bore holes.

20 Place of worship where the French returned sailor (5)
ALTARLA (‘the’ in French) reversed [returned] + TAR (sailor).
22 Leader of talented lasses knitted ornamental hangings (7)
TASSELS – first letter [leader] of Talented + anagram of [knitted] LASSES.
23 Fragile  small boat (6)
TENDER – Double definition
24 Examines small tins (5)
SCANSS for small + CANS (tins).
1 Sends on  rugby players (8)
FORWARDS – Double definition, the first being in the sense of email, the second being the members of a rugby team whose job it is to obtain the ball for us talented backs. Ahem.

Nice surface.

2 Heads of bespoke English fashion industry tailoring suit (5)
BEFIT – First letters of Bespoke English Fashion Industry Tailoring.
3 Cut back pit work testing (9)
EXAMININGAXE (cut) reversed [back] + MINING (pit work).
5 Car going around curve (3)
ARC – Anagram [going around] of CAR.
6 Way to heave and extend (7)
STRETCHST (way) + RETCH (heave).

ST for Street is common.

7 Hooter sound one’s missing (4)
NOSENO{i}SE (sound) with I removed [one’s missing].
8 Threw ground around low plants (11)
UNDERGROWTH – Anagram [around] of THREW GROUND.

Maybe a coincidence, but all three of ‘threw’, ‘ground’ and ‘around’ can be used as anagram indicators.

13 Poems following college worlds (9)
UNIVERSESVERSES (poems) after [following] UNI (college).

Do people really say “uni” for college? Not in my day!

14 Worships overturned storage chamber during 15th March (8)
IDOLISESSILO (storage chamber) reversed [overturned] inside [during] IDES [15th March].

The ides of March, famously, was a bad day for Julius Caesar.

16 Cut down time in beach cabin at last (7)
SHORTENT for time in SHORE (beach) + N [cabiN at last].
18 Space around Northern stadium (5)
ARENAAREA (space) around N for Northern.
19 Tempt graduate with sex appeal (4)
BAITBA (graduate – Bachelor of Arts) + IT (60s (?) slang for sex appeal).
21 Regret statute getting left out (3)
RUERU{l}E (statute) with L for Left out.

80 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2452 by Alex”

  1. 9:31. I wanted adulates for IDOLISES at first but then I think TASSELS made the former impossible. I wasn’t sure of EQUITY for union but then the blog reminded me of the actor connection. Going around seemed more like a reversal than an anagram indicator in the clue for ARC. SHORTEN was my COD for the separation of beach and cabin.

  2. 12.10. I was held up by the two long central anagrams and by SHORTEN and FOXGLOVE, annoying in that we’ve had the latter 2 or 3 times lately either here or in the 15×15. Like the Doof I struggled to find a suitable fruit beginning with MA. Some of these – ARC, AWL, BEFIT, ACT – were in the super-easy category but there were many clever clues (SHORTEN, IDOLISES) and deceptive surfaces. In Oz people generally say nothing BUT uni but I’ve never heard that in the UK.

    1. My children’s generation certainly said uni so it was common enough in the UK in the early 2010s. In my day one talked of Varsity …

      1. I wonder if the backpacker generation cross-pollinated it back from Oz to UK? Most of my time there was pre-1990 and as I say, I never heard it then.

        1. I was also at uni pre-1990’s and it was a common enough phrase then. Perhaps it depended which uni one attended.

  3. 6 minutes, but nonetheless a delightful puzzle pitched perfectly as a QC – at least as far as I can judge, but opinions may vary.

    Alex joined the gang of QC setters in May this year and this is only his/her third offering. There have been no Ninas or themes spotted so far.

    Sadly ‘Uni’ is used widely in the UK now as noted in a recent comment I made about my pet hates.

    1. You probably have us Antipodeans, at least in part, to thank for UNI entering the British vernacular. It’s a been in use here as an abbreviation for ‘University’ for decades. Yet another example of the pernicious influence of Neighbours and Home and Away.

      1. I think Neighbours is the culprit. I’m sure my generation who watched the early series in the late 80s picked it up and started using it.

        1. I’ve never watched it but it doesn’t look like any of them are…um…interested in tertiary education…

          1. I think it became ubiquitous when it was government policy that all school-leavers should go to university as a means of massaging the unemployment figures. I think that was more 1990s than 1980s.

            1. Jack – I think you’re right that it became ubiquitous when it became policy but the derivation is almost certainly from Down Under. I asked my friend who graduated in 1993 what he called it and although he couldn’t remember for sure, he thought “university” which is kind of how I remember it. But he added “If it was uni, then I blame Neighbours”.

              ‘Allo LO – you’re downplaying the intelligence of Plain Jane, Superbrain from the early days – when Neighbours was fun to watch. And Charlene (Kylie) was trying to do wonders for feminism by being a car mechanic! My days watching ended somewhere around 1990-91 when work finished at 5:15pm and it became a struggle to get home for the 5:35pm showing. Au revoir, LP

    2. I’ve quite enjoyed Alex’s three puzzles so far. I found this a little more testing than I’d have liked but I felt it was well pitched for a QC. A good combination of regular words/answers and nothing unknown. Maybe still a little tough for the beginners though with things like refrain, tender and equity and long anagrams.

        1. I don’t think of you as a beginner Ian; I’m sure you’ve moved up to the Improvers class. Hopefully there wasn’t anything you’ve seen before left on the table today.

      1. Yes, this one outfoxed me with TENDER and DAMSON (where I also was looking in vain for a fruit starting “ma”). Don’t think I’ve heard the former used to mean either “fragile” or “small boat” but no doubt they’re both correct.

  4. Brimming with confidence after such a positive start to the week, coupled with yesterday’s easy-peasy Daily Telegraph cryptic, I fair raced through this to start with, eventually getting slowed down by DAMSON (which I still don’t get) and FOXGLOVE which I very lazily biffed as MONGOOSE in my effort to get a good time. I was finally undone by the misspelling of AWL. Buggeration!, as they say in Kettering.
    Still, it was a nice puzzle so thanks to Alex and Doof for their hard work.
    Clues I especially enjoyed today were IDOLISES and DISTINGUISHED.
    It’s rather a fine start to the day here in Dorsetshire, which rather belies the predictions of the tempest that is due later. The stalwart Mrs ITTT is currently sojourning in Cornwall and I suspect even she won’t be in the sea today if the forecast is correct. Come back summer! ☹️

    1. I’m joining you with MONGOOSE for FOXGLOVE. I managed to avoid biffing TANKER for TENDER which is neither fragile or a “small” boat but fitted the checkers and ended up being my LOI.

      My QC brain seems to be firing at about 80% currently as I couldn’t parse CARDS and wanted to try and do something with caries for rotters. And made TASSELS hard by bunging odes=poems on first pass. All corrected in 20.06 though.

      We had big rain here in BCP around 1am so hoping that was the worst of it.

        1. Yep, we had a right old downpour for 5-10mins at 4:30pm over in BH11. Very weird day – light rain and drizzle yet a couple of times I popped outside and it was bright sunshine and hot 🤷‍♂️

    2. Mrs ITTT certainly won’t need to go in the sea to get soaked in these parts today…

    3. ‘What all my pretty chickens and their dam
      In one fell swoop?’
      Macduff. (Macbeth having murdered his family)

  5. Coulda woulda shoulda … lazy Mongoose derailed a potential 6 minuter. Nice puzzle and I deserve to be tripped up by it – clever clue and a perfect trap for biffers as demonstrated by the growing club here in the blog.

    Lovely anagrams for DISTINGUISHED an UNDERGROWTH.

    Thanks Alex and Doof.

  6. 6:10

    Slow with the first pass of acrosses but picked up speed with the downs. Bunged in DISTINGUISHED without checking the anag fodder and relieved that the checkers at LOI 17a were enough to finish with FOXGLOVE. Missed the possible beartrap at 18a by re-reading the clue before committing!

    Thanks Alex and Doofenschmirtz

  7. 10:01. Taken out to beyond 10 minutes by FOXGLOVE which I should have seen earlier and by SHORTEN which I found the most difficult clue today. Good puzzle with no real obscurities or over-complicated parsing. BEFIT was my favourite.

    Thanks to Doofers and Alex

  8. I enjoyed this, and though still in the SCC, I got close to an exit. The long anagrams slowed me down.
    It’s drizzly and dull here, so I may have to dig out my QCC book and do another one for practice. Unfortunately, there is no blog to help explain some of the answers, but help is at hand with a surprisingly good AI crossword app that parses cryptics.
    Or I may just go for a walk in the rain, in true GaryA style!

    1. Your QCC book? Not sure if that’s a Times book but if so … all the old Times QC blogs are here on the site. If you enter a couple of the answers in the search engine you can normally locate it although I seem to recall some of the early ones I’ve seen don’t have explanations of parsing. If it’s from another paper Fifteensquared.net may have it.

      1. It’s a Times book of quick cryptic crosswords. I’ve got #8, and am slowly plugging my way through it. Are you saying these are also blogged on here?

        1. I’ve completed book 6 which is a compilation of QCs from 2020 & #7 which was 2021, so #8 is probably last year’s.

          As I say, put a couple of answers (or even a clues) in this site’s Search engine and you should be able to locate 👍

            1. Alternatively you can access online versions of past crosswords through the Times Crossword Club (find it under ‘Puzzles’ on Times website). You probably need a subscription but the Search function in the Crossword Club gives you a comprehensive choice of past crosswords (not just QC) to choose from. You need to note the date of the crossword. You can then locate the associated TFTT blog using either L-Plates suggestion or the ‘Archives’ procedure available here. I find this particularly useful at weekends when no QC is published.

    2. 🤣🤣🤣Thankfully Stranraer stayed dry today, although it was extremely wet under foot. I did a good long walk and visited the gardens at Castle Kennedy, before spotting a huge number of wild deer. I managed to get quite close before they spotted me and took flight.

  9. Didn’t find this as straightforward as some. I struggled with both of the long anagrams – particularly LOI UNDERGROWTH, where I was looking for a specific type of plant – and FOXGLOVE also took time to resolve itself. No complaints though as all were clearly clued and I enjoyed the puzzle as a whole.
    Finished in 8.24
    Thanks to Doofers.

  10. A neat puzzle. Although DISTINGUISHED came quickly I needed most of the checkers before I saw UNDERGROWTH. I never thought of MONGOOSE which I might just have put in… the perils of biffing. LOI TENDER. Thanks Alex and Doofers. An average 5:03.

  11. Didn’t find this as easy as many: struggled with TENDER (small?) and BAIT (didn’t remember IT as in “It girl” at all) and tried to think of a fruit beginning with MA for ages.

    1. A tender is often a small rowing boat used by, amongst others, yachties to get from beach / shore to their moored gin palace. If the said gin palace is called (for instance) MARTINI, then the tender usually has TT MARTINI (tender to Martini) inscribed somewhere on its hull.

      1. I saw a yacht in Croatia called ‘Light Touch’ and its tender was called ‘Tender to Light Touch’. I wondered if they had bought and named the yacht just for that joke.

  12. Dnf…

    Just couldn’t get 19dn “Bait” (which I should have got) and 23ac “Tender” (which I didn’t know was a boat).

    The rest I enjoyed, although I still think it was at the harder end of the QC landscape.

    FOI – 11ac “Act”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 14dn “Idolises”

    Thanks as usual!

  13. Fairly whizzed through this in 6¾ minutes, confirming Alex as one of my favourite setters. All parsed, though Distinguished only after putting it in from checkers. I’m sure we’ve seen Damson before, perhaps not so much a chestnut as “hello old fruit”.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  14. Nice and easy today though I did dart around the grid a bit.Liked FOXGLOVE, UNIVERSES, DAMSON, TENDER.
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  15. A good QC. An interesting grid – I found myself filling the edges with a big hole in the middle. I only began to fill it when one or two longer answers came to me. The rest then went in quite smoothly as crossers emerged and many answers began to jump out (all parsed, though). Like Doofers, it took me a while to move from Ma to Dam.
    Finished a couple of mins under target at 13.08 with my LOI, REFRAIN. My COD was FOXGLOVE.
    Thanks to Alex and Doofers. John M.

  16. I am definitely off my game this week. I didn’t get the FORWARDS/FIBRE crossing until half way through the solve and I needed 10:58 to complete the grid. EXAMINING and SHORTEN were the last to fall.

  17. A very straightforward but pleasing QC I thought, which I finished in 9 minutes.
    My only hesitation was LOI TENDER. Not knowing much about boats, but I know there are plenty of different types, I spent a bit of time looking for something better than TENDER.

  18. No time today as far too many interruptions, however, no major problems either. Thanks Alex and Doofers.

  19. Much easier than yesterday’s little teaser, but it was still a close run thing for a sub-20 thanks to my last two – Undergrowth and Foxglove. Quite surprised at the number of (even distinguished) solvers who plumped for Mongoose. Granted it’s a creature, but there’s precious little else in the clue going for it. On that basis, it probably deserves CoD for catching so many. Invariant

    1. When I biffed MONGOOSE it was hard to imagine another word would fit the checkers —G-O-E. As an answer it also has a “protective covering of Moose” and so I moved on in haste. Obviously it doesn’t pass careful examination but that was enough for my biffing brain as I still had SHORTEN and TENDER to figure out.

      Had it been my LOI, I might have spent extra time looking for an alternative as I did with celery yesterday.

  20. Didn’t start off too well on the acrosses but filled in a lot of blanks on my first pass through the downs. Ended up at 14 minutes, all parsed. Never considered mongoose at 17ac but did briefly consider mangrove (16dn still being outstanding at that point). Obviously it didn’t parse and I was quite quick to see foxglove.

    FOI – 1ac FIBRE
    LOI – 23ac TENDER
    COD – 15ac DISTINGUISHED. DAMSON also caused a chuckle – none the worse for being a bit of a chestnut.

    Thanks to Alex and Doofers

  21. Very enjoyable solve in 18 mins so a good one for me. I spent far too long thinking about the ‘popular onion’ in 12a before realising my eyesight was failing me.

    While I wish we could dispense with the use of ‘it’ and the oft clued ‘u’ (did anybody actually say that in the 60’s?) I loved the surface of BAIT so will sit on my hand for that one.

    COD to the excellent DISTINGUISHED.

  22. I was back to form today after failing to break fifteen minutes yesterday, finishing in a fairly speedy 6.35. Nothing delayed me especially, and I finished up with FOXGLOVE and finally SHORTEN. The possibility of MONGOOSE didn’t occur to me, but I’m trying to be a little more careful of late, and like to think that if it had, I would have reassessed it if I couldn’t parse it.

  23. 15m I was going to say it was hard for a quickie, but I think I am off form and all the clues were fair.
    Last few were inequity, forwards, fibre, and LOI unknown tender for boat.
    COD Forwards.

  24. Blimey! After a difficult start – only three clues solved during my first pass through the across – I raced through most of the down clues at breakneck speed, whilst somehow managing not to fall into any of the traps mentioned above. My LOI was IDOLISES and I crossed the line in just 16 minutes, thereby allowing my usual chair in the SCC to be occupied by someone else.

    Mrs Random is currently out at her Pilates class and is about 30 QCs behind at the moment. However, I have set her a challenging target, so she may try to wrest the family point from me later this afternoon.

    Many thanks to Alex and Doofers.

  25. No problems until UNDERGROWTH and LOI FOXGLOVE. Spent ages trying to assemble the anagrist into the name of specific ‘low plants’ happily ignoring the ‘s’ at the end of plants… 🙄 The ‘o’ checker then belatedly led me to FOXGLOVE. Liked the surface for TASSELS. Thanks for the blog Doofers and to Alex for an enjoyable QC.
    I was at university in the 80s and it was called ‘university’, then I went again in the noughties and it was very much ‘uni’. Interesting to hear about the possible influences of Neighbours and government policy.

  26. FOI was ACT, LOI was TENDER (I didn’t know it was a type of boat either). As someone who spent almost 40 years selling (amongst other things) hand tools, I’m unimpressed with how long it took me to come up with AWL so should probably make it COD. Does 20:56 mean I can apply for membership of the SCC?

    1. The SCC is very accommodating and 20+ minutes means that you are a welcome guest today. Long term membership, however, depends on how often you manage to escape its clutches. Good luck tomorrow!

      1. Thanks. I’m a relatively new member of the crossword club (joined in March) and enjoying the challenge. Don’t finish many of the main puzzles but I do OK on the QCC. My daily target time at present is 20 minutes and my PB so far this year is 10:20 on crossword 2422 (June 21st). As I enjoy going through the crossword archives, is there a way of finding my best time from previous years puzzles?

        1. I’m afraid I’m not the best person to ask, as I always solve (or fail to solve) on paper and keep my times in a spreadsheet. I started the QC a little over three years ago now and my PB is 11 minutes, so you have made faster progress than me. Mrs Random frequently escapes the SCC, but it’s still an uncommon experience for me (although today was an enjoyable exception).

  27. 12.22 Not particularly quick but enjoyable. There was some nice misdirection (like in 8 and 15) where the clue could be read in a couple of ways. Though I further confused things by typing STRETCG for 6d, which took ages to spot. Thanks to Doofers and Alex.

  28. First QC for a week and a day and glad to be back. No signs of rustiness coming in all green in 13. moderate start, fast middle and then slowed right down by TENDER and INEQUITY at the end- should have tried a Q with that U rather sooner. DISTINGUISHED leapt out at the second visit with just the Ds at both ends in place – funny how the mind works! Schedule a bit slacker now so hopefully back here at breakfast tomorrow!

  29. A DNF for me as I had 1a as FIBER, which stopped me getting 3d.

    I always thought it was FIBER for thread and FIBRE for the stuff that makes you regular. Even my dictionary has FIBER as threadlike.

    Didn’t get 9a as I’ve never heard of REFRAIN meaning chorus.

    Enjoyable though.

  30. 9.06

    Not my finest hour. TENDER took ages. Once I’d thought of tanker it was very tough to get the brain cells to eliminate that thought

    Good crossword

    Thanks Doofers and Alex

  31. Enjoyable QC today. Some very easy and some needing some careful thought and parsing. Took a while to get over 4a starting MA/MAS so ended up as LOI. Took far too long to see 10a Cards. Lots of great surfaces and tricks to enjoy.
    FOI 1a Fibre
    LOI 4a Damson
    COD 15a Distinguished

  32. Neat puzzle, which I found quite straightforward.

    I don’t remember much about it mind you – I did it this morning, but I liked FORWARDS and DISTINGUISHED.


  33. 1647 Scots hand over Charles I in return for £40,000 of army back-pay.

    Found this tough, but at least finished inside target unlike yesterday. I’m with the prof on little codes that need retiring: IT, SA, U and PI. Surely U us much more likely to be used for “you” these days, and I’m sure setters can work with that.

  34. 17:46 (Jacobite army defeated at Culloden)

    I’m not sure why I found this so slow. My LOI was FIBRE, which is obvious with hindsight. TENDER and FOXGLOVE also took a lot of thinking time.

    I agree with Prof and Merlin about it, sa , u and pi.

  35. A fine QC from Alex. Some straightforward clues but also a few tricky ones. Long anagrams are not my favourites and they took a while. I thought STRETCH was a fantastic clue, as was IDOLISES. Pleased to remember AWL from a previous QC.

    Thanks for the blog.

  36. 08.50. just avoided the FOXGLOVE/ MONGOOSE error. but only just. very enjoyable smooth solve.

  37. Absolutely done in after 15 wet miles up and down the Border hills. The things I do when I’m on holiday! Idiot.

    Anyway, this seems pretty unlikely to frighten any horses and I finished in 06:22. Fortunately I am a non-biffer so although I thought of MONGOOSE I just couldn’t make it work so out it stayed.

    Many thanks Alex and Doofers.


  38. Was determined REFRAIN from looking up the answers today, as I felt my last two in were getatable if I STRETCHED myself, and returned to them later.

    Sure enough whilst scanning the horizon over a wonderful view of Torbay, I had my Eureka moment with TENDER and the BAIT fell in.

    That’s what I like about these. For those puzzles one is eventually able to complete, it’s a great feeling.

    COD 22A where I was sure I should be looking for some obscure Churchy word for a knitted wall hanging…

    Thanks Alex and Doofers.

  39. MER at REFRAIN meaning stop, as for me it suggests that one decides not to start.

    Otherwise an enjoyable steady solve.

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