Times Quick Cryptic No 2469 by Joker

A lovely entertaining Quick Cryptic from Joker today. I romped through this in almost a clean sweep (having to come back to only 11A and 23A) and I’m not sure why I failed to see 23A at first.  In all it took me 4:01. [Update: I see I’m a bit of an outlier in being quite so on the wavelength – your mileage may vary]. COD to the clever 1A. Thank-you Joker! How did you all like it?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Sawbill’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword here. If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 84 here.

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

1 What could cut more than half of this puzzle? (5)
SWORD – {CROS}SWORD [more than half of] (this puzzle). What a great clue to start with!
7 Choice of former clues I have written with an E missing (9)
EXCLUSIVEEX (former) CLU{e}S I’VE [with an E missing]. And another one!
9 Fuss in Royal Navy making radioactive gas (5)
RADONADO (fuss) in RN (Royal Navy).
10 Remainder live outside university (7)
RESIDUERESIDE (live) outside U (university).
11 Enclose worker carrying new flag (7)
PENNANTPEN (enclose), ANT (worker) [carrying] N (new).
12 Let the wine breathe — did it come from a duty-free here? (7)
AIRPORTAIR (let … breathe) PORT (wine).
15 Win purse I’ve avidly wanted regularly (7)
PREVAIL – Alternate letters, [wanted regularly], of PuRsE i’Ve AvIdLy.
18 Time ran out for mosque’s construction (7)
MINARET – (Time ran)* [out].
20 Sign of gold turmeric, say (7)
AUSPICEAU (chemical symbol for gold) SPICE (turmeric, say).
22 Go better than alfresco party (5)
OUTDO -Double definition, the second a cryptic hint leading to OUT DO.
23 Only one to turn informer twice (9)
SINGLETONSING and LET ON (turn informer) [twice].
24 Avoid Adam being half grabbed by his partner (5)
EVADE – Half of AD{am} in EVE (his partner).
1 Drinks up in a fit of anger (5)
STROP – PORTS (drinks) reversed -> STROP.
2 Old road — one terribly neat line on chart? (8)
ORDINATEO (old) RD (road) I (one), (neat)* [terribly].
3 Refutation Daniel has been rewritten (6)
DENIAL – (Daniel)* [rewritten].
4 Pointer dogs run around ring (6)
CURSORCURS (dogs) R (tun), round O (circular letter; ring).
5 Deer took cover around centre of spinney (4)
HINDHID (took cover) round middle letter of spiNney.
6 Under Scottish mountain take in first of heather (7)
BENEATHBEN (Scottish mountain) EAT (take in) and first letter of Heather.
8 Ending of short illness (11)
CURTAILMENT –  CURT (short) AILMENT (illness).
13 Stage work to repeat all over the place (8)
OPERETTA – (to repeat)* [all over the place].
14 Universal worship gives lift (7)
UPRAISEU (Universal) PRAISE (worship).
16 Keenly very into daily working (6)
AVIDLYV (very) in (daily)* [working].
17 University lecturer embraced by one French female is ruined (6)
UNDONEDON (University lecturer) in UNE (one female in French).
19 Recurring theme in pupil’s assessment overturned without resistance (5)
TROPE – {r}EPORT (pupil’s assessment) without the R (resistance) overturned -> TROPE.
21 Dispatched SAE, not empty (4)
SENT – Outside letters of SaE NoT.

116 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2469 by Joker”

  1. It took me quite a while to find a foothold and those impressive early clues that John enthused about eluded me for ages, I didn’t really get going until I started on the downs. All up I took 10.23 with SWORD, STROP, AIRPORT and CURSOR bringing up the rear. Terrific work by Joker, special mentions to SWORD, EXCLUSIVE, CURTAILMENT and EVADE.

  2. 18:46. I seemed to have had a lot of blank staring at clues with little inspiration today. When I finally got some checkers I slowly worked my way around the grid. Looking back I can’t see any really difficult clues , just chalked the struggle up to tired brain syndrome.

  3. SWORD and EXCLUSIVE were excellent. Thanks Joker and John.

    I hope that you all enjoy the Weekend Quick Cryptic.

  4. I pondered long over EXCLUSIVE, not twigging that “choice” might be an adjective, which kept me to a SCC-worthy 21 minute solve overall. But it was a satisfying puzzle giving me three successes this week.
    OUTDO made me smile, as that kind of clue always does, and CURTAILMENT I thought was neat. OPERETTA was a nice clue too and much appreciated, being the G&S fan that I am. Thank you to both Joker and John.
    Fingers crossed for some clement weather as it is our annual village ‘Rustic Fayre’ on bank holiday Monday where I shall spend a couple of happy hours in the Beer ‘n BBQ marquee downing a couple of pints of Ringwood ale and a cheeseburger before weaving my way to indulge in the Classic Cars and Motorcycles section. The indispensable Mrs ITTT will, as usual, be busy both organising the ladies in the sandwich tent and policing the perimeter fence before settling down to watch the Dog Agility and Birds of Prey displays. Last year Goliath, a Bald Eagle, once unleashed flew majestically away in the direction of the New Forest despite the frantic calls of its owner to come back. As you can imagine this caused a frisson of excitement in the assembled crowd. I’ve never found out whether he was found or not.
    Wishing you all a very pleasant long weekend.

    1. Enjoy your weekend. I will be at the local East Anglian Beer and Cider Festival here in the cathedral in Bury this afternoon and then again on Monday afternoon, but off to Derbyshire for a wedding tomorrow so will miss my usual Beer Festival Saturday meet up with friends.

      1. Beer and Cider sounds just the ticket! I went to the Mid Somerset Show last weekend and it was awash with local cider. A very enjoyable afternoon was had. Good luck with the wedding 👍

    2. Sorry to miss your Rustic Fayre – family weekend already fixed. Tell me which village to come to and I’ll bring my Triumph Vitesse for your Classic Cars section next year!

      1. Oh well, not to worry. The weather is looking a little dodgy anyway. It’d be great to see you and your Vitesse next August Bank Holiday though. The post code is BH21 6RS. Enjoy your family weekend!

  5. 13’12” for what I thought was chewy. I was looking at a significant DNO for a while until PENNANT, STROP, AVIDLY, UPRAISE and my favourite SINGLETON finally came through the mist.

    A fine puzzle, thanks Joker. Thanks John for a great blog and congrats on a super time.

    Fine weekends all

  6. 13 mins. I was doing ok until hitting the wall that was strop, pennant and LOI trope.

    Same setter as 15×15 it seems.
    COD sword.

    1. I think the 15×15 could well be by John Grimshaw (aka Joker) too. Same style quite apart from something else we shouldn’t mention.

  7. 1551 Invasion of Gozo by Ottoman Turks and Barbary pirates who then enslave all inhabitants

    Bit of a slog, slow start, LOI EXCLUSIVE which beat out the pencilled in EXECUTIVE.

    kudos to Joker for a eight letter alternating clue PREVAIL. Is this a record, I was confused by the spurious “wanted”. Also, What does “twice” do in the SINGLETON clue?

    Is AUSPICE ever actually used in the singular?

    COD the self-referential CROSSWORD

  8. Good puzzle with some headscratchers along the way and I never did parse LOI SWORD.
    I think this is the second time I’ve come across UPRAISE in a puzzle and both times I’ve struggled to convince myself it’s a real word – it just looks/sounds wrong to me (nothing wrong with the clue though).
    Finished in 8.37 with COD to SINGLETON
    Thanks to John

  9. Unlike ITTT I spent no time in deliberation over EXCLUSIVE – nor, indeed, over anything else. I was fairly quickly on Joker’s wavelength, and by the end of my second pass through the clues I’d put the puzzle to the SWORD.

    TIME 3:38

  10. 12:10 – I absolutely loved that. Probably because ORDINATE and EXCLUSIVE went in on the first pass without checkers and they felt complicated. The latter I thought was fantastic along with SWORD which I came back to once DENIAL had been unravelled with some checkers. Some fantastic surfaces in there. Couldn’t parse SINGLETON which was LbOI.

    Times for this week – Orpheus 26:41, Hurley 10:09, Wurm 33:16 (20mins on LOI), Mara 32:59 (13mins on last three), Joker 12:10. First week of clean solves since early June totalling 1hr55 with August continuing to be boom-or-bust. This was my 5th fastest time of the month but after that the times drop off and then next fastest solves 23, 26, 28 mins and on into the 30s 😕

    Have a good weekend everybody. Time to watch Athletics World Championships 👍

      1. Thanks John – nice writing and breakdown on the blogging. Well done on your 4:01 – over 20% quicker than normal I believe 👍

        1. Yes. 5 minutes is my target. I beat it 3 times this week for a total of 23:45. Not BUSMAN class, of course, but not too shabby.

      1. Good win by Kerr although I feel I too could take Ingebrigtsen on my day … albeit on the QC 🤣

        Good week’s solving for you too 💪

    1. Amazing prowess, L-Plates – well done. Surely it’s time to ditch those L-Plates?
      Missed you the last few days so it’s good to hear you haven’t been idle!

      1. Thanks Martinů – still too many minor faults to qualify for a pass!

        Re: ordinate – think of a co-ordinate on a map or graph as needing two crossing lines to pinpoint it. I guess each of those lines is an ordinate.

        Good to see your own solving is coming along. Joker can be tough but I always have a confidence I will get through as he rarely uses obscure words. Today was slightly deeper into the dictionary.

    2. Well done, L-P, I make your time a .655 CO. I was wondering if when one of us is a DNF is the ratio infinite or do we just have to say we can’t or don’t compute a ratio on this occasion? Anyways enjoy the athletics this weekend and thanks for the idea of getting a bottle of port in for next Christmas season. I don’t drink much nowadays but that friendly tipple should help cheer up the long dark evenings!

      1. Hello CO – I suspect you may have forgotten to decimalise the seconds? “Rounding” our times to 12min09 and 18min45 – I make it 12.15 / 18.75 = 0.648CO But yours was close enough anyway so why am I quibbling 🤷‍♂️ In new money that’s 1.54NDs 🤣

        I have shuddered to think what might occur if the crossword gods (or is it just Juno?) spot my all-too-often DNFs. At least we have you keeping your side up 👍 I shall continue to hope I can sneak past their omniscient eyes 🤔

  11. Judging by some of the earlier times posted I must have been totally on the wavelength with this one finishing in 7.41. Most of the answers came fairly quickly to me although I had to return to SINGLETON and TROPE to parse them before stopping the clock. I particularly liked 1ac which certainly held me up more than any other clue. Total time for the week was 49.31, giving a daily average of 9.54, a whisker under target time.

  12. Into the SCC having enjoyed this engaging and clever puzzle. SWORD was a PDM eventually, very neat. Lots more to like and entertain my brain.
    Thanks for a helpful blog as some of the parsing, e.g. SINGLETON, evaded me at the time.

  13. AIRPORT went straight in. I recall many of us struggle with a similar clue about a month ago when it was in a similar place.

    A quick use of the Search engine shows it appears in QC 2441 clued as Let wine breathe for start of foreign holiday? on 18th July which was set by Joker 😮 Hmmm ….

      1. If there were more money in setting, they’d be suing each other like all the pop acts and bands are doing these days. The idea of creatively building on the shoulders of others dying.

        I don’t mind reusage, after all, that’s what chestnuts are and I doubt I will ever complain about it contributing to a fast solve. Just a little surprised it came up again so soon.

        Well done on your 12mins and creative invention of words 🤣

  14. 12 mins…

    I enjoyed this also and didn’t find it too difficult. The only issue I had was parsing 23ac “Singleton” – for a while I thought it could be “Singletar” which I don’t believe is a word and made no sense.

    FOI – 3dn “Denial”
    LOI – 4dn “Cursor”
    COD – 4dn “Cursor”

    Thanks as usual!

  15. A very good puzzle to end the week. Given the variations in the reactions above, I feel happy with my time of 12.20. Some fine clues, I thought.
    Thanks to Joker and John. John M.

  16. 11:16 (Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarh besieges Swansea)

    I could not parse my LOI TROPE. I assumed “without” meant outside, and was guessing that EPOT was some sort of school test that I had not heard of.

    I agree that Joker is airing his port too often, but at least the answer went in quickly this time round.

    One typo (BEBEATH)- the spacing between letters on my iPad is not large enough. I ought to have proof read before submitting.

    Thanks John and Joker

  17. 15:48. I had no idea about the first two across clues on the first pass and that set the tone for the rest of the puzzle. ‘Let the wine breathe’ did ring a bell though and AIRPORT was one of my first in. Despite being a chestnut, as pointed out by vinyl, I still took a while to get the other mention of PORT in STROP. CURSOR was another one that took a few goes to eventually see.

    Good puzzle which made me think and was satisfying to finish, even if I was slower than I’d hoped.

    Thanks to Joker and to John

  18. A steady solve starting with RADON. Liked SWORD and CURTAILMENT. LOI was MINARET. 8:30. Thanks Joker and John.

  19. Quite slow to get going on this enjoyable QC. FOsI RESIDUE, HIND, PENNANT. Liked AIRPORT, MINARET,
    LOI STROP. Slow in SW too. Biffed SWORD but failed to parse until I read the blog! Blog much needed, in fact, so thanks, John.

  20. Another lovely puzzle to finish a very good week with 5/5.
    Too many good clues to name but liked SWORD, EXCLUSIVE and MINARET.
    Thanks John for explaining 6d BENEATH. I tried to parse the ‘eath’ by dropping the ‘h’ from ‘Heather’ but it didn’t make sense whereas ‘eat’ and ‘h’ do.
    Thanks Joker.

  21. 33m. Fun but “chewy” (that seems to be the expression of choice).
    My trend times are relatively stable atm, but I’m definitely using aids much less frequently, so I think this might (🤞) be an inflection point in my solving. If that’s correct, my times should start to improve again as I continue the process of weaning myself off aids. However, that only works if the GK levels remain broadly as they have been of late. As soon as Izetti and his ilk strike, then I’m back to the lifeline of using aids. Or I just avoid those setters, which I have mostly been doing.
    Anyway, sun’s oot, taps aff, as they say around here, so I’m off to enjoy the day.

  22. Bang on 13 minutes for an excellent puzzle from Joker. I saw SWORD immediately and thought ‘I like that, this could be good’ and so it proved. Thanks to Joker and John.

  23. Pleased to finish a Joker at all – all green in an hour – but golly I did need you, John, to make sense of it all (failed to parse the clever SINGLETON), so thank you. FOI SENT (that’s how long it took me to get started!), COD AIRPORT, LOI UPRAISE. Why couldn’t I see {cros}SWORD – what a pity, though I did biff it. And still don’t get ORDINATE – how is that a “line on chart”, please?
    Just one MER: Mrs M (expert in Islam) objects to any equivalence between “mosque’s construction” and MINARET which is merely a part of the mosque, the tower from which the muezzin utters his call to prayer.

    1. From ODE…
      ORDINATE ▶ noun Mathematics a straight line from any point drawn parallel to one coordinate axis and meeting the other, especially a coordinate measured parallel to the vertical. Compare with abscissa
      late 17th century: from Latin linea ordinata applicata ‘line applied parallel’, from ordinare ‘put in order’.

    2. I read mosque as an adjective rather than a noun in this case giving me the minaret as a construction (ie a feature) on a mosque rather than the construction (ie building) of a mosque itself. In much that way that the chimney stack is a construction on my house.

      1. Thank you – see what you mean. Even though you would hardly refer to your chimney stack as a “house construction”, in crossword terms it just squeezes through the gates of allowability.

  24. A slow start with nothing until Radon, but I gradually tuned into Joker’s style, which sadly gets more and more like Teasel. In the end I felt slightly disappointed with a window seat, but then saw 18mins from Jackkt, so no complaints. CoD to the double snitch, Singleton, just ahead of the short illness, Curtailment. Invariant

  25. A very nice puzzle, all done in 12 minutes but several clues only parsed after I had entered the word and thought “I’m sure that’s right, now how does it work?” But I got them all in the end. Too many excellent clues to pick an outright COD, but Sword, Beneath and Singleton all top-notch. And the puzzle completes a good week with all 5 done well within my 1-hour weekly target.

    Joker can air all the ports he likes and if he is having trouble drinking the opened bottles, I invite him to let me know. I’m told the drink is going out of fashion with the young and trendy, but as I ceased to be either fully 25 years ago I still like the stuff, and I’m always happy to help out a fellow port-drinker.

    Many thanks to John for the blog, and to Sawbill in advance for the Saturday Special. A good weekend to all.

    1. You remind me I still have a bottle of 1995 vintage port, the year of my eldest daughter’s birth, that I forgot to open on her 21st birthday 7 years ago.

      1. Should be a cracker. Keep for another 2 years and mark her 30th? (Or as my daughters termed it, the “second go at being 29”).

      2. Had a severe, very painful occurrence of gout in 1981 which I imputed to port – so I’ve sadly kept off it ever since. Make up for it with wine, though!
        Help: is “imputed” correct? Or “ascribed” – or is there an even better word?

    2. I was discussing yesterday how long a port can be kept before the cork rots.
      A lot of very old stuff is never opened and kept as an investment apparently.
      Any thoughts?

      1. I’ve drunk 50 year old port (1963, drunk in 2013), but that was known to be an exceptional year and even so was definitely well-aged (lighter colour, slightly less long finish). Those in the know will keep port for much much longer – for example the Graham’s warehouse in Porto has wines from the 1860s – but I think they recork them every 50 years or so, and of course they are keeping the bottles in the best possible conditions.

        @Johninterred – is there any way of posting a small picture of the Graham’s super-old collection for david 1 and general interest?

          1. Graham's Old Port

            Of course I can do this only ‘cos I have admin rights. Thanks Cedric for the image to display. Right click and open in a new tab to display the image fill size.

    3. As someone who rarely drinks through the year – I am very much a fan of a bottle of port over the Christmas period when the nights are dark and just watching films. Occasionally I may buy a second bottle to reach New Year 😋

  26. 7.06

    Bit of a better effort today. I don’t do all the acrosses and then downs but just get one right and start from there with the checkers – which probably helped avoiding the chewy NW.


    Thanks John and Joker

  27. Found it very hard. Never did parse SINGLETON; thank you johninterred. Struggled particularly with EXCLUSIVE, couldn’t decide if it was bits and pieces or an anagram of CLUES I HAVe, which was too simple. Also found parsings difficult of 13d OPERETTA, (just didn’t notice the anagrind at first) and 19d TROPE, misread the clue. But a good Xword, thank you Joker & blogger.

    1. I’m sure I’ve heard UPRAISE used to describe as a noun for salary increase. Quite why it needs both up & raise is the strange part. But then I think I’ve also heard of “uplift” which has the same issue 🤷‍♂️

  28. Whatever is going on? For the first time ever my time bettered that of both jackkt (admittedly not too much of a challenge today) and, yes, vinyl1 (only just). I encountered none of the difficulties others have mentioned. I’ve reviewed the crossword to try to see why. Part of the reason is obvious: no clues ventured into the areas that I often find troublesome (specialist musical, literary or scientific knowledge). But above all, for no clear reason, I just seemed to be on the setter’s ‘wavelength’ from beginning to end. Back to normality next week …

  29. I found this one tricky but managed to complete it with no aids or cat today.

    I did like 1a.

  30. I’m in the happy camp of posters – having got through pretty swiftly in a little less than 9 minutes. Held up at the end by CURSOR – I was caught up in trying to work an anagram or two and then not really thinking that cursor = pointer. Great puzzle.

  31. Woe is me. A quick solve and a rare sub K became a near bottom of the leaderboard completion due to a silly typo. FOI STROP and LOI AUSPICE with just a little hesitation over TROPE. 6:45 and 1 error.

  32. 17.39 Slow again. EXCLUSIVE, ORDINATE and CURSOR were the last three in, all of which had nicely misled me. Especially the latter, where I was looking for an obscure dog breed. ORDINATE should gone straight in. My old geometry teacher was very keen on his ordinates and abscissas but I still can’t remember which is which. SINGLETON was nice. Thanks to John and Joker.

    1. You may suffer from what neurologists refer to as Gregg’s Binary Amnesia (GBA). Starboard left/port right? Starboard right/port left? etc. Happens to me all the time.

      1. This example is particularly troublesome. The ordinate is both the vertical axis and the distance of a point from the horizontal axis. And vice versa for the abscissa. It’s very unmemorable.

      2. Left/port/red (boat navigation light) are all shorter words than Right/starboard/green 😉

      3. I sympathize-I can’t remember which is stalagmite and which stalactite. Also what movies was Maureen O’Hara in and which ones Maureen O’Sullivan.

        1. Stalactites hold on tight. I never forget the difference since I’ve learned that.

            1. Yes, that works too- but I think I should stick with “tight” rather than “tite” to avoid trouble!

              1. I was being coy. The saying was, of course, “tights come down”, but that might be deemed politically incorrect these days. Does “tite” have a meaning I should be aware of?

                1. Well, I guess I just assumed tite was a variant spelling of a slang term for the mammary gland. I’m not sure why I thought they would come down-sag as person ages?

  33. Hmm I needed a break to come back for inspiration to my LOI UPRAISE which was a NHO.
    Also surprisingly never come across ORDINATE, although obvious following John’s explanation.

    Wanted to put KIND at first instead of HIND but knew it wouldn’t be right.


    Ps I’m off to sit by the window on Swiss trains for a few days so am unlikely to be poring over my newspaper.

    Thanks Joker for a great puzzle and to John

  34. Really enjoyed this one. 25:54, which isn’t bad by my standards, and I didn’t really get properly stuck at any point – it flowed slowly but very satisfyingly. Can’t decide whether my COD is SINGLETON or CURTAILMENT.

    Thank you and best wishes for a lovely weekend to Joker and John!

  35. 22 minutes for completion, which is better than I have done for a while on a Joker puzzle. Couldn’t parse SINGLETON (obvious now) or OPERETTA (even more obvious now), so thanks for the explanations John. Otherwise no problems – just a bit slow. I put it down to exhaustion following a couple of days in the company of my 4 year-old grandaughter.

    FOI – 9ac RADON
    LOI – 4dn CURSOR

    Thanks to Joker and John

  36. 15 minutes gone, just T_O_E to fill in and the likelihood of a near PB/rare SCC escape to send me happily into the weekend. Trouble was that I DNK TROPE was a word and, apart from the definition and the ‘without resistance’ bit, could make neither head nor tail of the clue.

    An alphabet trawl was called for, but that unearthed only two words – ThOsE and TROvE. Further, more careful alphabet trawls revealed nothing at all. So I went with TROvE on the grounds that it is a collection/hoard (recurring items) and ‘assessmenT OVErturned’ without (i.e. outside of) R (resistance) = TROVE. I had absolutely no idea what ‘pupil’s’ was doing in the clue. All of this took another 15 minutes and my hopes of a day out from the SCC (and the possibility of winning the Random family point) were dashed. But never mind, 30 minutes is still quite a fast time for me – especially for a Joker.

    Then I came here and found that it has to go down in my records as a DNF. Even worse than my 72 minutes solve of 2-3 weeks ago! I only have my own ignorance to blame of course, but if you don’t know something you don’t know it.

    Many thanks to Joker and John.

    1. I sympathise; rarely does a crosswording day go by without revealing a new vista in the map of my ignorance. Imagine my dubious delight when, having learned that “ling” is a type of heather, I learned the next day that “ling” is a type of fish. Though I genuinely love my new hobby, I have to say that it is staggeringly inaccessible.

  37. 16:40, but with an annoying typo on CUUSOR 😬. With AIRPORT as my FOI, I thought this might turn into a real struggle, but then it started flowing, except for the NW corner which remained empty until the end. LOI and COD SWORD, after I decided that we couldn’t possibly need to count the black and white squares to see which was more than half…

    Thanks to Joker & John.

  38. 23:27

    Nothing too bad but got stuck on isolated words around the grid so that getting one didn’t help with the rest: TROPE, STROP, UPRAISE and, finally, LOI CURSOR.

  39. 32 minutes of hell. Nowhere near the wavelength and struggled throughout. I spent ages thinking crypt might be the answer to 1ac, such was my ineptitude! Many clues were initially unfathomable and, after a shocking start, I lost all confidence and never got any kind of run going. That is becoming a regular occurrence.

    Overall, a dismal performance to cap an awful week. Five completions yes, but three over 30 mins for a total time of 2 hours, 17 mins. That gives me no satisfaction because I am making stupid errors and just not learning. Some of my mistakes are so unbelievably basic. Three solves over 30 mins is not what I expect after 3 years of QCing, especially in a non-Izetti week and with a straightforward WURM.

    Thanks for the blog John. Your time was amazing!

    1. Don’t despair. It has taken me more than 10 years to get to where I am. But solving time is not everything. “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. Enjoy the solving and the PDMs… speaking of which, beginner’s luck, but I’ve just won a prize for the first Listener crossword competition I’ve entered, Penny Drop Moment. One day that could be you.

      1. Thanks John and many congratulations on your prize. That’s some going.

        I know what you mean about enjoying the solve and I often find some of the harder ones to be the most satisfying. When they are more simple, my competitive side takes over and I want to achieve a great time.

        Have a good weekend.

      2. Congratulations John … what a lovely reward for your efforts over the years 👍

    2. Hmmm 🤔 I suspect if I made the comments to you, that you make to yourself, I would soon find myself banned for flaming or trolling. You seem intent on doubling down on your disappointing performances with a round of verbal self-flagellation. I’m not sure what purpose that solves. Even when you had a 14-min solve you found ways to fault it.

      You are a decent, competent solver. The problem is not in your ability, it is in the mental chatter. No elite athlete could perform anywhere near their best with the internal chatter you appear to have going on. Paralysis by analysis. You need to find ways to quiet the mind. Your expectations are killing you – lowering them would help until you have a run of success meeting them e.g. 5 solves in 2hr15 for four consecutive weeks.

      Our performances are not that far apart. I won’t break it down other than to say, if I chose to I could admonish myself for two solves around the 10-min mark both last week and this week – yet taking around 2hours for the whole week. Objectively it’s quite abysmal to complete the other three in 1hr30+… but it is what it is. The post-solve focus is on what can I do to improve ready for the next one? What are my weaknesses? what am I willing and have time to do resolve them?

    3. It could always be worse! I don’t think I’ve had a fully successful 5/5 week yet. Your point about lost confidence resonates; I often find that when I make a poor start my ability to think collapses and I become an unthinking idiot. It’s all the more remarkable because while I would like to finish quickly, I’m not really all that bothered if it takes me an hour and so have no real reason for a mental shutdown. The human brain is a strange thing.

      1. Thanks Wombat. I tend to panic if I have a bad start and then I overthink clues.

        It won’t be long before you get a full set of finishes in a week 🤞

  40. You are quite right. The phrase you mention – paralysis by analysis – is an old affliction of mine. It brought an end to my golfing days, after I was physically unable to take the club away from the ball due to so many thoughts going through my mind.

    I’m on holiday for part of next week. I may take a few days off from the QC, depending on how I feel. In any event, I’ll try to cut out the negatives as I know they’re not doing me any good.

    Thanks for setting things out so fully. I appreciate it.

    1. Never one to pull my punches but I hope I have built up enough kudos to get away with it.

      BTW I meant to say … give this week’s Guardian Quiptic a go before Monday … https://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/quiptic/1240

      Different style but I think you can do it and there’s a helpful anagram solver.

      Let me know how you get on.

      PS Just watching The Godfather trilogy which are on Channel 4s online streaming for the month. I know you like your Sicilian mafia stuff.
      PPS My daughter just spent the past year living in Naples. I was slightly concerned but I don’t think she had any incidents. Amazing she happened to be there the year they finally won the Scudetto again – celebrations were crazy.

      1. You have plenty of kudos with me and I always appreciate straight talking.

        I had a go at the puzzle. Missed a couple but enjoyed it. Reminded me of Izetti in some ways.

        Naples is an amazing city and I recall the celebrations. I can just about remember Maradona playing there. I hope your daughter enjoyed her year. There’s plenty to see and do.

        I’ve been watching The Godfather trilogy. I love the scenes in Sicily. It’s a shame that the critics panned the final film as I think it’s rather good, with a great storyline and a brilliant performance from Al Pacino. His anguish at the end is visceral.

        1. That’s because it is an Izetti – he calls himself Pasquale over there. Just thought you might enjoy having that shot at a sub-20 with him albeit no timer (or expectations). I finished in about 19mins BUT I screwed up on round-the-clock (put block) and deference I put reverence. I self time but don’t keep a record other than it’s about the fastest I can remember.

          Think she enjoyed the year in Naples – it was her 3rd year of university and had to study over there as she is studying Spanish / Italian. She’s currently travelling Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia for the summer before coming back for her final year of undergraduate studies. The life of a student these days …

          1. Ah yes, I do vaguely remember someone previously referring to him by that name. I struggled in NE, and was flummoxed by BENBOW (had to look it up afterwards). It was a very good puzzle.

            I suspected your daughter might be a student. Not bad if you can get a year in southern Italy. I would imagine her time in South America will be a real eye opener, and will doubtless improve her Spanish no end. It would be nice if some of the students I teach improved their skills in English, let alone another language.

            I’m off to brave the A1 now on my way to Cromer. Not quite the Bay of Naples, but at least it’s on the coast!

            1. Hey GA … not sure if you get email replies but …

              You have made a wise choice (hopefully) to avoid the QC this week.

              However just to say I got given The Times book of Quick Cryptics #1 for my birthday the other week. This is the compilation of QCs from its first year in 2014. Completely different experience to what we get now. Might help build your confidence.

              So far 6 of first 7 in under 20mins; one other in 41mins.

              I reckon you should grab a copy as just done an Izetti in 9min57!

      1. Thanks curryowen. I’m going to walk the Norfolk coastal path and blow away a few cobwebs!

  41. Only one to turn informer twice (9)
    …. I don’t get .this….
    Sing = to turn informer?
    LET ON (turn informer) [twice].
    Whaddya mean?! How does TWICE work here? Still struggling after 4 yrs of trying
    these damn quick Xwords…not quick for me I fear. I will graduate one day!

    1. When a criminal SINGs they tell the police what they know i.e. they turn in to an informer.
      If you LET ON about what you know then you are informing whoever you tell.
      Thus SING / LET ON is informing twice

      1. “He sang like a bird, the dirty rat!”

        I must have spent at least two or three minutes trying in vain to insert a reversed “rat” twice into that one.

  42. I simply don’t understand the obsession with time. This was too hard for me to solve so I would have been happy with an hour. My suggestion enjoy the solve if you can do it and stop reporting the times as they are all meaningless.

    1. Look at the name of the site. I believe it began as a message board around 2005 for people to report their times back in the days before The Times had leaderboards. I think the blogging and explanations have evolved from that. Everybody is free to choose whether they report their times now. Some people like to compete with themselves and see it as a measure of progress. Personally I do crosswords from a variety of papers and take no note of my times except with the QC.

      The times are meaningless but then existentially so is the whole of your life. Once you die, it doesn’t mean anything and apart from a select few, most disappear forgotten into history. But you can either live nihistically or decide to live to the full and decide what has meaning for you. If it’s your time to complete a QC then so be it, if it’s not then that’s fine too.

  43. Hi everyone

    very new to these (last few months)- this website has been an invaluable resource to improving.

    Never finished a QC without the help of google/dictionary yet. Almost managed to finish this one (3 clues left) so almost there!

    Thanks again for the help

    1. Thanks for commenting. Glad to hear the site is helping. Do join in the fun on the blogs and tell us about your progress. You will get plenty of encouragement from others, I’m sure.

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